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Monday, October 30, 2006


An Update on Ben

We heard from Ben last week. If you remember, Ben was in SEAL training. Last Sunday night began what they term Hell Week. He made it until Tuesday night before he rang the bell - which is how you retire from the training.

Most of us complain if it is raining and we have to go to work or complain that it is too cold at work. Compare what SEAL candidates go through and it is far beyond our comprehension.

I am very proud of Ben. 70% of the condidates never advance beyond Hell Week. On the other hand, many try for a secend or third time. The instructors test a man's mental and physical ability and they take them to the brink.

You can go to Youtube and watch some videos about Hell Week if you want an idea of what they go through. Keep in mind, they have already had several weeks of difficult training before Hell Week even begins.

I would not count Ben out. He is determined and driven. Now he has a better idea what to expect.

We can rest easy at night knowing there are young men willing to challenge themselves and sacrifice for their country.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Dog light

by Bear

Hi everyone, it's me Bear.

I wanted to show you what Daddy bought me for when we go outside in the dark. It is a reflective belt and a little blinking light.

Bear's night safety equipment

I got a bright green stretchy belt that reflects light. Then he bought a little blinking light that he snapped on top of the belt.

Daddy bought a blinking light for himself too. Tonight we tried them out. When he put the belt on me, it was too tight and I was trying to take it off. Daddy laughed, but he loosened it and I felt better.

Daddy took me outside and threw the ball for me and laughed, because all he could see was a blinking light moving around the yard. Mommy laughed too.

I like my new stuff. Daddy says the cars can see us a lot better and we won't get run over unless someone is a total moron.

If you want to see some of the stuff Daddy bought, look at this web site: Road ID. They have all kinds of neat stuff.

I got my stitches out the other day from my operation. Daddy says I don't have to go to the vet for a long time now. That's a relief.

I sure like the cooler weather. It makes me frisky and I can run real fast without getting tired.

I guess I better wrap this up. It is past my bedtime.

Bye for now and remember to put blinking lights on if you're going out at night.



Monday, October 23, 2006


A prayer for Ben

Ben is in the blue shirt

Say a prayer for Ben and keep him in your mind. This is Hell Week.

Ben is in SEAL training in California. Week four of phase one is called Hell Week. Click the link above for the description.

Good luck Ben.

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, October 19, 2006


The Man

I am a fairly law abiding citizen. I haven't run a foul of the law that often. Whenever I did, it was normally a minor misunderstanding - usually by the law.

That said, this morning, I was running my weekly hill workout and I somehow got slapped by the long arm of the law, security guard law that is.

Since I have a job, I have to get up early and run. Today's workout was 10 miles of hills. It takes 1 hour 20 minutes to run 10 miles and about 45 minutes to warm up, cool down, and finish up with 10 minutes of squats. The bottom line is, I run from about 6:00 AM to 7:20 AM on a 7-minute loop that takes me through an auxiliary parking lot of St Tammany Hospital.

It is pitch dark at the beginning of the run and doesn't get light until about 7:00 AM. I wear a fluorescent green shirt, my shorts and shoes have reflective material on them. I wear a reflective vest and a bright LED headlamp. I want cars to see me and they do.

I am conscious of the fact, that runners can sneak up on people. They go from bee bopping across the parking lot to the panic of “Hey I’m getting mugged” in a milisecond. Since I know this, I cut a wide berth around anyone walking. I try to cough or scuff my shoe to make noise and thereby announce my presence.

I have been running this path well over a year with no incident. The shuttle bus driver for the hospital must see me at least 10 times when I am running my loops. I am no secret or new phenomenon.

Hills are not plentiful in Covington. I need hills within running distance from my house. This road and parking lot represent the best around. I would much rather run a longer route than go around this loop, but I need hills and these are the ones I have.


Today, just after daylight broke, I was running along just having exited the parking lot and a car with a flashing amber light on his dashboard pulled along side me and honked.

I hate to stop running in the middle of a workout, but I make exceptions for authority figures.

Here is the conversation:
Security Guard (SG): Getting your morning exercise?
Me: Yeah.
SG: I'm going to have to ask you not to run through that parking lot. You're making some nurses nervous. They don't know what you're doing.
Me: (Puzzled look because I can't see how me stopping to run through the parking lot would un-nervous some neurotic nurses.)
Me: Yeah, OK (Said in my best sarcastic, kiss my ass voice.)

I was fuming. This little incident is another illustration of the PUSSification of America.

Get a grip nervous nurses, I am just trying to train for a marathon here. If you are that freaking fragile I would hate to be one of your patients. Cripes.

One moron complains and everyone has to quit playing.

Who knows what happened. The SG may just be a prick and made it up. Maybe someone really did complain, but the final result is I have been told to stay out and it is probably within their rights to do so.

I was going to write their administrator and try to resolve the matter like an adult, but instead I decided to let them shove their entire parking lot up their ass including the railroad ties and chain link fence that goes with it.

F'em if they can't take a joke.

Pussification of America number 2: Massachusetts elementary school bans tag because it is too dangerous. WTF! (Sorry mom, but I am torqued.)

Pussification of America number 3: I was watching the Today Show this morning. I don't know why I do, because it always gets my blood boiling.

Some psychologist was talking about how Americans aren't getting enough sleep and employers are starting to realize that well rested employees are more productive employees.

How do they get them well rested? They let them take freaking naps on the job. In the words of Fred Sanford, "I'm coming to join you Elizabeth."

Give me a break. Sleep at home morons. Don't expect your boss to give you milk and cookies and a nap mat. You did that crap in kindergarten.

How about this. Do your freaking job or I will get someone in here who can.

There I said it and I feel better.

Until the next time and taking deep breaths.
John Strain


Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Life is now

I ran 16 miles Sunday. I had to run early, because Marty and I were leaving for the Saints game at 9:30 AM. I was up at 4:45 AM and out of the house by 5:30 AM. I really like starting a run when it is dark because time seems to move quicker and I get to experience the dawning of a new day.

Sunday was no disappointment. The temperature was mild and the sky was cloudy. At one point as the sun was rising, the sky was a brilliant display of reds and oranges. The icing on the cake was a V formation of honking geese flying about 40 feet off of the ground heading to their pond.

One of the reasons I like to run is I get to see things like that. They are fleeting moments, but they linger in my mind. I draw on their beauty later in the day or days later. They keep fresh in my mind the truth that life has a certain beauty, clarity, and rhythm that will go on an on even if man is stupid enough to blow himself up.

It gives me peace of mind to where I can laugh at the talking heads trying to instill fear in the masses to increase their ratings. These days it is easy to become distracted and get all excited about something we have no control over.

Our generation is no different than any generation before us. Each individual must learn to live. He/she must find a way to balance threats, fears, and the hard things of life. We must find a way to mine meaning from the mountains of doubt and hardship. Some give up and become bitter and angry. Others look for meaning in activity and they drive themselves crazy trying to keep the plates spinning on the poles like the act on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Troubles will come and go. They will seek each of us out in the course of life. It will happen. So what do we do? How do we keep our chin up and our spirits from giving out?

Well, for me, I take advantage of the "now." I take pleasure in the fleeting moment of a spectacular morning sky. I savor the smells of jasmine, sweet olive, and gardenia when they are in season. I laugh at my dog and smile as he spews enthusiasm for chasing a ball. I laugh with friends and I watch the squirrels eat the corn I put out for them.

Life is now; don’t miss it.

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, October 16, 2006


More than a game

Sitting in the Superdome yesterday, taking in the Saints / Eagles game, I paused to drink in the spectacle that was that moment. In 15 or so other cities on Sundays across the United States, similar events are taking place.

It is quite a thing if you think about it. A lot of money is spent to build a stadium. Armies of people are mobilized to entertain and provide concessions. Fans come dressed to honor their team. Emotions rise and fall like something really big was at stake. The result can influence a city or region’s attitude for the next few days.

Football is a cultural phenomenon to say the least.

Some people don't get it. They see it as silly. A waste of time and money, but football is much more than a game.

Boys grow up playing football in their yards. They advance to the neighborhood games, and if they are good junior high and high school. A few make it to college and fewer still go onto the pros.

The first game you go to in the NFL is probably with your father as a young boy. If you keep at it, you go someday with your son, maybe even your grandchildren. It becomes a tradition and stories are shared with friends and family for years to come.

Lately, I have seen another dimension of football I would like to share. It has not received much press, but in my mind it is front-page news.

New Orleans is a city that receives a lot of fans from the opposing team. Why not, it is a great destination city. Fans are coming though who do more than walk down Bourbon Street and work out their pent up craziness.

Last week a group of Philadelphia Eagles fans came down to help gut some houses in New Orleans. The destruction is still being cleaned up. They were wearing their Eagles garb and working. They were dragging debris to the street and cleaning up a little part of what Katrina destroyed. Football fans? Sure, but human beings first. They said they couldn't look at this (destruction) and do nothing.

A group of people from Atlanta did the same thing when the Falcons played here. In addition to the fans that come to New Orleans and help, players from the visiting teams also take the tour of the destruction.

The interviews are similar. A young football star is peering into a camera having just been slapped with a hard dose of reality. He is feeling pretty lucky and privileged. They always say something nice, some give money, and others help, but all are greatly changed.

Coming to New Orleans these days is a mixture of having fun and having things put in perspective for you. One cannot look at the devastation and not feel something. The scope of the damage is all one needs. No explanation is needed. No one has to draw you a picture - you "get it."

It does my heart good to see people take time out of their well-deserved vacations and lend a hand to their fellow man. These are football fans and football players and they prove that football is much more than just a game.

Until the next time
John Strain


Friday, October 13, 2006


What I did 24 years ago

October 12, 1982 is the day I asked Barbara to marry me. Time flies. To celebrate, we went out for a drink after work. It seems like yesterday when I pulled out the ring and put it on her finger.

I finally gave into her hounding me. Just kidding.

If you are interested in reading the detailed story of that night, you can read it here.

Have a great weekend.

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, October 12, 2006


Doing fine

Blogger was on the fritz earlier, but I wanted to let folks know that Bear is doing just fine. He was a bit sheepish and subdued last night. He just stood around looking like someone had just cut off his nuts.

Oh that's right, they did. Ha.

Anyway, he woke up today and wanted to play ball. I guess since he doesn't have his anymore, he wants to play ball even more. The doc says he has to take it easy for a few days.

I took him for a walk and he peed and scratched like nothing had happened.

Have a nice Thrusday folks.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, October 11, 2006



First off, I know in my head I did the right thing. The dog had to be castrated. That doesn't keep other feelings from surfacing.

I felt like Brutus, Judas, and Benedict Arnold all rolled into one this morning, when I snapped the leash on Bear and walked out the door with him. We weren't going on just any walk, we were taking the last walk of his life with his nads dangling where they ought to be.

Sure I am projecting my feelings and values on an animal, but isn't that what pets are for? We bring them into our families and they become one of us. We give them our words and sometimes their looks or well-placed sighs let us know they know more about us than we might think.

Even in war, men tend to respect each other's private parts. Only the dirtiest fighters will go below the belt. Most honor the code. Therefore, it is difficult to lead another male to a place where those parts will be snipped off and discarded like a candy wrapper.

To make matters worse, Bear took the walk enthusiastically, thus proving he is not fluent in the English language. I have been talking about his operation since it was scheduled last Saturday. I am sure if he knew the destination of today's walk he would have bolted to save his jewels.

Still he walked and he hiked his leg and scratched the ground with all the gusto two testosterone driven testicles can provide. A man to the end, Bear walked up the steps to the vets office and went in the back room with his tail high and his dignity in tact.

I am supposed to call at 3:30 PM today to see how the surgery went and to find out when I can pick him up. I hope he forgives me.

I will update this post when I get word.

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, October 09, 2006



by Bear
Bear looking surprised
Hi everyone, it's me Bear.

Do you remember a long time ago I told you about blood dripping out of my weenie? We went to the vet and he said it was my prostate and if it happened again I would have to be neutered. Well, it happened again.

Actually, it happened one other time, but it stopped. Daddy took me to the vet Saturday and it was not a fun visit. It seemed more like a reenactment of the rape scene in the movie Shawshank Redemption than a doctor visit.

When we walked into the lobby, I got to meet 3 other dogs. They were nice. One had to stay to get boarded. I felt sorry for him. I sure hate it when I have to stay.

Then there were two golden retrievers that just had to get their shots. Then it was my turn to go into "that room."

Daddy told Mr. Rusty about the blood dripping out of my weenie. They picked me up and put me on the exam table. Mr. Rusty told Daddy to hold my head, because I wasn't going to like what he was about to do. What an understatement. That is about the time they made me feel like the new fish on cell block 9. He put his finger in my rear end - not my idea of fun.

He told Daddy my prostate was enlarged and we could cure the problem by neutering me. Then I got a shot and Mr. Rusty gave Daddy some pills for me to take.

They said I had to come back on Wednesday morning to get neutered. No big deal right? That's what I thought until I read this article on the Internet.

Now I know why they call it being neutered, because if they said "We are going to cut your balls off," no one would ever do it.

I guess I don't have a choice. Daddy tried to make me feel better by telling me a joke. It is a little nasty, but I will go ahead and repeat it for you here:

Q: Why do dogs lick themselves?
A: Because they can't make a fist.

It is easy for Daddy to laugh, it isn't his nuts getting cut off.

That's about it. I go under the knife on Wednesday, but I am going to take it like a man; no whining or wussing around for this dog. Toughness isn't a set of nads, it's attitude.

I need to keep telling myself that.

So if you start whining about something today like your job or something, just remember poor Bear. At least you aren't getting your balls cut off.

That's my news from here. Wednesday is the day I start practicing for the Vienna Boy's Choir.

Now if you'll excuse me I am going to go lick myself while I still can.

Bye for now,


Thursday, October 05, 2006


Peeing outside

Since the advent of the indoor toilet, men have been passing down a tradition to each generation. It is a rite of passage, and something, in my own experience, only men seem to appreciate. I am of course speaking of peeing outside.

Nothing screams freedom more than whipping it out and letting 'er fly. We do not recognize the limitations of bathrooms and public toilets. The world is our urinal and we exercise our freedom and our manhood each time we whiz in the woods.

I am not speaking of the crude kind of peeing outdoors driven by bad manners and alcohol. It is not unusual to see one of these gosh cretans hosing down one of the streets or sidewalks in the French Quarter. They are not exercising their freedom, they are demonstrating their lack of breeding.

My friend Marty used to have a condo in Florida until Hurricane Opal blew it away. He had a tradition of peeing off of the balcony the night of his arrival. This could sometimes be a tricky maneuver since the wind was often blowing in off of the gulf, however most guys are quite skilled when it comes to placing a stream of pee and Marty was no exception.

I have peed off of boats, behind buildings, bushes, and trees. I have peed in the high desert of Utah, the road side in Boston, and off of the Natchez Trace in Mississippi. I have peed in Canada and Minnesota in the lake country, and in the Mountains of New Mexico. I haven't thought about it much, but I have quite a peeing outside portfolio as I am sure most if not all men do.

Peeing outside is not something we do for fun, it is something we do to express our freedom. It is our way of saying, "Sure I am too lazy to go inside and pee in the toilet, but I am a man and I'll damn well pee anywhere I want."

We relate to our dogs and to the wolves that mark their territory. I have peed all over my yard at one time or another. Sometimes, it is just the thing to do.

Most municipalities have laws against this, but unless you are exposing yourself to a crowd or peeing on someone's property, male officers look the other way. I am sure they find it hard to arrest someone for exercising a God given freedom. It is part of the code. It is acceptable - to men.

Women find it disgusting, but I think they are a bit jealous because their plumbing does not lend itself to such an activity. Women are much more exposed to practice the freedom of peeing outside so usually opt to go indoors unless it is an emergency or they are in a swimming pool.

That's just the way it is.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, October 04, 2006


A Tuesday in October

I took off from work yesterday. I have some vacation days to use up before my anniversary date and I don't want to leave them on the table.

I got up at the usual time, made coffee, and ran my morning workout. Bear got a longer walk.

I watched the financial shows and took my time getting a shower. After that, I downloaded some music on iTunes and surfed the net.

I had a few fleeting thoughts about using my time wisely and getting something accomplished.

There are some projects that either need my attention or would put me in good stead with Barbara. To name a few:
Reduce clutter in our back room
Fix my shed that Katrina broke
Trim the ligustrums
Blah, blah, blah
Before I knew it, the day was half gone. Too late to start any projects, so I watched a little TV. I was treated to the ravings of reporters and politicians in the Foley feeding frenzy. What a crock.

About 2:00 I took Bear outside and we walked a mile to the river. He had a blast fetching his tennis ball and swimming. We walked back home and I hosed the river water off of him.

I think his favorite part is getting dried off. He presses his head into the towell and leans into your hands. After he properly groomed himself, he took a nice nap while I called my dad.

My dad is 81 and lives in Kansas City. I don't call him as often as I should so I called. Things are fine in KC. We caught up on things, talked about sports, and he told me he was proud of me.

I am pretty lucky to be nearly 50 and to still have both of my parents. It is even better to know they love me. My mother leaves comments on the blog that makes my coworker Christine nearly hurl. After she reads one of them, she mocks me: “John for world leader.” I guess she is mocking me.

A good example is my last post when I asked the question about the word "skiffing". I used it to refer to a leaf sliding accross the concrete. I couldn't find it in the dictionary.

My mother's response was it must be an inferior dictionary, because I couldn't be wrong. How true. Anyway, this sort of thing bothers Christine. She is so beaten down now, she rarely even mentions it. I don't confuse her silence with conversion though.

So, just a Tuesday in October, but it brought some good stuff. A good memory at the river with my pal Bear and welcome words from my father.

I don't even care that I didn't accomplish anything constructive. Those things will wait for just the right weekend.

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, October 02, 2006



I love October:
NFL football
College football
Cooler weather
Good childhood memories
The month I asked Barbara to marry me
The World Series
Carmel apples
The last bit of peace before the holidays
Marching bands
The sound of leaves skiffing along the street driven by a cool north wind
No full moon is prettier or more foreboding than the one in October
So enjoy all 31 days of it folks.

PS I used the word “skiffing” above to describe the sound a leaf makes as it skips along the concrete. That must be a made up word because I can’t find it in a dictionary. Have you ever heard or used the word?

Until the next time
John Strain