Saturday, March 31, 2007

I Think I'm Back

It looks like I'm able to use Blogger again, so I guess I'll write something down today. hmm... Not much happening. I finally made my tepee and put it up a couple of days ago. It takes awhile to make one of those things... lots of sewing! I met with the well driller a couple of weeks ago and got an estimate. I have to meet an excavator tomorrow to see how much it's gonna cost to level things out and make a road on my land. While I was on vacation last week my wife and I looked at some new homes and found one that we agreed on (even though I'm not picky and liked a lot of them). Got a price from them on how much that's going to cost, then I went out and bought a lottery ticket hoping to be able to afford it.
I have to write a letter of recommendation for my son so he can get his Eagle rank in Boy Scouts. It's hard coming up with something that says how helpful he is around the house without stretching the truth quite a bit. Guess I'll figure out something to say.
We ordered graduation announcements for my son, and also his senior pictures - which he had taken back in November but we just got around to placing the order. They should have some kind of financial aid for parents of seniors, there's so much expense in the final year.
I guess that about sums up the last couple of weeks... that didn't take long.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I Just Discovered the Secret to Winning the Lottery and Want to Share it With Everyone! Read on and You'll Be Rich Soon!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Stupid Blogger For some reason only the title is being published, so I'm not able to write anything else right now.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Day the Beer Went Flat

From Tim's slightly twisted mind:

It was three days after Saint Patrick's Day in the town of Shahannery Falls, and the horror of what had happened three days earlier was starting to sink in to it's residents. The informal weekly meeting of the town's most prominent citizens at O'Riley's Bar & Grill was the quietest it had ever been, as no one was willing to be the first to open the discussion about what was surely the most shameful event to ever occur in this once-prosperous mining town, settled by, and still comprised of ninety percent, proud Irish immigrants. John Griffin mumbled something about the weather and all numbly nodded in agreement, their minds on anything but the weather right now, for their very manhood, perhaps the manhood of Irishmen the world over was in question because of what had transpired on St. Paddy's Day this year in this small town. The men continued to make small talk and sip their beers, which was a sure sign things were not going to return to normal anytime soon. Then Mark Cavanaugh, the biggest, strongest, manliest man in town, the man who had gone to Germany once and had thrown an 83 pound stone farther than anyone ever had before to set the German Steintossen record, cried. "Did none of ye read the damn paper when ye signed it?" he moaned. " Got in line behind everybody else, I did" was the general response that murmured through the crowd.

Three days earlier, at 9 A.M., the townspeople were buzzing about, getting ready for the one event that stood above all others, in the minds of most inhabitants. The Saint Patrick's Day Parade. A chance to come out and proudly display their Irish heritage. The beer supplied by Jake O'Riley was free, green and available even at this hour of the morning at the makeshift beer tent. It was the one day when people wouldn't be talked about for drinking at such an early hour, and in fact, usually made the parade a lot more fun and interesting when almost fifteen hundred half-tanked Irishmen turned out to march. It was traditionally the largest parade in this part of the state, and that was saying quite a bit for a town with a population of barely four thousand, and much larger communities to the south and west.

Unknown to most, a new entry to the parade was to be added this year, one which was to be much smaller, but would, hopefully, draw statewide attention due to the fact that the main sponsor of it was friends with one of the news producers for channel 5, one of the states largest tv stations. The Shahannery Falls Gay Rights movement was in it's infancy, and not getting much of a foothold in this conservative town. In fact, most people didn't even know of its existance. Its membership of seven people had, until now, kept quiet about their organization out of fear, mainly. Most people in the town could not imagine there could really be persons of their sexual persuasion in their town. James Fitzgerald, one of the members, recalled his school days, when they had called him queer, homo and fag to taunt him, not ever believing that he really was queer. He might have gotten killed if his true nature was known, such was the mentality of the town. Today, James - Jimmy was what his friends called him- was excited because finally he could come out of the closet, so to speak, without fear. A little fear maybe, but Huston Howely, the organizer of their movement, had been promised coverage from his friend at channel 5, plus there was a busload of supporters coming to march with them from nearby cities and towns. There would be close to fifty people marching in their group, and with tv cameras rolling, surely there would be no violence.

Two weeks before the big event in city hall, Huston Howely filled out a public organization permit - so his group could set up a booth- and handed it to Mayor Lorigan, who passed it on to his secretary without glancing at it as he chatted with Huston. The mayor was slightly acquainted with Howely, who ran the marina at Westwind Lake, although he didn't know him very well. He always struck the mayor as odd, but anytime the mayor met one of the biggest taxpayers in town he felt obliged to make small talk with him. He didn't recall the man ever setting up a booth for his marina before, but the more people who entered the better. After Howely left the office, the mayor's secretary, a pretty but slightly dull daughter of one of the councilmen, asked the mayor about the permit. "You sure you want him to put up a booth?" she asked, glancing at the name of the organization Howely had written. The mayor grunted a "sure, he's ok", not knowing what she was talking about but not caring either because Janice Garrett was coming out of her office and crossing in front of his window, flashing lots of leg and cleavage on her way to show a prospective buyer a house. Dori shrugged and typed out an approval form and put it in the outgoing mail to send back to Howely.

Saturday, St.Patrick's Day, at ten o'clock the seven members of the Shahannery Falls Gay Rights Organization were setting up a registration booth in the courthouse yard, which was the starting point for the parade. Being at the other end of the open yard from the beer tent, no one paid attention to them as they worked. Shaun Cameron had suggested the registration sheet, for some of the outsiders riding the bus in who might want to join up and bolster their numbers. Huston Howely had brought a speedboat which he pulled behind his truck to serve as their float. The members had decorated it the night before, and now waited anxiously for the busload of support that was promised them. At 10:45 some of the men had started to proceed from the beer tent toward the street. Max McGonagle, who looked as if he'd already had too much green beer, stumbled up to their booth. Spying the brand new speedboat sitting there, he walked over to the table, filled out a card and stuck it in the box. "Hey Max" someone said as he was walking away "What's that all about?". "I think they're a givin that boat away. I sure could use that beauty". "Hell, me too!" said his friend Mort, who rushed over to sign up. Soon word spread and most of the men had signed those cards, hoping to be the lucky winner. Shaun Cameron, who was manning the booth, tried to explain the purpose of the registration, but his quiet voice was drowned out by the hearty laughter and talk of winning a new speedboat by the men in line. When Howely realized what was happening he rushed over to straighten things out, but just then a channel 5 van pulled into the parking lot amid loud cheering as anchorwoman Jan Garvey stepped out. Just about that time the police chief, who was in charge of lining up the entrants, was rounding everyone up to start the parade. The Gay Pride float pulled into it's spot and the riders unfurled their rainbow colored banner with the words Shahannery Falls Gay Pride. The meaning of the float was now apparent to a few of the nearby citizens, and gasps could be heard as the parade started it's journey through downtown Shahannery Falls. Worriedly, the entrants riding the speedboat looked around for the busload of supporters who were supposed to be marching alongside them. They were nowhere in sight. As the parade was halfway through the first block of the five block route, people standing on the curb watching didn't know what to make of the speedboat. Was it a joke? Were they making a mockery of this sacred event? The tv cameras seemed to be focused on that one float, so everyone waved their green hats and cheered, most not realizing that later, on the news, it would look like they were cheering the Gay Pride float. When the route reached its end the Gay Pride members quickly gathered everything and left, planning to meet immediately afterward at Jimmy's house. The bulk of the townsfolk, meanwhile, was in a state of disbelief at the intrusion of that gay float, but that was forgotten shortly afterward as everyone gathered in the beer tent to celebrate the day.

At six o'clock the news came on channel five, and halfway through that broadcast the residents of Shahannery Falls recognized their town and their parade. Many jumped with glee to see themselves on tv, but soon the joyous revelation turned quiet as Jan Garvey started talking. "...a community that's obviously very open minded, readily accepting the entrance of the local gay rights float as part of their celebration. The organizer even told me that almost three hundred people signed up to join at their registration booth! An unbelievable outpouring of support from a town that boasts that it's one of the most "Irish"communities in the state."

Oddly, perhaps from embarrassment by the town folks, none of the members of the Shahannery Falls Gay Rights Organization suffered any retaliation for intruding in the parade. In fact, by the end of the week their membership had doubled. Although they still kept to themselves, most felt a sense of pride when they walked down the street. Not necessarily "gay" pride, but the feeling that they dared to do something unheard of and came out of it with a feeling of relief that they no longer had to hide.

All the members of the Saint Patrick's Day Planning committee resigned, and so far no one has volunteered for next year. The weekly meetings at O'Rileys still go on, but they are much more subdued now, and not once - since that meeting right after the event- has anyone mentioned what happened that day.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Mega Monster

I got an email the other day with some statistics showing how humongous Wal-Mart has become. It's the biggest company ever, sells more food than any other store, takes in 36 million dollars every hour, and about a dozen other facts that might or might not be true, but probably at least most of it is. These kinds of emails I usually read and delete without much thought, but this one goes along with something that has had me awestruck for the last several months when I first started noticing it. You see, Ohio State Route 250 runs through our town where it joins a couple of other state highways, so there are a lot of semis passing through. The land we bought last year sits 3/4 of a mile off Rt. 250 about four miles outside town. Every time I go out there, every time, I pass at least one Wal-Mart semi, usually three or four. Considering the fact that I spend five minutes on that road and I always see a truck, I wonder how many pass through each day. Each hour. That fact, one that I can readily see with my own eyes, impresses me more than any many-times-forwarded email.

Hope everyone is enjoying their green beer and aren't suffering from being pinched for forgetting to wear green on this St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

It Really is a Small World

I was talking to my friend Mike the other day who was telling me about someone we know from this town that he'd been talking to. I guess the guy had just gotten back from Las Vegas and was saying that while riding in a taxi the driver started talking to him and asked where he was from. When he told him he said that this was where he was from too. He started naming a lot of places around, asking if they were still there. He'd left town a number of years ago and had been in Vegas for a long time. What a coincidence running into someone from the same small town halfway across the country.

It reminded me of something that happened on my senior trip. Every year for many years the senior class went on a trip to Washington D.C. While we were going on a tour through the Senate building (I think that's where we were) one of the security guards started talking to our group, asking where we were from. Laughingly someone said "No place you ever heard of. Freeport, Ohio". "Sure I know where that is!" he said. "I go fishing out there at Piedmont Lake ". Freeport was (and still is) a town of maybe three or four hundred people, one grocery store and one gas station, situated in the middle of nowhere with Piedmont Lake a few miles down the road. Not something someone would know unless they were telling the truth... or had memorized every little sneeze of a town in the whole state.

Just goes to show you how small the world really is sometimes.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Leave the Scene

Here are a couple of safety tips for you.
1) When burning trash out in the open, make sure it's not a windy day.
2) If you do burn trash in the open on a windy day, make sure it's not near a hill of dry grass.
3) If you do burn trash in the open on a windy day and it's close to a hill of dried grass, make sure there are no witnesses and make sure you can get away swiftly.

Guess what I was doing today. How did you know? Yep, those boxes of old bills I gathered up the other day went out to the country with me and I decided to get rid of them, with it being a nice but slightly windy day. Slightly windy turned into gale force winds almost as soon as I started to put some of my papers in the fire. Of course it also started blowing all the papers all over the place. By "the papers" I mean all my old bills, cancelled checks, lots of things with personal information which could be used to steal my identity... or blackmail me. So while I was trying to round all those up the wind blew parts of the fire over onto the box of papers, igniting the whole thing at once, blowing burning pieces of paper toward the hill which, today, is a hill of dry weeds and grass.... with the neighbor's new house sitting on top of the hill. With the fire being driven to a raging fury by the wind I thought it might be a good time to head on home and maybe act surprised when someone knocked on my door, telling me my land was just incinerated by someone starting a fire. I would start cursing the hooligans responsible for destroying my little piece of heaven. Then I thought about all those papers with my name and address which would be scattered all over the hillside, evidence pointed squarely at me. So I decided to stay and get it under control, which I did. Then I thought it might just be a good idea to put the whole thing out, so I doused it and got it all out, and guess what. The wind stopped... the second I had it out. That's the way things go for me most of the time.

I also collected some more sap from the maple trees I tapped, and I should have some more syrup tomorrow. I boiled one batch down already and got about a pint of syrup from about three gallons of sap. It's a lot of work for just the little bit that you get, but it's fun, and hopefully next year I can get more organized, tap more trees, and make enough to sell.

Blogger is still screwing me up, so I still can't leave comments for people, or post videos, or other things, but I still read all my favorite blogs everyday.

Oh yeah... I think Spring might be close. It was almost 70 degrees today! I'm excited.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Trouble in Cyberland

I've been having all kinds of problems lately when I try to go places on the Blogger pages. I'll write things that don't get posted, it will reject my password to log on, and I can't leave comments on people's pages. It started when I was forced to make a Google account to log on to Blogger. A hammer to the keyboard has thus far not helped.

In good news, the Cavs just won their fourth in a row. They came from behind to beat the Bucks in Milwaukee. Pretty cool, eh?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Years Go By Quickly

I got into my closet today and decided to get rid of some of my old bills and receipts that I've had since before I got married. I keep all the bills and so forth to check back on if there's any dispute, but I don't think anyone's going to come after me for an unpaid trash bill from 1984. Actually I have pay stubs from my first job in 1976, and lots of stuff from my school years, but what I was concentrating on were the bill boxes. I've decided to keep the ones from 2001 on, so that only leaves about a dozen or so, some years I combined boxes to save space. I'm going to take them out and have a nice fire with them.

There were also things I ran across that I forgot I had. A keepsake key ring from my senior prom, a memory book from my senior year, souvenirs from a trip out west when I was a kid, congratulation cards from graduation, and pictures that I wish I had never seen or had come into my possession. The pictures are of a murder scene. A murder that happened in the area of the county where I grew up. A young girl was shot, and it had people - including my family- living in fear for several months of 1989 until a suspect was arrested. The arrest started a period of wild emotions in our family, for the man who was questioned and held was my wife's brother, who at first denied any connection to the murder, then confessed that he and his girlfriend were there but that she had pulled the trigger. His girlfriend was an evil, self-serving person who I believed was very capable of doing the deed, but who was never charged because - I think - the prosecutor wanted to bring the case to a swift end, being such a high profile case. My wife and I found ourselves acting as go-betweens for her brother and her mother, who didn't have a phone at the time, so all calls from him to her came to our house and we relayed messages. We tried not to get involved in the case, not even reading about it in the papers, because my wife and her brother weren't very close and because we couldn't fathom a relative being responsible for such a horrific act. He was sentenced to twenty years but not before escaping and being on the run for several days, throwing a good deal of unwanted publicity our way again and, I'm sure, having our house watched in case he tried to come here. He was caught though, and sent away to prison where he's been since that time. A few years later the crime scene photos and tapes of conversations were sent to my wife's mother, since she was his closest relative. She didn't want to keep them at her house so we ended up with them.

Looking at them today for the first time in several years I was filled with sadness and nausea. Such a waste of a young life. Haunting pictures of something that happened eighteen years ago but which capture the darkness of human deeds in a timeless portrayal.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Their Shame is Their Glory

I don't know if it's because I'm getting older or because all those years of being raised by parents with conservative, old-fashioned values has finally made me see things their way, but I'm beginning to think that the majority of the country is now made up of immoral, apathetic creatures who bear only a physical resemblance to the term human. The phrase their shame is their glory was used by the priest today to describe the depths to which our race has fallen, where people are openly talking and bragging about things they do which should be things they are begging forgiveness for.
When I see how the world has become so lax in enforcing basic moral standards and in fact, how the tv shows, movies, and newspaper headlines are exploiting this trend in the name of higher profits I have to wonder where it will all end. The Jerry Springer Show was the example used by the priest of people airing their misconduct with pride for all to see. Almost all shows on the air right now contain subject matter which was forbidden just a few years ago. Since most of the children of this country watch tv at least a little each day it's easy to see how morality is quickly becoming a thing of the past. History has shown that when civilizations reach a level of spiraling moral decadence they tend to meet a violent end, be it by way of a complete overthrow of government, or, if you're so inclined to believe, by the hand of God (i.e. Sodom and Gomorrah).
I have no solution to propose, and if my views are correct then any attempt to turn things around would be met with overwhelming resistance anyway, so the best I can do is try to live life the way I think best and try to avoid falling into the ugly whirlpool which threatens to pull our civilization down to a point of no return.

I didn't mean to make a sermon out of this post but I think that's what I did. Oh well, it's Sunday so I'm allowed, right? Anyway, it's snowing and cold here in Ohio today, which may be a good or not-so-good thing. I tapped some maple trees this last week to make maple syrup, but so far the sap hasn't been running very much. I'm hoping that's because it hasn't been warm enough yet and that when it does warm up it'll start pouring out, and not because I started too late and missed out totally. Tapping trees is a timing thing, and you only have a small window of opportunity to get the most out of your efforts.
Hope your Sunday is going well!