Don’tcha love homeowner’s associations?

Houston has been suffering it’s hottest and driest summer in recorded history.  With 2 inches of rain since February 1, my lawn is looking pathetic.  The City of Houston has imposed lawn-watering restrictions.  I don’t reside within the city, but I’ve been doing my part – even draining the condensation from my portable A/C into the Pur water filter to drink.  Needless to say, watering my lawn just doesn’t rank up there in the top of my priority list.

So my homeowner’s association, with their infinite wisdom, wrote me a letter to complain about the condition of my lawn.  Looking at my neighbors, it’s likely they wrote letters to 90% of my neighborhood.  They told me that I need to water my lawn.


In the middle of a drought, they want me to water my lawn.

Let’s hear it for the brains of the operation.  Since the letter of the law – the DEED RESTRICTIONS – do not exempt droughts, I am compelled to comply.  Regardless of the fact that watering my lawn may deprive firefighters of water – regardless of the fact that watering my lawn may reduce the levels of our water table – regardless of the fact that watering my lawn may actually cause someone to become dehydrated…  I must abide by the rules.

We have done a very good job of keeping our lawn mowed and our flowerbed weed free.  We have done a very good job of keeping our place maintained during this recession to avoid being those people.  But the house around the corner – which has been foreclosed and unmaintained for the last two years – looks like something out of a horror movie.  My neighbor and I are contemplating opening it as a haunted house in October and charging admission.  We won’t have to do much, it’s already falling apart!

And they want to write me up for not watering my lawn during water restrictions.

What the heck ever happened to common sense?  When did we become so blinded by rules that we refused to listen to our brains?  Why did the family that signed the original deed restrictions circulate an unsuccessful petition to have our neighborhood removed from them?  Because the Homeowner’s Associations are incapable of thinking.

People, let’s use our common sense.  Refuse to buy houses that have deed restrictions.  Force the street gestapo out of business.  Let us get back to the business of living.  Don’t we have to bow to politicians and our bosses enough?  Our homes should be our sanctuary.


…while I’m waiting…

I said it before and I’ll say it again. Letting God drive is like riding a roller-coaster. One day you’re up. The next day you’re down. Some days you loop-the-loop. But you never know what’s coming next.

I’ve been offered, and accepted, permanent employment. But I’m still a contractor. I want insurance. So I’m not happy. What does our Provider have up His proverbial sleeve now?

The funny thing is, I know he has something up His sleeve. I just don’t know what it is. Somehow the bills will get paid. Not the extras, like the dinner out last week, but the necessities. There is always, miraculously, a little left over – just so long as we don’t over-do it.

But I’m greedy. I want a little more. I want to show my kids the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. I want to show them every place I’ve ever lived. I want to eat an occasional steak. I want… I want… I want…

Then I think about the poor soul I passed under the bridge this morning. At 4:00 am. It was already over 80F and he didn’t have a cool place to sleep. Sweaty and dirty, he hoped to get just a little shut-eye on a concrete mattress before the day warmed up to another record high.

And I got mad because my air conditioning couldn’t keep it below 85F at 4:00 pm.

God can put things in perspective. I can do little to help the guy under the bridge. But I can put a little jingle in his cup. I can feel good about that, right?

I am content with what God has given me. I really am. But there are days when it just seems like more would be better.

Thanks for listening.

Droppin’ the ball

Yesterday I missed my “postaday2011” tag.  On a challenge from WordPress, I’ve been trying to post at least once a day, every day.  When I’m particularly loquacious, I’ll write two or three posts and schedule them for down the road.

Yesterday, though, I dropped the ball.

For all my talk of peace, there’s still something that won’t stop chewin’ on my head.  And I can’t quite place it.  But it’s getting smaller and less annoying every day.  You’ve probably heard that life is a journey, not a destination.  The same goes for peace.  You never arrive there, you are always getting closer and closer.  At least that’s how it appears to me.

So I dropped the ball.  The OCD in me wants to jump in a time-machine and write a post for yesterday.  It can’t be done.  The manic-depressive in me wants to jump and scream because I’m not living up to my potential.

The Holy Spirit in me wants to say it just don’t matter.  Is anyone going to die because I didn’t post?  No.  Is anyone going to yell at me for not posting?  No.

I dropped the ball.  And I’m really not worried about it.  See, that nagging little worry in the back of my head is getting even smaller.

And I posted today.

That was a short post.

Where’s my Muse?

I don’t really want to write today
Chest cold, tired and nothing to say
No, I just don’t want to write today
And you’ll get over it…

Apologies to Wham.  Nah – I never liked them anyway.  But when I said, “I don’t want to write today,” for some reason that tune popped into my head.


So, enjoy this non-post.

Help My Dog!

We love our dogs.  All four of them.  The chihuahua, the lab/collie, the great dane and the husky.  We love them.

Did I mention we love them?

Today we had an adventure.  Yewsten was shut down because of icy roads.  We don’t know how to drive on ice, and we admit it.  But the meteorologists had promised snow – which did not happen.  My daughters were very upset, but we intended to make the best of it.  Our backyard was icy and they enjoyed playing on it.  But it wasn’t long before the ice was gone from playing on it.

We decided to go to the park.  There would be a lot of untouched ice there, right?  And we had fun over there.  Our two biggest dogs joined us.  The husky (Blue) and the great dane (ShyAnn)  And we let them run.  And our ShyAnn lost her collar.  But that wasn’t the adventure.

We got cold and hungry, so we took a break and went to a leading fast food taco place for 35% beef with 65% fillers.  It was yummy.

Then we returned to the park for more fun on the ice.  About ten minutes into it, ShyAnn started yelping.  She had gotten two toes stuck in the grate.  We tried and tried, but could not get her free.  Now, carrying a cell phone is not our normal way.  So I went to where the pay phone was to call for help.  But the pay phone was no longer there.  Maybe there’s one across the street at the soccer fields?

I started to cross the street and a cop came by.  Flagging him down, he graciously offered to help.  But he had no tools with which to help.  He did try to call the fire department, but they were too busy with people emergencies.  I certainly do understand that, and I salute them for their dedication to people, particularly on days in Yewsten that got all the way up to 34F.

The girls, Blue and I went home so I could get my hands on some tools.  But I did not have enough extension cords to get from the pavilion to where ShyAnn was.  I drove back to the park, trying to call for more extension cords along the way.  None were forthcoming.

A tow truck led me into the park.  He pulled out boltcutters and cut the grate for us.  With an officer of the law present we were not worried about this act being misunderstood for vandalism.  ShyAnn came home with this piece of grate on her paw like an oversized ring.

For two hours, my wife and I worked with the Dremel tool and removed the grate from ShyAnn’s foot.

I would like to thank DPS Officer Hutchinson and the nameless driver from Platinum MotorSports for assisting us today.  My wife spent two hours hunched over in the cold, keeping ShyAnn warm and calm.  My kids were incredibly well-behaved.  And I got to look like a useless fool who took his dogs and kids to a park on a day that looked like a margarita.

This is a No-*(@#(

You know a sailor is about to tell you a sea story when he starts out with the line, “This is a no-…” and he’s not talking about a head without a commode.

21 years ago, somewhere in the North Pacific, 72 ships from different nations had completed Operation Team Spirit ’89.  Operation Team Spirit is a drill to save South Korea from Northern agression.  In recent years, it has culminated in shots fired from the North ‘cuz they’re tiny bullies who are trying to prove themselves.  But that’s another story for another day.

So, on that beautiful sunlit November morning, we ventured out on fairly calm seas for morning quarters.  Our muster spot was on the starboard bow.  We could count 72 ships before the horizon.  That meant we were very close to each other in nautical terms.  Ranges were in the 100-yard range instead of the usual 2-3 miles.

Behind us were the behomoth carriers, USS Carl Vinson and USS Enterprise, with the amphibious command ship USS Blue Ridge in between.  Smaller ships were visible to the horizon.  The formation was set up so a high-flying aircraft could take a picture of us all.  Our speed was about 5 knots.

Off our starboard bow was the USS Antietam.  She was a brand-new gas-turbine driven ship.  The propeller shafts rotated at a constant speed.  Sleek and fast, she was much smaller than the USS Long Beach on which I served.

As we mustered for quarters, Petty Officer Sullivan read to us from the Plan of the Day.  It was supposed to be a formal military gathering, but we were a small division so it looked more like a large family at the breakfast table.

The staccato blast of a ship’s whistle broke what little discipline we had.  A destroyer, the USS Hewitt, came into view.  Her American flag had been lowered, and that morning I learned it was a sign of distress.  Hitting her whistle at the rate of 1 blast per second, she steamed across the formation.  It appeared she was oblivious of anything in her path – like the Antietam

We were close enough to the Antietam that we could hear her collision alert.  Apparently the captain ordered full-reverse, and the variable-pitch screws had her backing down so quickly that water came over the fantail (the flat part on the back of the ship).  It had been over 10 feet from the deck to the waterline just seconds ago.

Men on the Antietam scrambled and assumed “brace for shock” positions.  She began to turn to the left – directly toward the bow of the Long Beach, about 20 feet forward of where I was standing.  That’s when our ship turned hard enough to the left that we were losing footing.

Our turn cut off the Blue Ridge, which turned and cut off the Enterprise, which turned and…  Meanwhile, ships to our starboard were turning right to avoid the Hewitt which was still steaming straight across the formation.

This escapade was frightening when it occurred, but is funny in retrospect.  We found out later that there had been a loss of communication between the bridge and engineering onboard Hewitt.  She could no longer steer, nor could she change speed.

I can find nothing about this incident on the ‘net and I thought it needed to be there.  And, after my last post, I figured something with a little more meat may be a little more appetizing.

That’s a Big Cup!

Random thoughts for a Friday.

At work, I have a “Thirst Universe” water jug.  With a straw.  It holds 64oz of H2O.  I drink two of these every day on doctor’s orders.  And it gets people talking whenever they see me fill it.  “That’s a big cup,” they say.  And it is.  It’s big enough that when I have it in the car it won’t tip over.

I also have a coffee cup with the Periodic Table on it.  Geeks love it.  And I’ve used it for reference a number of times.  “Is carbon a metalloid?”  “Is tin lighter than gold?”

My friend told me a good cajun joke.  I told my boss.  Then she told me her maiden name was Thibodeaux.  She had mercy.  I’m still employed.

Nothing says “Good times” like old Van Halen with Diamond Dave at the helm.

Is George Soros ready to take over the world?

Why am I still here?  I should be at home.  In bed.  With a huge shot of NyQuil…  “The Q is talkin’ to me!”

Inspired by Lennon

And so this is Christmas.
And what have you done?

Well, that was the inspiration right there. This is Christmas. What have I done?

Is the world a better place because of me? Well, I’ll leave that up to God. After all, only He knows for sure. Most of the time I say it’s not. Then someone comes up to me and says I’m totally wrong…

Another year older and a new one just begun

I hit the big four-five this year. Halfway to 90. My age is now over most in-town speed limits. And I’m somehow feeling younger. Less to worry about and more to do with my family. More time to spend with friends.

And so this is Christmas!  I hope you have fun!  The near and the dear ones, the old and the young!

Well, I just can’t top that.

Merry Christmas to all my friends and family.  Especially to the two people who comment on this blog. 🙂

Chairman of the Bored

I’m bored. Not only do I not have a day job, my night job is extremely s-l-o-w. So I’m trying to find something constructive to do. Like clean the glass for the fourth time. Or dust behind the registers. Now I’m blogging. Cuz it’s marginally constructive.

That’s rambling at its finest.


The Ministry of Lost Souls

Ten days ago, I blogged about Christian reality in secular heavy metal.  Today, as a follow-up, I would like to tell you about one of the bands we discussed.  Dream Theater is a progressive rock group that mixes all I love about rock music.  They are Yes meets Metallica.  In 2007, they released “Systematic Chaos”.  I dare you to listen to this album through Christian glasses and tell me what you hear.

Unfortunately, my iPod only got three of the songs from the CD:

So, I listened to those three songs, over and over again, whilst cleaning out my garage.  I’ll troubleshoot later.  There are bigger headaches than that…  Anyway – those three songs add up to forty minutes of music.  Working outside when the temperature is pushing 100° F and the humidity is pushing 100%, one’s mind tends to wander.  Mine wandered.  I rocked out to these three songs as heavy metal and as progressive rock.

Then I put on my Christian glasses.  Read the lyrics to “The Ministry of Lost Souls“.  Imagine Christ singing it.  Imagine Him singing it to YOU.
Remember me?
I gave you life
You would not take it
Your suffering
was all in vain
It’s almost over now
Don’t turn your back on paradise

I gave you life and you would not take it.  Your suffering was all in vain.  Don’t turn your back on paradise.

Go back to “In the Presence of Enemies.”  Much like Darth Sidious (Chancellor Palpatine) from Star Wars, the devil calls us with flattery and empty promises:
Do you still wait for your God
And the symbol of your faith?

I can free you from this Hell and misery
You should never be ashamed my son
I can give you power beyond anything
Trust me you will be the chosen one

Trust me.  Yeah, you’re from the government and you’re here to help me, right?

Most of the songs on Systematic Chaos offer a seemingly beautiful promise from an unexpected source.  A kiss from a vampire in “Forsaken”.  A bottle of booze in “Repentance”.  Compulsions in “Constant Motion”.  Each of these promises turns out to be hollow, when faced with the source.  I’ll let you learn how the story ends on your own.  Buy the CD.  Listen to the words.  And let me know what you think.