Sunday, December 31, 2006

After Midnight...

It’s well after midnight. I lay in the bed listening to the sounds of the night. Far off, the sound of a police car siren erupts to handle some crisis. A dog barks and Maggie perks up her ears. I lay in the bed wrapped in my warm covers listening to the world unfold around me. Maggie is at my feet chewing on the rawhide bone I had given her the night before. I reach down to pet her and she licks my hand. She crawls up near me and snuggles up by my side under the covers as she continues to gnaw on that bone. I drift back to sleep again to vivid, startling dreams and a darkened room only alit by my porch light outside my back door.

I am awakened again and it is 3 AM. My stomach grumbles. “I need to take my medicine,” I say to myself as Maggie looks on earnestly from the bed. I do not feel well at all. I push the covers aside and get breakfast started. Today’s offerings are three pieces of buttered cheese toast, two bananas, and a very large glass of orange juice. Maggie walks into the kitchen looking up at me earnestly for any charity. I give her a large piece of cheddar cheese as I slice it for my toast. She is back again in moments after eating looking for more.

After my breakfast, I quickly gulp down the six pills that so define my life these days hoping I will feel better in an hour. “Please God, give me some peace,” I mutter as I head to the den hearing imaginary car doors shut outside my windows. I awake my sleeping computer to first check my blog. Tears roll down my cheeks to see that so many kind people commented. I am caught in the throes of loneliness and schizophrenia and the words of others mean so much to me. It is good to not feel so alone. I read the last comment from Austere and a Beatles song comes to mind. I imagine I am singing along side her. Her words touch my heart and I feel better for the moment.

My thoughts turn to alcohol. “A twelve pack of strong ice beer would be nice and make you feel better,” I think to myself. “No!” I mutter aloud excitedly. “You cannot handle drinking just a twelve pack. You will be a drunken mess by noon.” I solemnly sit in the darkness of my den only lighted by the harsh fluorescent glow of my computer monitor. “You will be okay,” I say as I try to reassure myself. “Give the medicine time…just give the medicine time.”

I only took one picture yesterday. It was of a partly cloudy sky. I share that with you now. On such dark nights as tonight such pictures remind me that tomorrows do indeed come. I long for daylight and another partly cloudy to sunlit sky. Darkness overcomes me at the moment.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Insomnia Strikes Once Again…

Last night was a very long and lonely night. I finally put Maggie into the car and we drove way out into the country to what my family calls God’s country almost across the county which is desolate around 4 AM in the morning. I was just not feeling all that well today or early this morning.

I drove over to nearby my old homeless stomping grounds to the old millpond my family once owned. I parked the car, let Maggie out to use the bathroom, and walked around some in the dark to a brilliant, starry country sky. You could hear the water roaring and cascading over the dam next to the old millhouse. It was much too dark for photographs though as I don’t have a tripod that would be necessary to take such photographs.

Maggie thoroughly enjoyed this outing and I had a hard time getting her back into the car. She was determined to stay just a bit longer. I finally scooped her up and put her on the backseat and we were on our way again in the predawn dark. I saw many a deer cross the road on the way home and had to be careful not to hit one.

I arrived back in town and drove over to the Wal-Mart 24 hour super center. I hate going to Wal-Mart, but they had something that I could not buy at Kroger. I initially bought my camera batteries and charger at Kroger, but they were out of AAA size rechargeable batteries that I use to power my little Sony radio on my hikes. It took me forever to find them. I checked out and headed home.

I am just feeling extremely sad today and languid. I don’t know what to do with myself. I just don’t feel well. I guess it could be from lack of sleep. I get so tired of this and my life being so uneasy. I am so tired of being fucked up and mentally ill. I just want a normal life and would give up everything I own to obtain it. Life is just not fair.

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Therapist Mumbles…

I spent most of the evening reading a journal I found in the links on Amanda’s blog This Side of Reason penned by a therapist. I highly recommend it for those who have ever wondered what goes on in the life and mind of a therapist. Very well thought out musings and stories of this therapist’s clients adorn this blog. Give it a read. It puts therapists in a human light. I am no stranger to therapy and found it a captivating read. I love it when I find a blog that draws me in for a long peruse like this.

The Therapist Mumbles

"47,425 hours doing therapy (listening and nodding) and counting."

This Old House…

I am mainly posting this for Annabel. She wanted to see my new house. I drove over there yesterday to take pictures to find that my father’s best friend, Charlie, had put in new locks and my old key doesn’t work anymore. I called him and he is going to get me a duplicate key made so I can take pictures inside. Here is the front of my new house which is paid for lock, stock, and barrel. Also, are two images of the little laundry room that was added to the back of the house to house my washer and drier.

I am kind of embarrassed by the outside looks of my house at the moment and was hesitant to post these. It certainly looks much better than when we started though a few years ago. I guess I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth as this humble little abode was a gift from my father financed by an inheritance from my grandmother and the sale of the home I am currently living in. I will never have a mortgage and will always have a place to live. Hopefully, I will never be homeless again.

The front of my house.

The side of my new laundry room where steps will soon be built.

The back of my new laundry room. I also love the new window installed in my bathroom you can see to the right of the laundry room. That was Charlie's idea.

The Top Ten Astronomy Images of 2006...

Phil Plait, the author and webmaster of Bad Astronomy, takes a look at the top ten astronomy images of 2006. The one with the shuttle undocking from the international space station against the backdrop of the sun as seen from earth is just stunning to me. You also just have to see Saturn and Earth as seen from the Cassini space probe which was one billion miles from us at the time!

I have always been fascinated with astronomy from an early age. The heavens above us could always put things into perspective for me and make our egalitarian endeavors on earth seem so more important and significant. We live on one tiny mote of dust in a vast universe that we have to share until we are able to branch out and move to other locations in our solar system and systems beyond. So we must carefully take care of this tiny rock we reside upon. It is of paramount importance for the future and wellbeing of Mankind.

The Top Ten Astronomy Images of 2006


Something Shimmering and Bright...

Furthering the astronomy tangent, blogger, writer, and actor, Wil Wheaton, wrote up a blog post on a similar vein about his excitement over backyard astronomy and the offering of a new and free ebook offered online in PDF format that is easily printed.

If you like the weekly “What’s Up this Week” column in Universe Today, you’ll love this. The entire viewing schedule for 2007 is available as a free, 410+ page downloadable ebook. You can download the whole book, turn to the page for tonight’s suggestions - print off the page and head outside.

Check out Wil's latest blog post on his blog WWdN: In Exile for more info and a link to download that ebook.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Journey to Abandonment...

Beautiful blue skies adorned with wispy white cirrus clouds greeted me as I left my house and started today’s journey. Downtown was bustling with activity during the holidays as I walked towards the tracks. Cars seemed to be scurrying everywhere like busy minded insects on a hot summer’s day and it was hard to cross the streets. My mind wandered as I thought, “Where are all these people going to in this small town? Am I missing something interesting?

I arrived at the tracks near the rail yard to find a local train leaving with a string of pulpwood cars filled with pine logs destined for paper mills. It was too far away to get any shots or videos and it disappeared around the corner way down the tracks. I cursed under my breath. I then made my way down to that old, abandoned cotton mill that so fascinates me. Below is today’s hike in a photo series as it unfolded.

The start of my hike walking through the bustling downtown down from my house.

The signal shines red signifying a train is on the way. I was down there for two hours and was disappointed when it never showed. I was hoping to capture a video of it passing for Laurent and his son.

The old Chattahoochee Valley Railway Depot which is now a museum.

The old caboose next to the railroad museum.

Ferret's old sleeping place behind the bank near the tracks before he got his tent. It is a perfect secluded spot if not for the noise of trains at night.

Approaching the old mill down the tracks.

Five Stories High

Where rails once lay and steam engines once rolled.

Nature is trying to reclaim what was once hers and a door to nowhere.

A gaping hole where men once worked.

Loading Docks

Tufts of Nature

Looking straight up before I head back home.

A Case of One Non-Complier…

Being a schizophrenic man, it is very important for me to take my daily medications much as a diabetic must regulate their blood sugar with insulin. I have always been notoriously non-compliant with taking my medications over the years though. It is a catch-22 as when you are taking your medications and feeling better, you seem to think you don’t need them or they are hampering your life with side effects. Thus you stop taking them and another cycle of mental illness starts again. I have driven my family mad over the years completing this very same cycle.

Lately, I have found that eating three balanced meals a day followed by taking my medications after every meal has proven to be very successful for this notoriously non-compliant man. Sometimes, it takes going to the hospital, like lately, to get back into this healthy cycle of normality like a few weeks ago though. I have also found a hearty satisfying breakfast to start the tone of day. I complete the same ritual every morning of cooking an early breakfast followed by taking my numerous morning medications.

The hard part is that when you are not feeling mentally well, it is terribly hard to get back into this cycle. That is were having a supportive family and a capable and reachable physician comes into important play. I sometimes get tired of the ever watchful eye of my family, but they know me and my life patterns better than anyone other than Carolyn. They usually can tell within a day or two of my being withdrawn that I am not doing well mentally and will confront me. I need an outside source as a barometer of how well I am doing many weeks as my spates of madness can be intoxicating as I get lost in the paranoia and delusions that haunt my mind.

Well, I must go get a shower and head down to the doctor’s office for this mornings injection of my anti-psychotic. I almost forgot about it and my father called me from the Atlanta airport a moment ago to remind me. As you can see, it is important to have a caring and supportive family when someone deals with a mentally unwell mind.

This mornings hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, buttered toast, cheddar slices, an apple, and orange juice followed by this morning's medications below.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

It's Bedtime!

Maggie says, "Goodnight!"

Sunset out Spring Road a Moment Ago...

My camera has a mode called stitch-assist where you can take panoramic photographs. I wanted to try it out and just quickly drove out Spring Road to capture this view of the horizon as the sun set. Click on the photograph to see a high resolution view. I thought this was neat and wanted to share it.

Panoramic Sunset

Miscellaneous Photos From Today....


Buds Awaiting Spring

Winter Grass


Maggie in the Backyard...

As you can see, I am playing with my new toy. It is so neat to be able to upload videos. Although, it takes quite awhile to do so.

Today's Photo Hike...

Today, I set out for my daily six mile hike out Spring Road. They were polishing the railheads down at the tracks so I decided to stay away to avoid any railroad police. The rails were my preferred avenue of hiking today, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. I took my camera and these are some images I took on my hike so you get to see what I saw. I love hiking out Spring Road as it is rarely traveled and you don’t have to dodge traffic. These daily hikes have proved so important to my mental wellness these days just to get out of the house and have the calmness and introspection such walks bring. The exercise also helps my body as well in a physical sense. I do realize that I am a poor photographer. Maybe my skills will improve with time and practice.

The walk out of my neighborhood in front of my house.

The houses grow sparse on the city limits.

The church on the outskirts of town.

Through the woods I walk once escaping town. I love this stretch of my hike and will often camp out here during the spring and summer.

A splash of winter color along the side of the road off into the woods that caught my eye.

Vast pastures accompany me along the road once I escape the woods.

A cattle farm that lines Spring Road.

The long road rarely traveled ahead of me.

The small African American church with the quaint graveyard near the end of my hike.

Where the asphalt meets dirt. This is the three mile mark where I turn around and walk back home for a six mile hike.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Canon A640 Test Video

These are the first virgin shots from my camera I finally received tonight. This thing is surprisingly small; much smaller than I had imagined. Here is a high ISO low light shot of the camera followed by a video of Maggie. I will get better at this as I learn how to use this camera. I have yet to look at the manual yet and can’t wait to start taking nature macros tomorrow.

Blogging Weather Roundup...

Yes, I actually check the weather of the various people whose blogs I read. I am a weather nut and should have been a meteorologist if it wasn't for the on air time.

We see Annabel of Story of My Life is in for some snow this weekend. I would love to go make some snowballs in her front yard and throw them at passersby on Friday.

Pipe Tobacco of The Thoughts of a Frumpy Professor is looking at mighty bland weather for the rest of the week in the far North. Shouldn't it be snowing up there?

Ah, good old thunderstorms are forecast for my neck of the woods this weekend. I do hope it is more than just this dreary rain we got during Christmas here.

Images courtesy of the National Weather Service.

One special Christmas sparks memories at shelter...

by Nina Keck of Vermont Public Radio

Listen to MP3

RUTLAND, VT (2006-12-25)

"(Host) Rutland's Open Door Mission provides temporary housing for the homeless.

Inside the old fashioned red brick building there's a thrift store with all types of used clothing and a soup kitchen which serves up three hot meals a day.

Sharon Russell is the Executive Director of the Mission.

She says the holidays can be especially difficult for those in shelters.

She told VPR's Nina Keck about one very special Christmas."

Thanks to Morgan of Norsehorse's Home Turf for finding this and sharing it. Morgan speaks of using this very same shelter during a hard spell for a few years and on one Christmas day upon his blog in the years he was living in Rutland, VT.

Aurora Borealis from Space

"This amazing image of the Aurora Borealis was photographed by an STS-116 crew member aboard Space Shuttle Discovery last week. City lights and stars are also visible in this image from space because of the long camera exposure."

Found via

Camera Update…

A few of you are eagerly awaiting the edition of photos to the blog. It’s a long story so I will try to be concise…

My brother shipped his presents from San Diego for us before Christmas and they arrived and mom put them under the tree. My mother mistook these for being my order from which contained my Canon A640 camera and my 4 GB memory card. I thought my Christmas present had arrived and was already under the tree.

Well, newegg messed up the shipping and the package didn’t get shipped out until last Saturday with 3 day shipping so they didn’t arrive in time for Christmas. I talked to Rebecca down at my father’s pharmacy and got her to call them so hopefully my camera will arrive today sometime. They had declined my father’s credit card for some reason and when they ran the order back through it accepted the card.

Hopefully, I will get pictures up of my new house for Annabel in the next day or so. I also want to do a video of me and Maggie interacting in the backyard and then a photo montage of one of my hikes down the train tracks behind that grand old abandoned cotton mill.

As you can imagine, I am sorely disappointed my Christmas was not here on Christmas day. Like I said, it has been a shitty Christmas so far.

Hiroshima Atomic Bomb CGI Re-enactment

The bomb, little boy, that started the cold war and begun the end of World War II. I was mortally afraid of nuclear weapons during the height of the cold war during my youth. I would often think the contrails of jets flying over the skies of my home were those of Soviet ICBMs striking targets in the US and would run inside crying to my mother.

This brings back memories of the movie Wargames with Mathew Broderick that indelibly left an image of nuclear havoc breaking out during my youth at the start of the computer age in 1983 when the term modem was still seemingly science fiction.

The Day After…

Christmas was a shitty let down this year, but such is life sometimes. I once again spent the night out in my tent in the backyard serenaded by the bountiful calls of crickets this warm winter evening. I didn’t sleep well though. Maggie decided that last night was a good night to stay up and bark at what I do not know. I finally plucked her little self up and dumped her back inside and she calmed down. Maggie definitely gives new meaning to all bark and no bite. She is such a minute and svelte little dog.

This morning, I walked back down once again to Fat Albert’s for a carton of cigarettes. Seeing that I am an all or nothing kind of fellow we might as well just quit this fa├žade of buying only two packs at a time is not really smoking. It was once again raining this morning as I walked with my umbrella in hand and my daypack slung over my shoulder. My father was on his way to work and saw me walking down in front of their house in the rain and stopped for a moment.

“Why are you walking?” He asked with a confused look on his face. “Is something wrong with your car?”

“My car is fine,” I replied. “I just like to walk.”

“But it’s raining,” He said looking even more confused.

I bid him farewell and continued on with my walk. I have never seen my father walk anywhere. This will probably only reinforce his mindset of how crazy I actually am.

These brown tones of the winter landscape didn’t help my mood today. My after Christmas malaise seems to be festering with earnest. I longed for warm and bright summer days that only a July afternoon in the South could bring. Those summer sounds of afternoon rumbles of thunder and the calls of cicadas weighed heavily upon my mind. The older I get, the more I want to travel towards the equator for these dreary southern winters.

I arrived back home to start my morning ritual of cooking breakfast and watching TV Land’s morning westerns. My stay in the hospital a few weeks ago got me addicted to Gunsmoke and Bonanza. I have never been a big TV watcher, but find myself tuning in everyday. There was nothing else to do while in the hospital and it started a bad habit. Luckily, I can watch TV on my computer while I browse the internet so it is not completely a passive affair.

Well, let me settle in for another long dreary, overcast day of rain. This weather is playing havoc with my daily hikes as I can only walk so far before becoming soaking wet as far as my lower extremities go.

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Few Blogs that captivated me during 2006

Okay, I felt like writin’ and ramblin’ so you all get stuck with a verbose Christmas Day of me posting to my blog. I am antsy, home alone, and writing my little ass off.

The Panther’s Tale – Albert Vanderburg is a voluntarily homeless Hawaiian who has been writing an unorthodox journal/blog of sorts for years. You have to delve deep into his archives for this blog to captivate you though. They can be hard to find and navigate. I wish he would move over to blogger. I actually sat and read all 9 years of entries one long weekend this summer. He is in his sixties now and has been under the weather due to an illness so his posts are not coming with the frequency that they once did. Albert captures the homeless lifestyle in a way no other online journalist ever has from the confines of a local University library. The Sleeptalker and other characters in his tales will feel like old friends if you give his journal a good afternoon read. I think the unorthodoxy of his journal is why his blog never really caught on. Once you start reading and get familiar with his characters, you will be hooked and stop by everyday to see how Albert is doing. I am drawn to people living such alternative lives and admire him for having the courage to get out of the “rat race.”

The Homeless Guy - I have often been a staunch critic of this guy over the years due to his caustic online persona he portrays, but his blog still captivates me. A friend of his who lives in Nashville emailed me not long ago to say in his defense that Kevin is nothing like his online persona and is a very nice guy, and that Kevin realizes he pisses people off sometimes with his online demeanor and tirades. I tend to trust this friend so that tempers my distrust and dislike of Kevin somewhat. This guy sure could burn bridges though with the way he handles things online. Caustic is the word. Still, you have to admit that he updates regularly and manages to keep up a blog despite being homeless. His archives and “retro” blog have relevant postings about homelessness going back for years. I wish him a Merry Christmas and hope that he is someday reunited with his kids that he has been estranged from for years. His recent post about addicts touched my heart as he never really writes about addiction on the streets. I have walked that path and may yet do so again.

Waiterrant – Waiter taught me by reading to get out and experience things to drum up posts for my blog. I would get out and actively seek out experiences with George and the gang just so my readers would have something interesting to read as I found their colorful lives to be so vibrant. It could also make for a chaotic and harrowing personal life filled with miscreants, drunkards, and crack heads so that’s why I rarely write about the gang these days. It just wasn’t healthy for my social life. I was George’s drinking buddy and when I stopped drinking so much, he stopped coming around everyday. I was also under the delusion that I could someday support myself by writing a journal, but quickly became disillusioned when it grew hard to keep up with posting and crafting such tales and so few showed up to read. I was a definite labor of love for awhile though. I don’t think the tales of George and the Gang is over just yet. Maybe, I will catch a second wind and stamina to keep up with this busy group of fellas.

And drum roll please…

The Story of my Life – This is what blogging should really be used for. For far-a-flung friends to be able to actually read along as you live your life. Annabel has to be one of the most stalwart and prolific bloggers I have ever come across and I admire her diligence with sharing her busy daily life with us. I am a detail minded person and love reading about the minutia that would probably bore most other readers. I know that if I want to see how a friend is doing then I can just get online and see how. It’s amazing we live so far away, and yet I feel like I know her so well and we have never met in real life. I was there when Josh’s dad committed suicide. I was there when she experienced the elation of having a new/used car. I was around for the new teaching job. I wish my life could more emulate hers. I want a boring everyday sort of life for a change. I get tired of the drama my life sometimes entails.

Honorable mentions include:

The Thoughts of a Frumpy Professor – I have never found a more stalwart and earnest online friend in this good man and he updates regularly which is paramount to keeping me as a reader. Pipe Tobacco has been with me from the beginning of my virgin blogging and homeless days. The Homeless Guy says I wasn’t really homeless since I was living in a tent though and had a stable income – I think. Well, I didn’t actually grow up wanting to be in his exclusive club anyway. Harrumph! lol

Wheel – This special person just happened across me on the internet. It takes a forward person like this to befriend me due my social anxieties. We even talk on the phone from time to time and you have to be damn special for me and my phone centered phobias to sit and talk with ya. She even alerted the local authorities when I disappeared during my recent stay in the hospital. Abbagirl is the type of person I want to fill my social life with. Good hearted people who care and will go an extra mile for a friend. I will always do the same for you, gal.

Oh, I could go on and on about all the wonderful people I have met online Blogging like Sue, Cheryl, Liz, and others. It would be too long to list them all and there is not enough time in the day. I hope I didn’t leave anyone feeling left out. I read you all everyday that comment. I am just terribly shy about commenting in return. Maybe, that is an obtainable goal to give back by commenting this New Years. I have become connected with so many people though that it would take hours to read and comment upon all the blogs that I read.

White Christmas Map for 2006

It looks like the West and our Canadian friends to the north are seeing a white Christmas today. Our damp and dreary Christmas day has turned partly cloudy/partly sunny with most of the rain over with. I am 34 years old and I have never experienced a White Christmas. I heard on the radio today were one Alabama man rented a snow machine and stayed up all night on Christmas Eve blowing snow so his wife and children could get to experience a white Christmas. I bet it melted quickly though with temps near seventy today.

Observed Snow Depth

And the Rain Softly Falls…

When I get to feeling “mentally interesting” as my father likes to call me these past few days, one of my joys is camping out. There is just something so grounding and comforting about curling up in my sleeping bag and reading a good book with Maggie by my side. Last night, found me in a similar situation. It poured rain all night and that sound of the loud patter of those raindrops upon the fabric of my tent was music to ears. I often wistfully realize that I would be perfectly happy living year round in a tent in a warmer clime. I like that connectedness with nature that not having four walls surrounding you affords. The rain becomes a comfort and not some nagging occurrence of Mother Nature that keeps you locked indoors.

I trudged down to Fat Albert’s after breakfast to buy two packs of cigarettes. I just cannot live without it, it seems. I picked a terrible time to try and quit ALL my addictions. I wanted some comfort on Christmas day. I know. Admonish me.

“I thought you had quit,” Carolyn’s old friend and co-worker asked me.

“I did,” I replied as I scrounged up the change for two packs of cigarettes.

I was a quarter short. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a quarter and placed it upon the counter.

“Merry Christmas,” She said with a broad grin.

I then walked the mile back home in a pouring rain smoking cigarettes with my umbrella in hand. A Good Samaritan stopped in her car on the way home and asked me if I needed a ride. Being a small town, everyone knows my father.

“You sure you don’t need a ride?” The lady asked again as I declined.

I think she felt sorry for me as my jeans had gotten soaking wet from the driving rain we are experiencing today.

“I am fine and enjoying my wet walk,” I replied with a smile. “Thank you and Merry Christmas.”

I then swung on by the shopping center were the gang hangs out to buy some Sir Walter Raleigh Tobacco for my tobacco pipe. Alas, they were closed and none of the gang was to be found out and about today. I could have used a long, stupid conversation with Big S or some of George’s antics today. I also missed my family and all their incorrigibleness today as well. I hope they get home soon and call me.

Merry Christmas

I have been feeling extremely under the weather lately. Sorry for the lack of postings, but it is hard to write when you don’t feel well. I finally went to bed around 7 PM last night and slept until 7 AM this morning. I feel much better this morning.

To all you that stopped by and told me Merry Christmas, thank you. I want to extend wishes for a Happy Holidays to all of you as well. It sucks that this time of year tends to be the hardest upon us “mentally interesting” people. I haven’t relished spending Christmas alone this year. I should have gone up to my sister’s house, but didn’t feel like traveling. It is my own fault for being alone.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Probability of a White Christmas...

The chance of us getting a white Christmas in Alabama is less than 5 percent. *sniff* *sniff* Courtesy of The National Weather Service.

Backyard Bliss…

George came by last night for a short while. He told me that Big S and all of the gang is back to hanging out down at the shopping center again. He wants me to start coming down everyday to join in on the conversations and the gatherings. It certainly will make for a much more interesting blog as I have had a drought of things to write about lately. My life has been rather mundane as of late.

“What made you stop drinking so much?” I asked him curiously as we stood in my driveway.

George has really cut down on his drinking these days.

“Ah, I just got tired of drinking,” George replied grinning broadly with a cigar in his mouth.

That cigar looked so tantalizing. I wanted to ask George for one so badly but resisted the urge.

“I still drink a few beers everyday,” George then said.

“I sure could use a few beers myself,” I replied.

“Let’s be go gettin’ a case and go out to the lake and get drunk,” George said.

“I can’t,” I replied. “I am afraid that if I get drunk, I will start back smoking. Quitting smoking is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I don’t think I could do it a second time.”

George told me to call him if I changed my mind as he got in his car to leave.

Dumpster Diving Dan also came over yesterday evening to pick up the over twenty cans of Chef Boyardee I had saved for him. Mom still brings me a bag of the stuff every Monday and I just cannot eat it. Dan also collects aluminum cans these days and I drink a lot of diet sodas. He asked me if I would save my empty cans for him. I told him I would try, but didn’t make any promises.

“Merry Christmas,” Dan told me as he climbed into his Toyota to leave.

“Merry Christmas to you too, good sir,” I replied as I waved to him goodbye.

Around 9 PM I headed out for my tent in the backyard. I lit my candle lantern and read until the candle had burned down and extinguished itself. I then lay for the longest time on top of my zipped up sleeping bag in the cool night air thinking. These winter nights can be so quiet with only the sounds of crickets to keep you company. I miss the furtive calls of the summer katydids and the nocturnal whip-o-wills. An inescapable feeling of loneliness overcame me as I lay there. I longed for warm summer nights filled with the sounds of summer animals and insects. Finally, a lone mockingbird started calling a spring like song down the road in a tree. I smiled as I wrapped up in my sleeping bag and went to sleep to that sound reminiscent of a warm spring night.

Need a DVD burner? Now is the time…

My first DVD burner I purchased a few years ago cost $199 dollars. It was a Liteon model that served me well. I have my whole vast collection of CDs ripped into mp3s and burned to DVD+R discs for over 30 gigabytes of data.

Recently, Blu-ray and HD-DVD has hit the scene and those burners are now showing up in stores for a whopping starting price of $599. That is no typo. You pay a premium for being on the bleeding edge of technology. It has an added side bonus though bringing down the current price of regular DVD burners below the $50 dollar mark. There has never been a better time to jump into buying a DVD burner and they are super easy to install. I just recently purchased a Sony dual layer DVD burner whose burned discs hold over 8 gigabytes of data for just under $50. Those prices are just amazing.

Christmas Time is Here

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Destination Mealtime…

I set out around noon to walk over to Rodger’s Barbeque for lunch. Clouds from the approaching cold front obscured the sun, but it was still a warm day despite the overcast sky. I was adorned in my nylon Auburn Tiger walking shorts and an orange Auburn Tigers t-shirt. I crossed the train tracks downtown and started across the sidewalk of the bridge traversing the Chattahoochee River. Rodger’s is just across that broad expanse of water. I stopped at one point to look over the side rail of the bridge to be overcome with vertigo. I am terribly afraid of heights and the swirling green water of the river was hundreds of yards down below me.

I arrived at Roger’s and sat down at my favorite table near the kitchen. The waitress came out to take my order.

“What will you be having, hon?” She asked.

I looked at the chalkboard upon which was written today’s special. Today’s special was meat loaf, mashed potatoes, fried okra, stewed apples, and cornbread for $5.25.

“I will have the special,” I replied, “And a glass of sweet tea.”

Within moments, she brought out my meal and tea and I sat eating as the lunch crowd started to pour in after noon. Soon, the restaurant was packed. I finished my meal and sat for a long time drinking the rest of my tea as I listened to the conversations of the patrons around me. I then finally got up to go take my ticket to the cashier.

“That was a nice gift from your father getting to eat lunch everyday,” The lady cashier said.

“I know,” I replied. “It is so hard cooking for just one person and I love coming over here for lunch and not having to wash dishes.”

“Was your meal okay?” She then asked.

“It was delicious,” I replied as I handed her my ticket.

She pulled out the envelope from the drawer to deduct today’s cost of my meal from my tab.

“You have $37 dollars left on your tab,” She told me as she subtracted today’s cost.

I told her goodbye, walked on home, and collapsed into my bed with a full stomach and took a long and much needed nap with Maggie curled up by my side. It has been a very good day today.

Five Reasons To Remember Carl Sagan

Quoted from Podcasting News -- It’s Carl Sagan day - the tenth anniversary of Carl Sagan’s death, and blogger Joel Schlosberg is leading a Carl Sagan Memorial Blog-a-Thon that’s already proving to be very popular.

If you’re not familiar with Carl Sagan, it’s likely that you weren’t alive in 1980 when his acclaimed television series Cosmos hit the airwaves.

Cosmos was a popular introduction to astronomy, astrobiology, history of science, the scientific method, the search for life in the universe, and whatever else struck Sagan as interesting. It was a massive hit for public television, one of its most-watched series of all time.

Sagan also worked as an advisor to NASA, wrote hundreds of scientific papers, dozens of books and even published a novel, Contact, that was made into a movie.

For those that do remember Sagan, though, it wasn’t his particular achievements that made him special, but the passion and poetry he used to explain our strange and fascinating universe.

Here are five reasons that we think you should take a moment to remember Carl Sagan today.

Five Reasons to Remember Carl Sagan

One on One Time…

My father works all the time and we rarely get time to just talk and spend time with each other. I had gone to the grocery store to buy my weekly supply of groceries and was sitting in front of the gas pumps at Fat Albert’s pumping gas when my father pulled up next to me just by coincidence.

“Hey son,” He said as he rolled down his window to his Honda CR-V.

“Hey dad,” I said surprised to see him.

“Let me park. You pay for your gas and let’s go for a long ride and talk some,” He replied.

Dad parked his car in front of Fat Albert’s and I paid for my $31 dollars in gas with my Visa debit card and we headed out to the outskirts of town near the dam on the Chattahoochee.

“How have you been doing son?” He asked. “I don’t get to see you much these days. Work has been hell with the holidays approaching. I have been working fourteen hour days.”

“Oh, I am okay other than feeling slow and over medicated,” I replied.

“You worry me when you think and talk like that,” He said. “Your medication is supposed to calm you down and make you ‘slow.’”

I didn’t argue with him and just played along.

“You are probably going to get mad at me, but I spent $98 dollars at the grocery store tonight.” I told him.

“What did you buy? Steaks?” Dad asked half laughing.

“The food was only $58 dollars. I bought a battery charger and eight rechargeable nickel metal hydride AA batteries for my camera for Christmas,” I replied. “Those things are expensive.”

“Oh well, you deserve to buy something sometimes,” He said. “You really are extremely frugal and never spend much money.”

We turned around at the dam over the river and headed back. I and dad talked some more as we listened to the AM radio station out of New Orleans. I brought him back to his car and we both drove home. It was nice spending some time with my father without him being so judgmental and harsh with me. My father can be so overbearing sometimes and last night he was laid back and relaxed to deal with. Usually, I am a nervous wreck after being around him. I much prefer the company of my mother.

Large Hi-Res Photo of Spectacular and Rare 'Aurora' Occurrence over Iowa

Alerted to conditions ripe for aurora, photographer Stan Richard recorded this apparition over Saylorville Lake, near Des Moines, Iowa, USA. While the colorful rays seem to end just above the water, they are actually at altitudes of 100 kilometers or more. Courtesy of NASA.

Click here for hi-res view of the aurora.

Bing Crosby - White Christmas

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bright Sunlight chases away the Dark Shadows in my Den…

I awoke this morning at 5 AM to find Maggie and Bunny in the bed with me. Maggie had been chewing on bunny all night in her affectionate way and she was a slimy dog saliva encrusted mess when I went to grab her and throw her on the floor.

“Yuk Maggie!” I exclaimed as I held Bunny gingerly up with two fingers and cast her from the bed.

Maggie jumped up and chased after her. She is obsessed with that little stuffed animal.

I donned my robe and walked into the kitchen to open the fridge to survey its contents. It is time to go shopping again as Tuesday nights is traditionally my grocery shopping night. I am out of eggs, bacon, cheddar cheese, and fresh bread. I had to improvise this morning and cooked four sausage patties and four pieces of toast from a loaf of bread I had frozen in the freezer. I missed my usual fare of scrambled eggs, cheddar, bacon, and toast.

After breakfast, I set out for a good morning hike. I walked around the neighborhood block many times for one hour. One hour of walking at 3 mph is 3 miles or around 400 calories burned. I will set out later in the day possibly after lunch for the rest of my hike out spring road or down to the tracks.

This morning as I walked the sun had yet to rise and was just a muted glow on the horizon. All my neighbors still had their outdoor Christmas decorations lit. Most use timers these days. It brought such a warm feeling to my soul to see these sights of Christmas cheer. It brought back fond memories of being a child when dad would corral all us kids into the car and we would ride around town looking at all the Christmas lights, Christmas decorations, and Christmas trees in the front windows of homes. Those were magical times during my youth.

It seems I will be spending Christmas alone this year. My parents are driving up to my sister’s house in Birmingham for Christmas Eve and Christmas day and then flying to San Diego to spend Christmas with my brother. I will have a nice, quiet Christmas spent alone at home. I asked my father not to try and cajole me into going and he agreed. I have been through so much lately because of my illness and just need some quiet time this holiday. Dad is going to arrange with a friend to bring me a home cooked holiday meal on Christmas day.

I bet Abbagirl will be pleased to know I saw Dumpster Diving Dan yesterday. He was digging in the dumpster behind the shopping center late yesterday afternoon when I was on the last leg of my daily hike. I was eager to get home as I was dying to use the bathroom. I waved vigorously hello and he waved back. He seemed to be doing well. I hated I couldn’t stop and talk to him. I hadn’t seen him in days. It was odd to see him dumpster diving so late in the day though. The sun had just begun to set. I guess Dan was running late yesterday. I will try and catch up with him before Christmas. I have a pantry full of Chef Boyardee to give him as he hasn’t been by lately to pick it up.

The Cristmas Song-Nat King Cole

My favorite Christmas song...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Stars on a Country Night…

Yesterday evening found my tent set up in the backyard. I crawled into it around 8 PM and read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by candle lantern for what seemed like hours. I finally went to sleep to a cool night and awoke hours later soaking wet from sweat. My sleeping bag was just too hot for the mild weather we are having. I trudged inside and started a pot of coffee and am sitting here in the wee hours of the morning writing waiting on sunrise and a hearty breakfast.

It was a beautiful night though tonight. Our recent usual after midnight fog had yet to roll in off of the Chattahoochee River and a thousand myriad stars greeted me upon the night sky as I stuck my head out of my tent. It is times like that I most want to light up a cigarette. I actually fumbled for my pack in my shirt pocket out of habit. Ursa Major (The big dipper) greeted me as one of the more recognizable constellations. I breathed in deeply the cool night air with what are now free breathing lungs as my eyes gathered in the pale light from a starlit country night sky. The muted orange glow of the lights of the city shone on the horizon.

I ate supper over at my parent’s house yesterday. Dad had cooked a wonderful pot of vegetable beef soup. I sat at the kitchen table as mom asked me a thousand questions about my various doctor’s appointments as dad lay on the couch wrapped up in a blanket. Their two cats were stretched out in front of their gas heater in some hypnotic like trance that the heater seems to induce upon them.

“That heater is like kitty crack,” I told my father of their two cats.

He laughed heartily.

“Can you believe it has been two weeks since I last had a cigarette?” I then asked my father.

“That’s amazing,” He replied. “I bet your food tastes better and your sense of smell is returning.”

I nodded in agreement as I ate another spoonful of delicious vegetable soup followed by a hearty bite of cornbread dipped in the broth of that soup.

I did hike six miles yesterday. I walked the tracks looking for photo opportunities. I am like a child again in anticipation of getting my digital camera. I want to do a photo essay of my daily hike downtown upon the tracks a few days after Christmas. I think that will be my first project. I also want to do a video of me and Maggie in the backyard interacting.

Well, let me go get some breakfast started. I don’t think I can wait until sunrise. I am starving and my stomach is grumbling.