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Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Dog ladder

When I was little, I heard my mother talking about my grandmother. She kept mentioning grandma’s "dog ladder." I had know idea what she was talking about, but I knew it had something to do with what my grandmother ate.

Mom would say, "Grandma can't eat so and so, because of her dog ladder." Finally, I couldn't take it anymore and I asked her, "Mama, what's a dog ladder?"

My mother seemed confused, "Dog ladder?" she said inquisitively. "Yes," I said, "You said grandma has a dog ladder."

I remember her laughing for a long time and explaining to me between her hysterical laughter that it wasn't a "dog ladder, but a gallbladder."

Then there was a similar incident that occurred when we were playing the home version of the "Match Game." I used to love that game show.

Anyway, the game was about associations. There would be a word like "dog." The contestants would respond. In this case they might say "catcher." If your partner said the same thing you did, then it was a match. The most matches would win.

So, we are playing the match game and the clue was "blank side." I said "cross side." I was really referencing a name I had been called many times. I didn't know though that it was spelled, cross eyed. Again with the hysterical laughter from the family.

I guess I had a gift of hearing things wrong in such a way that everyone around thought it was funny.

Oh, speaking of "dog ladders," Barbara had hers out today. The surgery was successful and she is doing just fine.

The nurse told me Barbara wouldn't be able to sweep or mop for the next 10 years. Chicks stick together.

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, December 25, 2006


Merry Christmas

Santa Bear

Merry Christmas from the Strain's

May you continue to unwrap the gift of Jesus and may this Christmas be filled with the love of your friends and family.

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, December 18, 2006


Daddy takes "leaf" of his senses

by Bear

Hi Everyone, It's me Bear. I had a fun weekend even if Daddy didn't.

Saturday morning, Daddy took me outside and brushed me real good. He said I was getting hair all over the place, but I can't help it. You should have seen the pile of fuzzy hair he got off of me. You could have stuffed a dog bed with it.

Then we played a little football and took a long walk. I got to wear my jingle bell collar too.

Bear and his prized football

I love to play football and to walk. Daddy threw it a whole lot of times and I brought it back every time. I guess that's why they call me a retriever.

Bear and his prized football

I'm thinking about using this pose for my football card. I think I look tough and serious here - all business.

Football for Daddy didn't go so well this weekend. The Saints lost to the Redskins and The Chiefs lost to the Chargers. Daddy said some words that Mommy gets on to him about. Daddy says that sometimes other words just don't quite adequately express his feelings so he has to use them.

I just lay there and hope he decides to eat some chips or maybe some cheese and crackers. He always tosses some to me - yum.

Bear sitting in the leaves

After we played, we had to do some work. Daddy said he couldn't stand looking at the leaves all over the place. He says if you let your yard go, you look like white trash. I wonder what that means?

Anyway, he raked up the leaves and put them in 17 big black bags. It took him a long time, because he would stop and talk to the neighbor and his cell phone would ring and he would talk on it.

I like it when Daddy works in the yard, because I lay in the sun and watch. I guess we aren't white trash now, but while Daddy was raking, the leaves kept falling. Daddy said he was fighting a losing battle. He says leaves are like southern snow.

I said, "Why don't you wait until they all fall then pick them all up at once?" Daddy says that "X amount of leaves fall and they all have to be picked up, so at least 17 bags of X won't have to be picked up now."

I hate it when Daddy uses algebra on me. I didn't have that class in obedience school.

Oh well, I guess he knows what he is doing.

Close up of Bear

Here is one more close up of me. I am giving the camera my serious look.

Oh, I almost forgot. I had a friend come over to play. One of LJ's friends Will, has a Lab / golden retriever mix named Booyah. Booyah is bigger than me, and he is only one. I am almost 5.

We had a lot of fun chasing the rubber duck. I had more exercise than usual so my tongue was really dragging the ground. I hope Booyah comes back, it was fun having another dog to play with.

I guess I better post this so Daddy can take me for my morning walk. Have a nice Christmas if I don't get a chance to write again before then. Don't forget to buy your pets a little treat.

Bye for now,


Thursday, December 14, 2006


A Christmas Podcast

Podcast Button

I noticed something about professors when I was in college. At first they seemed real funny and smart; but after taking a few of their courses, they repeated themselves. They would tell the same jokes and make the same points over and over.

I am no better. You can look over my 3 years of 1000 plus posts and themes will emerge. I was going through my archives and found that on December 10, 2005 I titled a post "Comin' atcha." Funny, because on December 13, 2006 I titled a post "Coming atcha," (see below) They both took photos from the Baton Rouge Beach Marathon and turned them into an animated GIF.

I didn't even remember doing it. It is strange that in the span of a year; my memory faded, but with the same stimulation of running a marathon and looking at the photos online, I did the same thing - to the point of titling the post the same.

As I read some of my posts from last December, I came across one I called The Light. I like to read things I wrote that I don't remember. It is interesting.

So this podcast is a repackaging of that post. Here I present it in audio format in my own voice and follow it up with a nice jazz Christmas song by Point of Grace.

I hope you enjoy it.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Coming atcha

Finishing the 2006 Baton Rouge Beach Marathon

Maybe I have too much time on my hands or maybe I just shirk other responsibilities, but at least I made an animated gif.

There were 11 photos of me finishing the Baton Rouge Beach Marathon. I stacked them into a Photoshop document and made this little animation.

Very Energizer Bunny-like; don't you think?

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, December 11, 2006


Football and Mondays

New Orleans SaintsFor a lot of my life I have allowed the results of sporting events to color my emotions. How I feel on Monday morning has something to do with how my teams fared on the weekend.

As a Chiefs and Saints fan, I have had to accept feeling lousy a lot. I won't even mention baseball and the Royals. Lately though, the Saints have been showing promise. They are a good story this year.

True die-hard football fans can begin to imagine how folks in New Orleans and the region must feel. In the past, the Saints made an art form out of blowing football games, but this year with 35 out of 54 players brand new, there is a different attitude on the team and it is yielding better results.

Beating the Cowboys in Dallas in a nationally televised game is not something the old Saints would have done. 9 and 4 is currently the second seed in the NFC with 3 games to go. Whatever happens, the Saints have given this area a real lift. Many of the players are doing things to help the community along with their football contribution.

It is a familiar story. They have assembled a group of people who want to win more than they want self-promotion. Their interviews are characterized with humility and giving others the credit.

So I may have a knot in my stomach because of the Chiefs, but the Saints are doing all they can to untie it and make me feel good.

Have a nice Monday folks - even you folks in Dallas. You have a good team and who knows where they will wind up.

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, December 07, 2006


Another Weekend

I really look forward to the end of the week. There are a lot of things I like about my job, but it's a job and no way would I be doing it if I were independently wealthy.

I would do something productive, but I wouldn't be taking the amount of poop I have had to take lately.

On a chilly note, Jack Frost is back in town and we are looking at the low 20's for the AM run and dog walk. I have been in worse, but try 65 degrees one day and 20 the next. When it gets cold and stays cold, you get used to it. This up and down stuff keeps you freezing your arse off in the 40's.

That reminds me. After I finished the Baton Rouge Beach Marathon last week and rested a bit, I got up and ambled toward the Port o Pottys. On my way, I walked by a pretty young college age girl sitting on the ground. I looked at her and said, "For some reason I'm walking funny." She smiled in what I thought was acknowledgement, but then replied, "Wuss." It kind of turned me on.

That's a marathon crowd for you. Complaining is not tolerated; even if it is in jest.

Speaking of marathons, I am signed up for 4 more. One in January and 3 back to back in February. The big one will be the 43.5 mile run from Kansas City to Lawrence, Kansas in April.

Have fun this weekend kiddies. I suppose most of us will be attending Christmas parties and buying presents. I also plan to squeeze in a little football.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Twilight Zone Moments

I don't usually imbibe throughout the week unless I am at a special function, or if a friend comes over, or if there is a football game on, or . . . No really, I try to reserve my adult beverage drinking for the weekends.

Part of the rationale is for weight management and health; the other part is to make it a treat and not something I do all the time.

That said, as I was coming up the driveway last night at the end of Bear's walk, I had a taste for some Jack Daniels. I walked through the door and announced I was going to have a drink. Barbara just looked at me like she usually does when I make pronouncements.

I fixed my little drink and sat down to watch the FOX Report with Shepard Smith and then it happened - the Twilight Zone moment.

He said: "73 years ago today, Congress ratified the 21st Amendment to the Constitution. Prohibition was ended."

How about that; I don't normally drink during the week, but I just wanted one and it happened to be the very day prohibition ceased 73 years back. I have been living in Louisiana so long, I just have a sixth sense for when it is time to party.

So that's my Twilight Zone moment. Have you had any lately?

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, December 05, 2006



The other day, Barbara and I took John and his girlfriend Mandy out for dinner. During the course of the conversation, we discussed the mascots of the schools we attended.

John said he had always been a cat. From the Little Lions of Covington Elementary to the CJ Schoen Middle School "?'s" I forgot what they were, but it was a cat. He was a Panther at William Pitcher Junior High, a Lion at Covington High, a Lion at Southeastern Louisiana University, and finally a Tiger at LSU.

Not to be out done, I decided to have a little fun. I went to the Kansas School for the Blind from K-5th grade. I told them that we were the Kansas School for the Blind Guide Dogs. Then I did a cheer: We're the guide dogs ruf ruf ruf
We're the guide dogs and we're tough.

Of course the Kansas School for the Blind didn't have a mascot that I could remember. I had an image of a black lab straining at his leader being held back by a muscle bound blind guy.

It was funny, but maybe you had to be there.

In junior high, I went to Trailridge and we were the Blazers. The mascot was some guy who looked like a hiker. A local high school in this area are the Skippers – an image guaranteed to strike fear into the hearts of their opponents. “Oh know, it's the SKIPPERS, run for your lives.” They always make me think of YMCA.

Minnesota has the Golden Gophers. I am not sure, but are gophers a vicious animal? They live under ground and are prey for other animals. How about Ducks, are they tough? What's a Tar Heel? What's a Hoosier or a Sooner?

Some of these mascots are regional and historic. I kind of know what a Sooner, Tar Heel, and a Hoosier are, but if you didn't watch a lot of sports or look it up, you wouldn't know.

Mascots have taken on star status. They are in ESPN commercials and their costumes are elaborate. They are giant walking stuffed animals. I wonder if they escaped from Disney Land and settled around the country at various institutions for work.

At the beginning of the football preseason, one of the New Orleans Saints was injured when a erratic driving mascot ran into him with his 4-wheeler. I guess it is hard to see where you are going in those suits, but maybe he did it on purpose.

I like mascots. They are tradition, but that does not stop the PC police from trying to ruin everything. When the NCAA tried to strong-arm schools into changing their Indian mascots, it demonstrated how higher learning is really run by morons.

Maybe now they have decided to concern themselves with things that really matter, like how many trans fats are in their cafeterias.

So here's to the mascots. Whether you are tough, cute, or funny, you are a part of the game and the tradition.

Until the next time
John Strain


Saturday, December 02, 2006


Baton Rouge Beach Marathon 2006

Today was cool and breezy. Race start was 33 degrees, but that is a lot better than the folks had it in Memphis running the St. Jude Marathon. With the bright sun and the blue December sky, this year's Baton Rouge Beach Marathon was a scenic treat.

Part of the run goes around the lakes in Baton Rouge. The course is a 13-mile double loop. On the first lap, I had the sun to my right and the lake to my left. The water was reflecting the trees on the opposite shore and it was breathtaking.

I really like this course and this year was my third time to run this marathon.

Barbara and I stayed at the Comfort Inn about a mile from the race start / finish. Good rates too, only $58.

Here I am with the Grinch. I ran into him at the hotel and we had a couple of drinks and talked for a while. He's a great guy once you get past the attitude and green complexion.
Me and the Grinch at the hotel the night before the race

I didn't feel as strong as I did last week, but I did better than last week. I ran the course in 3:35:16. That was good enough to make me 19th overall and 3rd in my age group.

Here I am coming in for a landing.
Finishing the BRBM 2006

Hey, do you want to know how to make yourself feel good. Go to a marathon and stand at the finish line. Look at the faces on the runners as they cross. Listen to their families cheer for them. Witness a tear of genuine joy. It will make you cry - good cry.

Now it is time for my favorite part. Tonight we celebrate and tomorrow, I sleep in. No running for two days, then it is back to training for the Mississippi Marathon January 13, 2007.

Each race is just another mile marker. You never know what might be around that next bend.

Until the next time
John Strain


Friday, December 01, 2006


Marathon Eve

Good morning from frosty Covington. I know, I know, 31 degrees is a nice morning in August for many of you, but it is getting on the nippy side down here. The trouble with the south and cold is that you never get acclimated to the cold. One day may be in the 20's and the next may be in the 60's.

Tomorrow morning is supposed to bottom out at 34 degrees. That is a bit chilly standing around waiting for the gun to go off, but once the race starts, it is perfect weather. Things wil warm up quickly and by the end of the race, it should be near 60. In other words; tomorrow's forecast is nearly perfect for running.

We'll see how I do with two marathons on consecutive Saturdays. I am planning three marathons on consecutive Saturdays in February.

So check in this weekend for my race report. This will be a fun weekend, what with running, celebrating, and NFL football.

I hope you have a nice weekend in your corner of the world.

Until the next time
John Strain