Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"Z" is for Zoo

When my children were younger, (by younger I mean young enough that they still appreciated their father and hadn't learned how to talk back yet) we would take weekly road trips. I had a job where I worked long hours and didn't see the family much during the week, but I always had weekends off and we liked to spend it on the road. Every Saturday, we would load up the car, head to Huck's to grab some gas station road trip food (mini tacos, egg rolls, sodas, etc.) and hit the road.

Some days, we ended up in a state park. A few times we stumbled onto a small town festival. Other times, we would drive into a big city. Often, we didn't even have a destination in mind when we left the house. We would just pick a direction and start driving. I loved these trips.

One particular Saturday, we decided to head to the zoo. When it comes to zoo trips, we are really lucky. We live in southern Illinois and the St. Louis Zoo is less than 90 minutes away. This is the zoo I grew up going to and it spoiled me for other zoos. It is ranked as one of the best zoos in the entire country, so I always end up disappointed when I am visiting someone in another part of the country and we end up at a lesser zoo. Our zoo is awesome. Suck it, Cleveland.

I was particularly excited for this trip because my kids were at that magical age. Kirsten was two and Christian was six. They would think the animals were the coolest things in the world to get to see. Plus, it was spring time and we had been looking forward to getting out of the house after the long winter.

Once we got there, we headed to the exhibit I always insist that we visit first. THE PENGUINS! I love penguins. I always have. This practice of seeing the penguins as soon as we get there first started when I was a child and I still do it when I go back to visit. After I see the penguins, I don't care where we go. I am happy.

I couldn't wait to share these magnificent birds with the kids and hurried them into the penguin house. As soon as we got inside, I unstrapped Kirsten from her stroller, put her up on my shoulders and turned around to see this:


Chicka-Chicka-Wa-Waa
"OK, let's see what's happening on the other side of the enclosure."

We moved further down to get away from the happy couple and were met with another public penguin porn performance. However, this time it was more like a penguin orgy. There were at least half a dozen penguin couples getting an early jump on the day…and each other. As much as I love penguins, I decided that maybe we should come back later. I don't allow guests in my bedroom to watch without paying admission and since the St. Louis Zoo is free, this just didn't feel right. Plus, I had my kids with me.

We worked our way up the hill to Big Cat Country to take in the jungle cats. My kids lost interest in the leopard pretty quickly because it just sat there.  The panther couldn't be seen, but the tigers were much more playful.


In the very next enclosure, the lions were up to the same thing. My wife commented that the animals seem to be enjoying the spring time weather as much as we were.

About 20 minutes later, we learned that the monkey house was not the place to be right now either. I will spare you the pictures. They are much more graphic.

We left the zoo after being there less than two hours, but in that time we got to see elephants, buffalo, three different species of bear, antelopes and even snakes getting it on. We decided that in future years, we would wait until later in the season to visit the zoo.




Happily participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, 1,656 bloggers are working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day but Sundays for a total of 26 days.

Click here to visit the website and get more information to see if you might want to join in next year. It's a lot of fun, introduces you to hundreds of new blogs and gives your writing some fantastic exposure.

YAY!!! I made it!!!

Monday, April 29, 2013

"Y" is for Yemen

I am fascinated with culture. I love visiting new places, eating new foods, and learning new languages. This is part of the reason I chose my college major of teaching English. I want to see the entire world.

I have a special love for Southeast Asia. I would love to get a job in that part of the world when I graduate. China, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Burma, etc. I love that part of the world.

When I have gotten to travel, I've done my best to avoid the tourist areas. If possible, I like to stay with a local, eat what they eat and go to the places that they go. It's the way of life I am interested in more than the architecture and attractions.

Once I have my degree, whether I end up in Yemen (there's your 'Y'), Zaire, or Burkina Faso, I can't wait to see where I end up.


Happily participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, over 1,600 bloggers are working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day but Sundays for a total of 26 days.

Click here to visit the website and get more information to see if you might want to join in next year. It's a lot of fun, introduces you to hundreds of new blogs and gives your writing some fantastic exposure.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

"X" is for Xenoglossophobia

Xenoglossophobia
     noun - fear of foreign languages

Pictures don't do it justice
Several years ago, I took a trip to New York City with my daughter to see the Tim Burton exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. We arrived in town a few days early to take in the sites. We arrived at Times Square about midnight on a Thursday. The place was packed.

In addition to all the amazing billboards, I was fascinated by the number of languages I could hear spoken around us. Standing in one spot I heard German, Russian, Czech, French, Thai and something that I believe was Klingon, but I couldn't be sure.

I love language. (I am not scared of it as the title suggests, but you come of with a topic starting with 'X'.) I loved learning Spanish and trying to communicate when I lived in San Juan. I am even in school to be an English language teacher. I get excited talking to people from other countries, getting to know them and hearing their stories.

The college I went to has a foreign students night once a year. They encourage all students from other countries to cook something from their homeland and bring it to a big fellowship dinner. I have some neighbors from Thailand and Burma who decided to collaborate and make a dish both families enjoyed. I was helping them with this meal and found myself left out of their conversation as they all spoke their common language of Lisu. I had no idea what they were saying and did my best not to mess up the food. They spent so much time laughing at me, I am sure I did it wrong.

Once I get my Master's degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) next year, I don't know whether I will be leaving the country to teach English or will be teaching people who have just moved here. Either way, I will be surrounded by foreign language all day.

I can't wait.




Happily participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, 1,663 bloggers are working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day but Sundays for a total of 26 days.

Click here to visit the website and get more information to see if you might want to join in next year. It's a lot of fun, introduces you to hundreds of new blogs and gives your writing some fantastic exposure.

Friday, April 26, 2013

"W" is for Week

It's less than a week until the A to Z Challenge is over. I am so ready for it to be over. I have enjoyed it, but with a job transition in the middle of it, it has proven to be quite a challenge.

HA!!!  Challenge...I guess that's where it gets the name.

I think I've put out a few quality posts. A few lame ones as well, but not so lame I am embarrassed.

Only three posts left. I'll have that survivor badge.



Happily participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, close to 1,000 bloggers are working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day but Sundays for a total of 26 days.

Click here to visit the website and get more information to see if you might want to join in next year. It's a lot of fun, introduces you to hundreds of new blogs and gives your writing some fantastic exposure.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

"V" is for Video Games

I love video games. Love them. However, I wouldn't call myself a gamer. Mainly because I never play.

I hear the hookers fight back in this one.
I made my own video games when I was in high school and always have the latest gaming console. I own dozens of games, but never play them. I just don't have the time. I even have the newest Grand Theft Auto on reserve for as soon as it is released.

Every now and then, I buy a new game while thinking about how much fun it will be. Half the time, it never even gets put in the system. When I actually do play a game, I will play for 2 or 3 days straight and then not play another game for months.

I must not love video games as much as I thought or I would be making time for them.



Happily participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, close to 1,000 bloggers are working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day but Sundays for a total of 26 days.

Click here to visit the website and get more information to see if you might want to join in next year. It's a lot of fun, introduces you to hundreds of new blogs and gives your writing some fantastic exposure.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

"U" is for Ultralux

A year after high school, I dropped out of college to move up north. There was a girl there I wanted to be closer to. She happens to be one of my readers, so I am not giving any details. I packed up my room to move out without telling my parents. I don't know why I did it that way, but I was young and stupid.

In order to move, I needed a job in my new town. It was over 100 miles away and I drove up there just to get a newspaper and start looking through the classified. I also went to see Tracie, but I needed the paper. I got hired by the first company I called, Electrolux©. I became a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman.

I actually walked around Springfield, Illinois and knocked on doors to sell vacuum cleaners. Sometimes, I would offer a $10 carpet cleaning to get people to let me in the house. Other times, I would just start my sales pitch as soon as they answered.

I took this job, because I needed a job. I wasn't being too picky. I just needed something so I could be employed and make the move I wanted to make, but something happened I hadn't expected.

I was good at it.

It took me about a month to get the hang of it, but once I did, I was bringing home a paycheck over $1,000 almost every week. This was in 1990! Accounting for inflation, that's a little over eight hundred thousand today!

I was 19 years old and making more money than I knew what to do with. Unfortunately, being 19 also meant I could be obnoxious. Every time I spoke to my dad on the phone, I would ask, "So, how much money did you make today?" He took it in stride and never put me in my place like I deserved.

Soon, I was leading the training meetings and showing the other salesmen how to sell. I loved it, but there was one major problem. I never had time to enjoy the money I was making. Electrolux© had a very demanding schedule. They were of the philosophy that in order for their salesmen to stay on top of their game, they needed to be selling all the time.

And by all the time, I mean ALL THE TIME.

I reported to work at 6 a.m Monday through Saturday and would work until 10 p.m. That is a 16 hour day six days a week. On Sundays, they gave us a break. We only worked 12 hours. Basically, if I was awake, I was selling vacuum cleaners.

Not only was the schedule demanding, but it defeated the entire purpose of me taking the job to begin with: to see my girlfriend. Not being happy, but definitely being exhausted, I quit that job to look for something else. I never regretted leaving, but haven't made that much money since.

The title "U" is for Ultralux refers to the most expensive, premium model vacuum cleaner carried by Electrolux. Despite my success with the company, I was never able to sell one. I sold the #2 model hundreds of times, but could never close the big one.




Happily participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, 1,686 bloggers are working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day but Sundays for a total of 26 days.

Click here to visit the website and get more information to see if you might want to join in next year. It's a lot of fun, introduces you to hundreds of new blogs and gives your writing some fantastic exposure.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"T" is for Temp services

I just landed the first "job" job I've had in over a year. I have been a temp for a long time.

I have a long history with temp agencies. I have worked with six different agencies that I can remember. As a temp, I have done a lot of things.
  • Built tires
  • Worked as IT in a county courthhouse
  • Quality Assurance in a grain silo factory
  • Taken phone orders for cheeses and sausages at Christmas time
  • Re-sod a golf course
  • Janitorial work
  • Filled orders for a pharmaceutical distribution center
  • Built armrests for Lincoln Navigators
  • Worked the assembly line in a cake factory
  • Medical records department in major hospital
  • Painted bumpers for Corvettes
  • Security guard at a homeless shelter
  • Worked the assembly line in a DVD/CD factory
  • Dressed as Santa at the mall for children's pictures
  • Was an emcee for Nintendo during a video game competition
  • Worked in the laboratory for the Environmental Protection Agency
As can be seen by the above list, I have lots of experience as a temp. I've had real jobs also, but any time I found myself unemployed, the temp services can usually find me work quickly, so I have relied on them too heavily.

For places that actually hire through temp services, it is a great way to get into a company. They can watch your work ethic for a few months and them make a decision on you. However, many companies take advantage of the cheap labor and let every temp go within 90 days of them starting. Plus, most regular, hourly employees of the company a temp works at think very little of temps and do not treat them well.

Besides helping a person get their foot in the door, my favorite thing about the temp services, is the ability to leave quickly if you do find a permanent job somewhere. They generally have so many people on their roster, they can find a replacement for someone leaving within hours. Two weeks notice is not always required in these situations.

There are a lot of reasons to not be a temp. Number one being that you will never make any money, you are very disposable and replaced as easy as making a phone call, but when I have needed work, they never let me down.




Happily participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, 1,690 bloggers are working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day but Sundays for a total of 26 days.

Click here to visit the website and get more information to see if you might want to join in next year. It's a lot of fun, introduces you to hundreds of new blogs and gives your writing some fantastic exposure.

Monday, April 22, 2013

"S" is for Snoopy

We had lots of pets growing up, but the one that has always stood out above the others was a beagle-rat
terrier mix named Snoopy. Snoopy was the runt of the litter from one of our neighbors' dogs. He never had any special training, but was the best dog we ever had.

Every young boy wants a dog that will play fetch. Snoopy played half a game of fetch. If one of us threw a stick, he would run after it and bring it back to set right at our feet. That's where the proper game of fetch ended. As soon as we would reach for it, he would grab it again and move it a few feet away, setting it down once again, just daring us to try for it. He would never let us have the stick again. The game continued until we got tired of chasing him.

During the winter months, he was allowed to stay in the house. However, like many animals, he wanted to eat food that was not for him. Cats will not gourge themselves the way that a dog will and often left food in their bowl. Obviously, Snoopy would get in trouble if he ate the cat's food, but it didn't keep him from trying.

Because the cat's food was on the hard floor of the kitchen, we could hear the dog when he walked across the floor. His nails would click on the linoleum. The living room was right next to the kitchen, so we would look in the kitchen when we heard his nails and would catch him headed toward their food. Soon, he figured out that it was the noise giving him away.

My mother walked into the kitchen once and caught Snoopy slowly walking across the floor, lifting each foot slowly and gently putting it back down. He lifted each foot extra high. It was the canine version of tip-toeing. We had to start putting the cat food up high enough that they could jump to it, but Snoopy could not reach it.




Happily participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, 1,698 bloggers are working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day but Sundays for a total of 26 days.

Click here to visit the website and get more information to see if you might want to join in next year. It's a lot of fun, introduces you to hundreds of new blogs and gives your writing some fantastic exposure.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

"R" is for Red

I have so many new readers, a large portion of you probably don't know who Red is. Here is a quick synopsis. ATTENTION: After writing my (very) short post, Red added to it. Her additions are in red.

On Valentine's Day of 2012, I read a post on the blog Doesn't Speak Klingon. This was a blog I had found a few weeks before. (Brett was my first follower! I was  his "gross" follower...number 144.) She wrote a piece about being single on Valentine's Day and how she felt about that. (Actually, it wasn't supposed to be about being single, as much as the FACT that Valentines Day is completely misinterpreted and over-manipulated by the greeting card / chocolate / flower industry.) I loved what she said and proposed to her in the comment section as a joke.

Luckily, she wasn't spooked and recognized the joke for what it was (actually, I was kind of baffled, and it took me a while to respond... I had read enough of your humorous posts to wonder if perhaps you proposed to a different random woman every Valentines Day just to see how they'd react. I wanted to react in a funny way, but couldn't pull it off and just said "well of course I will" in response to Vesta's comment.) and we began referring to each other as our internet fiances. (My sister just referred to us last week with "...well, you've been internet engaged for over a year!") Because of this exchange, we began paying more attention to each others blogs and eventually even traded email addresses (I unintentionally gave you my real name at that time, too). Up to that point, all of our shameless online flirting had been done right in the public eye.

The following May, due to some family issues, she moved 750 miles closer to me than she was before. Now, being only 200 miles away, meeting face to face could be a reality if we chose to pursue it. We chose to and met on May 2, 2012. (That's a funny story. You should link to it.)  Here's the link. (my side and her side) We have been together ever since and are beginning to seriously talk about our future together. Beginning to? We've been internet engaged for over a year!


I added my two cents into Brett's post, in case it's not obvious. It may seem like he's holding back here, but it's hard to talk about us! I've tried for over a month to write something about Brett. He's amazing. I love him so much. We are amazingly well-matched, and everyone who sees us together recognizes it.

... and this, coming from a woman who has never been able to stick with a guy beyond a few dates. There is always a red-flag. There is always some incompatibility. Not with Brett. It is absolutely astounding to me to have found this guy. I'm truly lucky, and I know it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a tall, dark, handsome man nibbling on my neck to attend to!



Happily participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, 1,718 bloggers are working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day but Sundays for a total of 26 days.

Click here to visit the website and get more information to see if you might want to join in next year. It's a lot of fun, introduces you to hundreds of new blogs and gives your writing some fantastic exposure.

Friday, April 19, 2013

"Q" is for Quilt

For a good portion of my life, my grandmother lived right in our backyard. Not literally in the back yard. I mean, she had a house back there. My mother's mother (Mary Jane) lived behind us when I was very young.

In my teen years, my father's mother (Margaret) lived behind us. I have many memories of being able to walk out of the house and be in one of their homes within seconds. It's great to have grandparents so close.

Grandma Margaret was a quilter. Most of the time, when you walked into her house, she would be working on a quilt. I have no idea how many she made, but those quilts are everywhere. Every family member has several of her quilts. Looking around, I have four in this room right now.

Quilting is not something I have ever particularly cared about, but I was always very interested in Grandma's quilts. I can remember many times upon walking into her house, she would want to show me her latest pattern. She would be trying something new and wanted to show it off. The only pattern name I can remember today is the log cabin pattern, but I used to know several more.

She's been gone four or five years now, but I always think of her every time I see one of her quilts. I have several, so I see them often. Hopefully, they will last forever.




Happily participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, 1,723 bloggers are working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day but Sundays for a total of 26 days.

Click here to visit the website and get more information to see if you might want to join in next year. It's a lot of fun, introduces you to hundreds of new blogs and gives your writing some fantastic exposure.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

"P" is for Petered Out

I have changed the title of what I promised this post would be about. Ever since I started this blog, I have hinted at a huge injury I had as a teen, especially since I started telling my stuntman stories. When I made up my A to Z schedule for the month, I said that today 'P' would be for picnic table. I was finally going to tell the story. However, it is not going to happen.

It not that I am trying to hide the story. I'm not and I really want to tell it, but I want to do the story justice. If I write it tonight, it will just be cranked out to get it done.

Normally when I blog, I have time to craft my stories and some of them build for a couple of weeks before they actually get posted. In a blog hop requiring me to post every day, I get a little bogged down. I love the A to Z Challenge and will participate again next year, but tonight I am just worn out.

I just started a new job that I love this week, but it is physically demanding. The weekend before I started the job, I worked 16 hours (4 p.m. to 8 a.m.) on both Saturday and Sunday. When I got off work on Monday morning, I reported immediately to my new job and put in another 8 hours. By the time I got to bed, I was what my grandma called 'petered out.' I was done.

I know that was two days ago, but I just haven't totally recuperated yet and really want to tell the picnic table story properly. When the blog hop is over (the end of the month) I promise that I will get to it soon.

Thank you for your Patience and Happy 'P' Day!



Happily participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, 1,729 bloggers are working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day but Sundays for a total of 26 days.

Click here to visit the website and get more information to see if you might want to join in next year. It's a lot of fun, introduces you to hundreds of new blogs and gives your writing some fantastic exposure.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"O" is for Oldest Child

I am the oldest of three boys. A fact that my father reminded me of many times as a child. Today, I completely understand why he would tell me that, but back then, I hated hearing it.

When I was seven and Kyle was four, we were caught jumping on the bed. Kyle was yelled at and told to leave the room. I was spanked.

I remember being mad all night because it was so unfair. It wasn't so bad that I got spanked. That happened all time. It was that Kyle did not get spanked and the only explanation I was given was that I was the oldest and had to set an example for my brothers.

At the time, I didn't consider that dad had already told me three times to stop jumping on the bed and Kyle had just then come in to join me. A seven year old thinks in simpler terms. So, to even out the punishment that I didn't understand, I found Kyle and punched him in the face to share the pain.

I got spanked again.



Happily participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, 1,743 bloggers are working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day but Sundays for a total of 26 days.

Click here to visit the website and get more information to see if you might want to join in next year. It's a lot of fun, introduces you to hundreds of new blogs and gives your writing some fantastic exposure.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"N" is for Needles

I have mentioned before that at one time I was the VP for a motorcycle club (MC). In most MC's, the members have biker names. I was named Needles because of what I did for a living. I was a professional body piercer. If you are interested in how I went from being a preacher to poking needles into people follow this link. It will catch you up, because I am not going to retell that story here.

I loved my job. Once I got all my training and certification, I could pierce just about anything. However, 90% of all my business involved nose rings, ear piercings, and belly buttons. Navel piercings were by far the most common piercing. I got so sick of seeing girls' belly buttons. It seemed that every other customer was a teenage girl or young woman wanting the latest fad piercing, which was the navel. It was fast and it was easy money, I just got tired of doing the same piercings all the time.

Eyebrows were a little more fun, but I don't know why. I just enjoyed doing them. Piercing tongues made me nervous, because their were so many serious dangers involved. Plus, I never knew when a customer might freak out and pull their tongue back into their mouth immediately after I stuck the needle through it.

Over the course of my time there, I pierced body parts that many people outside of the body modification world may not even realize can be pierced. I did all the usual ones: eyebrows, nose, lips tongue, ears and navels. However, I also pierced the bridge of the nose, hips, back of the neck, nipples, small of the back, collar bone, cheeks, private body parts (hundreds of different styles), and even the webbing underneath the tongue. Dozens of other parts as well too numerous to list.

There's no place for it to come out the
other side. It must be anchored in place
It was the different ones that I really enjoyed doing. Anything that I didn't get to do very often or something that I had to design because it was custom was very exciting. Sometimes, I had to fashion the jewelry to create what was needed. It all depended on what the customer wanted. Sometimes metal rods would be placed under the skin to create the effect they wanted. Other times, a subdermal (under the skin) anchor would be put in place so a jewel, spike or ball could exist by itself.

The real fun usually involved custom piercing for ears. Every now and then, a customer would come up with an idea or was willing to just let me design something. Since everyone's ear is different, it would have to be custom made just for them. Using my tools, I could bend the jewelry in any direction and slowly weave it through their ear. Sometimes, girls would come in to get elaborate pieces for a dance. They would often have to come back to see me to have it removed since they didn't just slide out.

I felt like an artist the whole time I worked there.



Happily participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, 1,767 bloggers are working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day but Sundays for a total of 26 days.

Click here to visit the website and get more information to see if you might want to join in next year. It's a lot of fun, introduces you to hundreds of new blogs and gives your writing some fantastic exposure.

Monday, April 15, 2013

"M" is for Master's Degree

From the time I started my Bachelor's Degree to the time I received it was fourteen years. I lost my focus there for a while and even moved out of the country during that time. However, as soon as I finished (finally), I immediately started on my Master's. This one I am not getting distracted from.

Whatever life may throw at me, I will finish without interruption. On my current schedule, I should be finishing my last class in September of 2014. That will be just a few months after my daughter graduates high school. She will go off to college and I will move away never to talk to her again.

She insists that I have to tell her where I am going so she will have a place to stay in the summer time. I takes me a while to stop laughing. She hasn't yet decided if I am joking or not.

The truth is…I don't know where I'm going when I graduate. Ideally, I would like to move close to Red so we can be close enough to become a part of each other's daily routine. However, life doesn't always work out the way you want it to. Once I have my degree, I will want to start working in that field as soon a possible and will need to go wherever the work is. I don't yet know how, but I'm sure we'll work it out.

I may have graduated high school 25 years ago and am just now getting my education, but my future is starting to look exciting. I don't know where this will take me, but I am glad to be on the journey.

I feel like I am cheating with these short posts.

macrocephalous
malacissation
manganiferous
microspectrophotometries 

Now I feel a little better about it. 



Happily participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, 1,861 bloggers are working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day but Sundays for a total of 26 days.

Click here to visit the website and get more information to see if you might want to join in next year. It's a lot of fun, introduces you to hundreds of new blogs and gives your writing some fantastic exposure.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

"L" is for Lincoln

Some of the best years of my life were when I was in college in Lincoln, Illinois. I know many people claim college to be their best years, but mine were not stereotypical. It wasn't because of partying. I was just insanely happy and made some lifelong friends.

Three hours south of Chicago
Lincoln is right in the center of Illinois, about 30 miles north of the capital Springfield on I-55. There are a lot of places that claim to have a connection to Abraham Lincoln, but for this town, the claim is true. Lincoln, Illinois was named after Abraham Lincoln before he even became president. In fact, he was present the day they officially named the town and he christened the town by smashing a watermelon on the town square. 'Honest Abe' practiced law in the courthouse a few times a month when he rode up from Springfield.

The town of Lincoln is home to two colleges. Lincoln College is a private liberal arts college and Lincoln Christian University which is one of the first Restoration Movement colleges (it was Lincoln Bible Institute in the beginning).

This is the school where I got my Bachelor's Degree in Christian Ministry and am currently working on my Master's in TESOL. I love this school. I briefly went to another college in between degrees, but had been spoiled for Lincoln and came back.

During the beginning years of my undergraduate studies, I lived in married student housing with my family. Like most college students, we were flat broke and wondered every month how we were going to pay the rent. We soon learned how wonderful it was to be a part of a great group of friends who relied on each other.

In the summer time, the families from the surrounding apartment buildings would pull all the picnic tables together and bring what food they had. Fifteen to twenty families would share. We cooked out, ate well and enjoyed each other's company. It was wonderful. It became an unintentional, big, happy family. We laughed and cried together, took trips and classes together, studied together, prayed together, got to know each other's extended families and took care of each other's kids.

Today, over 10 years later, I am still in contact with most of those people. A few of them I talk to several times a week. As much as we struggled, I wouldn't trade that time for anything.



Happily participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, 1,868 bloggers are working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day but Sundays for a total of 26 days.

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Friday, April 12, 2013

"K" is for Kick the Bucket

I am over 40 years old and believe it is probably pretty safe to say that I have lived at least half of my life already.  As much as many people don't like to talk about this subject, it is still a reality. We will all die someday.

I am one of the lucky few who even knows how he is going to die. I have told people this for years and I know that I am correct. When my time comes, it will be one of two different ways. I will either be killed because…
  1. A tree fell on me

  2. OR

  3. Something else happened
I guarantee I am right about this. However, it doesn't matter which of those two methods is the cause, there will be preparations that need to be made. What songs will be played at my funeral? Who will preach the eulogy? What kind of animal will pull the carriage hearse through town? I vote for an army of Emperor Penguins.

All of these things can be decided later, but I need to start thinking about one of them now. What do I want my head stone to say? All the decisions about the funeral only affect one particular day, but the words on the headstone will be there for people to see for decades or longer. The choice of words is very important.



Of course, there will be the usual name and dates, but what else should be there. I have taken the liberty of jotting down a few of my ideas.

  • I should have forwarded that email.

  • My mom would be proud to know that I had on clean underwear.

  • Could you take a step to the left? You're blocking my sun.

  • I see dead people.

  • At this point, if the zombie apocalypse happens, I'm not too worried about it.

  • Could someone go check my house? I think I left the stove on.

  • Step on my nuts again and I'll haunt you.

  • I can see up your skirt.

  • You know that light at the end of the tunnel? It's like a refrigerator light. As soon as the door shut behind me, it went out.

  • Could someone update my Facebook page?



Happily participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, 1,873 bloggers are working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day but Sundays for a total of 26 days.

Click here to visit the website and get more information to see if you might want to join in next year. It's a lot of fun, introduces you to hundreds of new blogs and gives your writing some fantastic exposure.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

"J" is for Journalism

For my 'J' post, I was going to write about my days as the only man on the journalism staff in high school. As I was going through the old issues (25 years old), I came across this article about that exact subject. I will add it here word for word.

I did not write this. It was written by one of the girls on the staff. Anything in RED is my addition today and was not a part of the original.


THE MAN BEHIND ALL THE LADIES
by Stephanie Allison


Brett Minor is the only guy we have in journalism. I thought that it would be nice if we were to find out the motive behind him taking this class.

Brett decided he needed one more credit for English and he really didn't want to take English IV. (I was scared of English IV. I heard we had to write a lot.)

I asked if he liked being in a class with all girls and he replied, "Being the only boy in the class is a lot of fun, but it also has its problems. I get to hear all the latest gossip. Girls are better gossipers than guys are. I hear about everything that happens almost as soon as it happens."  
**Brett, ladies are NOT better gossipers than guys. We just talk about more interesting things than they do.** (Not true. They were better.)

Brett also commented that being in a class of all girls has improved him as a person, but also has its disadvantages. He said, "The girls in this class are not the least bit reluctant to talk about their problems or anything else just because I'm in the room." Brett sometimes feels that being in a class with all girls causes a losing position when it comes to our class debates. He said, "Debates are the worst part of journalism, especially fights about a girl being mad at a guy for any reason. If I stick up for the guy, I have nine girls on my case at once." (I was naive and hadn't yet learned that it is always the man's fault)

"I am not anti-feminist, but my views and opinions are not exactly the same as the ladies in the class."

When I asked Brett if he had a chance to do it again, would he, he said, "YES, definitely." (DUH!…Nine girls to myself!!!)

Brett said, "I have learned things about girls that I never knew before! I won't explain."   
(Mostly about their periods)

After talking to Brett, I asked the rest of the staff what they thought about Brett, and what it was like having him around the room. (I was really scared of this)

Here are the answers I received:

Traci: I think it's great to have a guy on the staff. Brett always has funny articles on his pages, but sometimes I forget he is in the room and say something that he should not hear. Also, when all of us females get together for a gripe session about guys, Brett gives us his opinion, which is sometimes not worth a dime, but that is beside the point. (See! I hadn't learned yet.)

Deana: Brett is a great guy to have on the staff. (That's right, Deana) He just quietly sits there and lets us gripe about all life's problems. (Because I care) He usually puts in his two cents here and there. He contributes interesting ideas and thoughts for the paper. This makes him an asset to the paper.

Lynn: Brett helps a great deal on the paper. His witty articles make the paper more interesting. I think he has a lot of guts for staying on the staff with all us girls. (Bravery? Not a trait I was normally known for)

Susan M: I think Brett is a good writer for the paper and he helps out a lot. He even discusses our problems with us. (Like I said, I care)

Susan P: Brett is a great help while typing and running off stencils and putting the paper together on the night before the paper comes out. (I lived close to the school) His articles are very innovative and original.

Allison: Brett has been a great help on the paper. His articles are always very interesting and somewhat amazing. I remember the day school first started and all of us girls on the staff talked about EVERYTHING. We really had to watch what we said, but now we don't care. We figure he has heard it all.  (Once again, menstruation)  
**(BUT HAS HE??????)**

Sabra: I find Brett's articles very funny and interesting. (I am still accused of not taking things seriously) I think it's really great to have a guy on the staff.

Angie: Well, Brett is very quiet in journalism, but sometimes he says the funniest things that we girls tend to take out of context. (Always misunderstood. Still true today.) I love to hear him and Traci get into fights and how they tell us the things they do together. Brett being here doesn't seem to bother us. I still talk about everything because it doesn't seem to bother him (or me). Remember the day I got in trouble, Bert? (Bert was my nickname in high school)   
**Tracie doesn't think that the statement about what they 'do' together is a very good one.**

Stephanie: Well, I guess it's okay having a guy on the staff, but then again, I really don't know what it was like not having a guy on the staff. (It was her first year) As for Brett, I think his articles are pretty good. (Just pretty good?)
**Was this bad enough about you, Brett??**


None of them ever did go out with me.
 


Happily participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, 1,889 bloggers are working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day but Sundays for a total of 26 days.

Click here to visit the website and get more information to see if you might want to join in next year. It's a lot of fun, introduces you to hundreds of new blogs and gives your writing some fantastic exposure.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"I" is for Internet

I live on the internet.

I really do. I do it all on the internet. I have always been pretty computer savvy, but you don't have to be anymore for the things that are available to basically anyone with a decent internet connection. I have heard some people complain that using their computer is too complicated, but I beg to differ. When I can sit down at my computer and take care of things in an hours that before would have taken me a few days, I don't think their argument is valid.
  • Shopping
  • Banking
  • Travel plans
  • Reservations
  • Order Pizza
  • School
  • Information on everything
  • Television
  • Read
Prophetic movie about the future
difficulty of finding Twinkies.
As far back as 2001, I stopped renting movies at the video store because I could get on Netflix and have them shipped straight to me. Plus, it was much cheaper. It also removes the annoyance of walking up and down the aisles of a store trying to find what you want and then praying that it is in. Plus, the service helps me to not miss the movies I really want to see. As soon as I see a trailer for something I want to see, I put it in my queue to be sent to me as soon as it comes out on video.

If for some reason I hear about a movie LONG before it is to come out, it may not be on the Netflix site to schedule it yet. If that is the case, I go to a site called DVD Later and sign up for the movie there. That site (which is free to use) will put the movie in my Netflix queue as soon as it is available. Now with streaming, I can watch the movie immediately. In fact, there is no need to even have cable because everything is online.

No longer is there a need to actually meet with teachers. My daughter goes to a rather large school and I could never get proper time with them anyway. I can now log onto the school's website and see her current grades, teacher's notes for assignments and even scans of some of her work. An email to a teacher is promptly returned as compared to phone calls that often took days or sometimes not at all.

I am getting my Master's Degree right now and do it all from the convenience of my laptop. I interact with the teacher and the other students almost daily. I read, research, and write papers in front of a computer screen.

This may be my favorite of internet conveniences. I pay ALL my bills online. Every single one of them. Even places that don't have online billing, like my local water company. When a bill comes due, I receive an email. I log onto my bank site and tell them to send a check. I haven't had my own checks for years and never even buy stamps anymore. I just don't need to.

All my banking is done online as well. I have a special account that rewards me for never walking in and disturbing a teller. I get kickbacks on every purchase. I get into museums, amusement parks and zoos for free. I get great discounts at hundreds of locations and all I have to do is keep all my banking online. My checks are directly deposited and I pay everything through my computer. Since the bank is saved on manpower, they reward me.

I am also an avid reader. Once I bought a Kindle, I knew I could keep books on it, but soon learned I could even check out books from the library without leaving my house. Sitting at home I visit the library site, download the book, and it works for two weeks before it deletes itself.

Doing research on any topic has gotten easier as well. The misguided people who think using the internet for research is not as effective, apparently don't know how to use it to its potential. The only reason someone would argue that a person needs to go to the library is because it was the way they were taught. I have nothing against books, I love them. However, what is the advantage to searching for hours in a library to find the books you need when I can find that same book online in a matter of seconds. I can have the information of a hundred books at my fingertips within moments while someone else is still searching through the card catalog. Almost any scholarly work has been uploaded to the internet and can be found easily by anyone who knows how to search.

From the comfort of my home, I also order pizza while searching for the best coupons at the same time. I make reservations for restaurants, book airline tickets, make hotel reservations, grocery shop, buy electronics, find people, research companies, apply for jobs, etc, etc, etc. The list goes on and on. I even met my girlfriend online.

A few months ago, I landed a job I could do from my home. It had officially reached the point that I never needed to step outside my house for anything. I could even buy my clothes online and have them shipped to me. Of course, if I wasn't going outside, then I didn't really need clothes. I don't even need to consult a doctor because I have WebMD.

Some may be concerned that this much dependence on technology will cut back on social interaction, but we have Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for that. If you think you have to actually be face to face with someone, then buy a webcam and Skype with them.

I know that I am addicted to technology. Many addicts will deny their addiction and scream, "I can quit any time I want." I am not making that claim. I love my internet and artificial connection to the world and don't plan to ever give it up.



    Happily participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, 1,897 bloggers are still working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day but Sundays for a total of 26 days.

    Click here to visit the website and get more information to see if you might want to join in next year. It's a lot of fun, introduces you to hundreds of new blogs and gives your writing some fantastic exposure.

    Tuesday, April 9, 2013

    "H" is for Hornet

    Growing up, my dad had always made it clear to my brothers and me that he would never buy us a car. If we wanted a car, we could work for it. However, once we actually turned 16 and it was time to get a job, there was one small problem. We lived 20 miles out of town. Unless we wanted to work for the crazy farmer down the road who threw rocks when he got mad (which was often), town was where the work was.

    My mother had driven an '84 Mercury Lynx for the last few years and it was passed down to me. My mother got a new car and I got to drive the Lynx/Studmobile. I drove this car until I raced a Trans Am home after work one night. At about 75 MPH the car shook so bad, I didn't know if I would be able to keep it on the road. I lost the race, obviously, and it blew up the next day when my mother was driving it.

    I had several cars over the next few years. Some were fast, some were not. Some looked great, others were falling apart. Luckily, I've have never been too concerned about appearance and was just happy to always have something to get me around. It was this lack of shame that brought me to the car this post is all about.

    I can't believe I found this picture on Google. It is
    almost identical to ours. Even the wood paneling.
    When my youngest brother Trevor turned 16, he was presented with a 1974 AMC Hornet wagon that dad had purchased for $50 to obtain a part for another car. He had never intended for the car to be driven, but that was the extra we had when Trevor became licensed. Kyle and myself had always driven the cars that had graciously been given to us regardless of their sex appeal condition. Kyle had even used the car given to him to make extra money to buy an AMC Javelin. Trevor, however, looked this car over and said, "I am NOT driving that."

    Dad informed him that he wasn't getting anything else. The front end may be a little damaged and one of the headlights was hanging down attached only by the wires, but if he wanted something better, he would have to take care of it himself. This was his car until then.

    Trevor did not reconsider and never drove that car. He found other ways to get around.

    Kyle had just started at a technical school in Chicago and, after a few minor fender benders, had some serious concerns about the safety of the Javelin he had worked so hard for. When he found out there was an extra car no one cared about just sitting at our house, he switched until he graduated. When he came back home, the car was then passed to me.

    By that time, the car had been in a few more big city incidents. The bumper was loose on one side and the headlight was still swinging by the wires. I discovered that on rainy days my feet would get wet due to the holes rusted through the floor board. One of the doors wouldn't open and sometimes the headlights would just go out. Shortly after getting it, I had to change out the radiator, but the new one was a few inches taller so the hood wouldn't shut. I had to use chicken wire to keep it down.

    Despite all the things wrong with the car, it ran great. Especially since Dad had only paid $50 for it to get a few parts for another car. It had its little quirks. If I suddenly let off the gas, it gave off a huge backfire that sounded like a small cannon. If I did this at night, it lit up everything within 15 feet of the car for a short moment. The exhaust had fallen off soon after I got it, so it was a very loud car. This is also the same car that I used to run my brother Trevor down in the school parking lot which resulted in my windshield being shattered.

    I drove that car until I got married and parked it when I got my next one. It sat for a few years until I left for college and gave it to a family in our church. We got it going again and they drove it for a few more years. It got a lot of mileage for 50 bucks.

    I actually miss that car.



    Happily participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, 1,891 bloggers are working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day except Sundays for a total of 26 days.

    Click here to visit the website and get more information to see if you might want to join in next year. It's a lot of fun, introduces you to hundreds of new blogs and gives your writing some fantastic exposure.

    Monday, April 8, 2013

    "G" is for Google

    Sometimes, I wonder how we survived without the internet. It doesn't matter what I'm doing or what I am thinking of, as soon as I want to know anything, I turn to the internet. The answers are there. However, despite how long it has been around, I am still caught off guard by the people who don't grasp the power of the tool that is so easily available to them.


    I can't tell you how many times I have been teaching, when a student, who is sitting at a computer logged into the internet, will ask me something like,

    "What's the capitol of North Dakota?"
    "Who was the 23rd president?"
    "How many species of roaches are there?"
    "Where is the coccyx?"

    These are supposed to be kids of the Internet Generation. The entire world of knowledge is at their fingertips right in front of them and it doesn't occur to them to use it. However, if you ask them to show you the latest rap video or their favorite porn site, they'll type so fast their fingers blur.

    Anything you could possibly want to know (and stuff you don't want to know) is out there, but you have to know how to find it. There are all sorts of crazy tricks to find what you are looking for, but the easiest place to start (and usually as far as you need to go) is .   Just about anything you could possibly be looking for will be available through this site.

    In fact, Google is so useful, it will anticipate what you are looking for before you even get it all typed in. I started to enter some searches to illustrate.


    After only five letters, Google knew what I was looking for and offered suggestions. After this search you can correct someone when they incorrectly use the word allopolyploidy when they should have said autopolyploidy. Those words are not interchangeable.

    Google is also careful to help you understand why things are they way they are, as illustrated by this search.

    Well, which is it?

    Whichever opinion you may hold, Google will find you the information you need to support it. Google will even find things you didn't know that you wanted to know about. Look what happened when I started searching for myself (Brett Minor).


    It's spooky how much Google knows. When I said you can find anything, I meant it. Despite how thorough Google appears to be just by looking at these illustrations, it does something even cooler. You can search by image. I used the picture to the right to see if it was floating around out there on the internet anywhere. It's a picture of me from my childhood that was just being uploaded for the first time, so there shouldn't be any results. To my surprise, Google found something immediately and I was met with the following screen.


    I was intrigued as to why my picture might appear on a website about Kenya. Maybe I had a doppelganger there. So, I clicked the links and they both had the same picture.


    Why Google thinks that a baby picture of me looks like the Kenyan flag is beyond me, but Google is much smarter than me or anybody, so we have to trust it. Although, I really don't see it.

    Can you see the resemblance?

    I just don't see it, but I dug deeper into the site Google suggested to see if I was missing something. After a few minutes, I discovered that Kenya is planning to modify its flag in order to make it more personal. Here is a picture of one of the suggested patterns.


    So, Google was right after all. I should have known better than to doubt. This should be proof to everyone that whatever you may be looking for, Google has the answer. If you are wondering how far it is to the nearest Clown parade, how many people live in the Vatican, the ingredients in vegetarian haggis, or how to build a carburetor for a flying toilet, then Google is the place to look first.

    If you can't find it with Google, then you probably don't need to know it anyway.




    Happily participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, 1,897 bloggers are still working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day but Sundays for a total of 26 days.

    Click here to visit the website and get more information to see if you might want to join in next year. It's a lot of fun, introduces you to hundreds of new blogs and gives your writing some fantastic exposure.