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Sunday, April 30, 2006


Worth a reminder

A timely message for humanity and for those of us who choose to write, previously posted January 24, 2005. I like to go back and drink from the well of the masters occasionally; William Faulkner certainly qualifies.


Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, April 27, 2006


Do you ever stop?

Do you ever stop and let the world go along without you? Do you take a moment every now and then to thank your lucky stars, count your blessings, and admire things like a single blade of grass and the shade of an ancient tree?

Are you waiting for things to be a certain way before you slow down?

When do you suppose that will be?

Time is passing. The sun rises and sets each day. The seasons come and go until soon we find ourselves in the autumn and winter of our own lives.

When you get there will you have regrets of things you did not do or will you savor the things you did?

Is your treasure in relationships or in the latest toy?

Can you appreciate quiet?

There are patterns in life that cannot be ignored. For instance, our muscles suffer damage when we use them. The damage is repaired with rest and the muscles become larger and stronger in the process. Without rest, the muscles continue to break down and we feel the fatigue.

Likewise, if we work without rest, we are heading toward burnout. Our lives are void of joy and our thinking becomes predominantly negative.


Slow your breathing.

Use your senses to experience the moment. Drink it in. Fill your tank.

This is why we plant gardens, knit, listen to music, paint, dance, ride horses, run, read, and walk. This is why we sit on our porch with a cup of coffee and wave at the neighbors.

The psalmist wrote, "Be still and know that I am God."

To stop is to press our reset button. Hopefully we learn to shake off the stresses, drink in the elixir of solitude, and refuel. We emerge from the rest renewed and rededicated to our tasks with the energy to make it happen.

Now get going.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Walking in the rain

It's a rainy day in Covington. Bear and took a nice long walk in the deluge. Just because it's raining doesn't mean he can hold it 24 hours. I don't have him trained to just run outside and do the deed. If I do let him out, he takes a few steps then turns and stares at the door.

I guess he has me trained pretty well.

My front yard looked like a lake this morning. I had the urge to grab my fishing pole and make a few casts. Since Katrina, things have been screwed up. Drainage problems are all over the place now. My particular problem is due to the city fixing a water leak, filling the hole with sand, the sand washing into the pipe under my driveway and clogging it up.

I called the city and hopefully they will "blow it out," as promised.

I am still perplexed about the data transfer rates connected with my blog. According to Apple, where I park all of my photos and everything used on my blog, I have used 21 GB's this month. I used 1 GB over night.

I have googled my site and the Apple site and found some hotlinkers. I renamed the photos to disable that practice, but something is getting a lot of play and I am paying for it.

The mystery continues.

Short and sweet today. I do have stuff to write, but I haven't sat down long enough to do it justice. I also have some catching up to do on my blogroll.

Happy midweek and keep your powder dry - that would be difficult here today.

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, April 25, 2006


What's going on?

by Bear
Hi everyone, it's me Bear. Sometimes I write to tell a story, but today, I am writing in hopes someone can tell me what in the world is going on.

I try to be a good dog. I don't get into the trashcan while daddy is at work. I just lay around until he comes home. I don't do number one or two in the house. I don't embarrass daddy when his friends come over by licking my privates or sniffing theirs.

I bring back the tennis ball every time he throws it and I do everything a dog is supposed to do.

So why did daddy leave me at the vet for almost a week? Saturday a week ago, mommy and daddy got up real early and started putting things in their suitcases. I hate those suitcases, because they mean something bad is about to happen to me.

Anyway, after they packed, they left and it was still dark outside. Later that day, my big brother LJ put me in his truck and took me to the vet. The vet is OK, he even owns my brother, but I have to stay in a pen. Things smell funny and there are lots of other dogs and they bark all the time. I get so upset, I can't even eat.

Just when I was about to give up, the high school girl that works at the vet took me out of the pen. When I walked out front, I saw my daddy. I was so happy, I forgot how mad and hurt I was. I started dancing and wiggling and daddy started talking to me and petting me.

I was so glad to get home and daddy took me on a walk right away. I had to pee on all of my favorite targets to let my friends know I was back home. I went home and ate, but I kept a close eye on daddy.

I slept really good that night. For some reason, daddy didn't go to work the next day. He stayed home and he took me on a long walk and played tennis ball with me.

So far so good, right? WRONG. Daddy started messing with the suitcases again. That afternoon one of daddy's friends came over and daddy got into his car and drove off. Now I was really confused. Mommy came home from work and was nice to me, but I wondered when daddy was coming home.

At least I was home, but things were strange. Mommy didn't walk me right. She didn't let me run all over the place like daddy does. She kept me on a short leash. She didn't throw the ball right either, but she did her best.

Well Sunday, I was laying on the floor and I heard the door open. It was daddy, he came home.

Today daddy went to work and things have been back to normal, but I wonder for how long. I am a confused pup and maybe a bit paranoid.

Can anyone tell me what's going on? Did I do something wrong?

Well, I have to go to bed, daddy turned off the TV and he is walking to his bedroom.

Thanks for listening.



Monday, April 24, 2006


Back to work

I have been off of work for 10 days in which I went to Boston for the Marathon and Convent, LA for a 3-day silent retreat.

Here are a few photos from the retreat:
An avenue of oaks at Manresa
An avenue of live oak trees at Manresa

Tugboat pushing a barge down river toward New Olreans
The Dreama Klaiber pushes a barge down river towards New Orleans

Mississippi River at sunset
The Mississippi River at sunset

Once I get my sea legs back, I will write about the marathon, the retreat, and a few other things that have been percolating in my head.

For now, it is time to be about getting back in the groove. My sister calls it Kick Butt Monday. That is exactly what I need to do.

I hope your Monday is a good one.

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, April 20, 2006


A different glory

What a difference a couple of days make. Monday I was running through the streets of Boston letting the cheers of the crowd wash over me. This morning I was mopping up dirty water from a clogged kitchen drain.

Then one of my hard drives decided to fail. Thankfully, I had it backed up, but I am missing a couple of weeks of photos and downloaded music.

Welcome home, now get back in line.

So, with all of the unexpected tests of faith, I haven't had time to write my thoughts about the Boston Marathon.

On a brighter note, I am leaving this afternoon for Manresa retreat center in Convent, Louisiana.

This is a silent retreat that runs from this evening until Sunday afternoon. I have done it every year since 1998 except last year. It usually conflicts with the Boston Marathon.

I have said all of that to say this, I won't be posting anything new until next Monday, most likely.

Bear was sure glad to see us. That was one happy pup.

I have server space at Apple in the form of a "dot mac" account. I got an email telling me they were shutting me down because I had exceeded my 10 GB transfer limit.


I only get about 200 hits a day on this site and a lot of those are people who are searching images on Google. I think some mofo is hotlinking some of my stuff.

I wish I knew how to track where the 10 GB's of stuff has been transferred to in only 18 days. I have been looking at the Google images people are looking at and taking down the ones that seem to show up a lot.

Oh well.

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, April 18, 2006


The party is over

Running Boston 06The party is over and soon we will be headed back to Louisiana. We were not cheated though; plenty of good times. Boston is a great city and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

Stay tuned, I will post photos and tell the stories later. For now, I need to get packed for an early flight.

Until the next time
John Strain


Sunday, April 16, 2006


Come run with me; the best is yet to be

Paul Revere

This is no ordinary Monday. This is Patriots Day in Boston; Marathon Monday. 23,000 dreamers have assembled to trek a historic course from Hopkinton, MA to Boston. This tradition started in 1896 and we carry the torch with honor and pass it on to to those who can carry it further.

The weather should be cool, mid 50's, breezy, 15 mph from the north. It is what it is. We take the stage and prepare to write the story of the 110th Boston Marathon with each step we take. it is a privilege and a responsibility we all take seriously.

This is no ordinary marathon. This is Boston.

You don't have to make this an ordinary day at work. You can run with me. I want you to come along. All the way from the excitement and anticipation at athlete's village, to the wait in the corrals, the singing of the National Anthem, and the fly over. Can you feel the chills? Do you sense the excitement?

It is downhill at first, but the course will wind along the New England countryside lined with cheering spectators. Some hold signs to encourage the passing army, others offer slices of oranges to aid the weary throng, but all who stand in support provide inspiration for us.

I will feel your support too. As the hills begin to take their toll and Heartbreak Hill looms at mile 20, your goodwill will push me up that nemesis and carry me through the last 6 miles. The kids at Boston College will bring a smile to my face and their screamed comments fueled by the fruit of the hops will make that last stretch feel shorter and more enjoyable.

You will be with me as I make that final turn onto Boylston Street and sprint toward the finish. You will feel the joy of accomplishment with me and you were a part of the effort. Just knowing you were there, watching, praying, being concerned, was enough to carry me through.

Here is how to run with me:
1. Click THIS LINK.
2. Enter my name: John Strain OR my bib number: 9345.

My times will be transmitted after I cross every 5K marker. My plan is to begin slow and speed up as I go.

I am guessing it will take me about 7 minutes to get to the starting line. My first 5K should be just under 27 minutes. I would like to complete the race under 3:35:00.

I'll see you in Hopkinton at noon EDT.

Until the next time
John Strain


Saturday, April 15, 2006


The eve of a Boston Easter

Most of the day was devoted to travel. Airplanes and airports are generally uninteresting, but today was different. Runners from around the world were making their annual pilgrimage to Boston and I was lucky enough to be among them.

Airport waits were spent talking to other runners. We compared stories, we gave our opinions about the weather on marathon day, and we took part in the rites of the marathon called Boston.

We wore our shirts and jackets to identify ourselves as Boston runners. These things served as the colors of our gang; a fraternity of a diverse group of people bound by a love for running and a race named Boston.

I talked with Mary Beth from Texas, an 11th grade teacher running Boston for the first time. I talked to some nameless veterans and I accepted nods of acknowledgement from passers by.

This was a day I felt important. Recognition came from many places. Our flight attendant wished us luck over the intercom; a pilot asked me questions about the race while we rode the elevated train in Dallas.

We made it to our hotel room by 4:30 PM. My brother George was waiting for us there. Soon, Kenna, a fellow blogger would call and all of us along with her friend Susan went out to dinner.

Tomorrow will be some light sightseeing and acquiring my race packet. The weather is cooling and the outlook for Monday looks to be near perfect running conditions, except for a possible strong head wind.

So things are going well. The clock is ticking down to that Patriot's Day Noon in which 20,000 pilgrims who assembled in Hopkinton, MA will make their way over the rolling hills east to Boston through corridors of cheering souls.

When it is all said and done, the 110th Boston Marathon will be history and we will all be part of its story.

Until the next time
John Strain


Friday, April 14, 2006


Good Friday

It is funny how we call today Good Friday, when you think about the kind of day Jesus had. I know it is good because of what He did for us, but don't forget that the suffering was real.

2000 years or so later it is easy to gloss over what it must have been like. Imagine yourself going through abandonment, betrayal, torture, ridicule; and all because you spoke the truth and scared the people in “power.”

Think of how crushed Jesus' followers must have felt. When He was in the grave it must have been so defeating and confusing. Again, we gloss over it, but from Friday to days later, many felt it was all over.

Then think of the joy that occurred on the Sunday. Hope returns. Peter, who denied Jesus only a few days earlier, became one of the most vocal for Him. Later on Peter would also be crucified, however, at his own request he was crucified upside down because he explained, that he was not worthy to die in the same manner of his Lord.

Sometimes all of this gets lost in our ritualistic observances of Easter and the Easter Bunny. I like a chocolate egg as much as the next person, but don't forget what these days mean.

Because He lives and because death is conquered, what can happen to us to get us down? If God is for us who can be against us?

Pie in the sky?

You bet there is a big piece of pie waiting for all of us in the sky, but Easter makes a difference now. The way we live now can be a life of hope and joy. We should live with gratitude and offer service to others.

It is hard to do with competing philosophies and religions. Some are living the game, "Whoever has the most toys when they die wins." I want toys too and sometimes that clouds my real purpose in life.

We have so much that does not come from stores or that requires a purchase, because the price was paid for it a long time ago.

Enjoy this Easter weekend folks and have a "Good Friday."
Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, April 13, 2006


Play list

I put the word "run" into the search box of my iTunes library and of the 4,223 songs, 45 turned up. 5 of the songs hit because of the word "drunk." Funny how "drunk" is really the word "run" sandwiched between a "D" and a "K". I am not sure what that means.

A few of the songs were not talking about running. "My Cup Runneth Over, Ed Ames" and a few others.

It turns out to be a nice little play list.
Play list

Today is my last day of work and I have lots to do. Then tomorrow, it will be time to get the house and yard cleaned up. Packing is always fun. What will I forget this year?

I hope I remember to pack my running shoes.

Happy Maundy Thursday folks.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Carb depletion

Today and tomorrow I eat as close to zero carbs as possible. After my easy 3 miles on Friday, I begin carb loading.

To me, going without carbs is one of the hardest parts of training. I would much rather run a 20-miler in the heat than go a day without carbs.

All I can figure out to eat is cheese, boiled eggs, and smoked sausage. Maybe I will grill a steak or something and eat some scrambled eggs with cheese tonight.

It all goes down much better with a big baked potato slathered with butter and sour cream.
OLN Boston Marathon Promo
Here I am winning the Boston Marathon last year. Since then, I have gained a few pounds and become white. Therefore, my chances of repeating are slim.

If you're not doing anything next Monday, you can watch the Boston Marathon on OLN. Click the photo to see their promo trailer.

I will also post the info you need to follow me on the course. You can really "Run and not grow weary."

Here is a post I wrote three days before leaving for Boston last year. At the time, I had no idea what to expect. This is my second year, so I know what to expect, but I am more focused on improving my performance.

I thought it was eerie I thought of this poem out of the blue. When I went to my archives, I discovered that I wrote the post exactly one year ago, (The Wednesday before Boston.) Great minds think alike.

This poem has even more meaning to me now after Hurricane Katrina. It speaks of the tempest and stripped trees. It was almost as he were describing a hurricane.

I guess that when all of the preparation is done physically, I turn more to the spiritual and emotional. This poem does both. It was written by a 19-year-old English Army soldier in World War I. "We run because we like it through the broad bright land."

I'm getting psyched. The weather is looking good at this point, but I cannot control it. That which I can control is going well. So next Monday, I will be there. If it is hot, cold, rain, or snow, it doesn't matter. I will be there and give it another shot.

Isn't that what most of life is anyway? Giving it a shot. Let's give it a shot today and make it a good one.

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, April 10, 2006


Trauma on a Sunday

by Bear
Bear's profile
Hi everyone, It's me Bear.

I feel lucky to be alive after the trauma I experienced on Sunday. Let me tell you about it.

Daddy and I had just started on my walk. We walked down the street, over the bridge and up the hill like we always do. There were a couple of new fast food bags on the ground I sniffed and licked. I peed on my usual spots and did what I usually do.

When we rounded the corner things were still going along according to Hoyle. I walked around a big blue thing, Daddy later told me it was a trashcan, and sniffed some more. I had to come back around the can, because of my leash, but when I did, I heard a deep noise.

Noises scare me and I am what Daddy calls skittish or jumpy. I just call it self-preservation. So anyway, I hear this noise and I jumped back a little, but the noise happened again right when I jumped back. That scared me even more, so I jumped back farther and faster. The noise came quicker and louder.

Then there was a big boom and the trash can fell to its side in my direction. I took off running and it chased me. Now I like to chase a cat or a squirrel on occasion, but I am not used to being the prey. This can was fast. I ran harder and faster and the can kept pace with me.

My heart was pounding out of my chest and I thought I was a goner. I couldn't get away because of the leash. Daddy was holding on to it and I was just running in a circle like the hands of a clock.

Daddy kept yelling at me and I finally realized he was shouting "stay". Well, I was getting tired, I was scared, and Daddy was telling me to do something, so I stopped. Then the can stopped chasing me. I guess my leash got tangled up in the handle of the trashcan and when I ran, it was just being dragged. It wasn't chasing me at all.

It still took me a few minutes to calm down. Daddy petted me and talked to me to help me settle down, and then he started laughing. He kept teasing me. "Was it going to get you Bear?" "Heeheehee." Daddy can rub things in pretty good, but that is what friends do.

Daddy said he felt like he had a big fish on a fishing pole that he couldn't reel in. We sure messed up the silence of a Sunday morning. Me running, the trash can bouncing all over the street, and Daddy yelling at me to stop. It must have been some sight.

I'm OK now though. I am ready for another adventure. As long as Daddy is with me, I know I will be OK.

I got some bad news. Mommy and Daddy are going to Boston, whatever that is. Daddy says he is going to run in a race like at Baton Rouge. He will be running next Monday. The bad news is I have to stay at the vet. That place gives me the creeps.

Such is the life of a dog, but I'm not really complaining. That's the way the old bone bounces.

Have a nice week. It is back to laying around waiting for my family to come home again. Wait a minute; LJ is home for spring break. Maybe he will throw the tennis ball for me.

Bye for now,


Sunday, April 09, 2006


Spring Sunday

It is a beautiful day in the neighborhood as Mr. Rogers would say. I have a few things to be about.

1. Make the new faucet and drain I put in John's bathroom stop leaking.
Check: I finally found the culprit and 4 inches of Teflon tape later; presto - no leak.

2. Put the faucet in our bathroom and tackle the labyrinth of pipes that needs simplified. Not today.

3. Pull up the toilet and replace the bolts so it quits rocking. Not today.

4. Walk Bear.

5. Run 10 miles.

6. Eat the rest of my ham and cheese sandwich from last night.

7. Get out in the yard and begin deforestation. Yes it is that bad. I am ashamed.

8. Set up the webcam pointed outside to show the progress or lack of it.

9. Grill something.

10. Polish off a couple of beers.

11. Watch the Sopranos.

12. Get ready for my last four days of work before being off for 10 days straight.

If you will excuse me, I have a few things to do. Have a nice Sunday.

Until the next time
John Strain


Saturday, April 08, 2006


Running in dream land

You know how bad dreams work don't you?

As you dream, you become aware of something very bad. Then you suffer a few moments of what it all means to you until you awake. As the realization slowly washes over you that it was only a dream, your feelings change to gratitude that the bad thing did not happen.

This happened to me last night.

I was running in the Boston Marathon. It was the final few miles, but I was running a sort of obstacle course. My frustration was growing because the course was poorly marked, race officials were not directing runners which way to go, and traffic was interfering with the race.

Part of my frustration was that I had good energy, but I was losing time wondering which way to go. Eventually, the course opened up and things were marked clearly. I knew at that moment it was clear sailing to the finish.

It is a wonderful feeling for a marathoner to know he/she has the energy to complete the race. I was even picking up the pace. Boston wasn't going to get the best of me this year like it did in 2005.

I started thinking about my friends who would be watching my progress on the Internet. It was good to have them watching at a time I also had a good performance. Then it hit me.

I FORGOT TO PUT THE CHIP ON MY SHOE! None of my splits were recorded. I would not get credit for my good performance. It would be as if I had not run the race. I couldn't even get my medal, because you have to turn in your chip for it.

I was crushed and felt that ache in the stomach that accompanies shock and disappointment. When I awoke, and realized I had been dreaming, I was very relieved.

You can bet I won't forget to put the chip on my shoe, not that I ever have.

Resting after the 2005 Boston Marathon
Resting after completing the 2005 Boston Marathon

One week from today Barb and I leave for Boston and my second shot at the Boston Marathon. Any of you who care to follow my progress can logon to the Boston Marathon website (click the picture of me running in the sidebar under Bear's picture). On race day, Monday, April 17th Noon Eastern Time, the face of the website changes. You can enter my name: John Strain and or my bib number: 9345 and when I cross the sensors every 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) my time will be broadcast and posted on that page.

All of this is possible because of a little chip each runner wears on their shoe. It is fun and it is like running with me.

I am getting excited about the trip and a little nervous about the race. This week I will be watching the Boston weather, thinking of all the things I need to pack, and all of that last minute stuff.

I guess my dream is an indication of all of this.

As for today, it is fix a bathroom sink drain and work in the yard. I will have to wait a week for the glamour.

My post about the 2005 Boston Marathon

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, April 06, 2006


Vicarious living

More vicarious living through my son, he got back from the Final Four in Indianapolis Tuesday night, and then headed back to LSU.

He had a great time and has the photos to prove it.

Here are a few of the 200 pictures he snapped.

John and Roy in Indy
John and Roy at the Final Four

Kids rolling the basketball
John spotted two boys rolling a basketball back and forth to each other. With all of the negative stories out there about race, this picture gives hope. Innocence, sincerity, and joy are pretty good tools with which to repair race relations; don't you think?

John at the Michael Jordan statue
On Sunday, John and the gang went to nearby Chicago. One of the required stops for these basketball fans was the Michael Jordan statue outside the United Center.

A view from the top of the Sears Tower, John and friends took the $12 tour.

I'd say they made the most of their time and opportunities. Now, if I could just get him to apply the same enthusiasm to school.

Here's to road trips with friends.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Growing up

I don't go through a full week without hearing the phrase,"Why don't you grow up?" directed toward me.

I think the question is rhetorical.

I will be 50 next March, so I am guessing I am about as grown up as I am going to be.

I used to send off for those gag gifts that were advertised in comic books. Do you remember the garlic gum, xray glasses, and whoopie cushions? I loved tricking people.

Once I bought a bunch of exploding matches. My dad smoked a pipe and there were always books of matches laying by his ash tray next to his easy chair.

I plopped down a book of the trick matches and waited for the fun. When he did strike the loaded match, it almost scared him to death. It was a small wonder the house didn't go up in flames, because he dropped the match.

I joke around so much, I can never be the one who breaks any big news. No one believes me.

On April Fools Day, Barbara got me. The thing is, I fool people all the time, so I don't think April Fools Day is that big of a deal.

Anyway, I was drinking a cup of coffee with Bear in the kitchen. Barbara walks in and says, "John, there's something wrong with the washer."

In retrospect, her overacting should have been a tip off. She said it like she just discovered a tumor. I was proud of myself. I did not unleash a string of curse words or anything like that. I calmly walked up to the washer, messed with the knob, and it worked.

I only got to gloat about 2 seconds before Barbara said, April Fools. Then she had a good laugh on me. Here I thought I just fixed the washer.

Har har.

I guess I just can't abandon certain skills I worked so hard to perfect. Can you belch complete sentences? Can you make fart sounds with your hand under your arm? I spent long hours learning these talents.

If I use the last of the wrapping paper, the tube becomes a sword. The dog better run and so should anyone else within my blade's reach.

I do the same thing with paper towel rolls, but they are more like knives. Toilet paper rolls are only good for musical instruments.

I guess all those years of Bugs Bunny cartoons, Mad Magazine, and the Three Stooges did something to me. Thank goodness it happened too. When people tell me to be a grown up, I think they want me to be more like them - real GROAN ups.

It ain't going to happen. I hope you will join me in not acting your age. It is pretty fun and doesn't hurt anyone.

So the next time you shake hands with someone, do it with a hand buzzer and see how much fun you have. Observe the look on the face of your mark when he/she sits on the whoopee cushion, and look for the lighter side of life.

We are all going to die anyway, we might as well have a few laughs first.

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Free is illegal

Free internet is illegal in New Orleans

Above is a link to an interesting little article. I love the corporate speak it contains.

New Orleans has free wireless Internet since Katrina. After a million dollars worth of equipment was donated and installed, the city of New Orleans became a hot spot.

Great right?


It seems there is a state law that protects commercial Internet providers. By offering free Internet, the city of New Orleans is hurting Cox Cable and Bell South.

Yeah right.

It is funny how monopolies squeal like pigs when their foot begins to slip off of their customer's necks.

One of my "favorite" forms of corporate speak is when they are telling people about how much the company cares about them and how much they do for people. Please.

Drug companies say they have to charge high prices for their medications because the research and development costs are so high.

Never mind all of the short skirt wearing, cleavage showing drug reps who visit doctors with their rehearsed speals about the new drug du jour. The drug companies pass out money like they own a printing press.

Cable companies have virtually no competition. Phone companies have little or no competition. Health insurance is a joke. You get what your company offers you. If you don't like it or if you are getting screwed, tough. You are just one of many and you can't drop your coverage just because they are providing poor service.

In other words, the consumer has no power. If I don't like McDonalds, I don't eat there. If they sell bad food or have poor service, and people stop going there; they suffer.

I can't make the drug companies suffer or for that matter, my health insurer, cable company, or any other utility.

The bonuses executives get in the US are obscene especially when you think about the wages the front line workers are getting and the overall service the consumer gets.

I would hate to see what bonuses the insurance companies are doling out to their adjusters who have turned their backs on the folks around here with hurricane damage.

They do it because they can and because their “customers” have little or no recourse. In the case of free Internet in New Orleans, the companies are protected by law.

That is the way it works, the laws protect the wrong group, because the people who make the laws are in bed with them.

It is a two edged sword. We all work for someone, so we are part of the problem. Maybe the only way to protect ourselves is to buy stock in the companies who make the biggest profits.

So if the price of gas is killing you at the pump, at least you are getting some of the profits if you own Chevron stock.

Not all companies are bad, but sometimes it seems that way.

I am just a little curious. Do you work for a company with a heart? Are you treated fairly?

It would be nice to know that good companies exist. I sure see a lot of the other kind.

Until the next time
John Strain


Sunday, April 02, 2006


A black rainbow

Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Bill Cosby, and Mayor Ray Nagin marched across the Crescent City Connection Bridge Saturday to protest the upcoming elections in New Orleans.

I have a few observations:

One of the first things I noticed is that the Rainbow Push Organization represents one color; black. Jesse assumes that everyone displaced from New Orleans is black at least those are the only ones he cares to represent.

He further assumes that these people's rights are being violated, because satellite-polling centers are not placed in states with evacuees.

A further assumption or implication is that all of this is a conspiracy perpetrated on blacks.

OK, let's say this is a debate and those are his claims.

The satellite voting idea was discussed, but not implemented for several reasons, none of which were to keep black people from voting, unless Jesse is right. I suppose New Orleans with its black administration and the state government under democratic control could pull such a thing off.

My understanding of the satellite voting option is that it would be too much work for too few votes. People can vote absentee easily and there is no need to put voting centers in all 50 states.

How can the city of New Orleans afford to dispatch election workers nationally? Where would they be located? No matter what, people would have to travel possibly hundreds of miles making the absentee option more pragmatic.

Let's face it. If I lived 300 miles away from Dallas and that was the only place to vote in Texas, I would mail in my vote.

Jesse says that satellite voting was done for the Iraq election, so the Iraqi citizens have more rights than US citizens. I don't see him heading to Iraq to enjoy the expanded freedoms that country offers over America.

This all assumes there are substantial numbers of voters displaced who want to vote, but cannot for some reason. The Times Picyune on 3/25/06 discussed how most voters are still in the metro area:
A substantial majority of New Orleans' registered voters still reside within the city or its suburbs, and their racial makeup closely mirrors that of all registered voters before the storm, according to new data commissioned by the secretary of state. -
Continue reading TP article

One of the news videos showed a lady who said something to the effect, "I marched all the way from Arizona." She went on to talk about standing up for her rights. My thought was that if she could make it all the way from Arizona to protest, she could have just made the trip to vote. See the video

Why can't you just mail in the ballot? I have heard some who hold to the conspiracy theory that there is no guarantee the vote would be counted. How do we know our vote will be counted in the first place? It comes down to policies and procedures that are already established and faith that those hired or elected to do the job will do it.

How do I know the guy at McDonalds did not spit in my food?
How do I know the pharmacist did not give me expired pills?
How do I know if the stuff I pump into my car's gas tank is real gasoline and not water?

To live in society, we have to trust people.

Jesse and his followers do not trust anyone unless things unfold the way “they” want them. They see a racist behind every bush and not just someone with an opinion, but someone motivated to make their life miserable.

Who has the energy? I am too busy working and taking care of my own stuff. Where do these people find the time to march, bitch, and complain so much?

A few weekends ago there were a lot of white people protesting the war in our town. My thought was they were a bunch of middle-aged hippies trying to relive the glory days of the 60's. They love to protest, march, and have sit ins.

I had a similar thought watching Jesse, Al, Bill, and Ray waling across the bridge with about one- thousand people following them. They are going back to the civil rights well of the old days. They see every issue a marchable offense. As if a bunch of people tying up traffic speaks to their poor logic. As if whipping up emotions with a bullhorn really does anything at all.

Speaking for myself, I have been called a racist so much through Jesse’s worldview, that I have become desensitized to the claim. No matter what the issue, his accusation is always the same. He is the little boy who cried wolf. He has become a caricature. Sadly, when racism does happen, he will have no credibility with people outside his organization to address it.

If the election is flawed it is flawed for everyone no matter what skin color you have and no matter what special interest group you belong to. Until we look at each other - black, white, gay, straight, male, female, and "insert your group here" and only see fellow Americans, we will continue to waste time and energy blaming, accusing, marching, and scheming.

Mr. Jackson, if you want me to consider your issues, why not present your arguments logically without accusation. Do not just complain about what you do not like and demand your way. Instead of marching and only being open to your solution why not try to fix the problem yourself. Take your influence and mobilize people to work.

I wonder how much money has been spent by the Black Rainbow to organize marches, traveling, and all of the related expenses. I wonder how far that money could go to help the people he claims to represent.

Mother Theresa just helped people, and there are many like her who see a need and do what they can to meet it, giving no thought to news cameras.

The next time you are tempted to march for a cause, why not roll up your sleeves and work for that cause.

We have enough whiners in the world, but we could use a few more workers.

Until the next time
John Strain


Saturday, April 01, 2006


Living large in Indy

I have talked to John several times up at Indianapolis. He is having the expected blast.

Everything from flying alone for the first time to experiencing all of the hype, pageantry, and excitement of a Final Four; he is taking it all in.

John, his roommate Roy, and his dad are all together. On Friday, they went to the RCA Dome and watched each of the four teams go through their 50 minute practice.

I talked to John on the cell phone and it sounded like he was at a game. John told me the place was packed for this "free to the public" event.

When they were buying souvenirs, they ran into a newspaper reporter from the Times Picayune they knew - Ron Thibodeaux. Ron mentioned them in a story published in today's paper.
LSU juniors Roy Burns III and John Strain of Covington spent some quality time Friday afternoon shopping for Final Four T-shirts at the Finish Line sports apparel shop in the Circle Centre mall. Burns and Strain have been buddies since they began playing youth league basketball together as 7-year-olds. Now they're celebrating Strain's 21st birthday, along with Burns' father, the best way they could hope for: seeing LSU in the Final Four.

John and Roy at Navarre Beach, FL 1994
John and Roy at Navarre Beach, Florida 1994, age 9

John and Roy in Allen Field House, Kansas University for basketball camp 2002 age 17
John and Roy in Allen Field House, Univ. of Kansas for basketball camp 2002, age 17

Moving in at LSU 2004
John and Roy moving in at LSU 2004, age 19

The fun is only beginning. Today are the two semifinal games. I can't imagine the excitement they will feel waiting until Monday's final if LSU beats UCLA. Even if LSU loses, they will be there to see who becomes the National Champion.

Yes sir, they are living large in Indy.

Oh and your shoestring is untied. Gotcha! April Fools! Hahaha.

Until the next time
John Strain