Saturday, February 25, 2006

OK so for all of you who do not believe in ghosts, here is the scariest thing that has ever happened to us. Driving down an old country road (192nd or “Walkerville Road” to those who know or care to know) we saw some turkeys up ahead and decided to slow down and take some pictures of them. Apparently the third turkey had passed this way before, unsuccessfully. Yeah. So that was pretty scary. I would have figured the first time I saw an apparition it would have been of human origin. And you might think that just because it was a turkey, and in relatively good shape, it was somehow less intimidating and therefore less of a frightful ordeal to be face to face with the undead. You’d be wrong. We all sat in silence and observed this thing crossing right there in front of us like the poultry version of the Abbey Road album cover. Only this time Paul really was dead. So for those of you craving another Jim blog-post and sadly checking each day and being yet again disappointed, this is why. It is rather unsettling to come in contact with those from the other side. It really shook me and I wasn’t sure what to do. I have been wondering why this turkey chose us. Why then and there did it decide to show itself? What did we do? What are we supposed to do? I can only imagine that it wants to communicate something to someone. Some unfinished business perhaps. We can’t figure it out. Any ideas? I’ll post again later…

Monday, February 20, 2006

Holy crap this is hilarious! If you can’t or won’t afford a PDA, give it a try! Don’t forget to purchase the perfect portability accessory, a pencil. When you get bored (and I know you do because well, here you are reading this and it’s not because you didn’t really feel like hanging out with Tara Reid tonight) then take your accessory and do this with it. What the…?

T-t-t-too much time on my hands…

But this is really cool I think. I downloaded it. I’ll give it a try and get back with you. I can totally see it now: You’re in an office with a group of executives making your pitch to sell them your product, say some software they really need. They want to try out the test-ware you’re lending them and you’ll be getting back with them next week. Which day? Hmmm…lemme check my uh…Pocket Mod. Shows your sleek advanced and techno-updated side off like no other item could. Fits in right next to my beeper. I scoff at batteries!

For all you folks who are thinking “wow, what a geniusly simple idea” I used one of these since my days at Hesperia Public schools. Oh yeah. And since it’s getting all technical, I guess I had email back then too, in a way.

Geniuses are all around us and most of the time, unless they do or create something such as this, they can go unnoticed. Like me for instance. Those of you who have known me all my life have scarcely considered me a genius. And yet here you are reading my blog, the anticipation of the next word is just thrilling. I bet you’re not even finished reading this and already you’re wondering “what and when will he post next?” Geniuses are everywhere and some day, they’ll do something that makes them a renowned genius. Then you’ll wish you’d have paid them a little more attention huh? Then you might have a chance of being one of these people (oh, the guy next to Smarty there is Charlie Chaplin and the lady is Elsa, Mrs. Smarty, so you couldn’t be one of them, but you might be able to be the other guy with a yellow arrow there behind Charlie).

So just a little more stuff to let you use your computer for good and not evil, incase the whole iTunes and Podcast thing has you all freaked out. And hey, if so, call my sister Jill because she teaches people how to do scary things like reboot, download and surf the net. Really, I’ll get you a link to her. Good luck!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

What a weekend. Really. It was Jill’s birthday Saturday so we went out. We went to Red Robin first where she got a free burger. Then it was off to Cold Stone Creamery for her free ice cream. She’s so thrifty. There’s a lot of stuff you can get for free on your birthday. Just for being born. That means everyone in the world is entitled to something for nothing once a year, unless you were born on February 29, then you’re out of luck except every fourth year or so.

After all that thrift and indulgence we headed to a small place to hear a friend of mine’s band play. I hadn’t seen them perform in about ten years and man, have they gotten better. Great music, more gelled, incredible energy. My old high school classmate, Chad is an incredible musician and hit the vocal harmonies flawlessly. What a great time. It’s been awhile.

Outside of the music and the band and stuff, it was way cool to seed Chad and a couple of other guys I went to high school with. We’re few and far between, Hesperia graduates. This world is big and Hesperia spits out around eighty graduates every year give or take a drop out or two so I don’t too often run into another one that I know of, or that I knew anyway.

So my topic of choice for this entry? Smoking. Sorry if you’re a smoker (and hopefully this gets to a few of you) but what’s the point? If it’s truly the nicotine, get some gum, get a patch, get some chew, whatever. Anything that doesn’t affect me or my health. Oh, your rights? It’s a free country? If you don’t like the smoke, you leave? What about my rights in this free country? We spent the evening at this establishment and I’m pretty sure we were two of the four people who didn’t smoke. As a non-smoker, I don’t get it. There is fresh air everywhere, except for in a vacuum (no, not the kind in your closet that you don’t use enough, the kind in a lab or something. The kind with an absence of air). Back to fresh air. And so people, many of whom are so pro-this and that blah blah blah, choose to inhale the fresh air while filtering it through this, well, anti-filter.

Yeah, what’s up with this whole thing? Hey, while you’re at it Mr. and Mrs. Greenpeace flick the still lit cigarette butts out the window of your sticker coated land roving Rainbow Warrior. Yes, that’s how we’re going to make the world a better place. By tossing garbage on the ground, on the road, even directly onto the floor of the venue we attended Saturday night. Sweet. Because, after all, that’s what good music and good times are all about: love, peace, harmony, and killing ourselves and those around us while simultaneously littering and polluting our mother, Earth.

Oh, I forgot to say that everything stank like we were nic-addict smokers when we got home. We piled our clothes up and immediately put them into the washer. The car we drove stank like we had smoked, Jill’s purse stank. Why would people do this to themselves to this by choice? Please let me know and we can discuss it.

Today we went and visited my grandparents. Along the way we saw these amazing trees with ice on them. They were beautiful with the sun shining through them.

My paternal grandparents are in their nineties. He lives at home with live-in care and she lives in a facility about twenty miles from him. They never have been the away from each other type of couple and it is heartbreaking to see them apart. She looks like she could start crying any second and as cute as it was, it was kind of sad that he tried to pull a fast one on my brother and I by trying to get us to take him to see her. He knows he has an infection that he has to get over before he is allowed to visit and the nurse is scheduled to clear him tomorrow. He wasn’t happy that we followed his care giver’s rules. But we don’t want grandma sick either so…it’s just sad right now. It was great to visit with them though and talk and laugh together. What a weekend.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Today I got the opportunity to get this beautiful clock that was in my great grandfather’s house when the last occupant of the house, my great uncle, passed away recently. The face of this clock is 18” in diameter. The widest part of the clock is 24". It’s body is 6” deep. It’s big. I love it.

I know very little about clocks except the obvious like this one is pretty. I had to remove the hands to open it up and as I held the hands in my hand I realized the last person likely to have held these was my great grandfather Roy Joseph Charters, who passed away in 1975. I remember his funeral but that is about all I remember of him besides he always wore a hat. Not a baseball cap but one of those hats with a brim on it that all men wore out in public in his day. His very well could be the first funeral I attended or at least I know it is the first funeral I can recall attending as I was only four years old.

So then I opened the working area of the clock and realized that the mechanism is not the original as evidenced by the pieces not all fitting into the spots they would normally go and in order for the pendulum to have room to swing, part of the wood from the inside had to be removed. The marks from the tools used to do this job are still there. Likely the job was done by my great grandfather who was a clock repairman. If you know ANYTHING about clocks, first you will notice that the mechanism is not the original. Then, email me so I can ask you tons of questions like how do I wind this clock? There are no places to wind it. It’s almost like my great grandfather was in the middle of creating or restoring or repairing this clock and just quit for one reason or another.

The inside smells like an old piano. You know what I mean? You don’t? Next time you see an old piano, do yourself a favor and get near where the inside is, right above the keys and take a big, slow breath in through your nose. Close your eyes and think about the last time you smelled that. Think about people building these beautiful things and people who played them through the years. This clock did this to me. Made me think about old things and where they’ve been and what has happened to them and how they’ve lasted this long. Oh, a good Martin guitar also smells this way. Speaking of a Martin guitar, Neil Young wrote his new album using an old guitar that belonged to Hank Williams Sr. How do you just “have” a guitar like that? Like, “Oh, that one used to belong to Johnny Cash” or “That’s the one Jimi gave me”. What the heck? Anyway, Prairie Wind is a great album and there is also a movie about Neil Young out now called “Heart of Gold”.

I love old stuff. Jill and I love old books for instance. Again, smell an old book sometime. It’s less difficult and likely less embarrassing than the piano thing. (oh, I forgot to mention, if and only if there is nothing on top of the piano, open the top and smell it there, and while you’re in there, look around at the writing or the stamps in the metal or paper tags still there. Have “a moment” with the piano) Go into a used book store and voila, there are your old books. Smell them? Someone way smarter and more ambitious than I sat down and wrote tons of words and sold them and had them printed so people could read them and put them on a shelf in order to soak up the odors of their house so we could get a whiff of them now, all old.

My point in carrying about this is that these days, we probably take enough time to smell the roses but, how much time does it take? Sniffing them on the way by? Is that enough? I don’t think so. Stop, close your eyes and breathe deeply in through your nose with your nose in such a position to optimize the smell of the object. Oh, did I mention it’s not only roses?

Now I’m not one of those people like uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite (did you notice he sniffed a lot of stuff in that movie? Or was it Napoleon?) but the whole point of the saying is to take a moment for that moment’s sake and realize in order to remember where you are. Smell your significant other's hair. Babies. Not the poopy diapered crabby ones but the freshly bathed, nodding off to sleep in your arms ones. Smell your socks after a long day at work…gotcha on that one huh? But seriously take a minute and stop and think what’s going on and how good it is. If it sucks right now, do something about it. Take steps to change so it doesn’t, or change your perspective to see what your role in it is and what you can do for yourself and other people. Like me for instance. I’m gonna get off this whole sappy deep thing I’ve been on and start revealing some good humor to you all. See? It’s not that hard. Thanks for checking in.

Oh and also don't overlook my links over there to the right and up toward the top. If you're reading this then you probably want to stop soon so those links are a good way to get this terrible writing off your mind and sidetrack you so you'll forget you ever read it. You're welcome.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Ok, another one today…aren’t you all so lucky. Jill showed me this cool thing a few weeks back and I must apologize for not immediately running out the door and shouting it to the world, coming back in and creating a blog just to inform everyone I know that this thing exists. It’s a freakin awesome juke box. You just type in your favorite artist or whichever artist you’re in the mood for and it begins to play, starting with that artist, and a list of songs that have something in common with the chosen artist’s genre. It even explains why it chose that artist and other stuff. It’s just way cool…I think anyway.

Oh, and it’s called Pandora and you should check it out. Play with it and see what all it does. Again, don’t fear technology, embrace it. If you don’t like it, remove it. You know, come to think of it, it’s not even a program, it’s just a page. Come on, go ahead. You’ll be a better person for it. I promise.

Oh, while you’re at it, enjoying the arts and all, visit this site. Again, you won’t be disappointed and if you work on, with or near a computer with web access, you can’t go wrong and you will enrich your mind rather than losing brain cells doing such challenging things as playing Mine Sweep or Free Cell.

While I’m on games, thank you Kerry K from AZ for telling me about Tiger Woods Golf. Thank you Tim for bringing it into my life. Without that special visit and you sharing your game with me, I would never have won over a million dollars in cyber-cash and beaten the Tiger himself. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to Hawaii since I started this game. Again, thank you.

If you don’t like games, you owe it to yourself to take a minute out of your time and going to Target and dropping the $9.99 for the older version. Play it, save it, continue the game tomorrow, next week, whenever. Unlike friends and family, it is always there for you. Now don’t get all offended but if I wake up at 2am, I bet you’d rather have me play Tiger Woods than call you to say “did you check my blog?” or “why didn’t you post a comment?”, am I right? Ok, so maybe you would be there if I needed you to be, but why would I bother calling you if I had Tiger Woods a mere clickety-click away. Did I mention you can create your golfer to look like you?

That's sweet! My guy doesn’t look like me, although I do. I hope that this just helps you enjoy your life a little more and that you will truly engage in easing your anxieties about utilizing your computer’s power while having fun in the meantime. Have a great day.

Today I feel good. I feel a good one coming on, like something profound will come of this entry. Whoa. Excuse me. I just belched. Well, that was it, nothing profound, just a little gas. But since I’m here, I might as well write something.

Did any of you hear the State of the Union address? No? Don’t care? Oh. But if you missed it due to whatever, (see: flossing your teeth, American Idol, cleaning your fresh air intake vent) you can still hear it. I downloaded it from iTunes for free. And to be fair, I downloaded the Democrats response to it as well. Hey, it’s free and then you can listen to it any time you are available. Save it on your computer, your mp3 player, or a cassette for all I care.

For kicks, take a minute and download iTunes onto your machine. Reviews have and always will confuse you on any product with all sorts of technical stuff. It’s not that hard. Get into the technology, download it, use it. You should learn this stuff anyway. Did I mention it’s FREE? You do have to enter a credit card number so when you want to buy something you just click on it and confirm your password and it’s yours. It doesn’t charge anything so unless you’re way over paranoid, just do it. I’ve had my credit card on there for a while and no one’s stolen my identity…yet (knock on semiconductor material). Besides, 99 cents for a song instead of $15-$18 for a CD with a bunch of songs you don’t even know, want or likely will not enjoy sounds like a deal to me. AND, every week you get FREE MUSIC. Music you have likely never heard before. Come on, what are you afraid of? I have a TON of songs on it. It stores all of your music, plays it, organizes it and makes it extremely simple to search your library.
If you click on this, the guy dances

I just wanted to hear the State of the Union address because I was probably doing something good for the American economy like watching American Idol when it was on. I feel it’s a civic duty to listen to it and at least inform myself of the words that come out of the mouths of the people who are charged with running this great country. Even if they didn't write them.

You may have already guessed that I am a cynic. I wonder if those in charge are there for our good or their own. I wonder if the stories of how so many politicians receive moneys from people with agendas are true. I can’t be sure either way so until I see it with my own eyes I won’t be. Enough of that. “where’s the funny?” you’re asking. I agree that politics are not all that interesting, but you can’t escape being affected by them so we might as well attempt to inform ourselves. But funny is better, right?

Well, sorry. For some reason my funny isn’t working all that well. I’m just here trying too hard. The pressure is doing it to me. You know like when someone bumps into a comedian and says “say something funny” and they just look at them like “what?”

My funnies come quickly and naturally, on the spot. If I try too hard…nothing. So, like my daddy always used to say to me, “Son, if you only remember one thing I’ve taught you, remember this.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Well I know all of you, well, both of you who read my blog faithfully are just dying for, a second posting. Wait no more. Tonight I have alot of things on my mind and if I wrote it all here a couple of things would happen. First you would be very confused as I could confound you with my vast knowledge of anything and mostly nothing. Next you would never come back to read this again because your brain could scarcely hold all of the information you would receive in what I could write.

So I was thinking today about stuff in general and I saw this design on the back of a car that I had seen before and I had no clue what it meant or what it stood for. Flashback to 1994 with me and I was in Georgia visiting afriend of mine. I had observed these decals on vehicle that were rectangular shaped with the colors of the rainbow on them. Now all of you know what this means but to me, then, living in hick town, Michigan with my innocent views of the world, well...let's say I was clueless, ok? So I said to my friend, those are kinda cool, I'd like one for my car. (you're certainly laughing by now...) He said "Those are to let people know you're gay!" Well some of you know that I am not gay. (my wife and daughter will balance the burden of proof in my direction, although who can really know these days. Uh, please don't take this the wrong way)

I really do have apoint here and I am going to make it, eventually. Back to the design on the car I saw today. I wondered aloud to my wife if it was a gay thing. Now if you're reading this and you're starting to think those thoughts like 'hey this guy's an idiot and he's all focused on this gay thing blah blah blah'...well, you're only half right. I'm an idiot. But I respect and love people. All kinds. I made the comment because of that day in Georgia when, without the assistance or intervention of a friend, I very well could have advertised to the world, or at least the cars or people who saw the back of my car, that I was gay. Totally misleading them and likely (I am a handsome fella you know) leading myself into some embarrassing conversations or confrontations.

Back to the design. My wife sees it and it happens to be a profile of a dog's head. Now mind you I've seen allkinds of 'logos' that are made with that intention so please bear with me, and keep my ignorance in mind (if, while reading this incredibly astounding article, you can). She glances quickly and says "nope, it looks like they bought the car at Fox Chrysler Motors." She then proceeds to point to the license plate frame with the same design and the Fox Chrysler Motors name. Right there on the back about two feet from the design I questioned. No rainbow or anything.

So that mystery was solved for me and my wife has one more thing to look at me with her eyebrows raised and shake her head in disbelief. She has had several occasions to do so in the six years we've been riding in cars together, but that's another blog altogether.

My mind starts to wander off as we continue down the road and Tracy Chapman sings "Change" from her new CD. Here is what it thinks (I say "it" due to the fact that my mind has a-well yes-a mind of its own? hmmm...that one even threw me) I wonder, what kind of decal, design, flag or insignia can I create that will show to the world "I am straight!"? Do I need one? Well, sometimes gays have stickers on their cars or whatever that say they're gay. Or does the world just assume you're straight unless you've got a rainbow somewhere on your person?

And who chose the rainbow? I LOVE the rainbow. It didn't used to mean what it does now. So if I made this design for straight people and a gay person put it on their car, are they lying? Or are they Bi? Because if I had the sticker on my car and wanted something rainbow there too...well, have you ever read Sneeches? Not that one way is desirable over the other or classes of society are drawn like they are in Dr Seuss' geniously written story to mock how society responds to popularity, etc. clevery disguised as a simple children's book, but how do you know who is who and whether someone is being honest? I say, WHO CARES?

If we all just treated each other with the love and respect that we know to be true, then it wouldn't make a difference. No judging or thinking back to the last time you saw someone who looked or acted like that.

I'm really not getting all serious here, just bumping the surface a bit. Let's do something. Let's go to the store and (I know we all can afford it) buy three things: a case of water bottles, anything to eat (cookies, health bars, something that won't melt and is individually wrapped) and some brown lunch sacks. Now take a water and whatever goody you got and put one of each into a lunch sack. Put these or a few of these in your car, maybe one in your purse or backpack and carry them with you. The object is to get rid of them. Give them to people instead of pocket change or instead of faking like you haven't got a dime or worse, walking away and ignoring people. It's charity. It is guaranteed to not only help you feel better but it will help the person who gets it. Just a nice thought I thought you should hear.

So how does a sticker on a car get me to this? I have no clue, but it was fun reading this at times anyway...right? Well like I said, check back later, it will get worse.

Props to my sister-in-law Amy who informed me that it's acceptable now to use only one space after a period. I tried to do that in this writing but old habits are hard to break.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Well, I am a guy. I've never posted on a blog before but since my wife started hers, I thought it would be at least interesting to have something to do every day here too. Those of you who know Jill, don't expect the talent and beauty to abound here, unless she lends it to me, that is.

I enjoy my family, the outdoors, music, and laughing. I love it when they all come together too, meaning I love laughing outdoors with my family, such as camping, hiking and just spending time in places like the beach or the woods.

Jill and my daughter Sage lived their entire lives in Arizona until we decided to take a job here in Michigan where I lived 28 of my last 34 years. The move was hectic and things are finally settling down now although Jill is adjusting to life without her life long friends and her family.
I, on the other hand, am adaptive enough and have family and friends here so outside of sympathy pains for Jill, the move has been great for me. My new job is incredible. I work for my brother as a dispatcher/multi-purpose-employee at a specialized heavy hauling trucking company.

I love music. All kinds. Even though I'm not that great at making it, I am somewhat talented, but either way, I love it. I love being around it, hearing it, making it, watching it being made, and so on.

Right off the bat let me just say that I do not proclaim to be a professional or any type of authority on ANYTHING. Any opinions found in this blog are strictly mine as the way I view and perceive things in the world around me. I do, however, appreciate and welcome your thoughts on what I write as I am always open to learning new things and new places to discover things.

Having said that I would like to talk about my favorite recording artist Neil Young. This blog is not going to be about Neil Young but I know that his name will be found on any entry on any given day as he has created music and other things that have affected my life for the better. Check out his interview in last month’s Rolling Stone.

It amazes me how he writes music that draws pictures and then I read or hear him say that he doesn't really know what he writes about or gives some vague response in an interview. Not that I need to know how any artist creates what they do but he truly does amaze me.

And then there is how he performs. How does he do that? I remember the first time I saw him play a song, I can't remember which one in particular, and it was a complex riff that he happened to be playing. When they showed his hands on the guitar he was just strumming. It sounded like he was picking but there he was just strumming and somehow magically picking out the right strings. I am not a great guitar player but I have played the guitar since about '92 and I have no idea how he does this. He's real.

Now I don't want to leave this post like some Neil Young fanatic. I just appreciate people and things like him in this world. I honestly don't know what this blog will be about. I just want to put my thoughts down here and even some of what I see and feel. If you don't like my blog or if it offends you or you think it's stupid, please post your comments and then check back later, it's bound to get worse. If you leave an email address, I will respond.