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Saturday, March 31, 2007


Schizophrinic rant

The ScreamSchizophrenia is a terrible disease. It literally takes away the person that was or the person that could have been. It is not a funny thing at all. The disease destroys or stresses families to the limit.

I work with people that have schizophrenia. They are still people and live day to day like anyone else does. They have a routine, they have places they go, and they have things that they do.

One person with schizophrenia once told me that she had a broken brain. That is a good description of what it is and what it does.

That said, sometimes folks with schizophrenia can say something that is so funny you have to laugh. The following is one of those things.

This lady came to us from another facility. I will reprint what the triage nurse wrote from the referring facility. She captured a small slice of someone with schizophrenia, off of their medication, elevated, and on a rant.
Arrival per ambulance, pt found on the side of the road, states she felt like she was going to have a seizure so she layed down on the road. On arrival here, the pt is talking non-stop , states, "You know I used to be a brain surgeon but I lost so many MF'ing patients, I had to go into research, and then I went to work for the CIA and I was an assassin, I killed so many MF'ing people all over the world, I used to be built like a brick house and they called me Ice Baby, when I wore my mini skirt and bent over I caused a lot of MF'ing wrecks. Did I tell you I was raised in a satanic cult and they used to put me in coffins all the time, they took my spine out one time. You better take your paycheck and buy your family an uzi and shoot all the MF'ers you can because the anarchy is coming. I used to be a junkie and if I had some heroine right now, I'd shoot that MF'ing shit up all day."
I am sure the patient went on, but you get the idea.

Aren't you glad you don't have her problems?

Until the next time, I am thanking God for relatively stable mental health.
John Strain


Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Simple pleasures

Cup of coffeeThere are few things in this world more satisfying than that first cup of coffee in the morning. I'll take mine black. That way I never have to hunt a spoon and the rainbow color choices of sweeteners. I don't have to worry about tracking down milk or Coffee Mate either.

Sometimes in the afternoon on a Sunday, I will pour some of the leftover cold coffee in a cup half way, add milk, microwave, and enjoy. A little caffe' au lait never hurt anybody that wasn’t lactose intolerant.

I wrote about this back in 2003 so I won't rewrite it here.

So, after I finish the coffee, it is time to strap on the running shoes and run. The trouble is I have been sidelined since January due to a pulled groin muscle.

I am slowly improving. I thought I was almost healed so like a moron I worked out harder and ran some. Now it hurts again. Hopefully, it is only a minor set back.

I have the coffee, but the running still eludes me. Somebody hand me a hanky, boo hoo. OK I feel better now. Who says men can't cry?

How about that sign at the top of the post showing coffee for a nickel? Those were the days. Now it will cost you nearly $5.00. Thank God I don't smoke because I'll pay the five bucks for the coffee if I have to. I am sure I would do the same for a smoke if I had that monkey on my back.

Rats, my coffee got cold. Guess I'll have to get a refill. Bear is bugging me for his simple pleasure - the morning walk.

Duty calls. I hope you are enjoying your java or whatever it is you enjoy, and I hope it is just the beginning of a great day for you.

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, March 27, 2007



It is both a comfort and a fear that life changes. We are sojourners, not staying anywhere or in any situation for long. If your life isn’t going well this may be comforting, but if your life is good, you may have a nagging anxiety that it will someday slip away.

How do we cope with the change and the uncertainty? How do we press on, get up each morning, and go about our day? Some do it by not thinking about it. This is the stuff of existential angst.

We are finite. We will get old and deteriorate. Our quality of life will peak and then decline over time. Our friends, our things, ourselves will someday all be gone. Before you go rush off to find a razor blade or that pistol in your nightstand just think for a moment.

The folks who cope with these things do not avoid thinking about them, but use the knowledge of their certainty to wring out the most from life day by day and moment by moment.

We can let years go by as we amble drone like through a mundane routine, or we can enjoy the beauty and wonder of life as we take our one-time lap around the track.

The wise men, poets, and philosophers usually conclude that our relationships are our treasure. The simple moments are the diamonds, and the laughter is the medicine that fuels our happiness.

We can distract ourselves with fighting and anger. We can be bitter about our jobs, politics, and competition, but this attitude is a cancer that eventually destroys us a little at a time until we are without joy, becoming more and more cynical.

We choose each day which path to take. After a while, it becomes second nature. As the years go by, the path we have taken shows on our face and in our heart. Anger and bitterness or happiness and appreciation are the results.

We are sojourners, walking through life. We are influenced and in turn we influence. What kind of an influence are you? Do you add joy and laughter to those around you or are you part of the bitterness, anger, and enmity?

Life will never be perfect. At least in my experience my dreams have always exceeded my grasp. However, when I look over my shoulder at my past, I see how the disappointments have strengthened me and the blessings are beyond number.

Life goes on and it will go on after me. It will never be just what I want, but like an ice cream cone on a hot day, my choice is to enjoy it or let it melt into a pool of wasted pleasure.

At the end of the day, the simple things like a happy dog, a star I know by name, and a cup of hot tea all tell me that my worries are insignificant. My treasures cannot be taken from me because they are timeless and free.

Godspeed fellow sojourners.

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, March 26, 2007



I found a song on the Lance Armstrong Foundation website.

It is called Maybe Tonight Maybe Tomorrow by an Austin, TX band named Wideawake. The song is about someone who has just learned they have cancer.

I would like to dedicate the song today to Ellen and Rocky.

For those two and for the rest of us; I challenge you to LIVESTRONG.


Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, March 21, 2007



Spring is here. We are enjoying some of the best weather of the year right now. Soon the humidity will be near the triple digits and the southern heat will be stifling, but not just yet.

Bear by the azaleas in March 07
Bear by the azaleas

A spring squirrel eating corn
Beauregard eating corn at his feeder

The trees are full of leaves, the azaleas are blooming, sweet smells of fragrant blooms hang in the air, and the birds add a perfect soundtrack to a wonderful gestalt.

The mornings and evenings are cool but not too cool. The sun shines brightly during the day, but not too hot. These are the few days of the year like the ones in the fall that no one complains about.

The lucky folks know this and drink it in. Life is that way. We have to drink it in and experience it or it will go on unnoticed and unappreciated like an unopened present. How many days and moments have we ignored or missed because we were preoccupied with "important" things? What is more important than living?

I know spring hasn't sprung everywhere. You may be in the last throws of winter where you are, but I can testify to the fact that spring is in Louisiana and headed north.

Now my favorite springtime poem: Thanks mom for teaching it to me.

The year's at the spring
The year's at the spring
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hillside's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn:
God's in His heaven—
All's right with the world!
-Robert Browning

Enjoy your day and sip from the cup of springtime; it only comes once a year.

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, March 15, 2007


FREE NCAA TICKETS: Men's Basketball Tournament New Orleans

Folks, if you are in the New Orleans area and would like to attend the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the New Orleans arena let me know. I have 2 tickets I can't use and I just want to give them to someone who would enjoy attending the games.

The tickets are for the first round, session one, Friday, March 16th.

Memphis (30-3) vs. North Texas (23-10) 11:30 a.m.
Nevada (28-4) vs. Creighton (22-10) apprx. 2 p.m.

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, March 13, 2007


St Patrick's Day Parade Slide Show

The parade was its usual spectacle of green and smiles. It was a beautiful day and a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon. What more could one ask for than to have fun with family and friends?

The music doesn't play all the way through. Chalk it up to haste makes waste.

Until the next time
John Strain


Sunday, March 11, 2007


It's Sunday; time for a parade

Statue of St. Patrick in IrelandToday is the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Metairie, LA. I know St. Patty's Day is March 17th, but we do things different down here. I think the parade is always held the second Saturday in March.

The weather is perfect. Bright sun, azure skies, low humidity, and a high temperature expected to be 78 degrees. I'll take it.

I am foregoing finishing my yard work, but it will keep. It is hard missing the Jayhawks and Texas in the Big 12 Championship game, but I am holding out hopes I can find a TV near the parade. Worst case scenario, I watch the game on TiVo.

This is a good photo taking event. Check out the photos from the 2005 parade.

This being an Irish Sunday; please accept a sincere Irish blessing from me to you.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Until the next time
John Strain


Friday, March 09, 2007


Looking Up

Life Ain't Always Beautiful as the Gary Allan song says. (Listen to the song)

As a matter of fact, some parts of my life right now are pretty stressful, aggravating, and just down right suck. I can't go into the particulars since I don't want to air dirty laundry or jeopardize my employment. Suffice it to say, things have been much better in my life than they are now - on certain fronts.

That said, I am not writing to whine, bitch, piss, and moan. I am writing to share a realization I had. It is a realization I always have when things get bad. These thoughts and beliefs comfort me when things go wrong. They are as regular as clockwork. They right my ship of emotion if you will.

Sometimes these thoughts are spontaneous. Sometimes they seep in and I rediscover them little by little. They are things I know in my head, but when things in my life aren’t so good, I learn them again in my heart. When I have been beaten down, these things buoy me and raise me up. They reset my perspective and assure me that everything will be just fine.

What are these thoughts? They are thoughts of perspective. They are thoughts of the eternal and of the transcendent. They are, of course, thoughts of God.

How did they seep in this time? I was walking Bear one night and I noticed a bright star or planet in the west just above the horizon. I have seen the stars a million times and marveled at them, but for some reason I wanted to know the name of the light I was seeing in the sky.

I did what any knowledge seeker these days would do; I turned to Google. I searched sites until I found the answer. The light in the darkness I saw was the planet Venus or the Evening Star. I learned that by August, Venus moves to the eastern horizon and is visible just before dawn. At that time it is referred to as the Morning Star.

I had heard these terms before, but I hadn't remembered them or their meaning. I became interested in the other lights in the sky. As I studied, I began to feel my little problems shrink in the face of our universe. God made all of this. It has been around a lot longer than me. I came from dust and to dust I will return. These stars have witnessed many people and civilizations come and go.

I still have my problems, but what significance can they have in 5, 50, or 500 years?

Then I recalled the words of the song "How Great Thou Art.":
O Lord my God,
When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds your hands have made.
I see the stars,
I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
This song was inspired by Psalm 8:
O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;

The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
All of this is the result of me simply "looking up" one evening.

So there. Things may suck, to use a popular expression, but in the words of the writer of the Book of Romans:
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for all of us -- how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? {Rom 8:31b-32 NIV}

So keep your head up, look toward the heavens, and maybe you will find God.

A couple of good links for viewing your night sky:

Night Sky at Space.Com

Stary Night (enter your Zip and see what the night sky looks like in your area)

Until the next time
John Strain


Sunday, March 04, 2007


50 years of my music from 1957 to 2007

Click to download podcast: 50 Years of My Music 1957 - 2007 (45 mb, mp3, 39:21)

Listen to a sample: 4.8 mb, mp3, 4:10

If you would like to save the mp3 to your computer, click the down triangle on the far right of the Quicktime Player and choose one of the save options.

Treble ClefI finished my podcast by the same title of this post. It was quite a job and I used over 100 songs to put it together.

It is a 45 mb download, but it will stream so you don't have to download it all at once. The file is an mp3 so you should be able to listen to it in most media players.

I think folks will enjoy it, because it is non-stop music for 39 minutes and 21 seconds. I make comments along the way about the music.

For those of my regulars who have dial up and can't download the file, let me know and I will send you a CD with the podcast on it.

Until the next time
John Strain


Friday, March 02, 2007


Today is my 50th birthday

I'm 50I am trying to look the part of an old man here. What do you think? Thanks to my sister for having built me this custom cane, I can venture into the decade of the 50's knowing I will be able to make it every step of the way.

I was opening a birthday card that came in the mail a day or so ago and it still felt like it did when I was south of 10 years old.

Birthdays were a big deal when I was little. The rank order of special days went like this: Christmas, birthday, Easter, Valentines Day, St. Patrick's Day, and visits by the Tooth Fairy. Of course this list is also arranged in the amount of stuff I got.

Money was the usually present for my birthday. One set of grandparents sent me $3 dollars and the other set sent me a check for $5. My Aunt Beulah usually sent a couple of dollars. Uncle Louis and Aunt Gail would send a dollar or two and I might get money from my parents.

All total, I would have between $10 and $20 and in the 60's, that was like having $100 today.

That money burned a hole in my pocket. I would spend the days leading up to my birthday looking at catalogs and in stores for something to spend my birthday money on. It was a great feeling to look at some luxury item like a tape recorder or a radio and know I could afford it.

I almost always spent my money on something electronic. To this day, when I get extra bucks, I am getting something for the computer or the home theater. It is true what they say about the only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.

I am only working part of today. Bear and I are going to cut the grass, I am going to the gym to work out since I still can't run, then I am going to work on my "50 years of music" podcast. It is coming along nicely and I can't wait to post it.

It is really fun beginning sentences with, "I'm 50 years old and I'm not going to . . . anymore." One thing I have learned in my 50 years is that everything has its upside and its downside. Sure, I may not turn heads like I used to, but I have my health. Ha.

I don't know how much longer I am going to live, but I want the world to know this. I may not have everything I want and there may be things that gripe me day in and day out, but over all; I am about as happy as a person could expect to be. I have plenty to eat, I have a great family, I have a roof over my head, I am healthy, and I laugh most of the day. God has been good to me and I know it.

Saturday night is a dinner at Antoine's in New Orleans. I am taking my camera so stay tuned for some pics.

Until the next time
John Strain