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A “real” job?

I used to have a “real” job during the 80s and 90s. I worked for a pipeline company, at one of their compressor stations. Natural gas would come into the station via several large diameter pipes, enter large natural gas compressor engines, it was then compressed and pressurized and then discharged to continue its journey north, or sometimes be injected into large underground storage facilities. I spent 15 years with that pipeline company, and then during the economic downturn of the mid 90s, 25 or so of us lost our jobs. You’ve heard the term – downsized, another word for being laid off, permanently.

And so began my journey of what is known as a “stay-at-home dad.” And I loved it! Once my two kids were in school, I decided that I’d go back to school myself and in 2006 I graduated from Slippery Rock University with a degree in English, Creative Writing. At the time I thought a degree in writing would be beneficial and I didn’t think I’d have any trouble finding a full-time job editing or writing about gardening and/or maybe music. I was wrong! It’s been a struggle ever since and I continue to think that I should have stuck with my first major – information technology.

But as we all know, what’s done is done and I can’t turn back the hands of time. Losing that job with the pipeline company was traumatic; it paid well, had great benefits, and had us on what we thought was the highway to the high life, or at least a solid means of buying or building a new house, paying off a new car or two, and saving enough money to put our kids through college.

17 years later and I’m still struggling. But I’m not complaining. I realize millions of folks are in worse shape than I’m in. I’ve always told my kids to never walk backwards, because more often than not you end up stepping in the same mess you just walked away from. It’s a  cliché but life is a journey, and you either hang on for the ride or get thrown off.

I started a new job recently, it involves people and plants – two things I love being around. I’ll reveal more details later, there’s a 90 day probationary period and I don’t want to announce anything permanent just yet. It’s been a while since I’ve had a “real” job, and readjusting is taking some time. But as my oldest son’s friend always says about tough chores: “It ain’t no hill for a climber.”

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Say it ain’t so, Stephen

TC Conner:

Ok, what about Paul Shaffer?

Originally posted on Mindful Digressions:

I’m sure you’ve heard the devastatingly tragic, heartbreaking, heartrending, gut wrenching, brain-twisting, finger-popping news by now. It’s all over the airwaves. It’s the top story on Fox News, where all of the on air personalities are experiencing non-stop orgasms.

I’ll have what they’re having.

As I sit here at my computer composing this post, I can barely contain my anguish. The tears that are streaming down my cheeks are literally flooding the floor beneath me. Literally, I tell you! I need to go change my socks.

colbert report bannerThis can’t be happening. But, alas it is. Stephen Colbert is leaving The Colbert Report and will be taking over The Late Show on CBS when David Letterman retires next year.

What?!?

I am not a religious person, but I watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report religiously. I get all the news I need from those two shows. Seriously!

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I Need A Vacation

TC Conner:

We all need a vacation, some more so than others.

Originally posted on Fish Of Gold:

I’m going on vacation. I’m going to show up at all of your houses with my dog. We’re going to eat up all of your potato chips and use up all of your hot water. I promise that I won’t overstay my welcome, not that I was welcomed in the first place. Expect me this evening.

Really, it’s 2014. Why don’t we have instant travel yet? Why does it take hours and hours just to get to the other side of my country? Where is my flying car? If we had instant travel, I would eat up your potato chips with glee. I would like to be here now:

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It would be really nice to sit outside on a spring evening drinking tea with some of you. I wonder what you’re like. Even those of you who post pictures of yourselves and vlogs, I wonder what you’re like. Videos don’t…

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Our children are animals

TC Conner:

It’s a downright shame!

Originally posted on Mindful Digressions:

church sign This is a real sign in front of a real church in Kentucky. Those are real letters spelling out real words (well, mostly real words). This picture was not created or modified using Photoshop.

And there is so much wrong with this sign and what’s on it.

Let’s start out with the most obvious — the spelling error. “SUCEED.” Huh? Well, as a result of my extensive research, I have learned that “suceed” really is a word.

Yes, According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, the word “suceed” refers to “an insulated container used especially to store liquefied gases, having a double wall with a vacuum between the walls and silvered surfaces facing the vacuum.”

And the Urban Dictionary definition of “suceed” is that it’s an “up-and-coming word that you say when there is nothing but a hot, steamy pile of FAIL building up.”

So maybe…

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Fear of low phone battery

Are you one of those people who’s afraid to be stuck with a dead phone battery? Once you get to your destination, do you immediately search for the nearest receptacle or maybe a charging kiosk if you’re at a mall?

I sometimes think I’m one of those people, even when my phone battery hasn’t dropped below 50% charged. What are we afraid will happen if our phone dies on us? Will I miss an important phone call or text? Will I need to make an important phone call only to find that my phone battery is dead?

It’s not only cell phones, it’s all the other hand-held electronic gadgets we carry around – iPads and other idevices, tablets, phablets, etc., etc. We’re so connected with and to our cell phones and iPads that if we lose power to one or the other, it feels like doomsday!

I remember a time when the only electronic gadget I had was something called a transistor radio. It used a nine-volt battery and you could only listen to AM radio stations. Archaic ain’t it?

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Regency TR-1

It sounded terrible, but I didn’t notice back then. I think I also had an earphone, made for one ear. Imagine that, listening to music with only one earbud, how did we get through those times?

Some folks say we’d be better off if things were simpler like they were back in the days of transistor radios, hopscotch, and Etch a Sketch. I don’t know if that’d be the case or not. I guess it’s soothing, in a way, to think of simpler times; lazy nights during summer,  lying on my back in the grass gazing up at the stars, imagining what was beyond them.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy technology, the Star Rover app on my iPad takes me to the stars from a sitting position. I still wonder if there’s anything beyond the stars, wondering is timeless. However, it needs recharging every once in a while. But that’s okay, there’s no physical requirement needed to do that.

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What is your reward?

Last October, after a routine visit to a Veteran’s outpatient clinic about a bothersome ache in my index finger, I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic. Routine because I wasn’t expecting news about anything other than why my finger was aching. Blood pressure checks are routine and when they checked mine before I talked with the doctor about my finger they noticed it was rather high – around 170 / 90 or so (the bottom number may have been a bit higher, I don’t quite remember).

After checking my finger (which eventually led to an appointment with a specialist about radial tunnel syndrome) the doctor asked about my lifestyle habits and notified me of my high blood pressure. She ordered blood work and sent me home with a blood pressure checker. After a week of monitoring my blood pressure, I saw that something needed to be done! What surprised me was the fact that  I had no clue and didn’t realize that a double, and sometimes triple, whopper with cheese every now and then, and a couple of sugary Ski sodas a day, and chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate was leading to what could turn out to be type 2 diabetes.

Yes, I was a dummy! I should’ve realized what I was doing to myself. I guess that’s why they call it “the silent killer.”

Please do yourself a favor, if you’re not already, and begin watching what you’re eating and limit, or better yet, eliminate all the junk food from your diet! Thank the good Lord I have an exceptionally talented cook for a wife! Without her cooking (and her help monitoring what I ate) I know it would have been a much more difficult struggle for me!

I had a six-month check up the other day and my doctor said I could be a poster child for those wanting to make healthy lifestyle changes! My bad cholesterol plummeted to almost normal levels from last October till now,my blood pressure has returned to almost normal (137/80), and I’ve lost almost 20 pounds (from 186 to 167). All of that without medications! And you can do it too if you’re determined! GET STARTED NOW!!

What’s your reward? Two words: BETTER HEALTH!

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The drop!

 

Spring

If I had to choose one season out of the four as my favorite it would be spring. I love the essence of spring, its aroma, its colors. I love the sound of spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer), calling out from the pond that lies next to my wife’s herb garden. It’s such a grandiose time, new life is sprouting everywhere. Spring rejuvenates my soul. I’m always amazed by the transformation from the browns and grays of winter, to the sharp contrasting yellows, reds, and whites of spring.

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It might seem depressing when you think about everything that’s going on outside our little slice of real estate; the missing Malaysian jet, Russian aggression, and who knows what else? But the seasons never notice any of it. Trees still leaf out in spring, perennial flowers creep to life, and my grass will keep me busy mowing for the first few weeks of warm weather. And that’s what helps keep me grounded, that and music. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t plant a flower or pick an old guitar every once in a while.

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If I were a collector of sorts, it’d be hard to choose what I would want to collect most: new and rare flowers or new and rare guitars.

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I’d be okay with either. As long as I can still smell and hear spring!

'Mom's' Forsythia

‘Mom’s’ Forsythia

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