Sunday, November 28, 2010

Brew Day Shenanigans ( Originally a post on

Oh my head. It feels like it's gonna burst.

Let me tell you a little story...

So I have made enough beer now that when asked " Man, I'd like to see that done - can I come over next time you brew" I told an acquittance "Why not - be there at noon Saturday. I'mma brew an IPA recipe I think will work - we'll have a blast."

If I had only known.....

If I had only know than when I went to the LHBS I would get struck with the crazy notions that
1) I want to do a brown ale from grains
2) You know that BIAB method has been pretty smooth - I can do both in a day.

Some of you more seasoned folks are probably all ready shaking your heads - new brewer, 2 AG BIAB batches , and you KNOW we're not just gonna sit around and sip tea.....

Brew Time was set for 12:00 noon. As I have with all my past brews, I settled in an hour ahead of time to drink one of my recent brews, sanitize, check equipment, you know.

Well, that turned into another beer because since the more I brew the better I brew, this last batch is pretty darn tasty...

12:00 - no new brewer. Get a text. Be there in a few. Sorry.

No big deal - fill the first pot with water and start to heat it -figure when he walks in I dough in and really, he is not missing anything at this point.

And so that is how it went - He ( along with some other folks I knew ) showed up and we doughed in. I had 4 adults present who had never had a homebrew, and so we had a round of my most recent Irish Red. Then we started heating some strike water and had a round of my Hazy Days.

Again, the more seasoned brewers are again are shaking their heads I am sure. You know where this bad movie ends, don't you?

I am pretty sure the first batch ( Brown Ale ) is fine - I mashed 3 gals, and lost 1 to grain absorption. I heated 4 gals to strike , had 3.5 when I pulled the grain bag, topped up to 6 and boiled. I would love to tell you the gravities but I dropped my hydrometer last brew session and forgot to get a new one whilst at the LHBS.

Pitched onto a yeast cake ( first time for me with that - she's going like nuts this morning... )

OK - here is where I should have ended the day, but no, I had forced on.

I drank some homebrew and got a great idea- I could go ahead and mash the second batch, since I do it in another pot - while the first was brewing.
OK SO far. I did just that - on another pro[ane burner got 3 gals up to temp, doughed in, walked away. An hour later lifted the bag, and drained grains.

3 gals in , 2 gals out. Just like the first batch. I'm cool with that.

BUT THEN - I had to let the grains set in the filter and wait. And wait. And wait.

See, I strike in my other pot - you know - the one that now is boiling with the first batch , and then has to be cooled, etc etc etc.

As soon as I free the pot up , wash it - I put 4 gallons on water in it and try to get it up to strike temp.

Gas bottle gives out here. Cue the laughter.

Put other tank on, get it up to temp and drop in the grains. Decide to pick up some of our mess while I have the time - and realize I have 5 , not 4 , empty gallon water jugs.

I have no idea how a 5th got in there. But it did.

Pulled the grains out and sure enough had 4 1/2 gallons. Ad when I added the first run It came to 6 3/4 - I guess it sat in the filter so long I gained another quart.

Now here I sit, radio blaring, looking at a long boil.

Best thing i could do would be mess up my hop addition - so I did.

And if my new homemade Hop Spider happened to have the sock come off because I forgot to tighten the clamp - that would be funny, right? Then laugh away - it did.

I ended up , on the second brew a beer like this :

Boil vol 6.75 Final vol 5.25
Citra hops 1 oz at 90 mins, 60 mins and 30 mins

Grainbill - 10 lbs 6 row , 1/2 dextrine , 1/2 carapils

Safale 04 22 g ( 2 packs )

Got it chilled, got it in the buckets, got the two buckets into the swamp cooler - and went to bed.

Now I am awake, with a cup of coffee, my back is killing me, my beer fridge is almost empty - which tickles me - 4 never had homebrew before folks ripping them up makes me feel like i must be doing something right.

And my head hurts.

If you read all of this, I hop you enjoyed it - I surely enjoyed the shenanigans that are described within it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 - Some Good, Some Bad

It's that day again. My favorite of all Holidays, even over Christmas. I do not know why, maybe it is not that I LIKE Thanksgiving so much, as I dislike the other ones each on a different level.

I guess I am obligated to list the things I am thankful for, but to be honest, I think I do that plenty enough. I mean, everyone I know knows I love my wife and kids, my parents and my sister, and all my extended family. Who is not thankful in these times if they have a job? Of course I am thankful for living in a c ountry where I can bitch and moan and not worry about some secret police taking me out in the middle of the night ( for now atleast ..)

Here are some you may or may not know - I am thankful for two dogs this year - Biscuit, who we lost in June after having only for a short while, was an amazing dog that every person who met seemed to love. Biscuit was quite the hit at the spring cookout we held, and I miss that dog. Wish he could have grown into an old age - I think he would have mellowed out alot. And Daisy - my beagle. She's new to us, but about a year and a half old. Vry stocky for a female, and seems to have adopted us as much as we have adopted her. She likes to hang out with me in the shop, and when I come home she will jump in the truck and get in my lap like a cat if I let her. I'm thankful for that -and for the two of them for making me feel like a kid. Nothing like a little boy and his dog - and they both make me feel like that.

I'm thankful for something else this year - the website that Gabrielle has going, A Picture Worth 1000 words. It's fun, it's quick, and it helps me with my writing. I'll not go too deep into that, just say if you have not been there, then check out this essay for a feel of what it does for me, and this page for an idea of the goal. ( Actually most all of the pieces are fiction - the essays are rare, but again, if you want to know my feelings on things, thats a good place to start. )

I am thankful for the help of others this year in getting my bike cleaned and fixed. Nick and Brent have done a lot so far as parts, advices and wrenching. Thanks guys.

I am thankful for Evan R Myers, a special boy who has brought indescribable joy to two special people. Dave and Emily - you are rocking it as parents - keep it up. You probably could not comprehend how happy I am for you , little as we have known each other, but my heart bursts with joy at Dave's almost simple fascination at the everyday evolution of fatherhood.

I'm thankful for Chris and his shenanigans, even if he found kryptonite. Chris may hate freedom, but he loves to torment me, all in fun.

And yes, there are many many more I could name, but I do not. I have something else I want to get to.

My 2010 list of things I am NOT thankful for. This year, instead of 15, I have narrowed it down to 5 things.

I am not thankful for:

1) Class Mentality - and folks are guilty of this in all classes
2) Unfair treatment of workers
3) Discrimination based on sexual orientation
4) Whipcrack reactionary voting
5) Yogurt.

( Yes, yogurt was on last years list, but it will be on every list. That shit is just plain foul! )

Happy Thanksgiving folks - take the time today to hug the ones you love, call or message those you appreciate, and maybe even try to mend a fence or build a bridge with someone you have parted with.

It's a mean motherfucker of a world out there kids - look out for one another.

The HP

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fellow Workers - Unite! For Coffee!

The morning finds me about 3 1/2 hours due west from my bed - I'm in the beginning of the mountains of NC to attend a class in order to maintain some certifications I hold.

It is beautiful here - I would love to move here I think. I think that every time I am here. But I also know I spaz out after 24 hours of snow , so in truth it should never ever happen.

But, being I am far from home, I am awake early. I have already walked about 2 miles, down into the little fast food / gas station oasis down the road from my hotel, just to kill some time and not awaken the coworker who I shared the room with.

And as I came back, I watched the hotel as it came to life - lights popping on in rooms left and right, top and bottom floor. And I looked at the parking lot, and despite the fact we are in a most beautiful scenic location, in the peak of leaf season, I realized the parking lot has probably no more than 1 or 2 cars I would attribute to tourists or vacationers.

By and large it is work vans and contractors trucks, some salesmen's cars. A few with NC permanent yellow plates that tattle on a state employee on business travel.

My hotel is not a home away from home - it is an anthill of worker ants, removed from their regular ant hill. They come out and grab a quick smoke in the chilly air, they defrost their windshields. By 6:00 am several have already left and headed to labor.

I need to go wake my roommate - we got a class to attend. But while he's in the shower, I think I am going to go to the big communal coffee pot and rub shoulders with the salt of the earth - my fellow workers - as we unite to go out and keep the world running.

Good morning fellow workers - I love you all.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


It’s Halloween again. That night again.

The night that monsters will roam in the moonlight, without hiding in the shadows, and witches will promenade down the street.

Such a farce – none of the monsters are real. They are plastic masks worn by plastic people. A man who wears a mask of being whatever passes for normal 364 days a year gets to put on the mask of what he dreams he could be for one night.

Sad. I see them, teaching their offspring ho tow act like all the others, how to do what is expected of them. That is making a monster – forcing your ill conceived dreams and plans upon the innocent.

If you want to see a monster, go to the local ballpark and watch a 35 year old father with a beer gut and a bald spot yelling and instructing an 8 year old on how to play a child’s game.

I watch as they tell their kids that monsters are not real, that witches are fairy tales – and then they turn around and warn them not to take candy from strangers or get in the car to help someone look for their lost puppy. Then they kiss them goodnight, and leave them to the nightmares of actual people that could hurt them and smugly feel good about the fact that they taught them that the monsters are not real.

Of course they are – we are the monsters.

We eat flesh and meat. We change the river’s paths and make it do out bidding. We try to harness the wind and make power from it. We pick and fight wars with smaller countries, and sometimes bigger ones.

We steal, rob, cheat, lie, murder, hurt, and ignore pain.

We have affairs of the heart and of the body. We commit corporate espionage. We find ways to maximize profits from people who can barely afford to pay what we charge today, much less what we will charge tomorrow,

We turn our backs on those who need help, want help, are helpless. We help a few but ignore the masses. We hide behind religion and politics as a shield when we are faced with situations that make us uncomfortable. We can always blame an action on doctrine when we cannot say our action was taken just because we wanted to.

We teach our kids do not do drugs before going to the kitchen and mixing up a huge cocktail and taking to the den to drink while we smoke dope. We teach them that everyone is equal, then they watch as we argue at the dinner table over weather people are equal enough to marry, or even to this day we have folks who think that the difference in the amount of melatonin in a person’s skin is indicative of worth.

We are the monsters, you and me.

We tell them to love one another, and then they watch as we send their older brothers and sisters off to fight in wars that we do not support.

We tell them not to bow to peer pressure, then explain war as they did it to us, now we do it to them. We explain that we are fighting for innocent’s lost in an attack, but do not tell them how we kill innocent’s in our attacks in return.

But they learn.

They see, and hear.

And the scary part is that they are slowly becoming monsters themselves.

Just like you and me.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

HATE - Original to Facebook 1/13/2009

Ever since a visit from a an old friend ( and I would hope a few new ones) , a statement I made has bounced through the corners of my mind like one of those supermrket hi-bouce balls. Omitting the build up, I made this observation (or something close to it - Heather can correct me if i have it wrong or too far out of context):
" I don't hate anyone. Its a waste of time. I used to think I would hate 2 people forever, I actually fed on it, and then one day years later i thought of one of them and realized i had not for years - so how could I hate them? "
At this point, I was asked the identities, which I declined to provide, only an allusion to one, and the conversation grew on and meandered like all good ones do. Thats enough of that - lets leave it to those of us who were able to share each others time.
But the thought, the phrase - HATE. It has bounced, jumped, crashed around in my mind, and now I have to excise it to set it free - kinda like when you get a tune locked in the front of your mind and it won't go away until either 1) you sing the whole song 2) you hear the song on the radio or 3) You kill yourself because nothing you did would remove "Walk like an Egyptian" from your thoughts.
I think I can say that I do not hate anybody - not directly as in "I hate XXXX ." I also do not think that I hate anyone because of where they were born, where they go to church, who they call god(s), what they do for a living, who they sleep with, what gender they sleep with, where they got their diploma, what team they pull for, etc etc. It just does not make any sense to waste time on it. I got shit to do, and only 1 lifetime to do it in.
Sure, there are people I do not like, and I think that is a good thing - a little bit of survival instinct maybe. Sure, I do not approve of certain things - child molesters, gang members, right wing skinheads, The B-52's - but I do not hate them. Why? Does my wasting my time hating them do them harm? Do you think a child molester is any less likely to be one just beacause someone hates him? Of course not - they are a sick person, with a weakness they cannot overcome - my opinion and hatred does not even blip the radar. Gang members and skin head could give a big ole pile of porupine poop if I hate them or not - probably would feed on it, mistaking it for fear. And the B-52's? I used to think I hated them, but now I realis it was just a misguided attraction to red beehive hair doos and sharp dressed men with white shoes.
To put things into perspective, I looked up some quotes on HATE to see if anything struck a chord. Here are some I found:

“We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.” - Jonathan Swift

“You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” - Anne Lamott

“When we don't know who to hate, we hate ourselves.” - Chuck Palahniuk

To really know someone is to have loved and hated him in turn” - Marcel Jouhandeau

Truthfully - this only re-emphasised to me just how petty my "Hate forever" idea was in the first place - my "reasoning" was no where near adequate to carry on a long life of hate simply based on childish behaviour by children.
So, to person I was gonna hate forever number one - Sorry, it's over. Its been over for a long time. I don't know where you are, what you do, or if you are even still alive - though I have to assume so or I would have heard about it had you died. I hope your life turned out well, I hope your happy, and I hope you live to a ripe old age. Honestly, you hurt the hell out of me, and I thought hating you would hurt you back - but I don't think it did and so why bother?
And to you, #2 hated forever person - I have run into you a time or two, and you seem to have done ok. I don't care where yo are now, or what you have become - I'd rather not ever see yo again unless I need a kidney or it benefits me finacially - besides that I don't give a flying shit - but I don't hate you. Your simply not worth my time to waste. (Oh and when you did what you did to make me hate you - i hope you got herpes - the gift that keeps on giving - but still, I don't hate you.)
As for objects, places, food or other "things" the closest i come to hate is yogurt (UGH!!!) and soccer. But those are subjests for another day.

Goodnight kids -


PS - The misspellings are mine, and I love them. Please do not hurt their self esteem by pointing them out. :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Unspoken Unemployment Problem - Original to Facebook 7/01/2009

Unemployment in my home county was 11.7% in May, as reported in the Dunn Daily Record. Everyday it seems that a new story rips through all the other headlines, and it is always another plant closing, a lay off, a reduction in force, a cutting back, whatever. The point is, there are an amazingly alarming amount of people out of work. So it would lead one to believe that there are no jobs to be found.
That is sure enough a common refrain “I’ve been out of work for 6 months” “I have not worked in 2 years” Ad naseum – You hear this all the time, all over the place. But take a second to check out the jobs websites and the classified ads – there are lots of jobs out there – and therein lies the small part of the bigger problem I want to address.
Lets work our way up – shall we. There are lots of unskilled jobs, but no one wants them. Fast food, cleaning motels, washing cars, working for a local farmer. These are the jobs people do not take because “I can’t make a living working for minimum wage” – But then there are the people who will work these jobs, and damned if people don’t complain about them stealing jobs from Americans. Until I see a line of Americans trying to get a job slaughtering chickens in a plant or asking for the privilege to changes wine and spunk stained sheets at a Best Western, this is not an argument I even acknowledge any longer. Also – don’t bitch to me about the unemployment in America when Americans are willing to be unemployed, draw benefits, and pass over work.
If you need money – you need work – not a job. A job can be anything. I want work. I want to do something. I do not want to hear you complain how hard you have it because the only job you can get is doing this or that or whatever. Hey – you just said it – you COULD get those jobs – you choose not too. Keep you crying to yourself. It distracts those of us who are willing to work, and we need to concentrate because we have work to do. See how that works?
Then there are jobs – LOTS and LOTS of jobs – which everyone wants – IF they can meet the requirements. And damn there are a lot of people who can meet them. It is a buyer’s paradise right now for the prospective employer. You can post an opening internally, not even advertise, and simple word of mouth of the existing employee base will almost guarantee you a dozen applicants in a very very short time. This glut of applicants also helps to depress wages, as you can almost have a bidder’s war for the position among those interested.
And then the really sweet jobs – that hardly anyone is qualified for. Man these babies pay sweet, include relocation benefits and generally are filled through professional staffing groups.
None of this is new – it is simply magnified at the current moment.
Now here is the Unspoken Unemployment Problem: Because unemployment is so high, and since people are fighting like hell to get a job, and because employers have a very stacked deck, the average working person cannot change jobs or careers as easily now as in the past. It is almost impossible to have a job and to find a better or more desirable one. Of course there are exceptions: if not under a contract the medical field seems to play to the benefit of the employee in looking for a job. But take a guy who works for a large company in middle management and has survived the cutbacks and reductions, with a decent salary and benefits package. Now, you are reminded often to “just be glad we all have a job” – and he is. He had to do his own share of downsizing last year. But if he were to become dissatisfied, with the contraction of the job market, the increased competition for what is available, and the very real fear that accompanies looking for a job without jeopardizing the one you have- all make for a damn near impossible situation. You can find plenty of entry level jobs, or worse, jobs that are equal – with entry level pay. Then compound in that instead of having 4 – 5 % unemployment you have twice that willing to work for 80% less, then competition is fatal.
So what I am trying to get out here ( and probably making a mess of it as usual) is that all us who re working really need all those who are not working to get a job – so we can go find a better one ourselves.

Right Way, Wrong Way, My Way - Original to Facebook 6/16/2009

So kiddos – it’s time for another one of these stream of consciousness rants and raves and whatever I want to say note thingy. As always, hope you like it. Some thoughts are expanded upon, others just flashes in my brainpan.

First off – Gay Marriage. I do not know why this is so much on my mind – pretty sure that after almost sixteen years of marriage to a wonderful woman and 3 sons I am not gay. But this is an issue that I am so tuned into right now. I really do see it as a civil rights struggle – being fought mainly by a generation of lawmakers who should understand what civil rights are! I do not see marriage as a religious institution in a country that attaches medical, leagal and social applications to those who are ( or can be) married. I think love is love – I found mine years ago and it ages and grows like an old oak tree – getting stronger every day. I think all people should be granted the same privilege. The argument that they can be in love without being married – sure, I will honor that – as soon as you stop calling to man/woman non married relationship “living in sin”. The bible says it is a sin? So is eating shellfish, swine and masturbating. Try telling me you have not done all three in the last 10 days. And sorry – no compromise – “Domestic Partnership” reeks of “Separate but Equal” – you have just replaced two sets of water fountains with two sets of relationships. Just like the fountains, yes they both serve the same purpose – but marriage is that nice electronically cooled fountain of water that was marked “Whites” – and “Domestic Partnerships” is the equivalent of the ceramic, exposed pipes baking in the sun fountain reserved for “Coloreds”. Yeah – hard to agree with discrimination when you have been taught that all people are equal.

Next – I am so goddamn tired of being called a socialist because I support some liberal ideals, do not like an organized church state, and have the nerve to say that I think the President is doing some good things. First of all – before you label me, understand what Socialism is – Next, I do not support ALL liberal causes and ideals – but I do support equal rights in matters of civil representation and benefits. I do not like the organized church – true. I am tired of the Christian agenda being forced into law. The same ones who are all gung-ho about it will love to tell you how the “Tally-Ban” and “Ay-Rabs” is running countries that we need to bring freedom to. Well dammit – let us have freedom here first – and when we perfect it – THEN let us spread it. But while you try to tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body, two men in love that they are going to go to hell, and meet to figure out what to do about all these “God- Dammed Mexicans” – keep that style of Freedom for yourself.

Moving on – really a sub-article of the last one. The President, as I said, I think is doing good overall. I do not like everything he is doing; as a matter of fact some things have confounded and beguiled me. But hey, he is one man leading millions and millions. He has the eyes of every single person in the media fed world upon him. I do not envy his life. But I respect that he is our elected leader, he is breaking barriers, he seems to have a sense of humor, and most of all seems to be a good family man. I wonder what Newt Gingrich’s mistress thinks of him?

OK – Newspapers. I do not know where to start. I have hit on this before, and was not satisfied with what I wrote, but could not think of a better way, so let’s try again. I LOVE a newspaper – the feel of the grainy paper, the “crack” and “pop” ( but no snap!” of folding one, the inky blurs on your finger tips – really I do. Have you ever noticed that just like reefer and a baby, there is a smell unique to a newspaper? Well, if not, you better go buy one today – they are dying out faster than World War II veterans. With the free content on websites, the constant access on cable, satellite and now over air news channels – newspapers are fading quickly. While I am sure that ethnic and special interest papers will survive, your local dailies are marked for funeral – it s only a matter on when. ONE EXCEPTION: The Sanford Herald. I hate this paper. I think it is printed with funding from a special interest group, most likely called the Sanford Read All About The Same Damn People Every Day Club. And they have the nerve to try to charge to see the content online. Sorry Charlie – Same money – and I can get an N&O? You cannot die soon enough – I hope you’re the next to “fold”. (Ok – bad pun, but hey – it’s an easy one).

Short one – Chris Jeffries and I recently had a Haiku war. Chris rocks – if you know him, you know what I mean. If you do not – oh well, at least you have no worries of him screwing you cat.

Chevrolet, GM, Government Motors. Ok, if you pay attention – you are being told that them failing is OUR fault. Think – They are closing over 2000 lots because of “market saturation” – it was too easy for you to get a rock bottom price, because you could shop and compare deals, sometimes from dealerships a few miles apart. You saving money and getting a deal killed GM. (Oh yeah – and the whole Union thing – to be fair – When they quote a $75 / hour average – that includes all salary and benefits. Want to know yours? Take your hourly salary, plus whatever your employers’ tax cost is, plus your benefits that they pay ( health share, retirement matching, profit sharing, any bonus, and entertainment and training) and it is not all that much more than what is around here – and the cost of living here is A LOT cheaper. So I don’t wanna here that either. My suggestion – buy a foreign car. Most are made here anyway, get better mileage, and have better customer service. Go figure.

Lastly – a few suggestions:
Read “Dixie” by Curtis Wilkie –The life story of a journalist who grew up in the volatile civil rights movements of Mississippi, traveled the world, and returned years later. I like it a lot.
Watch “61*” – I watched it again a little while back with Phillip. I got no use for the Yankees, but a good movie none the less.
Listen “ I aint Marchin’ Anymore” – Phil Ochs. Hard to believe this thing is going on 41 years old, especially since a lot of the songs seem written for today.

And lastly- Remember – Michael Schwerner , Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney, These are the 3 young men who disappeared in rural Mississippi 45 years ago this coming Sunday June 21. The movie Mississippi Burning is about the case and the breaking (though only partially) of a racist group (Some were Klansmen, but not all involved were) and was a breakthrough in law enforcement in 1964.

They died supporting rights – equal rights for others – something they believed in.

15 things I am NOT thankful for.... or .. The 2009 Thanksgiving Note Part 1 - Original to Facebook 11/24/2009

The Hillbilly Philosopher has been impressed with all of those who have managed to post what they are “thankful” for this month as they reflect upon the Thanksgiving Holiday. So he decided with his usual smarminess and a little profanity to make a list of shit he is NOT thankful for, and see where it lands.

1) I am not thankful for mosquitoes or fire ants. I am thankful that they do not seem to irritate and bite me like they do other people, but the little bastards themselves – nope, not thankful at all for them.

2) I am not thankful for yogurt. No person should ever have to be even close to a supposed food that smells like a baby just spit up breast milk in it. Yogurt is fucking nasty.

3) I am not thankful Mello Yello. It is a far inferior version of that sweet nectar of the gods, Mountain Dew. They cost the same in almost all markets and formats – why cheapen yourself with Mello Yello when you can get the real thing?

4) I am not thankful for non-alcoholic beer. Do I like beer? Certainly? I LOVE the taste of beer – but I cannot drink non alcoholic beer at work or while driving for the taste and it is expensive and of no real use to drink in a social setting.

5) I am no thankful for myspace. I hated it, and think it sucks.

6) I am not thankful for flat pillows, musty sleeping bags or dirty underwear.

7) I am not thankful for national personalities becoming instant favorites of folks because of recent happenings in our area. Go to Youtube and check out Nancy Grace’s major “story” on the Duke Lacrosse player scandal. She makes her best effort to scandalize the players and her staff rails against their wealth, when the facts later revealed that they were innocent. The DA went to jail. The supposed victim barely escaped prosecution for false testimony. She ( Grace) peddles in other peoples misery, and passes it off as information. It is sadly entertainment by sorrow, and she is paid well for it. I am not thankful for her at all.

8) I am not thankful for any singer, song or production that comes from, came from, or will come from American Idol. I’m just glad that some of the greatest musicians of the last 50 years are dead, so they do not have to see the way some of their most precious songs are mangled by glorified karaoke singers.

9) I am not thankful for any of the JAWS movies. They all sucked.

10) I am not thankful for way that we still treat members of our society as second class, even though we are supposed to be a nation of freedoms, equality and compassion.

11) I am not thankful for the automatic assumption that one has to believe in every tenant of a political party if they claim to identify with it. Most folks do not – they just align with the party they can agree the most with.

12) I am not thankful for the continued criminalization of naturally growing plants and their illegal status. I can understand making any plant or product that requires refining, processing or chemical alteration, but not a plant that can be simply grown, cured and consumed.

13) I am not thankful for pulling up at drive thru windows. Just make my damn food and give it to me.

14) I am not thankful for fake cheese, or sandwich cheese. This is plastic in a malleable form. Disgusting, almost as bad as yogurt.

15) I am not thankful for insurance companies that raised my rates for two years while posting the largest reserves in their company histories, and then losing their nontax status temporarily for having too much money. Assholes.

50 things I AM thankful for -or- The 2009 Thanksgiving Note, Part 2 - Original to Facebook 11/26/2009

After the fun ( and liberating experience ) of my “NOT Thankful list”, I figured I should at least show I’m not a total putz, and make a real list of things that I am thankful for everyday. They start of kind of serious, I must admit, but then quickly run to the silly shit I usually write, and I figured that if I could find 15 things for the first list, I should be able to find ten fold as many for the second. I did 50, and it got kind of long, so I stopped. Gotta leave something for next year, right? So go get a drink and a snack - this is going to be a long one.


1. My family as a whole. I have a wonderful family, in each area of description, and will mention them individually, but I am thankful overall for the fact that I have such a large and complete family that can get along, and enjoy each other.

2. My wife, my sweetums, my best friend, my honey bunch, my Beth. We stuck it out when folks said it would never work, we fought it out when we had to, we have managed to keep it all held together, and I love her dearly. You cannot choose your parents; your kids, your cousins, - anyone – except your mate, and I love mine wholly, unconditionally, totally and forever. I am nothing if not for the love, encouragement, warmth and support of my sweetums. Love you honey!

3. My sons, all three. Each a perfect example of the blending of their mother and me, yet each totally individual. I am so thankful for their intelligence, their health, their manners (which need work, like I said, they are MY kids too), but I cherish them every single day. Mitchell, Phillip, Collin – I love you all dearly.

4. My Parents. My parents have been married my entire life. That may sound funny to some folks, but that means a lot to me – they are committed to one another, and they have served to be great examples to me on how to make a marriage work. They treat me like a man, but remind me I am their son, often when it is of a silly nature, but more so by rushing in to help me when I need it, trying to do their best to keep me and my family on the right path and in good sound shape. Happy Thanksgiving Mom and Dad – I love you guys!

5. My sister. I am so thankful for her, and even more thankful that she never killed me. I am sure she wanted to. Not that I think I am some major Cult of Personality, but I know I could not have been an easy “big brother” to follow thorough the earlier years. She’s all grown up now, has 3 girls to match my 3 boys, is married to a man that is devoted to her, and has a nice life. I love her and her family very much.

6. My Job. I admit I do not speak of it in depth on facebook, but that’s because you shouldn’t. I will say that I know I am fortunate to have to job I do, and to work with the people I do. I do enjoy the work, and any time you can get paid to do something that gives you satisfaction you win twice.

7. My reconnection with friends on facebook. I’ve written a whole note on this alone, so go find it if you want to.

8. Martha Harmon and Jeffery Davis. Two better friends could not be found. You know how you know you have a great friend? You can go weeks, months, years and no speak, and when you do, it’s like it was yesterday and you pick up where you left off. Cliche? Perhaps. But most cliche are true – that’s what makes the cliche’, non? Hope you guys have a great holiday season, and love you much.

9. Chocolate.

10. My buddy Alan Dezso. You know in cartoons, the little angel on one shoulder and the little devil on the other? Alan is that angel, who keeps me out of trouble. He’s also one hell of a camping partner.

11. Living in America. Yes, I am thankful for this, and I do understand the value and strength of such a statement. We do not have to like everything, not support everything, or the same candidate, or go to the same church, or any church at all- we are FREE. And people have paid for the freedom in some real hard ways. So remember, be thankful you’re here. Never blame the soldier for the commands of the leadership, and respect those that have fallen.

12. My chickens. I know – silly. But really, they keep me balanced, and happy. I recently sold out for the year to reduce feed costs, and I was miserable. As much as I had told myself that they were not pets, it was not true – I kind of missed the little soft “cluck cluck cluck” sounds out in the yard while I work. So I got me 20 yesterday to carry over the winter.

13. Lessons learned the hard way. Yeah. Look, I never went to more than a few classes at a community college. I made choices that took the options of higher learning away – I do not regret them one bit. But the lessons I have learned the hard way, the scrapped knuckle, sweat in your eyes, the laying in bed unable to sleep with worry variety, the humbling asking for help when you’d rather die type – it has taught me a lot, and I doubt any of those lessons were offered on the local campuses anyway.

14. Mountain Dew.

15. Beer.

16. Water. I am a firm believer that God created water so that one day, man armed with knowledge and experience could invent Mountain Dew and Beer.

17. NASCAR. Oh come on you say – NASCAR? Yep, I am thankful for it believe it or not – I’m still a kid a heart, and every race I watch there is the little kid in me wishing dream and hoping he could grow up to be one of those modern day daredevils. I love it.

18. My lawnmower. Zero turn is the only way to go.

19. I am thankful for the ass whooping I got from my dad at fifteen after doing something really stupid. That singular moment probably straightened me out for the better, for life. I deserved it, and now as a parent I know how much it had to have angered, hurt and wrecked him. He done right by me, and I am thankful for it to this day.

20. I am thankful for sardines, spaghetti o’s, and potted meat. Without it, I’d get mighty damn hungry out on the road sometimes.

21. Panty hose. Every male, from a little boy to an old man, loves the feel of slick smooth panty hose on a woman, just for different reasons at different ages. Wowza!

22. Satellite TV.

23. My passion for reading. I do not know who should get the credit – my folks were avid readers, and certainly had awesome teachers in the early years who encouraged reading. A cheap used book is a poor mans golden diploma – you can learn something from anything you pick up and read.

24. Led Zeppelin. I am thankful for them – they are and will always be the rock group I measure any and all others against.

25. Quentin Tarintino. I am thankful for him showing that dialogue, real, gritty, spoken word that sounds just like what you would here waling through the room of any house, bar or warehouse can carry a movie. Forget special effects – get the relationships right – that is where the story lies. Happy Turkey Day Motherfucker!

26. The District Attorney’s Office of Harnett County, for seeing the right in a situation, and dropping the charges against me earlier this year. Again, where’s a whole note on this one, so you can go read about it in depth elsewhere.

27. My new facebook friends – Dave, Nick, Ashley, Gabriele, John, Molly, and more and more – Happy Thanksgiving guys!

28. The ability to make someone laugh I am thankful for this probably more so that any other “skill” I have. I love to see a smile on someone’s face, period.

29. Learning to play the guitar at an older age. I still suck, but I enjoy it. It is by no fault to my instructor, Guy Unger, who is super duper nice, and I recommend to any and everyone. He's on my friend list if you need to contact him.

30. Chris Jefferies posting the National Novel Writing Month info. I did my part – and wrote the minimum requirement of 50,000 in just under 11 days! I have finished my story, and am now revising, rewriting and such. It was the push I needed to get off my ass and do a project , and see it through the end.

31. Jim Beam.

32. Salma Hyeck. Damn.

33. Smokey and the Bandit. Awesome movie and a wonderful memory of a guy busking in Bole’s (sp?) Pizza in Greeneville knowing “Eastbound and Down”. Cannot hear the song or see the movie without thinking of that guy, or the fun I had that night with my cousin David . Love you dude.

34. While on the subject of cousins, I am thankful Michael survived his apartment fir years back. I hate hospitals, but as soon as I found out I had o go check on the little guy ( who is not too damn little anymore – he’s a MAN – and he was OK. Love you kid.

35. My Aunt Nell – you were the “young” aunt – close enough in age that I tried to relate to you
growing up – far enough away that you were “an adult” not to be trusted (joke). You were (and are) the cool inspiration, though I don’t think you knew how much. Love you, and love your family. Your Husband is probably one of the nicest folks I have ever met, and your daughters are beautiful. Hope your holiday weekend is fun and relaxing.

36. My Aunt Carolyn and Uncle Alex – the adventurers. These guys had the house right in the edge of Chapel Hill, always were going on cool trips and hosting great over the weekend sleep over’s for our family. Jessica and Mallory always were beautiful and a blast to play with when younger. Here’s wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.

37. Aunt Diana and Uncle Leon. The elegant and refined home, the warm welcome that meets you at the door, you guys are lovely. I remember dropping in on Aunt Diana at her classroom one day – that surprised smile was awesome. Here’s a toast to you guys, and hope that your holiday is warm and special.

38. Elizabeth. She who is silly and cute. A living baby doll. Love you. Happy Turkey day, you turkey!

39. Mitch Henely, Brian Steen, Tim Shaw, Connley Parker, Nathan Norris – all previous bosses who taught me lessons in life.

40. Randy Newsome. I miss you. A lot. I love you. If you were here, it’s Thanksgiving; we’d get together today, probably drink a beer, and have a good ole bullshit session. You’re heavy on my mind right now. Ten years and it hurts like yesterday. But I am thankful for the time we had. My second son has your name, and you’d like him, I know. (He’s kind of quire about things sometimes – just like you were)

41. I am thankful that things hurt. ( I’m crying right now ) It tells me that I am still a decent person, that I can love, lose, miss, value and want people.

42. I am thankful that I get to cook the turkey today.

43. I am thankful for the men and women who will leave their families today and respond to heart attacks, fire calls, wrecks, all manner of emergencies. I have never had a single desire to be a paramedic or a firefighter, nor a policeman, but I respect all that they do in order to help the average person in crisis. God bless you all, and I hope you get some time with your family today.

44. Did I mention Salma Hyeck? Damn!

45. I am thankful for all the McGarity family I have met on facebook, and the connections that we have made. If possible I would meet every one of you in person, just to shake you hands and say thank you. The only McGaritys I had met n my life till a few years ago were the ones that lived in my hose, and my grandparents. It’s just cool knowing that you are not the only ones.

46. I am thankful for my dad teaching me the simple skills and tasks that seem to elude so many of my contemporary friends – cutting, welding, chain sawing, carpentry, basic farm electrical, general automotive maintenance.

47. I am thankful that I was allowed to grow up and be what I am – and that my thirst for adventure, diversity, experimentation and sometimes even self destructiveness were allowed to me, to make me what I am today.

48. I am thankful that I have some really great employees that work with me, and want them to understand that It is hard to be the boss; they make it easy more often than not though, and I am thankful for that.

49. I am thankful for Bert Pritchford, Bobby Tyson and Ken Dalton, all men of their religious vocations, that talked TO me, not AT me, and even if I did not decide to walk step in step with their lectures, were respectful enough of this creation of God to accept me for what I was and to continue to treat me kindly and with patience. Bless you three, and comfort Mr. Tyson’s family in their recent loss.

50. And on my last expanded one of the list I am thankful for you, for your taking the time to read my little notes, and hope you get something from them. They are therapy for me- I let out what is pent up and move on. They help keep me from grabbing a rifle and looking for a water tower to shoot from.

Pieces of lint, shards of Glass - Original to Facebook 12/19/2009

Sweet Mercy, I have a damn headache. I did not drink all that much, despite my postings and such - but I have an ass kicker of a headache this morning. Maybe it's the weather - who really knows?

So, Christmas is gonna be her in 1 week. Cool. This year is gonna be the year that defines " It's the thought that counts" - because my happy ass is broke. Hello Dollar General - It's good to know thee. Seriously, I am cutting way back. And am not worried about it. IF anything, I am kind of ashamed of the over the top manner in which I have given gifts in the past. So I'm done - Fuck the Joneses, I ain't keeping up anymore.

I need some coffee. I'm going to go get some, and leave for a few minutes, but you'll never know it as you can keep reading. Kinda blows the thinly woven fabric f a lie of a note being like a conversation, huh? If it were, you'd know. As it is, I already have my coffee, and you never missed me. Ta - Da!

I spent some time this past week with an old friend, and yesterday we were finally able to talk without audience and without "working" on cleaning out some stuff, and it was good. It's good to have friends. Love you, you know who you are - and glad to have you as mine.

It is getting to the time when budgets, workloads, weather all fray nerves in the construction industry. I hate this time of year.

I really want a Hershey Bar right now. No trickery, I'm not gonna leave to get one, because there are none here. But damn I want one. I love chocolate better than a 15 year old girl who got dumped 2 days before Prom.

I know a lot of single folks, and undoubtedly several will get engagement rings for Christmas. Really guys? That's original. ( And a hell of a way to get around buying a gift ). I dunno - Christmas and Valentines proposals always irked me for some reason. You guys know I'm a lover not a fighter, and I want everyone to be happy, but they do just seem to find the cynical section of my heart.

I went to lunch with a friend for her birthday this week, and it was awesome. Visiting with and catch up was Awesome. The Places, Sal's, on 55 heading to Durham was awesome. It will get a Hannable Food Review, but not this time - I have an unwritten rule that I only review a meal eaten alone.

It did not snow here last night -the kids are kinda bummed, but I am kinda glad. Let it snow AFTER Christmas, in that week of time I'm off work and bored to death anyway.

I have really gotten the "I want a Motorcycle" bug this year. I'm not gonna get one, I cannot afford one, my wife does not want me to have one, and I do not really want the expense maintaining and driving of one, but every one of them I see, I wish it were mine. Bike envy, I guess.

There is a really neat, organic project that several of y friends and I have kind of spontaneously started - a free form writing project called "The Summit". Each person is taking a turn and adding to the story. It's over the top, and riddled with inside jokes to be sure, but if you are interested pieces are in the notes areas of our walls. Better yet, go to the Fan Page called "Operation Wal-Mart " and they are all collected there in nice neat fashion. I do want to thank everyone who is involved - Nick, Chris, Blade, Dave, Hilton, Mike, Gabrielle - you guys rock - thanks for taking a little time and being creative.

Expanding on that - creativity - in any form - has gotten to mean so much to me. As I mature I met more and more people who do not read, do not enjoy the so called "classic" films, do not peruse museums when able, skip going to public gardens - and it makes me sad. Some of the happiest folks I know are so vivid and creative - and they need an outlet to get these thoughts and images out - and to an individual they enjoy these other things. Creativity lights a spark for others - and I think that is a wonderful thing.

Find a passion. Embrace it. It does not have to be your life - but it will enhance it, and most likely the lives of others. I LOVE too cook. I think I am a slightly better than average home cook. But that does not mean I expect to drop all my things and go open a restaurant, nor do I host snooty diner parties so folks can fawn over my procurement of rare oil and spice collections. Rather, I like to see the pop in someones eyes when they eat something and it is GOOD. Great is nice, but GOOD, truly GOOD, is good enough for me.

I'm sure that there will more of these in the next 15 days or so - I'm gonna have a lot of free time on my hands.

Jeffrey Davis is 35 - a few memories...Original to Facebook 1/06/2010

Jeffrey Davis is my boyhood buddy, my "bestie" in today's lingo - but he will always be "Boo Dog" to me. Here are a few memories I have some of our exploits ...

* I never won many fights - as a rule I avoided them at all costs. But in fifth grade, when Jeffrey and I had done some school work ahead of time, and a classmate was going to "tell on us", I broke crazy and jumped across a desk and tackled him to get my notebook back. Jeff occasionally still reminds me of this.

* Boo Dog called me 'Slide" - the only person to do so, and it would sound funny from anyone else, but from him, it fits. ( Kinda reminds me of his dad , too )

* Jeff used to ( and still may , I admit I don't know ) love to draw "graffiti" on notebook paper. He could produce subway quality work at a young age, but sadly, our small North Carolina town had no subways.

* Jeff was always polite and generous to a fault. I was the bad guy, he was the good guy. And have probably one of the best dynamics of any friends I know. It's like yin and yang, or salt and vinegar, or fire and ice - it just works.

* One reason Jeffrey is one of the finest folks you will ever meet is his parents - The world lost Billy 2 years ago, but he instilled enough of his wisdom and insight into Jeff that I can assure you that there IS some good in the world.

* Our first cars - Jeff had a gunmetal colored K car - front wheel drive and a tape deck. He got his license half a year before me obviously - and man we ran the roads. ( He got a speeding ticket taking me home on a Sunday morning once - I was SCARED shitless - I had never been in a car that had been pulled over before ) . I got a burgundy Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme - bucket seats and a tape deck. We hit Benson a few times, back when you could, and he even "chauffeured" my car for me a few times when I was in the back seat, um, "looking for something".

* Pinto bean pies. Cards till 2 in the morning. Old Trucker Movies. Sweeter than sweet tea.

* I was working at a BBQ joint in Hiigh School, and Jeffrey was at Byrd's Grocery. He came to work at the BBQ place where I was - and stayed after I left. He went away to school , and when he came back he went to the same place, eventually being "the man" for a long time. I always secretly admired his "stick-to-it-ness" - in the same time frame I held literally 20 different jobs.

* I would go to the Byrd's about the time Jeff was to get off, and go in and buy a case of YooHoos. We would sit in the parking lot and drink THE WHOLE DAMN CASE. Yep - we were that cool.

* We were band geeks - but dammit - we had fun, and no one , NO ONE, can take that from us.

* Raven rock = Cheap double dating. ( A lesson for younger generations)

* I will politely decline to discuss any high school girlfriends, who dated who, and such - but leave it to say that we had fun.

* Jeffrey liked Credence Clearwater Revival way more than anyone else I knew. Bombing down dirt roads, "Looking out my Backdoor" wide open, trying to "drift" a K Car before drifting was a sport - that was us.

* I always could depend o Jeffrey to give me good advice - though I usually did the EXACT opposite of what he suggested - kind of like reading the bible to find out what all the good sins are.

Jell-O Shooters and Texas Pete Cupcakes - Original to Facebook 1/22/10

I have been a little grumpy lately, and I think I know why - it has been a while since I cleaned out the filing cabinet in my head, and maybe mental constipation has taken its toll on me. So, like you have seen before, here is my off the top of the head and a few better thought out thoughts.

* I have been enjoying the little writing project for THE SUMMIT that some folks and I have been doing. I think it is interesting to see how folks craft story lines, and to see folks get involved. I have to admit it is grown a little bigger than I expected after the first few - hell - I never expected a second one - but all in all I am having fun with it. If I had to find any fault with it at all, it is that I have stopped with my "one off" pieces of drivel, like the one you are reading. Lately if I write anything, it is SUMMIT material. I did write a short at Christmas, when I promised to write 12. I did one, or actually two, but did not post the second one out of a last minute case of respect for the world at large. Who knows - maybe that is for the best - maybe the world needs less of my stuff cluttering up its spaces.

* Also related to THE SUMMIT, but not - Dave Myers is a cat that writes with us, and has made some awesome artwork. Dave is extremely gifted, and I use this term because I think that it is the term he would use - it is a gift from a higher power. If you have seen the pictures, but they are the only ones you have seen, I implore you to check out . You will be amazed, impressed, and inspired.

* I am going to be 35 this year. I publicly announced my poor lifestyle choices and desire to change them. I got off to my normal deranged obsessive start, and did great, and then “backslided”. Update: I have lost 12 pounds cumulative as of today - after losing over 15, I pretty much feel of the wagon for a week. I have kicked the MT Dew on its ass. I did have an 8 oz glass the other night, and finally understand folks who say that after drinking diet drinks how it tastes like syrup. And I have cut out the snacks, almost to a fanatical point. Funny aside - last Sunday morning, while playing Mario Kart Wii, I had a craving for Spaghetti-O's so strong that had I not had a turkey cooking in the oven I would have driven all the way to town for a can. I was saved from my impulse by a turkey - awesome.

* I climbed up on a high horse a few days ago and deleted folks over a "chain status" that I thought was offensive and racist. I do not regret doing so. I understand that folks can say what they want - I love that, respect that, believe that. I understand I use foul language - and I make no apology. But I have come along way from some of my former viewpoints, and see the error of them. I may argue and joke about politics, religion, occupations or whatnot - but you don't see me making racist comments. And no matter how much we agree or disagree on subjects like gay marriage , gun ownership, or the ability to smack another person's kid in Wal-Mart, i don't throw a single religious figure into anyone's face and essentially call them a coward for not following them. It was just kind of tacky to me. If they believed what they copy and pasted -good for them - it is their right to do so. Sadly, I think many of them did it to be funny, instead of posting their own original thought - and came off, to me at least, looking like racist zealots. Am I making a label there- sure - it is what they appeared to be to me, but it is not a label that applies to a people as a whole. I apply it to each and every one of them, individually. And I will forgive them, because I am trying to be a better person, but I am not going to condone its repetition. But I'm not going to tell them to press any damn number to find out if they agree or not.

* This time of year is real hard on my guys at work. The cold weather prevents paving, and then the rains all but eliminate it if the temps do rise. As much as I like this time of year ( I like the cool weather, and it's the only time of the year that we are sow enough that I feel human - when we are paving it is an all consuming affair ) I do feel sorry for them, and hope that pretty soon we can get back busy.

* Sometimes the hardest job in the world is being someone's friend. You have their heart aches and take them on as your own, you see their happiness, and envy it, you see their faults and try to help without offense, and you see the things they boast of doing best when in fact the are terrible at it. It's hard to be a friend. I reckon that's why true friends are so hard to find.

* Money is tight. Prices are high. If you were ahead, your barely getting by now. If you were barely getting by, you’re now behind. My thoughts to those who were already behind - it's got to be a nightmare at this point for them. I will make no bones about it - I'm struggling, but just am breaking stride. And there is a part of me that has for the past few months realized that where I used to stress so much, now that I am little numbed, do not, and wonder if maybe getting by is enough? Maybe we take on, want more, try to own more than we need - and when I have more than I need, I am hogging a part of the world from someone else that needs it, but does not have it. I don't know. I cannot place it into words to make it sound the way I think it. I have a high school friend whose family set out in a travel camper, selling all their property, to do service to their Lord and mankind, and help folks with less. I will admit at first I privately thought it a crazy idea. Now, I have grown to respect it, and while I do not follow the devotions of organized religion, find myself thinking of her and her family (the rest of whom I have never met ) and "sending good thoughts their way". I hope that they are comfortable this dark morning as I write this, and that they keep on with spreading their love for fellow humans. You can learn more about them and their project of love at

* I did read an interesting story about a Buddhist Nun in Raleigh, and the limited newspaper account of her journey to the place she holds now. I found it inspirational.

* Haiti. It breaks my heart. And I do not care what their politics are. I do not care what they may have said in the world court. I do not care if they are "waiting for a handout". I see humans, hungry, hurt, orphaned, dying, and sick - and it breaks my heart. I will freely admit I am much prouder to see our soldiers there, helping save lives, than I am to see them be sent into combat. I respect the soldier, and I understand following orders; I'd just rather see them, at this time, making the world better for those hurt people, than fighting guerrilla tactics with village chieftains and regional lords who will not stop, ever, until either they are eradicated as a village or region, or until we leave.

* I want to be a better person, and I am trying.

Pancakes with a side order of Chlorophyll Original to Facebook 1/24/2010

My last rambling note, upon reflection, was full of deep, almost serious thoughts. Here is another helping, with a little bit lighter fare. As always, thanks for reading.

* I like a good fart joke, or poot reference. Most folks I know do too, even if they do not mention it polite company or to the world in large, in a small group they will make a joke, poot sound, or tell an embarrassing story. Which leads me to believe that all people actually like fart humor. This then makes me wonder about famous, respectable people. Like when the Presidents of two major countries have a meeting after a meal of broccoli and onion salad, and in the middle of intense discussion one of them rips off a good one. Or if the Pope has ever asked a Cardinal "What died in there?" I know, obscene - but makes you wonder, huh?

* I think that banks ought to have to be open any hours that the people in their community are at large. Not an ATM - but during the night, when third shift guy gets his lunch break he could go in and talk about his retirement IRA. Car dealerships' service departments, too.

* I talk to all of my animals, but I view some as pets and others as agriculture. Oddly, the agriculture animals seem to understand me better than my retarded pets, but then, the pets are like my kids, so maybe they don't listen because my kids don't listen. Maybe I should start farming kids, and then everyone would listen.

* You know who had to be the bravest person in history? The guy who ate the first egg. " Ooog ugg og ugug oog og " - " Hey Frank, look what fell out of that chickensauraus's ass. Eat it!" "Ogg ug ugg ugguugugu ug " Fuck you Bill, you eat it" " Oggugg " OK". History's first chef. Wow.

* I think it is funny how Blade Jericho was such a geek in High School, and is a total Ladies Man now. Proof that not all fruit ripens at the same time.

* I wonder if anyone ever gave Pete Seeger a hammer, and told him to shut the hell up?

* I am drinking from my favorite coffee cup right now. It says " How much shit could a dipship dip if a dipshit could dip shit" . It was a Christmas gift from yars back, and I love it. If I ever se someone else drinking from one just like it, I will consider them my blood brother for life. Even if it is Blade Jericho.

* I have a round front 50 gallon aquarium that was also a gift from years back. It has been dormant for better than 2 years. If you want it - let me know. It has the matching stand, and I will give you an insanely good deal on it, just so that someone is enjoying it.

* I wonder if Tina Turner ever tried to kill Ike?

* Sometime I wonder about seriously inappropriate things. Recently it has been whether or not there is such a thing as porn for retarded people. I know, I'm gong to hell for even wondering. I have asked other folks, and even evil as it is, they laugh like hell. I will admit even I am scared shitless to "google" the term.

* I love to make folks laugh, even if I do not like them. I just like to hear laughter.

* Something else I have wondered, also inappropriate. I wonder, is during the September 11 tragedy, if some office clerk knew he/she was not going to make it out alive, and killed a co-worker they always hated, like someone who kept stealing their diet cokes from the office fridge.

* I saw a church for sale off of hwy 87, down towards Wilmington, and had Alice's Restaurant stuck in my head for the following couple hours. True story.

* Ever notice it is easy to get an illegal drug you don't need, but hard as hell to get a legal one you do need? Like, I know when I have a kidney stone, but I have to go to the doctor, pay a x-ray tech to scan my body, and pay another one to read it, for the doc to tell me I have a kidney stone, and THEN write me a prescription for something to help with the pain. The same meds he writes me a prescription for folks use recreationaly all over town. So to be honest and legal, it costs you about $250 for 30 pills you can get illegally for $30. And folks wonder why I am in favor of health reform.

* I misspell SMOKE as SMOAK almost every damn time I type it. Also a true story.

* If you work somewhere that does random drug testing, and you take a vacation in The Netherlands and smoke reefer for 10 straight days, then come back to work and get tested and come up positive, can the company fire you for violating the policy against illegal drug use, even though you used them in a legal setting?

* If there is in fact a god who created everything, I have to think the platypus was made right after pot and mushrooms where invented.

* I think the should be an iPhone ap that whenever someone wants an ap they do not have yet, they can type it in and it will announce it and then get the following scenario. Say you want an ap for estimating the weight of dog shit on a new york side walk. You type in shit estimator. The an animated voice will blare form the phone " Shit Estimator- There should be an ap for that! " All the non iPhone folks would still be envious, I assure you.

* I may not be the smartest person I know, but that is ok. I damn sure am the smartest person I have ever been.

The Vacation Notes - Before and After ( Originally separate - combined here )


OK, so I'm on vacation. And by vacation, I mean that I am not at work, but I still get phone calls all day, and the email does not stop. And by vacation I mean we have to clean the house and cut the yard before we go. Oh, and laundry. And then there is the ride down to Myrtle Beach ( North Myrtle Beach by the way - apparently there is some difference to where you address is in Myrtle Beach, I guess like living in 90210 or right next door in 90077 ( Bel Air btw ). Check in is at 3:00 - then you have to unpack, go buy provisions, and then rest for two days before packing it all back up and returning again. This is gonna be fun, if it kills me. ( LOL )

This is kind of nice, because it is a break in the absolute busiest time of our work schedule. Of course, that means I am getting hella calls, because I am not at work at the absolute busiest time of our work schedule.

OK, so if you know me, really know me, you know I am not, and have never been, a beach guy. I pretty much avoid the beach - the waves make me queasy, and besides an ice cream cone ( can buy them at home ) or a few cheap t-shirts ( internet ) there is not a lot that I personally enjoy doing there. I work on the coast, and never go. I recently actually drove to the beach, was close enough to feel the spray over the dunes, but went to eat at a certain restaurant, sat in the lot and typed a review, and left. Never saw any water I did not cross with a bridge.

What do I plan to do you ask?

What I always end up doing at the beach - drinking beer in the room while everyone does activities I can weasel out of, and showering and throwing on the ubiquitous "I'm a tourist button up shirt and jean shorts " for those I cannot escape.

I am trying to be positive this trip, as it is the first trip I have taken with my parents and sister ( and her entourage as well as mine ) since I left their home and got married. I want to have a good time. I want to have fun. I will make an effort.

But I know how I am, and almost deeply dread the all but guaranteed tense moment of " I just don't want to " do something. Mini Golf - blah. Wax Museum - blah. Shopping? How the hell can I afford shopping? - blah. I would like to go to the aquarium, but, again, I know I'm an asshole, you don't have to tell me, but I would like to go alone, or without the kids to say the least. I don't want to rush, or to chaperon, or walk through the gift shop - I want to meander, to look, to watch the fish and the people, at my pace, not in a I - want - to - gt - out - of - here - and - go 100 - other - places speed.

I had someone who does know me and know me well ask if I was going to write any food notes while I am there. Sadly, probably not. As a rule, I have written all of them out of dining experiences of solitude. I go alone, I eat lone, I watch, I write. That's it. Perfect example - Sal's Pizza in Durham. I LOVE THE PLACE - and have not done a note there. Why? It's a place that if I am there, it is with someone. We are there to eat, converse, gossip. I don't have the time to make notes, or the desire to be so rude as to tune out of the conversation long enough to do so. It's an almost personal Zen thing - you either get it or you don't.

I am excited about the chance to go and relax with my Mom and Dad, and I do want the kids to have a good time. I'm gonna have to keep them on a tight ass budget, and hate it, but hey, it's life these days. I'm sure there will be plenty of pictures ( some I'll post, some I will not ), both of me being silly, and of family, and that's all well and good.

Then Saturday, we return ( every one else on Sunday ) to get all gussied up and go to a QuinceaƱera. I am ambivalent about this as well. I mean, part of the deal is we have to attend a Mass, and , well, that's just not my cup of tea.I am kinda anti-church. I do not like church. I do not support churches. I don't go to church, I don't like going to weddings in church, and no one likes to go for a funeral, but to go to a church that 1 ) I do not know the custom of 2) Do not wish to pretend I am interested in when I am not , thus being as false to the church as I feel it is to me, or 3) have a good feeling the service is going to be almost entirely in 2 languages I do not understand - well, let's just say I am not looking forward to that.

Part of me is eager, because I want to learn about the culture of the family hosting the event, but I kind of gather already that this is not the same as the Latin culture of the folks I know and love. I feel almost like I am cheating on my friends, with their modest and scary tales of growing up in hard times, their backgrounds and stories of struggle and of the work it took them to get here, to go to a fancy party where formal attire is requested.

Plus - I'm going to be in a room full of strangers. Something that the older I get I like less and less. Hell, I don't like going to functions of more than 6 or so people that I know unless I am the host - I just kinda of like to control my surroundings. I honestly wish I had gone to the Doctor and gotten my Valium re-prescribed ( I took it for a while to ease social anxiety a few years back ) - my nerves will be that tightly wound, I assure you.

( And if you want the tri-fecta - all this takes place on Fort Bragg. SO... let's recap - Church - Strangers - Military. I know Chris Jefferies is laughing his ass off right now just picturing it )

Then Sunday will be the last day of my "vacation" before I go back to work on Monday. I have a feeling I'm going fishing. Yep, i think I'm gonna need good fishing trip.


SO, here I sit, on a Sunday morning, mildly sun burnt, with a hangover from being tired. ( Not from drink - more on that below ). I have had an adventure over the past few days. The events followed the order I mentioned in the earlier note, and here, my friends and stalkers, is how they unfolded.

Wednesday was the travel day. As I outlined before, I am not a beach person. I will tell you right now, and save you a lot of reading that nothing that happened on this trip changed that. I still, if given the choice of the beach or the mountains, will be seeing mountain laurels instead of sea oats, eagles and bears instead of seagulls and crabs, and shanty shacks on the hills instead of million dollar prize homes on the dunes. But ( I hope you're still reading, you know there is always a "but" ) , I did have a pretty good time.

Wednesday we got there, and I was pissy. D'uh. I'm always pissy the day we get there. Plan on it. I even KNOW I am pissy, try not to be pissy, but pissy I am none the less. It hits me all at once - the noise, the wind, the erratic light reflections of the water, the screaming kids, the cloying smell of suntan lotion - all of it sends me into pissy overload. I cannot help it - it is , in me, as natural a reaction as a dog barking at a shadow in the night. Sorry that it affects other folks, but thankfully Sweetums has learned the best thing to do on that first day is to LEAVE ME ALONE. Just get out. Let me vent, pout, drink a few beers - whatever - to get it out of my system. Sound childish? It is, I know. Real? Yep.

So Once I got in a nap ( see, I told you it was childish ) I went for a walk, and just blew of some steam. Then Sweetums and the curtain climbers and I all went out for our " BIG MEAL " of the vacation. It was and will remain in my memory as one of the best meals I have ever had. You know how I love food - I wish I had taken some pictures. It was a place called Bennett's Calabash Seafood Buffet. I saw two of these down there, so if you want to go to the one we went to it is the one down around the low 50 high 40 street numbers, not the one to the north. It was pretty freaking good. Buffet that was cooked in , to me, small batches, so it did not have time to set and degrade, good raw bar, and very nice ( and nice to look at ) wait staff. Price - um, wow. Adult's were market - which on this day was $26.45, plus $2 for your soft drink or tea. Phillip ( 9 yrs old ) $9.95 plus ( no crab legs - thats an additional $5 ) and Collin I was surprised was only $4.95 ( again, same crab leg rule). Now Collin can rip up some shrimp, so I felt he got his food costs. Phillip ate so-so. Mitchell and I tried our damnedest to put them out of business. Prime rib, t-bones, shrimp 20 different ways, oysters, clams, flounder, salmon, ribs, low county boils - they had it all. Good Stuff.

This was followed by my discovery that while South Carolina has a million fireworks stands, and more escort services listed in the phone book than any other place I have ever been, they are so puritan as to close their "Red Dot" ( ABC) stores at 7:00 PM. What the hell is that about? I ended up with a 12er of Red Strip ( Hooray Beer!) for a criminally low price of $11.99. That was fine. Went to room, drank half of them, went to sleep.

Thursday brought on a large family day of activity - My brood, plus that of my sister, were hosted by my Dad and Mom to a trip to Myrtle Waves water park, where we had all day passes, and my Dad rented one of the "Cabanas" for us. This was most excellent. I would lie if I did not say I had a wonderful time. The rides were fun, the water was refreshing in most places ( kinda tepid in the kiddie pools, either from lack of depth or kiddie pee - who knows ) but it was pretty damn fun. And the cabana was a godsend - about 12x12, it was shaded, with a table and chairs and a few chaise loungers. Made a nice place to take breaks. Probably the most fun I have had at the beach in my life. Seriously.

We followed that up with a few hour break and then a monster of a pizza buffet with all included again. It was a nice day. I cannot find a flaw in it anywhere. ( I did get my "bad knee" tweaked a little, but that happens from time to time, so I cannot deduct from the awesomeness of the place just for that)

This was the day I found the Newcastle mini keg. I was amazed to find it, squealed like a little school girl at a Jason Mraz show, and probably did a little joy dance as well.

Friday was "on the sand day". Mom rented some chairs and umbrellas and camped out a spot on the sand for everyone. I did go down early in the morning, but did not stay too long. The combined sun from the day before, and the pounding rays of sun sent me scurrying. I ended up taking a long nap , and then ate with the family and Allison's family. Micheal John made some excellent pepper popers. Then we all swam together, including Mom and Dad at the 10th floor "roof pool". Another good day.

And so begins Saturday. We had to pack, say goodbye, start off for home, stop for fireworks ( I LOVE fireworks ) ride a while, stop to pee, ride a while, stop for a book for the kids and to pee, ride a while stop to pee and get something to eat. ( I swear I think my boys were pregnant women all the times we stopped to pee). Then halfway home, the Mitchell informs us we have to have him at the Quincenara at 4:00, not 4:30. Rush rush rush. Home - unpack, water the chickens, put on a tux ( Mitchell ) put on a dress ( Sweetums ) put on a suit - then rush rush rush - and we finally got there at 4:10. We were almost the first folks there, LOL.

The Quincenara started off for the night with a Catholic Mass to celebrate this young lady's 15 years and her devotion to her Family and Church. It was interesting to me, most of the time. I admitted earlier my ambivalence to religious affairs, butt his was not too bad, if a little lengthy. It lasted an hour and a half. I found the Priest's manner of speech and his earnestness to be inviting, and he seemed not only to enjoy the service, but it seemed to radiate out from him the honor he felt in doing it.

The young lady was beautiful. Disney has never made a princess that could compare to her on that night. From her tight bodice and then fully flared dress, to her hair and makeup, she looked every bit the part of a young princess on the cusp of becoming a queen. She was beautiful.

I will not go through the whole ceremony, bu I will tell you for the very most, it followed the progression as I had read about it earlier on Wikipedia. I was proud as a parent that my son had been asked to "stand up" and participate, and I am sure it is a night he will long remember.

The reception and traditional dance that followed was very nice. We met some family of the young lady from Texas, from Illinois, even a friend who came all the way from Japan. Everyone I saw seemed to be smiling, or laughing. It was very fun, very special.

Then, about 11:30, back at home, I finally tapped the Newcastle mini keg, but that, my friends and stalkers, will be a whole different note.

Lots of love to my Dad and Mom, My Sweetums, and the kids, and Allison and Michael and their girls for a wonderful time. Many thanks to the Hernandez family for allowing our son to be in the quincenara of your lovely daughter.

"Hello! Welcome to-" "Oh shut the Hell up!" - Original to Facebook 8/25/10

My Dad is a world class greeter. He really is. When my Dad sees you, you know it. It can be in his yard, or in town at the Food Lion ( irony to follow ), or where ever - but if he sights you, he's gonna make sure you know it.

He does it with flair, and with respect. You feel like you are at that very moment the very center of the world. As you should when someone greets you. He does not have a pat greeting, not a repetitve " Hey (insert name) How are ya?" or a " Well look who's here, ( insert name). " Rather, he just naturally has a way of thinking up the right words and cadence and phrase to tell you hello.

It is honestly something I fail miserably at. Being a natural greeter is just that - natural. You either can do it, or not, and to force it is worse than no greeting at all.

The best greeting's are from friends and family or folks that you do business with on a very regular basis. Who did not wish they were "Norm" on Cheer's and have the entire bar to great him when he entered? ( Besides, it was the place where everybody knows your name...yeah - that;s gonna be stuck in your head now - you're welcome)

Myself, if I am happy to see you, I try my very damnedest to make sure you know just how happy I am too be in your presence. However, I also am kinda sorta just a little anti-social - and at times would rather just "be there" and no really get all that involved with the pomp and ceremony of greeting every damn person in the room. It's not you - it's me. At a lot of family gatherings, I kinda have to "warm up" to the room - to drift about, doing my own thing, and then slowly, like melting ice, warm up and then circuit around and speak to folks. I usaully do this as if we have alrady goen through the ritual of a greeting - we've both been there for an hour - so why bother. I'd just as rather walk up and simply start conversing.

Get me in a crowd where I do not know anyone, and man I am miserable. Beer or wine helps. I freely admit I took medication to relieve social anxiety for a while - but folks think this is just me being "silly ol Hannable", making a joke - there is no way I could possible be so outspoken and at the same time be shy. Guess what? It happens.

So with that, I have come to almost detest going into any business nowadays - because every freaking employee now is a greeter. It used to be Wal-Mart. Remember back to those Halcyon days when the only Wal-Mart in our little area was the one in Dunn, and they had these Grampa looking tyes who welcomed you to Wal-Mart, and you felt like 1) They were really happy to work there, and 2) They really liked it and 3) They really honestly wanted to walcome you to such a great place. I remeber that - it was different, and it was kinda cool.

I am sure that this was a planned move, and without research and willing to bet it comes from some proven marketing plan, mst likely of Far Eastern extaction where "Welcoming" a customer into the "house" of retail proves to be a viable marketing tool.

Then the "Greeters" becaem defacto security and recipt Nazis. A particular Lady at a particular store I remember well- she was gonna check every damn recipt that went out that door - period. What a pain in the ass.

Nowadays I cannot get coffee without a 'Welcome to Kangaroo!" - and sorry - but it feels forced. If The little lady who yelled it did so with a smile, or a wave of the hand, or any indication that she was happy to see someone at 5 a.m., instead of doing it while mopping infront of the drink cas and in a half assed mumble, I would take it and respond. But it smacks of " The boss said I had to greet every swinging dick that comes in, so here's you fucking welcome".

CiCi's Pizza - Thank god they have toned it down a bit - but when you come in the WHOLE DAMN STAFF has to welcome you. Then they have those assinine chants and songs for each pizza, and when you leave they all wish you a goodbye. Criminey,

And Food LIon. They like to welcome you to you're neighborhood Food Lion. Guess what? There's no damn Food Lion in my neighborhood - I just stop at which ever one is on my way. Does that mean I am still Welcome, or that they wasted the neighborhood welcome on me? I asked a cashier one day what she did if someone that she did not like came in, and she admitted that she did not welcome them. She also admited that if a manager caught her not welcoming folks she would get in a small amount of trouble.

So really, I am tired of it. It's fake, it's a pain in the balls to have to deal with - because now, do you respond? Do you have to be just as fake? Or are you an asshole for just walking past them like they are streeet beggars and you have no change? I don't know - I just do not damn know.

But I do know the places that don't seem to do it. And I find myself stopping at them more and more.

Everyone Farts - Get Over it - Original to Facebook 9/01/10

It's a Wednesday. I have a slight buzz from a sampler pack of Shiner Beer from Shiner Texas. My mind is like a broken merry go round - lots of screaming, a little blood, and a clown over to the side with a grin and a meth habit. Here we go kids - this one's gonna be adult only material...

*** You know what's fucked up? Gas Prices. Not in the "Man this gas is too fucking expensive" - We all go through that, and truthfully, gas in not THAT expensive when you look at other indexes. ( really, it's cheapr than Coca Coal by the cup at a gallon pric from McDonalds, and much more diverse, but I digress). ANYWAY - my problem is the changing price index. I am sorry - I understand supply and demand, I understand availibility versus futures, but come on - there is no way the market is that damn volitile. If it was EVERY product would be that volitile, due to shipping costs alone. Think about it. You understand now, don't you?

*** Drama - I hate it. But I will not suffer the embarrassment of being drug into someone else's bullshit. I have enough on my plate with a Mortgage, kids, a job, employees, hobbies, the farm - I am not going to waste my good sweet time playing games. Period. Sorry. But you know what I will do? I will shine the light of truth on someone I think is trying to hurt someone I care about/ Period. The HP don't play that shit. Hey, I know I am fortunate - I got a loving Sweetums, I have great kids, a good career in a place I love with folks I love. So really, I do not even want to KNOW your games. Really. But if you find a way to interject into my life in a negative way, either directly or indirectly, and I think something is amiss, I'm gonna call it.

*** I am so pissed about not having my bike done yet. I had a mental goal of Labor Day weekend to take it out. I wanted it so badly. In retrospect I realize my own trying to be thrifty and save as much money as possible has robbed me of this. I am mad at myself, o one else. I WILL have it together soon though - and when I do, I am gonna take a day off from work, get that bad boy inspected and ride till I cramp up.

*** After watching and reading and discussing with friends and foes, I will admit ( and echo) a sentiment I have heard elsewhere - the midterms are gonna be BRUTAL to liberals. I can only hope that the wave of conservatives that are elected are of the old REAGAN strain, and not of the Glen Beck viral strain that seems to be so popular now. It's sad to me to see the country regress on social change, but i think it will. There is a part of me that relishes in this happening though - The conservatives had the run of the country and economy for 8 years, fucked it up all they could, got us into two wars, one understandable and the other not - and then as they left strong armed the first Bank Bailout. Then they want to harp on the new administration for failure and not being able to undo in 2 years what they took 8 to fuck up. So they better fix it in their upcoming two years -I'm not gonna give an inch. Sadly, the interjection of religion into the ruling of a multicultural society will most likely result in the increased discrimination and caste system-ing of the population. Oh well - I guess everyone who branded me a socialist better be ready for the fascist name tag - and if the shoe fits your politics, you better get used to wearing it. ( Further as a friend pointed out, the Liberal base is unhappy because the changes and progress have not been enough. We still have DOMA, we still have DADT, we do not have viable tax supported healthcare in operation - what conservatives do not seem to grasp is that there are liberals just as pissed off right now as they are - but on the whole other end of the spectrum)

*** I recently took back up the hobby of home brewing. In this vein I have been trying to drink as many micro and small brews as possible. I so wish I had started a diary, or if nothing else a list ala Jeb's. But last week I grabbed a Miller out of the fridge and drank it. It was tasteless. NOt as in it was no good - it had ZERO flavour. Now i am nowhere near a beer snob, nor any type of gourmond, but really - I had forgotten just how identical all "American Beer" is - and stunned by the lack of bite, taste, flavour or presence it had. I am now hooked - give me a good Fat Tire, or a Longboard, or a Duck Rabbit, perhaps a Peroni - but I'll pass for now on any of the big boys you see in stark abundance - Budweiser, Miller, Coors, and the ilk.

*** My kids are so much more socially progressive that I remember ever being. I bet I was more so than my folks, whose generation is acknowledged as rocking the very foundations of this country, and whose parents I am willing to bet were more so than their parents. Which leads me to believe two things - there is hope that one day people in this county will be all treated fairly and the same, regardless of race, religion, creed, sexual preference, education et al and that this country had to have been founded by some tight ass stick in the muds for each generation to have to push so hard to keep moving to such a balance after 400 plus years.

*** I still have not eaten the Hot Vid Lon. But I will.

Let's get serious for a moment - A little Girl Named Emily

Usually I use this space to kill some time,maybe spout off a little bit of my odd mix of politics, witticism and such, and have a good time gauging the reactions. Occasionally I write a little fiction, or pen some rather dark fiction under a nom de plume of Hilton Stiles. And of course, if you know me, you know I love to write my not really a review restaurant reviews.

I have not however tried to write any science fiction. At least not since I was a middle schooler and had a crush on an adorable girl who was mesmerized by Issac Assimov, but as the phrase goes, that is a whole another story.

If I did write some science fiction, I might write about this awesome weapon that some dark goverment ageny was going to try, one that would be unseen in the air or food, but once in a body it slowly turned the fluids of the body into crystals.

It would grow in the cornea of the eyes, so that if untreated they would cause pain, light sensitivity and blindnes.

Perhaps it would make a persons blood so acidic that they could claim to feel it moving within them.

It would cause renal failure, muscle deterioration, blindness, inability to swallow, diabetes, and thyroid and nervous system problems.

I could do that, exept one thing:

This is not science fiction - it is real - and it is called Cystinosis.

I'm no expert, so here is a good common definition, from Wikipedia :

Cystinosis is a rare genetic disorder that causes an accumulation of the amino acid cystine within cells, forming crystals that can build up and damage the cells. These crystals negatively affect many systems in the body, especially the kidneys and eyes.
The accumulation is caused by abnormal transport of cystine from lysosomes, resulting in a massive intra-lysosomal cystine accumulation in tissues. Via an as yet unknown mechanism, lysosomal cystine appears to amplify and alter apoptosis in such a way that cells die inappropriately, leading to loss of renal epithelial cells. This results in renal Fanconi syndrome, and similar loss in other tissues can account for the short stature, retinopathy, and other features of the disease.
Definitive diagnosis and treatment monitoring are most often performed through measurement of white blood cell cystine level using tandem mass spectrometry.

The scary / amazing / odd thing is that it affects only 1 in every 100,000 to 200,000 newborns - it is so rare that only approximately 2,000 people in the WORLD are known to be diagnosed.

And one of them is a bright, scrappy little girl named Emily.

Emily is the Daughter of some schoolmates of mine - and faces some awesome challenges. She has endured rigorous medicine schedules, late night emergency room trips, and is now enrolled in what is being touted as a revolutionary research treatment program. It requires her family to travel from central NC to Atlanta twice monthly. It prevents her family from having any semblance of a normal life, with steady work and school.

Having a sick kid, with a tummy ache or maybe a broken arm is hard enough on a parent - imagine having a child who is facing a lifelong battle.

These folks need your help, and mine. They are working every minute they can, and more importantly they are spending every minute they can loving and supporting Emily.

You can help.

There is a benefit planned for Emily, a plate sale and raffle on November 6, 2010 at the Buffalo Lakes clubhouse. All proceeds will go to Emily's family to offset travel expenses and lost wages.

So, please, if you are in the area, drop in and get some food. Buy a raffle ticket. And help a little girl fighting a disease that to most of us would only be found in a science fiction tale.

The HP would appreciate it - it's a mean world out there kids - we got to look out for one another.

Link for Facebook Page of Emily's Benefit.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What I have learned ... "Our Lives" Column Essay Entry * NEW TO PUBLIC

Never made public prior to post, this is the 250 word essay I entered to The News and Observer as my bid to secure one of the "Our Voices" columnist slots. I have heard nothing, and guess that they were not interested.
The HP

After 35 years, I have been taught many lessons in school and in life, but what I have learned, I have learned from my heart.

Sadly a lot of what I once thought I had learned turned out to be either incorrect – or I learned that it had changed and what I had learned was no longer valid. I learned in my sophomore year of High School I loved a special little girl. Then I learned she did not love me. Then I learned what heart ache was. Later I learned that I loved another young lady, more than any other, and we married. Have been for 17 years now.

Back when we were young folks said “You will never make it – you are too young – you are being foolish”. I learned that they were being mean, or trying to help when they had no place of interfering. Now I am older, I have a son who is almost 16, and I have learned that their hearts were in the right place, they spoke from sad memory of loves lost, even if we have so far proven their grave predictions wrong.

And I have learned how to be a father – to scold when needed, to hold and sooth when called for. I have learned what it means to love someone unconditionally, even if it breaks your heart to do so.

Now, I can only wonder, as I stand smack in the middle of my life, what I will learn tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Barrel Monster Mania...Original to Facebook 6/20/2009

OK - this one is gonna be short.

If you did not know, I work for a larger than average construction company in NC. ( By disclaimer, I will not name them, but I will say I like my job, my employees and the things I do. I work with some pretty cool people, and have a great boss. Sure, I have the occasional shitty day, but even a pie taster gets a case of the shits every now and then.)
Recently the news, including local and national, and internet based, have all had a story, a blurb, or a photo of the infamous Barrel Monster. This was created by a student at NC State, and showed up on a constuction project. Appaerntly, the barrels for the structure were liberated from the project, without consent of the owner.

I have mixed fellings about this whole thing. I am not going to take a side, just let you in on my thoughts.

1) It is cool. It is cool as hell. Shows imagination, and I like it.
2) Is it art? Sure, I will give you that. But that is all I know - i do not know weather it is folk art, political art, vandalism as art, or graffitti personaified . Hell maybe all that, and a bag of chips. But yeah, by my definition it is art.
2a) My definition if art - Anything that is creative and is original to the creator.
3) Is it vandalism? Yes, I am sorry - but it is. These barrels are pricey for a contractor - and we all know how tough the economy is right now. The artist could have just as easily bought some or even contacted a contractor for used but no longer in service ones, made his project and them put the piece on-site, and probably saved a little bit of the kefuffle. Still woulda got the attention, but would have removed the whole theft angle.
4) The purpose of the barrels it to warn and slow traffic. This is where I am kinda torn:
4a) It definately would slow traffic - making for a saafer work zone for the guys out there busting their ass for hourly pay to build badly needed roads.
4b) It would distract drivers attention from what they are doing, and could actually make the workzone even more dangerous due to that lack of attention.
4c) it could increase traffic as more people come to see / photograph the monster - definatly increasing the chance of an accident.
4d) Lastly, people could concievably want to get a picture with it. Pedestrians and 'civilians" have NO PURPOSE within an active work zone - this is unsafe to all involved.

I hope the uy does not get in to too big of a jam. I would also like to make an open suggestion to the NC Department of Transportation to consier liceensing the monster for use in public relations materials and work zone safety ad campaigns.

And should it happen, and it somehow ended up out of a work zone, on dispaly, I'm gonna go get me two pictures of it. One all alone, and one with me beside the Barrel Monster.

Below is a picture I got in an email - this things is cool...

Facebook, Friendship, Life Changes and Attitudes Original to Facebook 9/11/2009

Chris Jeffries made a passing statement a while back about how facebook is changing the way we look at "friendship". I thought this was spot on, as the same thing had crossed my mind. The comment thread seemed to gloss over it though, and deal with a more pressing issue ( which was the real point of his note anyway, I think) and I decided then and there I was gonna let that baby stew and brew in my head till I got it right. And I hope this is it.

So, you are on facebook, and your new. The first thing you do ( if you are like those I have asked) is you look up your current buddies, pals and family. Then you get a suggestion, or a request from someone you have not seen in years. Someone you actually think about on a semi bi-monthly basis or so, but figured you would never see again. Facebook is now awesome, and becomes to quote the Sony Piece of Shit commercial, a mother fucking time vampire. You look up third cousins. You look up ex-boyfriends or girlfriends. You look up people you had heard were dead. You look up yourself, just to see how many cool people you can find with the same name.

And that is nifty. Along the way you also pick up a few friends that you were so-so friend with in your past. Maybe someone that was friends with your younger or older sibling. A guy you met once on a church trip . whatever. But so far, you have not yet MADE any friends - you have just reconnected to people that you already know. For lots of people, this is fine, it is dandy, it is absolutely perfect.

I have to stop here for a moment, and make a few personal remarks. This has happened to me - and I am thankful for it. As an adult, I have been given a second chance at friendship with some people that I only peripherally knew. I have been able to spend some evenings chatting with some folks that I did not know well then, and only learned to know recently ho much they mean to me. I have been able to strip away the foolishness of high school and apply the foolishness of adulthood. I honestly treasure some of these newly refreshed friendships.

Now there are a few taboos - and plenty of other articls to tell you about them, so I will only brush over a few.

Past Love: Do not, ever, tell someone "Hey it is so great to be on here with you - I had a crush on you all through High School" Umm - that's asking for trouble. It is not comfortable for either of you, and is not the basis for online friendship. Hey - I'm talking from the side of someone who was told that, and no offense, but I would have rather not known. Also, I went to two high schools, and do not think on my front I could be called shy - but I admit I had a crush at each of them - by people that just stunned me by their presence. Now I am friends with not one but both of them -something my shyness denied me of then. There is no way this side of Baghdad I am gonna put them in an awkward spot because I feel like I'm buddy buddy now and they will find it funny.

Current Love: Telling the world you love your wife / husband? Awesome. Spreading all your divorce and fights on facebook? Uncool. And stupid. Don't you know that there will be an ATTORNEY involved in your future?

Politics- you gotta have a thick skin if your gonna hang it out there. Either be ready to defend what you say , and suffer the image you present to others for it, or choose wisely to avoid getting backed into corners. I like humor and satire - and no one is sacred. I'll call out the left, the right, the Pope, Michael Jackson - whoever - so give it your best shot. But remember, when you put yourself out there, well, your out there.

Religion, see politics above, but even more so. I love the more religious postings of my Denomination-ally attached friends. I read them all - and yes, I sometimes look up the verses you post to get the WHOLE CONTEXT. And I'm gonna go with my mind and heart, and post how I feel about things too. Never to offend, but I got just as much right and access as you do, and hey - the worst that can happen is you feel more reaffirmed in your faith by measuring it in your opinion of the lack of mine. Or whatever.

Work - DO NOT POST WORK COMMENTS ON YOUR FACEBOOK WALL. EVER. Hell, stick with God and Government, anything, before you start fucking with your paycheck.

Lurking sucks - if you cannot comment, or you have nothing to say on the Wall, it is really not right for you to gleam info and use it to gossip in the real world. Or worse, to walk up to me and start talking about it a week later - where were you when it was current content? Lurking, that's where. I'll unfriend a lurker in a New York Minute.

SO, now back on track - you have reconnected with folks, and then it happens - A NEW FRIEND - a stranger.

I am loving these. You get to kinda scope out folks, get a feel for them without the makeup and hairspray if you will, and based on their interaction with your friends, you become friends. I got a slew of these, and I think it is awesome that if a gun was pointed to my head I would list them among some of my more interesting and current best friends I got. It was once a fear to ever meet them, that it would be anticlimactic, but after many months, I am gonna try to start branching out and putting some voices with the humor and pictures.

So - there you go - no real issue or point to make waves - just my view on how facebook has changed the way I make friends - and if you read this, I'm probably your friend already, and I mean this sincerely:

I'm glad to have met you, and really enjoy your interaction and comments, and look forward to much much more.

( I have never explicitly asked for this - but if you like this - and you think it is valid - think about sharing it on your Wall for all your other friends to see - I'd love to see the comments that it generates!)


The Hillbilly Philosopher, Hannable McGarity