Some mornings overwhelm me, I will make no bones about it.  Often life can deal me a hand that I simply do not want to play, but I take a turn anyway.  Early morning is a special time of the day, but it can also be empty and meaningless, much too often this applies in my life.

Take mowing for example, there are days that I just do not feel like mowing, but you have to do it, it is required of you, the grass grows, you are dedicated to keeping it looking good.  This is one of your jobs in life, a chore that you have to do from time to time, and there is no escape.

But from time to time, life offers up a mystery or a time of joy, and I guess in the end, that what makes it all worth it?  Saturday was like that.

My wife is Chinese, her name is Yoko, she is an indoor person, basically “a stay inside type of girl.”  Her Mama is Chinese, her daddy was Japanese, she has a third cousin who is Korean, but they do not talk about him much.  This is why she has a Japanese surname.  She is a great girl and we have been together for a long time.  She doesn’t like the great outdoors, she isn’t into National Parks and the serenity and beauty of nature.  She is basically a kitchen table, I am just fine, go away and leave me alone kind of girl.

So I was a little taken aback this past weekend, when she walked out of the front door of the house in a long sleeve shirt, ball-cap, and gloves in her hands.  She looked at me and announced rather unceremoniously  … “I am going to mow the yard!”

This was a new one for me, let me tell you.

She has never, I repeat NEVER even remotely offered to mow the yard or ride the lawn tractor for that matter in all the time we have lived here.  So I thought to myself, “this I got to see.”  So I went to the barn, fetched the trusty lawn tractor and gave her a quick lesson on how things work.  She confidently climbs on board and takes off.  No more telephone calls ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!  (or at least at the time I thought so)

The woman is mowing, I cannot believe it.  I in turn pickup the gasoline powered weed-eater and head down the fence line.  She takes off in one direction and I go the opposite way.  Having learned a long time ago, “a wise man never wakes his second sleeping baby just to see it smile” I know it is best to leave her to her amusements.  Everything goes well, that is for awhile, and then I notice something strange.

I stop what I am doing and I intently listen to the sound of the tractor.

In the distance, over in the far corner of the property, I notice that the lawn tractor is running just swell, but the mowing blades are not engaged.  She is riding around, but she is not mowing.  This has happened because she has somewhere, stopped, backed up and then went on about her business.  When you back the lawn tractor up, it automatically will disengage the blades (safety measure) and this has happened.

My wife the indoor lady on the other hand, is blissfully unaware of this fact of lawn mowing safety and is just whizzing around the yard, making lazy little circles under a crystal clear blue Oklahoma sky.  Bumping along, the Purple Martins close by to retrieve any stray bug she might stir up.  She rides by and smiles, I cannot believe what I am seeing.  I see my wife making laps in the yard, nothing is getting mowed as the blades are not turning, she is just making laps.  This amuses me for a short while, no it really does, I find some humor in it, but then the reality of $3.78 per gallon gasoline comes home to me and I realize this has to stop.

So I flag her down and I say to her, “Honey, how is it going?” and she smiles a big smile.

Handing her a small ice cold bottle of water (this was my alleged excuse to stop her) I ask her, “do you notice anything different in the cut?  Is the tractor running a little different to you, notice the sound of it?” and she says, “Well, yes, yes I do.  How come?”  So as tactfully as I can, I say to her, “You might want to try this?”  I reach down and pull out the PTO (power take off) knob and the blades kick in and the tractor goes back into “mowing” mode.

She gets this strange look on her face, says to me, “I was wondering why when I looked back, it didn’t look like I had mowed a thing!”

There is an old saying …. “Life is … everything that happens when you are not paying attention.”  After an ocean of time, she still has the ability to make me smile, and in the end, in the final count, that is all that really matters.

But really … I don’t know … “At four bucks a gallon, maybe it is best, she just stay inside” you know what I mean?


Live Free Or Die Hard

Not much on television, so I am watching “Die Hard” with Bruce Willis, an old stand-by on a somewhat hum-drum Oklahoma Day and there is the scene where the cop is purchasing all of these Twinkies for “his pregnant wife” and he walks outside and stares up at the NakaTomiBuilding.

The sign on the immediate right reads, “Unleaded Regular 74.9 per gallon” ah, the good old days, eh?

Die Hard is a good movie, but I liked the one after that, “Return of the Titans” or something like that.  Denzel Washington, a man’s movie, football, the sixties.  Bag of Cheeto;s, diet soda, I am legally dead for the next two and one-half hours .. hire out an undocumented worker to take out the trash and leave me alone.

Boom Shaka-laka, Boom Shaka-laka, we are the Titans!  The mighty, mighty Titans!

A good movie.  Winners.  Upbeat stuff.  Most of us have never experienced the feeling of being on a “winning team” in life.  For the most parts, that is a special time only reserved for a select few.  I had a taste of it when I was in Boot Camp, I was in the First Color Company of the year, and we were good.  No, we were “better than good” we were “the” best.  Being on a winning team is truly a special feeling, it is a wonderful sensation, almost indescribable to a point, kind of like flying to Paris for breakfast on a LearJet, that would be close to it.

As I said … We were top drawer.  We were for the most parts the best.  We were unbeatable.

No one could hold a candle to us, we had every flag you could possibly have … And we had TWO OF THEM EACH.  We were the Super Bowl of companies in 1965.  That is possibly my only claim to fame.  So I know what it feels like to be a winner, I have been there, done that, got the T-shirt.  I can truthfully say … It sure feels good to be a winner.

Taking all this one step further, this possibly could be the reason I have a problem with all this Global Warming and Energy non-sense going around.  All this whining about our economy and how things are not getting better.  This idea of it not being real or the fact that we are somewhat powerless to do anything about it.

Most any person would quickly agree, that is not a winner’s attitude.

Why is it we cannot deliver a bottle of water to some poor soul standing on the roof of his flooded house in time of emergency or rebuild a city that was knocked down to its proverbial knees by an act of nature.  When did we seemingly overnight become a nation of whiners and complainers, incapable of solving even the simplest of problems for our country and our citizens?

Not long ago I watched in awe as the Japanese people lined up for the basic necessities in life, politely, quietly, with composure and respect.  We could learn a lot from the Japanese people about courtesy, patience and dignity.

When did we become this “I cannot do it state” or this “can’t do society?”

There was a time in this country, that we could face any challenge put before us with strength, national resolve, and we would rise to any challenge presented to us.  When you look back, we have solved some pretty hefty problems domestically; we have taken more than one tyrant to task, and kicked some tail.  We put men on the moon, we have sent instruments of exploration into deep space, we have overcome great diversity in racism and civil rights violations.

There is only one thing permanent in America any more and that is change.

We had best change and do it soon, or it is the final chapter in our history.  You want to put up a wind turbine in my backyard?  If that is what it takes, then I am onboard.  Same with refineries or solar collecting grids, screw the view, I want to be cool when it is hot outside, if that is what it takes, bring it on.

Boom Shaka-laka,Boom Shaka-laka, we are the Titans!  The mighty, mighty Titans!

Nice thought, but in today’s society, not very realistic.  It is time to suit up for another game America … To get back on the winning side of life.  THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  “No one has ever gotten laid by wearing pins on their lapel with funny sayings.  No one ever got very far following a parked car Mr. Obama.”  Some of us are getting tired of taking it in the shorts, week after week, where is the change that was promised.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend, take time to remember all the brave men who died so that you might enjoy the freedoms that you have today.


Alam’s Road Trip

Kind of tired the other night, but I wanted to see the end of the NASCAR race, so I set the VCR to record the rest of the race and I went to bed.  I am after all, in my golden years, and I do need my rest, the race was no big thing.  Let technology take care of it, it is touted to “improve our lives and make life much better for the majority of us” so often to dreamland I went.  Next day, I bring it up and start to watch it, everything goes swimmingly until the last ten laps, they break for a commercial and that is that.

No more race, no last ten laps, and I am here to testify … Technology sucks.

Tristin Saghn little sister who is two years old (he is 9) fell into the family pool in Mesa, Arizona this week.  After she was pulled from he water, Tristin started to perform chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth on the little girl while his mother rushed into the house and called 911 for help.  Tristin who said that he learned the lifesaving technique while watching television, said that “he knew what it was that he was doing it right.”  Evidently so, little sister started breathing again, and doctors says that she is going to be just fine due to the smart reaction of her big brother.

“She is really beautiful, and I love her very much.”  Tristin said.

Yesterday we had an outbreak of tornado’s here in the heartland and this morning a lot of folks waking up here in Central Oklahoma to just about nothing.  One of the things that I did before the approaching storm was to check the safe room in the garage (steel enclosure bolted to the floor with 21 – 18” bolts into the concrete) for snakes.  We have found snakes in there, they kind of gravitate to the coolness and darkness of the room.  No snakes incidentally, but finding one during a tornado, would not be the optimum safety plan it seems to me.

A lady in Florida might be considering removing the pet door on her house, it allowed a small alligator access to her home this week.  She walked into the back bedroom of her house and there the alligator was.  Might be time to get rid of the swinging door in the kitchen and start letting Fluffy in and out the old fashioned way.

Japan is now creating suicide hot lines and sending mental-health counselors into the regions affected by the tsunami and nuclear crisis out of fear there will be a surge of self-inflicted deaths in that country.  The Japanese, whose culture romanticizes suicide, already have a suicide rate more than double that of the United States and it is the leading cause of death there among men ages 20 to 44 and women ages 15 to 34.

Now I understand that if you call the Suicide hot line in Pakistan and tell them you are depressed and you can drive a truck, they get all excited.

Yesterday I overheard some guy complaining during lunch that a beer in the Dallas Stadium in Texas costs $12.50.  Who in their right mind would pay $12.50 for a beer, I don’t care how cold it is, that is just too much.  American’s are spending something like $1.2 trillion dollars on nonessential goods and services annually, according to the Commerce Department.  See, we do have government agency that you can actually benefit from, we are paying a LOT of people to keep numbers on what it is that we are buying, your tax dollars at work.

Consumer spending on discretionary luxury items, including jewelry, yachts, sports cars, alcoholic beverages, and candy, has risen to 11.2% of total consumer spending, even in hard times, that is up from 4% in 1959.  Which is kind of stupid, because 1959 was what, 52 years ago?

Give me a break.

Our consumer spending here at our house constitutes mainly of groceries and gasoline.  55% of American drivers say they are changing their driving habits as a result of high gas prices.  Except maybe Kyle Busch, he was recently stopped in North Carolina for driving 128 miles per hour on a public highway.

Everyone has a dream.
A tomorrow.
A Someday …  New York City cabdriver Mohammed Alam got the fare of a lifetime:  $5,0000 to drive two New Jersey residents  from New York to Los Angeles.  The six-day journey was one man’s idea or spur of the moment urge for a birthday adventure.

Alam for his part, was able to live his childhood dream of seeing Universal Studios.  Nothing is impossible in this world,” said Alam.  “We can do everything, whatever we want” and it is quite possible the cabbie might have enjoyed the trip even more than the fare paying passengers.

Make a wish … Now blow out all the candles on your cake!

(Next stop Dollywood)


Didn’t Happen File

As I am a firm believer that people come to this page to be uplifted, informed, amused and even to some respects, entertained.  I feel it would be doing those faithful readers of this page, a disservice to keep ranting about “my issues with the oil companies” and I am going to put up something positive.  The world did not end as predicted and I am therefore obligated to write something this morning.

I feel kind of confused about the entire thing (ambivalent?), there are days I want to end it all, I surely do, and then there are days, I really want some more of it.  Part of the human condition I suppose.  We all search out the good deal in life, the thing that rows our boat, that keeps us afloat during hard times and good times alike.  Something like Sam Kuver had.

Sam lived right across the street from the highschool, nice little house and spacious yard.  The school wanted Sam’s place, they wanted it bad.  The school board approached him with an offer, they said, “Sam, we want to buy your place and we want it for a school bus garage.  Will you sell it to us?”  Sam then replied, “Where is it that I will live, if you take my place for a garage for your buses?”

They did not have an answer.

Then one of them said, “Okay, sell it to us now, and you can live here rent free until you die, and we will pay your utilities and your taxes all the time you are living here.  We don’t want to miss out on this property.”  So Sam considered the idea and then said, “You have a deal.”  He was 66 years old at the time.  A friend of mine called this weekend and told me that Sam had passed on and informed me of when the funeral would be.  By the way, “he was 92 years old when he died.”  I suppose in the near future there will be a new bus barn going up just across the street from the high school.

Not a cheap one by any means for the school board, but it sure was a good bargain for old Sam.

Eight years ago, the 1,500 residents of the Kenyan village of Lwala sold chicken and cattle to raise $900 in airfare so that one their boys, Milton Ochieng, could enter Dartmouth College.  Today Milton is a graduate of Vanderbilt University Medical School and, along with his brother Fred, who followed him to both alma maters, he has repaid the favor by building a clinic in his home village.

People helping people, something you don’t seem to hear about much these days.

The brothers raised $150,000 for the clinic, which in its first year has seen 20,000 patients, most of them for free.  “It makes you feel great to be a doctor,” said Milton.  An amazing feat when you stop to consider that this all occurred in a third world country, not some Mega Super Power.

Fifty four years ago, Jan Zacharda lost her Ludington, Michigan, high school ring in the depths of Lake Micigan.  Last month she got a call from Robert Savage, who had found it with a metal detector.  Savage had actually discovered the ring some 12 years ago, but couldn’t locate its owner; though Zacharda’s class year, 1955, was clearly stamped on the ring.

Along with the initials “J.P.” for Jan Pedersen her maiden name.

But Savage recently got hold of the Ludington yearbook for the class of ’55 and found only one name with the right initials.  He then began calling all the are Pedersen’s until he found one who knew Jan.  Kind of nice to know that there are still some honest people out there.

Not so smart file:  A sense of privilege, after a first-class passenger on a Delta Airline flight from New York became so angry that economy passengers were let off the plane ahead of him, that he opened an emergency hatch and slid down the chute!  The indignant passenger was promptly arrested.

The absolute best one that has come to my attention this week is the California woman who whipped out her .44 caliber Magnum and began firing at mice scurrying across the floor of her trailer.  A .44 Magnum, man, talk about “overkill” that is kind of unreal right there.

But wait … It gets better.

She drops the gun (more than likely reaching for another beer) and it fires a bullet that pieces her knee, bounces off a friends keychain, and grazes his groin before coming to rest in his coin pocket.  And people wonder what type of person lives in a Mobile home?

But wait, it gets even worse.  A diabetic Illinois woman is recovering after he dog chewed off her big toe!  (I am not making this up).  The 56 year old woman who suffers with numbness in her lower extremities says she dozed off in the afternoon (not an uncommon occurrence with diabetics) and her 1 year old miniature dachshund, Roscoe, (again I am not making this up), snuggled at her feet, starts gnawing on her foot.

When she awoke from the nap, and looked down, and saw Roscoe dining at the big toe buffet, she screamed!  At that time, her daughter ran into the room and discovered the dog munching away.  I believe her exact quote was:  “I didn’t think when I went in there I was going to see that..  It is hard to take in when you walk into a room and there’s a dog eating your Mom.”

Duh  — You think so?

It has been a somewhat interesting week, in some cases I am sure a few people “wished the world would have ended as scheduled” and I suppose on the other hand, a few were not surprised at all, that it did not.  Me?  I am okay with it all, I have misplaced my work boots and do not have a clue as to where they might be located, but that is Monday for you.

It is always kind of hectic on Monday around here, so I kind of expect it.  That is what makes the world go round.


Tilting At Windmills

It seems as if “everything” shuts down during a thunderstorm.  What is the use of having all of this technology at your fingertips, if you cannot use it during certain times of the day or the week.  Tried to check my email this morning and it is not allowed, storms in the area, so therefore, information will not be distributed.  Same thing with the Dish, 200 channels, but you are relegated to sitting there watching it “search for an available transponder.”  Technology sucks.

Yesterday’s mail brought me an answer from Shell Oil Co. on my credit card snafu.  No good news to report there, and as I suspected in the beginning, “they do not care about me nor do they care about my problems.  Recently I wrote them about it and I published it here.

Yesterday the mail carrier brought me my official-unofficial-kiss off reply.

The official response was “they did not understand the nature of my problem.”  To be specific it read:  “Dear Mr. Smith   Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding your Shell account.  We are unclear on how we may assist you.  Please call us at 1-800-331  Blah-blah Yada-Yada.”  And that was it, nothing more, and I suppose, nothing forthcoming.

I mean if you cannot read, what good is a telephone call going to do?

Must be nice, to have a job, where you sit around all day and just blow people off.  No real responsibilities, most likely do not have to come in early or dress for success.  Just send off a form letter that basically says … Go Away.  I could sit down at the keyboard and fire off another missive, being very explicit (which I thought the first one was to begin with) and make it quite clear “what the nature of my problem was.”  But what is the use, they would just ignore me again.  I am trashing their card, and going back to cash sales.  Most likely I will discontinue doing business with them altogether.

Another thing I find interesting about all this, the letter was signed “S. Larson.”  I have seen this name before, when I made inquiries on a VISA card for instance.  You don’t suppose that all letters are naturally forwarded to this “S. Lawson” to answer do you?  That would be something.  I sincerely hope that when I die, I don’t get up to the Pearly Gates, walk up to a desk with an Angel sitting there and the name tag on the desk reads “S. Larson.”

If this is the case, I am going to be in some serious trouble, let me tell you.

Maybe I caught them on an “off day” or something.  Maybe they perhaps thought they were awake, but an important and overused part of their brain was asleep when the letter arrived there at the “credit card center.”  You know if you deprive rats of rest, this causes their neurons to start shutting down at random intervals.

The rats in turn, appear to be wide awake, but if you hook up little tiny electrodes to their brains this will show that the neurons responsible for eye-hand coordination are currently turned off, making it harder for them to rip sugar cubes and of course, answer letters from consumers.

Wait a minute, rats don’t have hands.  What could I possible be thinking here.

Thirty-five percent of Americans don’t get enough rest each night according to the CDC (Center For Disease Control and Prevention).  Maybe they are as my grandson is fond of saying …. “Zoned out?”

Gasoline is now on the way down, currently .16 cents below the national average here.  Wife came in yesterday and said, “Gas has gone down Honey!” as if she had some big earth shaking news, when it gets back down to say something reasonable like a buck fifty a gallon tell me about it.  At three fifty-plus per gallon, that just doesn’t seem to row my boat, I am sorry.  It sure doesn’t help having a lousy credit card from Shell Oil with a $400 limit on it either.

But they don’t understand my problem.

What they cannot tell you is why they put a $400 limit on your credit card and then turned of the pump at $376, declined the sale, and embarrassed you at the pump.  But when you have the only game in town, I guess you can do just about anything you want, that is, if your name is S. Larson.

Have a good weekend.