Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Poor Sick Kid

My older daughter has been down for over a week... dizziness, nausea, and debilitating headaches. I took her back to the emergency room Friday night, where they gave her a CAT scan and ran a few tests. They said that there's nothing immediately life-threatening, which is good. But we're all getting frustrated at the glacial pace of things. We had an appointment with her family doctor today, but the doctor's office notified us that the doc is sick, so we had to reschedule.

The kid seems to be slowly improving, but damn... it's a bitch to watch your kid be sick. And I'll admit it... I'm not at my best when dealing with the medical bureaucracy.

Details on Fixing My Garage Door

As I mentioned in my last post, our garage door broke. Thanks to my friend Greg, we were able to get it completely fixed with just a few hours of work. It all started when the garage door opener died. The main drive sprocket shelled out, which meant that I had to buy a new garage door opener. I did some comparison shopping, and chose the Chamberlain 1/2 horsepower Whisper Drive garage door opener. After looking at the various models (belt drive, screw drive and chain drive) I selected the belt drive because it's supposed to be quietest, because it's supposed to be maintenance-free, and because the screw drive models reportedly fail to work in very cold weather. (My garage is heated, so that will probably never be an issue, but I didn't want to risk it.) I chose my specific model based on price, reviews, and local availability.

On Friday, I removed the old garage door opener, in preparation for installing the new one on Saturday. I figured that we could manually open and close the garage door in the interim. Unfortunately, when Mrs. Evan returned from her weekly grocery shopping on Saturday morning, the garage door had a major malfunction. The garage door cable slipped from its pulley on the right side, and at the same time, the tracks on the left twisted slightly, causing the garage door wheels to slide from the tracks. (Wow, she's one strong lady!) The top panel was hanging precariously. I was afraid that it would fall, which could injure someone and/or destroy the panel. I called Greg for assistance, and he came right over. Greg and I have done a lot of similar projects, and we've almost got telepathy when it comes to two-man jobs. Furthermore, with his engineering knowledge, I expected that he'd be able to help me get the garage door closed without any further damage.

I was right. We got the door closed. Next came the big decision... should we try to fix things ourselves, or should I let the pros handle it? Knowing that the door's torsion springs can cause severe injury if something goes wrong, I seriously considered letting the professionals fix the door. But a little internet research, coupled with my having seen a pro work on the torsion springs before, convinced me that we could fix things ourselves. It was the correct choice.
**NOTE: Please understand that playing with these springs can cause serious injury or death. If you're not confident in your abilities, don't do it! And also notice that I'm not giving you instructions on how to do this. In other words, if you do this yourself and end up hurt, it's your own damn fault. Don't come crying to me.

Using the internet instructions and my memory, we released the tension on the springs. We then reseated and adjusted the cable on the pulley and repaired the twisted track. The track was fixed by simply repairing a single support bracket. And re-tensioning the torsion springs was easy as well. Next came installing the new garage door opener. Now comes the part where I evaluate the Chamberlain 1/2 horsepower Whisper Drive garage door opener.

There are really two aspects to the evaluation... installing the opener, and how well it works. I'll start my evaluation with the summary. Both aspects met with or exceeded my expectations. Installing the opener went off without a hitch. It can be done with one person, but it certainly goes faster with two people. Also, realize that I didn't do a new installation. I re-used as many of the old parts as possible, so I didn't need to install the headers and sensors, or run the wiring. That took an hour or two off of my overall install time. The instructions were detailed and straight-forward. Installation and preliminary testing took roughly an hour. Fine adjustments took another 15 minutes or so. Finalization and clean-up took another 30 minutes

The opener works as I'd expect as well, but it's not quite as silent as I thought it would be. When I read the reviews, many people commented on the silence. Some even said "I can't even hear the opener... all I hear is the garage door on its tracks." That's not my experience. I was able to hear the motor. But it IS significantly quieter than my previous chain-driven model. I was able to hear the previous opener from about anywhere in the house. It wasn't annoyingly loud, but I was able to hear it. I can clearly hear the new opener's motor when I'm in the garage, but inside the house, all is silent. In fact, the sound of the car driving into the garage is now louder than the sound of the door opening.

Having had the device for less than a week, I can't speak for the long-term durability of the opener, but I am satisfied with how it performs thus far. And if you're deliberating whether to install the opener yourself or have the pros do it, I'd say do it yourself.

Oh yeah, I need to thank Mrs. Evan for being a real trooper. She was feeling a little under the weather, but she agreed to watch Greg's kids while we worked on the garage door.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Challenging Week

My kid's been home from school all week with chronic dizziness, nausea and headaches. The doctors have thus far failed to adequately diagnose her, but it appears to be nothing life-threatening. At least the blood tests and CAT scan look clean. Maybe an inner ear problem causing vertigo? Either way, after this long, she's really tired of being sick, and I'm more than just a little concerned.

Mrs. Evan has been feeling a little under the weather too. And she's such a trooper. The kid's feeling sick, so Mrs. Evan refuses to stop... it's more important for her to be there for the kid than it is for her to stop. I have to admit... I can relate to this.

The younger kid's being a trooper too. She was waaay worried about her sister; she's been very patient, understanding and kind to her sick sister.

To complicate matters a bit, I was kindly notified by Child Support Recovery that my ex wife has requested a child support review. UGH! The money aspect isn't really the primary issue from my perspective... But I'm not going to get into that.

And on the same day I found out about the child support crap, my garage door opener blew out. I was ready to buy a new one... I removed the old one last night. Mrs. Evan opened the door by hand today, and the shit fell off the tracks. Fortunately, I called my best-est friend, and he spent the day helping me put things back together. For $250 - including the new garage door opener - we got everything put back together and running smoother than ever.

Oh yeah... I also noticed that when my sick kid is feeling icky, she wants her boyfriend, not me. I'm a bit wistful about that, but I also get that it's part of growing up.

I'm a little drained after all of this activity... but wifey is sleeping after being sick all week... the older kid is still sick (today is day six), and the younger kid has a friend spending the night. I'll sleep in an hour or two.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'm Too Young for This Shit

Nostalgia: A longing for something past.

Ever since my miniature class reunion last month, I've been planning to break out my high school yearbook... to see who I remember, what I remember, and what I've forgotten. I finally did that today. While I was digging through my memorabilia, I also found an old letter from a high school teacher, an some commemorative yearbooks from the Marine Corps. The whole experience was a huge, wistful trip down memory lane.

The first thing I looked at was the letter, which was painful. Like I said in the last post, I had a lot of respect for the guy. The note was very personal, talking about some of his regrets, and the knowledge that I'll never speak to him was poignant.

My senior yearbook was a trip, but for significantly different reasons. I couldn't believe how many pictures were completely unfamiliar to me... especially considering that I went to school with these people for four years. And the stuff that was written. I was pretty selective about who wrote in my yearbook that year... I wanted to stick with people I'd remember, and who meant a lot to me during the year, as opposed to getting every Tom, Dick and Harry to write something meaningless. What struck me was how many of those signers I don't remember, and how the common theme was that I was a wild man who partied just a little bit too much. Man, I remember being a partier, but I didn't realize that I was such a wild child.

What REALLY kicked me in the ass though, was the military stuff. And they didn't really jog my memory directly... what they did was remind me of some significant aspects of my enlistment. For most people, the high school years are the golden years... the time filled with nostalgia. This wasn't the case with me. For me, my time as a Marine were, for lack of a better term, my formative years. They were my closest friends; this period brings back the most vivid nostalgic memories; this was the time that I came in to my own as a man.

These books in and of themselves weren't that vivid. But they brought back memories of my deployments, and of my time at the now-defunct MCAS Tustin. The nostalgia caused me to do an internet search on MCAS Tustin. Last time I visited California, I drove by the now-closed base. It brought back a flood of memories. I resolved to return again in the future, but to find a way to sneak on to the base and get some pictures. After my internet research, I realized that this would probably never happen... the city of Tustin has a massive development plan underway for the base, and by the time I get back out there, the place I remember will be completely non-existent. That hurt a lot.

I've always been the type of person who remembers the past, but looks forward. I recognize the need to preserve history, but I also enjoy the prospect of what the future holds. This trip down memory lane... the realization that some of MY history will soon cease to exist... the knowledge that I will never see many of these close friends again... that was painful. I'm too young for this shit.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Delay Has Ended

Delayed Gratification: Work and sacrifice now, with the anticipation of a greater reward in the end. The delay has ended, and now it's gratification time.

Back in August, my church adopted one of the homes hit by last year's flood. Four months of hard work will pay off this week, as we give the homeowner the key to her newly remodeled house. Due to other commitments, I haven't worked on the house for the last couple of weeks... the time when things really come together. But I did take the opportunity to walk through the nearly-finished house this morning. Though it's incredibly cold outside, I was warmed with the satisfaction of doing good for someone.

As I sit here, trying to channel my thoughts into coherent words, I completely fail. Four months... it seems like a long time. But compared to how long the homeowner has been without a house, it's not that long. It seems like we started the project ages ago, but when you consider that we've only worked weekends, it went by quickly.

Jeff and Julie, the true project leaders, were great. They devoted EVERY weekend -- and many weeknights -- to this renovation. They were the ones who worked with the bureaucracy to get us what we needed to get the home remodeled... the ones who were on site, without fail... the ones with the vision of the final outcome... the ones who put little touches on the house, like a Christmas wreath on the front door, and new wash cloths (wrapped in a purple bow) in the bathrooms...

Today, as I did a final walk through the house, before the homeowner moves back in, I heard from Jeff and Julie that the bureaucrats who doled out the money (and the restrictions) stated that our work and results were among the finest they had seen. Though I realize this may have been nothing but lip service, it was gratifying nonetheless. That, however, is nothing compared to the knowledge that I helped make a flooded house better than it was before the devastation.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


We had our first snowfall of the year. Most of the state is having a snow day. I took this picture earlier this morning. Notice how much snow is on the deck rail? And it's still snowing and blowing!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


I just used regular dish soap in the dishwasher.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's a Good Day

It's a good day today. No reason, I'm just loving life.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Today's been a day of cleaning and fixing stupid little broken things around the house. In my last post, I talked about the new vacuum I purchased. Well, that was set in motion because I had to clean the furnace. The furnace kept tripping the breaker, because it was overheating. It was overheating because the A/C radiator, which is obviously part of the overall HVAC system, was clogged with years worth of dust and pet hair. This is the second time I've had to do this dusting since I've lived here. It's not exactly easy to do, but it's waaaay cheaper to do it myself than it is to hire someone to come out and do it for me. This time though, I used some duct tape and sealed things off a bit better. Hopefully, that will eliminate -- or at least postpone -- any further ventures into the HVAC system for a while. Even better, maybe it will reduce my heating and cooling bills a bit.

I've also had a clogged sink in my bathroom. This too has happened before, and no, Liquid Plumber didn't help either. In order to clean the clog, I have to remove the sink trap and clean the crap out with a screwdriver. The pipe was so clogged that I was surprised that any water flowed at all. To complicate matters a bit though, the sink trap pipe broke when I disassembled the thing, which required a run to the hardware store. No big deal, it just turned a 20 minute job into an hour and a half job. Such is the life of a do-it-yourselfer.

Evaluating the Bissell Powerforce Turbo Bagless Vacuum

My old vacuum, a Eureka Altima, died today. The motor's drive shaft shelled out. I briefly considered fixing the old vacuum, but understanding that doing so would be a costly and/or time consuming endeavor, I opted to buy a new floor cleaner instead.

I'm a gadget geek and a neat freak. I hate to admit it, but there was a little piece of me that was pleased at the prospect of buying a new vacuum cleaner. Weird, huh? With that said, I may be a neat freak gadget geek, but I don't need to have the best of everything. I need something that's the biggest bang for the buck at the time of purchase. This time was no different.

If you're reading this post, you fall into one of two categories... my small circle of regular readers, or someone who's stumbled across this post because you're in the market for a new vacuum. For the sake of the latter group, I'll refrain from discussing how I decided on this vacuum and get straight to the review.

This vacuum wasn't the cheapest model at Wal-Mart, but it was well under $100. My last vacuum, the aforementioned Eureka Altima, ran around $80 at the time of purchase if memory serves me correctly. That vacuum lasted somewhere between five and ten years, and I believe that I got my money's worth out of it. The biggest gripe I had about that one is that the little vacuum attachment for cleaning stairs didn't work very well at all. It was also heavier than the new vacuum. But I'm digressing... let's get on with the review of the new Bissell Powerforce Turbo.

The price was right. I paid about $65. Putting it together was a breeze... two screws to attach the handle to the body, and I was ready to roll. The power cord is longer than the one on my old vacuum too. This, however, is a mixed blessing. It's nice to not have to change outlets so often, but the long cord kind of gets in the way when I'm cleaning a small room. I'm sure I'll get used to that though.

I also like the weight, as compared to the old vacuum. Another nice feature is the double-sided edge cleaning. Edge cleaning as a general rule works okay, but I still find that I need to occasionally pull out the crevice attachment to get the dusty areas next to the baseboard. (I've got white carpet, so it's kind of apparent when the edges of the carpet are dusty. I REALLY like the attachments on the Bissell. The hose attachment is very flexible and stretchy, and has a built-in extension with a handle. With the second extension and crevice attachment, there was virtually no loss of suction, and I was able to clean those corners while standing up. Way to go, Bissell!

I'm also pleased with the turbo attachment, which is Bissell's beater brush attachment that goes on the extension hose. You may recall that I was disappointed with the performance of the Eureka Altima's version of this attachment. Well, Bissell got something right here, when they made the turbo attachment in such a way that you can take it apart for cleaning and maintenance. That was an awesome idea!

I've got two short-haired black dogs. The resulting pet hair on my carpet is extremely noticeable. The Bissell Powerforce Turbo cleaned the pet hair beyond my expectations. It also captured a LOT of dirt and dust that appears to have accumulated as a result of the slow decline in my old vacuum's performance. Somehow, I expected the dust, yet was pleasantly surprised by how well it captured the pet hair.

After vacuuming my house twice, I've only discovered two downsides to this machine. The dirt receptacle is small, and needs to be emptied often. It looks bigger than most, but with the big vacuum hole in the middle, the container's functional volume is nowhere as large as it appears.

The other problem was static electricity. During the first five minutes of vacuuming, I kept getting zapped by static discharge. I did a little research and found this to be a relatively common problem with vacuums in general, and found a workaround. I figured that I'd try the workaround if the static shocks continued to be a problem, but by the time I finished cleaning he house, the static problem appears to have fixed itself. Maybe the vacuum needed that micro-coat of dust on the insides in order to shield itself from static... I don't know... all I know is that the vacuum has stopped zapping me.

Overall, I'm pleased with how things are working so far. But then again, it's the first day that I've owned the machine, so I can't say how pleased I'll be in the long run.

On an unrelated note, I've got to mention something I noticed when I was actually shopping for the vacuum. It's six days before Thanksgiving today. The Christmas decorations are out at the stores, and the Salvation Army bell ringers are out. I still wish that they'd wait until after Thanksgiving is over to start peddling Christmas stuff, but I know I'll never get my way on this. But what I thought was REALLY funny, was that all of the display model vacuum cleaners had little Christmas ribbons on them... as if they'd be a good gift for the wife. It was obviously a man who came up with that stupid, yet funny, idea. Guys, take it from me... buying your wife a vacuum cleaner for Christmas is NOT going to get you laid.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bonding With My Axe

I spent over two hours playing my guitar today! I love it when I get to spend long periods of time making loud guitar music.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Class Reunion of Sorts

Yesterday, the wife and I went to hang out with some of my classmates from high school. I haven't seen most of these folks since graduation... a bit over twenty years ago. I didn't know exactly what to expect at this party, but it was an absolute blast... it blew away my wildest expectations. We drank a LOT. We reminisced. We trash talked each other, but it was all in good fun. There was no regression to high school... no cliquishness... none of the bad stuff that a little piece of me feared. I'm so glad I went! Hell, someone was dancing on tables before 10:00 PM!

It's kind of weird... I'm looking up old high school friends... reconnecting with Marine buddies. Don't get me wrong, this isn't some lame attempt to relive glory days. Without exception, we've talked about the past, but we're reconnecting as who we are today. There's a bit of me who wishes I'd done this sooner. But I guess I wasn't ready for whatever reason.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Evaluating the Mustang Regal Duke Motorcycle Seat

This blog entry is designed to review the Mustang Regal Duke motorcycle seat for a 2006 Harley-Davidson Sportster 883. It may be helpful for other models, but I can't specifically comment on how this seat will perform with other motorcycles.

Let's face it. The stock seats that come with most Harley-Davidson motorcycles aren't that comfortable. Sitting on one a stock Harley seat is approximately a half step up from a church pew. Since most of my riding is in-town, or short commutes of 40 miles or less, a new seat hasn't been my highest priority, but I've always known that I'd have to upgrade if I planned on doing any rides lasting for an hour or more. On the rare occasion that I did an all-day ride, my bony butt was numb after that first sixty minutes. After two hours, my tush was begging for the ride to end.

I've been shopping for an upgrade for around two years, and early on, I decided that the Regal Duke, made by Mustang, was the seat for me. It had solid reviews for comfort and for durability, and the price was better than most similar replacement seats. Still, $300+ was never something that I've been prepared to drop on a whim. Last week though, I found that seat for just under $250, including shipping. That deal was just too good to pass up, so I jumped on it. (Just in time to put the bike in storage for the winter, but that's beside the point.)

I got the seat today, and I'm prepared to make a preliminary review. The installation process was so easy that I'm not even going to talk about it here. The old one was off, and the new one was on in less than 15 minutes. Instead, I'm going to talk about my initial impressions of how the seat looks and feels.

When I jumped on the bike after swapping seats, I noticed two things. First, the seat made me ride an inch or two higher. I expected this. I also expected to sit forward an inch or two, but that didn't happen. I thought that the higher ride might be a bit uncomfortable, but I quickly adjusted, and after a block or two, I decided that I liked the extra lift. Being a bit long-legged, I kind of liked the extra lift while sitting at stop lights.

The next thing I noticed was that it didn't feel as soft as I expected. I figured that the difference in cushioning would be far more radical... kind of like moving from a park bench to a La-Z-Boy. When I first sat on the seat, I noticed virtually no difference. After riding for a few blocks though, I realized that while the entire seat didn't feel much softer, it was noticeably more cushioned in key areas. Due to the chilly weather, I only rode for a few miles, but it was long enough to come to the conclusion that the seat will probably serve me well on longer hauls.

From an aesthetics perspective, I've got to admit that I'm a bit disappointed. The stock seat hugs the frame almost perfectly. This makes sense... though uncomfortable, the stock seat is specifically designed for my exact bike.

If you take a look at this picture, you may notice a gap between the bottom of the seat, and the cover below. With the stock seat, you don't even see the clips that hold the cover in place. If you expand the picture, you will also notice that the wiring harness is significantly visible. The harness is virtually invisible with the stock seat.

This picture, taken from the other side, shows the same thing. The oil filler cap is more pronounced, there's a plainly visible frame bolt, and the wiring harness sticks out like a sore thumb

A couple of things I do like aesthetically though, is the rise at the back of the rider's seat, and the passenger part sits up quite a bit when compared to the Harley-Davidson aftermarket passenger pillion. The extra rise on the passenger seat eliminates the gap between the top of the seat and the bottom of the backrest.

If you're going strictly for looks, this may not be the ideal seat. The increased visibility of the frame and wiring harnesses detracts from the sleek look and feel that the stock seat has. But if you're going for comfort, or for a slightly higher ride, this seat should fit the bill nicely. I fully intend to post a follow-up review after taking the bike for a long ride, and I will also post a follow-up comment after taking the kids for a spin. They will be able to give me a bit of feedback regarding passenger comfort.

Oh yeah... I suppose I should mention that I got the seat for a great price at GM Cycles. I'm thoroughly satisfied with shopping experience through them.

Addendum, added April 12, 2010:
Having taken some longer rides, I now feel prepared to write the follow-up I promised when I did the initial evaluation.

Over the weekend, I took the bike for a couple of cruises on the highway. each ride was approximately 80 miles, and a kid accompanied me on each trip. The ride is definitely more comfortable with the new seat, but I can't say that it's exactly a La-Z-Boy.

There are three functional aspects of the seat that make it superior to the stock Harley seat. The first item was something I didn't notice right away. The Mustang seat isn't as slippery as the stock seat, so when I found a comfortable spot, my butt stayed in place... it didn't slide around on the seat as much as the stock one. The second thing I liked was the rise at the back of my portion of the seat. It provided a surprising amount of additional support, considering its size, which saved a lot of wear and tear on my tailbone. And the added cushion made the ride significantly more comfortable over the long haul.

When riding with the stock seat, I was ready to get off the bike after a mere 30 minutes of riding. With the new seat, it took closer to 60 minutes before fanny-fatigue started kicking in; and I was ready to hop back in the saddle after just a few moments of standing.

As for the passenger experience... my older daughter said that her butt fell asleep, but I think that has more to do with road conditions than the seat itself, because my younger daughter had no complaints whatsoever.

If you're looking for a truly all-day seat, this one may not quite meet your expectations. But then again, at least in my case, the peanut tank on my Harley requires me to stop and stretch every couple of hours anyway. While the stock seat was similar to a medieval torture device on long trips, the new seat is simply "less than perfect." There may be better seats out there, but based on my research, they'd cost a lot more. After using this seat on a couple of longer trips, I'm happy that I made the purchase.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Remember Those Days

The Marine Corps birthday got me thinking about my active duty time. Nostalgia kicked in, and I spent a bit of time searching for some of my Marine buddies. I found two of them, and spent about 30 minutes catching up with one of them today. This guy was one of my closest friends when I was in the Corps. So much so, that I can't find the words to express how incredible it was to hear from him. Yeah, really... I'm kind of speechless. I type a sentence... I relive a memory... I try to find the words... there aren't any... another moment of reverie engulfs me... I once again fail to find words that express the recollections. It was a lifetime ago... it was yesterday. I've tried to track this guy down on and off again for well over ten years.

I actually tracked him down through his wife -- who I also remember with great fondness. She summed it up better than I can when, during our email conversation, she said "We felt bad we lost contact with you and [a mutual friend]. I remember those days ... as fun and care-free."

Fun and care-free. I can't find a better way to summarize those days. I missed you. I can't believe how much time has passed. I can't believe your boy is all grown up. I hope that we can actually meet in the near future.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Birthday

Happy 234th birthday, U.S. Marine Corps.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Cake is a Lie

Wall street seems to think that our economy is recovering. I don't get it. Unemployment is hovering around 10%, and there's no sign of that changing in the near future. As I watch the numbers though, here's what the pundits seem to overlook. The price of crude oil is walking in lock step with the Dow. When stocks advance, a barrel of oil goes up accordingly. When stocks drop, so does crude. This formula precludes a solid recovery. Our economy won't seem to tolerate gas prices much higher than $3.00 per gallon. But based on what I've seen in oil vs. stock prices, investors expect the price of gas to rise in lock step with an economic recovery. It won't work. The economy cannot recover to pre-recession levels with a high cost of fuel.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I Think the Internet is Broken

Yeah, I know that it's effectively impossible to break the internet. But I've noticed some serious deterioration in the performance of some major sites lately. I've consistently observed the deterioration on multiple computers, in several locations and with different Web Browsers. Here's what I've noticed specifically...

Google: When I use the Google Search bar, whether it's in IE7 or Firefox 3.5, I've been getting a "Server Not Found" error. But if I refresh the search, I get the results I expect.

Blogger: Blogger has been pretty slow to load lately. And once the basic page does load, the widgets take a while to finish up.

Has anyone else noticed this? Anything else that you've noticed?

What the "Repair Your Credit" People Won't Tell You

I used to be a debt collector. No, I wasn't one of the unethical bastards who called at all hours of the night, making threats to little old ladies. I was purely above-board, and so were my colleagues. During my time as a debt collector, I heard all kinds of stories, took all kinds of abuse, and worked with the true hard-luck cases. I also learned my rights and responsibilities as a consumer, and I've exercised these rights on more than one occasion. Today I'm going to give you a bit of advice on how to protect these rights. Before I do that though, I have to protect my interests up front with my little disclaimer... a disclaimer that I shouldn't have to give, but do anyway...

I'm not a lawyer. Don't take this as legal advice, genius. Laws may have changed a bit since I was a debt collector, so don't take this information as gospel.

Okay, here's the skinny... All consumers are allowed, by law, to view their credit reports once per year at no charge to the consumer. Forget about FreeCreditReport.com, FreeTripleScore.com and all of those other sites. They are NOT the sites to get your free credit report. The actual place to get your free annual credit report is www.ftc.gov/freereports. You may notice that this site is the actual FTC government site. I recommend that you exercise your right as a consumer, and get your free credit reports.

Here's the meat and potatoes of this article... As a consumer, you have the right to dispute any negative information that's on your credit record, and you can do this for free. All you have to do is contact the credit reporting agency (which can also be done online) and tell them why you're disputing the debt. Generally speaking, the following reasons are considered valid reasons for a dispute... 1)You did not authorize the debt [think identity theft]. 2) Another party is legally responsible for the debt [someone with a similar name, or things like that]. 3) You are unfamiliar with the debt. 4) You were dissatisfied with the product or service. 5)The information is incorrect [for example, they're saying that you were late with payments, but you made all payments on time]. There are other types of dispute, but these are among the most common, widely recognized disputes.

Once you have filed an official dispute with the credit reporting agency, they are required by law to contact the original creditor and ask for verification of any negative information. Generally speaking, this process must be completed within 30 days. If the original creditor fails to verify your dispute, the negative information must be removed from your credit history.

Now, here's what the "Repair Your Credit" people don't tell you. All they do, is the exact process I mentioned above. Basically, they send out several individual disputes against every negative item on an individual's credit report. If any one of these disputes fail to get acknowledged within the time frame allowed by law, the negative history must be removed from the person's credit report. And these "Repair Your Credit" bastards charge you hundreds of dollars for this!

If you've got a poor credit history, save your money. Get your credit report, and if there's something showing up that you don't agree with, exercise your rights... dispute the debt.

Cutting the Cord

I finally took the plunge and ditched the land line.

Truth be told, I've been wanting to do it for about a year, but the Mrs. has been a bit reluctant. After pointing out that we'd spend about $500 per year less by cutting the cord, she finally agreed.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Getting It

[Doing my best James T. Kirk expression]

Lungs... expelling... phlegm. Sinuses... clogging... Nose... running. Lymph nodes... swelling. Sneezes... painful. Body temperature... rising. Neck and back... aching. Must... fight... flu.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Couple of Off-The-Cuff Recipes

Last week I made a couple of great-tasting, easy-to-duplicate vegetarian recipes. I was happy enough with them that I thought I'd share. As I say this, bear in mind that I'm a dyed-in-the-wool carnivore, so saying that I made a good vegetarian dish is quite an accomplishment.

Recipe I:
Creamy Potato Soup

Five or six medium to large potatoes
1/2 small onion
1/2 small bell pepper (I used orange pepper in this recipe)
One bag of fresh mixed veggies - baby carrots, broccoli and cauliflower (approximately 8 oz)
2 tablespoons of minced garlic
1 can vegetable stock
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 can condensed cream of celery soup
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cut the potatoes and onions into large chunks. Do NOT skin the potatoes. Boil the potatoes until fully cooked. Rinse potatoes.

While the potatoes are boiling, steam the bag of mixed veggies and the onions. (Use the same steamer for all of these vegetables.) They should be finished around the same time as the potatoes. I used a large stock pot with a steamer on top, which allowed me to boil the potatoes and steam the veggies at the same time. Set aside the potatoes and steamed veggies.

Combine the condensed mushroom soup, the condensed celery soup, the can of vegetable stock, the garlic, the cheese and two cans of milk. Heat to simmmering. Add the steamed veggies and stir. Add the potatoes. Stir and cover. Cook on a low heat for 30 to sixty minutes, stirring occasionally. This will make the potatoes incredibly soft, and the steamed veggies will effectively dissolve in the broth. You will notice that I added no salt or pepper to this soup. I found this recipe so good by itself that I didn't need to add salt or pepper. But as always, salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe II:
Tomato Vegetable Soup

1 Can diced tomatoes
1/2 small onion
1/2 small bell pepper (I used orange pepper in this recipe)
One bag of fresh mixed veggies - baby carrots, broccoli and cauliflower (approximately 8 oz)
2 tablespoons of minced garlic

Steam onion, pepper and fresh veggies until soft. Put steamed veggies, garlic and diced tomatoes in a blender and liquefy. Add salt and pepper to taste. If refrigerated, this soup will thicken to a point where it can be used as an antipasto over baguette bread.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Personal Credit Card Revolt

I'm tired of the credit card companies. I'm taking my ball and going home.

I've had credit cards for about twenty years. The first credit card I had, the one I opened when I had zero credit history, had a 19.8% interest rate. Back then, I didn't realize how exorbitant that rate was. I was too giddy at the prospect of getting my first credit card. I quickly reached my credit limit, and spent the next couple of years with no available credit and no cash flow. It was a painful experience, but a lesson well learned.

About five years after opening that first account, I closed the account and spent the next couple of years paying off the debt. In fact, I was briefly debt-free about three years after closing that account. Eventually, I got to a point where I understood the need for revolving credit, and I got another credit card through my credit union, this time with a 12% interest rate. I tended to carry a balance on that card, but even in the worst of times, I only used about 75% of my credit limit.

Later on, I got a second card, with a 7.5% fixed interest rate. My plan was to migrate my debt from the old card to the new one by attrition. For the most part it's worked, but I still carry a small balance on the higher-interest card. Then the credit crunch hit.

Recently, I was notified that my rate on the low-interest card would be changed from a fixed rate to a variable rate. Okay, no problem -- for now, while the rates are low. 7.25 variable is still a TREMENDOUS interest rate. Then, I was notified that my higher rate card's rate would raise from 12% to 15%. I was angry at this, but accepted it.

The higher-rate debt was recently sold to a new card company. I got the full agreement in the mail yesterday. Here's the gist. The LOWEST rate that I would be charged, based on the new agreement, is 15%. That, in itself, sucked, but I was willing to live with it for now. What got me, you ask? Well, I kept reading the fine print. Get this... there is NO MAXIMUM on the rate that they could charge me. In other words, when the prime rate raises to ten percent (and it will, mark my words) my interest rate would be something like 25%.

I've been a responsible credit card holder for about twenty years. I say "responsible" because I was not late in my payments, and I never defaulted on my agreements, even when I was young and reckless. Did I tap all of my available credit? Sure. Did I default? Never. And for the last ten-plus years, I've been a creditor's wet dream. I tended to carry a balance on my cards, but I never maxed out my available credit, and I always paid more than the minimum required.

And what's my reward? Well, based on my higher-rate card, my interest rate has been lowered, on average, one-fifth of a percent per year of responsible credit experience, and then they have the balls to tell me that my interest rate could, theoretically, be higher than it was when I had no credit at all!

I'm done with these clowns. I called the new credit company today and told them that I don't agree to their terms. They have closed the account, and my plan is to pay it off in approximately 12 months. This payment plan will allow me to free up cash flow for the medium and long term, will eliminate the crazy interest rate, and will not be unbearably painful in the short-term.

By the way, I know that this will have a negative effect on my credit rating in the short term. It will reduce my available credit, which reduces my credit score. Fortunately for me, I do all of my financing through my credit union, who knows my payment history. Furthermore, this is my personal way of saying that I am not going to continue playing the big banks' game by their rules. These bastards got billions of our tax dollars in bailout money, and they STILL have the audacity to jack up our rates?!? They're getting us on both ends. I, for one, am sick of it! Since the politicians won't do anything about it, I guess that my only recourse is to take matters into my own hands, to the extent that I'm able.

Consider this my personal invitation to join me in the credit card revolt. While I do not specifically condone this approach to the credit revolt, I believe that it's time that we, the consumer, should take back our power over the banking system.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Power of Words

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been reading a book called The End of Religion. Yeah, I know it seems a little odd for someone who has started going to church after a twenty-plus year hiatus to read a book by that name, but if you indulge me for a minute, you'll see where I'm going with this introduction.

I guess that I should start by giving a little background about the book. Despite the title, it doesn't advocate atheism. Quite the contrary. The End of Religion proposes that Christ walked the earth with the goal of helping every person to create an intimate, direct bond with God. This bond does not require elaborate rituals, dietary restrictions, rosary beads or adherence to a strict set of rules. It simply requires love... love of God, love of your fellow man, and love of yourself.

Another quick side note about the book before I get on to my main point. The author proposes that religion was originally designed to forge and strengthen a relationship with God, but over time, the rituals, rites and restrictions became the focus, and the actual point -- the relationship with God -- fell by the wayside. Jesus came to Earth with the goal of returning our focus to the relationship with God. A noble goal, indeed. Over time though, we, in our infinite wisdom, founded the Christian religion, complete with rituals, rites and restrictions, which have once again steered us away from our intimate, one-on-one relationship with God.

Now I can get to my point. One thing the book discussed with some detail was the power of words. As one who is kind of proud of my prolific vocabulary, I innately understand how utilizing a specific word can have a tremendous impact on the point being made. Unfortunately however, many people -- especially those in the religious establishment -- fail to recognize this truth. Allow me to illustrate, using religiously-oriented words that impact me, for better or worse.

Saved: This is probably the first word on the list that makes me cringe, and when I explain myself, I am sure that I'm going to piss off a lot of my fellow Christians. When I think of "saved," I have a mental picture of someone who rescues me from drowning, a fiery building, or some similar dangerous situation. I don't tend to think of my spiritual life in this way though. Before returning to my walk with God, I didn't feel that I was drowning. I didn't experience a sense of impending doom. A better way to explain how I felt was that something was missing... life was good, but not quite right... not the best that it could be. I was unsalted spaghetti sauce. To me, "saved" is too black-and-white. Either I'm saved, or I am damned. I wasn't saved, I was enhanced.

Born again: This is another term that kind of chaps my hide. The idea of being born again is that the old you dies, and a new you is born. This kind of indicates a transformation... a metamorphosis. Sorry, that one doesn't click with me either. If I were to be born again in the sense that I understand, I would feel the need to desert old friends and turn my back on some of the earthly things that bring me joy. I believe that God doesn't want me to do this. He wants me to continue loving my friends, and enjoying the pleasures of this world -- as long as they don't distract from my relationship with Him.

Walking with God: This is one that I like. Walking with God feels like a nature hike. Sometimes I stop to take in the wonders of nature while He travels on. Other times, I get a little goal-oriented and drive blindly on, even though He wants me to smell the roses. Either way though, we're always in sight of each other, and He's ready to lend a hand when I stumble.

Religion: Religion feels like adherence to the rule of law. I'm not a big fan of doing something because I've been told that it's what I must do. I like doing something because it feels right.

Faith: Faith is belief in something that can't necessarily be proven or demonstrated. I like faith.

Sinner: This is a double-edged sword for me. I know that I'm not free from sin, but I (usually) cannot in good conscience call another person a sinner. It's too pejorative, and it requires me to assume that I know God's will. Sorry, I'm not that enlightened.

Sin: Another double-edged word. To me, sin means "anything that's not Godly." I'm not that dichotomous in my thinking. I firmly believe that some parts of the human experience are mundane... neither Godly nor sin.

This is a short list of hot-button words for me. There are more, but hopefully this illustrates the power of words, as it applies to faith. It would be good for us all if everyone -- believers and non-believers alike -- would apply a little bit of leeway when it comes to the meaning behind words. The world would be a much better place for it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Seasonally Impacted

I've got a bit of a love-hate relationship with autumn. I love the fall colors. I like the fact that the bugs disappear. I enjoy cooking comfort foods... chili... winter squash... pot roast in a slow cooker. But like trees and perennials, bears and groundhogs, I want to hibernate. During the spring and summer months, I love getting up early and doing stuff all day. When the fall hits, I just can't seem to get out of bed.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Random Notes

I've been playing a lot of Halo 3: ODST. It's a fun game. Since there's no Master Chief this time around, I was a bit skeptical, but so far I like it. The ODST troopers aren't as well armored or equipped as Master Chief, so it's easier to die -- and harder to kill -- in ODST than in the previous Halo games. This means that sometimes discression is the better part of valor; it's sometimes more wise to skirt around the enemy, rather than engage them in a losing battle. I like making these decisions.

I've also been evaluating Windows 7. I installed it last night. The eye candy is nice, but for the most part it seems similar to Vista. As I say this though, understand that I didn't have any problems with Vista. The prompts to install software and change OS settings is a little distracting, but this hasn't changed in Windows 7. The upgrade took a long time, and after the install, it took a while for Windows 7 to settle down... things seemed slow for the first night... but after the nightly defrag and a little bit of post-install clean-up, it seems to be running satisfactorily. One thing I don't like is that Windows 7 took it upon itself to clear my desktop of my pre-existing files and reset my start menu.

I've been volunteering at a house that was flooded last summer. The place was gutted when I started... last weekend we got the drywall up. It's starting to look like a home, and we're hoping that the owner can move back in by Thanksgiving.

My mom is coming down for a few days. She's a little crazy, but we love her. I kind of like cooking for her and stuff. And she usually cleans my house when I'm at work, so there's a huge bonus.

Guess that's all for now.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Late Night

Here it is, almost 9:00 PM, and I'm still at work. About half way through my work day, a server crashed... I spent a couple of hours troubleshooting it... then another hour or two trying to make it work again, and in the end I had to reinstall the OS. Now comes the dreary part... waiting here while the data is restored from backup. By the time I'm done, it'll have been a 13 hour day or so. I haven't done a day like that in quite a while. At least I get to surf the net while I'm waiting.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Performed in Front of a Live Audience

One evening several years ago, Greg and I were kicking back, playing guitar. During our jam session, Greg told me his aspiration as a musician. "I'd like to play live for real people and have them appreciate what I played." It was a modest dream, but it seemed reasonable and achievable. I adopted that for my own goal as a guitar player.

I achieved that goal today. It was terrifying and exciting. My wife and I played in front of our church today... she sang and I backed her up on my guitar. It was the first time I'd ever soloed on my guitar in front of anyone I didn't know. It was the second time I'd ever played in front of people I didn't know. It was a group of roughly 100 to 150 people.

I knew that I'd be nervous, but I can't remember the last time I'd been that nervous. I spent the entire church service mentally practicing my part... I missed most of the sermon because I was in my own little world. Part way through my mental practicing, I completely forgot my chord progression. I ended up writing it all down on the church bulletin. My hands were clammy during the whole service too. Then came the moment of truth...

When I got on stage, I completely tuned out the audience. I had the church bulletin on the music stand, but I didn't need it. My fingers remembered where they were supposed to go, and my ear (which were tuned in to the wife's singing) told me when my fingers needed to move. It wasn't flawless. I made one mistake in the first verse and one in the second. The third time through though, was flawless, as I started to relax and focus on the music.

When the song was over, I breathed a huge sigh of relief, my circulation returned to my extremities, and I finally allowed myself to look at the audience as I heard the applause. It was totally worth it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Another Guest Post

Law Enforcement-
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
By Ann Nonamus

A different points in MANY peoples lives they have been on BOTH sides of the law- whether or not they will openly admit it. I am one of those people.
There's a reason the phrase "A Thin Blue Line" was coined. There's a "thin blue line" between a cop and a crook. Some people even go so far as to say it takes a criminal to catch one. That's pretty darn accurate, to be honest.

I could tell you about how the "Good Ol' Boy" System is firmly entrenched in our system.
But I won't.

I could tell you about how the system is manipulated on a regular basis to satisfy first one and then another of the Good Ol' Boys needs.
But I won't.

I could tell you about how there are officers out there that you should be afraid of and avoid at all costs.
But I won't.

I could tell you that how the system works-(or rather, works against what/how you think it should ) should make you scared to death if you only were an "insider" for a short time.
But I won't.

I could tell you I had to think long and hard about how to write this article and not be incriminated or afraid to go out of my house because of a few simple statements and the off chance one of the local LE officers should run across it.
But I won't.

What I will tell you is that amongst the many master-manipulators there is a handful of law enforcement officers who truly believe in Law & Order and Justice in every sense of the words and go to work every single day to make our lives safer and our world a better place to live in. These are the ones I call "Everyday Heros". They don't get paid nearly enough to lay their lives on the line to protect us from, not only the "civilian" bad-guys, but the ones in uniform as well, and they receive very little, if any, Recognition or Respect for it. Even worse, they instead usually get lumped in with the "Good Ole Boys".

They know who they are. Both sets of them.
And if we look closely, so do you and I.
Nuff Said.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Interviewing Me

A while back, I gave readers a chance to interview me by sending in questions. The questions are in, and here's the moment you've been waiting for. Thanks for the thought-provoking queries.

*What have you done with yourself since high school?
Joined the Marine Corps, traveled the world. Got married. Had a kid. (She was born on the day I got out of the Marine Corps.) Spent some time as a stay-at-home dad. Moved back home to Iowa. Went to school for a while. Moved from my hometown to another city in Iowa. Had another kid. Became a computer geek. Went back to school for a while. Bought a house. Got divorced. Dated. Got married again.

*Tell me about your job history. What were some of your favorite jobs and why? Least favorite?
I've had several jobs in my day, but fewer than most people I know. I tend to find jobs I like and stick with them for a while... sometimes longer than is really good for my career growth. I started with a paper route when I was in seventh grade, and I delivered newspapers until after I graduated high school. Other high school jobs were detassling and building a nature trail in my home town. After high school, I spent six years in the Marine Corps. I've also managed managed a pizza joint, done telemarketing, worked as a debt collector, and my current job -- System and Network administration/engineering. I enjoyed my time as a Marine. The Corps gave me the opportunity to see the world -- an opportunity that I wouldn't trade for anything, and I got some valuable training. If I hadn't gone into Avionics, I wouldn't have learned the troubleshooting and design skills that led to my IT job. I also enjoyed building the nature trail, and believe it or not, I kind of liked being a debt collector. One aspect about the Corps that bugged me was the promotion system. As for jobs that I disliked overall, I wasn't wild about detassling, and I hated the telemarketing job.

*Tell us about your time in the Marine Corps
I worked as an Aviation Electronics Technician. I fixed the navigational systems on helicopters. The Marine Corps also gave me a love for traveling and experiencing foreign cultures, and an associated appreciation for how easy we've got it in America. And I met the mother of my children. If I hadn't joined the Corps, I wouldn't have my awesome kids. During my hitch, I was deployed to the Persian Gulf twice... once in 1988 during the Iran/Iraq war, where the mission was to escort civilian ships through mine-infested waters, and again for Desert Shield/Storm. In fact, I've got more sea time than many sailors.

*What's your view on education? Does everyone need a college degree in order to succeed?

I think that we have a lot of room for improvement in our school system. I think that our high schools spend too much time "teaching to the test," as opposed to helping young people learn how to learn, and teaching kids how to think for themselves. I believe that college is certainly helpful for a lot of people, but the cost-benefit ratio is nowhere near what it used to be. If you don't have a love of learning for its own sake, then I believe that learning a trade... one that can't be shipped overseas, like plumbing, automotive repair and IT, is a completely viable alternative to college.

*What would you like to do in life that you haven't done yet?
I've kind of alluded to it before... I'd love to travel. And despite the answer to my last question, I'd like to go back to school someday. (Yeah, I know that I've already done that.) But my goal would not necessarily be a degree... it would be broadening my horizons.

*What are your professional long-term aspirations? Personal?
Professional aspirations are tough for me to quantify and qualify. I'm happy with my current career. I wouldn't mind writing a book someday, but that's more personal. I'd like to build something... maybe a car or a house... completely by myself, from the ground up... something that I could pass to my descendants. The thing is, all of these goals require a greater commitment of time and money than I'm currently willing to give.

*What have you done in your life that you're really proud of?
I'm very proud of my parenting. Don't get me wrong, I've certainly made mistakes, and I know I'll make more, but overall I'm satisfied with that. This also applies to my marriage. As for personal achievements, I'm kind of proud that I wrote, composed and recorded a song. I did everything except for the drums.

*What's your basic philosophy in life?

Everything's great... in moderation. In life, you have to suffer a bit in order to appreciate the good times.

*How do you feel about your ex wife?
I wasted a lot of time feeling angry, bitter and betrayed. That's all passed, and I harbor no ill will toward her. I feel like I'm providing for the kids to a greater extent than she is, but I also tend to think that she's giving them all that she's capable of giving. (I wouldn't be surprised if she thinks that she's providing to a greater extent than I am, but that's a different story.) I want to clarify though, I cannot and will not have a friendly relationship with her. I can be cordial, and again, there are no more hard feelings, but I will never allow myself to trust her again. That lack of trust precludes any possibility of friendship in the future.

*You seem to enjoy playing the guitar, but I never hear much about that. What gives?

There's not really much to hear. I enjoy playing the guitar, but I'm not that skilled. There are probably a dozen people that have heard me play live, and maybe another dozen who have heard the song I wrote and recorded. I've only played with other people once or twice. The reason that people don't hear more about it is because I'm realistic in my self-assessment of my guitar playing skills. I may start playing soon in my church band though.

*If you could have anything that you don't currently possess, what would it be?
I'm not a huge fan of owning things just for the sake of owning something. An overabundance of material possessions usually goes hand-in-hand with a lot of debt, and what you own eventually ends up owning you. Furthermore, it's a little tough for me to continually want more when I already realize I'm incredibly fortunate to have what I've already got. Life is about experiences, not about possessions. So the short answer is that I've already got enough.

*What's with the hair and beard? It's always changing!
Yeah, I'm not really sure what's up with that. I guess it boils down to laziness. Too lazy to get a haircut, so I let it grow out. Eventually, the long hair becomes too much of a hassle to maintain, or I get tired of it constantly flying into my face, so I cut it all off. Too lazy to shave, so I let it grow. When it's a full beard, I get tired of maintaining it, so I shave it all off again. Repeat ad nauseum, and in overlapping cycles.

*What's your favorite sport? What's your favorite baseball/football/basketball team?

I'm not much of a sports fan. I have a difficult time sitting still long enough to watch a full game, much less for long enough to really follow a specific team. That said though, I kind of like the Royals and Dodgers for baseball, the Steelers for football, and the Celtics and Lakers for basketball. Take that with a grain of salt though, because I really don't watch sports.

*Where did you come up with the questions you asked YOUR interview subjects?

I came up with the questions for each person based on things I wanted to know about that individual. There wasn't much of a rhyme or reason to it. I had a few initial questions, and their answers let to a few more questions. That resulted in each person's interview.

*We know from reading your blog that you are very happily married to a wonderful woman. What's the biggest challenge, so far, when it comes to having a "Blended" family?

I think it's always a little awkward when we are all together at the same time, such as birthdays and school functions.

*Have you always lived in the state you live in now? Have you ever had a hankering to try someplace else? If so- where? And if not- what makes your town so special to you?

I haven't always lived here. I was born in Kansas and moved to Iowa when I was 12. When I was in the Marine Corps, I was stationed in Tennessee and in Orange County, California. And, as I mentioned, I saw a LOT of the world during my enlistment. I've seen enough of the world to appreciate where I grew up. The things I like about where I live now... it's a large enough city to provide a variety of activities; it's just a few hours from Chicago, St. Louis and Minneapolis; it's a small enough community that I don't feel the need to arm myself just to go to the grocery store... in fact, people frequently leave their car engines running during the winter while they run into the corner store. We're in the city, but less than 15 minutes from the country. People are friendly and genuine. And it's a great place to raise a family. In fact, Cedar Rapids was recently recognized as one of the top ten places in the nation to raise children.

* You go on an awesome Boy's Trip every year. How does the little Missus feel about your yearly hiatus and does she have something along those lines that she does too?
She's a little envious, but understanding. She understands the importance of my male bonding time. I suspect that she'd be a lot less understanding if I was a sports nut on top of it. She doesn't have anything like my trip. In fact, I know very few people -- male or female who do.

*We know you have a motorcycle. Do you get to ride as much as you would like? Is it your main transportation when you go places alone- or do you still tend to take the auto? Do you ever see yourself giving up your bike permanently? What kind of bike is it? What's your Dream Ride and why?
My motorcycle habits depend a lot on circumstances. The seat isn't very comfortable for long-distance riding, so I don't do that a lot. The winters are cold here, so I go three to five months without any time in the saddle. During the spring, summer and fall, I ride as much as I can... it's usually about 3000 miles per year, which is about equally balanced between commuting to and from work, and short pleasure cruises with the kids. Mrs. Evan won't ride. I wouldn't mind getting a bike that's better suited for cruising, but since the wife isn't into riding, that's not a high priority.

*Are you happy being a part-time/work at home Dad?
I usually refer to myself as semi-retired. Seriously though, I'm happy that I've got ANY job in our current economy. That aside though, there are benefits and drawbacks to my current employment, as there are with any other job. You may recall from an earlier question that I've spent time as a stay-at-home dad. I loved it, and have repeatedly said throughout the years that I'd do that if the opportunity allowed. Working part-time is the next best thing. I kind of like seeing the kids off to school and finding out about their day as soon as they get back. I like the flexibility allowed by working part time. My boss treats me very well. I kind of enjoy the opportunity to pursue my own hobbies when everyone's gone. I don't like the fact that the job's not really steady. I make good money on a per-hour basis, but I've got no retirement plan and have to rely on the wife for all of my benefits. I don't always like that I can get called in at the drop of a hat. I don't like the pay fluctuations. I don't like that being a house husband is a thankless job that's never quite done. If you're asking a yes or no question though, I'd say yes.

*Do you game as much as you want, or like the rest of us,are there just not enough hours in the day? Does your family participate in Rock band with you? If so, did you have to "persuade" them to play or were they enthusiastic without that?

Gaming is one of many hobbies, and I tend to play in bursts. On the rare occasion that I find a game that REALLY catches my interest, I play it obsessively for a month or so, then I burn out and move to something else. Rock Band is a game that we bought as a family game or group activity when the kids have friends over, and it's worked well. Believe it or not, it's usually the kids that suggest a session of Rock Band. They like Halo 3 too. I hope that sufficiently answers this question.

* We know you have/had a project building a boat. Is that project finished yet or is it still a work in progress? We also know you have done some major remodeling jobs on your home. Do you have any more "projects" you would like to undergo in the near(or far) future?

The boat project has been shelved for a while. Greg moved a couple of months ago, and has been busy turning his new house into his new home. He's been hinting that he's about ready to start back up, and I've nagged him a bit, but nothing's happened on it for around a year. As for other projects, I'm going to build a bookshelf in the near future.

*What are some of your hobbies we haven't previously heard about? Anything you would LIKE to take up that you haven't?
I think you've heard about most of my hobbies. I like puttering around my house, playing my guitar, playing with my dogs and my family, kayaking and canoeing, camping, riding my motorcycle and occasionally tinkering with cars. Basically I like to build, maintain and improve things. I like working with my hands. I've dabbled in painting, and I like blogging. About the only hobby I haven't taken up that interests me is woodworking. I haven't taken that up primarily because of space and money concerns.

*What's the craziest thing you have ever done? (I realize this may be one you might not answer because then the Young Evans might have ammo to use against you when they do something wild and crazy and it backfires on them. I totally understand.)
I've done a lot of crazy stupid things in my younger days. I consumed a lot of recreational pharmaceuticals in my youth, surfed on top of cars while going down the highway, Chinese fire drills in a moving van. Stupid kid stuff. I've given my guardian angels a lot of gray hairs, and sometimes I'm surprised that I'm still alive.

* We know you like to cook and do it often. Do you prefer stove cooking or outside grilling? Do you have a "signature dish" of your own? What's your very favorite dessert? I like both types of cooking equally, though I generally prefer the taste of grilled meat. I don't cook by recipe, so each meal I prepare is unique. I think of cooking as an art, not a science. This should lead you to the conclusion that I don't really have a signature dish. But when my non-cooking friends ask me for easy ideas, I tell them to cook a pork roast in a crock pot, and throw in a couple of cans of chicken noodle soup for additional flavoring. My cooking style is moderately healthy, country-style cooking. Think Spaghetti, fajitas, stir-fry. Lots of meat and lots of fresh veggies. I've never been a big dessert person, but I love flan and creme bruille. And white chocolate.

*We know you and RayRay have been friends since "forever". Is there any other friends you have kept up a long-time friendship with?
Yeah. I've been friends with my canoe trip buddies for ages. I've known two of them (Greg and Darin) for almost thirty years, and the other (Sonny) for about twenty-five. Greg and Darin have known each other since they were five or so.

If there are any other questions, please feel free to post them in the comments section.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Guest Post From RayRay

In order to help keep things fresh in my humble corner of the internet, I sent a couple of requests to a small, select group of people, asking them to write a guest post on my blog. My friend RayRay has kindly accepted my challenge, and his words are below. I asked him to write about dating in small town Iowa, and his words are shown below in blue.

So, my good buddy Evan has asked me to provide some insight on dating in a small North Iowa town.
Well, in a nutshell:it's not easy. You'd think that being a smaller community, being able to run into a lot of the same faces, you'd be able to get to know someone easier/faster. Well, one of the problems with that is that pretty much everyone has dated everyone at one time or another. And just with any other situation like that, there are going to be hard feelings, leading to constant drama.

The town I currently reside in has a population of maybe three thousand. The term "we've met" doesn't even begin to describe it.

I moved here from a town of more than thirty thousand. Easier to date someone if there's not much chance of running into an ex, mainly because that town had a few [other] towns close by, so someone from here could have dated someone from there, or there, or even there. My current town is more of a farm community, so even if someone dates someone from a nearby town, which would be almost 1/2 hour away, as opposed to like 10 minutes, you'd still have to deal with drama. I'm not much for going out anymore anyway, especially here. It seems the same old people, stressing "old" frequent the local bars. Not much fun there.

After my divorce about 9 years ago, I hadn't been going out much anyway, as my ex and I were together almost 8 years and hung out mostly with her family. Either way, I really didn't know anyone here, and didn't want to.

I turned to internet dating, which resulted in dating three women now:
The first I met in a chat room, who lived four hours away. We 'dated' for almost 2 years, where I did pretty much all of the driving to see her, that almost resulted in getting married and my moving to where she lived. I'd gotten her a ring, and was looking for a job when my ex and her husband decided they were moving back to 'our' town. That meant my kids would now be 5 minutes away instead of 11 hours away. Yea, not a hard decision. I stayed put, my fiancee couldn't move due to her divorce decree, so I moved on.

My next "internet love connection" also came from a chat room in the form of a woman that lived in Pennsylvania. Not much to tell there. She came here twice, i went there once. Good in bed, not much upstairs.

So as of late, I'd developed an affection for a girl 12 years younger than myself that started working where I work about 6 months ago. What can I say about that:no kids, no responsibilities, no clue. However, thanks to a completely free dating site, I've began a connection with a woman 3 years younger than myself, again lives 4 hours away, but she IS a mommy and has a clue.

So for me, internet dating is a better way to get to know someone because there's not that "automatic" feeling of being connected to someone. I've been to see her three times now, and each time it gets better and better.

Thanks for your insight, RayRay. As for my regular readers, stay tuned: I have another couple of guest bloggers in the wings, and you never know when it's going to be their turn to shine in my twisted universe. And if you're interested in being a guest blogger, feel free to leave me a comment.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

They Can't Have it Both Ways

Politicians say that we can't make public health care work. These are the same politicians who say that Americans can do anything better than anyone, anywhere, anytime. Am I the only one who thinks these statements are mutually exclusive? After all, there are dozens of countries that have successfully implemented socialized medicine.

So which is it folks? Are we better than these socialized countries, which would mean that we can make public health care work? Or we unable to make universal health care work, which means that all of these "average" countries are better than us?

You can't have it both ways.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Teacher's Daughter

Ever since one of my favorite teachers passed away, just shy of two years ago, I've had this recurring dream. Well not exactly a specific dream... more of a recurring dream theme. In these dreams, I'd be talking to my band teacher just before he went onstage for a concert with his students. (I'm an adult in these dreams... not back in high school.) There was nothing specific in our conversations, just idle chit-chat. Initially, I'd have the dream and wake up in a confused state... realizing only after regaining consciousness that he was dead. As time passed, the confused state was part of the dream. Kind of "Wait a minute. I can't be talking to you. You're not here." Yet the conversation would continue. As additional time passed, he became more and more ghost-like in the dreams.

A month or two ago, the theme changed a bit. I was backstage in the high school gymnasium. The school band was assembled to play a memorial concert for my band teacher. I kind of expected his ghost to appear, but it didn't happen. What I did see though, was his daughter, front and center in the audience. I knew his daughter fairly well, which makes sense, considering that we'd been classmates since seventh grade. When I woke up, I understood that I had to get in touch with the teacher's daughter... to let her know that I missed her dad.

Then I did something I thought I'd never do. I got a Facebook account. She was the first person I looked up, and I found her almost instantly. I told her about my dreams, and how much her dad meant to me. My mission was fulfilled.

After graduating high school, I never looked back. I kept in touch with a few select people, my band teacher being one of them, but for the most part, I went my own way. I didn't attend high school reunions because with a very few exceptions, I didn't want anything to do with most of the preppie, plastic people that were my classmates.

Recently though, that mindset has changed. (And when I say recently, I mean within the last year or so.) I've come to understand that I'm not the same punk kid I was in school, so my long-ignored class peers have probably changed as well... most of them anyway. With the creation of my Facebook account, providence is kicking in, and I've started hearing from some of the people from my childhood. For the most part, the people I'm hearing from are the ones I never really considered "plastic" in the first place; they're the ones who would cross my mind from time to time. And I'm finding myself surprised with how large this number of people is. As for those that I did consider artificial and superficial? Like I said, I've changed, so who am I to assume that they're the same.

I've digressed big-time though. I heard back from the teacher's daughter today. Here's a lightly edited excerpt of what she had to say...

I cried and cried...I continue to read what you wrote about my dad daily. I know that sounds weird but it was soooo nice of you to write the kind words that you did. It will be 2 years that Dad has been gone and I still can't believe it. It's like a bad dream...I will eventually wake up and my life will continue as it was when he was alive. I ask myself daily why God took him so early. My kids and [brother] and [sister]'s kids were robbed as far as I'm concerned..they were cheated on really getting to know such a wonderful man that they called "Pop." It was so nice to hear from you. I can't thank you enough for taking the time to write what you did. I hope you don't mind but I was with my mom and sister last week and read what you wrote to them...they were both speechless. I have to say thank you again. You will never know what that email meant to me.

I'm a big believer in providence. In retrospect, I guess the dreams were leading me to get in touch with the teacher's daughter the whole time. Doing so, in turn, showed me that my new mindset about my old classmates is proving itself true. Like me, they are not the same people they were as teenagers.

Furthermore, I've come to realize that I was an idiot. I had this big chip on my shoulder about my high school years, and my peers, and I had this chip for no reason. I wasn't really an outcast. And I never had a problem with the vast majority of them. In fact, as I re-think old assumptions and recall old names and faces, I wonder how the hell I got so jaded about high school in the first place. Does this mean I'm maturing?

Either way, I haven't had the dreams since writing the teacher's daughter. I'm glad that I was able to tell someone in their family how greatly he influenced my life, and I'm specifically glad it was her that I told... since I was closer to her than anyone in the family. I'm also happy that the dreams spurred me into reaching out to... old friends.

Monday, September 7, 2009

What Goes Around

Since I've interviewed some people, I guess it's only fair that I answer questions. If you've got any questions for me, post them in the contacts. Of course, I reserve the right to not answer, just like I gave my interviewees that prerogative.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sunny, With a Chance of Interview

That's right... it's Sunny's turn today. You know the routine. My words will be black and bold, Sunny's words will be red.

Hmmm… where to start, where to start… I guess I’ll just write some questions and see where it takes us…
Okies!!!(don't you just HATE when people say that? Me too!!!)
Never heard okies… I’ve always been an okey-dokey type myself.
LOL- It's just Okie-Dokie(southern variation) shortened even more....we like doing stuff the VERY easy way down here.
OK is still the shortest in written form, and verbally they’re equal… two syllables. Besides, I prefer to think of it as being concise, not “doing stuff the VERY easy way."
That's because you're not a Southerner. Concise is a BIG complicated word to us and we like to keep it simple. ;-)

I know that you live in South Carolina now. Have you always lived there? What do you like most about the area? What most makes you want to pack up and leave tomorrow?
Yep- Born and bred South Carolina Girl. What I like most is we live so close to so many different areas....feel like a dip in the river? We're about 5 minutes from the closest one. Feel like a fishing trip to the lake? We're about a 30 minute drive to one. Feel like the mountains? Drive an hour (or two) you're there. The beach? No problem- it's about a four hour drive. South Carolina is honestly one of the most beautiful places on earth in the Autumn. The only things that make me want to pack up and try somewhere new is 1) the lack of snow in the wintertime...2)the unbearable heat and humidity in the summertime....and3) the Super-high unemployment rate- we're fourth in the nation. And that really sucks.
As far as the weather goes, I hear you saying that you only hate SC half of the time… winter and summer. It’s interesting that a born-and-bred Southern girl would “miss” the snow. You do realize that snow must be accompanied by cold weather, right?
Yeah, I realize it. Southern winters used to be different. Up until I was about 9 we actually HAD snow every winter, tho. Then we had NO snow for about 5 years and then we started having mostly ice-storms. I would be very happy with a white Christmas every few years- but that hasnt happened here since I was 8. I can deal with the cold much better than I'm dealing with the heat of the summers- maybe it's my age. :-P
Personally, I do better in the heat than the cold. Maybe we’re both in the wrong part of the country. Speaking of the weather, what is your ideal temperature range for outdoor activities? When was the last time you saw snow?
My ideal temp for indoor OR outdoor activities is in the 65-75 degree range, to which our utilities bill can attest. If I can wear a tee shirt or a turtleneck, I'm happy. The last proper snow with no ice storm mucking it up was in '86 or '87. 16 inches of pure ice- free snow. It was great!

Does SC have boom employment during good economic times? You see, my neck of the woods doesn’t have horrible unemployment, but then again, we don’t explode during the booms either.
Not really. It's pretty steady just BAD..only lately it's gotten even worse. Not just for the undereducated either. My son has a GED and finds occasional work as a handyman. My husband has the equivalent of two Associate Degrees AND a Bachelors and he can't find anything at all because he's "over-qualified" for minimum wage jobs. I really DO wanna move.
Where would you choose to go?
I definitely wouldn't choose a big city like NY or LA or Chicago....Nor Atlanta or Houston. Some place like Charleston or maybe even Cleveland or Boston would be great. Ideally, if I came into some money, I'd like to move to Montana. That's beautiful wide open spaces with no neighbors for miles and miles. My idea of Heaven.

It seems that you’ve had quite a few stressful events over the last few years. How do you keep your … ummm… Sunny disposition?
You're joking right? Have you READ my blogs? I swear I sometimes don't see how anyone even reads them anymore as much as I RANT about my "Misadventures". I actually feel sorry for Paul - I can barely live with myself sometimes- the man has the patience of Job, I think. Seriously, I just try to take one day at a time and look for that silver lining.....and the winning lottery numbers.
Yeah, I’ve read the blog… how else would I know about your trials and tribulations? I think that writing is a great coping mechanism.

City girl, or country girl?
Definitely Country girl- but I can hang with the "Country-CLUB" crowd just as easily.
Meaning what… that you’re able to keep up pretenses if required? Sorry, that was designed to be a slam on the country club snobs, not you.
That's exactly what I meant......or maybe I really am the country-club type and keep up the pretense of Country-girl. There's so many of my personas that sometimes I can't keep up with who's at bat. Scary, huh?

What’s your favorite type of music and why?
Hard Rock & Classical- Golden Earring, Ac/DC, ZZ Top- I love that hard hitting bass thumping for dancing.
Classical or Chamber music is my choice for relaxing, tho.

I remember reading a while back that you know a little bit about cars… you can at least appreciate them, and it sounds like you’ve done more than one tune-up in your day. What’s your favorite car of all time and why?
72 Challenger. I LOVE muscle cars and with no doubt in my mind the standard 318 was way superior in both performance and sound over the larger 400 or 440. My first car was a 65 Mustang Hard-top and since I couldn't afford to hire a mechanic- so I did the next best thing and took Automotive in 4-H. That year I won the State Automotive Championship trophy. The older model Muscle Cars are so much easier to work on than the new ones with not a half inch to spare in the engine bay to work on 'em....it's very therapeutic working on your own car, altho I rarely work on mine now. My son(s) do/did it for me since they turned into grown-ups, bless them.
How do you quantify the 318’s superior performance?
I'd say that the savings in gas alone from the smaller engine size would qualify. My ex had a matching Challenger with the 440 in it. I called it Hoover because it SUCKED the fuel like nobody's business And despite the fact that it was a bigger engine- my Challenger with the 318 walked all OVER it everytime we raced them. And we did that alot. It was like it was almost too much power for the car and did more damage than good.............. Did I mention how hyper-competitive I am?

Let me guess… the 440 did too much rubber spinning at the beginning of the race?Nope, it just seemed to hesitate and then did a lot of fishtailing all over the road- no control...or maybe it was just the driver...I never tried actually racing it myself- I only drove that hunk-of-junk when I had to go to the parts shop when mine was on the rack for maintenance.....that and the fact I liked being in the WINNING CAR!

Is automotive work the only mechanical skill you have, or are you mechanically inclined in general? Who’s more handy, you or Paul?
LOL- yep- I have failed every single skills and dexterity test I have ever taken for a job......except for my weapons test. But me being me- I can take anything together and put it back together because I have a system. :-).......Hmmm...who is more handy? Well, if you're talking about computers and such as that- Paul is much more handy. If you're talking other stuff, I think we're both about equal, altho we have COMPLETELY different styles getting to the same place and we usually disagree about the method while we are doing it. Usually one of us ends up just walking away and letting the other one take over the whole job rather than debate it all day.
Yeah, I’ve heard that Paul’s kind of a masterdebater.
Yep- and I'm a mom and neither of us like to give way.

Who’s a better cook, you or Paul?
Difficult........I have a certificate in Culinary Arts, but I detest proper COOKING...Paul excels at it so he cooks more than me unless we 're having the whole family over for a get-together. I BAKE much better (and more)than him(so far as I have seen), so I do most all the baking. It works.
How did you end up doing Culinary Arts? Is it the proper part that you don’t like… and what constitutes proper, the presentation? Tell me more about your culinary experience. Did you ever work as a chef? Going to the baking aspect, what’s your favorite thing to bake and why? Is there a reason you like baking better than cooking?
I started it in high school as an elective course. Actually, it began earlier than that- in 4-H. As for the proper part.....I got my certificate- with MUCHO difficulty. I'm a cook who likes to experiment and try different things and do things MY way- not by the textbook. That's what bothered me. I worked as a chef at a local dinner restaurant for a while and I just got bored with the same things night after night and decided that it would have to be put aside as a career.
Baking........I love doing cakes. I have a LONG List of cakes I bake and get requests for. Around the holidays are my busy time for baking...not only for my own family but for special orders as well. My favorite used to be a Southern Buttermilk Poundcake, but now I have so many it's hard to choose one as a favorite. Boston Cream Pie Cake, Red Velvet Cake, Chocolate Decadence cake, Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake, Pina Colada Cake, How do you choose?
Cheese-cake? (Evan grins at his witty play on words.)That's the only kind of cake I prefer to buy.I really should invest in a springform pan so I can perfect my skills on it.

There are things that couples love about one another, and there are things that are …. Ummm… less loveable. What’s your favorite thing about your husband, and what drives you nuts? How would he answer these same questions about you?
My favorite thing about Paul is he can always make me laugh and makes me happier than I have ever been. The thing that drives me nuts about him is his short term memory is horrible because of his sleep deprivation when he was working and putting himself thru university. Sometimes we have the same conversation three or four times and it drives me mad because I sometimes think I sound more like his mom than his wife and that makes me feel horrible.
I think if he answered those same questions about me he would say the thing he likes least about me is that I talk incessantly and do annoying stuff just to get a reaction out of him. I honestly have no idea what is his favorite thing about me.....I'd have to ask him and he probably would say something weird just to annoy me....two can play that game, you know.

It’s no secret that you two have a significant age difference between you. How did your family react, and what do they think now?
Well, my kids were okay with it as long as I was happy. My mom was okay with it, Dad was a bit cooler to the idea at first. My sisters were indifferent, one brother stood back and took a wait and see attitude, while the other thought all Paul was after was a green card.
Now- The kids are still fine with it, as is the rest of the family -as far as we can tell....and if anyone isn't- then too effing bad.

Do people ever assume you’re NOT together when you do stuff together, like go on dates? Do you ever notice funny reactions? How do you react? (BTW, some day I’d love to hear you two in the same conversation… maybe singing a song together or something like that… I think it would probably be hysterical at first!!)
I don't think anyone has ever raised an eyebrow to us as a couple....especially since Paul is usually the more mature acting one of us. I look and act younger than I am, Paul looks and acts more mature than his age so it equals out.The only reaction we get is when they hear Paul's accent and then the questions start. As for us talking....well, maybe someday!!! You never know when we might do something wild and crazy like that for you guys!! Or maybe we can set up a SKYPE conversation some day!
That’d be cool. Or you could hop on the mic next time Paul and I chat on Xbox Live.
That'd be awesome- but he saves that for when I'm at work. Occasionally we do see you online when we're watching/playing 1Vs100, tho.

I know that Paul is an atheist, and I believe that you’re Christian. How does that work out for the two of you?
Yes- Paul says he's an Atheist- but to me, just listening to him, he sounds more agnostic than atheist. I personally follow many paths. I was raised a Southern Baptist- but became disillusioned to religion early on in my teen years. Since coming of age- I say I'm more agnostic than anything...I believe in a Higher Power but not particularly in the huge Human-like persona that is pictured in all the stories of God. I believe in an afterlife. I believe in some of the Wiccan beliefs but not the main beliefs of a Mother Earth Goddess. I believe in Demons and Spirits. I also subscribe to Paul's rules of life....I try to be a good person and do unto others.....
And Paul and I don't talk about religion much.
The Southern Baptists retarded my spiritual growth as well. Too much focus on the angry, vengeful God… totally overlooking the loving, forgiving guy.
Yeah it's a total bitch to be scared of God. Sometimes I worry that I didn't do enough when it came to my kids spiritual/religious learning tho. I didn't insist they go to church, altho during my search for a 'religion" that "Fit" me, I did give them a taste of lots of different religions. We tried Pentecostal churches, less strict Baptist churches, Lutheran churches, Methodist churches and even a Catholic church. They were exposed to a lot of different views and I tried to let them decide for themselves.
I think that everyone is destined to find their own answer, regardless of the amount of influence they received from their parents.

It seems that you like to play some games on the computer, but you’re not into gaming like Paul and Kato are. How do you react when Paul gets so into gaming that the whole rest of the world ceases to exist for him?
I don't let it bother me too much. I just go about my business doing MY fun stuff.....FarmTown, YoVille, Reading, Cleaning house, baking. After about 4 or 5 hours tho- I start that annoying stuff so he will pay attention to me. I think that's fair- and to be perfectly honest, Paul RARELY goes on the XBox when I'm home..... unless we are playing 1 VS 100 together. He's usually the one telling me to "Geeeeet Offfff Itttt" about me being on the computer so much. I have an addictive personality and I fixate on one thing and get totally into it for weeks or months at a time. Much to his dismay, I just cannot get into Rock Band- probably because he picks stuff up so easily and it takes me longer and I have a frustration level of ZERO. That's just not very RELAXING to me.

Tell us more some of the “MY fun stuff” things you like to do.
I have a cycle.....when the weather is nice(meaning not so hot you can't breathe or so cold it takes your breath away) I like to do outside stuff. I like fishing and shooting. I like shooting hoops and pitching horse-shoes and badminton. I like Tennis but you'd think I was Hank Aaron when I'm on the court- so that's not a really good game for me.I indulge in my trashy romance novels sometimes, but I'll read anything except tech manuals. I crochet in the winter, and I LOVE to dance but we don't have room to dance where we live now. That sucks. I love to go on day-trips on the spur of the moment with Paul, too. It's one of my Guilty Pleasures. I'll do whatever for weeks or months til I get good at it or bored with it- then burn out and start something else.
Motorcycle or bicycle? How well do you shoot? Do you prefer shotgun, rifle or pistol?
LOVE motorcycles, but haven't ridden one since I sold my Indian Racing bike. It knew two speeds- sitting still and wide-open. I got tired of being thrown off it every time I tried to ride it , so I sold it and then life got in my way and I haven't owned one since. I'd LOVE to own a little Honda Rebel of my own someday, tho. Bikes(as in Bicycle) scare the crap out of me, to be honest, altho I do own one. As for weapons, I own a Glock 9....and am a qualified Expert Marksman with it. (Ask Paul about the first time he saw me shoot....That was FUNNY.) I am also EM with a S&W 38, and I prefer handguns to long-guns, but if I had to choose- I'd prefer a sniper rifle over any shotgun...much to Paul's chagrin. He seems to prefer destructive ability in a weapon- I prefer precision and neatness.

How did you decide that you wanted to do law enforcement?
To be brutally honest- I was a battered woman. My first husband was....well, if you watch the Farrah movie "The Burning Bed" you'll see exactly what it was like. After seven years of living with it and of listening to the put-downs and putting up with the black eyes and bloodied lips and beatings and degradation, I had had enough. I was scared to death of him and his threats and so when I finally got him out of the house and away from me and the kids with the help of my parents, I decided 2 things. 1) I would NEVER let that happen to me again and the best way to do that was to become law enforcement and 2) even if I didn't become a proper cop -which I did, but hated- it was good to have connections in the right places. Besides- you get excellent weapons training- you never know when it might come in handy.
There’s a pun in there… brutally honest, battered woman. How long were you a “proper” cop, and why did you dislike it so much? Do you like what you’re doing now?
LOL- I didn't see that til you pointed it out. I was a "proper cop" for about a year. I hated the "good ole boy" mindset of the commanders. I quickly learned that they didn't care about their officers as long as they had the cushy jobs for themselves. It's hard to explain- but suffice it to say I raised such a stink about a few issues that when told I was told that if I didn't "comply" I might want to think about other employment. So I went home, made one phone call and then turned in my uniforms the next day. The chief was astonished for some UNGODLY reason and asked if I was going to work notice. I told him that HE was the one that had told me the evening before that if I wasn't going to "comply" I might want to look into other employment and since I had no intentions on "Complying" to a policy that put my fellow officers at risk, I considered THAT my notice. I was black-balled, but since I don't EVER plan on going back into that part of Law-enforcement again- who cares? I still have my connections at the LEC and when it comes to something that I really believe in- I put my money where my mouth is. I-Don't-PLAY.
I work Private security for an elective surgery hospital now and I LOVE it. We don't have an emergency room so we have a nice quiet place to work. The worst we usually have to worry about is a smash and grab when someone leaves their GPS out in the open overnight or if we have someone walk into the lobby thinking we have an ER and we have to call a Code. We DO have to do all the extra training tho for all the contingencies. We have LOADS of training for TACT, weapons, hostage situations, Disasters of ALL sorts....the list goes on and on.... I told the regional director the other night that they can stop sending the promotional opportunities updates to us, because we all are happy where we are and plan on retiring from there. She thought I was joking....I wasn't.

Being a mother, wife and workforce drone are all really full time expectations… especially when you’re the primary breadwinner. Are you satisfied with how you’ve balanced things now that some time has passed? What would you do differently? What would you not change in a million years?
Nope- I'm not happy with the balance of things now, to be honest. I work way too much, I don't rest as much as I need to, I don't excersize like I should and I don't eat right. I fit right in with the rest of the world, tho. If I had it to do over- I would have followed my dreams instead of doing what everyone else thought was "proper' and then I would have been able to have had the things I wanted and spent my time much more wisely than I have. There's always the future tho!! What I wouldn't have changed in a million years- having my kids. They are the light of my life and along with Paul, my only reasons to keep living.
What are some of your unfulfilled dreams?
I would have liked to have been an architect when I was younger. Now- I just want Paul and myself to have a comfortable income and more than anything -I want a proper house of my own again. Big Dream- a proper house with a small Pool. I don't ask for much..I'm a simple woman(I wouldn't GO there if I was y'all, so stop smiling) with simple dreams.......(Is there such a thing???)
How about a double-wide with a kiddie pool ;) And have you noticed that you’ve implemented a lot of Paul’s words into your own vocabulary?
To be honest- A double-wide with a REGULAR pool would suit me just fine...have you SEEN any doublewides lately? I've seen some that would make stick built houses look sad. And yes- I have noticed my vocabulary has expanded to include a LOT of Paul's words......but he just laughs at me when he hears me saying them...he says "arse" sounds so vulgar said in a Southern Accent.
I, of course, don't think my southern accent is that heavy...unless I'm sick, and then I admit I sound like a corn-pone, or Scarlett O'Hara and a whiny one at that.

My favorite catch-all question… what question did you expect me to ask that I haven’t, and what’s your answer to that question?
You actually asked the question I didn't expect you to ask....it was the one about is there anything I would have changed or not changed for anything. You're actually pretty good at this interview thing!!