Monday, July 30, 2007

First Bud!!

I've found the very first flower bud for the passion flower vine that Tommy has had for over 3 years!!!! OMG!! It's going to be gorgeous!!

I'll post another picture once it blooms!!! :)


Ok, here's the full bloom, it's absolutely beautiful!!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Africa update

First - this isn't Tommy - this is his Mom, Brenda. I spoke with him Friday and he was gracious enough to give me his password so I could write this post, kinda for him. He hasn't had any internet access yet. This is the third time I have written this and hopefully I will get it posted this time. You can definitely tell, Tommy didn't get any of his computer skills from me. I lost the post the second time when I stopped to google the camel spider Tommy had told me about. I spoke with him Friday about 1:00 my time. We had a great conversation, he sounded very upbeat and happy. Evidently he happened to be in the only spot where he could get a phone connection. He asked me to tell you, his friends, a little about whas been happening so far. I am not the story teller he is; but maybe I can make it interesting for you. They are in a place called Ras Lanuf; on the northern coast. So, for a few more days, until they move farther into the desert, they are enjoying the Med breezes. They are in kind of a military compound; three meals a day; no snacks and drinks except water. I guess that means no coffee and no coca cola. Frankly, I don't know how Tommy is making it. Near this compound, there is a group of older men called expats. They have been in Africa for 25 to 30 years. They are British, South African, Swedish, Dutch and Serbians. They are pretty much self-sufficient and are this way mostly because they make and trade moonshine. It's called flash; the first run is 90 proof and the second run is 98 proof. These men have a deep fat fryer, ICE MACHINE, and other tools and they trade the flash for gas to run these things. They also trade it for cigarettes and food (not camel and cous cous). Tommy and the rest of the guys were invited to eat with them. And, in Tommy's words, "since we wanted to be hospitable and fit in, we had to have a drink or two". Yeah, right. He and Wes got blitzed and as they were leaving Tommy tried to climb an oil tower. He said they did not want to appear to be freeloaders but since they don't have a lot of money to spare, they asked what they could do to help. So far, Tommy has peeled quite a few potatoes and either Friday or Saturday night, he was going to cook. He will really enjoy that. I have always been amazed at how good a cook he is. He definitely did not get that talent from me - I hate to cook. He said he has really enjoyed hanging out with these guys. It is a once in a lifetime experience and I am sure he will give you more stories and greater detail when he has a chance to get on the internet. The temperature is pretty harsh - 120 degrees. They have been going to bed relatively early and are pretty exhausted at the end of the day. I mentioned earlier that I had lost my post because I had googled the camel spider. I did this because Tommy saw one a few days ago. He said he really couldn't describe it to me except it was about the size of his hand. You really need to google it to see what he is talking about. One more note about the expats. He said one of the guys is a great talker and his accent is to thick, Tommy wasn't sure what he was saying most of the time. So he just nodded his head and laughed a lot and just hoped that the man didn't ask him a question. I have covered most of the things we talked about. April called just before we finished our converstaion and needless to say, he got off the phone with me real quickly. I guess I know who is the important lady in his life - LOL - and rightly so. I am just glad they had a chance to talk to each other. I know they miss each other a lot. Take care everyone.
Friendly greetings from SoCal! I hope that things are going well for all the Scoobs, those I know, and those I have yet to meet. Tommy is always asking others to post, so today I thought I would respond to that challenge. What to say? How to say it? Well, at least here, it has been freaking hot! (When one has nothing else to talk about, talk about the weather.) Fortunately I do not live in a hotter place, like Ding who is in the desert (or even Tommy who is enjoying days at the beach, and nights at the pool sipping MaiTais . Yet, this heat and humidity can be rather stifling. So for now, lots of water, air conditioning and ceiling fans at night. :) City of Heroes continues, although not the same without Tommy and April. I have found some renewed interest in the game by going villainside and creating one thing I swore I would not create - a Mastermind! Almost level 20 now, he is running through the Rogue Isles causing sufficient mayhem. And yes, Tommy, you now have level 10 electric/electric brute (current server - Victory.) For more information on this paragraph, consult April, if you want to come play, remember you are always welcome! Peace!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Special note

I just wanted to say Happy Birthday Hannah!! I know your dad isn't here for your birthday, but I'm sure he wishes he could be!! I hope you have lots of fun!

Blogger: Scooby Central HQ - Manage Posts

Blogger: Scooby Central HQ - Manage Posts

Update on Africa

I will start this again. I almost had it finished it and Googled the camel spider and lost my post. As you can tell this isn't Tommy. This is his mother, Brenda. I spoke with him Friday about 1:00 my time. We had a great conversation, he sounded very upbeat and happy. Evidently he happened to be in the only spot where he had a phone connection. He very graciously gave me his user name and password so I could tell you, his friends, a little about what has been happening so far. I am not the story teller he is; but maybe I can make it interesting for you. They are in a place called Ras Lanuf; on the northern coast. So for a few more days, until they move farther into the desert; they are enjoying the Med. breezes. They are in kind of a military compound. There are 3 meals a day; no snacks and no drinks. I guess that means no coffee and no coke. Frankly, I don't know how Tommy is making it. Near this compound, there is a group of older men called expats. They have been in Africa for 25 t0 30 years. They are British, South African, Swedish, Dutch and Serbians. They are pretty much self-suffient and are this way because they make and trade moonshine. It's called flash and the first run is 90 proof; the second run is 98 proof. These men have a deep fat fryer, ICE MACHINE, and other tools and they trade the flash for gas to run these things. They also trade it for cigarettes and food (not camel and cous cous). Tommy and the other guys were invited to eat with them. And, in Tommy's words, "since we wanted to be hospitable and fit in, we had to have a drink or two". Yeah, right. He and Wes got blitzed and as they were leaving Tommy tried to climb an oil tower. He said they did not want to appear to be free loaders but since they don't have a lot of money to spare, they asked what they could do to help. So far, Tommy has peeled a lot of potatoes and tonight (or it might have been Friday night) he is going to cook. He will enjoy that. I have always been amazed at how good a cook he is; he definitely did not get that talent from me. I hate to cook. He said he has really enjoyed hanging out with these guys. It is a once in a lifetime experience and I am sure he will give you more stories and greater detail when he has a chance to get on the internet. The temperature is pretty harsh - 120 degrees. They have been going to bed relatively early and are pretty exhausted at the end of the day. I mentioned at the beginning I had lost my post because I had googled the camel spider. I did this because Tommy saw one a few days ago. He said he really couldn't desctibe it to me except it was the size of his hand and the locals said it was a baby. You really need to google it to see what he is talking about. It is really HUGE. One more note about the expats. He said one of the guys is a great talker and his accent is so think, Tommy isn't sure what he is saying most of the time so he just nods his head and laughs a lot and just hopes that the man doesn't ask him a question. I think I have covered about everything we talked about it. April called just before we finished our conversation and he just cut me right off. I guess I know who is the important lady in his life - LOL - and rightly so. I am just glad they had a chance to talk to each other. I know they miss each other a lot. Take care everyone.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

For discussion

If the government has no knowledge of aliens, then why does Title 14, Section 1211 of the Code of Federal Regulations, implemented on July 16, 1969, make it illegal for U.S. citizens to have any contact with extraterrestrials or their vehicles?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Ma Salama Scoobies (Goodbye)

It's 8:04 and I sit here awaiting Tim and Claire to pick me up, having packed all four bags, triple checked everything I can think of, and kissed my pretty girlfriend farewell for the next 45 days. I'll miss you all terribly while I'm gone and I really wish I could pack all of you up and bring you over with me. It's an experience everyone should have once in their lives. I'm lucky, I guess. I get to do it repeatedly.

I'll land in Tripoli tomorrow at about dawn your time, and I'll be there for two days, during my libyan phone will work. After that, I'll be in the desert and I don't think any of our phones will work, but we'll see when we get there.

Until next I write, I bid you adieu.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Birthday just around the corner...

Tommy, again you will miss another milestone in my life due to your fancy-pants being in Africa. Anyways, the myrtle beach trip for me and chris is off, as is busch gardens. Thanks to April, I have a great idea....whoever is around and would like to hang out, lets do dinner and a night out. nothing too crazy, as birthday equals another year older, hence the body cannot handle wild escapades like it used to. no calling mom at 1:30 in the morning, and no trying to walk home not even knowing where you are (yes, guilty of both on birthdays past). Funny how those are the only 2 birthday crazy events I can remember...probably cause i'm still catching hell for both and it about 3 years later?? anyways birthday is saturday july 28...

Losing Sanity in Favor of Humanity

Yahoo news carried this story this morning:


COTATI, Calif. - A 3-month-old cat is clinging to life at a Sonoma County animal hospital after having been set on fire by two teenage girls who now face charges of animal cruelty.

The kitten, named Adam by hospital staff, has undergone two surgeries and had its tail and the tips of its ears amputated. The skin on its back was burned off in the attack, leaving nothing but raw tissue.

"The degree of injury is greater than our normal level of trauma that we care for," said Katheryn Hinkle, the head veterinarian and owner of the Animal Hospital of Cotati. "He's our most critical patient, and we're watching him constantly."

The cat, one of several feral felines trapped for spaying and neutering, was in a cage outside an apartment in Santa Rosa when two 15-year-old girls allegedly poured flammable liquid on the animal and set it on fire last month.

An 11-year-old boy and his friend saw the smoke and heard the cat, then eight weeks old, shrieking while the girls laughed. The girls, whose names have not been released, were charged with cruelty to animals in Sonoma County Juvenile Court last week.

With so much exposed skin, the cat is vulnerable to infection, Hinkle said. It cannot leave its cage and must be handled only with gloves. It will need several more surgeries to cover the wound on its back with skin.

The kitten was among six wild litter mates and a male cat captured by a trapper on a farm. The plan was to have the cats spayed and neutered and then released back to the farm. The cages with the kittens were stolen and only Adam has been found.

According to Hinkle, the bill to keep the kitten alive could run between $20,000 and $30,000 even though the vet performing its surgeries has donated her services. The community's concern for the cat has prompted anger in some Sonoma County residents, who complain that the slaying of a 16-year-old boy in the same neighborhood last year did not receive as much attention.

End of Story

WOW! Welcome to America, the worst country in the world for nationalizing the innane and the insane! Yes, two girls need to go to jail for animal cruelty. Yes, I feel sorry for the cat. Now come on people, put the poor kitten to sleep, painlessly, and let it be done with!

I know, I'm inhumane. Well, I'm not. Let me tell you something; I have three cats of my own which I adore. However, I'm astounded by the fact that the government is going to wind up spending a possible $30,000.00 in expenses to keep this cat alive, and this does NOT count all the work by the doctors who are volunteering their time.

The next time you want to find a way to spend thirty thousand dollars on something worthwhile, try this:

  • Go to ANY high school in the united states, find a kid with a good grades who's about to graduate and write them a check! Send a kid to college.
  • Donate it to Cancer/Aids/other disease research!
  • Go find a family of four who have been impoverished by job cutbacks and give them the money, enough to clothe and feed them for a year!
  • Purchase 50 computers for a community library or school.
  • Donate it to the red cross to help with the efforts they do saving HUMANS!
  • Build a house for a family who lost one due to fire/flood/other incident.
  • Give it to me and the interest accrued alone will pay my rent each month!

For christ's sake people, when did we go from cute and endearing people to complete bluthering idiots? I love america and it's national free press system, but sometimes they catch us at our most stupid.

 I'm going to quote on this, so you don't think it's me being harsh and simply spewing numbers to you:


"It is estimated that between six and eight million cats and dogs enter animal shelters every year in the United States, but only about half of them make it out alive.(1) Those who are reclaimed by their guardians or adopted into someone’s home are the lucky ones. Animals who remain when the short holding period expires are unceremoniously euthanized to make room for others who are also in desperate need."

And here's another quote from them:

"Humans domesticated cats and dogs tens of thousands of years ago by taking them out of their natural habitat and selectively breeding them, changing the very course of their evolution in the process.(2) Dogs and cats are not native to most of the areas they now occupy, so their reproduction remains relatively unchecked by natural predators or environmental conditions, especially when under human protection. At the same time, their breeding frequency and litter sizes have remained the same as they were millions of years ago. For instance, a single female cat can have three litters a year with an average of five kittens per litter. In only seven years, she and her offspring could potentially produce 420,000 cats. In just six years, one female dog and her brood can produce as many as 67,000 puppies."

Maybe you missed somethng in the translation; let me explain it in simpler terms what would have happened if the two girls HADN'T tortured the poor animal.

  1. Kitten is trapped by farmer (who is obviously overrun with cats or else he wouldn't be trapping them to get rid of them.)
  2. Kitten would be given to local animal shelter.
  3. Kittenwould be given 30 days to find a home by some caring person.
  4. Kitten would be put to sleep (killed).
  5. End of story!

Now, instead of that process, here's what's going to happen NOW because of two stupid teenage girls.

  1. Kitten is trapped by farmer (who is obviously overrun with cats or else he wouldn't be trapping them to get rid of them.)
  2. Kitten gets tortured by two girls.
  3. Kitten goes to animal shelter and becomes the sob-story for a bunch of animal activists.
  4. Media has a frenzy with a pointless story instead of actually publishing something important we need to know.
  5. Kitten gets enough money wasted on it's life to pay for my entire college career!
  6. Kitten gets some air-time!
  7. No one wants kitten...
  8. Kitten would be put to sleep (killed).
  9. End of story!

The only difference between the two; a few pictures and thirty thousand bucks wasted. Wow. Thoughts, comments?


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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Censorship, or Good Sense

In a move I must admit I admire, China has implemented a new policy to fight the problem of kids who spend every free waking moment playing computer games.  Though it seems very dictatorial, in a world where american childred actually get taken away from their homes by Social Services due to parent's addiction to online gaming, I think I find myself actually applauding this step taken by the chinese government. Yahoo news reported this morning that China's government just put forth a mandate to all gaming companies that operate within china, demanding that they comply with a new software program that makes anyone under the age of 18 use a digital ID to access the computer for online gaming. After 3 hours of constant playing, the people are notified that anything they do further in the game will only result in half the points they would usually get. If they choose to continue playing, they are allowed to stay on as long as 5 hours total before they are told that they will now receive NO points in their games for playing anymore that 24 hour period. After the 3 hour warning, players are prompted to quite playing and "do suitable physical exercise."

Personally, although it is a form of government censorship I suppose, I support the idea wholeheartedly. Here, in America, social services was called to the home of a family who's children were actually starving to death because the parent's were too addicted to their internet game to bother to  feed them! Come on! Really? This stuff actually happens? In an ever-evolving digital world where kids rarely get told to go outside and play, I applaud the move. Until something better, like maybe good parenting skills, comes along, at least someone is trying to prevent the total ruination of their children's lives by whatever means necessary! Maybe America should adopt the same kind of rule!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Of all the *!@$@#* Luck!!!

Can you believe it? I get confirmation yesterday that we're leaving and then last night I get assaulted with this chest cold and wracking cough that leaves me on my knees almost unable to breathe! This is gonna really stink if I can't shake it before we go!

The GOOD news is that I get to spend some time with Hannah. Shawn was nice enough to bring her to meet April yesterday afternoon after work, (for which I really owe him a big thanks! That was a lot of time out of his day just to help me out, which I unendingly appreciate!) So, Hannah and I are gonna get some QT in this week before I go. Poor kid. She's stuck all week running around with me, working like crazy and hacking my head off. What a wonderful combination.

I haven't yet figured out how I'm gonna kick this cold. I come from the old school mentality that believe that medicine is good as long as you don't let it weaken your bodie's natural defense systems to where it can't fight off stuff on it's own. Hence, I almost never ever get sick.... but MAN what timing! Option A: Sit around like a lazy bum whining about it, sucking down Tussin-this and Tussin-that. Option B: Go get outside, work hard, play harder, and let my body beat this thing off on it's own. With less than 72 hours till flight time though, I'm less than convinced of either option's success. Worse come to worse, it's a long flight to Germany with me hacking all the way there until I can get to Tripoli to go to Al-Menshia pharmacy and get hooked up on some good stuff. Did I mention that prescriptions aren't necesarry for almost all drugs in Libya? Great system! I go over there.. point to my arm.. say "it hurts... I need percoset." Poof... I have percoset.

That reminds me, if any of you frequent travelers ever need a great pain-killer, they have this OTC medicine called Effervelgen.. it's like Tylenol from Hell. For reference.. it's not something you swallow; you take it like alka-seltzer, disolving it in water first, THEN you take it. I thought I was going to die because I couldn't read the stupid instructions (written in French) until it was too late. Only after I took it did the word "effer" in the name remind me that it probably meant something like "effervescent"... meaning it bubbles.... YUCK! Nasty stuff.... but man it kicks anything that's hurting. lol.. it's funny to remember it now. That stuff made my insides feel like one of those volcanoes we used to build in school for science class. I bubbled and gurgled and was in pretty much embarrassing misery for about three hours until I could expel all that "fizz" one way or the other.

Wow.. on to less embarrassing subjects:

I can't wait to see my friends again. I've emailed Tara and Mani and Shortround and let them all know that I'm coming and I've setup my Taxi from the airport already, so we'll see how it goes. I'd like to get a few of my Libyan friends together once we're there, so they can meet the rest of the American team. Our time in Tripoli is short as we have to get to the desert as soon as possible, but I'd imagine it will take me a couple of days to acquire the police stamps and the necessary VISA extension paperwork before heading off.

I hope I can meet with Sydnet and Khadija while we're there this time too. It's so funny to sit here in America and to actually have people I know and look forward to seeing again who are six thousand miles away. It's a thing I would never have thought about only two years ago. I'll get to see friends again, walk the streets of Medina Al-Khadima, take the new americans to see the gold district, tour the arch, walk Tuesday Market streets and listen to the vendors hock their wares. I want to take the guys down to the old store where we used to go for Schwarma, and introduce them to some Libyan cuisine. So far, I've only taught them one phrase they need to know, the most important phrase for any American in Libya; "Harisa la!" (It means NONE OF THAT HOT SPICY CRAP ON MY HAMBURGER!) lol.

(Pardon me.. I was just hit by a coughing fit that left my right lung pulsing on the desktop).. GOD that hurts!

Ok. Iv'e got to go get in the shower and hit the road. Hannah and I are going to meet Dr. Moe in Raleigh to get per-diem checks for the guys, so we can purchase our trip supplies before we go.

Until next time all!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Departure Information

Ok. All appears settled. I'm attaching our flight itinerary for those who want to know. We're leaving on Friday, July 20th from Raleigh and traveling to Tripoli, Libya by way of Frankfurt Germany on the Lufthansa airline. Complete itinerary as follows:


July 20 - Friday

Depart RDU: Flight 1455 at 1330HRS EST
Departing Terminal A
Flight Time: 1 hr 16 min.
Arrival Time: 1446HRS EST (Terminal F)


Depart PHL: Flight 427 at 1740HRS EST
Departing Terminal A
Flight Time: 8 hr 05 min.
Arrival Time 0745HRS (local) (0145 EST) (Terminal 1)


Depart FRA: Flight 4120 at 0920HRS LOCAL
Departing Terminal 1
Flight Time: 2 hr 50 min.
Arrival Time 1210HRS LOCAL (0545 EST)


And there you have it! I'm off again! (bebopping in my head to "I'm a Travenin' Man")

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Updates to Common Terminology (for those desiring to be politically correct)

Due to the climate of political correctness now pervading America, Kentuckians, Tennesseans and West Virginians will no longer be referred to as "HILLBILLIES." You must now refer to them as APPALACHIAN-AMERICANS. And furthermore, there are updates to female gender references: HOW TO SPEAK ABOUT WOMEN AND BE POLITICALLY CORRECT: 1 She is not a "BABE" or a "CHICK" - She is a "BREASTED AMERICAN." 2. She is not "EASY" - She is "HORIZONTALLY ACCESSIBLE." 3. She is not a "DUMB BLONDE" - She is a "LIGHT-HAIRED DETOUR OFF THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY." 4. She has not "BEEN AROUND" - She is a "PREVIOUSLY-ENJOYED COMPANION." 5 . She does not "NAG" you - She becomes "VERBALLY REPETITIVE." 6. She is not a "TWO-BIT HOOKER" - She is a "LOW COST PROVIDER." HOW TO SPEAK ABOUT MEN AND BE POLITICALLY CORRECT: 1. He does not have a "BEER GUT" - He has developed a "LIQUID GRAIN STORAGE FACILITY." 2. He is not a "BAD DANCER" - He is "OVERLY CAUCASIAN." 3. He does not "GET LOST ALL THE TIME" - He "INVESTIGATES ALTERNATIVE DESTINATIONS." 4. He is not "BALDING" - He is in "FOLLICLE REGRESSION." 5. He does not act like a "TOTAL ASS" - He develops a case of RECTAL-CRANIAL INVERSION." 6. It's not his "CRACK" you see hanging out of his pants - It's "POSTERIOR CLEAVAGE" Thought you might want to get the updated information!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Your “Please” was so pitiful sounding (see as a Mom, I know exactly what it sounds like) I thought I would email you and see if it worked.


Let me know.


Wheels up in 7 days!

Well, it's official, or at least as official as it can get yet.  Looks like I'm flying out on the 19th at 6 AM, traveling on Lufthansa, arriving in Libya sometime on the 20th. I'll get details later, but that's what I know for now.

*singin to myself "leavin.... on a jet plane.. I don't know when Il'l be back again.."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Testing Blog Post

This is a test to see if the blog posting via email works. To test this, send an email to I’d like to know if it works from someone’s account or if it will only work from mine.



Best Regards,

Tommy Jordan
CEO, Twisted Networx Solutions

Office: 1-252-321-8974
Mobile (US): 1-252-258-0435

Mobile (London):011-423-663-211262
Mobile: (Libya): 011-218-092-744-8702
Fax: 1-720-293-5318



Kudos to Sprint

Finally, someone national did what we've all wanted to do at one time or another. Check this out...  Sprint decided to go through their customer base, picked approximately 1,000 customers who completely abused their customer service people, and promptly sent them all letters explaining in so uncertain terms that since they call customer service over 50 times per month, Sprint doens't really need their business bad enough to deal with their complaints! They waived all cancellation fees, cancelled the last month's charges, and told them they had till the end of the month to find a new phone provider if they wanted to keep their number!

Hell yeah!

Of course, all the other cellular companies are jumping on them, saying "we'd never do that to our customers, blah blah blah." But the truth is, ANY of us in customer service have had those customers... the ones they make you cringe every time you see them on the caller ID, the ones who call about the exact same thing every time and expect you to serve them for free, the ones who make it so expensive and time consuming to deal with them that you almost have to raise rates on others to compensate for lost time/earnings. I say Hell Yeah Sprint! More companies should follow this approach. The customer is NOT always right!

I'm not even a Sprint customer any more, having swithced to Cingular due to global service reasons, but I still applaud someone standing up for their customer service department!


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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Justin Plays the Blues (another YouTube Moment)

While I was at it, I got one of Justin doing a solo.



Mr. Jones - Backseat Romeo Style

I had a minute while waiting on something else to process today so I posted my clip of Justin and Ed playing at Moes' last Friday 





G'Morning All

Well, it s 7:45 and I feel like I've been hit by a truck and left for dead. I'm pumping caffiene into my veins as fast as my system can process it this morning, but it might as well be water for all the effect the coffee's having. I came home yesterday afternoon from work and promptly relaxed in my new chair, trying to wind down a little from the stresses of the day before April came home. Sadly, I don't think I lasted twenty minutes before drifting off to join the world of the dreaming... the next thing I know it's 9:30 last night and I'v slept for 4 hours.

Naps aren't good for me. Never being one to take naps my whole life, they throw my internal clock into a tailspin. I wake too lethargic to do anything of substance, yet too awake to go back to sleep. Once I wake up, the chances of me going back out anytime soon are one in a thousand. So, with little to do I puttered around the house for two hours or so, my mind still seeking sleep, yet my body relentlessly denying me the solace. I laid down at 12:00 and at 4:00 am my mind was still racing and not letting me get to sleep. Sometime after that is when I finally passed out completely, only to wake three hours later to April's incessant, yet cute, urgings to join the sentient world.

So, here I am. I feel like there should be a drum roll, or a "ta da" from somewhere in the wings, but I'm sans energy for theatrics at the moment, sorry. What is the rest of the world up to?

Sassenach, where have you been? I know you spent 9 minutes reading the blog yesterday, but I haven't heard from you. Bill, Scarlette, and Will have all told me to tell you Hi the next time I spoke to you. Anyway, you are missed, as always. Write or call when you can, Shaunauch.

Oh, I just remembered I had some more pictures to upload. Bill has been giving me a hard time for years for not ever being given a cameo on the blog. lol. Here you go Bill.

Bill and his family went with me last week to catch Backseat Romeo's show at Moe's Grill. It's amazing how fast time is flying past all of us. Whitney, his daughter is ten now, and little Will is 5, going on 13. Scarlette is as beautiful as ever, not showing any signs of letting the last five years touch her, and Bill, well he's just Bill. Unflappable, unchanging, good ol' Bill.

This is a good time for a segway. I need coffee anyway.

Ok. Enter new thought here.

I think my mind is rotting. I'm serious. It's seriously just falling apart neuron by neuron, failing me in little ways all the time. My latest bane has been keys. Having grown up enough to get past that phase in life that makes a person want to walk around with a giant keychain filled with useless crap and tons of little rings, balls, toys, and other crap, I carry three sets of keys depending on the day. One is to the house and related places, one is for the office, and one is for the truck. Lately I spend five minutes every morning trying to track down all three sets. Of course I could combine them on one key ring; that's not the point. The point is I can't remember where I put stuff lately. Two minutes after I sit something down it's gone from my memory. Then I get to play detective, thinking "Ok, If I were Tommy and I were coming home from a long day at work, where would I be likely to drop my keys... Eureka! There you are!" I'm usually quite fastidious, at least in my mental inventory of things, so this development bothers me to no end.

Another example of mental retardation, and I'm referring to the essence of hindrance, the antithesis of acceleration,  not making a pun about mental capacity here; I havent' had a deep thought in months. I remember the time I could sit down here on this blog and compose myself eloquently, thoughtfully, and carve out my thoughts on this etherspace canvas in a manner common to the actual processes going on in my head. Lately, that skill too seems to have atrophied and dried up. I've been meaning to write on here, really compose something rathern than post pictures of events, yet I haven't had the ability to get a single original thought from my head to my fingers long enough to eloquate it from my head and put it down in text. Rather more disturbing is the dreadful fear that the it has more to do with not actually having any real thoughts, more so than the lack of ability to compose them.

When I sit and ask myself, what have I been thinking about, I'm left with only the mundane. The list is surprisingly short and repetitive, not to mention depressing. Money, work, plans for a day off, money, bills, saving money, paying taxes, saving for the future, planning my team's work week, ad nauseum, ad infinitum forever... blah! It's disgusting how little an original thought enters my head lately.

Even my hobbies have suffered. I've tried to focus on the guitar but get little time alone to work on it, and when I do get time alone to work on it, it seems like other things are occupying my mind too much for me to practice efficiently. Rather than practicing and learning, I feel more like I'm repeating the things I already know without gaining anything from it, so I might as well be a parrot in a cage, incessantly repeating things with no meaning.

On a different, less demeaning train of thought, I am very much looking forward to returning to Africa. We are supposed to be leaving shortly, but I'm not sure of the reality of that situation. And even if we DO leave soon, I still have to convince the PTB of what needs to be done.  Trying to explain to people why we need 154,000.00 in tools to do a job and then procuring them is a major stumbling block I'm having to overcome at the moment. The nature of our job over there this time is such that we need to be able to be a construction crew, masonry crew, scaffolding team, electrical team, engineers, and office workers. The downside is that we have to purchase equipment for all of these trade skills and carry them with us because we have no chance for resupply once we're there.

And very much on my mind is the fact that of the original thirteen man crew that was present the first time, I was for awhile there almost the only man left standing once the dust cleared. However, I still have Tim, which I wouldn't trade for any other five men I've ever known when the tires meet the road. We have two new guys I'm taking over though and this is going to be the most physically demanding trip we've ever made, so I'm not sure what my retention rate will be once we return. The last crew varied from 23 to 46 and eleven of them are down and out for one reason or another; money, headache, too much stress, family travel problems, etc. It's a pain to have to train and equip a new team each and every time we go over there. I think that is the most draining part of the job; wondering if I'm wasting my time training people that I'm liable to lose because the can't hack the job or the environment.

 This is where we're going; nothing but sand for hundreds of miles in any direction. At least the last time we went over, we were in the city with access to local and regional resources. This time there is no shopping, no communications, no english speaking people (for the most part). Hell, even the locals won't go where we're going for long periods of time.

I've never experienced anything like what I'm about to go do, and the interesting truth is that few others have either in this age. Being able to say I lived in the desert for three or four months running crews and navigating off GPS coordinates, eating camel and cous cous, and surviving the sweltering climate will be a memorable perosnal experience I'll have for the rest of my life.

I didn't know this until I went over the first time, but just because it's the desert doesnt mean just anyone can go explore it. You can be shot on sight out there if you don't have proper clearance to be there. I guess they figure that the few companies adn people who DO live there have their reasons for it and they have things that they feel they need to protect. Getting caught in the Sahara without a desert pass, which is akin to a passport for the sand, can result in a bullet and becoming scorpion food. The guys who issued my last pass didn't speak much english but they found someone who did just long enough to express the sincerity of the words "dont ever lose this piece of paper."


This is a picture I took the last time I was over there, while doing a survey from the company plane we were flown around in. You can see for yourself, it's miles and miles of nothing in every direction for as far as the eye can see.

Truth be told, I'm amazingly excited to be able to do it though. I'm a little worried from time to time; there are lots of things that CAN go wrong in a climate like this, but I'm hoping that a little common sense will prevail over most of the issues and that it will be an uneventful experience, at least as compared to what the word "eventful" might mean in a place like this.

I really wishthat Qadaffi would open the borders to Americans and others so places like this could be seen by everyone. I wouldn't ever want to see it exploited and ruined, but to see a place that only God could have made and that few creatures on earth can even survive is a wonderfully humbling feeling. It reminds you almost immediately upon your arrival that parts of the earth still belong to nature and have yet to be tamed by man.

Just standing on the sand here can give you second degree burns on your skin. During the sand storms that plague this part of the earth, being caught outside in one can literally flay the clothes and skin from your body in a short amount of time, not to mention disorienting you completely amidst the ever-shifting sands of the desert.

Travel here, even by locals is often done using your previous tracks for navigation, akin to following a bread crumb trail back to your starting point. Losing that trail can get you lost in a matter of moments. There are nine million square kilometers of sand here!

 Lol.. you'd be surprised how many people can't actually find east when standing in the middle of the desert like this. Growing up on the coastline, internal navigation seems to be somethign all coastal people have to one extent or another. I can close my eyes in a dark room, spin in circles, and always tell where east is just by sense. I don't know why, I just can. It's something thats left over inthe primitive part of the mind I believe. I dated a girl, Allison, who was the same way. She couldn't get lost adn could point out east in the dead of night or from inside a building. I have other friends who swear they can do it, but point south with a dead certainty that they're correct every time, although North seems to be the most common mistake people make. Now THERE is a thought. I wonder if it has anything do with pole sensitivity in humans? Seriously.... it's been my experience that when asked, people often mistake North more often than any other direction. Agh.. nevermind. Sensibly speaking, it's probably because of the fact that the sun has a northern angle in the afternoon where we live. In other words, though the sun sets in the west, it sets slightly to the north of west because of where I am on the planet. Oh well, anyway... it was a thought.

 Now that I think about it though, it's not that useful in the sense of getting lost over here. First, because the Sea is primarily north of where I'll be, and secondly because even if I could get to the shoreline; what would I do then? You certainly can't drink the water...

Hmm.. got to remember to take extra batteries for my extra batteries for my GPS.

Well, onthat note I have to end this rant and go get a shower and get to work. I'm gonna be a few minutes late as it is. I've been here at the keyboard longer than I thought and it's 9 AM now. Gotta run! See you all soon!


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Friday, July 06, 2007

4th of July

What a bunch of rednecks we are. Our friend Murph works for ECU Athletics, and as such maintains keys to the football statium. So, on a whim, we all decided to get together and have a private viewing of the 4th of July fireworks, here in Greenville.

This was some half-assed tail gating. lol. Murph brought a grill and some hamburgers and we all camped out in the parking lot, the only three cars in the lot... the cops just drove by and didn't know what do to when they saw 8 grown adults siting around in chairs, drinking cokes, eating hamburgers.... and absolutely nothing else. We must have been the most subdued tailgaters ever. lol. It was really nice though. The shade was nice, the company was nice, and the event was unique.

The girls hang out while they wait on the food to get done.

How many men does it take to cook a hamburger? And yes, I know... I'm pimpin' that hat!

When I say we had a private show, I mean a REALLY private show...  no one around anywhere. It's spooky.

April and I at the top of the world, or at least the top of Greenville.

Well, that's it for my posting for one day. 6 PM can't get here fast enough. I'm waiting to go watch Backseat Romeo play at Moe's, here in Greenville.  Hope you all have a good weekend!

PS; You slackers listed on right over there.. you could actually POST something from year to year ya know....


Gardening ( just an update)

Well, since I botherd to make the post about my gardening exploits earlier in the year, I thought I'd take a moment to update the photos with current ones.

This is the original post: Click Here

This my current garden (jungle) below:

Considering it started in a bucket garden, living in the shade, I had no idea the cucumber plants would take off the way they have. My cucumber vine is now a little over 20 feet long and still climbing.  My zuchinni were doing GREAT until they got so heavy that they fell over the edge of the bucket... the fibrous stems are so fragile that they snapped in half and I lost most of the plant. I DO have about ten cucumbers growing at the moment though, so I'll enjoy those instead.

This is my pothos. Everyone grows these, but I'm sentimentally atached to my two remaining ones. I've had these same ones for over nine years now and they've been with me through one engagement, three girlfriends, four apartments, three career changes, and nine or ten birthdays. They've seen some stuff over the years. I had to cut them back and get them back outside this year to get some new rigid growth. They don't do quite as well indoors for me, but they'll survive in there over the winter.

This is my three year old Passion Flower. Raising passion fruit isn't that awful hard except that this plant isn't supposed to survive more than one season, much less three. This is it's second blooming year and it's going crazy on my deck. It's got two vines over 20 feet long each that have grown across the wall, up the wall, across the clothesline, and are now reaching for more places to stretch. This is one of my favorites.

Just another shot of the cucumber and squash plants.

This is the japanese indoor fern that was a mere seedling so many months ago. It took me quite awhile go get it out of root shock, but now it's doing great. It's over five times the size it was when I got it two months ago.

My Zynnia, the only one that didn't get dropped on it's head about three times. I started with five, but for some reason the tiny pots I planted them in seemed to be the only ones I ever knocked over... so I'm down to one, but it's a healthy one, so I'm happy.  This is one of the ones I grew from seens in March.

These were all seeds too when I started. Two marigolds and a Lantana. The marigolds are a little over 18 inches tall now and blooming regularly. Not the best smelling flower, but it's pretty. I'm more interested in seeing what the Lanana does as the season goes on.

I got these peppers free for buying so many plants from the online nursery, so I decided to give them a shot and see if they'd grow. As you might can see, I have one pepper blooming at the moment. Wish me luck with the rest.

This is just a neat plant. It's a heliotrope, which is latin for "follows the sun." Indeed each night, it leans back eastward, turning all its leaves to face the sun for the next morning. As the day progresses, it turns its leaves to keep them pointed toward the sun. So, each day when I come home, it's pointed at me (west). When I get up in the morning to look again, it's got it's backside pointed to me cause it's pointing east waiting on the sun. A neat little thing.

My tomato PLANTS are doing great. One of them is seven feet tall and I had to snip the top of it to prevent any more growth. The actual production of tomatoes however is another story. Not one tomato bloom yet.... any suggestions?

Last but not least, my poor spider plant. This thing was all but dead when I returned from Africa in february. Again, another plant that is not designed to live through the winter outdoors. However, a couple hours of breaking the root ball apart and separating it into four separate plants and now I have four healthy spider plants, blooming out of the same pot, along with a agave cactus sapling that I saved when I hacked my big cactus to death.


Well, that's it for me on the gardening front. I stlil haven't gotten the emails back I'm waiting for from people, so I'll try to post the 4th of July photos while I'm in the mood.


Updates, while I have a moment

I'm waiting on some emails to come back from earlier today so I had a minute to upload some of the random photo stuff I've been doing lately. I thought I'd share.


See, I thought I'd be cute and get a picture of April cause she looked so relaxed sittin' in my chair one afternoon last week.

How did I get paid back? She came in at 7:30 one morning and caught me sleeping in my chair, where I'd fell asleep around 4 AM. Her's was a cute pic.. mine is less so... :(

And you're really not getting the full appreciation of the picture unless you notice that I'm kicked back, passed out, in a pair of freakin' house shoes.. lol. THAT's redneck right there. I think this beats Mani's "look at my shoes" post... how horrible...

On the cool side of the story, that's the afghan my mother made me just about twenty years ago. It's hard to believe it, but I remember when she was sewing that for me. I used to sneak in her yarn basket and steal yarn and string it all over the house while I played with G.I. Joe toys. She'd get so frustrated!

After a couple of years, she had made so many afghans that she had spare skeins laying around that weren't enough to match anything else, and not enough to make a full afghan on their own. So, she made me an afghan-of-many-colors when I was young. I've kept this thing since then. I can't remember how old I was when it was made for me, but this is the one piece of linen that I keep in the house. I was in such a rush to have it as a kid that she never got to tie the ends of it back in, the way you're supposed to. Now I remember that each time I cover up with it. Good memories. Thanks mom!


Photos Available For Download

Well, it s7:42 in the morning and I've got to be doing something productive so I'm uploading the photos en masse while I wait for the coffee to do its job and kickstart my head into working this morning.

Lots of people wanted copies of the full photos taken last weekend, so I'm putting those online now. There are lots of photos in here that never made it to the blog, so if you want the entire collection, here's your chance to get them.

I've uploaded three files for you to download, one for each camera that took pictures. Here are the files: (Right click on them and choose "Save Target As" to save them to your computer.

And there ya go.

In other news, I talked to my CEO yesterday about travel plans. As usual, our client is screwing up one thing after another, but it seems we might be leaving as soon as July 15. I'd love to be able to give you a more confirmed date, but I can't ever tell with work like this... delays can happen at any time and more often than not, they do.

I'll let you know more when I know more though. For now, I'm just on standby.

Well, that's it for me for right now. I've got to get showered and get headed to work.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Birthday Photo Update: (The Rest Of The Story)

I was blasted for requests to continue the Birthday party update, so I thought I'd take some time this 4th of July morning to finish what I started last week. When we left off in the photo story, we had covered only Friday night.  Here begins the Saturday saga:


Saturday was a complete blast for me, and I hope for the rest of the folks that showed up. I got up at 7 AM, went in to Manteo to TL's to get coffee and breakfast, and then came back to start the pig by 8:30.

Joe was the first to arrive. He helped us finish setting up and kept me company during the first hour or so until the others started to show up.


Next to arrive was Agent M. This was her first Scooby Beach get-together, so I was really really glad to have her show up. It's hard to ever be bored when M's around.

Sometime shortly after that, the entire gang started to arrive. A lot of our old friends and some new ones were able to make it. Surprisingly a LOT of the family members were able to come too, which was really neat. My  mom's side of my family came, April's family came, and even Doc's Momma and Dad were able to spend the day with us. It's not the same without Doc there to work the pig with me, but having Mr. Gerald there was a great thing.  Of all the men I've ever met in the world in my entire life, I respect this man the most, second to my own grand-father. He's a kind, generous, and down-to-earth man that I would do anything for. He and Ms. Priscilla are just fun to be around.

Early in the morning, I spent some time with the Murphinator playing Volleyball in the front yard.

Claire, the master of disaster on the race track, didn't have the same luck on the volleyball court! lol.

Have I mentioned that I love having this huge front yard at home? Even HALF the yard is large enough for a volleyball court!

A few tents were setup to provide shade while we were cooking and to provide a cool spot to converse and get to know each other.

Some of my family: Jodie and Kim, Aunt Jean, Faye, and the others.

My prep station... lotsa corn.


The gang hangs out while the food is finished.

Munchies Commence!

And there's my baby. 101 pounds of Wilbur, served up hot and spicy! 


This was great. Tim and Murph pull away from the dock in the canoes, readying themselves for a nice jaunt on the water.

They got about twent feet and capsized the canoe...

And then again...

And then again...

Then they gave up on canoeing together! lol

Meanwhile, I was getting rushed to finish this pig. The locals were getting ornery.

Talkin' to Ms. Priscilla

Mitchell, M, and others relax in the shade while the food cooks.

Mr. Gerald kept me company for awhile while we dressed this pig and put the corn on the grill.  The Murphinator is holding his spot in line. lol. This was his first time having eastern NC sauce, but he seemed to really enjoy it.


Mr. Gerald and I complete preparations on the pig and prepare it for serving.

Hanging out chatting with Ms. Lorraine, April's Great Aunt.

Booger Bear wanted a picture, so I got to pose with a pretty lady, my favorite thing to do.

Then I got a picture with MY pretty lady!

Doc's Mama checks in on us and rushes us right along. lol

Now she leaves and MY mama comes to rush us along! You see a trend developing here?

Finally, it's ready to serve!

Joe and M hit the water for a quick lap in a canoe. It was SO funny. At first they started out with Joe in the rear and M in the front, but they were actually sitting backwards. Joe was in the Bow seat, but sitting backwards. Somehow between departing and returning, they managed to get it right without flipping the canoe; quite a feat with the waves going on out there that day.

The Scooby Scull team!

After lunch it was time for cake and cards.

I blow: That's all the joke you're getting out of that!

After lunch I took the gang down to Oregon Inlet to have a small campfire on the beach. The girls get some glamour shots in while the fire is getting started.

M tried to block the wind with my shirt while Nitro and Mitchell attempt to get the blaze going.

You can see.. it's geting darker and still no fire....

About an hour later, we have the beginnings of fire...

This was my rental for the weekend... nice truck!

HEY! We have Fire!

Now we commence to chillin' out in the sand and just hanging out infront of the waves.

Booger-Bear was cold...

Joe had no such complaints.. he was just.. Joe.


Posing for pics.

Bridget has to ride back to the hotel in the back with the beer.

That's all I'm gonna post for now. My next step is to post a huge ZIP file with all the pics for whomever wants to download them all. I've now got all the pics from My camera, Ray's camera and Bridget's camera, so most of the photos are accounted for now. If anyone has others they'd like to share, please do!