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Friday, March 31, 2006



This quiz was nabbed from Cindra's page.

Which Art Movement Are You? (pictures)

You're Realism! Needless to say, realism was an art movement which aimed to portray the world as realistically as possible. This didn't apply only to the technical look of the paintings, but also for the contens and the light in which the world was portrayed. Unlike romantic painters, realists wanted to capture the world on sheet exactly as it was without romantisizing or sexing up what they saw in any way. Most of them also had a cause; they wanted to draw the public's attention to politics and social issues, such as poverty, class differences and the rough life of the unprivlidged. So, in a way, some realists were kind of photojournalists of their era. Famous Realists: Camille Coot, Jean-Francois Millet Picture: The Shephedress by Jean-Francois Millet - Realists loved their peasants. After years of mythical themes and portraits of the rich and famous artists were drawn to the average people, who were both a fresh, unworn source of inspiration as well as a timely political subject - they wanted people to know the reality of the harsh countryside. The Shepadress represents realism perfectly; its unprentious, rough, truthful, and it even makes a stand.
Take this quiz!

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Thursday, March 30, 2006



I hate to be lied to and to be manipulated, but my cable company has been running a con on me which does both.

First of all I have DirecTV and cable. I got DirecTV for the NFL Sunday Ticket so I could follow my beloved Kansas City Chiefs. At the time, I still needed cable for the local channels.

Eventually, DirecTV began to provide our local channels, but since the cable bill is only $10 a month, I have just kept it for backup. There are other advantages to having both, but I won't go into all of that here.

The Con:

I receive a friendly phone call from the cable company – always timed to be an inopportune moment:

THEM: Mr. Strain, this is your friendly cable company and we want to make sure you are getting all of the channels you are supposed to get and that your cable service is working correctly.

(Gee, it’s nice to know they care so much.)

Would you tune to channel 50; the History Channel and tell me if you are receiving it clearly?"

(I did this the first time they called)

ME: OK just a second. (I then turned on the TV, made sure I was on the cable and tuned to channel 50. It was on.)

Picking up the phone I respond, "Yes, I am getting channel 50."

THEM: Oh Mr. Strain, you are not supposed to be getting channel 50, because you only have the basic package which is only good through channel 23.

Now, as a special one time offer we could upgrade your service to "more than you want to pay because you already have DirecTV."

ME: No thanks, I will just stick to the basic service. (I then explain I only have cable for a backup and DirecTV is my main provider.)

THEM: Well, Mr. Strain, we will have to cut off those extra channels.


THEM: Blah, blah, blah, waste more of my time, BS some more. Is there anything else we can do? Thank you for using "blank" and here is the toll free number, email address, oh yeah we are recording this so we can use it in court against you - I mean for training purposes. Blah, blah, blah.

ME: Good-bye.

I then watched channel 50 waiting for the guy back at the cable company to throw the switch, but it blazed on with documentary after documentary about ants, Mayas, and the Golden Gate Bridge construction - all fascinating stuff; especially since it was free. Muahahahahaha.

It never got cut off.

6 months later, I get a similar call. Same result. Last night, I get the call again. This time I told them I was chewing my salad and could they call back in an hour and a half.

They called back in two hours and I let the phone ring.

The truth is, they can't filter out the upper channels. They try scare tactics to get me to by more of what I already have.

There is some regulatory law that allows satellite customers cheap cable. I suppose it is to provide the local stuff. There way around it is lying to me.

F them.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, March 29, 2006


The fortunes of fathers and sons

Tuesday morning started normal enough. I got up, ran, and got ready for work. Just before I hopped into the shower, I heard Barbara say, "Oh no, we have a flat tire."

We joined the ranks of people victimized by construction workers. Throughout the New Orleans metro area, people are getting flats left and right due to all of the roofing and other construction that is going on. The nail in our tire is proof.

Lucky for me I wasn't already cleaned up. I quickly changed the tire, but when I lowered the jack, the spare was nearly flat. No problem again, I got out my good bicycle pump and started pumping. After about 150 plunges, the tire had 35 psi and we were good to go.

I have had worse days, but it is more striking when you compare my little set back with my son's good fortune.

John called me up from LSU to tell me his roommate was going to the Final Four with his dad and they had a spare ticket. In no time, I was booking a flight from New Orleans to Indianapolis and soon his ticket to NCAA heaven was punched.

It should be quite a time. He gets to see both semi final games and the championship game. Hopefully, LSU will be playing Monday night for all the marbles.

I'm not even jealous. Well maybe just a bit, but it is funny, I am deriving a lot of satisfaction just knowing he gets to go. I am glad he will get to have the experience. It will be something he remembers his whole life.

Besides, I have been to a Final Four myself. 1982, North Carolina and Georgetown. Michael Jordan, James Worthy, and Patrick Ewing. It was some game.

1982 NCAA Final Four

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, March 28, 2006


The New Kid: A baseball poem

The New Kid
Our baseball team never did very much,
we had me and PeeWee and Earl and Dutch.
And the Oak Street Tigers always got beat
until the new kid moved in on our street.

The kid moved in with a mitt and a bat
and an official New York Yankee hat.
The new kid plays shortstop or second base
and can outrun us all in any place.

The kid never muffs a grounder or fly
no matter how hard it's hit or how high.
And the new kid always acts quite polite,
never yelling or spitting or starting a fight.

We were playing the league champs just last week;
they were trying to break our winning streak.
in the last inning the score was one - one,
when the new kid swung and hit a home run.

A few of the kids and their parents say
they don't believe that the new kid should play.
But she's good as me, Dutch, PeeWee, or Earl,
so we don't care that the new kid's a girl.

by Mike Makley
Taken from the book, "At the crack of the bat." A book of baseball poems.

It is spring once again. Listen. Do you hear that? The umpire is shouting, "Play ball." Flowers bloom and baseballs fly - all is right with the world.

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, March 27, 2006


Crooks come in all colors

Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, the NAACP, ACORN, and the Urban League are all about accusing people of racist motives. If what they say is true, there is a vast conspiracy to keep the black race down, locked out, disenfranchised, poor, and a number of other things, all of which are bad.

The latest conspiracy perpetrated on African Americans is happening right down here in New Orleans. Amazingly, this conspiracy is taking place in a city with a black democratic administration and in a state run by democrats.

I am talking about the New Orleans Mayoral election. It was supposed to have taken place in February, but Katrina changed all of that.

The citizens of New Orleans were scattered to the four winds, many of the polling places were destroyed, and the election volunteers were in short supply.

The city needed more time to address these issues. After a lot of work, the election was rescheduled for April 22 and a May runoff.

From the Governor on down, care was taken to make sure those displaced would be informed about the election and how to vote.

Several websites including nola.com, the television stations, and the City Government website have lots of information about the election. Everything from who the candidates are to the absentee voting process are clearly explained.

If someone wants to vote, it is all spelled out. This begs the question, since when is it hard to vote? If you can read, you can vote. Now Jesse Jackson would have us believe that the voting process is cumbersome and confusing for African Americans. If I were an African American I would take exception to his depiction of me. According to Jackson, he represents morons who can't fill out a ballot.

Even the current Mayor of New Orleans thinks the fix is in. He said that if he did not win, he would challenge the election. He is responsible for putting the darn thing on in the first place. So what he is saying is he is running a flawed election and he wants to challenge it before it even takes place.

Lord knows he is a good mayor. Take one of his recent business decisions that has come to light recently. The city of New Orleans was littered with flooded out cars that needed hauling away. A company from Texas approached the city with a proposal to pay the city $100 per car. They would remove all of the cars and the city would profit some 5 million dollars.

Instead, the mayor was going to give the contract to a large Denver based business and pay them 23 million dollars. Now, I wasn't a business major in college, but it seems to me it is better to be given 5 million dollars than it is to pay 23 million dollars.

The mayor explained that FEMA would reimburse the city for the 23 million. As if that makes it right. He has proven himself a politician now. To him taxpayer money is monopoly money and there is no reason to save it. What a sap.

Back to the election.

Jesse, Al, and former mayor, and a corrupt one at that, now head of the Urban League Mark Morial all claim that the election is disenfranchising blacks. They challenged it in Federal Court, but the Federal Judge said everything was fine. However, the judge is going to look at the case once again, but I am sure no problems will be found.

The fact is, these so called black leaders are so afraid a white person will become mayor of New Orleans they are pulling out all stops and leveling accusations in absurd proportions.

Let's say a white person did become mayor. Would that be the end of the world. I grew up in the 70's. We had lots of discussions in social studies about race. One of the things I thought was a truth was skin color did not matter. What mattered was the character and behavior of the individual.

To want a mayor because he is white or black is like selecting someone by hair color. Jesse Jackson accuses folks of being a racist when he practices racism himself. When he and his cohorts accuse folks it is projection. They are guilty of the very things they are accusing others of doing.

The tactic of these so-called leaders is to pit blacks against whites. They say absurd things as if they represent "the black point of view," it is usually radical and aimed at shocking white people. If the white folks take the bait and say something back equally absurd, then they have what they want - controversy and a media covered name calling event. This is divisive and does not aim for racial harmony or truth and fairness.

I do not believe the people of New Orleans are ignorant and I do not beleive the only thing important to them is the color of their mayor.

The people want a mayor who will get the city going again. They want someone to follow. I don't care what color this person is as long as he/she is a good leader.

The loudest voices complaining about the election are not local voices. They are voices of men who are more concerned about their own face time in front of the news cameras. They represent themselves and their own selfish agendas. They lack character and honor.

Some day Al and Jesse will meet their boss. I wonder if they will sing a different song on that day?

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, March 23, 2006


It's my life

I have been a bit lost for words lately where it comes to posting. I have a few things bouncing around in my head, but they are not ready to come out in written form just yet.

It is Friday and I am happy about that.

Last Monday I went to the podiatrist about my heel. He confirmed my diagnosis of plantar fasciitis. My foot was X-rayed and the doctor said it looked pretty good.

I got a cortisone shot in the heel, a night splint, and a prescription of Flurbiprophen which is a non steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID). The first day or two on the medicine, my stomach was tore up and I wondered if I could tolerate it.

I hate paying $40 bucks for a bottle of pills and then can't take them, but the stomach discomfort has seemed to go away.

The best part is the pain is gone. I have run a couple of times since the shot and I feel great. I had gotten used to the pain and did not realize how it held me back. I am running free and easy now and it almost feels like I am floating.

I had a cold a few weeks back and it seems to have found me again. Maybe if I have it now, I am guaranteed not to have one April 17th for the Boston Marathon. I can only hope.

The weather can't make up its mind. Old man winter has come back to town. Temps will be in the 30's the next two nights. What's up with that?

Wow, LSU beat Duke to advance to the Elite Eight. I knew LSU had a chance, but I would not have bet on them.

I need to get out in the yard and do some work this weekend. Maybe it will be nice and sunny.

I hope ya'll have a nice weekend.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Pay up or else . . .

The other day, I received this letter in the mail from my cable company Charter Communications. Apparently, I owe them "$.00" and if they do not receive it soon, my cable is going to get cut off.

Click the image for a larger view of the letter.
Charter letter

Some things just speak for themselves.

Until the next time and hoping my cable doesn't get cut off
John Strain


Tuesday, March 21, 2006



The word for today is EFFORT.

What is it that needs your effort today? Well, what are you waiting for?

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, March 20, 2006


Spring is here

It is in the 70's here, blustery, and thunderstorms are predicted.

Today's post is a hodge podge:

1. March Madness became March Sadness for me as Bradley University beat my Kansas Jayhawks. I felt a little better when Bradley beat Pitt. It also helped seeing other high seeds get sent packing. I guess misery does love company.

On the bright side, LSU is still in it. No doubt, Cindra's Duke Blue Devils will end the tournament for the Fighting Tigers, but you never know. I guess that is why they play the games.

2. On Saturday we were driving through town and passed through an anti-war protest. The protesters looked ridiculous. Central casting must have been in charge of the event. There were a handful of burnt out hippies who probably live in $500,000 homes and a smattering of coffee shop, dark clothes wearing college kids.

They held signs talking about Bush the liar, and then they got down right insulting. I am not a protesting kind of guy. I see that as a pussy play. If you want to change something, do things that will make a change. Holding up a sign on a Saturday afternoon in our town is not going to do a darn thing, but exercise your arms.

Maybe I am missing something, but protestors assume the victim role. They are whiney babies expecting someone to do what they want just because they want it. Sheesh. Hold your breath folks, your efforts may pay off.

3. Doctor's visit: I am going to a podiatrist today to see about my plantar fasciitis / heel pain. It isn't getting any better so I am hoping for some cortisone injections. The MD is supposed to be a sports medicine doc. The difference is a sports medicine doc tries to keep you active. The regular MD says something like, "It hurts when you run? Stop running."

4. iTunes music library: I trimmed my iTunes music library down from 6700 songs to about 4300. How did I do it? I went through and trashed most of the rap and most of the alternative music my son had in there. I kept a couple of 2Pac’s songs and even a couple by Eminem.

John has his own laptop so there is no need for our music libraries to be combined anymore. The best part is I can put the entire library on shuffle and only hear songs I like. It was a tedious job, but completed.

OK, back to work. The dog needs walked, a second cup of coffee needs to be drunk, and I must get ready for work.

Here's hoping you all have a great first week of spring.

Until the next time
John Strain


Friday, March 17, 2006


Spending money

It has been said, "A fool and his money are soon parted." These days it is easier than ever to be parted with your money.

When I was a kid, it was much more difficult to spend money. First of all, I had to have some money. There was no credit or revolving charge accounts. If I didn't have the money, that was the end of the story.

I never had very much money, because whenever I did have a few cents, it would "burn a hole in my pocket." I spent it quick. My sister spent hers fast too, but my brother squirreled his away.

In our neighborhood a distant clanging bell meant the popsicle man was coming. Kids would scatter when they heard the distant clanging coming closer. We all ran to find our mothers and beg for a nickel or a dime to get a frozen treat on a hot summer day.

In those days, change was even important. I kept pennies and I knew exactly how much money I had. I foraged for pop bottles to turn in for the nickel deposit.

Money was harder to come by, and it had to be spent in a particular way. If you wanted a coke out of a machine, you better have change. Today, vending machines accept bills. I haven't seen any, but I would bet others accept credit cards.

The arcades today have change machines and usually a fat guy to make sure customers can convert whatever money they have into tokens for the video games and other machines in their den of noise.

Barbara and I had to use the washers and dryers in apartments for many years. We probably fed enough quarters into those machines to buy our own set several times over. It was always a pain in the neck to get quarters.

Do you remember what it was like before ATM's? If you didn't get cash out of the bank on Friday or maybe Saturday by noon, you were out of luck until Monday. Sometimes you could write a check, but a lot of places only accepted cash.

Now it is easy to spend money. ATM's are everywhere. Vending machines and phones take bills and credit cards.

If that were not enough, the Internet makes it even easier to spend money. Anytime of the day or night you can find exactly what you want and by entering a few numbers, you can spend lots of money.

QVC is good at parting fools from their money. One phone call and you just bought yourself something you didn't even know you needed only five minutes ago.

It certainly is easy to spend money. I only wish it were as easy to make money.

Have a nice weekend and I hope you have fun spending some money.

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, March 16, 2006


I forget too

by bear

Bear forgets tooHi everyone, it's me Bear. Yesterday, Daddy wrote about dementia and a whole lot of you left comments. I guess forgetting and getting confused is something about which we can all relate.

Even dogs forget things. I am always forgetting where my tennis ball is, but I have a big basket full of them, so I just go get another one.

I forget rules a lot. If a cat walks or runs in front of me, I forget that I am supposed to listen to daddy. Then I get scolded. I wouldn't hurt the kitty, but what kind of dog would I be if I let them walk around my yard without lifting a paw to show them who's boss? The other dogs would lose their respect for me and anarchy would no doubt ensue.

Once I forgot I was inside and marked the corner of the couch by peeing on it. It is funny how when daddy yells at me my memory gets fixed.

Let's see I am sure I have forgotten other things, but I can't remember them. Hey that sounds funny.

I don't chase everything. I like to watch the squirrels from under a shady bush. They are really funny. The squirrels forget where their nuts are all the time. I see them burying the nuts, then I see them looking for them in a couple of days. They always have a dumb look on their face.

Once I yelled over at one of the squirrels. "Hey are you looking for your nuts," I said. "Yes," he said in a meek squirrel voice. "Try looking between your legs." Squirrels don't have much of a sense of humor, but I laughed for about 5 minutes. Oops, I just remembered that what I said to the squirrel was nasty. Oh well.

Speaking of chasing things, once I forgot I was on a leash and I saw a cat. I took off after him, but he was way outside leash range. When the slack came out of it, I had a real sudden stop. That little accident almost turned me into a giraffe.

Daddy has done some funny things. I saw him almost put the peanut butter in the microwave oven instead of the pantry. Then there was the time he almost put the cereal in the freezer.

I never let him forget when it is time to go for a walk. Sometimes I try to trick him by acting like it is time for a walk when it really isn't. Sometimes he forgets and I wind up getting an extra walk. Hehe.

I guess we all have a little dementia from time to time. Sometimes it is funny, sometimes it is a pain in the you know what, but sometimes it works out to our advantage. Forgetting is a good way to make excuses for not doing things - I hear.

It's almost time for me to remind daddy to go out for one last pee, then I let him pet me a few minutes when he gets into his bed. Once I am sure he is settled in, I go to my blanket and lay down. I sleep with one eye open, because it is my job to guard the family at night and that is something I will never forget.

I hope you have a nice day and if you don't, I hope you soon forget about it.



Wednesday, March 15, 2006



If the week is particularly stressful, by Friday, I have problems recalling information. I'm talking about things like which actor starred in Lethal Weapon and what was that politician's name that rode around in a tank and became a laughing stock.

I actually know those answers, but that is how my brain reacts. I can't come up with names and phone numbers. I find myself saying things like, "Oh, you know, that guy, you know," and "It's on the tip of my tongue."

OK so most people can relate to this sort of thing - can't you? Lately, though, I have developed another problem. The other day, I was talking to one of my friends about football. The Saints were considering a new quarterback, Drew Breese. I went off on a rant about what a jerk Drew Breese is and how he can't take the pressure and how he is a big crybaby. My friend defended him, but I told him the guy was a major jerk.

About a day later, it occurred to me that I was really thinking about Jake Plummer. So I dogged Drew Breese unfairly all the time thinking about the Denver Broncos and Jake the snake.

I saw my friend again and told him, "You know everything I said about Drew Breese? Forget it, I meant Jake Plummer." It was good for a laugh.

If that were the only instance, I could chalk it up to a brain hiccup, but it happened again today. I got a call from another hospital with a prospective patient. The name set off all kinds of alarms in my head. I told the doctor all about the patient and how we would not take him back for some very good reasons.

Then about 30 minutes later I realized I was thinking about another patient. It all worked out though, because even though I was mistaken, the guy they were trying to send was bad news. The sirens that went off in my head were accurate, but I still had the wrong guy.

To make matters a bit worse, I realized the mistake when I was relating the information about the possible admit to the same friend I had the Drew Breese conversation with.

Sure this is funny in an “I’m glad it’s you and not me” sort of way, but I am about one more mistake away from getting seriously concerned. I need my thinker.

Just remember what Dan Quale said, "What a terrible thing to lose one's mind, or not to have a mind at all"

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Colors of spring

Geranium bloom

I really like this time of year. Colors burst everywhere. This red geranium is one example. The colors run the gamut and flowers, trees, and shrubs all get into the act.

The winters here are not very harsh and things stay pretty green as it is. I remember the winters in Missouri. The color brown got quite boring. One of the first signs of spring would be the pink blooms of the red bud tree. I took a photo once looking across a valley. The countryside was bleak and brown, but the blooming red buds were testaments of and promises of a coming spring.

After the red buds came the white dogwood blooms. There was a progression and it was all beautiful.

Sunday, I fired up the lawnmower and cut my grass for the first time of the season. The smell of freshly cut grass is another sure sign of spring.

I know spring is bashful further north and winter still has a firm grip, but it is loosening. Soon the warm breezes and fresh smells will herald your new spring.

Take heart folks, spring may not be at your town yet, but it is not far away.

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, March 13, 2006


Surviving Katrina

by Bradley
Bradley the spring after Katrina
Let me introduce myself. My name is Bradley and I am John's Bradford pear tree. My parents aren't very original. Do you know how many Bradford pear trees are named Bradley?

Anyway, I am writing from my branch office, get it, branch office? John asked me to tell my story about Hurricane Katrina last August and he is allowing me to post the story on his blog. I promised him I wouldn't do anything shady. Get it, shady?

I may be joking around now, but last August 29th I was shaking like a leaf. Even my leaves were shaking like a leaf. I had seen some wind before, but this wasn't just a couple of strong gusts, it was serious.

I am a fairly young tree and I was lucky enough to be sheltered by some other trees, so I survived. However, early Monday morning one of my friends, Stick, couldn't hold on and he broke off and fell. It was a terrible sound.

I looked over and saw him falling my way. I closed my eyes and braced myself. I felt pain and heard a huge thud as Stick hit the ground. I was surrounded by the remains of Stick and when he fell, he took a couple of my branches with him. It really hurt, but the wounds were not fatal.

Here are a few thumbnails of what it looked like after Stick fell on me. Click the photos to see a larger version, but then you probably already know that.

Stick, the water oak fell on me during KatrinaStick, the water oak fell on me during Katrina

It was a terrible time for a tree in those days. From where I stood, all I could see were fallen friends and the ones left standing were injured - me included. The worst of it was that awful sound of chainsaws. Oh that awful sound, I don’t suppose I will ever forget it.

John used a chainsaw himself to cut Stick into pieces and haul him off. I hated to see Stick chopped up like that, but it was too late for him and it had to be done if were going to thrive. It is hard to imagine how I got through those days, but things are better now.

Here are two thumbnails of the damage closer up. One is with my friend Bear. Bear is so nice, he even gives me water every now and then, but it tastes a bit acidic.
Damage to my trunkHere I am with my friend Bear

Life sure can throw things at you, but if you have strong roots you have a good chance of surviving, but life is much more than surviving. Life is about living and that is what I intend to do. I may be damaged, but the rest of me is going to grow toward the heavens. My green foliage is going to make a beautiful contrast with the blue sky. Birds will take up refuge in my branches and I will block the sun on those hot afternoons when John needs to rest after working in the yard.

This spring I feel those feelings again from the tip of my roots to the end of my branches. I am blooming and I am alive. I hope you are blooming too, life is too short to dwell on past tragedies, we only have this moment so enjoy it.
Bradley in bloom

Yours truly


Saturday, March 11, 2006


Remembering an old friend

Hobo and I at Percy Quinn State Park in Mississippi

One year ago today is when we had Hobo put to sleep. It is funny how a time of the year with its smells and feel refreshes the memories. It was a very sad time, not just one day.

We had struggled with making the decision for some time. When we did decide, I had a lump in my throat the entire last week.

I remember all of it vividly, but we gave him dignity and said goodbye the best we could. I read over the posts of that time and was reminded of so many things.

Hobo was a good dog. He was a family member and he left a big hole in our hearts. The garden I made in his honor keeps his memory alive and I am very glad I constructed it.

Much sooner than we anticipated, Bear came on to the scene. I suppose we will honor Hobo by taking a long walk today. Hobo took his last walk a year ago. His hind legs were so weak he fell a few times. Dogs sure love the simple pleasure of walking around their neighborhood, sniffing and peeing. I like taking them.

So here is to an old friend, you are still loved pups and I am looking forward to the day we meet again.

Until the next time
John Strain


Friday, March 10, 2006


Can you say bizarre?

Kimberly Butler Released From Jail
Orleans Parish Clerk of Criminal Court Kimberly Williamson Butler is a free woman after serving a 3-day sentence for contempt of court. She compared herself among many heroes like Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela.

Oh yeah, she is also running for Mayor of New Orleans.

If you want a good laugh (even though it is really sad) watch her. Listen to what she has to say in her own words.

Click here for video

NOLA dot com article about Kimberly Butler

No one could make this stuff up.

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, March 09, 2006


Yesterday's story

Blooms and sky

Morning Has Broken - Cat Stevens

Some days I am more aware than other days about how glad I am to be alive. On those days, I take everything my senses give me and savor the experience like a fine wine.

Wednesday was such a time. After the usual routine of getting up and making the coffee, I went out for my run. I was supposed to run 6 miles on a hilly course. This assignment took me off of the measured course and freed me from the clock.

Usually, I am checking my stopwatch and making adjustments; most of the time, I push myself. The result is a good workout, but one that is not entirely comfortable.

This day, I was running by feel. Up the hills easy, and down quickly and smoothly. As I ran, the sun rose. I watched color come to my neighborhood as the sun climbed above the horizon.

The air was perfect. It was cool, but not cold. A breeze washed over me and the feeling on my face and skin was soothing. The breeze carried fragrances of spring and I breathed them into my lungs.

I ran to the river and witnessed a hazy cove by the boat launch. The sun was shining brightly by now and the morning haze both exposed the rainbow of sun rays and made the placid water appear fuzzy.

An egret lazily flew across the water into the sunlight. I watched its white form morph into silhouette as the light changed from foreground to background.

As I continued running down a shaded lane, I was feeling good so I picked up the pace. About that time, I passed an older couple. The man said, "I used to run like you. When you get this old you will be doing this," referring to his walking. I just yelled back over my shoulder, "I sure hope so sir."

It was a spring day, I was out in it, I was part of it, and I was grateful.

So many things change. They get old and die or they just wear out and fall into disrepair. Still every year, I marvel at the azaleas, tulips, magnolias, and gardenias. They are the same as they were when I was young. They will be the same in 100 years.

Nature changes, yet it stays the same. Maybe that is why it is so refreshing and renewing. Each spring is like the first one. I know, Cat Stevens wrote a song about it:
Morning has Broken

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the word

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, March 08, 2006


A cup of coffee and a slice of my life

There is a story to go with these pictures, but I don't have time to write it right now. I will do that tomorrow. For today, enjoy these photos.
Blooms in the destruction
Blooms in the destruction - Hope.

A squirrel eats his breakfast in my live oak tree

An azalea bloom backlit by the morning sun
An azalea bloom backlit by the morning sun

We live in a beautiful world. Life and hope abounds if you look for it.

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, March 07, 2006



Have you looked at a beach ball lately? I saw one the other day at the hospital. The occupational therapist uses it for activities. On one of the white panels, I noticed a lot of writing.

There it was, enough to fill the entire panel, and written in several languages. It was a warning that the beach ball is not a life preserver.

I like to think of myself as open minded and tolerant, but if someone is so lacking of intelligence and common sense that they would think a beach ball is a life preserver; maybe they deserve to drown.

Dumb dot com illustrates a lot more warning labels on various products. Check 'em out for some laughs.

This is what happens when people find it necessary to shirk personal responsibility and blame any misfortune on someone else. Lawyers are on TV saying things like, "Have you ever taken drug X? Call me, you could get a check." Getting hurt is like winning the lottery if you get the right attorney.

There is a palpable fear of being sued. Companies have about 10 times more paperwork than is necessary to do their business. It exists to document or cover their ass in case of a lawsuit.

Maybe Shakespeare was right. I would quote him here, but I am afraid it would get me sued.

Until the next time
John Strain


Sunday, March 05, 2006


Run Thru History 10K 2006

Run Thru History 2006
On Saturday Barbara and I ran in the 27th annual Run Thru History 10K in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Actually, I ran the 10K, Barbara, her sister Lisa, and niece Courtney all walked in the 5K.

The run takes place in the National Civil War Park. It is a beautiful setting for a run. The terrain is very hilly; monuments, plaques, statues, and canons dot the country side. One could spend hours driving the roads and reading about the significance of each site.

The weather was beautiful as you can see by the photo above.

I had a pretty good time, beating my goal of 48 minutes by running a 45:51. My official time will show a 46:16, but I didn't run through the shoot at the end and by the time I went back to get my card, several runners had come in moving me down in the standings.

I often take wrong turns or screw up like I did at the RTH. That's the breaks when you are a blind guy.

It is a beautiful spring day here in Covington. I should do yard work, but I think I won't. I am thinking another trip with Bear to the lake front.

Have a nice Sunday.

Until the next time
John Strain


Friday, March 03, 2006


Unintelligent criminals

I had to laugh when I read this article in our local paper.

Ashley Barnett may as well have had a sign on her that read, "PLEASE ARREST ME." I know Brent probably sees this sort of thing every day.

The best line came toward the end of the article when she explained to the officer what she was celebrating. I won't ruin it for you, just read the short article.

I also took note, that our local editor missed some typos. Xanax is not spelled Zanax. Also in the first paragraph they wrote, "possession on narcotics," instead of "possession OF narcotics." That kind of writing is a criminal offense itself.

I guess Miss Barnett is a pretty good girlfriend though. She tried to break into jail to take her boyfriend marijuana. That selfless act compares to a St. Bernard bringing a flask of rum to a snowbound hiker.

The way she is going, 22-year-old Ashley has a bright future ahead of her. I am glad to see she is making the most of her life.

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, March 02, 2006


49 and feeling fine

49 years ago today, I got my start. It has been quite a ride thus far. Now I have one more year to make plans for my 50th birthday party.

Accomplishments? Let's see. I'm happy. I have friends, health, and family. I am working. I am not bored. There are more things I would like to do than I have time to do them.

I am enjoying more and more seeing other people happy. I like to see people succeed and if I can pass on information or encouragement to make that happen, then I feel even better.

I just like to live.

Speaking of living. I wanted to share a couple of thoughts about Mardi Gras. Unless you live around here, it would be difficult to comprehend Mardi Gras.

You have probably seen Bourbon Street, nudity, drinking, and bizarre characters. All of those things are part of Mardi Gras, but there is much more.

The folks who have grown up here associate many other things to the holiday much like the rest of the country might associate with Christmas or Thanksgiving. Think of the holiday season. There are gatherings, worship services, shopping, certain foods, music, dress, weather, and memories that make it all up. Mardi Gras is the same way.

It is about family, friends, and good times. Therefore, when the question about whether to do or not to do Mardi Gras would be like asking the question, "Should we have Christmas?"

It isn't about spending money or disrespecting people who cannot return to the city. It is about not letting something take away your normalcy. To have Mardi Gras is a way of saying, "We are still standing," or "We aren't giving up - life goes on."

I celebrated Mardi Gras in Covington this year. I don't usually go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras unless I am playing tour guide. (Someone come on down next year and give me an excuse to go.)

I took a bunch of photos of the crowd, especially the children. A parade makes them laugh and smile. In later years, these will be fond memories for them.
Little girl at Covington Mardi Gras parade
Click the photo to see more Mardi Gras pics

When these kids begin to date, the boys will put their girlfriend on their shoulders and beg float riders for throws.

When they are young parents, they will take their kids to the parades and remember how it was when they were the kid.

Time flies and soon they will be the old folks sitting in the lawn chairs behind the crowd.

Mardi Gras is about family, friends, and memories. The question is not, "Can we have Mardi Gras?" but "How can we not have Mardi Gras?"

No matter what we do, if it involves our family and friends, then it will be something of which good memories are made.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, March 01, 2006


My trip to the lakefront

by Bear
Mandeville lakefront photos

Bear at the Mandeville lakefront
Hi everyone, it's me Bear again. Did you have a nice Mardi Gras? I sure did. My family stayed home and we took walks, and played, and ate good things that Daddy made on the grill. I like Mardi Gras.

I wanted to go to the parade, but in Covington, dogs aren't allowed at parades. Daddy said some bad dog bit someone a few years ago and they said no dogs could come to parades anymore. I hate it when one bad apple spoils it for everyone else.

Today, I want to tell you about my trip to the Mandeville lakefront last Sunday. I didn't even know we were going. Daddy just said to Mama, "Let's go to the lakefront and take Bear." She thought it was a good idea because the weather was perfect.
Sunste at the Mandeville lakefront

Daddy made a pot of coffee and put it in a thermos. Then he put a blanket in the back seat of the car. When he does that, I know I am going to get to take a ride. I was so excited I couldn't stand it. I was running around, wiggling, and wagging my tail.

Daddy took my leash and a water bowl and some bottled water in case I got thirsty. The ride to the lakefront was fun, because I was with my family.

When we got there, I was so happy. There were all kinds of new smells and lots of dogs. I got to sniff a lot of new friends. Most of them were nice, but a couple of them growled at me. Daddy said, "Don't mind them Bear, their mother was probably a bitch." Daddy is smart.

People were walking their dogs, jogging, riding bikes, flying kites, and just sitting on the sea wall. Birds were flying around and the gentle breeze felt good on my fur.

The sunset was beautiful and Daddy got some good pictures of it. When it got dark, we went back to the car and drove home. I had a lot of fun and I can't wait to go back down there. Maybe I will see some of my new friends again.

That's it from here. I have enjoyed writing. Daddy will probably be back tomorrow.

Take care and don't give up too much for Lent, hehe.

Bye for now