Stepping Up to the Soap Box Again!  

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"I am not a criminal." This phrase was adamantly professed by Tricky Dick. For those of you not familiar with American Politics Richard Nixon. While I don't have many things in common with Richard Nixon, this will be one of them. I am adamantly professing I AM NOT A CRIMINAL!

I'm sure that a few of you saw my post some time back regarding an issue I had with child support. I am a divorced and remarried father. I have a son from a previous marriage and I have been paying faithfully for 15 1/2 years. He's my kid and I love him dearly. He spends a great deal of time with me, and even though I could have gone back to court to get the payment arrangements changed, I figured if it's not hurting me, maybe it can help him (finacially) so I left it.

I won't go into all the specifics from last time, but the bottom line is I have been paying a double payment because of some dishonesty by the other parent. I was foolish enough to try and help out and got burned, so now I'm basically at the mercy of the California Department of Child Support Services. They are essentially in the same category as Macy's to me... Call em the devil or the anti-christ it's the same thing...

I sent about 5 letters and made so many phone calls it's not even funny. I had my money returned the last time (except for that $100 that BofA keeps for an admin fee). This time they did it again without warning. I'm fed up with their system of doing things. There is no way short of spending all the time and MONEY you need for court to get this resolved. The child support system is purely a collection agency. They don't care or want to know what the situation is. They don't want to be bothered with the specifics of anything. Just pay on time and they will leave you alone. Don't pay on time, or have an issue and you are gonna have problems. A levy on your bank account, a lien on your home, your drivers license could get suspended. There are a number of things they could do, and more things that they threaten to do.

I sent one more letter in an attempt to get some reaction from these less than cooperative people. I'm gonna share that with you. Maybe it was a bit over the top but I don't think so.

To Whom it May Concern,

On Friday March 12, 2010 my bank account had $100.00 removed from it. That left my account with approximately ____ in it. I was informed by the bank that the charge was a non-refundable fee for a levy that is placed on our checking account. This is the second time this has occurred. The last time the account had the money returned to it with no explanations to how or when it happened. I have sent numerous emails without a single response. I would like to know what purpose it serves to apply this levy to an account that doesn't even have the money to cover the cost of the levy? All this has done is cause another hardship upon the remainder of my family.

I would like this matter resolved, and I'm concerned that nobody seems to have the time to respond to a simple email regarding the matter. I have tried phone calls to the local office and have been sent repeatedly to this email. I tried phone calls to the 800 number and they went unanswered. Is the fact that I'm not the custodial parent or the fact that Mrs. _____ is an employee of the state a reason for this office to completely ignore me since November?

All I'm asking for is some due diligence in this matter. My livelihood is threatened as each time this happens I lose yet another $100.00 from my account that won't be returned.

I look forward to your timely response in this matter.

Thank you,

Looking at it again, I realize that it wasn't that staunch at all. I think it brought up the point, but I have yet to receive a response. The State of California is a joke when it comes to Government. They have neither the means nor the will to correct mistakes they make. They lack the leadership, and moral compass required to lead a state of this magnitude. It's no wonder that we are submerged in debt and there are exactly zero long term plans to alleviate the shortcomings. I'm fed up with all the BS that comes with the state.

Wake up State agencies and do the damn job you are paid to do.... Sooner or later somebody with a set of juevos is gonna come along and FIRE YOUR ASS!!!! I just wish it was me or at the very least I could be present when it happens. Until then I will have to decide if I want to spend my money paying support that I don't owe or paying for a lawyer I shouldn't need.

*Steps down from Soap Box*

The Goal at Hand  

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There are times when my goal is within reach. I can see it clearly enough and I even know what needs to be done to accomplish it. Those are the times that I am secure in the knowledge that I will get there. There are other times when I know the goal, but figuring out how to get there is, well obscured. That seems to be my theme as of late. I know where I want to be, and I even know what is required to get there.

Do you ever doubt yourself? I don't mean the shallow little doubts like whether or not you will make it to work on time or if you will be able to get dinner ready before company arrives. I'm talking about the deeper doubts. The doubts in your ability to accomplish something. I find myself fighting that a good deal lately. Doubt is an evil thing. It has forced me to be honest with myself on a level that is uncomfortable.

I have commented more than once that I love to write. That is something that I believe we all share or else why would we really have a blog. I know that we blog for different reasons, but if you think about it we all must like to write our thoughts and feelings to some degree or we just wouldn't do this. Now some enjoy it more than others (Kristy and Tina are really good examples) and are even much better at it than some of us. I could name a dozen blogs that I currently read that should be published (One of them is published YAY Rachel!).

In a post back a ways I mentioned where I saw myself 10 years from now. One of the things I mentioned was taking my shot at being published. That is a lifelong dream of mine. I was a weird child and so much of my enjoyment came from the written word that it's hard to express. I was either reading a great new story or writing one, but in either case I was happy when language was involved. See a story is freedom. It's like an open map, and you get to decide how to fill it in. When you read a story, the characters are described but you get to decide what they really look and act like. You get the blank figures and fill in what they are really like in your own mind. I managed to miss a few assignments in school because I was busy reading or writing instead of doing my homework. Blame my grandmother, since she is the one that gave me a love for reading. Besides wouldn't you rather read The Martian Chronicles than do a boring ol' science worksheet.

Back to my remnant of a point. I write every night to some degree. I don't always work on my story, but most nights I am doing some form of work towards it. Be it a little research or even a few chapters. What is really troubling is when I go back and decide that I don't like what I wrote. DOUBT has reared it's ugly head and forced me to make a choice. Keep it or dump it, and it's usually the latter. I have about 12,000 words of a story and I'm sure I've written over 150,000.

Tonight I was reading through a good deal of blogs. Some were happy and a few were pretty friggin' sad but the one thing they all had in common is they were complete. The person that made the post decided they were going to follow through with what they had to say. I decided my story will become like my blog. I'm going to just do it (to borrow a phrase).

So thank you to all of you that offered up different ways for me to avoid writer's block and thank you to those of you that have given me a boost of confidence. I hope that I too can one day say I'm published. If not I will still say I tried and it didn't work out. At the very least I will know that it wasn't lack of effort that kept me from my goal...

Now where is my pencil?

Linkin' up the Monday Minute!  

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Ok so I'm not exactly on time. I've had a hectic weekend (actually week) and I have just finally gotten a few things in order. I hate being behind on anything, and that includes my blogging time. Be it reading them or writing.

So without further ado here is the Monday Minute straight from the mind of our good friend Ian......

Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging to have an outlet. Having people that actually read and respond to my rambling is just a really cool bonus.

Name one other blogger and list their URL that deserves special attention for whatever reason you choose.
Well I have been sorta harping on you guys to check her out so this is another good opportunity to visit Sarah at Writer in Making. Just do it you know you want to!

Name one of your heroes in life. Someone that you know or knew personally
I even posted about it here. It's my father

Whose feet smell worse, yours or mine?
Yours!! I use lots of soap and powder them to death :)

Which TV show's setting would you most like to live in?
Happy Days...Fonzi wouldn't have anything on me...

There you have it....They say better late than never...

In case you don't know his link The Daily Dose of Reality is here!

Award for Me! :)  

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What a nice surprise....Jerry at My thoughts brought to light has given me an award...

Thanks so much I truly appreciate it...

There are a few rules (aren't there always) listed below
Here are the award rules:
1. Thank the person who gave you this award (that would be me, include a link).
2. Share 5 things about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 5 bloggers (or less) who you have recently discovered and you think are fantastic! Include links to their blogs.
4. Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.
6. Copy this Award onto your blog (linking it to me)

Well lets see 5 things about me....

1. I broke my wrist in high school and couldn't play baseball, so I became a tennis player.

2. My favorite food is gnocchi.

3. I'm an avid (to the point of sick) reader. I have been known to read through a couple of books in a weekend.

4. I can cross stitch. I once did a firetruck with the dalmation riding in it. A friend wanted me to enter it in the fair, but I backed out (guys don't cross stitch).

5. I love to sing, but can't carry a tune, nor can I dance to save my life...

So now to the passing on...

Momma Fargo @ The Boogie Man Is My Friend

Ms. Anthropy @ Sarcastic Granny

I'm going to stick with 2...I have followed both of them for a little while, BUT I am sometimes a really bad follower and the fact that my tracking thing on the sidebar doesn't update sometimes. Regardless of the reasons, I have been reading them as of late a good deal and I promise you will love them...

Jose Cuervo you are a friend of mine!  

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The last few days I've been a little on the serious side of things. I have had too much "real life" running through my mind. I decided that since today was the end of the work week (in theory) I would post a little story about my first encounter with too much alcohol. It was actually the first time I got drunk away from a family function where I could just hide from my parents and go to bed early without them realizing it (yeah we Italians and our wine).

I was 14 years old and it was Summer vacation. I was enjoying my vacation except for the fact that this girl I knew was moving away. She was friends with one of our neighbors and happened to be hanging out down there with him on her last night in town. I had a bit of a crush on her, but I didn't realize that she was out of my league at the time (she was 16 and had a drivers license). I walked down the street and there they were sitting out in front just chatting, but it was obvious that they were not interested in company at the time. I spoke a few akward words with them and left. I decided to visit another friend that was just up the street and only a few minutes further.

I got to my friend Jeff's house and he was outside as well (funny how so many of us actually just hung out in the yard before all those video games). We played some catch and were just talking like teenage boys do. He brought up the fact that his mom was asleep because she had to work early the next day and maybe we could sneak out some of her booze from the liquor cabinet. I had never drank hard liquor just wine and a beer so I was all for it. He snuck in the house and came back a few minutes later with a mason jar full of clear liquid. He told me to hang on and ran back in. A few minutes later he was back with 2 bowls of ice cream. He explained that his brother told him that milk would coat our stomachs and we wouldn't get sick if we ate the ice cream first.

So a bowl of ice cream and some tortilla chips and then we were drinking from the jar. Well the jar went pretty fast and then he was back in the house. He came back with another jar filled with a brown liquid. This one tasted much stronger than the first. I came to find out it was bacardi (thankfully not 151). We shined that off in record time and he went back for another. Time passed and he wasn't back yet. I started to worry that he had been caught. About that time he showed back up with one more jar full and it was the original stuff that was clear. That was vodka and it went down pretty smooth considering I was 14 and had no experience to base it on. Three down and I was feeling a little bit silly (actually more than a little). He sort of ran back in the house and came back with a bottle that was labeled Kahlua. He explained that any more booze out of the bottles and somebody would know. I sort of figured they were gonna know anyway. We went ahead and drank this stuff and it was gross, gross, gross. I was a little bit dizzy and told him I better get going home.

So began my trip to the house. I was about 1/2 mile from my goal. The trip started off smoothly enough. I was stumbling a little bit, but not all that much. I could see clearly for the most part and figured I had this licked. That all changed when I came around the last corner and started the straightaway to my house. I didn't quite make the turn and slipped to the curb. I remember getting up and stumbling into a parked car and falling again. This time I think they were bushes that I landed in after bouncing off the car. About that time the girl that I had the sort of crush on and her "friend" came up and asked if I was ok. Well I don't really remember what the words were that came out of my mouth, but they must have figured they meant no.

It turns out that I was on the lawn of family friends. The father came out and saw that I was pretty lit. He stood me up and I started to voice my objections by throwing up all over this guy's clothes. I should mention that Steve is a former vietnam Marine. He is very nice if he likes you, and not so much if he doesn't. He is also not so nice when you vomit on him. He dropped me rather uncerimoniously and went back in the house. A few minutes later my mom was standing over me and was speaking to me in some foreign language. I mumbled something and she became angry. I never was told exactly what I said, but it's been a rare occasion to see my mom that pissed at any comment her son made.

I next remember being brought into our "friends" house and that is where the fun began. I belive that I vomitted on the couch, the floor, the aquarium (yeah poor fish), the shower, and the extra bedroom where I spent my night. Bright and early the next morning my father was there to bring me home. Not a word was said, but he informed me that I was still drunk. I was put into our swimming pool to "sober" me up. So he basically allowed me to be awake and drunk. Later that day I was forced to go to my all star tryouts and was then grounded for the duration of my Summer.

While I admit it wasn't my proudest moment, it was a definite learning experience. Especially after I had to go back down to all those houses in that cul de sac and apologize to the people for being an ass (drunk). The positive aspect of this story.....I was able to give my friends something to tease me about to this very day. The negative. To this day I can't drink Kahlua. Jose Cuervo wasn't really much of a friend that night after all....

Why Does it Matter?  

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As of late, I've let myself become irritated by things that don't generally get me that pumped up. I was raised on tolerance, not acceptance. I believe that we should let others live their lives and we ours. I don't have to understand why people do the things they do. I certainly don't have to agree with it. I just have to respect that it's their right to do them. If it's not going to cause harm why should it matter right?

I really thought that we had come a long long way in our way of looking at things as a people. I figured that since my hometown is so racially diverse that others must be much the same way......Wrong!! Well evidently that's wrong. More and more people as of late are wanting to come out in defense of the poor minorities....Who exactly are these minorities we hear about? Mexican, Italian, Russian, Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, or maybe Korean.

I'm half Italian. My great grandparents came over on the boat and my grand parents were born here in the states. They were treated like dirt, as were most immigrants. They were looked at as less than real people in many cases. They didn't care, they went about their business and built something they could be proud of. They got together with other people that understood their language and they formed a little community and took to farming. Then they learned the language of the land and taught their children (my grandparents). They never let them forget where they came from though. They never let them forget what that country gave them before they came here. My grandparents taught my mom english at 5 years old because they didn't want her to have to struggle in school. Turns out that it wasn't a too uncommon occurance around here at the time. There were many Italian immigrants doing the same thing. Mom doesn't remember much Italian anymore, but she does remember how proud her parents were to see that she was able to communicate in English.

I see the same thing happening with Spanish. Many families realize that it's a head start to get their children speaking English. They speak it more often than their parents did when they first got here. The grandchildren are pretty much adapted to American life by the time they get to school in most cases that I see. Now of course there are some people that don't think they should have to learn the language, or the customs, and to them I say fine but don't expect too much sympathy from me. If I was to move to another country my first order of business would be to learn the language of the land so I could communicate.

As I ramble on about this I realize that is not my real point though. The real point of all this is pretty simple. It doesn't matter if you came from Cuba, or Portugal, or China, or Japan. That has no bearing on you as a person. You still have hopes, dreams, ambitions, goals, and you can still be happy or sad and yes you can still get your feelings hurt. So why is it that people want to judge any of us on our skin tone, or on our accent? Why the hell does it matter if I say yellow instead of hello? In my community I hear the word Si as much as yes. I understand it, it's not a big deal. I also understand that Buenos Dias or Buenos Tardes is easy enough to respond to just like hello or good afternoon. That has become part of our culture in California.

I am more irritated by the need for us to guage everything by what race somebody is. I am a human...Not Black, not Hispanic, not Mediterranean. HUMAN...We are the same, but as my son has pointed out to me some of us have a better tan. Let's try and get to know somebody before we pass judgement on them. Let's try and have some dialogue before we automatically assume somebody means us harm.

The census has really shown me how little we have learned in 234 years as a country. We holler and gripe about equality and then we want to split up the people so we can see if there is yet another way to divide up the pie and show that one group or another gets less. My town is 30% "white" and 61% "hispanic". Does that mean a whole lot? Not to me it doesn't. It means that we have better Mexican food than a lot of other communitites that's for sure. It also means that I get the chance to learn a little something about Mexican culture that I might not know, and it also means that somebody else might get to learn a little something about an italian culture that they didn't know.

Let's try talking to each other before we start judging each other by our last names and skin tone. Let's watch our kids playing with other kids from different backgrounds with no more expectations than to have a playmate for the afternoon. Maybe we could learn how to finally treat each other with some level of respect.

Black, White, Brown, Yellow...Why does it matter at all?

It's All About the License  

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Well tomorrow bright and early I'm off to the state capital. I get to take some unbelievably long test to determine whether or not I should give the training that I"m now giving...(gotta love California). I've been studying for this whopper for about 6 months, and even though I think I'm ready, only time will tell. Guess at this point I'm a little bit nervous.

I never realized how much beauracracy is involved in chemical regulations. I have been around this industry my whole life. My father worked at this very same company before me, as well as when I did. He did basically the same job I am doing (except in a higher capacity). I've watched the EPA, OSHA (calosha especially), DPR (department of pesticide regulation) and a handful of other "environmentalist basically demolish my lovely valley with regulation after regulation. Now granted many of these rules are absolutely necessary and in fact are just good common sense. Others, well maybe not so much. I know that we take the good with the bad, but until I really read through all the laws and regulations I didn't realize just how restrictive this state is on just about everything.

So I've come to the conclusion that after this test, everything I do will be without excuse. I am now entering into everything with my eyes wide open. So the next time I "discuss" something that is irritating or just plain crazy and it relates to the job, you can remind me that I KNEW THAT ALREADY!!!

So wish me luck, and if you don't hear from me for a few days, it either means that I failed miserably and stayed drunk in a bar in Sacramento or, I passed with flying colors so I'm celebrating in a bar in Sacramento. Either way, I feel a bar in Sacramento is in my very near future. I wonder if they serve Castle Lite there????

Brother-In-Law and 6th grade camp  

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A little update on my brother-in-law...He woke up today. He is in a lot of pain, but it looks like he will recover..They aren't 100% sure of all his injuries and they are still concerned with fluid building up in his lungs. His ribs are really badly broken so he's pretty uncomfortable, not to mention they have tubes down his nose and whatnot...But he's a tough, onery S.O.B. and I for one think he will pull through all this.

Tonight we had a meeting with my son's 6th grade class. They will be going to 6th grade camp in May and I'm going to be a counselor. I'm as excited about this as he is. I had a terrible experience at 6th grade campe because I had stitches in my face and couldn't participate in a lot of the activities. He is pretty excited but he was also a little nervous about bears (I told him the cougars are worse). We will only be up there for a week, but they are making it sound like we are going away to war or something. I know it's for the kids sake that they are telling us all this stuff.

I get a little bit ruffled when they talk to me like I'm an inexperienced hiker going up in the hills. I was in the Marine Corps for 8 years. I think I can handle 4 nights and 5 days in the hills. I look forward to all the survival stuff they will be teaching the kids though. I might even get a chance to relearn some of this stuff I have forgotten over the years. I think I will volunteer to help with the plant identification on those trail hikes, since that was always something I really enjoyed.

So two months and counting...I promise that when I come back there will be a couple of posts and some really cool pictures. So I have that to look forward to. So I'm getting out the military handbook, and maybe even the cammies and of course the look out mountainside bendigo's rage is coming!!!

Monday Minute...Link it Up!!  

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Monday Minute

I'm a little out of sorts so I didnt' get much of a chance to respond to all the blogs I read this morning. I unfortunately took almost all day to get this posted and for that I'm sorry...

Without further ado here is Ian's Monday Minute question line up... Since I'm pretty sure you all are followers of his already, you are aware of this but in case there is one out there that was asleep or comatose for the last few months click the button and check him out..You will not be disappointed...

-Do you feel like I do?
About many things we have the same thought process (now that's scary)

-Is it appropriate to answer a question with a question?
Maybe? What question did you have in mind?

-What's wrong with people?
Well I don't have enough time in the day to really get into that one....Let's leave it with lack of common sense....

-What's one redeeming quality about pickles
They can sometimes hide the taste of a bad burger :)

-If you won the lottery, how much money would you give to your favorite charity me?
Well that would have to depend on the amount of my lottery winnings I would suppose...don't worry that shed would be paid for :)

Jump on over to Daily Dose of Reality and answer those questions..make sure you link up as well...

A Country Divided  

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There are a few of us that paid attention in History class I'm sure. Some of us found the past to be an interesting story to be read. It didn't really seem like more than that to me. It was simply a story about distant people doing things that were far and long away. American History was a bit more interesting to me, but only because it was something I could see, hear, and taste. It was about those things that surrounded me. My present was tied directly to what these people did only a couple of centuries past. The biggie for our class was the Civil War. What started it? There were a large number of reasons, but everybody always hangs onto the slavery issue. Human rights are as good a reason as you can get in my opinion to have a war. If people are being treated like so many oxen, then something is wrong in the world. States rights were another reason for the war though. Granted I don't agree with the rights they felt were infringed upon (the rights of the states to keep slaves), but nonetheless it was a matter of the federal government taking over the state and essentially telling them how things were going to run. Was it the best way to go about it? No I think they should have allowed the states to secede and then let them attempt to make their way without a trade agreement with the U.S.

What should have been done, or could have been done doesn't really matter. That is the past and we made our bloody way through that as a nation and we came out of it in one piece. Kudos to us for managing something that has killed many a nation. It is in fact the reason that so many struggling countries today have not been able to drag themselves out of poverty. Internal struggle is the key component to kill a country.

I have been watching the news and listening to the radio more often than usual. Trying to get a feel for how things were going to work with this health care overhaul. Let's call it what it is, it's a Health Insurance Reform. Will it work? That doesn't even matter. This whole debate on whether we could insure the uninsured is not what this has become. This debate has split our nation. Good or bad legislation aside, the fact that it's split us as a people makes this bad.

I've always thought of the U.S. as sort of like a bunch of fraternities of a college. They talk trash to each other, and they play tricks on each other. They even occasionally fight. The thing is that when there is somebody coming against their school they unite and for that time they are one school, one voice, one family.

We in the past have been that way. The states might differ on some things, but at the end of the day we are one voice, one country. We have managed to rise up and defend ourselves on countless occasions. We have defended those that needed us (and some that maybe didn't need us). We have been there to lend a helping hand when tragedy struck, and we have been there to offer our teachers, doctors, clergy, and military to those that wish to also live free.

Whether you agree or disagree with the package that is now passing doesn't matter anymore. What matters is that we divided on an issue once again. It wasn't slavery, and it hasn't yet become secession. It's turning into states rights. It will surely mean many court battles and propaganda. For the first time in my life, I don't feel like I have the right to be proud of being an American. I'm ashamed at what our politicians have done. They have portrayed us as simpletons, extremists, anti-American, Unamerican, socialists, communists, Marxists, militia and a few that I'm not going to put on here (they are just dirty).

All that's really left is to hope and pray that we make it through this as a nation. It's time for the fraternities to come together and sound off as one voice. We need to take this opportunity to reflect on what our values are. What matters to us, not just as a country but as a person. Is it really something good if half the people think it's bad? Is it really the answer to our problems? I want a Jimmy Stewart like figure in office. Honesty, integrity, those core values that are sadly missing from about 95% of our elected officials.

I can honestly say that I wouldn't have cared how the health care issue would have went if there would have been an overwhelming majority of people wanting the change that was being offered. The problem is that we didn't really know what the change was that they were looking for. We still don't know all of the details of this legislation. THAT'S what bothers me. We are being mislead, and I don't care who is doing the misleading, I just want it to stop.

It's time to mend some fences, I just hope we have our country when it is all said and done.

It's All About the Writer in Making!  

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Well I'm sure that most if not all of you know Ian at Daily Dose of Reality. He has made a little competition on his site for blog of the week. You can find all the details here

He wants us to get people to vote for us and the greatest total of votes gets BotW. I'm not here for me. I want you to get your butt over there and vote for Sarah at Sarah, Writer in Making . Jump on over to her site and check out some of her posts and you will see why I visit there for each and every post.

Smart, funny, and wise beyond her years. I don't have the follower base to compete with some of the blogs on Ian's site, BUT...there are alot of you with lots more followers and that's how we get there....Check out Sarah's site, and tell your friends and followers to do the same...


Your Inspiration  

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I woke up this morning and felt like rolling over and going back to sleep. I knew that wasn't in the cards for today though. I had way too many things going on to play sick. That doesn't mean the thought didn't keep running through my head all morning. From the shower to the kitchen (for my wonderful coffee) to the truck and all the way down the road. I kept looking for an excuse to go back home. Nothing was a good enough excuse to turn me around.

I presented my training this morning and after the meeting somebody made the comment that I seemed inspired this morning. I have to admit I almost laughed in their face. I was anything but inspired this morning. Well in all fairness I was inspired but it was not aimed at work.

It got me to thinking about some of the inspiration in my life. I have a few different wells that I can draw from if I'm looking for something to pick me up. Joe over at The Shadow of my Life mentioned that I have met a lot of interesting people. Well he is absolutely right, I have met some really interesting people. Some of those same people are the ones I get inspiration from. I'll share a few of their stories and let you decide if these people are deserving of the title "inspirational".

J is an addict. He was addicted to "ice" for about 12 years. He did it the old fashioned way too. He snorted that stuff and it tore up his nose something fierce. You wouldn't know it to look at him now though. He doesn't show those scars on the outside. He has been "sober" for 4 years now. After hitting rock bottom he went into rehab. Came out and went right back in. Moved out of the area, and came back when he was stronger in his mind. This guy was a pathological liar, gambler and user. Did I mention he's clean for 4 YEARS!! I guess I should also mention that he's going to college and carrying above an A average. (that's just silly to me). Says he's gonna be a teacher and I believe him. He never gave up on himself, and either did his family. By the way we are very proud of him, that's my brother.

L was as sweet a woman as you could hope to meet. Her mother died of brain cancer when she was a young woman. She spent her life worrying that one day she would contract it as well since the doctors told her that it was genetic. She had a way of making you feel safe when you were around her. If she spoke with you then you knew that you were the focus of her attention. She developed breast cancer in her late 50's. After a double mastectomy she was ok for a good long while. Inevitably the cancer came back in her (yep you guessed it) brain. Through her whole ordeal she maintained her composure. She never let you know the misery and fear she had to be feeling. She lost her battle with the one thing that she feared the most throughout her life, but that didn't keep her from being a great person. A week after she died, her husband was still finding his lunches wrapped and ready for him
in the freezer. She knew that she wouldn't be able to take care of him after she was gone, so she wrote down everything she did in the house and how she did it. What an amazing woman to do that while she was fighting for her life.

C was a cashier at 7-11 for about 20 years. Her husband was a prominent businessman when they were younger. He died at a fairly young age, but he left her comfortable. She was bored at home so she decided that working at the store would be good to keep her busy. As she approached her 75th birthday, it became clear that she couldn't keep up with the fast pace of the convenience store. The boss was forced to let her go. She was not the type of woman you wanted to get "smart" with. You were respectful when you dealt with her, because she demanded it. Not with words, but with her character. I can remember feeling nothing but guilt for being rude with her one day. She never brought it up to me, but I apologized to her the very next day because it was eating me up. She left that store and got a job at the McDonald's cleaning tables and greeting customers. I should mention that at 90 she is still doing this job and people go to the McD's to see her more than to eat the food.

Well that's a sampling of some of the great people I'm fortunate enough to have known in my life. I see what they have overcome and realize that my problems are trivial in comparison. I'm sure many of you have these same people in your lives they just have different names. Take a minute and thank them for all they have given you. I'll bet they will be surprised to find they are YOUR inspiration.

Take Heart Manny  

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There is a man I know. We are going to call him Manny for the sake of this post. Manny grew up in a rather large household. Now Manny had a household full of brothers and sisters, and most of them were busy getting into trouble of one type or another. They didn't excel in school, and for that matter didn't excel in social settings. The family was a bit dysfunctional (more than a bit). The one bright spot for Manny was sports.

He could play any game that involved a ball and coordination. A naturally talented athlete, with an uncanny ability to win. He found the weakness in his opponent and exploited it. One of the best baseball players I've ever seen. Never played at a professional level, but I'm quite sure that if things were a little different in his personal life he could have and he would have succeeded. He was a great football player, and basketball player as well. I got him a little bit involved in tennis when I was in high school. I had been playing competitively for about 3 years when Manny and I started playing. Within 3 weeks he was keeping up with me. Nothing can take the ego away like that.

When Manny played baseball he had no fans in the stands. His parents didn't go to his games, and they didn't take him to his practice. He would ride his bike across town to practice. Never confiding in his coach that he didn't have a ride to or from. He was driven when he was on the field though. Singular in his goal, and he couldn't be swayed. Nothing rattled this guy when he was competing.

After graduation Manny got involved with a girl. This was only his second serious relationship. This turned out to be his wife. Now Manny wanted kids, but his wife wasn't a big fan of having a bunch of children. They ended up having one son. The greatest day in Manny's life was when his son was born. All those things his parents never did for him he would do for his own son. He saw immediately that the boy was going to be an athlete. Hitting baseballs at age 4 and fielding grounders at age 5 he was well on his way.

The big problem for Manny was his temper. He could maintain it on the field (usually). He yelled and argued on the field, but that was more to irritate and throw the other team off balance. Now as the parent of a player, he had to check his comments more often. Unfortunately he didn't. I used to think that he was trying to relive his youth through his son. As it turns out, he wasn't. He didn't believe for one minute that anybody should take advantage of his child, and he was going to do everything in his power to protect him. He still found himself looking like a fool on a few occasions because he couldn't control that temper (or that mouth).

Manny's son is graduating this year. This will be the boys last year as a ball player. Manny had high hopes for him, as he is truly a gifted athlete and deserves the playing time, that by the way he is being denied. Politics in sports is a sad thing and the kids don't deserve some of the treatment that comes from it.

Recently Manny opened his mouth again and went off the deep end. His son wasn't there to witness it, but some of the other kids heard and told the boy what was said.
Now more fences need to be mended. His son finally understands that his dad loves him and only wants to help and protect him. But Manny has had to take a few days to gather his wits about him and try to undo the damage he feels that he has done.

I'm here to tell you that anybody who will put himself in harms way to protect his child is a great parent. We all go about it different and some of us have better results than others. It doesn't matter though, because that is our job. Manny did his job, just not in the way that many of us have done ours.

So to you Manny I want to say I think you are one hell of a dad. I know that one day you are going to look back at some of your blunders and realize that maybe it wasn't the best way to handle things, but the important thing was you tried. You have raised a great kid, and half of that is your doing. Don't let anybody ever tell you otherwise. I'm sorry that you are having those doubts, but you did right my friend.

Your boy will appreciate all you have done even more as he gets older and has a family of his own. So take heart Manny...You did right....


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Just a quick note. My brother in law was in a serious car accident. He broke his neck, his wrist, most of his ribs, and bruised a couple of organs in the process.

He hasn't woken up yet, and we are just waiting to find out what if any damage was done to his brain function.

I don't always see eye to eye with him, but he's still part of my family and I love him. I'm praying for you Bobby...

Got Values??  


If I'm not careful this blog is going to turn into a rant journal. I can not for the life of me understand some of the things I see on a regular basis. People don't care in general it seems. I know there are some good people in this world. I have met them and I deal with some on a very regular basis. They are fast becoming the exception instead of the rule.

Is money the true driving force now? I like to have a little myself, but I'm not gonna sell my soul to get it. Hard work used to be the answer to it. You worked hard and kept your nose to the grindstone as the saying goes. Do your job and then a little more. People will take notice if you are producing every day. That's not so true anymore. There are more and more leeches coming out of the woodwork. People that simply wait for someone else to do the footwork and then come in and take the credit. I see it on a regular basis. Great example here....A man works in the shop. He's a welder and general maintenance. He has come up with a much faster and efficient way to cut apart some material that needs to be disposed of. His supervisor approves his plan so the guy happily gets to work doing it his way and he indeed cut down on the time it took, as well as the expense of doing the job. Guess who got the praise? It wasn't the guy that came up with the idea. He was merely the tool that got the job done. They couldn't for one minute believe that he was smart enough to come up with the idea. His boss didn't have the integrity to admit that his worker did indeed not only come up with the idea, but implement it, and all with the help of nobody but himself and his own wits. Long story short, the supervisor got a nice little bonus check, and the worker got a pat on the back for doing the job. Two months later he left the company. He told them directly that he couldn't work for a company that thought so little of him as to believe him not intelligent enough to come up with that concept. It ate away at this guy. I don't blame him for a minute. The supervisor is still there and he is a bit hard pressed to get that job done now. They are finding out that sometimes there really are diamonds in the rough.

The point is that too many people want recognition and reward without putting in the work that is required to get those things. Instant gratification is a sad, repulsive thing. It offers nothing in the way of positive growth. Things come easy and you don't have a chance to appreciate what it takes to succeed. I promise that it won't always come easy, so the sooner you can learn perseverance, patience, and dammit integrity, the sooner you are that much closer to being a good person.

Money be damned. We don't have a lot of time here. Instead of spending it all chasing a buck, maybe we should take a step back and see where we live. Enjoy it for what it is. I think they call it living in the moment. Try it sometimes, it's a great feeling. I understand that we have to think of the future and that's ok, but that doesn't mean we should plan our futures by stepping on the shoulders of those that are working so diligently to provide for their own future.

The recipe for success hasn't changed, we have. It still takes the same core values that it always has to make a person successful. I see a ton of people with a lot of money and they are miserable. That should be setting off a couple of bells in our heads somewhere. Money is a tool like any other. It's used to give us comfort and security, but it's not the end all to the world. Money and no happiness is pointless, but on the other hand happiness and no money is not all so bad. I have spent plenty of years without and was nonetheless happy, because I realized what really matters.

Sometimes little things set me off, and this was one of those times. I don't like to see people getting pushed around and left on the sidelines because somebody doesn't want to recognize their contribution, or worse because somebody wants to steal their accomplishment.

At the end of the day, we don't really have much. We have to be able to look in the mirror and decide if we did right or wrong. We can make our excuses for our actions, but deep down it will always be there. Good or bad is relative I suppose, but I know that when I get home and sit down, I can say that I tried. I didn't do it at the expense of somebody either.

Values.... Got some?

Small Town U.S.A.  

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If you don't live in California then you have a better chance of understanding what a small town is. I grew up in a town of about 11,000. That is considered small by California standards. Don't get me wrong there are some that are far smaller, but it's still pretty small.

This town was great when I was growing up. I'm a child of the 70's and while I wasn't much into long hair, as a kid it was a pretty great time to grow up. We had small town department stores, and small town shoe stores, there were no convenience stores, just mom and pop markets. You could get a bottle of soda (not pop) for 10-25 cents. The best part being that when you returned the bottle you got a dime back. There was even this really cool soda bottle called the pop shoppe and when you returned a flat of them back to the store you could get half off of the next purchase of a flat. For those of you unfamiliar a flat of sodas would be 24 bottles in that time and place, not sure if it still holds true. In fact I'm not even sure you can still get a flat of sodas.

We had a great baseball park. You could use it for baseball, football (no soccer back then), softball, and the occasional jogger would run through the park as well. We had long winding park trails and at different intervals there were exercises that you could do. One with a chin up bar, and then maybe the next one with cut telephone poles where you stepped up and down off of them. We had a pond in the park and back when California picked people over fish, we could actually ride a raft from one pond down the canal and over to the other pond and still be in the park. Night ball games were awesome. The town turned out for Little League, and in fact they turned out for softball and football too. It was more than a sport, it was a chance for all of us to get together and relax. Say hey to each other and share a coke. Watch the ball game and cheer on your kid, friend, brother, or cousin.

The best part about my small town was every April we had an Ice Cream Social. If you don't know what that is I'm gonna tell you. It's the time when everybody gets together at the park. We all bring ice cream and drop it off at the big tables that were set up. Now a lot of the people in this small town made their own ice cream, but to be honest we didn't care all that much. All this ice cream was put out on tables and there were a group of people behind these tables. Now the people behind the tables were usually the women from the Historical Society or the Italian Club. They were all old (really old like late 70's early 80's). They would serve up ice cream in these little plastic bowls and hand them out to everybody that came up to the table. This didn't cost anything. Everybody donated something to it. If you couldn't donate some ice cream or bowls, then you were there because being part of the community was important. You still enjoyed the ice cream and the jokes and of course if you were a kid you got to be involved in one of the many carnival style games they had going. There would be a band playing mostly old fashioned big band music and there were always a few people that decided to dance a little bit while we all enjoyed our ice cream and played. This would go on all afternoon and into the evening. Most of the time, there would be at least a couple hundred people left in the evening and if that happened you just knew that a barbecue was coming on. Now this was a little less organized but nonetheless it was together.

Somebody would bring out the barbecue and suggest they were gonna make some burgers. Then the next thing you knew somebody else was gonna make some hot dogs. Then somebody else said "Hey I'll go get some chips and buns." Then somebody else would be getting something else and something else and pretty soon it was a block party but this block was a couple hundred strong and taking up a good 1/4 of the park. We would eat hot dogs and burgers, and drink those pop shoppe soda's and tell jokes and ride our rafts back and forth between the ponds. Our parents would sit and visit with each other. Funny thing, but nobody drank alcohol at these events. At last not where any of us saw. There weren't a bunch of drunks getting in fights, and there weren't any gang bangers stabbing each other. There were just families coming together as friends to have a get together.

Our town has grown up since then. Unfortunately it hasn't grown better. We had an ice cream social about 4 years ago. Only about 20 people showed up and they charged $2.50 for an ice cream. They wouldn't even take our ice cream and use it, saying that there was a liability issue (Whatever). We didn't buy ice cream and we didn't stay. We didn't know anybody that was there so what was the point. They were all sitting in their own little groups and didn't seem to want to make any acquaintances. I was a bit sad over the whole affair.

The department stores are gone now, so are all the mom and pop markets. We don't have the pop shoppe any more, and most people don't even know what a refundable soda bottle is or what it looks like for that matter. The ball park still has games, but the only people that get in the stands are family and friends for that team. Oh there might be a few diehards like me, but for the most part, you see mom's and dad's, brothers, and sisters. That's not a bad thing, but I sure would like to see neighbors and school friends too. They still play softball on a couple of the fields, but the football teams don't practice here any more. The other fields are all filled with soccer teams now. Travel Soccer, travel baseball, travel softball. That's the new craze. Play the same sport all year round, whether your kid wants to or not. Because after all how else are they going to get the big shoe contract right?

I guess I get a little bitter when I think of what we have traded. I realize we traded James Department Store for Wal-Mart. We traded Dominici's Market for 7-11. I don't have anything against the big business (well not much at least). I just wish for things to be a little bit more like they were. I guess it's sorta silly but I long for those days when moms and dads brought there kids to the park on that late April Saturday afternoon. They put out those big tables and struck up the band. Games were played and friends were made. For one full day, we were more than a town, we were a family.

Small Town U.S.A. I miss you................

Due Diligence...or Just OCD  

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It's a little strange how many of us arrive at our careers. I would venture to guess that most people don't end up doing what they planned in the early stages, you know when the world offered us everything and all we had to do was apply ourselves to it. I originally wanted to be a teacher. It was a strange goal considering I was in 5th grade when I was really thinking that I would like to help other kids, that might have some trouble learning the stuff we were learning.

I have jumped from what I dreamed of for what was realistic for my needs at the time. That doesn't mean that I couldn't go back and do it, I just decided that there are other areas that I could excel at which are of interest to me as well.

I will be the first to admit that what I do is not a beacon for a lot of people. Many of us found this type of job because originally they didn't have anyone else to fill it. Rules, regulations, health and safety just don't sound fun. Policy and procedure sound formal and uninviting. I understand that, but there is something to be said for it all. It ensures that people aren't worked to death, and I promise you it also means that a great deal less people are hurt and dying while at work. It also goes overboard in too many areas to cover here, but we take the good with the bad.

All of that so that I could get to the point of this. I was recently told I would be giving some training to a group of workers not employed directly by our company. I don't like to do this, because the possibility of liability is way to high. All it takes is somebody getting hurt and saying they didn't understand what I trained them and here comes a lawsuit. The boss wants it done and that is it. I have never had to do this as I'm new to this industry.

I have mentioned a certain person I am forced to work around that is less than helpful. He is in fact always looking for ways to make things difficult and has even tried a few times to sabotage what I'm doing. I understand it for what it is and avoid and ignore it when possible. He is the reason I'm doing this training, since he put the bug in the boss's ear. So I've begun getting all the training materials together and realized that this is going to be lengthy. Most of the other guys just gave out handouts and had these guys sign papers. I'm not inclined to work that way. I have studied some of this crap to death to make sure that I have answers for their questions. Even if I don't do this particular work I have to know how to do it because I'm starting to see that these guys are left on their own with a sort of sink or swim mentality.

I was preparing the lesson plan and my "friend" came in and seeing the paperwork, sort of laughed and asked what I was planning to do. I explained to him that they needed all this information and if they haven't been getting it in the past they will be getting it now. He told me that it's easier to just talk to them about it, and let them sign their papers. I see now who was giving the training before, even telling him that whoever did it prior was obviously not qualified to instruct. He got a little defensive and told me I suffer from OCD. I laughed at him (not in a friendly way).

I may have OCD, I'm not sure. I do believe in due diligence. I think that if somebody is expecting to learn something maybe they want to know all the ins and outs of it. I know I would. This is dangerous stuff and they have every right to know as much about it as I can find out. I guess in a way I became that teacher I wanted to be a long time ago. Just didn't figure it would be in this type of a class environment.

My Literary Hero  

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A while back, I mentioned that I would sooner or later put a post about my all time favorite author, and literary hero. Well I think that this is as good a time as any to offer up a little info on Louis Dearborn L'Amour.

Louis L'Amour, in case you didn't know was a western writer. Actually I take that back, he was a western man that wrote. This guy was the real McCoy. He lived the life of adventure. He was a cattle skinner, a hay baler, a professional boxer, and a merchant marine. He was also a guard at an old mine. He had a number of jobs in his youth. He was bored with school and left at the ripe ol' age of 15.

All of these jobs served him well as he learned a great deal about the life of the men from the old west. He received first hand knowledge of many of the great gunfighters and various characters associated with America's early western era.

If you follow his writing, you will know that his most involved series involved the Sackett family. The Sacketts were a rather large family strung throughout the hills of Tennessee and parts beyond. Their story was told from it's Welsh beginnings and brought forward all the way into the late 1800's. This was a family that stuck together no matter what. They had only to call for help and sooner or later another Sackett would be nearby to lend a hand.

My early teen years were spent living in the old west through Louis L'Amour. I got the opportunity to be on cattle drives, and to be a town Marshall. I was hunting gold through New Mexico and fighting loggers in a frontier town. All of this was compliments of Mr. L'Amour. While he was criticized often for his writing style, you need only read one of his books to understand that he was a storyteller. Plain and simple this man had a gift. He could put you in the middle of his story and there you stayed till he was good and ready to let you out.

Not to jump off the subject too much, but that is what attracted me to Tina at The Clean White Page. She has that same rare ability to put you into her story until she is ready to release you from her grasp. There is a lot of Louis L'Amour sneaking out of Tina. She just doesn't write westerns...YET!!

Louis L'Amour won a ton of awards for his genius. He won the Congressional Gold Medal, The Medal of Freedom, and he was also presented with an honorary PhD from Jamestown College in North Dakota.

Sadly he lost his battle with lung cancer in 1988. It's sort of weird how people can remember where they were when Elvis Presley died (for those of you alive when he was). Well I can remember vividly being in my living room, and in fact reading a L'Amour book, when the news mentioned the death of the most prolific western author of all times. That alone should speak volumes to this man. He surpassed even the likes of Zane Grey. Little side note for you... He was also responsible for 4 Hopalong Cassidy books. He denied it till the day he died, but after his death his son admitted to the fact that Hoppy did indeed get written (in part) by L'Amour.

So while I could never do the man justice by describing the little bit I managed here, I will leave you with this. If you haven't ever read Louis L'Amour give it a try. If you aren't a western fan, try one of his detective stories. Or maybe you could try some of his poetry. Yeah that's right this guy did it all. Including 2 works of non-fiction. If you really want to get a sense of the man then read his biography "Education of a Wandering Man". It's a truly unique look into the life of an incredibly gifted, creative storyteller.

Gazing into the Crystal Ball  

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This is the first real chance I've had today to sit down and check out all the blogs. This is pretty late in the day for me, but work sorta kept me closed away from the real world ALL DAY.

Anyway, as I was making my run through all the blogs I enjoy on a regular basis, I got to Sarah's. If you don't follow her, then now is as good a time as any to check her out and see why you should. This was her post today, and it's but one layer of all the great stuff you will read over there.

So I was tagged to give my predictions of where I see myself in 10 years. Good question...

Well I figure that IF we aren't destroyed by the Mayan meteor prediction there is a good chance that I'll be in either Idaho or Montana. I've been working towards that end for quite some time, and I'm pretty sure that in 10 years I'll be at one or the other. I'm thinking I'll be a grandpa by that time too :) I will have made my attempt to get at least one of my rambling stories published. I don't know that I'll get the honor of a publishing, but I will be secure in the fact that I tried my best to make it happen. I'm going to be enjoying my refurbished barn that we will be living in and I'm going to have my big ol' kitchen where I can cook all those wonderful Italian dishes whenever I want to. My middle son will be graduating college and moving on to work on his doctorate and my little one will be getting ready to graduate H.S. They will be happy well adjusted kids, and my wife and I will be breathing a little easier because we will have some great kids doing good things with their lives. Well that and the air in Idaho and Montana is sooo much better than here in California.

So that is my 10 year forecast. I don't know how accurate it really is, but I'm thinking that a little of that will be true enough. Some of it maybe a little sooner and a few things maybe a little later. So I'm supposed to tag some more people with this one. So we are gonna see who actually reads my drivel. I tag
Asblackasobama @ I Think It's Interesting
Samantha @ Apple Juice and Milk
Kitty Moore @ Kitty Tells it as it Is
Ally @ Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
Dayne @ Coach Your Mind
Desertson @ Writersoup Fuel for the Mind

I know that I'm supposed to tag more, but I like to "bend" the rules too. :)

Such a short post for a long winded person like myself, but I think that it will have to do for this evening.....

Pride, Ego and Shame  

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There have been a number of posts on here where I've spoken fondly of my childhood. I enjoyed growing up in many ways. I'm not going to say it was perfect, because we all know that it's just not the reality of most childhoods. There are ups and downs that go with any growth. It's never going to be a completely painless process.

While I had a great family unit, that doesn't mean that we had all the material things that make life easier. When I was pretty young, maybe 8 or 9 my dad still had the old manual lawn mower. Now if I got in trouble I would have to mow the lawn with that dang thing. It's not the easiest piece of equipment to push I can tell you that. For those of you that don't know the old reel mowers that were manual were people powered. In other words the faster you pushed the faster the reel turned and cut the grass. If you were lucky you had a really sharp blade. If you were unlucky then it was dull (my dad kept it dull if I was going to mow). We had a dishwasher, her name was Dee and she was my sister, and sometimes it was another guy named (yep you guessed it). We washed the dishes after dinner. Pick up your room or don't have anything was pretty much the mantra around our house.

The point is we did without lots of things that weren't essential. Not just dishwashers and lawn mowers either. We got school clothes once a year and they better last or you would have patches on your pants. For little boys that wasn't a big deal compared to little girls. My sister never said much about it, but looking back I think it bothered her. I know that it bothered my mom, but you do with what you have right?

We were never hungry and we were never meant to feel anything but loved though, and that is something more important than any RC car or video game they could have found for us.

With that type of background I can't understand for the life of me why I have chosen to live as I did for so long. When I was a bit younger and struggling as many young couples do, I would never tell my mom and dad how bad it was. I always made sure we had food on the table, but that doesn't mean that we always had other things that might make life bearable. You know little things, like a phone, or in a few cases power. I'm not saying we lived like cave dwellers. But there were a few occassions when the power was shut off because we just didn't have the money. I was too proud to ask for help from my parents. At the time I chose to put my family through those trials because of Pride or maybe a little shame.

Funny thing was that even though I never admitted to my parents when we were in these situations, they could tell. Maybe the stress on my face sometimes, or maybe my wife said something to them. Regardless of the why I can still remember my mom calling me (yeah we had a phone most of the time) and telling me that she was clearing out the cupboard and had some things that she thought maybe I would want. If not she would just give them to my brother. I would go and get what was basically a care package from mom. She did it in a way to make me not feel like I was taking charity. It's amazing what parents will do to save their kids a little discomfort.

Time moved on and things obviously improved. I have managed to make it out of all that gunk that was basically growing up. I learned a few valuable lessons along the way too. First of all, Top Ramen is indeed the most versatile food ever invented. I'm a Ramen pro and can make at least 2 dozen dishes using it as the main ingredient (look out Iron Chef). Second, if you are in trouble don't be too damned proud to ask for help as long as you realize that it's a temporary thing, and only requires temporary help. Do for yourself when you can. Thrid and most important is I realized that my crappy way of dealing with this was to hide it away from those that cared about me the most. They wanted to help, but because they didn't want to hurt my pride either they didn't step in. Ha ha I guess that makes them enablers... Regardless the lesson to be learned is never be afraid to step out there and ask for help if you really need it. Pride is a dangerous thing. It does far more damage than good in my opinion. It goes both ways, don't assume that somebody doesn't need help just because they won't ask for it. Pride be damned. Offer assistance if someone near and dear to you is in need. Don't be too afraid of hurting the ego of those you love. They will understand eventually that you are only hoping to lend a helping hand.

Pride, Ego and Shame...Three of the worst things in the world sometimes. They are also the three things that taught me the best life lessons I could learn.

Ok, I'm done preaching, so now go back to looking at those really cool pictures from Santa Barbara :)

Santa Barbara Cont (with pics)  

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So I thought that maybe a few of you might like to see a couple pics from the weekend (Kristy)

So here are a few...I don't take many pictures, but my wife won't put the camera down...I just pulled out a few from the hotel and the ocean and the mission..

Hope you enjoy

This is the front of the beautiful Biltmore...

This is the courtyard...You could smell the Jasmine wherever you walked..

A really cool tree in the courtyard...It was huge and old and gnarled...We loved it..

These are just a couple of shots of the room...There were more somewhere, but I couldn't find them...The wife really enjoyed the dual sinks in the bathroom (guess I'm a sink hog)

When I looked across the street this was the view..

Down the street from the hotel..

If you looked one way you saw this..

If you looked the other we found this.. (very cool)