1-17 | Field Of Stone

I don't know about where you're at... But around here, we've had a little absenteeism problem with the Sun. He's got a pretty good gig in January. The days are short. It's not like we're asking a lot to begin with. Pop up before 8am. Sneak out before 6pm. But no, this cat doesn't even have the decency to do that much for us. We get long nights and short, cloudy days instead. It takes a lot of Jimmy Dean to overcome that.

Sunday, however, was an exception to the rule. The sun came out -- for most of the day, even -- and I dropped my indoor projects and headed out. Most of my errands were inconsequential, but were more enjoyable with a healthy dose of Vitamin D from the sky. The highlight of my afternoon was some quality time in the local national cemetery.

I imagine most national cemeteries are special places to visit. I like ours because it's squeezed in between the interstate, the ghetto and some medium industrial areas -- an oasis, if you will. The first graves were dug in the middle of the civil war for union soldiers. Twenty years, later, they dug up the confederates from another cemetery and moved them in, too. They've been joined by veterans from every war & skirmish since.

There is one area where you can stand among graves from the 1860s and see the tall buildings from downtown on the horizon. I can't help but wonder what those ol' boys would think if they could climb out and take a look around. The cemetery wasn't even in the city back then... And now, it's so deep in town that you can't see the city limits from there. A lot has changed in 150 years. Meanwhile, I live on a street where very little has changed in the last 70 -- except for the size of the trees. It's the not knowing how it's all going to end that makes it worth living, ain't it?

Contrails over the cemetery
Walking among the rows of stones is beneficial in all sorts of ways. Obviously, you gain a lot of respect for people and the sacrifices they made. You learn history. (Did you know there was a Battle of Dutch Harbor, Alaska in 1942? Shame on me. I didn't.) And you learn of the burden that so many have endured just from their given names. (Durward? Panayiotis? And Adolph? Of course, the latter was probably fashionable until WWII. Poor fellows all of them. RIP.)


Good v. Horrid

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

That little rhyme was one of many my mother recited to me when I was a small lad. The first five and a half lines were always spoken in sing-song sort of way. When she got to the word "horrid," my mom always scrunched up her nose and changed her voice dramatically -- almost witch-like. These two syllables delivered in such a way would make the two of us laugh as hard as possible for much longer than it took to say the rhyme. Even though I knew it was coming, hearing her say it suddenly became the funniest thing in the world to me.

That's a nice little memory for me to hold on to... but it's one that I hadn't thought about in many years. It all came back to me tonight because I was thinking that I could sum up the past year (and the year before that, too) in much the same way. When 2010 was good, it was very good indeed. When it was bad, it was horrid. Unless something changes in the next eight days, however, the good has far outweighed the horridness. I'll take that.

The Things You Learn From PBS

I'm ashamed to say that until I watched a PBS documentary at 3am Monday morning, I was oblivious to the life and contributions of Pete Seeger -- communist subversive that he once was (or at least made out to be).

"Where Have All The Flowers Gone?" and "Turn, Turn, Turn!" and "If I Had a Hammer" are all Seeger works. How did I not know this? The documentary featured footage of him performing at Wolf Trap and I found some of the same stuff today on YouTube.

I now have the chorus to this old spiritual stuck in my head... which isn't exactly a bad thing. The words ring very true: "You've got to walk that lonesome valley. You've got to walk it by yourself. Nobody here can walk it for you. You've got to walk it by yourself."


Nine Years

Like many people, I can still tell you all the details of my day nine years ago. I know where I was, what I was doing and how I felt when the world ceased to be normal. I've moved on since then -- in so many ways. Every time September rolls around, it feel like 9-11 could be just months ago instead of years. In other ways, it doesn't seem like nine years is enough to do all that I've done since that day... Graduate college, move away, become a career firefighter, get promoted a couple of times, get engaged, buy a house and get married. But every year, all of the details come back and I always remember.

I think too many people have started to forget. If there was one good thing that came from the devastation of 9-11, it was the unity that our country experienced. Standing here on this anniversary, I feel very little of that unity at all. In fact, I dare say that our country is as fragmented as I've seen it in my 32 years. Everybody seems to hate everybody else. The world seems so polarized. I keep waiting for the Ghostbusters to show up and find the unhappy slime running through the sewer.

We must remember. We must remember the 2,980 people murdered. We must remember the firefighters who entered those towers expecting to die -- but who did it anyway. We must certainly remember the 343 firefighters who never made it back to their firehouse or their families. We must remember how we felt. We must remember how we dwelled on our similarities more than our differences in the days and weeks afterward. We must remember how we came together as one. We must remember.

(no subject)

For the record... It's sunny, 72 degrees, most everything is green and there is football to be played today. As much as I love the spring, when everything comes alive again... The end of summer may be my most favorite time of year.

If heaven could be anything you wanted, I do believe my version might be a college football game day in the autumn -- when shorts are needed in the day and sleeves necessary at night... Before the leaves drop... Before everything dies... And when it's early enough in the season that anyone's team might be a winner.

Unfortunately, this is The South. As gorgeous as today is, it's likely to be 98 this time next week.
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    Jessie hurrying me out the door
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test pattern

8,342nd verse... Same as the first.

The deadline for all work to be turned in on my summer class was Monday night at 11:59 pm. These are the time stamps for the last five assignments I submitted. I believe this is what they call sneaking in by the hair of your chinny chin chin -- or some other hair, if that's your pleasure.

This is where I usually post, "when am I ever going to learn to not procrastinate?" Well, it looks like that lesson is never going to soak in. So, I'm not going to beat myself up over it this time around. I'm just happy another class is in the books.



Ten Years

The very first entry from "A Window Into My World" -- Friday, June 2, 2000:

Quote Du Jour:
"You know someone once said life's a stage and each must play a part. Fate had me playing in love with you as my sweetheart. Act one was where we met. I loved you at first glance. You read your lines so cleverly and never missed a cue. Then came act two. You seemed to change. You acted strange. And why I've never known. Honey, you lied when you said you lied when you said you loved me and I had no cause to doubt you. But I'd rather go on hearing your lies than to go on living without you. Now the stage is bare and I'm standing there with emptiness all around. And if you won't come back to me, then they can bring the curtain down." (Elvis Presley)

Yep, that's Elvis talking. I don't know how many hundreds of times I've heard that song in the last 22 years... but I can tell you that I've never paid as much attention to the spoken words as I did yesterday. I was playing with some music and stopped to listen to what the king was saying. You know, really listen. And it hit me. Because the king described (in spooky detail) a relationship I just ended a few months ago... and one that I've been struggling to not so much "get over," but to simply understand what happened.

That could be my fatal flaw. I have to know everything. It wasn't my first word as a kid... but I'm sure "why" was somewhere near the top. Even as a toddler learning to speak, I never took anything at face value. I had to know more. I was curious about everything and I never grew out of that stage. I know there is almost always more than meets the eye... and I know that some people have a problem with honesty... and so I usually want to figure everything out for myself. Now, by mentioning honesty (or a lack thereof) and wanting to figure things out... it brings me back to Elvis and to Lindsay Alexander.
Lindsay  was a friend of a friend. I can't remember the first time I laid eyes on her... but I remember hearing someone talking about setting her up with a guy friend of mine and him saying no. I couldn't believe that. How could he pass up Lindsay? There wasn't one particular thing about her that interested me, but I knew that I wanted to know her better. In late October, 1999 she was among a group of folks that went to a hockey game and concert at the local arena. Again, I couldn't place it... but there was something special about her. Little did I know that in the next five months,  Lindsay  would make her mark on my life forever.
It's now been almost eight months since that hockey game... and the king's words ring true. Lindsay played the part perfectly. She told me she loved me. She wanted me to feel the same way... and when I decided that I loved her, too... she changed. Her "love" suddenly faded. We decided to end it. She moved on to others and left me wondering (as I have done so many times before in my life) why things happened the way they did.

Why haven't they updated their profile? Oh *that's* why...

I've noticed a unique problem created by the popularity of social media -- what to do with the online profiles of dead people. Specifically, I'm talking about Facebook.

A person's wall can make for a nice memorial and I imagine it might help some with the healing process. However, there should be a box that someone can check to mark someone deceased -- if for no other reason than to keep them from popping up in the "suggestions" section.

Several times now, my home page has suggested I "Catch up on Facebook" with a person that is no longer of this world. That's just strange. It might even qualify as disturbing for someone more emotional than myself.
Old School

Writer's Block: Are you incentivized?

Are there any buzz words or catch-phrases--such as incentivize or at the end of the day--that make you cringe? What are they, and why do you hate them?

Off the top of my head, I don't know of any current, pop-culture buzzwords that I absolutely despise. This is probably because I, as a general rule, completely ignore the type of people who would say things like "incentivize" with any hint of seriousness. If you're being funny? That's completely different. I tend to make up words myself from time to time... Or use really big ones... But rarely with a straight face.

I do know that in the years immediately following 9-11, I thought "homeland" was the silliest word ever. Of course, that could have been because of the two people who said it the most -- George W. Bush and Tom Ridge. Strangely, I always thought the latter was far dumber than the former. Even now, I'm not a big fan of homeland. But, again, it's probably because of the context of the word and what it's come to mean -- blue-shirted security guards at the airport who seem to hate me as much as they hate their job.

Honorable mention would be "24/7." For some reason, that used to drive me bat shit, but I can't begin to tell you why. My hatred has since subsided. I've even caught myself saying the phrase every now and then. Maybe that means there is hope for homeland.