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Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Speaking of freedom . . .

Ahhh, the freedom to work. What would life be like without a job? what would you talk about? Think how much harder it would be to bore your friends and neighbors? Some of the best gossip material comes from work. Some of the funniest stuff comes from work.

Without work, I don't know where I would be. I would not be living in this house, watching DirecTV, and enjoying wireless Internet.

Weekends wouldn't be as nice because without work, there would be nothing to set them apart; nothing to rest up from or look forward to.

Work can be a pain in the you know what, but it gives us the opportunity to be loyal, creative, determined, perseverant, and a lot of other things.

Still, I sure could use another day or two off.

Happy back to work day anyway and Friday is a day closer already.

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, May 29, 2006


A thank you from a grateful American

War memorial
Photo Source

I am an American. I am very proud of my country. I feel quite privileged and honored to live here. I say this not to diminish any other country. I would expect someone born and raised in Germany, Canada, or France to be able to say the same thing about their country.

I have lived in peace. I have had plenty to eat and drink. I have been free to learn, to explore, and I have been exposed to many wonderful things.

I have lived without fear. I do not fear my government or anyone or anything else.

At this time in history we are blessed with luxuries unfathomable to those who lived in generations past. We have health care, entertainment, employment, housing, food, and a blank check of sorts to pursue anything we choose.

I realize it is not this way everywhere. Parts of the world are in poverty or oppressed in some way. I thank God every day for the blessings I described above.

One of the reasons I enjoy such freedoms and privilege is because there has been a steady stream of young men and women who have stepped up to protect our way of life.

War is a bad thing. It is responsible for the untimely demise of the best a civilization has to offer. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are not made up of conscripts, but volunteers who want to defend America.

These defenders protect the right of everyone to voice their opinion. You can protest the war. That right was bought with the blood of your fellow Americans. You can criticize the government without the fear of imprisonment; another assurance that was also purchased with their blood.

There are those in the world who want us dead. It is too bad we cannot simply model behaviors of tolerance and peace and have it make a difference. Such behaviors are seen as weakness and only invite the enemy to kill more of us.

For those of you who have served in our military, let me say most sincerely; thank you. Thank you for serving and for defending our way of life. Thank you for putting your own life on the line to protect me and my family. Thank you for the time you spent away from home, for the inconvenience and suffering you may have endured in the process.

To those of you who have lost a loved one in the military - thank you. You know the cost all to well. Please know that my thank you is more than words, but an expression of a very deep feeling of pride and respect.

Memorial Day is a time for cook outs and mini vacations. Folks lay on the beach and soak up the sun; they enjoy the land and all of the things America has to offer. I hope at some time during this holiday weekend, you take the time to offer a prayer for those who cannot celebrate with you. I hope you feel a bit of a responsibility to make something of yourself and your country since your opportunity to live in a free country with all of its convenience and opportunity was purchased with our best young men and women.

It is the very least we could do.

The cost
JM Forever A local marine who died 11/04 fighting in Falujah. He later received the bronze star V. Our community is well aware of the cost of war.

Bobby Warns Tribute This video will make you cry. It will make you appreciate Bobby Warns. He is one of many who have answered the call and paid the ultimate price.

God bless America and God bless those who answer the call to defend her.

Until the next time
John Strain


Friday, May 26, 2006


Fields and dreams

It happens every year and in every town. You see them under the lights and behind the chain link fences. The green of the grass glows like an emerald in the night. They gather to play baseball and to keep alive at least one thing from their childhood.

I am not talking about organized baseball. These boys have been through all of that. Maybe one or two of them still play in college, but they all play for fun and because they like it. They play to be with each other, to laugh, and to enter that world they first experienced as little boys. It is a world of timelessness, simplicity, and innocence.

They are grown now, most in their 20's; they have witnessed each other's lives and are the holders of each other's histories. They are connected to each other by geography, time, and the game of baseball.

They choose up sides and play. They laugh and they harass each other in the good-natured way boys do. They compete and try to win as if it were the World Series while acting like none of it matters.

Their language would make their mother's blush. Their father's know what they are doing, because they have done it themselves.

It is quite a privilege to grow up in one place and to have friends you can remember in the first grade. It is quite a nice thing to still be connected to them and to play baseball with them every Thursday night in the summer.

Small towns are nice. Someone knows the guy who can turn on the lights and the game is on. They play on that familiar field of so many childhood games. They reminisce about past heroics and blunders alike.

No matter what direction their lives are going now, be it work or school; Thursday night baseball brings them all together. They are again that group of kids who played little league on the same spot.

Even at their young age of 21 or so, one of their number is gone - a causality to the war in Iraq. Another one or two have died in auto accidents. These are stark reminders to the value of life.

I'll bet there is such a group near you. If you get a chance, watch them for a while and observe the beauty of time, relationships, and connections.

It happens here on Thursday night when our boys play on their own field of dreams.

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, May 25, 2006


Stress? What stress?

by Bear

Hi everyone, it's me Bear.

I told daddy to take it easy and I would post today. He has been gimping around with a bad back, but I think it's getting better.

When he walked me the past couple of days, he was really slow. I had to pull him, but then he got mad. Sometimes he would just stop and say some of those words mommy gets mad at him for saying.

He's tough and he'll get over it. Daddy is in a bit of a pickle, because anytime someone complains about something, daddy says they are wussies or whiners. Now that he has a problem, he is afraid to complain too much or he might get some of his own medicine. Hehehe. I think pried is funny.

I wanted to show you a couple of pictures from my big river adventure last weekend. LJ, me, and Daddy took the boat to the Tchefuncta River. I think they pronounce it (cha fung ta). It kind of sounds like those words daddy uses when his back grabs him.

Riding on the River
I love the wind in my face

Drying off after a big day on the river
I think I'll grab a bite and then take a nice nap

The river ride was fun. It was a beautiful day. We saw lots of turtles and some big white egrets. There were lots of fish jumping too. I just liked having the wind blow on me. There are so many smells to sniff.

When we got back to shore, daddy and LJ threw my tennis ball in the river and I swam out to get it. I like that game. I made them laugh because I would run real fast and just when I would get to the water, I would lay out. I made big splashes.

You can see a picture of what it looks like if you click my funny picture in the sidebar.

Well, daddy wants to take me for my morning walk, so I will be signing off for now.

Off for now.

Do you get it? I said signing off for now . . . anyway.

Have a nice day. It was hot here yesterday, but a man came to our house and stayed most of the day yesterday. He was in the attic a lot, but after he left, it got nice and cool. I think daddy said he was the air conditioner man or something.

The man left a yellow piece of paper on the table. When daddy got home and looked at it, he said some more of those words mommy gets mad at him for saying. I wonder what that paper said.

Bye for now.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Knock on wood

I was talking to a patient the other day about bad backs. We had a few things in common. I told him about how every now and then my lower back goes out on me. It starts with a little twinge that can occur while I am doing something strenuous or just walking down the hall.

The tightness then washes in and depending on variables of which I am not aware, it can become minor pain all the way to excruciating spasms. Blah, blah, blah. I finished the conversation by saying I haven't experienced the problem in a couple of years. Then I said, "I am probably dooming myself by saying that."

It was about time to leave work. John called me to go to Lowe's to get some materials to brace his basketball goal. Since Katrina destroyed the goal, I haven't fixed it. Last week, I ordered a new rim and backboard, but needed to replace the brace to keep the pole from wobbling - thus the trip to Lowe's.

As I stood there bent over looking for the right clamp, I felt a twinge; the irony of it all. Within a few hours, I was walking slowly and my posture resembled a question mark. That was Monday. I had to sleep in almost a 90 degree angle. Any slight movement caused a spasm and I was miserable.

No running Tuesday, painful day, sleepless night Tuesday. No running Wednesday, but things are not as bad. No grabbing pain, just soreness and I can tell I will be able to run tomorrow.

One reason I am so thankful for health is that I know how quickly it can go downhill. At the zenith of my pain, Barbara was slightly amused as I tried to get out of a chair and walk. She isn't cruel, I thought it was funny too. I said to her, "I ran the Boston Marathon a month ago." That night, I couldn't run one step. How quickly the strong can become weak.

Last week I was thinking about how we haven't had any problems with our central air conditioner in a few years. I usually have the AC man come maintain it every other year. In this part of Louisiana and all over the south, an air conditioner is as important as running water and lectricity. (I spelled electricity that way on porpose) (I spelled purpose that way on purpose.)

Anyway, last night after bracing up the basketball goal, I came inside and thought it was a little warm. I walked over to the thermostat and it was 80 degrees, but the little needle was set to 78 and nothing was happening.

I flipped on the fan switch and nothing. I walked outside and the compressor was running. I checked the breakers and all was well. Back inside, I flipped the switch and I heard a hum, but no fan kicked on. Shucks.

I am guessing the fan motor is burned out. I called the AC man and am praying he can come out today and fix it. Usually, he has to order a part and we will be without AC for one to three days.

Since Katrina, we have had a window unit AC in our bedroom, so I turned it on to get our room cool and sleeping last night was fine - except for the back pain.

I am going to start knocking on wood a bit more or stop thinking about bad things happening. My body and my checkbook can't take it.

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, May 22, 2006


Why old people cry so much

The older I become the more I know. There are at least two forms of knowing. One is to know a fact about something. I learned about weddings from television, talking to people, and even in seminary about how to conduct them.

Then there is the kind of knowing that comes from experience. Knowing something by fact is good, but to have experienced that thing is to bring in your senses and feelings. I remember how my heart pounded the first time I asked a girl on a date. I remember how my words were not so smooth and that the feeling of calm and relaxed was far away at the time. I can remember how I felt when my son was born and the first time I saw mountains. I know from experience what it is like to do a lot of things.

The older we become, the more experiences we have. People list their "100 things about me" on blogs and many of those things are experiences.

I attended weddings as a child, as a member of the wedding party, as the friend of the bride and/or groom, as the minister officiating the service, as the groom, and now I am attending weddings of the friends of my son. It makes me realize I will soon be the father of a groom and as I scan the room for other parts to play in the future, I see grandparents and great grandparents.

Each roll has its own significance. Each part has its own lines and spot on the stage with more or less prominence, but a part with all kinds of personal meaning nonetheless.

Case in point, when we arrived at the wedding, we asked one of the grooms friends if Josh the groom were nervous. The reply was Josh was fine, but some of the groomsmen were pretty nervous. My son John was in that number and he was a bit nervous about what he was supposed to do, where to stand, when to walk, and so on.

As one who has officiated weddings I can tell you the minister is thinking about what he is going to say, do, and what all he has to do to perform his duties. Every actor has a part and it is an important part. Every part carries its own fun and satisfaction.

John learned that the groomsmen get a small gift for their trouble. He learned how much a tuxedo costs to rent, and he got to take some pictures looking his best on an otherwise normal Saturday in the bright Louisiana sunshine.

I think something that goes on at weddings is the actors look around and place themselves in the rolls of other actors. I am sure little girls in the crowd see the bride as some sort of princess and dream of their own special day. They imagine what it will be like and who they might marry.

Young men might wonder when their time will be, but for the most part, they are scanning the crowd for pretty girls. I was watching the parents of the bride and groom. I have a deeper appreciation for what it would mean to place the hand of your little girl into the hand of some young punk and I don't even have a daughter.

I could sense their pride and celebrated with them such a milestone. It made me think of 23 years ago when Barbara and I just started out. Josh and Lauren's lives are in front of them. Somehow that causes a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye.

I watched the young ushers escort the older family members down the aisle. One lady was in a wheelchair another was about half as tall as her escort and she moved slowly. Their lives have been mostly played out. They are the ones who can sit and take it all in. They have played all of the roles and perhaps they are playing their last scene.

A wedding isn't my idea of how I would like to spend a Saturday afternoon. I have to stop in the middle of the day, clean up, dress up, and spend a few hours of my time. OK, that is the selfish side, but when I got there, none of that mattered anymore. I really enjoyed taking it all in.

Every wedding requires so much work and planning. The two families spend the better part of a year attending to every minute detail and then it is all over in about 20 minutes. Baptists get a wedding over in about 20 minutes while Catholics go for an hour or so.

At any rate, it is a lot like Christmas. When it is over you are left with that hollow feeling like, "Is that it?" "We did all of that work for all of that time and now it's over?" There were some tense moments in the planning. Apparently the shoes selected for the bride's maids had 3.5 inch heels. The straps were causing blisters on the girls and some were having trouble walking in them. One girl was upset because they caused her to tower over her shorter escort. On the day of the wedding, the bride's maids came down the aisle barefooted.

From my vantage point, it was a beautiful wedding. It had a relaxed feeling and those who gathered were there to celebrate the union of two wonderful people. Family and friends alike joined to share the joy. Even the third grade school teacher was there. She couldn't talk without crying she was so proud to have had a part in shaping Josh. We were all actors in the play of life. The older you get, the more roles you play and the more experiences you have inside you. All of this builds and it enriches the experience each time.

This is why old people cry so much, because they have experienced so much and feel deeply. Life is like that, you live and experience things. Hopefully those experiences make you a better person. A better person is someone who uses what they know to make the lives of those around them better.

It was the most happiness I have been around in a long time. I can't think of a better way to invest some time - can you?

Here are some photos from the wedding.

The bride and groom
Josh and Lauren exchange wedding vows

The bride and groom dance
The first dance as a newly married couple.

The gang
These kids grew up together. From left to right:
Roy (John's roommate), John, Will (the clown), Josh (the groom),
and Ben (home on leave from the Navy).

John with Barb and I
Barb, John, and I

John and Mandy
John and Mandy

The bride and groom get pelted
As the bride's mother gives her daughter a bon voyage hug,
the groom's father snaps a photo. Josh is being pelted by his "buds."

The bride and groom get pelted
Another photo of the couple's exit. Now the groom's mother is visible
in the pink next to the grooms father with the camera.

The bride and groom leaving
The happy couple are leaving the party.

The bride and groom leaving
Another shot of Mr. and Mrs. Jacobs

The bride and groom leaving
As the Carpenter's song says,
"A kiss for luck and we're on our way - we've only just begun."

Here’s to you Josh and Lauren. My best wishes for a happy life together.

Until the next time
John Strain


Friday, May 19, 2006


Hurricane Katrina Animation

NOLA.com and the Times-Picayune have constructed an animation of how the City of New Orleans flooded. This animation will help you understand what happened. You will also find a lot of other information about the hurricane on this page.
Hurricane Katrina Archive

Katrina Animation

Have a great weekend.

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, May 18, 2006


A Sailor's Farewell

USS OriskaneyDid you catch this news story yesterday?
USS Oriskany surrenders to sea

I received this email from my brother George who was a sailor on this ship.
I saw on the Nightly News tonight that the aircraft carrier Oriskany was intentionally sunk off the coast of Pensacola, FL to be a fish reef. It looked a little funny sinking, since I once walked her decks-but it was in a dignified manner, all in one piece, good old American engineering, no falling apart even in it's final moment in the sunshine. She was the first aircraft carrier to have a jet powered aircraft leave her deck and was a veteran of 2 wars, Korea and Viet Nam, which is where she and I shared nearly a year. Another part of my past now gone forever. John McCain (Senator from Arizona) was a pilot on her for a while also. Well, now on to tomorrow and we'll see what it brings. See you later. -email from my brother George
The stories that ship could tell.

Yesterday I talked about importance of things like junk mail. That is, something could be someone's entire life, but mean nothing to someone else. The sinking of this ship was a footnote in some newscasts, but to the men who served on her, she is the focal point of their days at sea.

Men lived on her and died on her. She was the veteran of two wars and countless voyages to ports around the world.

Now she is at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico to become an artificial reef. At least she is at home and at rest. Those who called her home have a spot to which they can travel to pay homage if they choose.

She was important to many and deserves to be known by many more.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, May 17, 2006



I grabbed the stack of mail out of my box at work. "How you doing John," the security guard said. "Oh, pretty good," I replied, "I just came in here to throw away my mail." I continued, "Someone spent a whole lot of time designing and printing this stuff. Someone else went to a lot of trouble to deliver it to me and I am just throwing it away." The security guard laughed as I dropped a stack of catalogs and advertisements into the trashcan.

It was true. It is a lot of work to make a catalog. Someone takes great pains to illustrate and photograph the merchandise. The copy has to be written and the fact must be checked. It goes to the printer and a lot of money changes hands.

Mailing the final product isn't cheap either and the mailmen across the country fly, drive, and finally hand the finished item to me in my location somewhere across the country from where its journey began.

What is my response to all of this effort and all of this expense? I throw it in the trashcan without even looking at it.

We all do it.

It is funny and sad at the same time. It is the human condition. You have no idea what I do or put up with throughout the day. The stresses with which I deal and the obstacles I struggle to overcome are known best to me.

Likewise, I cannot completely appreciate the things you must deal with on a daily basis. From the hamburger flipper at McDonalds to the checkout girl at Wal-Mart to the high school history teacher to the dentist; we all work and our jobs have their moments.

Maybe a little more understanding and appreciation is in order. I like it when I flip the light switch and the room illuminates. I love to walk into a store and have a choice of all kinds of goodies reasonably priced. It is a luxury to have gas available to put in the old gas tank at any price. Try going without it for a while and you won't complain about price.

We are at the mercy of others in many respects. We are interdependent. A society is that way. The alternative is all of us do everything for ourselves. We don't all have to grow our own food; farmers are doing that for us. We don't have to make our own clothes; other folks do that too.

So whatever you do, thank you for doing it. You are part of something big. You contribute to a versatile society. We all benefit from what you do. We give and we receive. What we do as a group is greater than the sum of its parts.

Think about that the next time you toss some junk mail without opening it.

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Boston Marathon Photos

Boston Marathon 2006Boston Marathon 2006
Click photos for larger image

Did I ever tell you about the second time I ran the Boston Marathon?

Until the next time
John Strain


Sunday, May 14, 2006


Mother's Day

Mother lion and cubHappy Mother's Day ladies. Here's to hoping your day is relaxing and enjoyable. I hope you get to spend time with your offspring or at least talk with them on the phone.

You have a tough job. Lots of blame and little credit, but your rewards are mostly hidden from everyone else. The things you treasure wouldn't seem like much to the average Joe.

Moms do the little things in the background that just get done. They watch and they worry and this is what we call love. Don't get between a mother bear and her cub and don't mess with a mother's child.

A mother is an advocate, nurse, cook, counselor, mechanic, maid, advisor, policeman, CIA operative, banker, lawyer, drill sergeant, coach, cheerleader, and biggest fan.

If a mother does her job right her children know that they are loved and that they can do anything they choose to do because she has instilled the belief deep within them that it is much more important what you think of yourself than what others think of you.

If a mother does her job right her children know they are always loved even if she is not pleased with what they just did.

If a mother does her job right, her children have confidence in themselves and they can face whatever the world dishes out because they know that they are loved.

My mother did her job right. Thanks Mom and I love you.

Mom Christmas 2005

Happy Mother's Day

Until the next time
John Strain


Saturday, May 13, 2006


It's just a phase

Urban legend: The full moon effects human behavior. More murders, suicides, emergency room admissions, and psychiatric admissions happen during a full moon. WRONG!

Full Moon

Skeptic's Dictionary article
Psychology Today Article

Misconceptions about such things as the moon's effect on tides have contributed to lunar mythology. Many people seem to think that since the moon affects the ocean's tides, it must be so powerful that it affects the human body as well. The lunar force is actually a very weak tidal force. A mother holding her child "will exert 12 million times as much tidal force on her child as the moon" (Kelly et al., 1996: 25). Astronomer George O. Abell claims that a mosquito would exert more gravitational pull on your arm than the moon would (Abell 1979). Despite these physical facts, there is still widespread belief that the moon can cause earthquakes.* It doesn't; nor does the sun, which exerts much less tidal force on the earth than the moon. from the article at Skeptic's Dictionary - link is above.
I'll tell you what effects human behavior. A flying frying pan can make me duck. A response from a beautiful woman can give me confidence or crush me. (Not really, OK, it's true.) Cars on a busy street stop me from running across. Signs keep me from doing things I'd rather do - "Don't walk on the grass."

You can't blame your behavior on anything but yourself. I know, it's a drag, but we are responsible for our own actions.

Yesterday, I bet 4 people mentioned the full moon. 3 were phone calls from area emergency rooms trying to place patients at our facility. I went along with it, but I don't believe it.

In England, criminals would get lighter sentences if their crime were committed during a full moon. They pled lunacy.

There is still reason to worry on this day. Not because it is a full moon, but because it is the 13th.

I hope I don't meet a tragic end today or folks will say I tempted the fates and they didn't like it.

Rolling the dice until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, May 11, 2006


My favorite times of the day

There are two times of the day I really like. One is getting up in the morning. I am a morning person and I wake up early all the time, especially when I am off of work.

Sleeping feels good, but if I sleep the day away, I feel like I have missed something. Note: this is not a judgment on folks who enjoy sleeping until noon. It's a free country.

One thing I like about waking up early is the dog. As soon as I am up, even before, he begins stirring. At some point he stretches. This is funny to watch. He lets his back legs go straight out, fully extends his front legs, then sticks his nose straight into the air. He looks like a big black ski slope.

After the stretch he gives it a good shake clanking his dog tags. That is all the preparation he has to do for his day. Soon after that little ritual, he begins panting and dancing around.

He wants to go outside and fetch the tennis ball, pee on things, and sniff.

I make the coffee and get dressed with him circling around, rubbing against me, jumping on me, and darting in and out of my path everywhere I try to walk.

His enthusiasm takes away any thoughts of annoyance. Who could complain or dare to dampen such joy and passion?

Sometimes, when I am in the bedroom, I wait until he is in the middle of a scratch. When he is tied up like a pretzel, I run out of the room, around the corner through the kitchen, and into the den.

This of course sends Bear's "I'm being left out meter" to DEFCOM 5. He runs after me, except his toenails don't get very good traction on the tile floor that begins at our bedroom door and ends at the den.

So I am standing in the den listening to him nearly running in place. It is quite a noise what with the panting, toenail to tile friction, and the body caroms off of the narrow hallway. The sound resembles that of a bucket of marbles poured from the roof.

When he finally hits the straight away leading to the den he is gaining speed and when he catches me, I have to fend him off and calm him down.

It cracks me up.

The other time of day I like so much is going to bed at night. Because I only sleep to satisfy my body's needs, I usually wait until I am really tired before turning in. This normally happens between 10:30 and 11:00 PM.

There are few feelings that satisfy as much as those first few seconds in bed. The sheets are soft and cool, the room is aglow with the flicker of the television, and the pillow swallows my head.

Within a few minutes, I am in dreamland. Before I know it, it is my other favorite time of the day again.

For the most part, everything that happens in between my two favorite times of the day aren't so bad either. I have my moments of stress, anger, and aggravation, but they are only momentary.

Each day I get older and I know the longer I live my overall health will diminish. Therefore, as long as I can sleep, pee, poop, and not feel pain, I ain't going to bitch too much about nothing. (That last sentence is just to see if Ellen and other English teachers are paying attention.)

Now it’s on with the day. I wonder what fun will take place today.

Oh, and the BearCam is working again.

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Sometimes things work out OK

When I got back from Boston, I was greeted with some computer problems. My iTunes music library and my iPhoto library could not be found. Think for a moment about what it would mean to you to lose four years of photos and years of work organizing music.

That's a lot of stuff and a lot of memories that cannot be replaced. Because it is so important, I do have the information backed up, but I was missing a couple of weeks of photos and maybe 15 purchased songs. If worst came to worst, I could still find a way to live out the rest of my days and eventually find happiness again.

I don't like losing things, so I set out on a quest to fix the problem. The culprit was one of my three internal hard drives. The computer's disk utility saw the drive, but could not read it. I had hope.

When I am stumped, I go to the discussion forums on Apple's website. If you don't have a Mac, you might want to try looking somewhere else. Discussion boards are great. All you do is post a question and someone out there gives you an answer.

In my case, I was recommended to purchase a software program by the dame of "Disk Warrior." I had an earlier version of it, but it would not work with my updated Mac OS. A small matter of $39.95 and an unusual 2-week wait was all I needed to get the latest version delivered to my mailbox.

It came yesterday. I installed the software, ran it, and presto; drive restored. It took about 5 minutes and what was lost was now found.

I think it is important to talk about the times things work out, because we spend a lot of time griping about times when they don't work out. I realize bitching and complaining is therapeutic, but to a point. Talking about the good stuff is also therapeutic.

So, boys and girls, think about your own little computer. Do you have a lot of music, photos, and stuff you would miss if it were gone in an instant? You had better back it up, because someday something bad will happen.

One of the easiest ways to backup your stuff is to purchase a large external hard drive. It is pretty simple to move your photo folder or music folder to the drive once a week or so. Then if something happens, you are covered.

It is going to get jacked up so you better backup.

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, May 08, 2006



Old radioIt was a good weekend for getting things done. It rained enough for me to blow off yard work. It was fine with me because I had a lot of business type things to do. I needed to get my health insurance stuff straight. We have one of those Health Savings Plans now and I am learning.

I had bills to pay, papers to organize, and taxes to do. That's right taxes. Us Katrina victims have until August to turn in our income tax returns. That’s one of the perks for going through an epic natural disaster.

So anyway, after my run in the rain Sunday morning, I took a shower and got my stack of stuff, sat at the bar, and turned on the 40's station on XFM. I get XFM on DirecTV.

It is amazing how music can shape an entire environment. The big band music and ballads make me feel good. The words were mostly hopeful and uplifting. Even though the world was at war most of that decade, the music was hopeful.

Today is quite different. There seems to be so much anger and negativity.

I remembered the days when I first came to New Orleans. Coming south from the Midwest was a romantic adventure for me. I believed in the southern mystique and the southern charm.

It was 1979 and I was a student at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. That setting made my naive notions last. The buildings had large white pillars and were white washed and brick. They were nestled amongst ancient oaks, cypress, and grand pecan trees.

When I was alone in my dorm room, sometimes I would turn on the radio and listen to WWIW. The promo would begin with the clanging bell of a streetcar and a riverboat whistle. The announcer would say, "You are listening to WWIW, the way it was radio, 1450 on your AM dial." They played the same old music I listened to this Sunday and it made me feel good then too.

Someday, someone will be sitting in a dorm room listening to the music of the 90's and perhaps feeling the same way, but that doesn't do it for me.

I like the fact I can manipulate my mood and feelings with the flip of a switch.


Completely unrelated to the rest of this post, I just remembered something from a week ago.

Severe weather was headed our way and the local channels were on live, pre empting the regular programming. These days, the weathermen have pretty fancy computer programs to illustrate the storms.

This one view was a 3D rendering of the storm clouds. The clouds were pink and as they flashed the view on the screen, I did a double take. One of the clouds was an exact replica of a penis. It was uncanny. I hit the Tivo rewind and said, "Hey, everyone look at this and tell me what it looks like."

Everyone in the room said, "It looks like a penis."

"You know what this means don't you," I said.

"No, what?" they said.

"We're about to get dicked." I said.


Have a nice Monday and well; never mind.

Until the next time
John Strain


Friday, May 05, 2006


Happy Birthday to me

by Bear

Hi everyone, it's me Bear.

Bear is four

Monday, May 1 was my fourth birthday. I guess mommy and daddy don't make a big deal out of birthdays around here, because no one said anything to me Monday at all. No "Happy Birthday Bear," "Bear, drop dead," nothing at all.

On Thursday, daddy came into the bedroom after running and told mommy that Monday was my birthday. She seemed surprised. They talked a little bit about how they should have done something.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. The picture with me wearing a birthday hat and looking at a cake is a fake. Daddy photoshopped it to make himself look good - I guess. Everyone will think he gave me a great party. Grrrrr.

Oh, wait a minute, I just read daddy's last post about not getting negative. I think he set me up.

That's OK, I don't mind. Even if I do play tennis ball with daddy all the time. He really likes to play you know, but everytime I give him the ball, he throws it. I go get it for him and he throws it again. It gets manotanous, but he seems to like the game.

Daddy gave me a couple of pieces of sausage and some cheese when he was making his lunch. He said, "Here Bear, Happy Birthday." I think he was teasing. Surely, they will do something this weekend. It isn't everyday a dog turns four you know.

Mommy told daddy she gave me a bag of "Breath Busters" on Tuesday and that could be a present. I don't know about you, but getting a bag of Breath Busters is kind of an insult. How would you like a gift that says, "Hey, you've got bad breath; eat these and give everyone a break." I am getting self-conscious.

Daddy said he just forgot about my birthday. I can see how that could happen with all of his important marathons and going to Manresa. Maybe I will forget a few things, like where I'm not supposed to pee and that I'm not supposed to eat his food when he's not looking.

Ahhhh, it would just backfire on me anyway.

I am still happy because it is Friday and mommy and daddy will be home this weekend. Maybe they will make things right. I'll let you know.

Have fun this weekend yourselves. If you have a pet, don’t forget their birthday – it really is important.

Bye for now,


Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Just a second

If you had one million dollars, how much of it would you use to buy things to make your life better? How much would you use to circumvent the lives of others?

It may sound like a foolish question. I am assuming your answer is that you would spend the entire one million dollars making your life and the lives of other people better. It seems wasteful to squander monetary resources to hinder someone else.

Even if you have enemies or people with whom you disagree, it does not make sense to spend hard earned cash on them. It is far better to ignore those folks and focus your attention on your own needs and the needs of your own causes.


Now let’s look at another number; 86,400. That is the number of seconds you have in a day. We choose how to spend them. How many of those seconds do you want to use for your own causes? How many of those seconds do you want to use to circumvent the lives of others?

People spend a lot of time arguing, bearing false witness, lying, slandering, and circumventing others because of differences of opinion. Some cannot abide another to have a differing value, opinion, or political viewpoint. Such an individual is the object of ridicule, protest, and condescension.

In my mind, time is money. Why waste a precious commodity in a vindictive, rancorous pursuit? Why fill your life with anger and bitterness? You would be time and money ahead to use your resources to do what you think is right instead of trying to block what someone is doing, in your opinion, wrong.

I remember a contest we had in junior high school. Three jars were placed in the office. One jar for each grade; seventh, eighth, and ninth. The jars were to hold money for a fundraiser. A penny would count one point for the grade. A nickel, dime, or quarter counted against.

Some people put pennies in their own jar, while others put silver coins in the other grade’s jars. It was chaos, but all of the money went to a good cause. Even then, I thought it was counter productive to put silver in one grade’s jar or the other. My theory was to put all of your money into pennies and place them in your own jar.

I suppose it would be logical to split your silver money between the two grades of which you were not a member, but the metaphor works better to make my point if we stay positive.

So stop belaboring points about problems and talk about solutions. Don’t waste your time on anger and negativity. Instead, use your energy and resources to “do” something. Be a builder instead of one who tears down.

Life is short and we only have 86,400 seconds in a day. In my book one second used to hold a grudge or plot someone’s demise is wasted time.

What a world that would be if we were to live that way. What a world that would be.

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, May 02, 2006


More alike than different

Throughout recorded history there are countless stories of people who have overcome. From David and Goliath to Rosa Parks, people have beaten the odds and succeeded when the “smart money” was betting against them.

It is my contention that how we cope with struggle is what shapes us as individuals and ultimately as a people. The drive and ability to conquer barriers is part of our humanity. When faced with obstacles, some stop or turn around, but others forge ahead and overcome what was perceived to be insurmountable.

These days we are surrounded by conflict. Issues are often reduced to two extreme points. Debate and discussion are lost art forms replaced with hyperbole, demagoguery, and filibustering.

Politicians want to be reelected, movement leaders want to stay in power, and the press wants a story laced with sound bites of one side lambasting its opposition.

All of this thrives on conflict. The differences are magnified and the similarities are ignored. This is actually a good strategy for those in power and those wanting to raise money for their cause. If they can keep a fight brewing and prolong the illusion of an enemy, than their cause has merit.

Conflict killers are when we start seeing what we have in common with the “opposition.” A Red Sox fan may hate the Yankees, but can appreciate a Yankee fan by relating to the fervor and loyalty one gives to a team.

A soldier may have an enemy, but may admire his enemy’s courage and battle tactics.

Human beings are more alike than they are different. When we are born, we possess the same number of fingers and toes, our intelligence, size and strength will be comparable.

And we will struggle. We will be faced with obstacles and obstructions all along life’s way. The things we want will not come easily. Dreams will not come true with out a fight and it won’t be fair. All of us humans have this in common.

There are many layers to a person. There is our sex, nationality, religion, family, intellect, physical abilities, and personality. A lot of this we do not choose, it just happens, but it is the hand life deals us. It is the collection of tools we have to make our dreams come true.

It would seem to make sense that the brightest, wealthiest, most beautiful people would be the ones to succeed. But the ones who make it are the ones who believe they can and work to make it happen. They try and fail until they try and succeed.

David was not stronger than Goliath, but he won. Rosa Parks was not anyone really, but look what she did. Lance Armstrong should be dead, but instead he overcame a cancer death sentence and went on to win the Tour de France seven times in a row.

There is a picture in the sidebar of my blog showing President Bush running with a soldier who is missing a leg. Marathons have been run by people without legs. Books have been written by people without college degrees, and obstacles are overcome all the time by people who never seemed to have a chance.

What makes us different is far less important than that which makes us the same. What is skin color compared to the human will? What are a few dollars in a trust fund compared to a spirit of adventure? How could any human feature or condition be more important than the instilled belief to never give up?

Until the next time
John Strain