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Thursday, March 31, 2005


News Worthy

Terri Schiavo
Michael Jackson Trial

Is it just me or is the media getting extremely lazy? Terri Schiavo and Michael Jackson are certainly news worthy, but should they dominate newscasts? Is there nothing else of interest happening in the world?

I wonder how this stuff gets started. For instance, why did Laci Peterson become a media obsession out of hundreds of murders in the country? My complaint is one of proportion. Way too much time is given to too few stories. Points are belabored and dead horses are beaten far beyond death. Not only do the media repeat themselves, but they are redundant and repetitious. Not only that, they say the same thing again and again and again.

Let me be the first to say "uncle." I give up. You win. Now please inform us of other things. What is happening in Nebraska and Montana these days? Let's see teenagers doing good deeds. I want to see a town where people are working together to make it a better place. Show us humanity and triumph. Show us pain and suffering as it happens, but not in tabloid format, do it with respect and dignity.

What is the latest in science? What inventions are about to be built. Show us how to save time and money and avoid problems. Educate and inform us, but for the love of God, stop drilling the same two stories into our heads. I do not care any more. I used to care, but now I just want to move on.

How many "experts" does it take to say the same thing? When you announce their credentials we already know what they will say. You bring on extremists from each point of view and encourage a fight. Of course nothing is resolved. I am about to stop yelling at the TV except to plead for a different story.

I keep turning the channel only to see the same thing. Oh the hell with it, I am going to watch the Cartoon Network. If anything big happens, someone will tell me. It is a shame though; Cartoon Network is not as funny as what I have been watching on the network and cable news programs.

I'm OK now.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Road Trip

Lunch on the road

The drive from Covington to Vicksburg is only three hours. Last weekend, Barbara, LJ, and me made that trip and driving through the stormy Mississippi countryside stirred some memories from some of my childhood road trips.

Some of my earliest road trip memories are of our old 1950ish black Dodge station wagon. We made a lot of night trips, which was one way to beat the heat. In those days, AC was not available. I can remember lying in the back of that station wagon. Headlights from passing cars gradually illuminated the interior of the car and then it was dark again. The floor of the car was warm and the constant jostling from truck-grade-springs and bad roads rivals today's theme park rides. We drove with the windows down and the wind caused a constant roar we had to yell over to communicate. By the time we arrived at our destination, we looked and felt like something the cat drug in. I went to sleep many times listening to my parents talking in the front seat, while I was hypnotized by the sound of the wind, the intermittent whoosh of passing cars, and the headlights washing across the roof with each passing car.

We were a family of five and did all the clichés. "Are we there yet?" "Stay on your side." "He's looking at me." "She's touching me." "Don't make me stop this car and come back there." There were no fast food restaurants in those days. Folks brought their food with them. The photo above is a typical lunch stop. For a few years, we had a tent camper. As you can see, it made a nice table for meal stops. We usually had baloney and cheese sandwiches, chips, pickles, tea, coffee, and homemade cookies for dessert.

On long trips, around 2:00 or 3:00 PM we began hunting a place to get ice cream. There is nothing like a milk shake or an ice cream cone on a summer afternoon to provide a nice respite from the road. We also passed the time by playing games like 20 questions, I spy, and keeping a list of the states and provinces on car license plates.

Those family trips were great times. We were happy because we were together. Maybe having my own family together the other day going on a road trip is what conjured these memories. For whatever reason they came up, I am glad they did.

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, March 29, 2005


The Unicorn

Boston Marathon LogoHere is some Boston Marathon trivia. Have you ever wondered why the unicorn is a symbol for the race?
Why was the Unicorn chosen as the symbol of both the Boston Athletic Association and the Boston Marathon?
Chosen by the founding members of the Boston Athletic Association in 1887 -- ten years prior to the inaugural Boston Marathon -- the Unicorn is believed to have been chosen as the organization's symbol due to its place in mythology. In Chinese and other mythologies, the Unicorn represents an ideal: something to pursue, but which can never be caught. In pursuit of the Unicorn, however, athletic competitors can approach excellence (but never fully achieve it). It is this pursuit to push oneself to his or her own limit and to the best of one's ability which is at the core of athletics. And for this reason, as the marathon matured, that the B.A.A. also decided that the Unicorn would be the appropriate symbol for the marathon.
I like the explanation and it makes perfect sense.

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, March 28, 2005


I'm Talking Steep Hills Here

Rainbow Casino and Hotel
Steep Road

We took a quick trip to Vicksburg, MS to see Barbara's dad and have Easter dinner with him and other family members on Barb's side. I had an 18-mile run scheduled Easter Sunday. Actually, I was looking forward to running in Vicksburg because of the challenge of the hills. Vicksburg is very hilly. It sits on a bluff overlooking the Yazoo River and the Mississippi River.

We stayed at the Rainbow Casino and Hotel, which is situated on the Mississippi River. On our way up to Vicksburg, a three-hour drive, we had to dodge some pretty hefty thunderstorms. Aside from some patches of heavy rain and some spectacular lightning shows, we made the trip unscathed.

My plan was to run in the Vicksburg National Military Park. The park has a 16 mile drive through some unbelievable freaking mountains hills. At 8:00 AM I began my run on a misty, windy, cloudy, and 45 degree day. It may not sound very nice, but that is pretty good running weather. The hills began right off the bat and were quite challenging. I was averaging about an 8:00 minute pace, but on one pretty steep downhill, I ran a 6:38. If I had fallen on that hill, I would still be rolling.

Fortunately, 7.5 miles into the run, we hit a detour. I completed my 18 miler on a relatively flat road. Still, there was a stiff head wind with which to contend. I finished strong. The last 11 miles were mostly 7:30's, but my 18th mile was a 7:09.

It is nice seeing different scenery for these runs. When I get to go somewhere new, I think more about what I am looking at and the time goes by quicker. Now I run a 20 miler next week and the taper begins for Boston.

OK, I guess I better run.

Until the next time
John Strain


Saturday, March 26, 2005


Hobo Garden

Hobo Gardens

Click here to see more "Hobo Garden" photos

It was a job. I was a sore SOB. Everything but my legs hurt. Once I got up and moved around this AM, I felt fine. It isn't completely finished. I need a few more bags of topsoil and more plants. It is supposed to rain cats and dogs later on today. I decided to wait on the planting and see what a deluge does to my garden. The rain will no doubt settle the dirt already in the planter. That gave me time to rake the lawn again. Another 18 bags of leaves later and the place looks alright.

I am about to pack up and head to Vicksburg for Easter. We are going to see Barbara's dad. We have to wait until 4 PM when John gets off of work before we can leave. I am looking forward to running in the big hills of Vicksburg tomorrow morning. The harder I work now, the easier the Boston hills will be three weeks from this Monday. Tomorrow's run is 18 miles.

I hope everyone has a Hoppy Easter.

Until the next time
John Strain


Photos later today

I had to get up and take some aspirin so I thought I would do a quick post. Hobo Gardens is nearly complete. I worked my butt off yesterday and would have finished everything were it not for having to make another trip or two to Lowe's for more supplies.

All I have to do is plant the flowers, fill the birdbath and spread the mulch.

Once complete, I will post photos of the process. Check back this afternoon.

Until the next time
John Strain


Friday, March 25, 2005


Good Friday: Constructing Hobo Gardens

I did not plan it this way, but today I am going to make the garden over Hobo's grave I mentioned earlier. Tomorrow, I will post photos of the before and after along with my thoughts. I love projects and this one is also a labor of love. It is fun to create something in your mind and then try to make it reality. All of the materials are standing by including: 70 blocks, 4 bags of sand, 3 bags of gravel, a bird bath, and 4 paving stones. I still have to buy some topsoil and the plants.

Eventually, I want to put a bench out there where folks can sit and think. I will sit there with a beer after my weekly yard work and feel close to my dog. Hobo will have a fitting memorial. I will think of him when I take care of the plants, fill the birdbath, and when I just drink in the beauty of it.

Yes, this is going to be a good thing - this is going to be a Good Friday.

I hope your Friday is Good too.

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, March 24, 2005



If you did not believe my last post, here is exhibit A. Maybe you noticed the orange button in the sidebar that says, "John's Running Log." If you click it, you will see the details for the current running week. At the bottom of the page is a running, pardon the pun, total by week, month, and year. All of this is further proof of my obsession which I contend is shared by most runners.
Running Statistics

I would like to see other statistics. Wouldn't it be neat to see how many Hershey's Kisses you ate or the number of hamburgers you have consumed? How about how many rolls of toilet paper you have used in your lifetime. The number of cows and chickens eaten might fill a small barnyard. I suppose with a little time and some fancy math like addition and multiplication these figures could be constructed.

What statistic would you like to see. I hope you don't say the number of lame posts on this blog, ha.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, March 23, 2005



Runners are an obsessed lot. In particular, we obsess over statistics. "How far did I run?" "How fast did I run it?" "What was my average pace?" How does this compare to last month or last year?" The obsession carries over to weight, body mass index, blood pressure, and resting pulse rate.

For quite a while now I have been running on a course that is marked every quarter mile. This feeds my obsession, because I can adjust my pace as needed. I have the information I want - immediate feedback. A good watch and marked quarter mile splits are a nice thing on a running route.

Well, since the Boston Marathon features some pretty big hills, the worst of which are between miles 17 to 21, I have been running north of town to get ready for them. Good hills out there, but I did not know what kind of pace or exact distance I was running. Therefore, I got Barbara to drive me over the course and measure it with the car odometer.

This system works pretty well, except Barbara does not always drop what she is doing to drive me around and, when she does finally relent, I have to listen to her tell me about how I am obsessed with this stuff. I don't know about you, but I hate criticism the most when it is also true.

Enter Map 24, http://www.us.map24.com/
This is a great FREE mapping service. The best feature to me is the little ruler tool. I can drag it around a map and it tells me the distance from point "A" to point "B". I can sit in front of the computer and check out various routes without having to put anyone out. I can obsess to my heart's content. Seriously, check out this site. It is a great resource. I give it two thumbs up. I would give it a higher rating than that, but I only have two thumbs.

There are other little toys, like the TIMEX speed and distance watch. This baby uses GPS technology to give the runner real time feedback about pace, speed, and distance run. The only problem with this watch is its numbers are probably too small for me to see on the run.

Well, it's my bedtime. I must get some sleep so I will be fresh to obsess about tomorrow's eight miler. Now what kind of pace was I supposed to run . . .

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Dog Gone

What did the indian say when his dog fell off a cliff?
Dog gone.

However politically incorrect this joke is, I am using it to share a few observations about life without Hobo. The first week was emotionally tough. I thought about him a lot and just felt bad. This last weekend, I did some yard work. As is my tradition, upon completion of my chores, I sat in the yard to enjoy a brewski. Usually I do this with Hobo sitting by me, but in light of his recent death, I sat by his grave. It was a little sad, but it was also very similar to the real thing. I felt his presence there and it was comfortable.

The fleas miss Hobo too. Without him, they are biting us - so I am spraying the little devils.

The other day I dropped an ice cube. I started to reach around the refrigerator and throw it in Hobo's bowl, but I remembered the bowl was not there.

Barbara says she has to pick up dropped food from the floor when she is cooking. In the past, she just called Hobo if he was not already on it. The dog was a good vacuum cleaner.

John's allergies have much improved now that a dog is not in the house.

When I cut the grass now, I do not have to move his rope.

I can walk through the yard and give no thought to stepping in dog doo.

The house is much cleaner. No dog poop or pee on the floor any more.

I don't have to tell him to stop licking the plates when the dishwasher is open.

There won't be any pile of shoes on the floor after a thunderstorm from Hobo taking refuge in the corner of the closet.

The house has lost some sounds like his nails clicking on the tile floor and his dog tag clanking when he flops his ears. No sound now of breathing in the night or deep sighs from the floor at the foot of my bed. No lap lap lap sound from the toilet as he quenches his thirst.

It is safe to lay your plate down while you go to the kitchen for some water. Hobo will not help himself to your meal.

I can leave the door open and not worry about Hobo going outside.

We don't have to hurry home to let him out.

When I leave the house, I don't have to say, "See ya Hobes, we'll be back."

When I come home, I don't have to look for him to see what he is doing.

Each day is a new discovery about life without Hobo. Some discoveries are pleasant surprises, while other realizations are little pins in my heart.

Things are improving I suppose, but dog gone I miss that dog.

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, March 21, 2005


The Lark's on the Wing

Bradford Pear Bloom

The Year's at the Spring
The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearl'd;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven--
All's right with the world!
-Robert Browning

I always think of this poem when the calendar turns to spring. My mother had it on a plaque that hung on the wall for years. "God's in his heaven, All's right right with the world." I love that line. What do you suppose Browning meant by, "All's right with the world?" If you think about it, there is war, crime, and political discord in the world. People are stressed, and any newscast chronicles so much bad in the world. The key is the line that comes before, "God's in His heaven." This is a statement of faith. No mater what is going on in the world, if God is in His Heaven; All is right in the world.

The photo with the white blooms is on my bradford pear tree. The leaves are just starting to pop out. The above bloom could not wait for the others and is proudly displaying his beauty.

Bradford Pear New Leaf
I like the contrast of color and texture in this picture. It was taken in late afternoon.

Pollen on my BBQ grill
Pollen is falling like snow and gets on everything. Cars have a green tint and when I run the leaf blower on the driveway, I create a green cloud. Thank goodness i am not allergic to the stuff. The amount of pollen is a result of so many pine and oak trees.

Azalea blooms
Then an unmistakable sign of spring is the azaleas. I love these the most.

Azalea blooms

I hope your spring is going well so far.

Until the next time
John Strain


Saturday, March 19, 2005


I'm Getting Excited

Four weeks from Monday at Noon, I will be in a scene like this. This photo is the start of the 100th running of the Boston Marathon in 1996. I do not usually get excited about trips until a day or two before. This trip though has me feeling like I kid when presents are under the Christmas tree, and Christmas is still days away. I anticipate my excitement to be laced with some paranoia. The thoughts begin a week or so out. I will worry about getting sick, twisting an ankle, and oversleeping the day of the race. I do not have any pressure on me in this race to perform. I am told the Boston Marathon is to be enjoyed. It is not a good race to set a personal best. I am to run at a comfortable pace, interact with the crowd and other runners, and drink it all in.
Start of 100th Boston Marathon
It is going to be something. Technology is up to speed in this race as well. Runners have a little chip / transmitter on their shoe. At various places on the course, we run across a mat and our time is recorded for that split. People can go to a website and check in on their favorite runner. In your case, that would be me. You can see when I get to the 5K, 10K 13.1 mile, and finish. For those who don't want to log on can have the info sent to their cell phone. Another tech thing is the DVD company who has cameras posted along the course. They make a documentary DVD of the marathon and pull footage of runners ( identified by their bib number) who order the $50 DVD. The result is a professional looking DVD that has about 5 minutes of yourself running the course and finishing - provided you finish.

OLN (Outdoor Life Network) is going to televise 3 hours of the marathon live. I will set the old Tivo for that.

I am closing in on a dream and I am happy, grateful, and in need of a pinch to distinguish between reality and fantasy.

Until the next time
John Strain


Friday, March 18, 2005


The Art of Stephen Huneck

One day this week, we received a sympathy card on behalf of Hobo. I really liked it and investigated the artist a bit. He lives in Vermont and does a lot of animal art. His main website is here.
Dog Heaven, by Stephen Huneck
We received some other cards as well. Mary Lou has a sort of card ministry. She makes her own cards and sends them out to people for all occasions. Thanks again Mary Lou.

The vet, Dr. Maher, also sent us a card with a nice heartfelt note. These cards provided comfort and they were very much appreciated. We put together a basket from World Market with lots of snack goodies and I wrote a letter to Dr. Maher and his staff. On our way to work this morning, we dropped it by the vet's office. We wanted to say thank you to Hobo's doctor for all the good care he provided over the years.

Back to Stephen Huneck. Take some time and browse his site. He overcame what doctors were saying was a terminal illness. Stephen credits his wife's love and unwillingness to give up for pulling him through. One of the neat things Mr. Huneck has done is to build a Dog Chapel atop Dog Mountain on some of his land in Vermont.

Looking at Stephen Huneck's art and reading about the Dog Chapel also brought a measure of comfort this week. We sure miss our pup, especially when coming home at the end of the day. The house seems very empty.

TGIF - Have a nice weekend everyone.

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, March 17, 2005


Other Uses for Cell Phones

ShamrockWomen have already discovered alternate uses for the vibrate feature on cell phones, but those little communication devices are even more versatile than that.

Today for example, I was talking to my son when he got a call waiting beep. Naturally, he puts his old man on hold to take the more important call. I was passing through the lobby of the hospital where I work at the time. Headed to the units, I passed people while holding the phone to my ear. One individual started to talk to me, but noticed I was holding a cell phone to my head and stopped in mid-sentence. Just then, a light bulb appeared over my head like you see in cartoons. I discovered an alternate use: Pretend to be talking on the phone to keep people away.

I always have my cell phone attached to my belt. We had our carpets cleaned the other day and I still have the furniture bunched up in the kitchen. When I go to bed and shut off the lights, I can ordinarily walk through the darkness without running into anything, but with the new furniture configuration, I am in strange territory. I just flipped my phone open and its light was more than enough to help me steer clear of any would be toe stubbing obstacles. Alternate use number two: Use the cell phone as a flashlight.

It is amazing how indispensable cell phones are now. How did we function without being able to phone home from the video store, fast food restaurant, and grocery store? I guess we needed to communicate beforehand and make contingency plans. No need for any of that now.

Watch people. Look at how many are walking along with a phone stuck to the side of their head. Folks are walking along next to each other, but talking to someone somewhere else. Anxiety is a consequence of being in the present, but worrying about something in the future. Anxiety happens because one concerns themselves with something they cannot do anything about. We do that with our cell phones. The people around us are ignored while we talk to unseen people in our little device. Alternate use number three: In a crowd talk to someone somewhere else in an attempt to kill serendipity.

Maybe you can think of other uses for cell phones. They really are versatile contraptions.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Saddle Up

Barbara and I were sitting in front of the TV minding our own business and polishing off some Popeye's fried chicken when my cell phone rang. My son was calling from the recreation center at LSU. I could tell immediately by the sound of his voice something was wrong and it was going to negatively impact me. After 20 years, I have developed a certain type of radar for such things.

John explained how he was playing racquetball. Then he went swimming. Then he remembered he left his keys, cell phone, and ID in a cubby at the racquetball court. When he went back, his stuff was gone. Attempts to call the cell phone were unsuccessful. No one had turned in the goods and he was stuck. His wallet was in his truck and no keys to get into his apartment.

At 8:30 PM, Barbara and I mounted up to drive to Baton Rouge to bring him the spare truck key. Naturally, it was cold and raining. Thankfully, he called us 30 minutes into the trip to say someone turned in his stuff and everything was fine. Luckily, we were at a Hammond exit, so Barb pulled in and we stopped at a Pilot Travel Center to get a cup of joe, before driving back home.

I found the coffee counter, made my selection, and then wandered a bit looking for a treat. I quickly found a small piece of packaged pound cake. While Barbara continued looking for her snack, I could not help but notice the selection of goods at this place.

Hanging from the ceiling was a row of at least 25 large stuffed dolls. One could choose from a black baby or a white baby model. They hung directly over a row of goods that went as follows from left to right: 2 liter Pepsi display, STP fuel injector cleaner, power steering fluid, assorted auto goods, Advil, Kodak film, and Breathe Right strips. I could imagine asking a sales person, "Do you have any large stuffed baby dolls?" The reply would be something like this, "Sure, Darlin, look over the top of that fuel injector cleaner. We have black and white babies." Then to mess with them, you could say, "What, no Mexicans?"

After that little observation, I turned around and noticed cans of dog food. How insensitive, don't they know my dog just died? Anyway, next to the dog food were little cups of Cheerios and Rice Krispies. I wonder who stocks their shelves? One display in the middle of the store was a stack of brief cases for $14.95, so you know they were good ones. Who walks into a truck stop and goes, "Oh yeah, I need to buy a brief case?"

The place was clean and the staff was friendly. I am just messing with them. If you are ever in Hammond, Louisiana and you need a good brief case or a baby doll for the kid whose birthday you forgot, go to the Pilot Travel Center, they will hook you up.

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, March 15, 2005


St. Patrick's Day Parade

John holding a salad bar

More St. Patrick's Day Parade Photos

Sunday was a beautiful spring like day in south Louisiana. Barbara and I went with friends to the annual St Patrick's Day Parade in Metairie. This parade is pretty laid back, but it is unique, in that the coveted throws are cabbages, potatos, carrots, and onions. They throw everything but the corned beef.

Check out the photos by following the above link. It was great weather, good food, and good times with friends.

Let me wish you a happy St. Patrick's Day two days early.

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, March 14, 2005



One thing I learned in seminary was the concept of the transcendence of God. The Bible tells us we were created in God's image, but some turn it around. One theologian put it like this: God created man in His image and man returned the favor.

Man often thinks himself the ultimate. We should pray that is not true given the failings of man. Sure people can overcome and do some pretty amazing things, but as a group, we are a bunch of screw-ups. The Bible calls us sinners. Keep in mind sin is missing the mark, we are not totally depraved scum. There is something redeemable about us - God loves us. That does not change the fact we are a bunch of screw-ups most of the time. Therefore, we better hope there is more than just man.

Here is my main point about transcendence. If we can have great thoughts, how much greater are God's thoughts? If we can appreciate beauty, how much more can God transcend the beauty we know on earth? If we can love and experience love, how much greater is God's love?

My dog died on Saturday and I have been experiencing pain and grief. I feel the absence of love and separation from something I loved. It gives me hope to think of how much greater a love I will know some day. As much as I loved my dog, I will someday experience a love that will make my love for Hobo pale in comparison. It is not a contest of bigger and better, but a hope and a promise. I have faith that present sorrows will melt away and eventually be replaced with a sense of love I have never known.

The next time you are drinking in the beauty of a landscape or sunset, think of God's transcendence. The next time you are feeling love, so much that your heart aches, think of God's transcendence. All of the good stuff we know is only going to get better.

In the words of Bachman Turner Overdrive, "You ain't seen nothin' yet."

Until the next time
John Strain


Saturday, March 12, 2005


Goodbye Hobo

Hobo's CollarAfter 13 years, 9 months, and 2 weeks, we had to let go of our dog Hobo today. We knew this day was coming. Hobo's heart and spirit were in much better shape than his ailing body. Today he was released from that prison. Under a warm morning sun and surrounded by his loved ones he slipped away from our embrace. Our tears glistened in his fur and our hearts ached as the part that loved him realized he was gone from our touch. We knew this day would come, we now look forward to the day we will see him again.
The Rainbow Bridge

My Last Week with Hobo

Saturday, March 5, 2005
Barbara and I came home from our conference. Hobo was lying in his own poop again. I helped him up, but he kept falling on the tile floor. He walks so unsteady and falls frequently. We have been putting off this decision, but I think it is time. His mobility is dwindling, and he makes messes routinely. The poor dog’s quality of life amounts to lying around, needing frequent help to stand up, and tenuous steps punctuated with frequent falls.

The decision was made to take him to the vet next Saturday to be put to sleep. This will give John the opportunity to come home and say goodbye to his furry brother of nearly 14 years.

Hobo was out of food so we went by Petsmart after we grabbed a bite of Chinese food. The reality began to hit me at the store because we did not need the large bag of food, just enough for a week. I had a lump in my throat and the tears welled up. People were in the store with puppies and frisky dogs. We were carrying a last bag of dog food. It is just our turn I suppose.

Sunday, March 6, 2005
After running in the morning, I was having second thoughts. “What’s the rush?” I told myself. I looked on the Internet and found a website that talked about making THE decision. Reading the accounts of others on this site helped. They grappled with the issues I am wrestling with now. I read a poem, “The Rainbow Bridge.” It talked about a place between heaven and earth where pets wait for their masters. Throughout the day I petted Hobo and thought about what I was planning. I felt like Judas. His looks are so trusting and I am going to take him to his death.

I told John of the plans and asked if he wanted to come home to say goodbye. He will come from Baton Rouge Friday and we will take Hobo to the vet on Saturday.

I BBQ’d hamburgers tonight.. Hobo loves to be outside when I am grilling. He walked out once, but due to his waning mobility sat in the house. His strength must be gone. Under normal circumstances he would be supervising every aspect of the event.

Monday, March 7, 2005
We are keeping Hobo in the kitchen and block off the rest of the house when we go to work now. This is a measure to spare the carpet a bit. We set out throw rugs and lay a big comforter on the floor for him to lie on. I pet him every time I think of it and look into his brown eyes. I feel guilt even though I know I am doing the necessary thing.

At work, I took time out to call the vet. I almost hung up before the receptionist answered. A lump in my throat was interfering with my voice. She explained how the vet gives the shots and we could either bring Hobo home to bury or have him cremated. The cost was $55 for cremation or $200 for a private cremation, which would have his ashes returned to us. I did not want to pay $200 and I did not want him thrown into a furnace with a whole bunch of dead animals, so we will bring him home and bury him in the yard. I will wrap him in his blanket along with a toy and find a nice spot in the yard for him.

I am continually surprised by the strong emotions that hit me. This is a hard thing. It hurts and I am choking up almost every time I think about him.

Tuesday, March 8, 2005
Today was easier. Maybe because I have made the decision and I have a few days, but I was not as emotional or depressed about it. In the evening, I threw Hobo some extra meat and treats. If I stay this nice to him, he may figure things out.

I decided to bury him in the front yard where we anchor his rope. Hobo was hooked to a rope that stretched to our front door. It worked well, because we could hook him to the rope and he could stay out as long as he wanted to. When he was ready to come back inside, he would bark. He quit barking a while back though. I don’t know why, but he would just stand there looking at the house. Anyway, I will bury him there and make a round garden about 6’ in diameter. I will put a birdbath in the center. I think this will be a fitting memorial.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005
Friday night, John plans to have a few of his friends over for a goodbye party for Hobo. He will be really spoiled that night with food and lots of petting and loving. In Louisiana, we have a party for everything. If it were me, I would want the same thing.

As the reality of losing Hobo tugs at me, my heart aches. I know it is his time, but it is hard to let go. That sweet face and those brown eyes are killing me. He is so innocent and trusting. He does not know his fate.

Thursday, March 10, 2005
When I let Hobo out this morning, he did not come back. Usually by the time I have the coffee started, he is standing at the door. I stepped out into the cool morning air and began to look for him and listen for the clanking of his dog tags. I found him across the street in a neighbor’s yard. He had fallen and was waiting for me to come get him back on his feet. This is the kind of thing that helps me realize I am doing the necessary thing.

In the evening I got Hobo to chase me around the couch like we used to play. When he saw me make my move, he perked up and took off. His front legs work much better than his hind legs. The poor dog knew what to do, but his body wouldn’t permit it. He fell. Still, he had a moment of sparkle in his eyes, one last game of chase.

Friday, March 11, 2005
While I was getting ready to run, Barbara came in the room from taking her shower. She read my post, “Good News Bad News.” She knelt down to pet Hobo and began to sob. This is his last day. Seeing her cry, I began to cry. The feelings are circular. You look at the poor dog and feel all kinds of love for him. You allow him to bathe you in his stare and you become tearful to think such a sweet life is about to end.

I came home at noon to begin digging his grave. The weather is beautiful; it was sunny and 70 degrees with a gentle breeze. Hobo sat outside with me while I dug. It took nearly 2.5 hours to dig a proper hole for my pup.

When I was finished with the hole, I sat down with Hobes and a nice cold beer. It would be one last time to sit with him after a task. Many times we have enjoyed some rest and a beer at the completion of some work. While we sat, Marty called me, as we talked, two men in suits approached. They were from the Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder Day Saints – Mormons. I told them I was kind of busy so they offered me a card and told me to give them a call. When the young man approached me to hand me the card, Hobo began to bark. This is significant, because he rarely barks anymore. His voice was hoarse sounding. Once they left, I told Hobo it may not be a good move barking at religious folks, given his present situation - just in case they are right. I guess Hobo is satisfied being a Southern Baptist.

People were coming by to say goodbye to Hobo throughout the day. About 4:00 PM John got home from Baton Rouge and immediately began petting Hobo. Shortly after his arrival, Heather and Justin stopped by. We shared our favorite Hobo stories, like the time Hobo almost killed John. Not really, but that is how we tell it. Hobo grabbed the cape of John’s Dracula costume one Halloween and began pulling. John was being choked and overacted just a bit, but the legend has grown ever since. Most folks have a memory of Hobo stealing their food. It only takes a moment of inattentiveness on the part of someone to give Hobo the window of opportunity he needs to feast on the goods.

By the end of the night, Hobo had a houseful of company to tell him goodbye. John’s three friends, Josh, Ben, and Will spent the evening with him. Will brought a bone and some flowers. We ate out with the Murphy’s and after that returned to the house where we were joined by Marty and Cindy. Hobo received lots of loving and seemed to enjoy it immensely.

Saturday, March 12, 2005
I woke up at 6:00 AM. The usual routine began. Hobo was helped outside, I made the coffee, and he came back inside. I petted him and choked back tears as the reality of his time running out was undeniable.

Rousing Barb and John at 7:30 AM, they began stirring and getting ready. John did not know, but Hobo had already looked in on him. Hobo always checked on John while he slept. He simply walked into the room looked at him, let it register that John was OK, and then left. We all took our turn petting him and talking to him. We all shed tears and wished this day had not come.

At 8:00 AM, we took him for one last walk. Hobo fell a few times. He was getting tired, but made it home. I decided to put Hobo in John’s pickup truck instead of the car. When Hobes is put in the car, he knows he is going to the vet. It is a short half-mile ride, but he would be shaking and nervous. After folding one of his thick blankets and placing it in the truck, I picked him up and helped him get comfortable. I rode in the back with him, petting him and keeping him calm. At the Vet’s office, I asked Barbara to go in and see if the doctor would come outside to give him the injection. This way, Hobo would not have to go in the office, smell the smells, and get nervous. He could die outside on a beautiful spring day, while a gentle breeze caressed him.

It worked out just that way. The vet came outside and while Hobo was surrounded by the ones who loved him the most, he slipped away from our embrace. His fur was warm from the bright morning sun and moistened by our tears. We kept petting him and crying. It was peaceful but heart breaking. He was gone.

Once home, we wrapped him in a sheet and gently laid him in his grave. We each threw in a handful of dirt then John and I sealed the grave. In the future, a birdbath will mark this spot, but today we placed the vase with the flowers Will brought and the cork screw rope anchor that used to tether Hobo and keep him in the yard. Only now the anchor holds no rope, because Hobo is free. Draped atop the anchor is Hobo’s blue collar.

I hurt my back digging the hole yesterday, so I will have to wait on my ultimate plans for his grave.

So that’s it. 13 years 9 months and 2 weeks is the measure of time we got to have Hobo. He was a good dog and we loved him very much. Our hearts are heavy and we know it will be some time before the aching subsides. I knew this day would come. Now I look forward to another day when we will see him again.
Hobo March 2002

Until the next time
John Strain


Friday, March 11, 2005


Good News Bad News

The good news is I only have to work half a day today. The bad news is I am coming home early to dig a grave for my dog. I know I am using humor to cover up my sad feelings. I won't be able to keep this up on Saturday, nor would I want to do so.
Percy Quinn Park, McComb, MS

I have kept a bit of a diary logging my feelings and some of the events of Hobo's last week. I will post it on Saturday or Sunday once I have recorded my feelings for that day. I am going to create a circular garden with a birdbath in the middle of it. Hobo will lie beneath it and when I look at it I will remember him. It is a way to keep his memory alive.

I want to thank those of you who have left comments of support and condolence. They do help and your sentiments are very much appreciated. Life makes sure we all receive a portion of the good stuff and the bad stuff. I have a helping of the bad stuff due and I must face it. At least I know I am not facing it alone.

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, March 10, 2005


Why I Blog

Sometimes people ask me why I blog. They may ask why I use my real name and share personal information about myself, friends, and family. They usually walk away before I give any kind of coherent answer. I suppose there is some risk plastering your "business" on the Internet. I don't worry too much about lunatics reading my blog and hunting me down. I work with psychiatric patients as it is. I am already "at risk" to some degree, what's another incentive or two?

In college I had a feeling. It was to record things I was feeling and to write down the events of my life. This feeling was not born out of arrogance, but a desire to leave a marker, to say that I was here, and I did thus and so, and this is what I felt, and this is what I thought.

I talk to people every day. They are insignificant people by status and influence, but they are damned interesting. I like to know what they have done, what they felt, and what they thought. I get paid to do it. We all have a story and they are all interesting.

Perusing through an antique store one may spy a table. The table becomes more interesting if it is learned that George Washington planned battles there with his generals. Our blogs are the footnotes to our lives. We explain what is going on in the unseen. Those who take the time to read a blog become attached to the person behind it. Like an episode of Days of Our Lives, we tune in to read the latest.

I write to leave a record for my son. He may not care what I think about a particular subject today, but I suspect a time will come when he will. He can look it up if I am to demented to tell him myself. Future historians can look at our blogs and have more to go on then the major networks and established newspapers. The masses now have voice. From a teenager who uses the word, "like" 300 times in a 500-word post to the political blogs bashing the other side, there is voice.

I blog to purge myself. I can collect my thoughts, express my anger, and find words for my pain. At times I want to convey my joy or try to cause laughter in far away places. It is a challenge. Most of all, I want to be real and true to myself. I hope people read what I write and can say, "I know what he is saying" or "Hmmm, that is an interesting point." My posts are the conclusion of my feelings usually. They are filtered through a few days and conversations with others. One reason I have my name attached to this blog is to hold myself accountable. I have never written an anonymous letter except to Stephanie Shrock in seventh grade. She was out of my league and I was afraid to approach her directly, but I wanted her to know someone out there thought she was special. Anyway, by being myself, I am not tempted to be radical or use inflammatory language. I do that with my friends. Afterwards, when I get that out of my system, I try to sort it out on this blog.

So ends my rambling thoughts about blogging. I love the medium for expression and for meeting people all over the world. I never would have believed one could make friends with someone and never have heard their voice or saw their face, but it is possible. Blogs filter out appearance, age, and other common prejudices, and give us a glimpse right into the heart.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, March 09, 2005



I am a morning person. I get up early no problem. I can leave a warm, comfortable bed pretty easily, because I want to get at the day. My best work is in the morning. Hmmm, maybe I should start writing my posts then instead of just before bedtime. It was not always like this for me. In the past, the Jaws of Life were necessary to extricate me from the comfort of my sheets.

As a child in Shawnee, Kansas, I hated to get up on school mornings. I remember lying in bed in the morning. My mother would be up stirring about the house. I knew my time was short and soon I would be forced from my warm cocoon into the cold cruel world.

To make matters worse, my mother wore these hand made booties with little bells attached to them. I still remember hearing the bells jingling as she walked about the house. Sooner or later though, the bells would get louder and louder as she approached my room. Then the dreaded words would come out of her mouth. "Wake up little rosebud, time to get up." She said it in a sappy sweet voice like Glenda the good witch in the Wizard of Oz. I'm telling you it was tough.

Later on, I got a paper route and I had to get up at 2:30 AM. Only the promise of money could get me out of bed. Since then, getting up has never been a problem. I hate to sleep in. I always feel like I missed something if I slept late.

My favorite time to get into bed is, (drum roll please), bedtime. I love crawling in the covers at night. The day is behind me and my rest is usually well deserved. If I have accomplished something during the day, the sleep is all the better. I get to sleep fast. I rarely lie there more than a few minutes before I am gone.

I am aware how wonderful this is. Many have sleep difficulty. A day at work is much different if it is preceded by a poor night's sleep. Poor sleep leads to depression and all sorts of problems. If you can sleep well, you are lucky. What a wonderful thing, sleep. How different things seem after a night's sleep.

If you will excuse me, it is my bedtime.

5:42 AM Update: Well, so much for my theory about being sharp in the morning. I got up at 5:00 AM as usual, took the dog out and made coffee. I put water in the sink to shave. The TV was on FOX News. I figured the coffee should be ready and walked to the kitchen. Coffee was all over the counter and still dripping. It seems Mr. Fresh in the Morning forgot to put the pot in the coffee maker. Big mess. Cleaning it up is an excellent way to clear the rest of the sleep cobwebs from my brain. I will probably run better now. The worst thing was the delay in that first cup of brew. Oh well.

Until the next time,
John Strain


Tuesday, March 08, 2005



I have decided to put my dog Hobo to sleep this coming Saturday. That will give my son a chance to get home from LSU and say goodbye. I am not going to write extensively about this now, but ever since I made the decision, I have been pretty sad. Every time I have a moment to think about it, I get choked up. I wish there were a better way, but there is no way to say goodbye to something you love without pain.

Until the next time,
John Strain


Monday, March 07, 2005



CEU's or continuing education units are required for my license. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Louisiana and am required to obtain 40 hours every two years. By June 30th this year, I need all but 6 of them. Saturday, I went to a workshop on professional ethics or I would still need the whole 40.

There is a difference between the law and what is ethical. That is why lawyers sometimes seem sleazy or unethical, because they are following what the law permits. Ethics would have a counselor do what is in the best interest of the patient. The law only requires you do what a reasonable person would do. Counselors and others in helping professions are typically ethical and "nice." Sometimes, the "nice" part gets you into trouble.

In matters of confidentiality, it is not always clear what to talk about and what to not talk about. For instance, what rights do children have to privacy? Do parents have a right to know if their child is smoking marijuana? Do parents have a right to know if their children are having sex? If so, what age does the right to privacy kick in for the child, 15, 16, 18? If the child knows what he says is not confidential, will he/she confide in the counselor?

Then there are questions about suicidality and homicidality. What constitutes a threat? If there is a threat, what is a counselor to do? These are not always simple, clear answers. Fortunately, the courts are reluctant to hold teachers, counselors, social workers, doctors, nurses, and psychologists liable when someone takes their own life or someone elses.

It is good to review the legal stuff every now and then. Unless one deals with it daily, it isn't so clear. I deal with suicidal folks routinely, but I am not testifying in court or dealing with sobpenas for records that often.

It was a good conference and I learned a few things. One thing about these workshops is there is always some moron who asks a lot of questions. I don't even think they give a rip about the answers, they just want to hear their own voice. This one guy was annoying and not just to me. By the end of the workshop, distinguishable groans were heard around the room, whenever the front row guy raised his hand.

Then when it was all over and the presenter said, "Are there anymore questions?" This was a clear sign that if we kept our mouths shut, class was out. Guess who had one more question? If this were real school and we were in a semester length course, some behavior therapy would have to be implemented. Lucky for him, ha.

How many CEU's do you need for your work?

Until the next time
John Strain


Friday, March 04, 2005


The 70's

A few days ago, I smelled a tea bag someone had. It had a familiar aroma. I thought for a moment and then it came to me. The tea bag reminded me of how our local head shop used to smell. I am not a marijuana smoker, but I frequented the Bullfrog head shop near my home in Shawnee, Kansas to buy records. The guy behind the counter had hair down to his shoulders and talked like a character out of a Cheech and Chong skit. The shop smelled of incense and candles. It was cluttered with beads, t-shirts, bongs, roach clips, shirts, hanging candles, and all sorts of stuff. Marijuana leaves were popular for jewelry and t-shirts. Anti-establishment slogans were also popular.

One thought led to another and I started thinking about the outrageous clothes we wore. The photo below is from 1976 and pretty tame compared to some of the other stuff I wore. Leisure suits were about to make a hit. I had already worn bright plaid bell bottom pants and platform shoes. The list below is pretty exhaustive as it relates to the 70's clothing style.
Me and my college room mates
I am second from the right, pictured here with some college pals

What new clothes were introduced during the 70s that you can think of? This is a list of all the clothing styles that were popular during the seventies.
• Angel Flight Suits
Coordinated disco suit with jacket, vest, and flared pants. Your shirt had to be a shiny satin with the large collar.

• Angel Sleaved Blouses
Loose cut, oversized blouses with "bell bottom" sleeves. All Cotton. I bought my sister one during the height of disco and she never took it off, except to tan.

• Army Jackets
Actual olive-drab army jackets (which could be purchased at an Army/Navy store were very big at my high school, especially amongst the stoner males. They were frequently worn with ripped jeans or jeans that dragged on the ground.

• BASS Shoes
You mentioned GASS Shoes. These would have been a knock-down version of the more expensive BASS label. They looked a lot alike, but the BASS label was the sought after label of the time.

• Bamboo purses
The purse was in a square shape made out of vinyl with a drawstring top. Came in different colors, mostly tan, black, red. (Mine was red.) The outer base and side frames were huge brown bamboo rings. And the strap was made out of smaller brown bamboo rings interlinked together.

• Banana Jeans
Instead of the buckle in the front, it was in the back, right below the small of the back & they were very high waisted, usually denim.

• Bead Chokers
70's version was a bit cheapo looking compared to the chokers now, mostly because they were hand made. Small beads in a elastic cord and knotted so it became a tight necklace around the neck. Circa 1974-75

• Bell Bottoms
Denim tight at the top and baggy at the bottom

• Blue Jean Purses
Old blue jeans made into a purse. Cut off legs, sew up bottom use the extra leg material to make the strap, attach a button to close the purse embroider flower designs and add studs for decoration.

• Blue Jean overalls
Popular - at least in California. Standard overall design but not meant for working.

• Capris
Short cut off jeans about knee length

• Cheese cloth
Shirts, dresses, skirts anything was made from cheese cloth, it was crinkly so you didn't need to iron it. It used to shrink sometimes just on the first wash sometimes with every wash. If it was cream coloured you had to soak it in cold tea after washing to keep its colour.

• Chemin de fer Pants
Some looked like a chastity belt with 6 buttons on each hip..making a flap when unbuttoned. The other style had 4 buttons in the front and the top button was purposely not able to be buttoned...these had a buckle across the back of the pants...quite the statement back then.

• Clip-on Suspenders
Wide, at least two inch suspenders, generally with rainbows or anything way colorful. Silver cheap metal clips. Found first pair in 1974. In Alabama.

• Clogs
Sling-back shoes with a thick heel and sole, made of wood with leather or suede front straps and a metal buckle.

• Corduroy!
Originally known as the "poor man's velvet" on its invention in the 18th century, this fabric is made with the warp higher than the weft, producing an eye-catching look similar to velvet, but much, much cheaper. Corduroy enjoyed enormous popularity in 1970's men's clothes and was made into suits, blazers, leisure suits, shirts, and jeans ("cords"). Popular colors were various shades of tan and brown, burgundy, and bottle-green. I recall that a green, three-piece corduroy suit with flared trousers was one of my favorite formal items when I was a child. The fabric also appeared made into women's skirts, but on the whole it was thought of by designers as a men's material. Corduroy suffered greatly from its association with the 1970's - items made in this fabric vanished after 1981 and have been impossible to find until right now - Fall 2000.

• Crocheted Beer Can Hats
Labels of beer cans were cut into either squares or ovals, and crocheted together to form a hat.

• Dean's Sweaters
Usually cream background with a patterned yoke around the neck, 3-button closure at neck. Very popular with the preppy crowd.

• Denim Jeans Converted Into Skirts
Ripped out the inseam and stitched floral print material in the middle to make it a skirt

• Dingo Boots
About 1977 these were the craze, usually worn with *Gaucho pants( these were just below the knee and usually corduroy) Most of the boots had rubber souls.

• Dittos Jeans
These were the first must-have label jeans. They came in a large array of colors and styles with names like "Hi-rise". They were so popular (at least in southern California). After this, many other "label" jeans/clothing became popular. I would LOVE to get my hands on a pair of these. I keep trying e-bay and other sites.

• Down jackets & Vests
Big, puffy jacket. Made you look huge! Colors I remember were bright green, orange and blue. Nerd city, but tres cool back then! Mine was a cheap version!

• Earth Shoes
Ergonomically correct shoes in which the heels were lower than the front.

• English Flag Shirts
Shirt made with the English flag, Cool with the punk rocker crowd, worn only a short period of time but still part fo the 70s.

• Flame Bleached Jeans
We used to take these bell bottoms and a plant sprayer with bleach in it and make flames go up the sides from the bell bottoms. They were really cool.

• Fringed Suede Vest/Jacket
If you could afford one, a suede vest or jacket with long fringes around the middle and/or bottom made quite a fashion statement!

• Frye boots
Hideously ugly and expensive "cowboy" style boots worn by girls when I was in high school (mid 70s) Often worn with the equally hideous gauchos!

• GASS Brown Shoes
These were brown or different shades of brown leather shoes sold at Kinney shoe store, and had the GASS logo on the bottom (Great American Shoe Store), and we actually sat there and looked at people's bottoms of shoes to see if they were GASS or not!

• Gabardine Pants
Tight, usually corderoy pants that had a belt buckle in the front. Think John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever

• Glitter socks
These were knee-high socks with glitter. I had a pair in the late 70s that were blue striped with silver glitter.

• Goucho Pants
A coulotte type worn by high school girls that went below the knee, usually colorful, sort of a Mexican look. Usually worn with high leather boots that lace up. Early 70's look.

• Granny Gowns
These were long dresses worn mostly by pre-teen girls and most of them had a floral print design.

• Gypsy Tops (England)
A light cotton top, gathered at the neck line and bottom, bright colours. The string at the neck usually had little bells on the end. Worn with a matching midi-length skirt, elasticated waist with a tie cord and beels on to match the top, frilled at the bottom.

• HASH Jeans
HASH blue jeans where bell bottom and had a double-star design and the letters H.A.S.H. stiched in gold thread on the back right pocket. Many teenageres cut-off the pant legs to make shorts with frayed fringes. The shorter the better. I still have a pair that I got from a teenage neighbor for helping her clean her mom's kitchen so she could go out with her boyfriend.

• Halter Necks.
Bright halters or just plain black. Perfect worn with a wrap-around frilled jacket!

• Halter top
Thes shirts were like normal tanktops BUT went around your neck..they came in an array of colors but the glittery disco ball effect was the most popular.

• Hang Ten satin jackets
Pink, blue and maybe green. They were huge in the disco era ( late 70's). They had white and the jacket color stripes around the sleeves and the collar.

• High Waisted Baggy Pants
Slacks that came up nearly to the armpits, and usually had very narrow belt loops, so that you could only fit the requisite pencil-thin belt through them. Loose-legged, with large bell bottoms and huge cuffs. All different fabrics and colors, although plaid was a favorite. Always worn with platform shoes and usually a "midriff" top; a shirt or blouse that only came as low as the top of your trousers.

• Hip Huggers
How quickly we forget. Those bell bottoms with the "waistline" striking just below the belly button. Double front zippers were pretty fashionable,one on each side.

• Hotpants
Very short dressy shorts,usually plush velvet, with a wide,usually white ,belt,to match your white go-go boots.

• Jordache Jeans
Tight jeans, dark blue the best, actually ironing them was a good idea. Late 70's-very early 80's

• Leather Purses with Beaded Fringes
Leather purses resembling a pouch with a drawstring with fringes around the edges decorated with multicolored beads.

• Marshmellows
They were platform shoes, that had white laces and a thick (THICK) white "marshmellow" heel. They came in different colors (light blue, red, pick).

• Maxi Dresses
Full length dresses for parties, etc, like a bridesmaid's dress, worn with choker and crochet shawl, usually a fitted bodice and A-line skirt

• Mood Rings
A ring which was suppose to decribe what mood you were in by your body heat. Ex: Black= Bad Mood!

• Moon Boots
I think these were late 70s, early 80s: winter boots with platforms that look like something Neil Armstrong would wear, except for the colors -- mine had three or four different shades of bright blue, but they came in all colors.

• Narue Jacket
Navy blue double breasted type Jacket/with the big buttons very large pointed collar.

• Oxford Shoes
Oxford shoes made a comeback in the mid to late 70's. The style was to wear them with colored knee socks and jeans rolled up to slightly below the knee.

• Painters Pants
They came in white or baby blue...maybe more colors...a lot of pockets and a loop for hanging (a hammer?) something on the side of one leg....

• Patchwork
Patchwork jean, overalls, shirts, and skirts. sometimes denim, cotton or velvet.

• Peasant Skirt
A trendy knee-length skirt with a swinging movement. The most popular colors were black, white, beige, tawny, tan, pink, blue, red, purple, gray, burgundy( definately bungundy) and pea green.

• Petticoat
White cotton underskirt with broderie anglaise trimmed frill, worn under another skirt but longer and therefore visible. Also trend to trim hem of a skirt with similar decoration to simulate the sae effect. Lasted one season only in 1978

• Pin Striped Pants
Flared material pants with a fine vertical, single or double dotted line running through the pant. Usually in navy bllue or dark brown.

• Platform Shoes
Shoes with a sole of at least 6 or 7 inches high. Made you look taller than you really were.

• Platform boots
Completely different to platform shoes - came up to the calf and were lined with fur. Very comfy - cosy!

• Polyester Leisure Suit
That flashy gleam of synthetic, complete with wide lapels, top shirt-button undone to reveal just the right amount of of chest hair and gold chainage, accompanied by a strong whiff of Canoe. Think Warren Beatty in "Shampoo." This was the uniform of the 70s lothario.

• Pom-Poms
Pom-poms on sweaters on furry hats, maybe even on ponchos were present in the 70s.

• Poncho
A blanket like cloak with a hole in the middle for the head to go through. The patterns were based on American Indian styles, colourful or with alternating coloured stripes. Sometimes made with natural hand spun wool. Some came with tassles at the bottoms or pompons. They were long covering your thighs.

• Prism Necklace, Ring
These were usually in the form of a sphere,sparkled, multi-colored and very, very cool. They hung from a silver ( cheap lol) chain or were worn as a ring, also silver.

• Puka Shells
If you didn't have a set of Pukas (a choker) real or plastic you wern't from the 70s

• Ragcity Blues
We called them zip around pants because it had one one zipper going from one end to another. Another style this company mad were the tie up pants. They had bother ones that tied up in front and ones that were both .

• Rock Concert T-shirts
Ordinary t-shirts with a logo picture of a rock star or a rock band or trademark of rock band.

• Rugby Shirts
They were long sleeve shirts with horizontal wide stripes. They came in a variety of colors . But the most popular seemed to be alternating blue and yellow stripes.

• Safari Shirt
Womens taylored dress shirt with pointed collar,twin botton neck closure,patch pockets,2 botton sleeve all incorporating oversize bottons.Popular 1969 into the early 70's.

• Salt and Pepper Corduroy Pants
Black & white patterned corduroy pants worn at Catholic schools until 1976; available in stores until 1981. Also called 'partridge' print.

• Satin Jackets
They were usually in blue, pink, red, or green, and had stripes or just plain. They were similar to baseball jackets, very sporty, and very cool.

• Shellsuit
Like the racing car drivers suits. Shiny and lightweight in material usually pastel shades and very flattering. A zip had the full length at the front. More seductive if the zip came down to ceavage level.

• Shirt: Nat Charles/California
A shirt revealing black art; abstract drawings of faces surrounded by red, black and green colors. There was also white in all of the faces that seemed to represent the bright rays of a sun. There were words written underneath the images: "Right On", "Soul", "Jive", "Jive Man". But the shirt material was very sensative to daylight and had a tendacy to fade when worn under the sun.

• Sizzle Dress
Short button down dress and underneath matching short pants (elastic around the legs)similar to hotpants. Style was in fashion 71-72.

• Sizzler
Very short dress with matching panties. The dress was suppose to just short enough that you could see the bottom of the panties. I had a brown with with polka dot with a collar that was with with brown polka dots. The panty was the same color as the collar-white with brown polka dots.

• Soul Pipes
Trousers with cone-shaped pipes.

• Starsky Cardigan
As worn by Starsky on the TV cop show "Starsky and Hutch. A handknitted cardigan in a cream colour with a brown horizontal pattern banded around the middle.

• Tank Top
A sleeveless, usually with a low round or v neck, tight fitting jumper worn over a tight fitting shirt with long pointed collar.

• Tartan
the Scottish rock band the Bay City Rollers brought on a fashion for tartan garments that made high school look like the Highland Games for a seeason

• Tiddies
Multi layered sandals....with tubing for staps....started in Pasadena Texas I think....they were originally called something else, I can't recall what...but you could purchase them in your size, with as many layers as you wished. The more the squishier !! Then you could custom fit them by taking the tube fittings apart and shortening them if you needed to. The original logo escapes me as well, but they eventually went to Tiddies....with two, well...obviously...bosoms as the logo ! I never figured out why that was...but I suppose because they were soft and squishy

• Tie Dye
Any shirt or pants or any article of clothing that was put into a tub with colors and was streaked with multipule colors.

• Toe Socks
Socks with pockets for each one of your toes - usually in rainbow colors.

• Toes in Socks
These were a fashion disaster. The socks have toes in them like gloves, only each toe was a different color

• Toughskins
A SEARS brand of jeans that were reinforced at the knees and came in assorted colors. The POORMAN'S Levi's

• Track Shorts
Sports shorts that are really short, with double white stripes at the sides and tiny slits at the sides

• Treds (shoes)
I dont know if every country had these but here in Australia we had 'Treds'. I think that is how you would spell it. They were sort of sandals I suppose but the bottom sole was made out of old car tyres.

• Trench Coats
Coats that are 3/4 length with long sleeves, buttons at the front, two-front pockets, and a belt which ties around the coat.

• Tube Socks!
Don't forget the knee socks with the double row of red/blue/black stripes! Very sporty!

• Tube Top
Basiclly an elastic-like material worn as a top by women (particularly teen girls)it was worn without a bra and coverde the area from just above belly button to the top of the breast leavin midriff, top of back and shoulders bare and the breast prominantly displayed. I was a teenaged boy and during the summer we did nothing but admire the lovely females!

• Turner Shirt
This shirt is assorted with all different colours and lays as tight as possible on the chest. They were usually worn with trenchcoats to keep us warm in the village.

• Velour Windsheaters (Wind Breakers)
Velour tops in a range of single coloured, or ones with multiple coloured strips. Usually with ribbed round the neck line, ribbed at the end of the sleeves and at the bottom waist bend. They felt "very smooth" to touch.

• Waffle Stompers
These were boots (generally dark colored) with intricate waffle iron type soles on them

• Wallabies
They were these shoes that were very popular. The soles were rubbery and would sometimes seem to melt. They were tan and had a lace and two lace holes.

• Window Pane Jeans/ Satin Pants
Window pane jeans were the jeans that had 3x3 raised squares all over them, they only came in bell bottoms no pockets. satin pants to go with your satin jacket, mine had draw strings at the bottom so you could "cench" them together or just wear them flared.

• Wraparound Pants and Skirts
These were so popular in the mid 70's. The pants were made of cotton, in alot of different colors, and they were put on the back of your legs, then somehow wrapped around the front part, and then you tied them, the skirts just wrapped around from one side to the other.

• Yo-Yo's
Platform shoes w/holes in the middle of the soles!
Source: I forgot, but I didn't type this up myself.
Do you have any favorite 70's memories?

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, March 03, 2005


Back On Your Heads

Do I look surprised? They told me to look surprised. The joke is that everyone gets a surprise party at work, so any looks of surprise are contrived. I work with some kind, thoughtful people and they made my birthday feel special - just the way it should be. Now that my birthday is over, it is back to the old grind. That reminds me of a classic joke:

A rather bad man dies and is sent directly to hell. Upon arrival he finds himself and Satan in a room with three doors.

Satan explains, "I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that you
have to spend eternity behind one of these doors. But, the good news is
that you can take a peek behind each and take your choice."

So, the man opens the first door and sees a room full of people,
standing on their heads on a concrete floor. Not very nice, he thinks.

Opening the second door, he sees a room full of people standing on their
heads on a wooden floor. Better, he thinks, but best to check the
last door.

Upon opening the last door, he sees a room full of people, standing
waist-deep in excrement and sipping coffee.

"Of the three, this one looks best," he says and wades in to get
something to drink while Satan closes the door.

A few minutes later the door opens, and Satan sticks his head in and says,
"Ok, coffee break`s over, back on your heads!"
I had a good day. At work, my friends bought pizza, German chocolate cake, butter pecan ice cream, and presents. After work, Barbara and I went out to dinner.

Now, it is back to running and getting ready for the Boston Marathon.

Thanks to everyone for the kind words and birthday wishes. They really mean a lot to me.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Let's Celebrate I'm 48

John's baby picture 1957Another happy birthday to me. At this age, I feel fortunate to feel so well. Both of my parents and my two siblings are still living, AND we are still talking to each other. There have been many ups and a few downs in my 48 years, but as Henley says in his poem Invictus, "My head is bloody but unbowed."

Now, I want you to do something for me as a birthday gift. I want you to do something nice for someone today. It can be anyone and the nice thing you do can be anything. Use your imagination and go a little out of your way to do it.

I hope they notice the nice thing you did and offer an appreciative smile or touch. When you savor that glance or feel that touch, know that you are making me smile too.

Now if you will excuse me, I have to get back to the party.

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, March 01, 2005


Letting Up or Moving On

Mardi Gras Marathon Photos

French QuarterAudubon ParkBayou St John

Here is a truth: Once you accomplish a goal, set another one or you will slack off. I have seen it in my own life particularly with running. As long as there is a marathon in the future I am registered for, it is enough to get me out of bed in the morning and running. It is enough to make me watch what I eat and do other healthy things. Without that future accountability, it is easy to sleep in on a cold day or enjoy too much of a good thing. Slowly but surely, all that has been gained slips away and the weight returns.

This is not just a principle of fitness. It is a principle of life. The paycheck lures us out of the house in the morning, the grade at the end of the semester encourages the student to study, and future company motivates us to clean the house and fix things that have been on the list for months.

Why wait for an accountability that is imposed by someone or something else? Why not use future accountability to get things done you want? In my case, I sign up for a marathon and that is all the encouragement I need to run every day and eat right. I do not want to run poorly so I do the work. A byproduct of this process is fitness and being at my ideal weight.

The next time you are complaining about something you need to do or wish you would do, think of how you can make yourself accountable and get it done. Turn the bitching into positive action.

Now that the Mardi Gras Marathon is over I am thinking about Boston. Once Boston is in the books it is the Goat Milk Marathon in June. Accomplishment is a good thing and it is appropriate to savor victory. This can be the siren's song however, if sights are not set toward a new horizon. Bruce Springsteen's song, "Glory Days," is about those who did not set new goals. Their life was defined by a success. Life moved on, but they did not. Do you remember Duffy in F Troop? (This is a reference that goes way back.) Duffy was an old soldier, the lone survivor of the Alamo. If anyone ever mentioned the Alamo, Duffy would launch into a verbatim account the soldiers had heard many times. Throughout the F Troop episodes, this bit was used. Someone would mention Alamo, Duffy would start his speech, and everyone would be shaking their heads.

So, don't let up, life moves on, move along with it.

Until the next time
John Strain