Friday, August 31, 2007

Okie lawn ornaments and Fort Sill memories

While this picture postcard view of what was once the "front lawn" of the state capitol complex may have drawn ohhs and ahhs in the days of the big oil boom, I'm thinking there isn't a Chamber of Commerce today that would include such an image on their website.

I mean, c'mon, who would want a bunch of oil derricks as neighbors...unless they were YOUR oil derricks of course.

And how about a big hand for the fella who was waxing poetic on a place that he was obviously enamored with...or not.

Finally, a sobering bit of correspondence to send dedicated YASTM readers on their way to a 3-day weekend, celebrating the working folk of America.

Just an ordinary postcard, sent by an ordinary kid to his ordinary parents during another ordinary day in boot camp at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Think this kid knew what lay in store for him a few short months into the future...on an early December morning, 3700 miles away in Pearl Harbor?

Wonder what ever happened to Private Orville Zschetzsche of Aniwa, Wisconsin

Thursday, August 30, 2007

This silver lining has a hole in the middle

One of the businesses washed away by the recent flooding in town was the one and only donut shop.

But the old pioneer can-do, full steam ahead and damn the torpedoes attitude is alive and well and apparently aching to drop some raw dough into a bath of hot oil, as witnessed by the amazing relocation and grand opening of the donut shop, several blocks south (out of the flood plane), less than 2 weeks after being flooded out of existence.

I'm not sure if this move will be a permanent one, but if it, is it suits me just fine. For you see, the view out of my bedroom window, which used to include a recently shuttered pizza joint, now includes the new donut shop.

That's right boys and girls, I can now get up at 3 a.m., and watch the donut maker lady don her knit hair net and make the most perfect of all Americana confections from the comfort and ease of my very own bedroom.

Yesterday morning I intrepidly trekked the 40 or so steps across the street and down a few meters to my new "neighbor" to celebrate their re-opening with a cup of joe, a moist-beyond-belief applesauce cake donut, and a perfectly constructed jelly filled.

I found that all was as it should be in my old/new small town donut shop.

The big tables were filled with retirees on their umpteenth cup of coffee, discussing the weather, the world and their grandkids.

The donut case was filled with row upon row of the ring shaped nuggets of fried dough goodness, along with heaping helpings of fritters, longjohns, biscuits, rolls, and holes.

The coffee pot that the helper was carrying around the joint was filled with the liquid black gold that jump starts America.

The atmosphere was filled with congratulatory well wishes, stories of the flood and the trials and tribulations of turning a defunct pizza joint into a donut shop.

The moment was filled with the joy of seeing a necessary neighborhood icon reopened and ready to serve.

And the jelly donut I was biting into was filled with more than just cherry preserves. It also contained those warm and fuzzy feelings that make supporting your neighbors and the small town businesses they work so hard at, a satisfyingly rewarding experience.

Friday, I'll get the girls up early, we'll walk on over and while PK eats her sprinkles and C munches down her chocolate longjohn, I'll get to show them first hand what you're supposed to do when life hands you a bag of lemons (or more appropriately, washes away your bag of lemons)...

You make donuts.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It's your Internet, now turn in your badge

A slight deviation from the norm...pardon my indulgence.

The two longest terms of employment in my life were with a grocery store chain when I was a kid (5 years) and my last job at the cube farm (7 1/2 years).

Other than that, I've been a short term job man -- a by-product of the nature of the "show biz" I was in.

The grocery store chain, once a mega mover in the US Supermarket industry was swallowed up by another chain a few years after I turned in my apron and sticker price marking gun (remember those?).

Then I heard yesterday that my last long term employer was undergoing a major round of restructuring with announced lay offs of half it's total work force.

Had I still been employee #1497 and had miraculously survived the last two years since I left, I would not have made it during this last dark day, now known as Black Tuesday.

And that is making me a little sad.

I know I should be filled with joyous pleasure in the knowledge that my decision to pull up stakes and leave that job and that life behind in LA is revealing itself to be somewhat prophetic in many positive incarnations.

But it's just the opposite. Or at least, I think it's the opposite.

Perhaps I'm sad for those known comrades that will soon be facing unemployment. Perhaps I'm scared for those remaining behind who must now function at a higher level with half the manpower.
Or perhaps I'm just confused at my ambivalence toward it all.

I don't all together miss the company as IT was when I left. The people and co-workers that I was fond of, I'll always miss.

No, it's the company that I hired into way back when that I suddenly and surprisingly find myself mourning. As the 1,497th person to hire in, there was still cubicles full of the counter-corporate culture and the underdog excitement generated by being just a few steps ahead of start-up status.

And even though THAT place hasn't existed in realtime for quite some time, the new and current CEO is apparently doing his job and cutting off the slough, in an effort to save the company from itself.

Which is exactly what a johnny-come-lately hired gun CEO is expected to do. Corporate culture and revered idealistic history be damned. John Sculley saw through all the BS of the imbedded counter culture at Apple and did what he had to do to make the company what it is today...uhh, what is was before it became what it is today.

Save the company he may and more power to him since my poor excuse for a stock portfolio still has some vested interest in the success of the company.

But from where I'm currently sitting, in my little Oklahoman town on the prairie which is about as far removed from my old cubicle as I could possibly be, I can't help visualizing the tossing aside of the last vestiges of whatever idealistic values and goals that survived from when the Sci-Fi founder and employee #1 instigated them so long ago.

Remember, "It's your Internet?" I do.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Postcards "speak with forked tongue"

On the reverse side of this postcard, the descriptive text reads as follows..."Typical Oklahoma Indians"
The thought that someone, somewhere, at some time may have received this postcard from a friend and said to his wife, "Hey Hon, lookit these here Oklahoma Injuns just standing around waiting to get their picture taken," makes me cringe.

But I suppose the postcard industry makes it's profits by speaking in cultural stereotypes and shorthand. Go to Germany, you'll find postcards of frauleins in tightly tied bodices standing next to ledershosen shod men. Alaskan postcards probably display Nonookian families huddled in front of their domed ice homes, and grassed skirted "hula" girls and guys are the stuff of Hawaiian postcard dreams.

It also reminds me of a story my cousin, Booby (real name Winston, don't really know where the nickname Booby came from) tells of the grand times he spent in Paris, France studying at some culinary institute in the late '70's.

Seems he was at an upscale eatery, chatting up some local femmes, when the topic of his nationality and homeland came up. After stating he was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A., he drew stares and comments from the surrounding crowd - many of whom were inquiring how he liked wearing "real clothes" and sleeping in "houses made of brick and cement."

To this day I still crack up at the memory of him describing how he played up the "island boy" role with the Frenchie's and the disbelief in their ignorant, albeit romanticized, impressions of Hawaii in the 1970's.

Then there's this one...

Begging the question, if you went up to a Native American today and said, "How," just how fast would you have to run to avoid getting your much deserved butt kicking?

Monday, August 27, 2007

"Having a great time, wish you were here..."

One of my "net-auction-addicted" wife's saved searches on eBay is for "postcards - Oklahoma."

You would think she'd get relatively few hits on these particular keywords in conjunction with each other, but nary a day goes by when her email box doesn't contain at least one notification of an auction matching her search string parameters.

In fact, it was on one of her hard won auctions that we found a 1912 photograph postcard of our town - our street - our snow covered house, providing evidence that our house was actually older than the 1920 construction date listed on our abstract.

Our small town in particular, once a thriving frontier city almost 3x it's current size and population, has provided a plethora of postcards over the years.

Scenes of downtown businesses, to rising flood waters on Main Street, the red light district that sat north of town past the creek, a bottling works, Anheuser-Busch distribution center, churches, post offices, courthouse and tons more, are all fully documented as penny postcards which are now being bought and sold in flea markets and online auctions for ridiculous prices.

Every now and again, S stumbles upon a postcard auction that is too good to be true, and catches other eBayers off guard, when she gets it for next to nothing. Her recent bundle came in the mail the other day and we had more than a couple hoots and hollars as we perused through her treasure trove.

This will probably take more than one post to cover, but let's begin with some fun on the Mother Road...

Some of our favorite postcards deal with Road Trip Americana, which must include motor hotels along Route 66. I'm not sure if this wonder is still around, but a quick Google of it revealed nothing relevant.

Southwestern Motel
Highway 66, Phone 687 Weatherford, Okla.
"Enjoy real western hospitality - your home away from home. Free T.V. in every room - Restaurant next door - Refrigeratged Air - Furnace heat - Wall to Wall Carpet - Tile Baths. J.E. Tankersley, Owner

This one wasn't sent, so it has no postmark to date it, but the car looks to be an early-50's model. And dig that awesome sign.

This next one is just classic Americana marketing at it's finest. The address on the back just states, "State Highway 66, Oklahoma City," with no further details listed. Apparently these places are still around, and very popular with retro Americana road travelers.

Capitalizing on the popularity and image of a known historical landmark must go back to the ancient Egyptians, when some guy in Cairo built his inn to resemble a pyramid in an effort to attract customers. The Choeps Do-Drop-Inn -- free camel parking out back and a loaf of date bread on every pillow.Finally, we come to the Habana Inn, whose name and architecture must have surely been inspired by that wonderfully wacky little island off the Floridian coast.

Written in 1970, this fella's "wish you were here" notation seemed a little too enthusiastic for a long distance trucker taking a quick stop at what amounted to a Best Western with an attached night club. Face it, to formulate the word, "fabulous" to describe a motor hotel, must have come from the freewheeling mind of a flexible flyer down America's post-Hippie/soon to be disco-fied roads, circa 1970.

Then Google led me to the Habana Inn's website and it's modern day incarnation, which led me to the question of whether the Inn swung THAT way back when Lou found it so "fabulous" as well.

At the very least, I'm glad he had a "fabulous" time here in the Panhandle state.

Up next, a few postcards from those wild and crazy Native Americans!

Friday, August 24, 2007

"Hemingway" part deux


It was him.

Just needed to verify a few things before they proceeded with the case.

Hmmm.Social Security # - was the same.
First, middle, last name - same.
Birthdate - June 21, 1963. STRIKE ONE.

"Oops," he said..."that's odd."

"Did you do an IRS lookup on her SS#?" I asked.

Will have someone do that now, if I could hold on....
Prompted by my smirking F-i-L to push on, I pulled out my big guns..."I'm glad you called back, because I've just been talking to my Attorney and he told me that the burden of proof in discharged debt cases often times rests with the collecting party..." Where I got that sentence, I'll never know, but it sounded like good BS to me, so I went with it.

Besides, I figured at this point he wasn't even listening to my ramblings, so I kept going.

I mean, c'mon, logicically to verify S was who she said she was, or in this case, that who she is is not who they're looking for, at the very minimum they should...

1) verify her signature on the original contract,
2) verify with the IRS whether she had ever resided in Michigan, and
3) use pertinent information other than that obtained from a Google search of my wife's name and the fact that she's the only person who responded to your original threat letter canvasing as the basis for your pursuit of her for payment.

All logical to me, but maybe I've read too many detective novels in my days and this kinda whodunit stuff rattles around in my brain along with my Mom's recipe for her killer Chinese chicken salad.

Big Boss comes back and reads off the list of addresses that an IRS search of my wife's SS# turned up -- no Michigan. STRIKE TWO.

I guess two strikes and my legal BS mumbo jumbo were enough to convince Big Boss that for the last year and a half, they had been chasing after the wrong gal after all. He mumbled something about using two different databases and that they weren't in sync with each other.

Couldn't resist - had to toss out one more bit of BS...I asked him what database software was he using, and that maybe I could help them merge the two together...for a fee.

I'm gonna call back next week to see if they had indeed purged wifey's name from the file.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Nearing the end of...oh, you know what it is

My "not-quite-mid-40's-but-I-may-as-well-be-since-I-feel-like-it" birthday came in as a silent Mondy morning surrounded by my favorite girls in a single room country cabin with a grumbly stomach and a hankering for a selected dozen of torus shaped confections of deep fried dough.

Say it Homer..."mmmm, donuts."

Unfortunately, after I had clothed and diddled in almost complete silence, carefully sneaking out of the cabin without disturbing my sleeping angels, I found the one and only donut shop in the closest hobbit of civilization to our remote cabin, to be closed.

Now c'mon, who doesn't open a donut shop on a Monday A.M. shift?

Braum's sausage biscuits and breakfast burritos with extra salsa made lackluster fill-ins for my birthday breakfast, but it all turned out just fine as I found three hungry mouths gathered, giggling and hiding behind the big bed upon my return.

After several takes of "surprise Daddy...Happy birthday," from my best girls, we dined, opened presents, dolled out enough hugs and kisses to make me feel 30 again, and plotted out what would be our final day of our "Nearing the end of summer" holiday.

After our drive-thru foodie fast breaking meal had arrived at the pits of our stomachs with all the grace of an anvil on Wile E. Coyote's noggin, we cleaned up, packed up, took our requisite pics of the girls posing and saying goodbye to our cabin and made our day down the dusty gravel drive leading to the main highway.

Turner Falls was our destination, known to locals as the largest waterfall in Oklahoma. In our family circles it's known as the single location that my M-i-L's family went to on their ONE and ONLY family vacation.

Turner Falls Park is wonderfully rustic and wooly, but at same time fully civilized and family oriented, offering natural swimming areas, sandy beaches, caves to explore, castles to climb on, and flume type adventure rides using nothing but your bottom as a flotation device down a wide, meandering river.

The entire area politely shouts out nostalgia as you traverse the clear running creeks and experience the thrill of your short term memory colliding with your long memory as images of heavily clad bathers in Victorian era swim suits frolicking in the icy cold waters beneath the falls and along the travertine creeks, wonderfully fill your mind's eye.

As a family we swam out to the falls, braving the icy cold temps of the natural pool below the 77-foot wall of tumbling water, and found our way to a picnic table where we dined on the final remnants of our turkey bologna roll, spicy mustard, honey wheat bread and a well-worn tube of Pringle's.

Then the clouds rolled in and while the girls were enjoying butt-rubbing flume rides over the slippery smooth rocks of a connecting creek, the sky opened up and dumped it's load directly on top of the final hours of our vacation weekend.

Drying out and getting into warm, moisture-free clothing in the parking lot of a crowded tourist destination proved to not require any modesty at all, since the view of any and all passers-by was totally obscured by the cascading sheets of water covering every square inch of our sedan's glassy areas. We may as well been changing our clothes behind Curtain #1 with Monty Hall squinting to see what was behind it.

Our 2+ hour drive home was a melancholy ride, completely appropriate to the occasion of it being our final family truckster outing of the summer.

Soon, our lives would be abuzz with the trappings of the Back-to-School notices, backpack selection, fall sports, PTO fundraisers, and yet another countdown to the madness that arrives in our household come October (our anniversary trip and two birthdays are crammed into the already hectic holiday season).

The rain fell for awhile, but we arrived home to sunny skies and a house that seemed much bigger and messier than we had left it.

While the girls got reacquainted with their rooms, and Wifey unpacked, I greeted my trusty pair of co-workers in the mud room, and simple said, "hello...we're back, and we've got a ton of laundry to do, so open wide and say -- ahhh."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A smart aleck in the aftermath

Some recognizably insensitive observations on the aftermath of a flooded town...

Birds of a feather, die together
The local feathered fauna seemed to prove no match for the freak hurricane force winds that blew through town. The streets and sidewalks on the main drag are littered with bird carcasses, most of which appeared to have been blown from their treetop condos directly into the blunt force trauma inducing plate glass windows and bricked buildings that line the business district.

I hope someone gives them all a good burial. Quickly.

Red Cross...more than just a charitable organization
Never having had any first hand experience with what I percieved to be one of the world's most charitable and necessary organizations, I only knew on a high level of their noble mission to help those in need, whatever the circumstances and wherever that need existed.

But to me, on that day of cleaning, when I was knee deep in mud and muck and sweat and I found myself standing beside a Red Cross station and their table filled with pretzels, bottled water, crackers and sandwiches, complimentary to any or all who needed an energy boost -- a shallow memory emerged from the movie set cobwebs of my mind and I found myself saying out loud, "hmm, good crafts service."

And the sandwiches were good indeed.

The healing process at 11
As much as people have a love / hate relationship with the media, I witnessed the important role they play in the clean-up and recovery process.

That miniscule moment in the tv spotlight that your average Joe/Josephine Citizen with mud on their boots and broken glass beneath their feet gets when a video crew swings the attention of their DVCAM Pro onto their trashed home or business, can momentarily remove them from their reality and into the celebrity status normally reserved for people outside the average realm of existence.

As demonized as the collectors of mass media often are, it was humanly reassuring to me to witness first hand the effect that a little mass media exposure could have on the Sculptor and his Wife.

By no means am I being condescending, when I say that all the mud and muck and misery they were suffering through glinted away for the brief few minutes before, during and after their digitally recorded interview.

The media's presence, even though it was purely self-serving and job related on the news crews part, acted as a validation to the Sculptor and his family, as if the disaster they were going through was an event worthy of another human beings time and attention.

Granted, the reporter and video shooter may have been genuinely interested and concerned about their fellow Okies rain soaked lives. If they weren't, they did a pretty job of feigning it.

After the news crew left, and the media circus surrounding the Governor's tour of the flood damaged town got back on their horses and onto the next stop of Hurricane Erin's 20-city tour of the panhandle state, we were left with our thoughts and our camaraderie as we squeegied, hosed down, and shoveled our way back to normalcy.

These are my thoughts, and I'm sticking to them.

Monday, August 20, 2007

This was no boating accident...

After spending almost the entire day yesterday watching the amazing human drama unfold across Hurricane Erin ravaged Oklahoma, and getting the girls off to school this morning, I called the sculptor who is the subject of the video documentary I've been working on for a little over a year.

His shop is in the same town that made national news yesterday due to a dramatic helicopter rescue of an elderly couple who saw their pickup being swept away from beneath them in a torrential wave of Oklahoma mud and Erin's tears.

In fact, his shop is mere blocks from where the actual rescue happened.

And what glimpses of his shop I could see from the news choppers video feeds of the flooded downtown made me cringe to think what a mess he would be facing today.

He was fairly upbeat considering the massive cleanup he was facing and cheerfully accepted my offerings of manual muck removing labor and as many "sorry I tracked mud into your place," jokes as I could muster.

So, with my video camera slung on my shoulder, a pair of Playtex living rubber gloves in my back pocket, and a doo-rag wrapped tightly around my noggin, I made my way over to the little town he lives in and the little shop that only yesterday was under 5 feet of water.

The main highway into town wasn't open yet, so I had to navigate through the back streets and negotiate some pretty ominous looking puddles. I parked well south of where the water had collected in a nearby parking lot and made my way over.

A bevy of clean-up workers were already swarming in, out and around the hardware store that sits right next to the sculptor's studio.

At the studio, I found the sculptor and his wife making progress with the mud and water that covered every inch of the floor, and every surface of every object that was underneath the water.

Miraculously, his desktop was safe and dry, with the waterline approaching a fraction of a millimeter below the top of the desk. Computer, bills, invoices, correspondence, post-it notes, photos of family on vacation in the Baltic Sea -- all safe and secure without any inkling of knowledge that they were trace elements of H20 away from being muddied and sullied by the great wave of '07.

I shot some video, mouth hanging wide open and doing my best not to do a human mud bog run while my 2-year old beater sketchers with nary a tread left on their soles navigated the muddy cement floors.

Video safely recorded on tape for all eternity it was time to get muddy.

We discussed the best way to approach the clean-up and decided to get as much mud off the floor and out the door, then shoot it all down with a hose and squeegie the whole mess out.

I went through several shoveling, squeeging, and brushing type apparatuses before decided that I just needed to put my head down, grab a dustpan and do some honest to "Bob the Builder" scraping of the thick mud off the floor and into shovel worthy piles.

It was worthy of a segment on Dirty Jobs, but after a few hours, complete with interruptions by B-roll seeking video crews, an interview by a young and hungry reporter from OETA with the sculptor, sandwich break provided by a concerned M-i-L, a bevy of visitors, lookee-loos, photojournalist, friends and well-wishers.

I departed an hour before kiddie school pickup time, with a promise to return on the morrow with a new set of gettin' muddy duds on and a set to gloves to help move the debris that flooded into town, through the 15' metal rolling door and came to rest at the front wall of his large workspace.

Did I say debris?

Wooden pallets, lumber, doors, shelves, bicycles, a battery-operated Power Wagon Hummer, tools, an entire table saw, pipes, trees, probably a host of dead critters, and on top of the entire pile sits a relatively new looking, completely intact Kenmore refrigerator.

I bet a car or two tried to get in but saw the studio space was too crowded and floated away to find a better place to park itself. In fact, the only thing missing was Miss Belvedere.

I'm considering this whole experience a part of my Okie-fication process. Now I have some red dirt mud under my nails in my hair and surrounding my soul.

These Okie's are tough folk.

Forrest Gump on Erin's rain (and wind)

When weather like this hits, you need the wit and wisdom of Forrest Gump (movie Gump, not the book Gump) to get you through it and break it all down to the simplest terms...
We've been through every kinda rain there is.
Little bitty stinging rain,
and big ole fat rain.
Rain that flew in sideways.
Sometimes rain even seem to come straight up, from underneath.
Shoot, it even rained at night.
Here's what the straight lines winds knocked over that in turn knocked out our power for a good chunk of Sunday morning.

This house is four houses south of us, and I stumbled upon this during my morning walk with Franny. Our power had been out since about 4:30 in the morning, and when I found this scene, it was about 7:00 a.m. We eventually got our power back an hour and a half later.

This power line pole was one of the straighter ones on the alley behind our house, but the tree has pulled and stretched the lines to the limit.

Now it looks like mine.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The answer is "Hemingway"

On of my memorable high school moments occurred in sophomore English Composition class, with instructor extraordinaire, Mr. Hooper.

On Friday's he sponsored something he called, B-Essay Day (or BS day for short) wherein he would have the class pick a topic and write a one-page essay on that topic, making up facts, figures, quotes -- anything you wanted or needed to fill out the page, all the while attempting to produce a convincingly pure literary work of non-fictitious fiction.

At the end of the class, he'd scan through them, pick his top 3 picks, and staple either 1,2, or 3 pieces of TP onto the winning essay, from a roll of Charmin that hung on a hook at the front blackboard.

His theory was that as we prepared for college and life beyond, many of us would need to use and develop our BS'ing skills to get by and get ahead. While some may say it was a negative slant on the view of the world, I appreciated his candor and honesty and learned a great deal from Mr. Hooper. Heck, I was 16.

Course, he was also the guy who told us that if we were ever on Jeopardy or any other game show, and were taxed with a question of a literary nature that we didn't know the answer to, we should blurt out "Hemingway." We'd probably be wrong, but it's better than saying nothing.

Given those valuable lessons from my youth, in June of this year, we received this letter - it was sent to our old address in LA, which is why we received it a month after it was sent out.

The scriblings on it are mine, made is haste as I made the requisite call to see WTF was up with this bogus letter.

I called them and discussed the case with a nice lady agent who revealed the facts of the claim to be the following:Someone with my wife's exact name had co-signed on a home alarm system in 2003, at a residence shared with a Mr. Aaron Doran, of Germfask Township, Michigan.

The alarm was installed at her verified residence at 835 Lemay Ave, in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and the outstanding payment for services rendered and equipment were in excess of $1,200.

As co-signee on the contract, my wife (or so they thought) was responsible for payment since Mr. Aaron Doran had skipped town on the last train to Clarkesville and was nowhere to be found.
The Agent and I verbally verified that the person they were looking for with the exact same first, middle, and last name as my wife, wasn't my wife, since...1) My wife had never known, lived, or purchased an alarm system with someone named Aaron Doran.
2) My wife never heard of Germfask Township (have you?), nor had she ever lived in the Great lakes State.
3) My wife had never co-signed an agreement to purchase a home alarm system at 835 Lemay Ave in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
4) At the time of said purchase and contract signing, my wife and I were in the throes of babydom, expecting our 2nd princess to be c-sect'd any day now.
The agent agreed to get a hold of the original contract so that we could verify that the signature was different. In addition we discussed how IRS records could prove that my wife had never resided in Michigan. This we felt, was enough evidence to verify that they had gotten the wrong gal.

I also tossed around the idea of sending them a signed affidavit by my wife stating the fact that she was not the person whom they were looking for, while providing verifiable information to that fact, but the Agent seemed satisfied with what we had discussed.

I should have sent it anyway. Read on.

In the intervening 3 months, I hadn't heard a peep, nor postal pop from these people, so I figured they had indeed found the correct person responsible for payment on the alarm and were now doggedly chasing her tail.

Fast Forward to this morning.

I get a call on my cell and on the other end was a stoic gent who robotically stated a case number, and the fact they I needed to contact them by 5 p.m mountain time (Denver) to resolve this case or it would be forwarded to legal.

First call, got the Tin Man's voicemal, left a message with a brief explanation of our situation, domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.

Second call, got through to an Agent who listened to my story, then proved he hadn't heard a word I said when he asked me how my wife would like to pay the outstanding debt.


Let me talk to the big boss. When in doubt, escalate the call.

Big Boss gets on the line, I tell him the same story, get told that the nice Agent I spoke with back in June is no longer with the company, and that the information they have available all points to the fact that they indeed do have the right gal to foot the bill, and THAT my wife.

Realizing quickly that I wasn't going to get anywhere with the Big Boss, it was time to call forth the best George Costanza I could muster and start spouting some of Mr. Hooper's well-versed bovine boy poop.Who should I have my lawyer contact...He paused.

Wait, was that a poker tell.

Did he just stumble on the mention of the dreaded "l" word or was he preoccupied with a rubbery tchochkie on his desk.?

Was he nerve struck at the first sign of a possible legal sparring match between marginally educated Juris Doctor's or did he just find something funny on YouTube?

Was the path to salvation from this pointy-headed debt collector handed to me as a 3-D map with full instructions, or did the Twizzler he was munching on get stuck between his lower bicuspids?

After his pause, he recovered quickly and I was told that since the case hadn't been closed just yet, it hadn't been assigned to legal, so he wouldn't be able to tell me who specifically to have my lawyer contact. I pressed further with the lawyer-shinola, trying to capitalize on his ill-fated pregnant pause. It wasn't much, but that and the TRUTH was all I had.Is the legal dept. in-house, or do you have a firm on retainer, and if so, who at the firm can I tell my lawyer to contact?

Again, you're asking me for information that I don't have, so I can't tell you.

Okay then, what happens next?

You'll receive a letter from Legal...

Could you have them call me instead, or could I call them directly?

Once the case is assigned....

It went back and forth like this for awhile, and I was running out of good legal bullshit terminology gleaned from years of watching LA Law and Law and Order, so I left it as it was and we hung up.

I turned to my F-i-L who was in the bathroom cutting up Fiberock as we're getting ready to tile the vanity top and sink back splash, back splash wall for the tub, and the shower enclosure and gave him my best Spock raised eyebrow as he chuckled, having heard my BS exhortations.

He was in the middle of telling me a story of how my M-i-L's Am Ex # was fraudulently used to buy $1,500 worth of merchandise in Honduras, when my cell phone rang again.

It was him.

Just needed to verify a few things before they proceeded with the case...


(To be continued)

Thursday, August 16, 2007


No offense Oklahoma, but the health insurance options you offer to your state employees, bites the big one. In the 7.5 years I worked at the corporate cube farm job, through all three different insurance companies we switched to, through two babies, several procedures, dozens of office visits, specialist referrals, etc. -- we never had the issues we've suffered through with this state sponsored plan.

With that in mind, and with the medical bill soul train still rolling through our house due to PK's early summer arm break, it was with much apprehension and caution that we viewed C's latest want-need-justgottahave acquisition....Heely's.

Yes, those same gizmos that her 1st grade teacher's youngest son broke his leg with.

Yes, those death trap shoes with wheels in the heel that come packaged with a first aid kit and more warning labels than a Glock 9mm.

Yes, those fashionably hip cross bred footwear that some genetic scientist will someday use to create a gene that allows wheels to grow in place of heel bones.

C has been spotting kids wearing them for several years now and since growing tired of launching her Razr scooter off of curbs, making breaking skid marks in our driveway with her bike, popping wheelies (I'm not kidding) in her sister's battery operated jeep, and spinning 42 times in a row on her roller blades - without getting dizzy, or so she claims -- she was ready to graduate to the wheel-heeled footwear.

Since our policy of non-holiday/non-birthday instantly approved purchases normally includes any apparatus that involves physical activity (exercise) or scholastic aptitude enrichment (pick a book, any book), it would seem to include these heeled rubber souls.

But at $60 (plus tax) a pair, we balked a bit, thinking that it would have to wait for her next birthday.

However, when C's 2nd grade teacher asks her to write an essay, this being the first day of her school year, with the topic heading, "What I did this summer....", among other things C will write will be the following...Read 6 chapter books for $1 a piece - received $2 for Black Beauty because my Dad thought it was really depressing and thought I should get double for getting through it.

Made my bed almost every day, almost every week, almost every month, for the last 3 months and got a quarter every time I did it.

Went off the high diving board at the pool as many times as I needed to get $5 from my a quarter for each time I went off.

Picked about a bucket of tomatoes a week from our garden, for a $1 a bucket.

Practiced the typing game on my computer and got a quarter for every letter memorized. I know a,s,d,f,g, h,j,k,l,;, q,w,e,r,t,y u,i,o, p, space bar, shift key, tab, return, and delete, for a total of $6.25. If I learned them all before school started, I would have gotten a $10 bonus from Dad, but I didn't, so I didn't. How unfair.

Got a quarter for every kiddie book I read to my little sister. Some days I'd read a bunch, and some days just one or two.
By the time she was ready to go back-to-school clothes shopping last week, she had saved up $57 toward the purchase of her Heely's. On a recent trip to the mall, my M-i-L made up the difference and she came home, wheelin' and a dealin', spouting promise after promise that she wouldn't go down any steep hills while wearing them.

I was getting ready to call a few parents I knew whose kids had some experience with these little rolling thunders (including the broken leg kid) to give C a lesson or two on how to get moving on these things.

To which C replied with a few dozen roll-bys (both forward and backward), a half-spin, and several examples of how to do emergency stops.

I hung up the phone. I should have known.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Nearing the end of summer road trip - Part 5

As we pulled into the parking lot for Arbuckle Lake, we noticed that the lake level was so high, that the steel charcoal grills reserved for day picnickers were surrounded and submerged in two feet of water, and that the "sandy beach" area was nowhere to be found.

Intrepid waders that we were, the girls donned their life jackets and we doffed our picnic goodies on a blanket and eased into the tepidly warm summer lake water.

It took about 20 feet of hiking through the grassy shoreline before finding the sandy bottom our tender feet were in desperate need of. Even 30 feet out, the water was only knee deep. We were a good 40 feet out before the girls were happily free floating and twinkle toed in the lake.

But the H-Two-Oh was relatively clear, hopefully E Coli free, and surprisingly sparsely humans that is.

40 minutes or so into our leisurely lake libation layoff, we all started noticing the frequent and innumerable surfacing of tiny reptilian heads in our general vicinity.

Normally, one would think that the indiscriminate splashing of a nuclear family at play in the water would be enough to send even Touche Turtle into hiding, but these hard shelled lake inhabitants actually seemed attracted by it.

The proximity of a particularly large, craggy headed beastie was enough to drive my 7.5 year old into more shallow digs, soon to be followed by the rest of the family, in need for some sustenance of the turkey bologna and Pringles variety.

When the girls had adequately emptied the crumbs onto the shoreline for the gathering turtle convention to feast on, we decided that we had had enough nature for the day and went inbound for some cabin lounging and pond exploring closer to home.

Dinner that night was to be found at a home-turned-eatery called the Poor Girls Diner. Their dinner buffet line supplied all the staples of a well balanced southern Oklahoma meal...beef (brisket)
pork (tenderloins)
turkey (& dressing)
and chicken (fried)
But we opted for some homemade mac and cheese for the girls, dinner salads for S and I, and a big old dollup each of their mashed spuds with gravy.

The reason the Wife and I ate lightly was to indulge in a big ol' slice of one of their homemade pies, so flagrantly advertised on their 11x16" chalk-written menu board at the entrance to the eatery.

Coconut cream was crossed out.
Banana cream was crossed out.
Pecan wasn't.

Dinner good. Server (one of the poor girls?) was great. And the piece of pie was an entire 1/3 of a pie.

I'm not kidding.

Take a good sized pie, cut it into thirds, plate one of the pieces, give it a good warming in the oven, put it down in front of people and ask them how many forks they'll need to finish the monster slice. That is the Poor Girls Diner way.

Even with 4 fresh forks, two hungry adults, two semi-full kids, and two cups of really good diner coffee in thick handled ceramic mugs, we couldn't get a handle on the beast. Such a shame to leave most of the pie bone behind, but I have it on good authority that in the south, it's not too inexcusable to leave some pie crust leavin's on the plate for Miss Manners -- long as the innerds are gullet bound.

Another evening spent campfire side with the family found my wife unbeatable in checkers, my girls illimitable in their roasted marshmallow intake, and myself thinking back to how I spent many birthday eves in places not nearly as nice, with people not nearly as lovely, with thoughts in my head not nearly as serene.

Next up - the last installment of our final summer road trip of the season and how I spent my last birthday as a "creeping up on being just south of a mid-40 year old."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The curtain falls

After 3 months of Sunday chorus practices, and 3 weeks of 5-night-a-week stage rehearsals, the heavy red stage curtain finally rose and fell for the last time on our small town's Centennial sponsored production of "Oklahoma," featuring C as a young pioneer girl-dancer-chorus singer.

Since the two evening performances to roughly 1/4 the population of our small town (considered a "fantastic turnout" by the locals), both of the girls walk around the house humming and singing various songs from the musical. It beats the SpongeBob theme song.

As a reward (of sorts), a quick search of revealed a DVD of the London Royal National Theatre's 1999 version of Oklahoma, starring Wolverine himself, Hugh Jackman, as the Cowboy Curly. A few e-mad ducats and 3-5 mailing days later, C was enjoying critiquing several aspects of the Brit's version of the play - as compared to "her" stage version and to the 1955 Hollywood Todd-AO movie DVD version she's been watching 2-3 times a day.

From what I can gather, this version of the stage play was a huge hit in London, drawing pound waving cheers and bangers n' mash reviews, both.

As an American, it stirs me a little to think of a bunch of stuffy Brits humming "O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A..." to themselves as they left the theater and headed for the nearest Underground station. Yet at the same time, I feel sorry for them at having missed out (by no fault of their own) on what I consider to be the quintessentially ultimate method for experiencing the Roger's and Hammerstein classic...

Watching an all Oklahoman cast, performing "Oklahoma" in a small Oklahoman town with an audience made up entirely of Oklahoman's.

I'd done it once before, but that was before I myself could be counted (at least in the eyes of the Census Bureau) as an Okie.

But this time, for both the Friday and Saturday night performances, I felt something stirring deep down in the pit of my being where very few emotions can survive that aren't raw and unfiltered.

The same pit where my loyalty for UCLA lives, even before I went to Graduate school there.

The same pit when I realized that I was indeed a born-and-bred American, when I visited the land of my ancestors and felt like a total foreigner -- and that's a good thing.

The same pit where I find myself cheering for an Olympic athlete who is a complete stranger and who may be a total jerk, but as long as he/she is representing my countries flag, they re my hero, and better kick some major Gold Medal butt, by gosh-o-golly.

It was in that same pit where I found myself smiling, and waving, and cheering for my chorus girl daughter, as I and 500 of my fellow small Oklahoman town's folk stood, and clapped, and sang our hearts out....

You know we belong to the land,
and the land we belong to is grand...

Do yourself a favor and add the following item to your list of things to do before you die...
See Oklahoma performed by Oklahoman's, in Oklahoma with an audience full of Okie's.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

That's the second biggest rooster I've ever seen!

Here's one of my favorite descriptions of my beloved El Camino (which I can list two of in my vehicle pink slip possession directory)...The El Camino was GM's answer to Ford's wildly popular Ranchero.

The fusion of a passenger car with a pick-up, this early attempt at a dual-purpose vehicle similar in concept to today's Chevy Avalanche was also sold as the GMC Caballero and, when equipped with AstroTurf in the bed, is among the best collegiate party-wagons ever made.

It was potentially fast, too, with V-8 power typically standard. Add air shocks, glasspack mufflers, and "Yosemite Sam" decals, and you have the ultimate redneck station wagon.

But it was missing a sentence, which the following picture taken at a honky tonk juke joint a few miles north of my small town helps to illustrate...

"...and you can carry a heckuva big rooster in the back as well."

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Nearing the end of summer road trip - Part 4

Sunday arrives and I'm hankering for a sit-down country breakfast.
We picked a family diner lookin' place in the nearest town to our cabin.

As any parent will tell you, the moment we arrived, one of the girls had to tinkle...even though we warned each of them several times before leaving the cabin that they should go now, rather than later.

Off go my wife and youngest to the facilities, while I have sit back and listen to my digestive tract have an argument with my upper brain functions and circulatory system about the dangers they could all face if I get the pancake/waffle/biscuits and gravy trucker's special.

My gastronomical pleasure at the menu's hearty breakfast offerings and the ease at which my hunger was soon to be appeased was ruined by a single expression on my wife's face as she returned from the lady's room.

I'll not go into details here, but suffice it to say, Wifey had lost her appetite and opted for a hot tea.

Leaving what we thought would be our last brush with E Coli for the duration of the trip, we sauntered over to the cold, wild, and utterly playful mineral spring fed streams of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.

We intrepidly made our way to the visitor center, watched an informative 15-minute video on the history and development of the national park, gave our share of oohs and aahs at both the living (in tanks and cages) and deceased (stuffed, mounted and posed) fauna on display.

Having brought along our swimming gear, we all changed in the extremely sanitary restrooms at the visitor center, made ourselves familiar with what exactly poison ivy looked like, and piled back into the car to get our mineral water stream swim on.

Upon arrival to the "Peaceful Valley of Rippling Waters," we found that most of the prime swimming areas along the easily accessible sections of the mountain stream were already populated by a bevy of vacationers. Folks had peeled themselves out of their tents from the nearby campgrounds and were lounging around in the naturally created pools along the rippling waters.

We finally found an area that was more sparsely populated than the rest, to which I immediately thought, "It's probably surrounded by poison ivy, is why...

The spot we found was lovingly tucked away behind a thin veil of trees and bushes. A dirt foot trail led down to a stream side clearing perfect for our planned picnic staging area.

A pool of crystal clear water about 2 feet deep awaited us, with enough rocks along the shore to make for interesting collecting time for the girls.

To top it all off, the down ward side of the pool terminated into a small set of rapids, fast enough to provide some soothing waterfall ambience, but slow enough that we wouldn't have to worry about one of the girl's purple noodle floaty things being swept away.

It seemed exactly what we were looking for, and the only other family who were currently partaking of this forested oasis were a young family with daughters about our girls age.

While the girls were unstrapping themselves in the back seat and my wife was just now getting past the gag reflex of our breakfast diner's lady's room, I was enjoying the view of our chosen destination and wistfully daydreaming about the wonderful day we were about to have -- if only someone hadn't put up a huge wooden sign in front of our parking spot, partially blocking my direct view of the stream ahead.

Wait, a huge wooden sign...with lettering and words and sentences and punctuation...

Here's what the sign said...

We zoomed back to the visitor center, found the nearest guy in a brown shirt and Smokey Bear hat and asked him what sort of bacterial were we talking about here.

You guessed it...E coli.

He went on to explain that they test the water quite regularly, and that recent heavy rains had caused so much flooding that a lagoon (aka open cesspool) nearby must have mingled with the stream. He told me that as a Federal park, they weren't allowed to "close" the public recreation areas. All they could do is post warnings to the public and hope they "read and heed."

After some quiet discussion on what HE would do if he had two young daughters that wanted to swim today - in the most official National Park Service voice he could muster, he stated that "Arbuckle Lake is nearby and very nice."

Next up, warm water lake swimming, turtles ahoy, and dinner with two poor girls.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Police blotter hilarity

Cop - Ma'am, we need to ask you some questions about your stolen property...
Victim - Oh my, is it about my collection of graphic pictures of explosion victims? I know that may seem kinda weird to you but...
Cop - No Ma'am. We wanted to ask you why you had a reddish-brown sofa when you walls are painted teal....

Right Rear - "I'm tired of always having to follow wherever those front two wheels take us. We've got all the power...all they do is steer! I'm bustin' loose these lugnuts and makin' a break for it."
Left Rear - "We'll cover for you Righty, just remember that once you're free, keep rolling and head for an open doorway or garage."
Right Rear - "Open doorway or garage, got it."
Left Rear - "And be sure to watch out for plate glass windows -- if they've been cleaned recently, you won't be able to see it until it's too late! Now, go, go, GOOOOOOO!"
Right Rear -"Wait...what's a plate glass windo.......AHHHH!"

$50 is small price to pay to let the entire neighborhood know how totally COOL you are with your $2000 sound system in your '94 Dodge Neon...isn't it?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Nearing the end of summer road trip - Part 3

After an eerily quiet night in the cabin, we woke up 4 deep in our queen size bed as both of the girls couldn't resist the close proximity at which Mommy and Daddy's bed was to their futon sleeper (at home they have to make their way down the stairs and across the entire length of the house to get to our room).

A few rounds of family bed wrestling and "pin-Daddy-if-you-can" worked the kinks out of my back and we were soon off in the family truckster to sample a veritable plethora of fried pies to satisfy our breakfast cravings. Just off Exit 51 near Davis, we followed the roadway signs to "Original Fried Pies," located in a Sinclair gas station.

S knew about this place but I and the girls had never sampled these evil-Bobby Hill-loving Oklahoman delicacies.

I'll not twist fate cruelly here and describe in detail the unique, tender and flaky crust that melts in your mouth like so much butter on a tall stack of hot off the griddle hotcakes.

I'll refrain from describing the monstrously delectable offerings of fruit, cream, nut, or hearty meal ready fillings that slither off the wall board menus and into your short term memory.

Nary will pass from my lips any or all description of the laughably reasonable prices, terrific view of the pie making operation, bevy of friendly folk both in front of (fried pies make people happy) and behind the counter.

Instead, I'll let this fella tell you about them.

A few minutes drive from the Fried Pies eatery is a must unusual animal/amusement park called the Arbuckle Wilderness, which is, in my opinion, the most underrated family attraction in the entire state.

If you're worried about watching your daughters scream out in joy at the sight of a dozen water buffalo blocking the road, then this place sucks.

If you're afraid of wild animals possibly scratching the finish on your car with their tough hides, bony horns, or stained teeth, then this place sucks.

If you're more concerned with retaining that "new car smell" in your ride than you are with having the odoriferous offerings of the bad breath of dozens of animals invade your space, then this place sucks.

If you have a fear of exotic animals sticking their entire head into your car to retrieve a food pellet from you, then this place sucks.

If you're scared of having close encounters with zebras, ostriches, yaks, emu, gazelle, a rhino, giraffes, tigers, water buffalos, and camels, then this place sucks.

If you have nightmares of your wife laughing hysterically in the passenger seat next to you as a pair of emus pecks their way to the bottom of her feed cup, then this place sucks.

If you'd rather have bamboo slivers shoved in the soft fleshy tissue between your toes rather than getting close enough to a rhino to look directly into his eyes, then this place is most definitely not for you.

For us however, this place rocked our world and left an indelible impression on all of us.

We left this wonderama of wildlife and wooliness as the dinner hour approached since we were afraid if we didn't feed the girls soon, they'd start snackin' on some of the pressed and dried animal feed pellets that the last PUSHY ostrich pecked out of S' feed cup and tossed around the back seat.

Needing to procure a log or two (or ten) for the campfire, we first trekked into the local Walmart for some essential cookin' over the fire utensils as well as representative packaged items from the 4-food groups.Meat - hot dogs (hard pressed to find Hebrew National Kosher dogs in OK, so we made do with all beef Bar-S - local Okie brand).
Bread - buns
Fruit and Veggie - mustard and relish (that's a stretchhhhhhhhhhh)
Dessert - marshmallows, chocolate bars and cinnamon graham crackers.
What, dessert isn't one of the 4 food groups? Alas, the failings of a public education.

While procuring the marshmallows from the baking aisle, we asked a blue-vested employee where we could find some firewood. Not her, but another helpful Walmart employee chimed in with the location and directions to a fella on the highway that sells firewood by the truckload, the rick or by the piece.

But he only takes cash. The heathen.

Turns out the wood salesman was a divey-motor hotel manager on the main highway through town, who gave us 20 pieces of good "camp-fire burnin'" stuff for $5.00 American...even loaded it into our buggy for us.

That night we all took turns poking the fire, eating our dogs, watching puffy white sugar plums turn to flame, laughing, singing, cuddling, and enjoying our doing-something-out-of-the-ordinary family time.

Cro-mag man never had it so good.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Oklahoma Trails

The Oklahoma City Zoo unveiled a new permanent exhibit earlier this year and we had yet to check it out. As summer is winding down (only a few weeks until school starts), off the girls and I went to explore the environs of the new Oklahoma Trails.

Touted as a $10.3 million dolllar expansion and inspired by Oklahoma's 11 distinct life zones (second to no other state), the exhibit... "...showcases more than 100 different species of animals native to Oklahoma...featuring naturalistic habitats utilizing landscape immersion and state-of-the-art technology, this exhibit provides a unique encounter."

"Featured species include grizzly and black bear, cougar, paddlefish, turkey vulture, river otter, western diamondback rattlesnake, American alligator, roadrunner, bison, collared lizard (mountain boomer) and alligator snapping turtle. "
Cougars & Gators & Bears...oh my.

Much to my sweaty forehead's pleasure, we were happy to find that even on a typical hot and muggy OKC summer sweltery day, every animal was active and completely viewable, thanks to their "visitor friendly" designed habitats. The wolf pack was pacing, the cougar was crawling, the grizzlies gesticulating and even the bald eagle with the clipped wings strutted eminently on the floor of it's habitat.

Highlight for me was the indoor, climate controlled (ahhhh....a 75 degree respite from the gnarly 90+ outdoor temps and 80% humidity) displays centered around a massive pond aquarium wherein I learned to tell the difference between families of crappie... ("I was told it's pronounced "craw-py, not crappy...what a shame") , blue gills, basses, and catfish - nothing like having live, swiming examples of the finned fishies in front of your face to help a non-angler distinguish their features.

It was in this A/C cave of coolness and calm that I got up close with an alligator snapping turtle the size of Gamera...okay, Gamera's little brother, but it was big enough to make me "step away from the plexiglass" wearing the same expression of disgust and fear when I saw Windows '95 demoed for the first time.

Big crowds of ankle biters pressed their sweaty faces against the 20' long plexi wall that afforded them both above and below water views of the enclave of swift footed and supersonic swimming otters. Heck, there were even a few beaver plodding around the otter environent, happily sharing their alloted space with their mammallian brothers of the pond and stream environment.

Highlight for the girls was an enclosed building darkend and lit with black lights, and decked out to resemble the interior of a barn, complete with hundreds of living, flying, hanging and feeding bats, rats, opossums, snakes, tarantulas, owls, and skunks -- all behind the protective custody of 1" plexiglass. Am I the only one who finds that watching bats frolic and flutter around has the same "doe-in-headlights effect" on me as a bubbling aquarium, or roaring fireplace -- soothing in an odd sort of way?

Later in the day, I spotted a couple of uniformed zoo-ployees carrying pint sized plastic containers with official looks on their faces. Using my natural inbred talent for prey-stalking, I managed to track them from their "Employees Only" hut down to the avian section - basically, I followed them. The reward for my tracking abilities were my daughters squeals of delight as they got to feed meal worms to dive bombing Scissortail Flycathers (state bird) in the enclosed aviary.

Exiting the bird cage, we stopped to listen in on a Zookeeper emparting some wild turkey wisdom to a group of elderly charges outside the galliformes paddock. As she wrapped up her brief lecture on the dire need for conservation efforts to provide for natural habitat for Oklahoma's indiginous wildlife so that popularly hunted species such as the wild turkey can thrive, my 7.5 year old chimed in, rather loudly..."Hey, Papa has a couple of those at the den in the lake house...but his are stuffed!"Onto the snack bar...churros for everyone!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

And he carried a big stick

The other day I was putting the finishing touches on the minutes for the weekly meeting of the non-profit board I belong to, when I was introduced to a stranger. He had come into my small town's Chamber of Commerce office (where we hold our meetings) to gather some information on our city as a possible new homesite for himself.

This fella was a doctor and not from these parts, so the Chamber President thought I would be a good conduit for him to get to know the town and it's many proclivities, seeing as how I'm a relatively recent transplant myself.

I asked him when he arrived, and he said he pulled into town the same day as the mega-lighting storm that hit our area a few days ago. I recalled this storm because it took out our power for a good 20-minutes and I was right in the middle of editing some spots for a local Ranch and Home store, and was patting myself on the back for having recently saved my work.

He's young, decent looking, and me being a member of the male gender, I quickly sized him up using the male-specific "can I kick his butt or could he kick mine" method.

Women don't do this do they? I'm sure they have a more complicated method of comparing themselves to other women they've just met. I think OURS is easier.

Anyhow, the most odd thing about this out-of-towner M.D. (he didn't say he wasn't an M.D. , so I'm just assuming his doctor title isn't one of those of purely research and scholarly pursuits, but I didn't delve too deeply), is this big stick he carries around with him. Did I say big...I meant to say REALLY BIG. I only mention it because it seems to be more than a stick, but an extension of himself...if that makes any sense at all.

Our conversation carried forth to family and careers and he perked up a bit when I told him my wife was an Oklahoma native, had traveled extensively throughout the state and worked for an agency of the State that dealt with tourism, parks and recreation, etc. He then surprised me with his knowledge of something called, the Heavener Runestone in a state park near the Oklahoma / Arkansas border that I had heard about from my sister-in-law who is from that part of the state.

At this point a fellow town's lady who was visiting in the Chamber office chimed into our conversation by asking the young Doctor if he had picked a "chruch home," yet -- a common question asked here in my small town to new arrivals, to which he replied that he wasn't sure where he would be living yet and then mentioned something about "god" and "house of Asgard (sp?)."

She nodded and said, "oh, that church must be in the city somewhere," and left it at that.

Later that night, I was telling my wife about the new visitor to our small town and she did what I fear has become a standard routine when meeting someone new - we Googled him.

And this page was at the top of the list...

Gotcha! -- but I do think it's interesting that the Son of Odin's new digs are here in my new home state. Who knows, maybe Sue Storm (Fantastic Four's Invisible Woman) visited and we didn't even know it.