Monday, November 16, 2009

'X' Marks the Spot


That's what my son bowled a couple weeks ago.

The second-highest series ever bowled in Nebraska. (The highest is Jeremy Sonnenfeld's perfect 900 series bowled in 1997 - the first-ever sanctioned 900 series.)

He spared the second frame of the first game (left a 4-pin with the first shot), then threw 33 straight strikes, finishing with a standing 10-pin on his last ball. According to him, he just got lucky. He was in 'the zone', where every ball just seemed to head for the pocket, and everything carried. He said he has been in the same zone before, but without the carry, and only bowled 650. This time, though, everything just came together. Most people in the center didn't even know what was going on, since he is a calm, methodical bowler. Sure, they had heard his 300 game announced, but that wasn't so unusual; it was his sixth or seventh of the season. And that's not counting all the 280s and 290s. Heck, he had even thrown an 835 series just a few weeks earlier.

But when he released that last ball, you could hear a pin drop, followed by pandemonium when it slammed into the pins.

He's glad he bowled it at Leopard Lanes, his "home" center. (So is Mickey, the proprietor.) Of course, it means that the 220+ average he carries everywhere else is overshadowed by his 236 average at Leopard. When he bowls tournaments, he has to use his higher one. :-D

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Calling All Dawns

Day. Night. Dawn.

Life. Death. Rebirth.

The circle of life, the inter-connectedness of human life and society. These are themes explored by Christopher Tin in his debut album, Calling All Dawns.

The album is a song-cycle in three uninterrupted movements: day, night, and dawn (corresponding to life, death, and rebirth). It is a tapestry of interconnected motifs, the main melody of one song becoming the instrumental interlude in another. The last song fades seamlessly into the first, reflecting the cyclical nature of the universe.

The twelve songs are sung in twelve languages, ranging from Swahili to Polish, from French to Farsi to Maori. The lyrics are from sources as diverse as religious texts like the Torah and Bhagavad Gita, to ancient Persian and Japanese poetry, to lyrics by contemporary writers. Vocal traditions include African choral music, opera, medieval chant, Irish keening, and more.

The opening song, Baba Yetu, is familiar to all players of the Civilization 4 video game. This award-winning song (The Lord's Prayer, sung in Swahili by the Soweto Gospel Choir) sets the initial tone perfectly, with its thrilling drums and stirring music, celebrating life. (If you are unfamiliar with the song, think The Lion King - Circle of Life.)

The second song, Mado Kara Mieru (Through the Window I See) is also stirring. The lyrics are adapted from a Japanese haiku series that looks at Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Spring again. Third is the Mandarin Dao Zai Fan Ye (The Path is Returning), also a poem on the cyclic nature of life.

Fourth is the Portuguese Se É Pra Vir Que Venha (Whatever Comes, Let it Come), with its theme, "I do not fear life, nor its counterpoint. Whatever comes, let it come." The final song in the "Day" movement is French, Rassemblons-Nous (Let us Gather). It is another strong celebration of Life.

The "Night" movement begins with Lux Aeterna (Eternal Light). The words are from the Requiem Mass, "Let eternal light shine upon them, O Lord, grant them eternal rest." This piece, while still showing some of the triumphal horns of the "Life" movement, is clearly a transition to a slower, darker phase. The seventh song is Caoineadh (To Cry), an Irish keen, a most haunting, yet beautiful piece. The last piece of "Night" is the Polish Hymn do Trójcy Świętej (Hymn to the Holy Trinity). It starts out quiet and somber, but as it progresses, there are hints of the dawn to come, the triumph of light over dark, the rebirth of life.

"Dawn" begins with the Hebrew Hayom Kadosh (Today is Sacred), from the Book of Nehemiah. "Do not mourn and do not weep, for this day is sacred." It is definitely a turn back to the light, to the new day. It segues into the Farsi Hamsáfár (Journey Together), easily on of my favorite pieces from this work. The music is a celebration of this new day, this rebirth on the universal wheel.

The Sanskrit Sukla-Krsne (Light and Darkness) is the penultimate piece. Probably one of my least favorite pieces, yet it fits musically into the whole, and the work would be diminished without it. The final piece is Kia Hora Te Marino (May Peace be Widespread), from a traditional Maori blessing. It gathers together threads that have run throughout the cycle, and wraps them up in a grand finale. The cycle is complete, the new day has dawned bright and full. It ends with the opening notes of Baba Yetu, and if played continuously, smoothly flows into that song once more.

To check out samples from this album, please visit Christopher Tin's website.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Deer: Dangerous on the Road

Yesterday, my wife and I had to run up to Boy Scout Camp Cedars, up by Fremont, to pick up our oldest grandson who had spent the night for a Nani-ba-zhu festival. (It's a bit complicated. As a member of the Order of the Arrow, he has also been inducted into the local Nani-ba-Zhu 'tribe' as a Brave. He spent Saturday making his 'regalia': headdress, necklace, arm bustles, etc.)

We picked him up about 6:30, and headed home. It was an hour-plus drive, and about 7:00, with the sun sitting fairly low in the western sky behind me, we crossed the Platte River into Douglas County. As we came over the bridge, some motion caught my eye. A deer (doe) was bounding through the tall grass down in the tall grass ahead to the right. Something told me to be careful, so I eased off the gas and pointed her out to my wife. I had one car behind me, a friend of ours with her Scout coming home, and oncoming were four motorcycles, followed at some distance by another car.

Moments after we came off the bridge, the deer decided she simply had to be on the other side of the road, and launched herself directly in front of my car. I stomped on the brake, expecting the sickening THUD as I hit her. Instead, as if by a miracle we missed her. At the same instant, i thought, "Oh my God! The motorcycles!', and out of the corner of my eye I saw her hit the lead biker.

I watched the deer, bike, and rider go sliding down the pavement in my mirror as I pulled over to the side. Our friend pulled over right in front of us, but I was already out the door, heading back to see if there was any help I could provide. The car behind the bikes had already pulled over and was calling 911 as I arrived. Two of the bikers were pulling the bike and the deer to the side of the road, while the third was dragging his friend, in a sitting position, to the other side.

As I got there, fully expecting to see a bloody, mangled body, I found the biker, a fairly large man, almost laughing! "Good thing I hit it, and not one of you little guys! Probably would have killed you!" We gave him a quick check over to be sure how he was. He said his ankle hurt - probably busted, but maybe just badly sprained. He took off his helmet (not a scratch on it), and his leather jacket. The left sleeve, from wrist to elbow, was torn up, and he had a little "road-rash" up by his elbow. That appeared to be the extent of his injuries. He said that with the sun setting, and in his eyes, he didn't even see the deer until they collided.

Meanwhile, my wife had also called 911, and was able to give them more exact directions to the accident site. Two Sheriff cars soon pulled up, followed shortly by a Rescue Vehicle. After the Deputies took statements, the biker was loaded into the Rescue Squad to be transported to a hospital, and we were on our way.

After we got home, and before the sun fully set, we took a look at our bumper. We saw two new dings on the driver's side, right where the deer's rear hooves might have hit. It makes us think that we might have altered the deer's path just enough so that, instead of the biker hitting her head on, and possibly doing a header over the handlebars, instead she was twisted sideways and hit him in the side taking the bike out from under him, and possibly even serving as a "cushion" for him during the critical first moments of the slide down the pavement.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Lovely Weekend

What a lovely weekend it was.

The temperature Saturday officially topped out at less than 100, but the heat index rose well above that. My wife was gone to Iowa for the weekend with the Girl Scouts, camping. (Well, they had air-conditioned cabins, thankfully, but it was still "camping".) She had our daughter, and two granddaughters with her. The two grandsons still left home went with the Boy Scouts to Kansas City to Worlds Of Fun for the day, so once I dropped them off at the collection point at 7:00am, I didn't have to leave the house again until I had to pick them up 15 hours later. So I buried myself in the barely adequate air conditioning, did some laundry, fixed a child's wooden rocker for a friend (a little wood glue can work wonders ;)), watched some movies, etc. Nice and quiet, even if too hot.

Sunday, the fun began. First, no solid food for the next 24+ hours. Clear liquids only. And nothing with red/purple food dyes. Lime Jello was as solid as it got. At 9:30 I had to leave for the nursing home to supervise the Community Service kids. Hungry. And it looks like rain. I check the weather radar. Sure enough, a line of thunderstorms less than 10 miles away. Sorry, Cocoa and Cleo, I'll put you dogs out after I get home at lunchtime. You won't like it out there pretty soon. Sure enough, less than 3 miles down the road, big, fat raindrops start splattering the windshield. By the time I get to the nursing home, there's lightning all around, and the rain is pouring down. The storms continue off and on all day.

By quarter to twelve, I'm done at the nursing home, so I drive up to the 72nd Street Flea Market to pick up the bed rails for a bunkbed we bought for the grandsons a couple weeks earlier. I had put it together, and found three of the four rails were missing. We informed the lady we bought it from, and she had called back to say she had found them. But the Flea Market is only open Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday. I picked up the rails, dropped them at my daughter's and headed home. It had stopped raining for the moment, so the dogs went out back. By now I was starving. Broth was on the list of allowed liquids, so I heated up a can of beef broth and drank it down. By now, it tasted delicious. I went upstairs and killed time waiting for my wife to get home by installing KDE4.3 on my computer. About 3:00pm, I noticed I was getting quite a headache. I went back downstairs and checked the beef broth can. There it was, the 3rd ingredient was salt/sodium. I went back upstairs, relaxed a few minutes, and checked my blood pressure. 156/103. Not high enough to go to the ER, but high enough to give me a good headache. And I couldn't take my medication until Monday.

Finally, about 5:00pm, my wife got home. She's exhausted. Since the thunderstorms are rolling east, she had to fight through them all the way home. Plus, between sick Scouts, arthritic knees, and an uncomfortable bed, she figures she only got about 4 hours of sleep since Friday. During a lull in the rain, we bring in what has to be brought in from the car, and I let her lie down on the bed. Then I tell her it's time I started. She agrees, and reminds me I have to drink the whole gallon in three hours.

GoLitely is a special electrolyte mixture designed to clean your gastro-intestinal system of anything more solid than water. And not leave much of that, either. You drink an 8-oz glass every 10 minutes or so. Chugging is preferable to sipping. And it tastes awful. Like glass after glass of salty water. The instructions say you should notice the effects within an hour of the first glass. They are correct. After that, keep a clear path between you and the bathroom. If there is a second bathroom in the house, so your family can use one while you have complete access to the other, so much the better. GoLitely works by causing a massive influx of water from the rest of your system into your intestinal tract, which then gets flushed out. Repeatedly. "... until the watery stool is clear."

I managed about 3 liters before nausea wouldn't let me swallow any more of the stuff. My "stool was clear", so I decided that was enough. It turns out that most people don't finish a whole gallon. If you have less than a quart left, before you quit, you're doing good.

Monday morning, 7:00 am, my wife takes my to the endoscopy clinic. A pleasant nurse greets us, makes sure I'm the person their records show, that I'm there for a colonoscopy, etc. She has me change into a hospital gown (open to the rear, of course), and gets me situated on a gurney. Then she tries to start an IV, for administering the sedative and any other medication during the procedure. Now, I've never had a problem with giving blood, or having IVs started. Wrap the rubber band around my arm, pump my fist a couple times, and the veins stand right out for easy access. Not this time. After trying and failing, she apologizes, and says she will have the anesthesiologist do it, since he's more experienced. "It's really unfair. First, we dehydrate you, then we stick you in a cold room, and then we expect your veins to have blood in them!"

A little later, I'm in the OR, lying on my side, and they push the sedative into the IV. Next thing I know, it's a couple hours later, and I'm in Recovery. After I'm sufficiently functional, I get dressed and my wife drives me home, where I spend most of the rest of the day in bed.

Diagnosis: slight diverticulosis (common in over-50s -- a high-fiber diet keeps problems at bay), prostate looks normal, and a polyp was snipped out for biopsy. We'll get the results of that in two weeks.

Monday, June 08, 2009

R.I.P. Ellie Mae

This weekend, my old Basset Hound, Ellie Mae, passed away. She was twelve and a half years old. She was ours for over ten years. We had rescued her from going to the pound when her previous owner complained that he received too many "noise" tickets because of her barking.

She fit in well with the family, and got along fine with her new canine buddies. She was no noisier than any other dog in the neighborhood. Her only significant quirk was that she hated having her feet, particularly her toes, touched. This made nail trimming a real adventure.

She loved running in the back yard, complaining about the soccer players in the park beyond our yard when they kicked the ball too close to our fence. She also loved chasing squirrels and rabbits (and the occasional possum) letting them know this was her yard! I remember a couple of times she chased rabbits under our back shed, and managed to burrow so well after them that she got stuck, and I had to get the bottle jack from the van and jack up the side of the shed until she could wriggle free.

A couple of years ago she got into a fight with our lab/spaniel mix dog. They had had spats over the years, as siblings are wont to do, but never anything too serious. This time, though, her back legs and belly were quite torn up. Fortunately, a Basset has very loose skin, so most of the injuries were superficial skin tears, and little damage to the underlying muscles or organs. I helped her inside, to a blanket in the corner of the living room, cleaned her up, and nursed her back to health. Twice a day I carried her up the steps to the front door, so she could go out and relieve herself. Then back down to the living room. As soon as she could walk the stairs by herself, I started taking her for walks, to help her regain strength in her legs. It was during this time that she seriously attached herself to me.

As she was recovering, near Christmas, 2006, her other best buddy, another basset named Gypsy, died suddenly. That night, despite below-zero temperatures, she insisted on running instead of walking, and went over half a mile before I could convince her to slow down. I think it was a release of energy she had pent up, grieving for her friend. After that, our walks returned to walks, with the occasional jog-trot thrown in.

Fully-recovered from her mauling, she was spending most of her time with Coco, the lab, and Cleo, our son's new basset puppy.

Six months later, it happened again.

We have never figured out what triggered the fights. I do know that as she got older, Ellie never appreciated puppy exuberance. Up to the end, she would growl at Cleo whenever she bounced up to her. And Coco, despite being of an age with Ellie, has never outgrown her puppy-like exuberance. She doesn't know how to not bounce. I believe that Coco just wanted to play with Ellie like she played with Cleo: bouncing and rough-housing, and Ellie just wasn't having it.

Whatever the reason, it was back to nursemaid for me. This time it was over three weeks before she was back sleeping in her kennel. My wife and I also decided that she wasn't going to be allowed out with the other two dogs, unsupervised. My new morning routine was now to let Coco and Cleo out into the back yard, and then either hook Ellie up in the front yard, or take her for a walk, letting her back in when I left for work. In the evenings, when my wife and I sometimes sit on the patio in the swing, she would jump up between us, and insist on me giving her a belly rub.

Last Monday, I noticed she wasn't eating her regular dry food. She was drinking, though, and readily consumed the soft treats I gave her. Tuesday was more of the same, but now she was listless, and hardly seemed to have the energy to climb the steps to the front door. Wednesday and Thursday she rallied somewhat. Her eyes regained some sparkle, and she would even sit up when she heard my wife come downstairs. We tried plying her with soft dog food, but she never ate much of it. Water and treats were still good, though. Friday, she seemed to relapse, and when I came to put her to bed for the night, she couldn't get her back legs to support her. So I carried her to her kennel and helped her go in and lie down. I figured if she wasn't any better in the morning, I'd take her to the vet, knowing he'd probably just put her to sleep.

Saturday morning, I woke to hear her crying and barking. When I got down to her kennel, she was gone.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

35 Years

Memorial Day weekend my wife and I will celebrate 35 years of marriage. We have been together for 2/3rds of our lives. And she is still my Sweetheart; the only woman I ever want to be with.

How does one celebrate spending so much time together? In our case, Friday night we will spend with a few thousand baseball fans, watching an Omaha Royals baseball game with our grandchildren. After the game, we will head out to the car, grab our tent and sleeping bags, and head for the outfield to join several hundred others in the annual Girl/Boy Scout campout in Rosenblatt Stadium.

Saturday morning, we have just enough time to pack and load the van, before we have to head down to Platte River State Park, where the oldest grandson will be joining some other Scouts from his troop for a 10-mile hike, as part of their preparation for going to Philmont later this summer.

We hope to round out the weekend by going to see Night at the Museum II, without any grandkids in tow. Then we can use Monday to recuperate, so we can make it through the rest of the week.

Friday, April 03, 2009

I Think I Have A.A.A.D.

Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder.

This is how it manifests:

I decide to water my garden.
As I turn on the hose in the driveway,
I look over at my car and decide it needs washing.

As I start toward the garage,
I notice mail on the porch table that
I brought up from the mail box earlier.

I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car.

I lay my car keys on the table,
Put the junk mail in the garbage can under the table,
And notice that the can is full.

So, I decide to put the bills back
On the table and take out the garbage first.

But then I think,
Since I'm going to be near the mailbox
When I take out the garbage anyway,
I may as well pay the bills first.
I take my check book off the table,
And see that there is only one check left.

My extra checks are in my desk in the study,
So I go inside the house to my desk where
I find the can of Coke I'd been drinking.

I'm going to look for my checks,
But first I need to push the Coke aside
So that I don't accidentally knock it over.

The Coke is getting warm,
And I decide to put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold.

As I head toward the kitchen with the Coke,
A vase of flowers on the counter
Catches my eye-- they need water.

I put the Coke on the counter and
Discover my reading glasses that
I've been searching for all morning.

I decide I better put them back on my desk,
But first I'm going to water the flowers.

I set the glasses back down on the counter,
Fill a container with water and suddenly spot the TV remote.
Someone left it on the kitchen table.
I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV,
I'll be looking for the remote,
But I won't remember that it's on the kitchen table,
So I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs,
But first I'll water the flowers.

I pour some water in the flowers,
But quite a bit of it spills on the floor.

So, I set the remote back on the table,
Get some towels and wipe up the spill.

Then, I head down the hall trying to
Remember what I was planning to do.

At the end of the day:
The car isn't washed
The bills aren't paid
There is a warm can of Coke sitting on the counter
The flowers don't have enough water,
There is still only 1 check in my check book,
I can't find the remote,
I can't find my glasses,
And I don't remember what I did with the car keys.
Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today,
I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all day, And I'm really tired.

I realize this is a serious problem,
And I'll try to get some help for it, but first I'll check my e-mail....

Don't laugh -- if this isn't you yet, your day is coming!!

PS: I just realized somebody left the hose running in the driveway....

(Found on the internet)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A little humor

My middle grandson (the one with ADHD and Asperger's) was musing the other day, as is his wont, and he popped up with, "What if you had a threaded rod stuck in your head?"

His older brother seized the moment, and without hesitation declared:

"You'd be screwed!"

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I guess it's officially Spring: We had our first tornadoes yesterday, and by this weekend we'll be seeing snow....

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Well, the scary part is over.

Back last fall, my wife had a routine medical checkup. It included having a mammogram taken. When the radiologist reviewed the films, he saw a shadow he didn't like. He discussed it with my wife and her doctor, and they all agreed that a biopsy should be performed. So in early December, she spent a morning in the surgery clinic while they stuck some needles in through the side of her breast, and snipped out bits of tissue.

Just before Christmas, we got the initial word: not cancerous. So after the holidays, they went over the results. The radiologist wasn't happy. The mass was tough, fibrous. The sample they had gotten was much smaller than he would have liked. In his experience, over 80% of masses like that proved to be cancerous. He recommended doing another, surgical, biopsy, to get a larger sample. The doctor left it up to my wife. They could go back in, or, since the test came back clean, they could wait, and watch it to see if it changed.

In my wife's opinion, it was obviously something that shouldn't be there. If they went back in, was there any reason not to remove it completely? Both her doctor and the radiologist agreed that it would be a logical thing to do.

On February 9, she spent another morning in surgery. They removed a fibroid mass with a volume of eight cubic centimeters (about the size of a golf ball). It was rather deep, right against the chest wall, so it had been very difficult to feel. This time she had a couple of incisions, about an inch or so long each, again along the outside of her breast. More painful, and much more bleeding/bruising, that the needle biopsy.

This morning, she had her initial post-op appointment. The verdict: no cancer.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


It's awesome what getting a blog post picked up by a feed can do for your stats. On my computer blog, I usually get 10 - 12 hits per day. Sometimes, though, a post gets picked up by a feed service, and the numbers skyrocket.

Case in point, my post PCLinuxOS2009: My Experience, got picked up by tuxmachines. My hit count for the day is now 434. A huge spike! :D

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

Well, it's inauguration day. The day that "the Magic Negro"1 gets sworn in as our President.

I see all this hoopla and hubub going on, the "religious" ecstasy of some (many) of his supporters. And I just don't get it. I see an almost desperate attempt to recreate the feeling of "Camelot", back in the early 60s.

As far as I can tell, it's the loony left "wingnuts", the ones who feel guilt and self-loathing for what 'the White man' has accomplished, attributing everything to 'people of color', and that white people stole it all. Guilt for what white people did to black people over a hundred years ago. Like electing a "Black Man" to the Presidency will wash all their guilt away.

And it's not like he's the first Black president! Heck, even Clinton wasn't the first!2 (Note: I haven't verified the absolute accuracy of the following data.) Many historians say he is actually the sixth Black President. They cite Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Harding, and Coolidge as the others. The only difference is, none of them publicly acknowledged their ancestery3, but Obama does. Besides, he's the only one who looks black, even though, by blood, he is less black than some of the others.

I guess I can't get excited by him. He is still an unknown quantity. All I really know about him is that his politics are way too far Left, for my liking. I can't find anything he has actually said or done that gives me any warm feelings, whatsoever. As far as I can tell, he was elected to effect 'change'. My question has always been, change to what? All I can see is his socialist leanings.

On the other hand, he can't be worse than Carter. Probably not even worse than Clinton. There's a good chance he will be better than Dubya. I can't say I actually fear for my country, at this time.

But I will be watching....

1Anyone who wants to think I'm a bigot for using this phrase is free to do so. They should just be aware that its meaning is not what they think it is. It refers to a Black man who, by electing him as the 'Messiah', will wash their sins away, and purge them of their guilt feelings. Just by being in power, he will usher in a new, Socialist order, that will cause all us good, American capitalists to put aside our quest to better ourselves, and instead, reduce our standard of living so that others, who don't want to work, can live the way we would like to.

2In 2001, Clinton was honored as the nation's "first black president" at the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Annual Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C.

3Coolige did acknowledge that his mother had "mixed ancestry".