Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Part Five...

Due to a miscalculation in August of 1968, by 1970 I was driving a 1966 T-Bird Landau with the sequential turn lights all the way across the back. It is now a classic. The miscalculation was that I thought I would celebrate my 24th birthday by pitching my first drunk... and driving. My uncle Fred, my first cousin Jerry, and I went to the liquor store and and bought a bottle of Mad Dog (cheap Mogen David 20/20 wine for you that have never partaken) and drove back home and drank it. Of course, we had to have more, so off we went in my pride and joy, a 1966 Chevelle SS 396 with 360+ hosses awaiting my command. I had weaseled around and talked my wife into letting me trade a perfectly good '63 Impala convertible which I had bought new for the brand new hotrod Chevelle. Needless to say I totaled the Chevelle that night. I was able to get it home, but I couldn't turn the steering wheel to the right. It was an interesting and sobering little journey. I ended up buying a 1955 Chevy two door sedan with a bored 283 engine that had a wrist pin slapping just to have transportation. Every two or so months, I had to pull the tranny and replace the throwout bearing because it somehow was working its way up on the snout of the input shaft cover. I finally sold it and bought the T-Bird with a 390 engine that seemingly would not top out. It was to carry me into the world of trampdom.

In March, 1970, I went over to the union hall (in Kingsport, of course) to see about finding work after having been fired from the Eastman. All the trade Locals in the Ohio Valley were on strike, and the closest work I could get was through Local 26 in Washington DC. They had a powerhouse job down on Hwy 301 in Maryland, along the Potomac river. Fortunately, they were working a lot of overtime at double-time pay, so I looked to make some big bucks. I left a scale of $4.25/hr at Eastman and went to a scale of $6.90 in DC.

The BA gave me a referral to DC, called and told them I was coming (and no telling what else) and sent me on my way. He failed to tell me others were going there and I could arrange to ride and share living expenses with one or more of them. The following Sunday and with one hundred borrowed dollars in my pocket, I said my goodbyes at about noon and hit the road. I arrived just outside DC in Virginia just before dark, found a motel room and a place to eat, called home, and went to bed, tired and anxious about what would happen the next day.

I got up the next morning and the T-Bird wouldn't start... dead battery. Luckily, I quickly located a used one that wasn't quite as dead as mine, put it in and went to seek my fortune in a place I had no business being.

I crossed the river into DC. Take into account I had never driven in a town bigger than Knoxville, except for a straight-through drive in Baltimore several years earlier. I had no idea where Kansas Avenue NE was except for a road map I bought for the occasion, but I was determined to get there. DC streets are laid out like a bunch of wheels inside a big wheel, at least that is how it seemed to me. I was driving eastward on Pennsylvania Avenue with the Capitol dome in my sights, and I wanted to get on Georgia Ave. heading north, but to my consternation, no left turns were allowed at that time of rush hour. Somehow I missed the turning place anyway, so I drove to the Capitol and around it and was headed in the direction of the White House with my own house beckoning me. I finally made a turn somewhere and drove in circles for a half hour or so, somehow passing the Capitol again, and getting back in Virginia (I think) at Arlington Cemetery. I got turned back around, once again drove by the Capitol building, and ended up on Tennessee Ave., which I thought was a good omen. It was a ghetto. All over everything in those neighborhoods was spray painted the figure of a black panther. They were painting even as I passed by. Was I scared? You couldn't have driven a hat pin in my asshole with a sledge hammer! Here is a car with tags from a southern state driving around in circles in a place where people are very pissed about their lot in life, and are known to distrust anyone white and especially anyone white and from the south. If looks could have killed, 365 days from that Monday, I would have been dead one year.

Somewhere in this wandering I passed near something called the National Arboretum. Didn't have a hillbilly clue as to what that was. Finally I spied the capitol dome once more, and once again kept it in my sights. At a big intersection, I spied a cop car and figured they would be able to point me to my destination. They were pretty far away, so to get their attention, I ran the red light and blew the horn. It didn't take them a minute to have me pulled over. Two very large and very black cops got out. I thought, 'Oh shit, I'm dead meat now or sure'. Actually they were very nice, but neither of them had a clue as to where Kansas Ave, NE was, but one of them did know about Georgia Avenue. It was only about a block or so away, and I felt relieved to get on it and drive northward to see what I could find. It was now 10:00 am, and I was supposed to be at the hiring hall at 7:30 am. Not good. Finally I saw the sign... KANSAS AVENUE NE. In about ten minutes, I was at the union hall.

Their BA wanted to send me downtown on an "assholes and elbows" job for 40 hrs/week. The definition of that is a job where one is bent over all day long running conduit where a floor is about to be poured. You walk by and see nothing but assess in the air and elbows flying, hard at work. I told him no thank you, and if he would be kind enough to point me in the general direction of south, I would be on my way. He got pissed and I got out. Before I could leave the parking lot, he flagged me down and threw a job referral through the window. It was for the Morgantown Maryland powerhouse, the place I wanted from the beginning. Again, I had to find my own way.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Part Four...

More background...

In September of 1965, my classroom training began for the electrician's apprenticeship program. Man, it took me five years just to get out of high school and I wasn't looking forward to resuming something I very much detested. School was only one night per week for 36 weeks for four years for four hours each night. And it was in Kingsport, so that much more traveling was involved. Rats! Although basic electricity was taught, the subject we were required to know very well at the end of four years was the National Electrical Code. The code is a set of guidelines and rules set up to keep everyone involved with electrical work as safe as possible, including the end users of our work. Along with school, I was required to have 8,000 work hours before I was allowed to graduate to journeyman.

Another thing about the Eastman; they had rules that their employees worked under, and we had to abide by them, too. One we didn't like was the full hour we were forced to take for lunch. Our work day began at 7:30 each morning, and ended at 4:30 pm. It meant getting out of bed no later than 6:00 am, showering, and getting to Kingsport before the gates were closed, putting in nine hours, and then fighting traffic on a two lane road until we got home again. It took us about twelve hours to get paid for eight.

Apprentices changed journeymen about every six months so we could get as much benefit from different experiences as possible. Most of my leaders were good men and good electricians. Two I worked and carpooled with were hunters. One time I talked them into letting me take them to Fall Branch on a rabbit hunt, to a place where I had killed many of the poor creatures. Well, we went, and not one critter showed himself all day. All that was killed was my hat, and it was blown to kingdom come by several shotgun blasts. No, I wasn't wearing it, but it was my favorite one. The price I paid for leading them on a barren journey.

This was the sixties, which fit my demeanor perfectly. I already had grown hair like the Beatles months before most Americans knew they existed. Being as skinny and tall as I was, my uncle told me not to stand in a corner very long, because someone might think I was a mop and start cleaning floors with me.

In 1967, I decided to grow a beard, mainly because it would give me an extra few minutes of the mornings to sleep. The Tennessee Eastman Company, being sole owners of their own employees' souls, decided to take mine too. If I didn't get rid of the beard, I was to be terminated. I took it to the union steward, whom in turn asked the union Business Agent (BA) what to do. I was told by them to get rid of the beard. Eastman provided employment for too many union members to take a chance on making them mad. So, I went home and pouted for a week. The BA called and said if I didn't get back to work immediately and sans face hair, I would be out of the program. So, facing the fact that I had a wife and now two kids to support, plus I wanted to get out my parent's house, I shaved and returned to work, but I was never again enthusiastic about my trade union.

Any journeyman whom worked at the Eastman did so for less than scale. They would pay $.25 per hour less than what he would make outside the gates. The journeymen had to accept the stupid deal, or face hitting the road as a tramp. Here it is 40 years later, and Eastman still employs union contractors, but they don't pay full scale.

In 1968, Carolyn and I had our first house built. It was 1300 sq. ft. with three bedrooms and my pride and joy; a full basement. Hot damn! My parents donated the land, Carolyn did the painting, and I did the electric.

Finally in September of 1969, I topped out, but continued working for the contractor at Eastman until early March, 1970 when they had enough of my "insubordination" and fired me, supposedly banning me for life from working there.

Next... hitting the road.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Part Three...

Some more background...
Tennessee Eastman Company at the time (1965) was a subsidiary of Eastman Chemicals, Inc., which in turn was a division of Eastman Kodak Company. Tennessee Eastman was and is a sprawling multi-building facility along the banks of the Holston River in Kingsport, Tenn. I mean a whole lot of factories in one huge compound. It was started around 1915 or so, and when I began work there it was on the construction of building number 255. This should give you an idea of how large the place is, and it is till growing.
They manufactured various chemicals, acids, and solvents for industrial use, plus such things as food additives and preservatives, synthetic yarns, and dyes for the textile industry. At the time, there were about 11,000 thousand employees working there, plus several thousand outside contractor workers. They were Tennessee's largest employer and had their own RR yard, complete with maintenance facilities that rivaled any in the free world. They had their own water filtration department and waste water treatment plants. They generated their own electricity and steam from three different multi-turbine power plants. They had their own fire and police departments, a refrigeration plant that was huge, two large cafeterias that served excellent food at prices that even I could afford on a few occasions, movie theaters and recreation facilities that were state-of-the-art, and much more. They had their own research and development labs and pilot plants that were larger than most normal factories. As an inside subsidiary, they had their own construction outfit called Bay's Mountain Construction Company that had the finest equipment and as well trained employees as any in the world. Eastman was completely independent from outside needs as possible, except for raw materials and coal to fire the powerhouse boilers. They also paid their employees a much higher wage and benefit package than any company around the area, and they gave them a bonus each March that could be up to $10k and often more.
Into this stepped a 6'5" and very lean 150 pound and twenty-year-old kid that knew exactly squat about anything. Ignorant doesn't come close to whom I was, and especially how I felt. Did I mention that I was extremely shy and self-conscious about being skinny and long-legged? My eye glasses with the black frames added to my nerdish looks. I was required to wear a yellow hardhat, and that didn't help my self esteem knowing I looked like a world class doofus because my head was always one or two sizes smaller than a normal persons. I suppose I looked something like Darth Vader at a starvation convention.
The first journeyman I worked with had just "topped out" from the apprenticeship program, and had never been turned loose on a job where he had all the responsibility. He was a very good guy, and he lived in Johnson City, so we were able to car pool with three other journeymen from Elizabethton. Well, he was a good guy except for one thing; he had a hell of a temper. When things didn't go like he wanted, he started throwing things. Hickeys (hand-held conduit benders), hand tools, even tripod pipe vices were sent flying. Only one time was I hit by one of his missiles; a section of half-inch conduit that wasn't bending to his will. The worst it could have done was knock me off the top of the eight-foot step ladder I was standing on, but it was a glancing blow and I figured no harm, no foul.
Damn, I'm having fun remembering and writing about this part of my life. Later on, my memory won't be so good because of the alcohol and drug fog I forced my brain to live in.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Part Two...

Back then—1965—there were two easy ways to get into the electrical worker's union apprenticeship program; be born into it or marry into it. Due to birth restrictions, I chose the latter. My father-in-law entered into the program through government subsidies after serving in WWII, and spent most of his apprenticeship at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory near Knoxville, Tennessee.
It took Carolyn's folks a year to decide that I was barely good enough to keep on as a son-in-law, and that mostly because we had a new daughter.
I left my job as a mill worker for Burlington Industries in July, and began what was to become a long and winding road through the rest of my life. I had been with the mill since January 1963, and had worked my way from $1.25/hr. to $1.60/hr., which included a nickel per hour extra for working the 4:00 pm til midnight shift. I went to work through the union for Kingsport Armature and Electric Company for $1.40/hr. Doesn't seem like much of a pay cut by today's standards, but twenty cents per hour was nearly enough to buy two tanks of gasoline at .23/gal. On top of that, I had to travel 25 miles each way and each day on a crooked two lane highway, so actually, I was taking an enormous hit in the wallet just to have a possible brighter future for the family. Another deduction came in a two percent assessment coming from my gross pay and going to the local union. Also, there was monthly union dues of $15 to be paid to the International Organization. Then there were the taxes to pay, and after all was said and done, I made enough money to make my car payment and buy gasoline. Fortunately, we were living with my parents and they, along with Carolyn's folks, supported us—all or in part—for several years. At the time, journeyman's scale was $3.50/hr., and that was big money for working people in East Tennessee. In the Ohio Valley—parts of which I would become very familiar with later on—the scale was about $5.00/hr.
After just a few days helping different electricians on small jobs, the company transferred me to Tennessee Eastman Company, where I was to work for most of the next four and one-half years.

The Eastman years are another story...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Part One...

From March of 1970 until December 1973, my work caused me to be away from home most of the time. I did come in on weekends when I wasn't too far away for traveling. Four to five hours was usually all I wanted to spend behind the wheel twice in two days. I was a tramp electrician and proud of it. We were called tramps because of our penchant for changing jobs and traveling from area to area. Actually, back in the early days of the trade, workers walked or thumbed or took any transportation they could afford to get to jobs. My actual job title was Journeyman Wireman, and I was trained by and worked through the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which began as a trade union for linemen and electricians, but later expanded into factories and any other place that would vote them in, including a lot that had nothing to do with electricity except for flipping on a light switch in an office. I don't think the expansion was a good thing for anyone except the fat cats whom run the union. They soon placed the tradesmen on their short list of people to ignore.

Other than having to leave the family for sometimes weeks, life on the road wasn't too bad; most of the time. If the job was near a good sized town or city, accommodations could be found in private homes or even roadside motels at reasonable prices. The worst places to find sleeping facilities was in the out of the way bergs. The natives usually didn't want "dirty old construction workers" around anyway, and didn't go to any trouble to help us. A few did though, and became much wealthier for their hospitality.

The worst accommodations I had to endure were in New Martinsville West Virginia. I had a bed in a small and shared upstairs room with the only electricity a bare and filthy light bulb hanging from the ceiling. The tiny bathroom was used by all ten tenants, and its electrical offerings were the same as the sleeping room, except it had a plug in adapter which the light bulb screwed into. It had no mirror, so shaving was hit-or-miss. I stayed there about two weeks before I located a private room I could afford.

The best place I had while tramping was called Captain John's, and it was located just across the Tennessee River from Watt's Bar Nuclear Plant where I was employed in construction by the Tennessee Valley Authority. I had a private, two bedroom cabin all to myself. It was actually part of a resort, but the owner let the cabins to construction workers, because at one time, he had been a traveling tradesman and understood our situations. This was later on in 1977-1978, when I had gone back on the road after a brief career as maintenance electrician in some of our local factories.
I may give you lucky readers the entire tale of my days as a tramp, and I may begin doing so tomorrow... or not.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I had to take a key to Carolyn last evening, and I noticed as I drove home the air was so clean and pure looking it almost sparkled. A rare occurrence for our valley that is usually hanging full of one type of pollution or another. It seems to be a spring and autumn phenomena.
Went to Elizabethton yesterday to look at a church that wants a janitor service. It will be a big and very good job for whomever gets it. I hope we do so.
Been trying my hand at macro photography today. Having a bitch of a time getting my dof down right. Stll, got a few decent shots of some of Carolyn's flowers. It would be easier and I think I would get better results if I could bend down on one knee, or even get prone on the ground. I can do so, but I'd have to call 911 just to get up. Lousy bum knee.
When at JoJo's Sunday, I saw a discarded robin's egg shell. Too early for hatching, as they usually dont leave the nest til the first week in June.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Not been much going on the past few days. Drove down to JoJo's and shot a few pics yesterday. It was a bit chilly so I stopped before I wanted to. Went on to Elizabethton for Carolyn to clean the little building there. Have to go back up there tomorrow and look at a church that wants a janitor service.
Elizabethton is an interesting town... it would be my choice of places to live if I had to be in an urban area. The place is clean and well kept, and is in a very beautiful area.
I backslid on my diet long enough to have a small chocolate dip cone at DQ. I lost four pounds my first week on the diet, but haven't lost an ounce since. Still haven't had any candy in two months. Vicki brought me some banana bread today, so a pound or two will probably go back on my big butt.
Carolyn and I are planning to go to Cade's Cove for a day or so the next pretty weekend we have. I believe it to be the most beautiful place in the world. The second most beautiful would be atop Mt. Leconte at sunrise. Both places are near Knoxville. Cades cove is a little more accessible, though.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

This has been a do nothing Saturday. Unsettled weather prevents outdoor activity planning, except that Carolyn has gone shopping.
Some of the photos I made yesterday are turning out as acceptable, with one of dogwood blossoms being quite good, I think.
Intended to go to Clark's Creek and back by JoJo's for some shots, but the weather is uncooperative.
Carolyn will work tomorrow to make up for staying home last evening. You know what? Since taxes are finished, I am bored! I can't afford to go to the Cottage for a meal and beer anymore... they've priced me out of their range.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Today, I was supposed to go to the ophthalmologist for my annual checkup. I got up this morning, showered, clothed, and made the mistake of going onto the back porch. Another beautiful day that can only happen in East Tennessee... a wonderful golden sunrise over Buffalo Mountain accompanied by the songs of many birds. As a friend in Texas says, "perfection". I ended up canceling today's appointment and made one near the end of next month. Too many doctors over the past five weeks!
My replacement lens came from Amazon early this afternoon, so I wound up getting my RA shot and then riding some back roads near my childhood home. I didn't get any great pics, but it was fun, except when I passed the gas station and saw the price has gone up another twelve cents since yesterday to $3.40 gal.
I believe it is time to stop the insanity, but I am but one person. If enough of us decide to speak up, we may be heard, if not heeded.
Every since 9/11, I've said that Saudi Arabia is the United State's worst enemy. Not only is Bin Laden a Saudi citizen, he still has much influence in his country. The Saudis could put the brakes on the price of oil if they so desired, but there is probably a piece of this country they haven't purchased yet, so more cash is needed to beat out the Chinese.
As I've exclaimed before, Wake Up America!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Another day of doctor stuff... I did manage to get out and make a few photos, though. As usual, nothing special.
I listened to an interview with John Ratzenberger on radio this morning. In part, he was talking about the presidential candidates and how they are out of touch with working people. One example really stood out when he asked how they could relate to middle class America when they didn't even mow their own lawns, and probably haven't done so in years, if ever. He went on to ask if anyone could imagine either of them jumping out of their car to fix a flat tire. They wouldn't know how or where to begin. They've all had someone to do their small chores for them all their political lives... they haven't a clue.

Some good points, I thought. I still will not vote for any of the "big three". They are no different than what we've had for many years... purveyors of lip service. If I want a talking mouth, I'll find someone like Monica L.

Now I'm depressed again...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Made my first follow up visit to the heart doctor today and all was well. Will have to stay on the Beta blocker forever plus one day, but may get off the blood thinner in a couple months. My blood is way too thin... I had blood drawn for my RA doctor, and I proceeded to bleed for several minutes. Have to go back to Nurse Jane tomorrow to get it regulated. Friday is eye doctor for annual checkup.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Been a tentative day for me...
Filed our taxes online and didn't know if they would be accepted. They were!
My laptop broke... just now getting it running.
More tomorrow...

Monday, April 14, 2008

☼ Unsaleable ☼

Some bad economic news for us again today; one of Carolyn's accounts that depends on the housing market for most of its income is releasing her contract at the end of this month. The above photo is from the plant; Alice will know where it's located. Used to be we could ride these type things out because we could get work from other places. Now, no one is considering our type services. One or more employees will have to be cut back, and they, like us, aren't having it easy anyway.
Two places did call however, want information. One is construction cleanup of the JC Penny addition at the Mall. It has to be performed on weekdays and will be impossible for Carolyn to undertake. The other is a local library looking for a service to fill in on weekends and days when their regular janitor isn't available. She will give it a look, but probably won't be anything she can handle at the moment.
I wish I could lay the blame at His Majesty's doorstep, but I realize these things are cyclic and redundant. What I can blame on George is the fact that he has done nothing to alleviate the problem. As a matter of fact, his policies and lack of direction have exacerbated things. If he thinks the rebate is going to be a big boost to the economy, he and Congress have another think coming. His original rebate after he took office was used to give the working people a temporary euphoria while he was giving his corporate buddies the big breaks.
American voters are so gullible!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Doc Stuart Family Home

One more person coming in for help with taxes today, and one Tuesday. I shall be done for another 10 months. I haven't had time to keep this wonderful blog updated. Glad I rechecked our tax forms; I made a mistake in my favor. Changed it and now all seems ok for submission.
Drove Carolyn to Elizabethton today so she could clean the little credit union there. Yesterday I took her to Sam's, and while she bought supplies, I went in search of photos. It was a beautiful day, but nothing I took turned out well.
This day began with sunshine and bit of chill. It has progressed into rain, snow, and high winds. Tuesday is supposed to be pretty again. I hope so, because I found two more abandoned farm houses to photograph.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Let's see... today I got my shot... put the finishing touches on the taxes... had grits at breakfast... went to two banks... and yes, I got my hair cut off. My doctor and nurse laughed when they saw me sans locks. My regular bank tellers didn't recognize me. At least it isn't in my big mouth all the time.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Trying out software for converting RAW photographic images to JPEG. Not only converts, but makes them much better. So far I've tried SilkyPix which is very good but costs $150. I also am trying Raw Therapee which is also very good but doesn't have as good of fine tuning controls as does the former. It is free but the author will happily accept donations. Then there is Picasa, another free app from Google. It will convert, but has very limited controls to get the most of RAW pictures.
Been working on taxes again and should finish ours tomorrow. Mostly checking to make sure everything is hunky-dory. Also doing some for other folk.
Tomorrow is shot day... what more can I say...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Yahoo has decided to strangle its overloaded servers with Flickr videos. No wonder the company is operating in the red all the time. Reckon they think they can get a big enough piece of Google's YouTube pie to make a difference in their bottom line?
I guess you all know the lady Vols won the national Championship last evening. It was actually easier than I thought it would be. I said before that if all the team members who don't wear a shoulder brace play to their potential they should win.
I caught Carolyn watching a disco movie Monday night. In fact and to make it worse. it was a roller-disco extravaganza. I asked why she was lowering herself from near bottom to complete bottom in the music department. She generally likes country, so this was sort of disconcerting. Actually, there never was such a thing as disco; it was a figment of our imaginations created by Gollywood dream merchants to make us buy into more more and bigger pipe dreams starring John Travolta (Vinny Barbarino) with "music" by the Bee Gees, those lovable pretty boys from downunder. Gack!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Highland Church of Christ

Watching the Lady Vols play Stanford Both teams are playing well.
Meant to get a haircut today, but the idea failed to turn into reality. It's only been 13 months...

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Lady Vols won, but it wasn't pretty. One might think these women had never been to a final four before this. They need to relax. If the rest of the team takes care of business, they won't have to worry too much about Parker's shoulder problems.
The officiating could have been better; they too many non-called fouls against the two super stars.
Sorry about UConn Mark. Well, not too sorry. I always feel bad for the losing team if thay played well and clean. Your team did play clean, but it wasn't their best game, for sure. I just don't like UConn's coach. I know the things he says about the Tennessee program are mostly to get his team fired up, but I don't think it is necessary. It can be detrimental to his program in the long run, and I think it has been.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Carolyn and I drove into North Carolina for a few minutes today, but soon turned and came back to Tennessee. Found a few things to photograph, but nothing great. Had my camera set to take RAW photos just to see how they would turn out. I believe it will be great if I can learn the software that processes the photos and converts them to JPEG.

Not many people on Watauga lake today; only a few pleasure boats and some fishing outfits, plus one sailboat.
I am somewhat sore today. Missing the one methotrexate shot when in hospital is now causing some problems, especially with my neck. It needs a good massage if anyone cares to volunteer.
The Lady Vols play LSU at 9:00 this evening. ESPN will televise the affair, and my Flickr buddy Mark (yankeepez) will be there in person. At the halftime, Stanford is leading Connecticut 40-33 in the first game.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

At the Park

This old boy was way over optimistic about his tax preparation time. At the rate I'm going, it'll still take a couple more days. I am very tired, and I will take a couple days off and talk Carolyn into going to Cade's Cove as soon as a pretty weekend and Monday/Tuesday are forecast.
The day I had the ticker fixed, one of the nurses—a male—noticed some scratches on my leg and said that I shouldn't scratch myself. He said I should "pat" the itchy places instead. Now that makes me wonder, when my scrotum itches, am I really supposed to pat the part of my body that is most sensitive to being "disturbed"? A man cannot think straight without scratching himself down there, and would probably get some great feedback if he started banging on his crotch every time he has an abstract thought. Not to mention the damage he can do to his fertility and the fact that he may end up rolling on the ground and vomiting because of the pain. Girls, take my word for it, it doesn't take a big hit to put a man down. Sometimes a love pat will do the job.
Now, back to taxes...
It is now 6:56pm and I am about 90% done with our taxes.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Purple Finch

Finally got back to working on taxes today... two or three hours should get me over the hump.
Got my hospital bill; $68k. I'm too damn old to be worth that much. In fact, I never was worth that kind of money. A kiss and a cold beer will buy me any day of the week.
It is about 10:00pm on a chilly night. I had to turn the heat on... Don't want my fragile little body to get cold.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

My tv went on the fritz just before the end of the game last evening. It is a Samsung 50" DLP rear projection unit and is only two yrs old. It had the same problem when it was only a few months old, but it was repaired under warranty, even though it took more than two weeks to get anything done. The fix was supposed to be a redesigned part and should have lasted a long time. Out of warranty now, and the fix will probably cost between $300 and $500. I can't see spending that much if it isn't going to last more than a year. A new 47" LCD unit from Philips can be had from for less than $1400. A good 42" model is about $1100. We have owned at least 46" since 1996, and I don't want anything smaller because my eyes aren't the best in the world. Most of what I watch is sports and movies, and these days with high-def, a big screen is almost essential.
Remember the photos I made of all the Cardinals living in harmony in my back yard during winter? Well, the peace and goodwill is over. One mated pair has—as usual—taken over and declared jihad on intruders. Nesting season has begun! The gold finch males are getting their brilliant hue back, robins and mockingbirds, along with song sparrows, are greeting the mornings, and the squirrels are acting more squirrelly than is usual.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Got my Pro Time blood test today and I am a bit thin. Have to go back in a week for another. Coumadin is very difficult to balance.
Almost time for the Lady Vols to take on a very good and surprising Texas A&M team.
The Lady Vols won the game, but may have lost the opportunity to win the tournament championship. Candace Parker dislocated her let shoulder twice. We shall see.

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