About Chuck

I am retired after a career in electronics and in publishing. Today, my wife of 50+ years, Sylvia, and I live in a house on a hill beside a dirt road in rural west Michigan. We enjoy living in this country environment where livestock and wild life out number the human population.

In the Auto State

How appropriate that here in Michigan (aka the Auto State), a funeral home announces a new service: Drive by viewings.  No, really.  I read it in today’s news.

For the person "on-the-go."

For the person “on-the-go.”

What do you think of that?  Wait . . .  Are those stereo speakers in the coffin.  Will they be playing music for the dearly departed.  Can you imagine a future archeologist digging up the remains in an effort to understand our current culture?  What will she think if opening the coffin is accompanied by the sounds of heavy metal?  Perhaps it will sound as tame and lame laid-back as big band music sounds to us today.  [Shudder]

Perhaps cremation is a better idea, but that has it’s draw-backs too.  Some time ago, I received the following in an e-mail.

A news article from a Florida Newspaper:

When Nathan Radlich's house was burgled, thieves left his TV, his VCR, and even left his watch. What they did take was "generic white cardboard box filled with grayish-white powder." (That at least is the way the police described it.) A spokesman for the Fort Lauderdale police said, "that it looked similar to cocaine, and they'd probably thought they'd hit the big time."

Then Nathan stood in front of the TV cameras and pleaded with the burglars, "Please return the cremated remains of my sister, Gertrude. She died three years ago."

Well, the next morning the bullet-riddled corpse of a drug dealer known as Hoochie Pevens was found on Nathan's doorstep. The cardboard box was there too with about half of Gertrude's ashes remaining, and there was this note which read, "Hoochie sold us the bogus blow, so we wasted Hoochie. Sorry we snorted your sister. No hard feelings. Have a nice day."

No doubt that’s an urban legend.  I like it anyway.  There have been cases of not-so-bright burglars (is there any other kind?) who snorted cremains.

Suddenly I feel the need to take a nice hot shower.

Flashback

It was nearly six years ago that I wrote these words:

An abandoned house is a sad site to see. Do you ever wonder about the joyful events and the sad ones that took place inside that house? What of the people who called it home? In thinking those thoughts, the haiku came to me first in English, and shortly after in Spanish.

A very short way from here is where the family lived that gave their name to our road.  The house is gone now, but I captured this image while it was still standing.

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That image inspired these words:

The house is empty,
I hear only the echoes,
Of what used to be.

Casa Vacía,
Suena solo el eco,
De lo que era.

_____________________________________

Out on the Lawn

Last Friday was one of those days that make fall such a wonderful time of year.  The air was chilly, but there was little to no wind and the earth is warm.  It was one of those “perfect days” for mowing the lawn, and that’s what I did.

Long sleeved shirt with quilted vest, cap and gloves kept me warm.  The tractor’s diesel engine droned steadily, which helps me relax.  Okay, it’s not like laying in bed listening to waves breaking on a nearby beach.  To me, it’s a pleasant sound.

I enjoy the warmth of the sun as its light falls down upon me.  The sweet odor of newly mown grass soothes.  The mind drifts to where it wants to go.

In moments like that, my thoughts frequently explore the requirements of living the simple life.  What would it take to live “off the grid.”  How do you cope without commercial electricity?  What if you had no petrol-chemicals?  How would you eat if there were no grocery stores?

The next morning (Saturday), Sylvia asked if I’d seen the lawn.  I looked out the window at this:

Frost morning

Frosty [mid] morning

What a difference a day makes.  As you can see by the sun angle, I am not an early riser.  The garden is mostly done for this year.

What’s in here?

Yesterday, I posted a pic of Nellie with her chin resting on her toy that we call Herr Rabbit.  (Pun intended)  Nellie never showed much interest in this toy.  That was until I started rubbing catnip leaves on it.  Now she loves him.

The other day, Pricilla’s publicist posted a pic of their cat, Sherpa.  He was contentedly enjoying being in what appeared to be a shopping sack.  The post went on to explain that it was a catnip scented sack.  How would Nellie react to something like that?  I had to find out.

I picked some catnip leaves.  I rubbed them all over the inside of a sack that had been in the coat closet.  Then with camera in hand, I watched.

Nellie sniffing the sack contents

Nellie sniffing the sack contents

She liked it.  Nellie is not the youngster that Sherpa is and that may be why she didn’t take up residence inside.  She did, however, manage to snag the catnip, pull it out and devour it.  What did you expect her to do?

Which is it?

Half-empty-glass-008

We have been told that an optimist will say the glass is half full.  I can, and do believe that to be true.

They’ve also told us that the pessimist will say the glass is half empty.  That also computes.

Is it that simple?  Can it be a question of “Half empty or half full?”  Life is seldom that straight forward and we can see the evidence all around us.

After looking at the results of recent political polling, I have a suspicion.  I’m guessing that 30 some percent of Americans would respond, “Undecided.”

But I know that all of these are merely opinions.  So take your pick.

If you want to be objective you need to turn to an engineer.  The kind of person who has “feet on the ground,” and who is very practical.

An engineer will tell you the obvious.  The glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

I’m with the engineer.  How about you?

Look! Up in the Sky

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Psalm 19 New Living Translation (NLT)

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
    night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
    their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
    and their words to all the world.

God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.
It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding.
    It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race.
The sun rises at one end of the heavens
    and follows its course to the other end.
    Nothing can hide from its heat.

Meanwhile, here in Michigan it seems like we’ve entered a rainy season.  I’d like to have it warmer and drier.  A short while ago there was sleet falling from the sky and impacting on my office window.

The Internet Revealed

Have you ever wondered what the Internet look like?  Would you like to know its secrets?  Of course, you would.  Most Internet users wouldn’t recognize it if they saw it.  To put it in perspective for you, I offer this:

How do you think it’s going to work out when Jen gives her speech.  The tech geeks have had so much fun, but will they want to see the results?  Let’s find out what happens to Jen at the shareholder meeting.

Perhaps this dose of humor will get you week properly launched.  I hope so.

It Takes Timing

Last week on Wordless Wednesday, I found a striking post by David Williams.  (Click on his name to see the photo of the starry evening sky.)  It immediately captured my full attention.  Fortunately, all you have to do is hover the cursor on the image to bring up the technical details.  The next question was, “Can I do that?”

I tried, but I was too late to get the effect I wanted.  The photo is probably worth sharing.

The dipper handle points to Arcturus.

The dipper handle points to Arcturus.

What do you think?  I barely managed to get Arcturus in the shot.  It is the brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere.

A few minutes later I took a shot of the dipper.  During the 30-second exposure, a visitor raced across the scene.

A visitor streaks through the lower left portion of the frame.

A visitor streaks through the lower left portion of the frame.

Can you see the meteor’s trail?  It was another “happy surprise.”

I’m not satisfied with these results, so I’m going to try some other ideas.  If they work better, you may hear about it.