Saturday, February 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Grandma

On  George Washington's birthday this year my grandma would have turned 89.  This coming June, it will be 20 years since she left this world.  20 years.  Time goes by so fast.

A little history about my Grandma Alice.  She was either half Native or a quarter Native, I cant remember.  She was from Sand Ridge, IL.  As a small child she lived through the "Tri-State Tornado" and recalled seeing "the cows fly."  She would later marry Clinton Mifflin, have four children and move to the Mt Vernon area.  Clinton would die at the age of 32 when my mom was 5.  She worked for McDermott's for about 35 years and never remarried.  She was buried next to Clinton, 37 years after his death.

Of course I have fond lots of memories of my grandma.  Here are a few.  She always seem to have orange kool-aid made.  My favorite.  She had cable television.  Oh yeah!  At first it was just HBO but later it would MTV, ESPN, and USA.  When my parents would go out, my sister, my brother and I would go to grandma's.   So we would get to watch these channels that we didn't get at home.  We lived in the "country" about a mile outside of city limits. I wouldn't get cable TV until I went to college.  Anyway, I remember USA would run this show that played music videos for 2 hours, I think it was called "Night Flight".  It would replay it when it was over.    Another memory I have is fried chicken on Sundays.  I'm starving just thinking about.  I, also, remembering telling my mom that my grandma always ask Shawn to help her do things like carry in groceries and would never ask me.  So my mom had to call her and tell her to stop feeling guilty.

I know you're asking "What?"  I will explain.  When I was 2 years old, I was like every other toddler wanting a drink from everyone's cup.  On one particular occasion, my parents had went camping at Bluford Lake and the three of us went to grandma's.  I guess I was thirsty and I grabbed my grandma's cup.  But instead of a nice refreshing drink, I received scorching hot coffee all down my chest. (I was wearing just a diaper)  I don't know how far it is from Bluford Lake to the 1400 block of South 12th street but my parents beat the ambulance, swooped me up and rushed me to Good Samaritan. My parents say that my skin was melting off.  I spent the rest of the summer under a borrowed window air condition but I recovered and have no scars.  My parents are still paranoid when it comes to kids and coffee.  I think this incident effects my family today, but that is an extremely personal issue that I may or may not write about in the future.

Now grandma was a simple lady who would get excited over an ice cream from Dairy Queen.  I don't really ever remember getting into trouble at her house.  I do recall one occasion when she got the flyswatter after me.  I also remember laughing about it at the time.  Maybe it was because of the guilt she felt over the accident.  I can understand why she felt that but the accident wasn't her fault, it was mine.  After my mom's call to her, she started asking me to help

Looking back, I regret not spending more time with Grandma Alice when I was older.  You know how it is in high school. You have so many things going on and hanging with grandma isn't high on the list.  I had just graduated when she passed.  One of the last memories I have of my grandma is of her and my family laughing.  It was right after her surgery.  She said " The doctor gave a bra and a boob to go in it."

That was my grandma Alice.  A great lady.

Six months after her death, I lost my other grandma.  Grandma Clara is definitely another topic for another day.

This was what was on my mind today.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In the name of the law

"I can't believe I got pulled over.  Why aren't they out catching real criminals?"  How many times have you heard that.  Someone is always complaining about their cities' "finest".  I will admit that some of the police officers I have had the pleasure of spending time with, have a certain attitude that many of us find......over the top.  (whew.  I was struggling with that one ;-D) 

However, would you want a day with no police officers.  I didn't think so.  Once again, our society has the " not me, them" attitude.  "We are doing nothing wrong.  Go catch the evil-doers who are."  If you have a set of rules and you break one rule, the you are a rule breaker by definition.  The same if you break ten rules.  So, you are probably asking, "Where is he going with this today?"

Well boys and girls today's lesson is on "Speed Limits."  Can you say "Speed Limits?"   Good.  I knew you could.  Speed limits are set for our protection. Imagine driving on the interstate highway with no speed limit.  The same goes for in town driving.  I think many people believe that they set speed limits just to keep from completing their day's task in the appropriate time frames they deem fit.   They cut from lane to lane, back and forth, only to arrive at the same stop light you arrive at six seconds later.  Another thing that seems to happen is that we speed up to catch the cars in front of us. Then we drive through town looking like we're in rank. This keeps cars from being able to turn out unto the street from which this is taking place.  So now, not only are you speeding because your selfish and your time is so much more important than every one else's, you are also impeding others from turning out.   Speed limits are set so that traffic moves as best as it can, from all points.  Not just the one to which you are going.

Breaking the speed limit is breaking the law.  Whether it be one mile per hour over or ten miles per hour over, it is still speeding.  The speed limit is the maximum speed.  How about driving five miles per hour under the speed limit?  Yeah right, like that will ever happen. 

These jerks on the interstate going 100 mph need to have a $10,000 fine and their license taken away for two years.  And I'm not even going to start on the ones who, instead of getting in line at construction zones just blow past everyone trying to get as far a they can because once again they're so much more important than the rest of us.  Oh that steams me.

While a lot of our speeding tickets are received because we aren't paying attention, it is still breaking the law.  Pay your fine, thank the officer(and mean it), and go on with life.  We should all be happy that these men and women are out there because without them we wouldn't be able to go out at all.

This was what was on my mind today.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Why do we do that?

A strange list of things we do.

1)  I recently went and saw a mummy.  Why?  Would I really want someone to dig me up in 2000 years and put me on display.  Uhhh NO! So this poor gal(?) is lying there with half a face and there is a line to see her.  (Gives new meaning to "Let me put my face on").

2)  We put water fountains next to bathrooms.  Why?  Are we in that big of hurry to go again?

3)  We throw coins into any clear water cement pond that we see.  Why?  Has this ever helped us with anything?  Every time you're in the checkout and need a penny, just think about all those pennies you tossed away.  (Side note:  I'm thinking about opening a chain of water ponds. I will place them all businesses and give them 10% of the take.  Quarters and above only please.)

4)  We have no problem waiting in an hour line for a two minute ride at an amusement park.  But complain about the two minute wait at a stop light on an hour ride to work.

5)  We spend a lot of money on our kids at Christmas and Easter and allow someone else to take all the credit.  Why?  Who came up with this idea?  "All my mommy and daddy gave me were socks and underwear but SANTA gave me an X Box 360 with motion detection, 96 games and full surround sound system with 12 inch woofers and a 4D 1000 inch flat screen."

This list is far from complete.

This was what was on my mind today (?)

Friday, February 18, 2011


I just went numb.  A coldness was over me and I just stared in at nothing.  It's been almost 10 years but it could have been yesterday. 

It was just a typical Sunday.  The family (just three of us then) went to my parents house.  We were watching the Daytona 500.  I know a lot of people don't watch Nascar but my dad is a big fan.  I consider myself a casual fan.  My dad's driver was/is Jeff Gordon and my driver was Dale Earnhardt.  The race came down to the last lap.  It was Michael Waltrip, Dale Jr. and then Dale Sr. With Waltrip's brother, Darrell calling the race, it was one of the more exciting endings.  At least it should have been. 

Most, if not all you, know that Dale Earnhardt Sr. died at the end of that race.  We didn't know for some time and then they came on and announced it.  My initial though was "He died!!?"  This doesn't happen.  Not to best.  My next thought was "I will never watch Nascar again."  I remember eating dinner later having the cold numb stare.  I don't remember what I was thinking about if anything. 

Here was an Icon of the sport and now he's gone.  I can't remember anything like that happening in any other sport.  Nascar has continued on.  My status as a casual fan is less than what it was.  I get geared up for Daytona but can't seem to follow the whole season.  Driver's today are kind of vanilla.  Jimmy Johnson has won five straight titles but does anyone care.  The sport  has lost it edge. 

I sure Sunday will be filled with tributes.  Well deserved I suppose.  I am ready for Daytona. We'll just have to see about the rest of the season.  And just in case you are wondering..No I never had a "3" pasted to my car window.

Side note:  Why is it okay to put sports related items on our cars but if you put anything Christian on your car people roll their eyes?  Just wondering.

This was what was on my mind today.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Blogger's Block

When I decided to do this blog, I really didn't know what I was getting myself into.  I knew I like to write and I had things that I wanted to write about.  What I didn't know was it's HARD.  Choosing a topic isn't that hard but making it interesting and choosing the right words are.   And If you don't laugh at least once then I'm not doing it right.  Then there is spelling and grammar.  After I get all of this together, I post it and wait.  I wait to see if anyone is reading it and if they comment.  I wonder if someone is going to rip me or praise me.  If you look at my comments, I have one.  Thanks Gretchen.  So, then I think "crap" maybe I'm not doing this right or maybe I just stink.  But like everything I have ever done, I do it because I enjoy it.  Even though its become a second job.  I'm probably more critical of myself than anyone else could be.  Yesterday's post was actually the second that was written.  The first was scrapped 2 1/2 paragraphs into it.  Why? It was an important topic to me but it was BORING.  I will cover the topic another time but it will have to be a special edition.  You might be surprised that I don't prepare for this.  I sit down and write what comes to mind. Which is why the first post never made it yesterday.  That topic needs structure not my normal jump around and sometimes incoherent ramblings.  So now I fear I will run out of topics and I be staring at the computer screen like some zombie.

Take for instance, I would love to write about what is going on in Egypt but I don't know enough.  Here's what I know:  Egypt had a dictator for 30 years.  The United States supported this dictator.  There was a movement for democracy in Egypt.  The United States has said they will fight for democracy any where in the world.  So all the US could do was sit and watch because if you support the dictator you go against everything you stand for.  However, if you support the revolution and they lose, you just lost an ally.  ......And that's all I could say about that.

Apparently I have to stop for the day.  I have an unexpected story to write about Princess Valentine and her favorite song Katie Perry's "Firework."  Please continue to read, leave comments and if you a have topic that you want covered I'm open to suggestions.

This was what was on my mind today.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Let's do School Lunch

I just got back from taking Jonah (my middle child) his lunch.  My kids taking their lunches is a daily routine at my house.  I remember taking my lunch every once in awhile but not everyday.  Gretchen and I ate lunch at Jonah's school one day.  I knew instantly why he takes his lunch.  What was suppose to be spaghetti wasn't.  What I received on my styrofoam tray was over cooked bloated soggy noodles with a questionable tomato sauce.  One bite was all I could take.  After getting over my initial nauseousness, I could not help but to think that some of these kids have to eat this stuff everyday.  I know that cooking for 400 to 1200 kids is a tough task but that's the cooks' jobs.  Thinking back to when I substitute taught, I seldom ate in the "cafe-gym-atorium" (Ray Romano).   I tried the "pizza" and the "chicken" nuggets.  Oy!  I, also, remember a lot of food covered trays being dumped at the end of lunch.

I thought a key to a healthy mind was a healthy diet.  If that is true, why do our kids have to suffer through their school years eating disgusting food.  Childhood obesity is a big topic right now.  I believe a lot of that has to do with what is being cooked at home in America.  But that is another topic all together.  Kids are being raised learning that dinner comes from a box.  We should be teaching them how to eat fresh foods that are much more healthy.

Health class?  I remember health class...  four basic foods groups  (later changed to five).  That's all I remember.  How about a class that teaches kids about food and how to prepare it?  I know you are saying " yeah it sounds good but how ya gonna pay for it?"  It always comes down to money.

Our entire school system is in shambles.  Rich schools have every thing they want while poor schools have nothing.  And when I say "nothing" I mean "NOTHING."  Take a unscheduled tour of some these schools.  I believe you would be shocked.  I know was.  I guess the biggest problem is that we just turn our heads.  We (as a society) live for the betterment of ourselves.  Self preservation, I suppose.  As long as out kids are okay.  And that is the exact attitude that has our country in the "mess" that we in.  (Side note:  I'm finding that in writing this blog, that I have to use a lot of restraint from using "colorful" language. )  There have been stories about rich schools buying new desks because they had extra money and the poor schools went the dump and pulled out the rich schools discarded desks because those were better than what they had.

The federal government requires that our children learn certain things. They expect the individual school districts to teach these.  But they don't provide the resources to do so.  It seems that every time there is a budget cut, School funding is a the top of the list.  We have finally started paying teachers more money and then we cut the number of teachers.  Our school buildings are outdated.  So our education system needs money. In the past, we created a new tax on the poor to fund the monetary deficiencies called :the lottery."

I believe it is time to take divide the pie evenly.    All schools should receive the same amount of tax money.  Oops I said the "T" word.  I'm not big on taxes.  Not because  I don't believe in them but because of the waste that we spend it on.  It's coming up on 10 years now that this country has been in Afghanistan and Iraq isn't far behind.  The amount of money this country has spent on these wars is staggering.  I think it's time to get out and start building up our own country.  We can start by giving our schools what they need: teachers, supplies, security, transportation, buildings and good nutritious meals.  And maybe just maybe America will stay number one.

This was what was on  my mind today.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday Mornings

To me, Sunday morning is the hardest time to figure out what do.  When I was a kid, Sunday Morning meant me getting up by myself.  I had my own routine while everyone else slept in.  I would turn on channel 11 and watch " Emergency" then "Tarzan" and finally "Wrestling at the Chase."  It was quiet.  My family never went to church.  I really don't know the full reason why.  I remember mom making breakfast after she and dad got up. She would make Bacon and Eggs or pancakes and sausage.  The pancakes were as big as a full size plate.

 Fast forward to high school.  I don't really remember Sunday mornings that much.  I was most likely talking on the phone to the flame of the week. I do remember driving to TJ's and picking him up to go to church so that we would qualify to play church league ball.  During college it meant doing laundry.

My Sunday mornings with Gretchen have changed through the years.  Back when we would attend Saturday Mass, we would lie in bed and watch "CBS Sunday Morning".  Then get up and fix brunch.  When more and more kids came along this time has become more cherished.  Rarely do we get that quiet time for ourselves anymore.  So Sunday mornings are a great time for that.

Unfortunately, our current church has a 9:00, 11:15, and 5:00 service on Sunday.  We have yet to find a service that perfectly fits our needs.  9:00 is good because you have the rest of the day to do whatever you want.  But getting 3 kids ready for church early in the morning ain't always easy.   11:15 allows more time to get ready but if have ever been around me when I haven't eaten, you would know why this is not the best time for us.  5:00 is in the evenings and doesn't fit in to this blog but it doesn't work either.

What I need from Sunday Morning is what follows:  1) I need it to rain so that I can make a hot cup of tea sit on the Veranda and listen to the quiet  2) I need to lay in bed with my beautiful wife and enjoy her company while watching "Sunday Morning"  3) I need kids to be ready to go to church at 9:00  4) I need giant pancakes  5) I need all of this in about a 1 hour time frame.

As that is not possible, each Sunday will have to be special in it's own way.  I will try to do as many of the aforementioned as much as I can.  And with a little Divine intervention, the kids will be ready on time.

This was what was on my mind today.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is almost here.  Once again, I set out on the hunt for the perfect gift.  Ugh.  The problem I suffer from is being to practical.  Traditional gifts like flowers, just die and jewelery, just sits in a box.  However, there are many gifts that can be used everyday.  I'm not going to name them.  So what to do?  Why is it that women like flowers and/or jewelery anyway?  There's always sexy lingerie but is that for the guy or the gal.  And can a man actually go and buy stuff like that without feeling like a total perv?

I have gotten better at buying these gifts.  However, my wallet always tends to shrink when I go to buy the "lovey-dovey" items.  If there was a Practicality Day, I would be KING.  So, once again I'm "putting my chips on the table" "stepping up to the plate""rollin' the dice" and any other over-used phrase and giving a gift to my sweetheart Gretchen.  I think she will like it.  Practical or lovey-dovey?  I'm not telling. 

Listen up MEN!  Play it safe: With flowers, candy, jewelery and a great dinner you hit a home run ( and maybe in more ways than one).  And ladies, please don't be disappointed.  He's trying.

This was what was on my mind today.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Our New Home

It was right at a year ago, when Gretchen and I decided to leave Mount Vernon.  The only requirement was that it had to be warm weather (not exactly what we've been getting lately).  The choices were narrowed down to: Jacksonville, FL; New Orleans, La; and Baton Rouge, La.  By way of jobs, Baton Rouge won.

Facebook has been great for keeping up with what's going on back home. And it always reaffirms why we left.  Way to much drama.  It's a bit odd to see who friends with who now.  I  wonder "How did that happen?"  One quick note on Facebook:  I'm 37 years old, I don't care that you're drinking "adult beverages".  It's as though we're still in high school and it's really cool to sneak a drink.
Back to Mt. Vernon.  The latest issue there is whether to build a new high school or not.  They needed a new one 30 years ago, so I don't see what the issue is.  A few years ago people voted it down when we could have received state help.  I don't know if that is being offered again but regardless Mount Vernon needs a new high school.
  I remember a time when my spare time was spent at the mall.  Now, I can't think of reason to go to Times Square Mall.  I'm quite sure that had Sears not moved in when Wal-mart moved, there would not be a Times Square Mall.  My intent isn't to sit here and rip on Mount Vernon.   My intent was to inform of how we enjoy our new city.  Mount Vernon is my hometown and I have great memories there but I didn't fit in there anymore as I refuse to schedule my life around "the travel team."  There is way too much going on in this world than to worry about that.  My kids have baseball and softball tryouts this weekend. Yes, my kids play sports but we don't live sports. 
8 months in our new city now.  We have new friends, a new church, a new language(sort of). There are places to go and always new things to do.  And with New Orleans an hour away you can double that.  The point isn't that Mount Vernon was bad it's that I out grew it.  My family needed more out of life than what it could offer.  It's, also, pretty nice not to have people judge you on who your parents are or what you did in high school.
I am so happy that we moved.  I wish we would have done it 15 years ago when we first discussed it.  We escaped the "black hole".  In a few months we are coming home for a visit.  I wonder what feelings I will have then?

This was what was on my mind today.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

First Day: Blog 101

18 months ago I began to discuss what the Cardinals were going to face when Albert Pujols' contract ended. I proposed a preseason trade last year to the Yankees for Cano, Jaba and Hughes. Cano and Hughes had break out years. Now Mr. Pujols is a 10/5 player and can veto any trade.  Although there are 7 days left for him to re-sign, it won't happen. The Cardinals are to blame for their lack of foresight. And now at the end of the season, the Chicago Cubs are the front runners to acquire his services. Get ready for some "rebuilding" years.  It's rumored that Sir Albert wants 10 years $300 million.  That's roughly $50,000 an at bat.  RIDICULOUS!! 
The salaries demanded by the pro athletes has become absolutely insane.  And who pays these salaries?  The fans, TV and other corporations do.  Basic economics is simply supply and demand.  Is our demand to see the best athletes so high that our supply of income allows us to pay for such idiocy. The average MLB salary is $3.3 million. It will be even higher if and when Mr. Pujols get his money ( a team will pay him).  Teams never learn.  They will throw these contracts around like they were $1 bills.  As long as they make a BIG profit.  Imagine just for a moment and average salary of 300,000 (more than enough to live).  A 90% decrease.  All of a sudden tickets, soda, hotdogs, beer, and nachos are all 90% less.  Now I can take my family of five to a ballgame without taking out small loan.  I could go on all day with these figures but it seems pointless.  Our society has shown what is important to it.  Sports.
Back to Mr. Pujuls.    $300 million?  I don't think so.  I don't care if your on your way to being the best ever.  I would rather pay 3 guys $10 million each than to put my 300 million eggs into basket.  How about adding Vlad Guerrero for $8m and Michael Young for $13m.  Two great players and you save $9m and have shorter contracts.  Nope.  The Cardinals have backed themselves into a corner.  Either cough up $300m or lose the greatest ever for two compensatory draft picks.  Nice work.

This was what was on my mind today.