Friday, February 25, 2011


Do you believe in signs.  I am not talking about superstitions.  I am talking about signs or signals that alert us to something. That turn us in a specific direction. That make us aware of things.

Well, this week, I received two signs that told me the same thing.  Something I have been receiving signs for throughout a long time.  Maybe it is time to take the plunge.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Where Does Your Gratitude Lay?

Where does your gratitude lay?  I am so thankful. There are so many things for which I am grateful:  I have a good job, with really fine co-workers, supervisors, and a meaningful mission.

I have a home. I have people who care about me: family, friends, colleagues.

I have a relatively safe environment in which to live.

I have pets who offer me companionship and pleasure.

I have a variety of social and interest activities in which I engage.

I enjoy learning. 

I have relatively good health, although my age has slowed me down some.

I live in a country in which my well being and safety is protected as well as can be. The threat of revolt, uprising, violence is minimal at this time.

I live in an age in which technology has improved our lives, made our lives safer, and opened up the world to us. 

I have faith that God is good, takes good care of me and my fellow man, and blesses me in my daily life.

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Severe Weather

This has been a time of severe weather.  Across various parts of the nation, during various times since the winter season started last fall, there have been a myriad of crippling and damaging snow storms. The storm that affected Lubbock a few weeks ago spread from Arizona to the New England states.  Its breadth was amazing.

Tonight, the midsection of the country is experiencing severe thunderstorms with possible tornadoes. The end of February is a little early to see this kind of activity, but obviously very possible.

Lubbock had some severe winds lately. Including today, the dust was up.

This coming weekend, the Science Spectrum in Lubbock is hosting Severe Weather Awareness Day.  I went last year.  There was a presentation about storm chasing, and a tour of the National Weather Service offices, which are in the same building as the Science Spectrum.   This year, there is an OMNI presentation of the film Storm Chasers. 

Maybe this is an activity that will interest you.  Being aware of and prepared for severe weather, whether it is snow, ice, wind, thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, cold, heat, floods will help you to better survive it.

If you do not have a severe weather radio, it is a very good idea to get one.

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Take Over

I have a nice office chair to use at my computer desk. A very long time ago, Haiku commandeered the chair, so I have set up a folding chair for me.

More recently, I have set up a folding TV tray next to the chair, for paperwork, or if I am eating a meal at the computer.  Well, the girls have commandeered that as their place to sit while I am working on the computer.

Cats are insidious. They just take over whatever space they want. 

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Shut the TV Off and Write

Last night, I shut off the TV because there was absolutely nothing I wanted to watch.  I was working on a computer project, but as I was doing that, I had some ideas about which I could blog...So, it came to me. Shut off the television. That will allow ideas, about which you can write, to enter your brain.  Wow.


Compassion Fatigue

I work in a psychiatric prison.  I see lots of brutal behavior by patients, self-injurious, and assaultive.  I hear stories of people who have lived in horrendously violent, inhumane, abusive environments. I hear about horribly violent crimes.

I think I may be susceptible to compassion fatigue.  But, I hope I have an antidote.  I am able to spend time with my patients offering them hope, positive coping skills, and new ways of thinking about dealing with their lives. 

However, sometimes I wonder just what kind of toll this work has taken on on me.  There are times when I go home and do not want to have to deal with any reality... I just want to veg out. So, those times, I know I am suffering compassion fatigue.

I have various social outlets that are planned and take me out of that fugue.  That is important. I need to interact with common, regular or normal people so I feel the normalcy of life.

Hopefully, I am working on not suffering from compassion fatigue

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Learning from the Past

This past week, the book group discussed The Postmistress by Sarah Blake.  There were many different themes in the book, but one was that two of the three main female characters violated their work ethics due to very extra-ordinary circumstances, precipitated by war.  One of the characters in the book said "Pay attention."  Well, this leads me to think that we do NOT pay attention, We do not learn from our past, and we repeat our mistakes over and over again. And many of our mistakes precipitate war, or prolong war.  What is wrong with us?

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Dew vs Condensation

The last two mornings dawned gray, with lost of condensation around.  I would not call it dew.  Dew is droplets of sparkly bright moisture. This was sodden moisture, not rain, not drizzle, just condensation. I think there is a clear distinction between dew and consdensation.


Saturday, February 12, 2011


I have been a NASCAR fan since the early 1980s.  My level of interest has waxed and waned.  My heart was broken when Dale Earnhardt died. 

I have not liked some of the changes made. I thought the "Chase" was unnecessary... NASCAR wanted to set up a situation in which the race winners were more competetive for the championship.  Well, the simple solution was to give MORE bonus points for race winners.  They went to the "Chase" format instead.  Sorry, it did nothing for me.

NASCAR moved their venues away from the small, character race tracks and gave venues to the large cookie cutter race tracks.  I understand the economics of it, but it really destroyed some of the character of NASCAR.

I think, also, that corporate America has too much influence on NASCAR.  The early days were made of rogues, moonshiners and dirt poor shade tree mechanics as well as serious drivers.  Of course that has changed, and NASCAR is now about big money and not necessarily racing. I think that has homgenized NASCAR and taken away its wonderful, quirky, personal feel. 

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Monday Holidays and President's Day

Quite some time ago, I do not remember when, Federal holidays were homogenized into Monday Holidays, instead of the actual day... Not always, but mostly:  For example, instead of a holiday on February 12 for Lincoln, and another on February 22 for Washington, we have President's day on the third Monday of February. 

Martin Luther King Day is the 3rd Monday of January.  Memorial Day is the last Monday of May. Many places do not celebrate Columbus Day, but those that do tend to celebrate the second Monday in October.

Of course, Thanksgiving is still the 4th Thursday in November.  Labor Day is the first Monday in September.

Days that retain their date include the 4th of July, Christmas and New Years. Even so, many entities wrap these holidays with extra days off to give long weekends. 

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Consistency is important in life.  It does not matter what you are doing, consistency is important.

If you are engaged in sports, consistent play is important.  Of course, consistent good play is more important. But showing up day after day and doing your best is important.

If you work, consistency is important.  Frankly, a stellar employee who is not there everyday and is not reliable, is not a stellar employee.  A plodder who gets the job done, time after time, is a real asset.

A friend who is there for you regularly is important.

A service that is reliably received is important.

There are plenty of surprises in life, and some are good, but for day to day life, reliability and consistency help us to manage daily...

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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Bitter Cold

It is winter on the South Plains.  We are experiencing a polar blast, and yesterday, by late afternoon, the air temperature turned bitter cold.  It continued today, not getting above freezing.  We are anticipating the continuation of bitter cold for a couple of more days, warming to above freezing during the day, but still being bitter cold at night.

What has made this cold even more frigid is the very strong north wind. It is driving and biting. There are many people in this part of the world who are experiencing frozen pipes.  If your plumbing is susceptible to freezing, do what you can to protect those pipes:  use heat tapes; keep cabinets open, open the faucets and allow a trickle of water to run.  

Water/ice is an unusual compound: ice is lighter than water, and floats.  It also expands so when pipes freeze, then thaw, they sometimes break. Hopefully, if your pipes have frozen, they thawed safely.

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Monday, February 07, 2011

Following the Rules

Do you follow rules?  If no, why not? Because you think you know better? Because you think the rules do not apply to you? Because the gains of doing your own thing are greater than the potential loss if you get caught for breaking the rules? For the thrill of knowing you are breaking the rules?

Why do people follow the rules?  Some people follow the rules because they are the rules.  People understand that the rules are there to protect the vast majority, impose order, and keep social contracts in line.

Some people follow the rules because they are concerned about the consequences if they get caught.  So, if they think that there is an opportunity to break the rules, to their advantage, without getting caught, they are very apt to break the rules.

Some people follow the rules because they are under oversight and know that if they do not follow the rules, they will be caught. But, if they are not under oversight, they may or may not follow the rules, based on what gains they see for themselves.

But the consequences for not following the rules are not always imposed consistently.  If you are a model citizen, and especially if the infraction is slight, you may not suffer consequences. Or the consequences may be slight.

If you have a reputation for breaking the rules, and someone will be suspected, it will be the rule breaker first. And, the rule breaker, with a record, will be scrutinized more closely, and expected to comply more strictly that someone with a good reputation.

I remember a poem from my youth:  "Your future lies before you, Like a shining path of snow, No matter how you tread, Every step will show."

When we are young, the lesson of that poem is frequently lost on us.  But as we grow older and wiser, that lesson comes home to roost more and more often.

It is just simpler to follow the rules.


Sunday, February 06, 2011


Lisenby taught me about being homeless.  The song that says "there but for fortune go you or I" by Phil Ochs says it all.  The homeless are an unseen, unthought about part of our population.

When we lived downtown, Lisenby noticed there was a homeless man who made regular rounds in our alley: he had a schedule.  The day he came to our dumpster, Lisenby liked to put out a partially used loaf of bread (fresh, not whole, he said that would insult the man), and an open can of meat or tuna (also fresh).  I did not understand at first, but after a while, it made sense.

Some years ago, I was walking in the park on a cold morning. My dog, Mack, was with me.  I had my pack that had water for Mack, my binoculars, a bird book, food for the ducks, a flashlight and who knows what else.  I was approached by a woman who wanted to know if I needed a place to stay. She thought I was a homeless bag lady.  (In a way, that was a compliment.)  And, bless her, she was very concerned about my welfare.  

During the recent cold snap in Lubbock, the Carpenter's Church provided hot meals, tents and sleeping bags for the homeless.  The Red Cross 
coordinated with the Salvation Army to provide care: the shelter was open all day, instead of at night, and 3 hot meals per day were provided.

I am grateful these agencies are tending to this part of our society that are the unseen, nameless, forgotten.

I have been fortunate to have the creature comforts I want: a vehicle that works; a furnace that heats my house; hot water, hot meals, warm clothing. God has blessed me well.

If you are reading this blog, and have a way to support a program that supports homeless people, please open your heart to do so...

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Cat Wars

We had cat  wars today.  Recently, I moved an afghan off the sofa. Sake has now started sleeping in the spot on the other end of the sofa from where I sit.  This is where Haiku used to sleep, when I had the afghan on the sofa.  Haiku joined us, and sat on the arm of the sofa, then moved to my lap for some time.  So, that was good.

Sake became impatient for breakfast yesterday, and ate the food in Haiku's dish.  Tonight, when I fed, Sake pressured Haiku to abandon her food so Sake could eat it.  I replaced if for Haiku who ate some, then moved on. Later, Sake went to where her food was, and ate some.

There has been a lot of racing and chasing today. At one point, Sake was very upset that I was on the computer. Haiku was in her chair in the study.  Finally, Sake sat on the TV tray next to my chair in the study.  Usually, she just complains because I am not where she wants me. 


A Gray Day

It has been unseasonably cold and we have had several days of light snow. Yesterday, it was bright and sunny, and the temperature was well above freezing, so there was plenty of melting occuring.  But a view to the northwest indicated that there was another front was moving in.

I arose before dawn today.  It was wet, and cold, barely freezing.  There was a mix of rain and snow.  The sky stayed gray.  It is still gray after noon.  But it did not really even lighten until mid-morning.  A good day to stay in as much as possible, drink some hot tea, curl up and read. 

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I like to learn. There have been times in my life when I wanted to learn something, so I spent time at it.  For example, I wanted to learn about FabergĂ© eggs. And the Amish. And NASCAR.  So, I spent time reading about them.  Usually, I would read what books I could get at the public library.  I have to admit that in the mid-80s, when I was wanting to learn about NASCAR, the local public library did not have much to ready (I suspect things would be different now.)

What do you like to learn about?

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Saturday, February 05, 2011


Recognition is important in our lives.  It comes in many forms.  Birthday greetings are a form of recognition.  The one day out of the year we remember to tell people we are glad that they are in our lives. If simply by saying "Happy Birthday."  It is not difficult nor does it cost anything.  But it means a lot to people. Cards, cakes, and gifts are nice, but really, those are also statements of recognizing someone's special day. 

Well done is another thing we do not say much. But we should.  If I do something and someone tells me I did well, it means a lot to me. Because I know that, I try to tell people when they do things well, too.

Thank you.  A heartfelt thank you is an awesome way to let someone know you appreciate them.  And saying "I appreciate you" vs. "I appreciate it" can be heartwarming.

Certificates are another simple thing that recognizes someone, are not expensive, but give a positive message to people. 

There are so many easy yet meaningful ways to recognize people, yet this tends to be something we fail to do regularly.   Maybe I can start by saying thank you to anyone who reads my blog, and letting you know I appreciate feedback and comments.

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Friday, February 04, 2011

Feeling Good

There are many things we can do to make ourselves feel better or good about ourselves: thanking people, helping people, teaching people, learning something new, for example. We can decide to make changes in our lives and follow through with changing bad habits, working on improving nutrition, exercise or sleep.  We can develop personal growth activities such as going to classes, self help groups, substance abuse treatment or religious support activities.  We can participate in book group discussions, craft activities and charitable activities. We can participate in community development activities, animal protection activities. We can participate historical re-enactment activities as they teach us about the past.

What will you do to feel better about yourself?

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Thursday, February 03, 2011


A co-worker and I were talking about a very good movie that I was not able to force myself to sit through because it has subtitles.  I explained that I am usually multi-tasking when I watch a movie (at home) so subtitles were distressing to me.  I have the opportunity to see the movie in a setting where I would pretty much be just watching the movie, so I am considering it...

My coworker asked me what I do when I go to a movie theater, and I said "Suffer." Which is sort of true.  I am very impatient during the pre-show, announcements, trailers for new releases, etc.  But I am very selective about the movies I go to the theater to watch, and am usually pretty much involved in the story.  But if I am not, I do suffer.

I was re-reading my post from 2-2-11 and realized that both with cooking and watching movies, I do not have much patience. I do not think that is new.  In fact, that has been a hallmark of mine for many years.

One of the hardest things for me to learn, when I went to work at the prison was to be patient:  there are just times during the day when I can not see patients.  There are just times when the officers who bring patients out to see clinicians are too busy to do that part of their job. There is just down time in this job.  It was a most distressing feeling for the longest time, but eventually I learned to slow it down, but also be prepared to do something different when I can not see patients on my schedule.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2011


I used to be a good cook.  I probably still could be. I just do not have the patience anymore.  It is very difficult for me to stay in the kitchen to monitor foods that are cooking, simmering, slow cooking. 

I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I am just impatient about a lot of things these days.  I find it difficult to sit still, spend long hours on slow moving projects, or otherwise stay the distance.

I used to be like a dog with a bone when there was a project, task, problem.  Now, I am not so persistent.

I am not sure why the difference.  But, there it is...I am not a good cook these days, because I can not patiently wait for things to cook, be attentive and watch closely.

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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Price Gouging

We had a "Snowmageddon" in Lubbock last night. Which is a facetious way to describe a small snow storm with arctically cold air which blew into Lubbock yesterday,in the course of 2 hours. There were a lot of closures and late openings today, including schools, clinics, day cares.  This is good.  It especially keeps our children safe at home. But what about parents whose work does not close, and they have no alternate child care plans, whether for school aged children, or children in day care.

Yesterday, before the storm hit, the stores were Bedlam.  Lubbockites take seriously the advice to be prepared, and any time a major storm (or minor storm) is blowing it, the grocery stores are a beehive of activity: people buying provisions to see them through the storm.

On the way home from work last night, I decided that it would not hurt to top off the fuel tank of the Vue. Today, the price of gasoline at that gas station had jumped $.14.  I went to the grocery store today: their gas prices had jumped the same amount.

Was there some other event that influenced the gasoline prices?  By $.14?  To me, that smacks of price gouging...

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Weather Phenomenon

Unusual weather phenomenon in West Texas is not really that rare.  Dirty rain is not unusual.  On Dec. 31, 2010, I went shopping in the morning, and was in the store for about an hour. When I came out, there was evidence of slight precipitation. It was obvious, looking at my vehicle, that there had been some "dirty rain."  This means when the precipitation came down, it brought down with it dirt particles in the air.

Later that day, actually that night, we actually had "mud rain."  I think it was a combination of light rain and blowing dust, but it sure dirtied a lot of property.

Last night, we had ice and snow. Strong winds with zero plus or minus temperatures and wind chills.  Today, there were snow drifts around.  And many of these were covered with blowing dust or sand. I have lived in West Texas for almost 34 years, and this is the first time that I have seen dust brown snow drifts.

Does it surprise me.  No.  Just West Texas weather.

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