Friday, May 30, 2008

neither flood, nor blood, nor car trouble!

June 1, 1968 A day in the life of...

June 1, 1968 was a Friday. I got up that morning and had a whole day to kill in Haskell. The spring flood was in full swing and the Arkansas River was out of its banks. The bridge two miles east of Haskell had dropped the west end spans and water had come within a mile of town.
I drove out to look at the water across the highway with others, and while Chris Quinn and I was leaning against my 55 Ford, his dad pulled up and said he needed us to help him with a favor.

The favor turned out to be driving to the Muskogee Veteran's Hospital to give blood. Seems an old buddy of Chris's Dad, Bob, was needing donations and we were Bob's choice. I had never given blood! I would never on purpose let someone stick a needle in me when I'm not sick. But Bob did not seem to care and it came across as almost a dare. So Chris and I rode with him to do the deal. It did not take all that long and when we were finished they set us in a chair and gave us grape juice. I took a look at the juice and said to Chris, "I guess they took out too much and want us to drink the extra blood." Chris just looked at me weird and passed out! The nurse got excited, Bob got excited, and I laughed.

Later that night Carol and I headed for Dallas in my Dad's 66 VW Bug. We made it as far as Durant and the car suddenly shut down. We drifted off the road near an all night truck stop and had no clue what was wrong. At midnight we called my uncle (who fortunately lived in that fair city). He came to the diner and set with us while the car battery was on the charger. We finally left about 1:30 am and headed to DenisonTexas. We found the Cardinal Motel at 2:00 am with a vacancy and loud people in the next room. We retired for the evening hoping the car would start the next morning so that we could make it to a new amusement park called SIX FLAGS OVER TEXAS. We had been looking forward to this trip for a long time.

All in all it was a day that I will never forget! Besides watching a flood, giving blood and car trouble in a strange town we spent most of that evening at the church in Haskell. This was our wedding day! Chris Quinn was my Best Man besides being a fellow blood donor.

GREAT DAY, a GREAT NIGHT and the car started the next morning.

Happy 40th Anniversary, BABE.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Quotes of George W.

"This administration is doing everything we can to end the stalemate in an efficient way. We're making the right decisions to bring the solution to an end." Washington D.C. 2001

From my desk calendar

A Quote that makes sense

"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path a leave a trail."


Monday, May 19, 2008

Quotes of George W.

"First let me make it very clear: poor people aren't necessarily killers. Just because you happen to be not rich doesn't mean you're willing to kill."

Washington, D. C., May 19, 2003

from my desk calendar

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mike's Travels: "Please Come To Boston"

Remember that song!

As I mentioned in my last blast, I really, really liked Boston and Cambridge. I found Boston to be the best landscaped, cleanest, and most inviting metro area that I have ever visited. We saw as much as time would permit and plan to return when time permits. We made it to Bunker Hill, "Old Ironsides", Harvard, and the Boston Children's Museum (fantastic!). We were a few blocks from Paul Revere's Home and the Old North Church when rain arrived. We were not prepared for the weather and was forced to eat Sea Food. Again!

The irony of the trip happened the morning of our flight back home. I was reading a copy of the Financial Times (a Boston newspaper) and discovered an article by one of their writers about a visit to Oklahoma! For the most part it was a positive article about her visit to Tulsa, Bartlesville, Pawhuska, OKC and Norman. It was a great travelogue. The title of the article was "Holly Finn visits Oklahoma to look beyond the cliche's surrounding America's heartland".
Of course a third of the story was about her visit to Victory Christian Church's Sunday worship ( "Then everyone started speaking in tongues. It seems less a church service and, more a Cirque du Soleil.") and her visit to Mardel's Christian Bookstore (" Look at all those supposedly Christian people parked in the handicapped spaces.") So much for looking beyond cliche's!

I guess I could tell everyone that Boston is just full of Beer drinking Irish Catholics who live in the past and that I saw the Palm Reading shop downtown, but why deal in cliche's!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mike's Travels: My Worlds Collide! News at 11!

Today, all my worlds collided. Carol and I are in Boston for the American Institute of Architect's convention and the planets were perfectly aligned. I was in touch with architecture, music, storytelling, movies, history, and family at the same time. This morning we took a boat tour of the architecture along the Charles River that divides Boston from Cambridge, Mass. Famous buildings that I studied at OSU came to life when I saw Alvar Alto's Baker House at M.I.T. and minutes later passed under the bridge featured in the recent movie "21" about an M.I.T. student. On the trip we saw the Boston City Hall which was the talk of architects and the public in the 60's as "Brutalistic Architecture" and the recently completed "Big Dig" (the massive tunnel project through Downtown Boston). Boston is a paradise for architects (and movie/TV buffs). Signs about Mystic (River), buildings you see in Boston Legal, the Harvard, MIT, and Boston University campuses that have been portrayed in film are all front and center. This afternoon our second tour was to Beacon Hill and the Boston Commons This was a tour of the State House (Capital) and the row houses of Beacon Hill. The row houses spanned time from the 1700's to late 1800's. The neighborhood was where John Adams lived with his family before he became President. It was also home for a time to Robert Frost (the author of "Road Not Taken") and one of the current homes of our old Bud, Senator John Kerry. The former home of Frost has since been divided into Condos. A one bedroom recently sold for $500,000.00! Some of the homes (i.e. Kerry) go for $11,000,000.00 (without yards!).

Tonight was the cap. We got tickets to the Boston Pops featuring my favorite storyteller, Garrison Keillor of Lake Wobegon fame. Yes, I like country music, I like Rock, I like ballads, and I like Musicals. But I have to say that the Boston Pops perform at the top! It was a rare treat. Garrison told stories of humor, of family, and of faith. He speaks to my past and the thoughts of my childhood as if he had been in my brain. It was magical. Enough for now. I will revisit all this.

Today, I spent the day with my architecture, my music, my history, my movies and the love of my life. It doesn't get better than that!

Also: Today is the anniversary of my son, Nate and his wife, Lori. Happy Anniversary!

What a day!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Less Traveled Roads: A Prejudiced Journey

I grew up in Haskell, Oklahoma during the 50s and 60s. The town of my youth was segregated in all manners: school, church, and most businesses. As a matter of fact, I graduated from high school in the last all white class in 1965. The sign outside the local coin-operated laundry had a door for Whites and one for Colored. It was not speaking of how to wash clothes!

I lived a block from the railroad tracks and a large cotton gin. Beyond the tracks was N****r Town as I was taught to say. I liked to play on the cotton bales at the gin and many times was joined by my darker skinned neighbors. I found we could play together and have fun until adults came around and then it was stopped. I was prejudiced because that was my training, but "they"did not seem that different.

Believe it or not my journey down a less traveled road did not really begin until I saw the movie, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" I was faced with the same questions that Spencer Tracy confronted. As a matter of fact my wife and I discussed whether or not we would allow our future daughter to marry a black person. I finally said, "Yes as long as he wasn't from OU."

As I grew older my new road was getting wider and I noticed more and more people travelling together. But two years ago the road narrowed again and I came to another fork.

The Mexicans are coming!

I was caught totally off guard by recent events. Oklahoma passed 1804 to prevent "illegals" from coming in and now we want to make "English" the official language. After all, we need a law to prevent illegals from getting medical care or education. We can't cut our taxes if this keeps up! Let them go to Arkansas or back to Texas.

1. When the immigrants landed at Ellis Island, were they legal? Could they speak English? As I understand my geography in many coastal places,like New York City, there are several generations of Italian, Polish, Jewish and others that never speak the "official language" and never did.

2. The Statue of Liberty has the inscription: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddles masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door." Of course we enlightened no longer believe this. What is all this business about letting our light shine?

3. I work in construction and I can tell you that we are successfully getting rid of our Southern immigrants who had stolen the jobs of the English speaking citizens. We now have a shortage of workers. Seems my fellow citizens have not been as needy for work as we thought. Prices in construction shot up about $15 dollars a square foot because of labor shortages. Not copper, steel, or cement. Those that left were had a great work ethic . Many on our job sites did not speak english but they worked. Everyone on our job sites now speak English (both of them!)
But I guess we are keeping out the bad seed or as the silly statue said "the wretched refuse."

4. Comedians have noted: We are lucky that the real Native Americans had no immgration policy when our immigrant forefathers came over with another language.
Maybe they did! We just killed them and took their land.

This is a less traveled road. It almost sounds too liberal to be for letting those that want better lives "yearning to breathe free"to come among us. It is not wise to be seen as liberal, but I do not like going deeper into segregated life. Rich against poor. Blue State- Red State. Conservative Engish-speaking versus people who think and speak different.

Guess Whose Coming to Dinner? Watch that movie if you get the chance.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Mike's Music: In The beginning

In the beginning was the Columbia Record Club.

I bought my first record album, my senior year of high school. It was Johnny Cash "I walk the Line" and probably the last country album purchased until the 70's. I then bought the Beatles, etc. In college I was introduced to the Columbia Record club. The premise was that you got 6 free albums for signing up with a 7th if you check the gold box. You then bought six albums in the next 12 months (for more than the retail price. In the 11th month I would sign my self up as a new member (3 free albums!) cancel my current membership ans then get 6 new albums for signing! Of course if you forgot to send in the card each month, you would automatically be sent the "record of the month". I would also receive 1/2 price deals almost every other month. needless to say I went from "old Johnny Cash" to about 16 albums the first year and it never stopped!

By the time I finally gave up record clubs, I had over a hundred albums. Since then I accumulated about 200 albums. In the 70's I made a change to "8 tracks" which lasted about 2 years (literally). I had an 8 track player in our VW Bug! Soon that was replaced with cassette decks. About 250 cassettes later, CDs came along! ouch! I now have about 400 cds. Finally a lasting method for collecting songs. CDs lasted the 90s and into the next century.

When I heard about mp3 and IPOD, I resisted. After all, my attic has my records and cassettes, my cds are in a cabinet. Why this?

At Christmas I received an IPOD classic. I dock it at my desk at home, at work, in the car or truck, and ear pods. Tonight I downloaded the new Steve Winwood album. That makes 174 albums, 1 movie, 30 music videos, 2 tv shows, and 3 pod casts on my IPOD. The status says that I have 37.5 days worth of music! The crazy thing is all that is just 8 gigs! My IPOD holds 80 gigs. I could hold every song that I have ever heard on this thing.

I guess the next jump from the IPOD will be an implant under the skin of a micro chip connected to the brain.

Fund and Narrow Roads?

In the Movie: "What about Bob?" the Bill Murray character says: "There are two kinds of people in the world. Those that like Neil Diamond and those that don't." I have always like him even though he has written some of the best songs ever that make no sense at all! If you don't believe me try making sense of the lyrics of "I am I said" and "Play Me". This week American Idol was about his music. Yes, I like that show and Yes, I think Simon is almost always correct.
The music of the show influenced me to download his Greatest Hits to my IPOD. I was listening to it while writing the 5th Grader bit. The song "Play Me" came on and a line sounded a little like the title of my blog. He actually says:

"And so it was that I came to travel
on a Road that was fund and narrow."

If you have a clue what that means let me know! I have listened to it several times. He does not say "Fun and Narrow".

It still doesn't top the line in "I am I said" that says: " and no one heard at all, not even the chair!"

I guess traveling a "Fund and Narrow" road qualifies as "Less Traveled" even if the chair can't hear it!

Mike goes to the Movies: The Fifth Grade!

I went to two movies this weekend and the TV show, "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" comes to mind.

When I was in the fifth grade, I loved comic books because they stirred my imagination. I was a follower of Superman, Green Lantern , the Black Hawks, and Sargent Rock. Batman, and Flash was just okay. The Spiderman, Fantastic 4, Hulk, Transformers & Iron Man had not yet been invented. Last summer I loved the Transformers for the same reason that I read comics. I freed my mind and had fun. The mixture of action, special effects and humor mad for a pleasant 2 hours in the dark with popcorn & Milk Duds. This week's "Iron Man" did the same. It was fun, it had an adult edge with action hero excitement. The humor reminded me of the first Pirates of the Caribbean. It is a good, entertaining movie, say ***1/2.

The second movie also reminded me of the fifth grade. "Baby Mamma" was probably a laugh riot for fifth graders! Maybe sophisticated fifth graders (Read on 7th grade level). It was two hours I won't get back, but the popcorn was good! Every funny scene was in the trailer. If you want to deal with this subject as comedy rent or buy Juno! No & 1/2 stars