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Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Stand Up

There was a story circulating during the 70's about a group of Christians at a worship service in a foreign country hostile to Christianity. The story goes some armed men walked into the church service and ordered anyone professing Jesus Christ to stand up against the wall. All others were free to go. Some people took their place against the wall and others left the church. As the Christians stood still awaiting execution, the gunmen lowered their weapons and said, "We are Christians too and we wanted to know who the real Christians were in this place."

In the United States of America, Christians have enjoyed an existence free of persecution. These days, Christians are not threatened with bodily harm or death, but they are under attack from secularists who are seeking to erase all public evidence of Christianity.

So what is a Christian to do? In the face of court cases to stop football teams from praying before a game, attempts to remove the word God from the pledge of allegiance, and the abolition of the word Christmas, I am getting riled up.

I am a tolerant individual. My philosophy is, if you like it fine, but I require the same courtesy. I am open minded and entertain complaints just in case something I am doing is cramping someone else's style. However, I have my limits and they have been reached.

The PC police seek to intimidate and manipulate through threats of law suits, condescension, and embarrassment. They have been successful because people in authority and leadership positions have caved to such threats. It is time to "stand up against the wall."

Be proud of your beliefs, including the ones some people do not feel are politically correct. We are not sheep and we do not all think and believe the same thing. I respect the right of someone to have no religion and I will exercise my right to have a religion. Furthermore, we can all be friends.

Somewhere along the line, sides were drawn and people began to be defined by their beliefs. News flash! We can still be civil to people who differ from us. We have more in common with people than we do not have in common.

If someone does not agree with homosexuality, it does not mean they have to hate homosexuals. Homosexuality is one aspect of a person. The opposite is also true. Just because you agree with homosexuality does not mean you will like all homosexuals. The point is, keep an open mind and an open dialogue. Don't take yourself, others, and the world too seriously. Lighten up. Be tolerant. Show kindness. Do all of these things and "stand up" for your own beliefs and values.

We are in a struggle for diversity so hold onto your beliefs, and stand up for them.

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, November 28, 2005


1700 Miles

Map of miles runSince January 1, 2005 I have run 1700 miles in just over nine days of total running time. That figures out to about 7 minutes and 46 seconds per mile. I could have run to Los Angeles, Maine, New York, Boston, or even Cuba. To set out on a 1700 mile journey would seem daunting, but put in a few miles a day and it is doable in less than a year.

Runners are all about statistics. When I run, I occupy my mind with math problems. I am figuring miles run, miles to run, pace per mile, and predicting times along the way.

This coming Saturday I will be running the Baton Rouge Beach Marathon. Last year, I qualified for the Boston Marathon at this race, so it will always hold a soft spot in my heart.

I would like to see how many miles I have run since 1976. I haven't kept consistent records though. I am confident that I have run at least 25,000 in those 29 years. That would be one lap around the world. At my present rate, it will take me about 15 years to make one lap around the world.

But for now, it is bedtime. I need some rest if I am going to work at running around the world tomorrow.

Until the next time
John Strain


Saturday, November 26, 2005


Post Katrina New Orleans

New Orleans Photos - Katrina Damage

“Pictures just don’t do it justice.” I have heard this phrase uttered numerous times referring to the damage of Hurricane Katrina. Now, I know what they mean. A photo gives you boundaries. You see the damage of one house or one tree, but to be there is to grasp the scale of the destruction.

Imagine driving down a neighborhood street in your town. Now take away all of the people. Imagine the houses without windows, piles of debris in the yards and on the curbs. As you continue to imagine, destroy all of the landscaping by either uprooting it in your mind or by turning it brown the color of death. Now take away all of the green and replace it with the color of gray river mud.

Continue to imagine trees leaning on houses or lying on top of them. In your mind’s eye, you will see messages written on the houses telling FEMA, insurance companies, or inquiring friends where the former residents may now be reached. Other markings were from the initial sweeps of rescue workers and say if anyone was rescued there or how many bodies were found.

On the neutral grounds, mounds of damaged furniture and goods are piled awaiting removal to places where the mounds are even bigger. Now imagine this scene to cover one block, and another block, and imagine the destruction to engulf 80% of your entire town. You are beginning to understand what New Orleans is like post Katrina.

The devastation is massive; its scope is amazing and defies description.

There is some activity, but on a small scale. One in twenty homes have someone working in them. People dragging things to the street, sifting through debris, and hauling sheetrock and carpeting out of the house is the main activity. Poignant scenes of folks holding a possession reclaimed or just sitting on the porch of a destroyed home stir compassion from passers by.

Block after block after block, the damage and ruin goes on. To say it is going to take a long time to rebuild New Orleans is a misleading statement. New Orleans will never be the way it was or rebuilt. It will be, as they say, a new New Orleans.

The French Quarter seems very much the same; with the exception of the parking lot we normally frequent is now a FEMA tent city. Bars and restaurants are open. Loud music wafts out of various places and mingles with the normal sounds of the French Quarter revelry. Large trucks, rescue vehicles, and police cars from all over the country replace the normal traffic.

As night fell, it was obvious where power was and was not. Once just north of the Central Business District, the lights were out. There were some streetlights, but only along main thoroughfares. Power cannot go to neighborhoods until electricians clear a home for hook up. In most cases, this is not possible because of the damage.

New Orleans is not one story of a hurricane and subsequent flood. It is at least 460,000 individual stories. Everyone was affected differently. Some people are fine, some lost it all, and there is a range of stories in between.

I wonder where everyone went? I know many are in the surrounding communities. St. Tammany Parish where I live has grown by 40,000 to 50,000 since the hurricane. Baton Rouge has almost doubled in size and is now the largest metropolitan area in the state. Many sought refuge in Texas and there are evacuees in all 50 states.

Each person has decisions to make about what to do. It will depend on whether or not they were renting or owned a home. It will depend on whether they worked and if that job is still there. It will depend on what the government offers to help people in the affected area.

At any rate, this thing will be playing out for a long time. There will be casualties, but there is also opportunity. Those who wait for a handout or for the government to save them will be added to the casualty list while others with grit, determination, ambition, means, and steeled resolve will succeed. What happens will depend on the accumulation of 460,000 separate decisions.

It is a damn shame what happened to New Orleans; it is a damn shame.

Until the next time
John Strain


Going to New Orleans

Since the hurricane, I have not been to New Orleans. There has been plenty to keep me busy here in Covington, getting things back to normal. I didn't want to be a gawking sightseer out of respect for the folks who lost it all.

It has been three months now and there are parts of the city up and running while other parts are in the same state of devastation the storm wrought.

The zoo is open again and it is free this weekend, so we will go there. We will eat beignets and drink coffee at the Cafe Du Monde. We'll do what we can and look at what Katrina has done to the city.

Here is a link to a 27 second video of Bear riding in the boat Thanksgiving Day. If you have Quicktime, it should work fine.

Bear's Ride on the Tchefuncte River Thanksgiving Day

While today might sound fun for me, I know Bear will have his lip poked out, but I am about to take him on a looooong walk.

Enjoy the day folks!

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, November 24, 2005


My big Thanksgiving

by Bear

Photos of Bear's Thanksgiving

Bear after a long day
Wow wee did I have a nice day. To start things off, mom and dad took me for a three-mile walk. It was real nice outside and it was fun getting to take a weekend length walk on a Thursday. Dad said it was a holiday called Thanksgiving. One thing I am thankful for is the long walk.

We went home and mom made biscuits and sausage. I got to eat a lot of sausage. I love meat. So another thing I am thankful for is good sausage.

I thought things would settle down, but dad called me outside again and me and him and LJ hooked LJ's boat to his truck and we went to the river where I swim and chase the tennis ball. I had never been in a boat before so at first, I just stood still with my feet spread way out so I wouldn't fall down.

After a while though, I got used to it and enjoyed the wind in my face and all of the new smells. I wanted to jump in the water and swim, but dad wouldn't let me until we got back to the dock.

At the dock, dad and LJ were trying to get the boat out of the water so I went ahead and swam. The water was a little cold, but it was fun. Dad and LJ threw the ball for me and I got a good workout.

Once back home, dad hosed me off to get the river water off of me and then he rubbed me with a big towel. I like that part becuase I can bury my head in that warm material and let dad dry me off.

I layed down to rest and dry off when mom said it was time to eat. She made lots of good food and I got to eat some too. It was so good.

After another little rest, mom and dad told me to get in the car for a ride. Dad said we were going to the hospital where he works to make some people happy. He called it "pet therapy." Dad said patients like to pet dogs and play with them and that makes them less depressed. I was excited to go and glad to help people if I could.

Mom and dad took me to the back of the unit and the patients came outside to see me. Some of them came right up to me and petted me. They even let me lick them in the face. I could tell a couple of them were a little scared of me, so I was extra gentle and soon they even petted me. One girl threw the ball for me and got real happy. She told my dad that she never got to have a dog when she was growing up. She said she liked me.

All of the people gave me compliments and petted me. They were real nice people. I guess dad was right. None of them seemed depressed to me.

I think it is fun helping people and I plan to go back to the hospital as much as I can.

Well that sums up my Thanksgiving. I had a lot of fun.

I hope your Thanksgiving was happy too.

Until the next time

Happy Thanksgiving


Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Lighting a candle or cursing the darkness

CandleI have been thinking about the current public debate / battle about the use / misuse of religious symbols. Isn't it funny how people populated America fleeing religious persecution by the majority? Fast forward 400 years and the same people are being hassled by a vocal minority.

Freedom "of" religion does not mean freedom "from" religion. Los Angeles changed their town seal by removing crosses because someone was offended. Las Cruces, New Mexico is going through a similar process. The word "offend" is code for "cry baby without a real life." Since when should the larger group cave to the few? Cramming religion down someone's throat is one thing; wiping away established customs and history is another. If these things are unconstitutional, why were they not challenged one-hundred years ago?

I get offended at times, but I do not seek to impose my will on others. Instead, I do not contribute to the offense with my time or money. What is happening with this offensive against Christmas and crosses is not about "offense", but it is about advancing a godless religion - secularism.

Let's examine for a moment what is so horrible about Christianity. I have witnessed first hand how churches have responded to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Groups came from all over the country from many different faiths. They lived in tents, they hauled brush, ran chain saws, and passed out food. These folks used their vacation time from their job, donated their money and worked. The work was hot and dirty, but they did it with a smile that only comes from love.

I did not see any secular church groups helping out. No atheist organizations to my knowledge were doing anything. The ACLU was busy playing solitare with a deck of race cards trying to fan the flames of hatred. The usual voices were blaming and criticizing while an army of good Christian folk were working and helping.

Christian churches respond to all kinds of needs all over the world. They give and give and give.

By all means, let's get rid of these folks. Let's not have any remnant of their majority existence displayed where someone might be offended.

I suppose there will always be those who do nothing and curse the darkness, while others will do something to help, thereby lighting a candle.

Whatever your faith, whatever you believe, I hope you light candles.

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, November 22, 2005


What shall I write about today?

I hate it when I don't glom onto a topic and have my post written before I go to bed. That means I get up and write in the morning before I walk the dog and run. It happens, what are you going to do?

This is the discipline part of blogging. Oh sure, when one begins a blog, they have countless stories from childhood, describing their life at present, and their sundry political, religious, and philosophy of life viewpoints with which to regale the blogsphere. After that has been done, one becomes more of a columnist. In my case, I try to find a different slant on what everyone is talking about. Sometimes I find it and sometimes I blend in with everyone else's rhetoric. I like the challenge.

I began blogging to write. Even though I have nothing to write about now, I am still writing. That is like doing a long run when you are injured. The difference being writing without anything to write about hurts the reader; while running with an injury hurts the runner.

If you are still with me, you must have a lot of time on your hands. Thanks for hanging in.

I guess now I am in a percolating mode. The holidays are coming, New Orleans is still in ruins, people are trying to steady their lives, voices are screaming for help, fingers are still being pointed in every direction, but mostly out of frustration.

Hurricane Katrina is a lot like 9/11 in that; everything since the actual event has been redefined and changed. Everywhere you go, no matter the business or institution, policies and rules are being changed because of the hurricane. In casual conversation with people the phrases like, "since the storm" or "before the hurricane" are frequent. It is a common thread we all share here.

It has been 12 weeks since the storm and the financial realities are sinking in just as the initial adrenalin is wearing off. Depression and reality is setting in and many people are in trouble. If one does not have the personal resources, family, or insurance; then bankruptcy looms. The government is not the knight on a white horse coming to save folks. It seems the government is a pile of forms and vague answers that change with whatever bureaucrat is addressed. Another way of saying it is, "It's all one big cluster f***."

New Orleans' population was 460,000 prior to the storm. Today it is estimated at 60,000. My take on things is it is going to get worse before it gets better.

What was I saying, oh yes, I don't have anything to write about.

I haven't done any Christmas preparation. Speaking of Christmas, it is easier to get away with saying the "F" word in public than it is to say “Christmas.” If this keeps up, I am going to start looking for a catacomb to live in. Can persecuting Christians be far behind? Now there is a good idea for a post or two.

If you are a Christian and you have been worried about all of the public BS about not using the word Christmas in schools and stores, take heart. I skipped ahead to the last chapter and I know how this whole thing ends.

I smell coffee. At this time of the day there is nothing better than that smell and the first sip of the first cup of that hot, steaming, cup of black nectar of the gods.

Bear is jumping on my chair so I guess I have to move or he will be hiking his leg on my chair leg and giving me that look. You know the innocent look they give, "I can't help it because YOU wouldn't take me outside - I had to pee on your chair leg." I wonder who owns whom?

Maybe tomorrow I will have something to write about, but if I don't I will write anyway. That is what a discipline is; something you do out of love and duty.

Until the next time
John Strain


Sunday, November 20, 2005


Worth the wait

by Bear

Dad said if I keep writing the way I am, he will have to change the name of the blog to "Bear's Online Journal." I think that has a nice ring to it, don't you?

Let me tell you about my Saturday. As I left you last, I was trying to get my folks up and around to take me on my extra long Saturday walk. Dad went out in the yard and threw the tennis ball for me a few times until mom came outside. We kept starting and stopping. I thought we were on our way and dad had to go back inside and get his billfold for something. Then we started to leave again, but dad saw water in the ditch. He said it was a water leak and that he had to call the city. Dad was happy because the leak was on the city side of the meter; what ever that means.

We finally got walking and we went a different way. We crossed a busy street. I kind of remember that street from the time I got away and got lost. The cars go real fast and it seems real confusing, but mom and dad know just when to cross. It was a beautiful day and we were all walking together. I like it best when the whole family is together. I was having fun peeing on all kinds of new things.

After we walked for a long time, dad said about 3 miles, we were at the vet's office. Nothing good ever happens at the vet's office. The people are nice to me I guess, but they usually have a couple of girls hold me while the vet sticks me with something sharp. I get nervous. If I am not getting stuck with something, I am getting dropped off for a long time, I think they call it being boarded.

We sat in a room with lots of smells, bags of dog food, and people coming in and out with other dogs. I was kind of scared so I just sat on dad's foot. This is a little trick I do. If dad moves, I am going to know it. A lady came out of another room and called my name, then mom, dad, and I got up and went in the room with her.

It turned out to be one of those “getting stuck with something sharp” things. I heard the vet say something about Parvo. Then dad said he wanted the vet to put a micro chip in my neck. That was another getting stuck thing, but it wasn't bad. I didn't even cry.

Rusty the vet told dad that if I get lost again, another vet can tell who I am and where my home is because of the micro chip. I think I will stay close to home just in case. I don't want to rely on a micro chip.

We left the vet's office and walked on the sidewalk by the busy street. Dad said he was hungry so we stopped at a place called Sonic. We sat at a picnic table and mom talked into a box and asked for food. A nice lady was in the box and said she would bring it right out. Sure enough, in a few minutes someone came out with a tray of food. Dad tossed me tater tots. I like them a lot. Oh, the vet said I weigh 68 lbs. After those tater tots, dad said I probably weigh 80 lbs.

We kept walking and all of a sudden, I realized we were back on my street. I was getting tired, but when I realized where we were, I got happy and pranced the rest of the way home. Once inside, I ran to the toilet and drank for a long time. Dad had given me some ice at sonic, but it is hard to beat your own toilet water when you are thirsty.

That was a fine walk. I took a fine nap to cap things off. It was a good day for me and I wanted to tell everyone about it.

I think I will take another nap while dad watches football. I have to sleep with one eye open though, because he may decide to get something to eat or even go outside. If he goes outside, I am grabbing my tennis ball and going along.

I hope you are having a fun weekend like me.

Until the next time


Saturday, November 19, 2005



by Bear

Bear waitingI am ready to go for my "extra-long Saturday walk" but dad is taking his sweet time getting ready. He has to make the coffee, then he has to goof around with his camera and computer, then he has to get mom up and then I have to wait for her to get ready.

It's OK I guess, because I like it when mom goes on the walks too. But I get impatient. I try to drop subtle hints that I am ready by wiggling all over the place, panting, dropping my tennis ball in front of dad, and blocking his path. He just kicks me out of the way and keeps going in the same direction though.

If anyone knows how to get dad moving, would you call him, email him, or leave a comment making him feel guilty for making me wait. Hehehe.

I wrote something like this the other day, but dad deleted it before my paw could hit the post button. He said it wasn't readable because I typed it myself instead of getting him to help me. Someone needs to make a keyboard with bigger keys so I can hit the right ones. I heard of the ADA, but the "D" stands for disabilities not dog. Sigh.

Oh well, today should be fun. Dad is always going outside and he takes me with him to help. I like to dig holes by the bushes, but I get yelled at if I throw too much dirt into the yard. Sometimes I get carried away.

Have a fun weekend everyone and I want to give a special "bark out" to Shadow my newest blog friend. I also want to say hello to my other friends, Ginsu and Zeus the cat. I would link them, but they don't have their own blogs like Shadow does. Maybe its a Lab thing.

Until the next time


Friday, November 18, 2005


The beat goes on

Coffee is dripping - smell that aroma
The dog is begging to go out for his walk - listen to his panting and clicking nails on the tile
The house is quiet - except for the coffee gurgles and the dog
The north wind is blowing gently and it is 34 degrees
I have seven miles to run - nice and easy, may need gloves this morning
It's Friday - yippeee

TGIF and POETS (Thank God It's Friday & Piss On Everything Tomorrow is Saturday)

Welcome to my random thoughts

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, November 17, 2005


Life isn't fair

"Life isn't fair" is the phrase we usually hurl at people who just had a setback. I for one know those words do little to soothe a so-called unfairness of life. The phrase is true though and people react differently to it.

All it really means is that things just happen. Sometimes we get what we don’t want; and other times what we want, we don’t get. OK, maybe those things happen more than sometimes. The point is there are things we cannot control.

Before we make our first choice as a living organism, a lot of things have been determined we have no say in. They are: place of birth, parents, race, class, and all of the physical, emotional, and intellectual characteristics. Some folks seem to have it all, but most of us have a mixed bag. There are people born rich who have low IQ's and personality problems and there are poor people with brilliant minds. A common theme in humanity is we all struggle with something.

In my work, I see people everyday who started with the deck stacked against them. I also see people who have pissed away a pretty good hand. Something I have learned is that you cannot predict a person's outcome. I am always asked questions like, "Do people recover from alcohol abuse?," "Does marriage counseling work?" and "Will I be able to get a job in this condition?" The answer is the same to all of the questions: "It depends."

When faced with a problem, challenge, or obstacle (choose your noun) we need to be resourceful, able to improvise, endure, be creative, and not quit until we've won. Many give up before they win. Giving up becomes a pattern and their life turns to crap. They utter the phrase, "Life is not fair" through clinched teeth. Their bitterness eventually isolates them, because who wants to hang around a chronic whiner?

Others achieve beyond what is expected. Look at the sidebar of this page and notice the one-legged runner. Running is not a requirement or even a normal thing for an amputee to do, but he wanted to run. His grit and determination not only enabled him to run, but to run next to the President.

Life is not fair. This phrase always causes gratitude to well inside me. I welcome the mundane and routine, because they are free from tragedy. I know tragedy and suffering will someday come, but if they are not here now, I will celebrate health and having enough.

When tragedy does come - and it will - I will endure it, learn from it, and do what I have to do to get through until its time is past. We all get our turn with suffering.

Today is the day to breathe the air and celebrate health, family, employment, provisions, relationships, and free time. Today is the day to extend a hand to those who are suffering if you can.

Life is not fair, but we have the power to take away a lot of its sting.

This concludes the sermon for today - I hope wherever you are and whatever you are doing, you are enjoying it.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Look at my balls

by Bear

Bear and his tennis ballsYesterday morning when dad came back from his run, he had three new tennis balls. I was so excited I danced and clicked my toenails all over the kitchen floor.

I love tennis balls, but I lose them a lot. Sometimes, I carry one in my mouth when we go for a walk. Then somewhere along the way, I drop it. Dad checks me before we walk now, because he said he was getting tired of looking for balls all the time. A couple of them have been lost in our bushes too. Once dad threw one in the bushes and neither one of us could find it. I buried another one and I can't remember where it is.

Last Saturday we walked by the tennis courts and I found a ball by a tree the hurricane blew down. Dad says he is going to check that place out regularly so he doesn't have to buy any more balls. Then today, he found three of them. He said they were in a ditch and he had to fish them out of the water. I wish I had been there, I would have jumped in and got them myself.

I like having lots of balls, but I get confused. I keep dropping the one in my mouth when I see another one. I guess I always want the one I don't have, but when I get it, I want the next one. Dad says people are like that too.

OK, I guess I will go count my tennis balls again and make sure they are safe. I hope you have something in your life you like as much as I like tennis balls.

Until the next time


Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Read this

My mother is a very good writer. Do yourself a favor and read the Letter to the Editor she wrote a few years back describing her thoughts and feelings after her 50th high school reunion.

Until the next time
John Strain


Touching it with a ten-foot poll

The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.
- Bertrand Russell
What a wonderful invention; the opinion poll. It is so accurate and infallible leaders can look to them instead of their own mind. Before polls existed, leaders had to make decisions by considering various options and doing what they felt was best. It must have been hell making a decision not knowing if people would like it or not. Opinion polls are just the ticket for spineless, lazy, incompetent leaders.

The other morning I was listening to two political pundits arguing an issue. One of the men kept bringing up a poll. "57% of the people believe X, Y, and Z," he said. I say, "So what." If 57% of any group believes, for instance, that aliens populated the earth, it does not make it so. An opinion has limited uses.

Polls are used for all kinds of things today and I suspect a lot of them are not constructed very well. A poll needs to be reliable and valid. That is, it should test what it says it is testing and do it accurately. Even if a poll is constructed well, it only tells us what a group of people believes about an issue.

Polls are useful if you are test marketing a new ice cream or want to know if people like your new single. Where polls are not very useful is in cases where there is a "truth" or an answer. It would be ridiculous conducting a poll about the answer to 2+2. The answer is 4 no matter what people believe.

At one time, the majority of people believed the world was flat. The majority is often wrong, because many who make up the majority are just going along.

Alas, I guess we will just have to educate ourselves to find out the truth. We may even have to open our minds and (gasp) listen to opposing viewpoints. This intellectual honesty is no fun at all. It is much more fun to form an opinion and look at the world through it; than it is to form an opinion after careful consideration of the facts.

In the words of Dennis Miller, "That's just my opinion, I may be wrong."

Until the next time
John Strain


Sunday, November 13, 2005


JM Forever

JM (Justin McLeese) Forever
One year ago today, Lance Corporal Justin McLeese was killed in combat fighting in Iraq. On November 11, 2005, his family received the Bronze Star "V" for valor in combat medal on his behalf at the Covington, Louisiana Veteran's Day ceremonies.

View a 5 minute movie which includes a reading of the official citation describing the valor for which he was awarded the Bronze Star "V".

"JM Forever" has been printed on bumper stickers and t-shirts and they are seen all over town. Justin's memory is alive in the lives of those who knew him.

It has been said many times and it will never be enough, but to Justin and those who have served and are serving in our armed forces; Thank you.

Justin's Guest Book

Until the next time
John Strain


Saturday, November 12, 2005


Passing the torch: Veteran's Day 2005

Veteran's Day celebration Covington, LA 2005

I attended our town's Veteran's Day ceremonies Friday. The above photo is a symbol of what is happening and has happened throughout our history. It is the passing of the torch. The silver haired WWII Vets, part of the Greatest Generation, will soon be gone and it will be up to us and coming generations to carry that torch.

My generation receives the torch in good shape. Our freedom and liberty is in tact and strong. This is the month of Thanksgiving and one of the things, for which I am thankful is the sacrifice so many have made so I can live the kind of life I choose.

Such a debt can only be repaid by carrying the torch and preserving it for the next generation. I am confident this will happen.

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, November 10, 2005


The bronze star V (valor in combat)

The bronze star V
(All Services)
For heroic or meritorious achievement of service, not involving aerial flight in connection with operations against an opposing armed force. Authorized on February 4, 1944 the Bronze Star Medal is awarded to members of all branches of military service and may be awarded either for combat heroism or for meritorious service.

The bronze "V" identifies the award as resulting from an act of combat heroism or "VALOR", thus distinguishing it from meritorious achievement awards.
More info about the Bronze Star
This Friday is Veteran's Day. It was nearly one year ago, November 13th, when one of our town's young men died in combat in Fallujah. Justin McLeese brought the war home to us and made it real. His death made us keenly aware of the price of freedom. On Friday, at our town's Veteran's Day celebration, Justin will be awarded the Bronze Star "V".

It will be my honor and privilege to attend the ceremony. As I go about my life enjoying freedom and safety, I will keep Justin's memory alive in my heart. His death and shed blood is the cost of freedom, but his willingness to serve and to offer his life for his country is what makes freedom possible. We are the stewards of what these brave men and women died to preserve. We can honor that sacrifice by living a good life.

You can sleep well tonight secure in the knowledge that there are brave young men and women who are willing to risk it all for our freedom.

Thank you Justin and thank you to everyone who serves and has served in our armed forces.

Previous posts about Justin McLeese:
A death in November
Where do we find such men?
Honoring a hero
Still thinking about Justin

Justin's Guest Book

I will report on Friday's ceremony later on.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Rewarding the irresponsible

FEMA is giving a maximum of $26,000 to families for uninsured losses. The way they do it rewards the people who did not have insurance or who were under insured.

Example 1:
Let's say you sustained $100,000 in damage to your home. Your homeowners insurance pays for, oh, $20,000. FEMA would give you an additional $6,000.

Example 2:
Your house sustains $100,000, but you did not have insurance. FEMA will give you $26,000.

This article gives more details.

There are two ways of thinking in our country.

Some believe in personal responsibility. These folks would say it is an individual's job to make sure their home is protected with the necessary insurance.

Others believe there are all kinds of excuses for not getting their home insured and the government should take up the financial slack.

It sure seems to me that FEMA is rewarding irresponsibility. What do you think?

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Running Shoes

I just bought a new pair of running shoes. They are the most expensive ones I have purchased to date - $120.00. Usually, I spend in the neighborhood of $75.00. I hope that spending more money will get me greater durability or maybe even better performance.

I am not holding my breath. Most likely though, spending more money on running shoes has diminishing returns around the $75.00 threshold. The Nike Shox Ride 2 running shoe touts a unique shock column that returns energy to the stride. I haven't believed shoe companies since I fell for the advertising of Red Ball Jets and PF Flyers. I really believed just strapping on those shoes would make me "run faster and jump higher." I still remember the feeling as a wave of reality rushed over me after my initial sprint around the yard. I was just as slow as ever. What next, spinach doesn't make you strong? I began to learn that TV commercials sometimes exaggerate.

I buy a new pair of running shoes every 3 to 4 months. As many miles as I run, the shoes wear out. Once the cushioning breaks down in the shoe, the injury risk increases. Right now, my right foot is pretty sore and I figure it is due to the worn shoe. We'll see.

I have tried quite a few different running shoes. When I find a model I like, I just keep buying them. The trouble is, shoe companies change their models every few years. I have bought multiple pairs of Nike Air Pegasus and Brooks Chariots, but they were changed for some unknown reason forcing me to find a new favorite model.

In the early 80's I wore Etonics. There was some kind of flaw with their dye. The blue dye on the shoe would bleed when wet. After a run, my feet were often blue from the dye making me look like a smurf.

When the running shoes are no longer fit for running, I relegate them to the lawn mower shoe pile. That pile is getting pretty big now too.

I have to mention the aesthetic value of running shoes. For some reason, running shoe makers must think runners want the ugliest pair of shoes ever. One can only conclude such a reason by virtue of all of the existing ugly shoes. For instance, the new pair of shoes I bought look like a pair of bowling shoes. I guess if they work, I shouldn't complain.

Tuesday will be the maiden voyage for these new shoes; a nice 4-mile break in run.

I am going to keep looking for a pair of shoes like Hermes wore. Now those would be worth $120.00.

Until the next time
John Strain


Sunday, November 06, 2005


Dog Abuse

Close up of Bear

Hi folks, it's me Bear again. Could someone please call the SPCA? A dog shouldn't have to go through what I have to endure. Here is the proof. Look at my head. Dad stuck a tiny bird feeder in the top of my head and it drives me crazy. That constant chirping from the birds coming for their morning seed and the squirrels running all over the place is more than I can bear stand.

Haha, did I have you going? Don't call the SPCA I am just kidding. Dad didn't really stick a bird feeder in my head, it's just trick photography.

Saturday, I helped dad fix up Hobo Garden. The summer flowers were getting a little worse for the wear so we cleaned up the garden and planted new flowers. It looks pretty good.

If you want to see the garden and more pictures of me, take your paw and click the link below.
Hobo Garden - Fall Edition Photos

Dad is going to the Saints game today in Baton Rouge and I am staying here for the baby shower with mom. She said there will be two babies here today. She is excited to have babies around. Dad says he is glad he is going to the football game.

Enjoy your Sunday folks

Until the next time


Saturday, November 05, 2005


I like thees guy; he makes me laugh


I don't know why, but the sound of flipper the bottle nose dolphin cracks me up. Do you remember the show from the 1960's?

Speaking of laughs, here's a good joke I got in the email last week:
A Texan is drinking in a New York bar when he gets a call on his cell phone. He hangs up, grinning from ear to ear, and orders a round of drinks for everybody in the bar announcing his wife has produced a typical Texas baby boy weighing 25 pounds.
Nobody can believe that any new baby can weigh in at 25 pounds, but the Texan just shrugs, "That's about average down home, folks... like I said, my boy's a typical Texas baby boy." Congratulations showered him from all around, and many exclamations of, "WOW!" We heard one woman actually fainted due to sympathy pains.

Two weeks later he returns to the bar. The bartender says, "Say, you're the father of that typical Texas baby that weighed 25 pounds at birth. Everybody's been making bets about how big he'd be in two weeks. So how much does he weigh now?"
The proud father answers, "Seventeen pounds."

The bartender is puzzled, concerned, and a little suspicious. "What happened? He already weighed 25 pounds the day he was born!"

The Texas father takes a slow swig from his long-neck Lone Star beer, wipes his lips on his shirt sleeve, leans into the bartender and proudly says, "Had'm circumcised".
Today I will be helping get the house in shape for the big baby shower tomorrow. Luckily, I will be in Baton Rouge with John watching the Saints and Bears at Tiger Stadium, while Barbara and her guests do all kinds of girl things.

Deer Hunter
It's time to sharpen your hunting skills; deer season is right around the corner.

Have a great weekend folks

Until the next time
John Strain


Friday, November 04, 2005


What's in your wallet?

Previous posts of similar topic
Dresser Drawer Archaeology
What's In Your Pocket?

We've seen the commercials that ask the question, "What's in your wallet?" Here is my answer to the question.

Here is the list of items in my wallet:
• Two $20 bills, I'm rich
• 7 photos of my son (now 20 years old)
• CPR card
• Louisiana State ID Card
• My counseling license
• Social Security card
• Expired fishing license
• Card with phone numbers on it
• Visa card
• Debit card
• Time card for work
• Delta sky miles card
• Business card, urologist (he helped me through a swollen testicle thing a few years ago)
• Business card, contractor who remodeled our kitchen and built our computer office
• Business card, my niece's husband Marc (good guy)
• Voter registration card
• Old invalid health insurance card (now thrown away)
• Current health insurance card
• Business card for our old IT guy Robbie
• Home Depot credit card
• Dental card
• Another outdated health insurance card (now thrown away)
• Business card for the wine guy at our local supermarket
• Business card furniture store with the stock number for an entertainment center on it
• Yet another outdated health insurance card (now thrown away)
• ID cards for my lens implants
• A ticket stub from 9/26/99 KC Chievs v Detroit Lions. Good memories with my son and brother at Arrowhead stadium.
• Business card, my internal medicine MD
• Scrap paper with a bank account number on it
• Scrap paper with a hotel reservation from last year (now thrown away)
• No condom(s)
Photos of LJ

So there you are, a list of the contents of my wallet. I guess the pillagers will be on their way since there is no Capital One card in the list.

Until the next time if the pillagers don't get me
John Strain


Thursday, November 03, 2005


House of cards

Most of the devastation caused by Katrina was inflicted not by high winds, but by massive flooding that resulted when the city's levees breached. Four major breaches and dozens of smaller ones occurred on the morning of Aug. 29, sending water surging across 80 percent of New Orleans and swamping an estimated 100,000 homes. About 1,000 people died.
Washington Post article
Go figure. As more information comes out about the 200 mile New Orleans levee system, it appears that it was never capable of protecting the city from a category 3 hurricane as advertised. This is because #1 The levee design was flawed from the beginning, and #2 Contractors used the wrong material to construct the levee.

At this point, there is a lot of finger pointing and ass covering, but the lawyers will no doubt make a lot of money suing people for the next 50 years.

I guess "The city that care forgot" cares now; now that it is too late.

I am not surprised at the findings. I have become used to people doing a poor job or cheating for financial gain. I am used to politicians pocketing money or diverting the funds to their pals. I think we all are used to these sorts of crimes. The flooding of Katrina is a direct result of laziness, greed, and a lack of accountability. I am a voter and it is my job to hold politicians accountable, therefore, I have a part in this mess.

Until voters hold their elected officials responsible for things that are really important, a New Orleans scale tragedy could happen again. It could happen here and it could happen in your town. I am not just referring to hurricanes, but any disaster down the pike.

The next election I will pay much less attention to whether the candidate is a Republican, Democrat, or what BS position he/she holds about the litmus test questions and focus on their resume.

Here are a few questions I would like to ask them:
-What is your plan for the next hurricane?
-Do you have numbers to call to get help?
-Are you acquainted with other local, state, and federal officials?
-How would you coordinate with these people?
-What would you do if the phone did not work?
-Who gives you counsel?
-What resources do you have access to?

These are a few of the questions, but I want to know specifically what they would do in an emergency. I want to know how they will protect us from potential future problems.

Our elected officials are not class presidents running on a platform of extending recess and shortening the school day, they are vital cogs in a machine that could save our lives or kill us through incompetence or even criminal negligence.

Just ask the folks in New Orleans who are learning that the flood did not have to happen.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Race Flix

Here is some video of me finishing the Rocky Raccoon 50K (31 mile) Trail Run in Huntsville, Texas held October 22, 2005.

Mac Users and other brave souls click here for a larger version of the clip

Marathon season is upon us. Here are the ones I am committed to so far:
December - Baton Rouge Marathon
January - Mississippi Marathon
February - Mardi Gras Marathon
April - Boston Marathon

I need to find one in March now.

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Riders Block

Bear on a stump
If you want to see an even bigger photo, take your paw and click anywhere on this picture. Dad says it isn't necessary to say this, because most people know what a "mouseover" is, but I just want to make sure.

Good morning folks. Dad said he had "riders block," whatever that is, so he asked me to type something up. Here is a picture of me sitting on a big stump that is in front of our next-door neighbor’s house. The hurricane uprooted, what was once a fine oak tree.

This morning it is raining a little and we really need it. Since the end of August, we haven't had any rain. The whole month of October registered only a trace of precip. It is dryer than a cotton ball in the desert here.

Yesterday the carpets got cleaned at my house. That is what they tell me, but as far as I am concerned, a strange man with a big van full of noise making machines just came here to torture me for a few hours. Furniture was moved all in strange places, the floor was wet, I got yelled at for getting excited and running all over the place, I hated it. Things are normal again today. I am just waiting for dad to take me on my walk.

Thanksgiving is this month. I hope everyone has a lot to be thankful for, I know I sure do.

Dad should be back tomorrow if he is over his "riders block."

Until the next time