Monday, October 30, 2006

Submitted for your approval....

Christine and I went away this weekend to celebrate our third anniversary; 3 years already...holy shnikeys! My parents graciously offered to watch our son and two dogs, so were completely unburdened as we headed to Jim Thorpe, PA in the Pocono Mountains region.
We had a nice relaxing time, checking out various local attractions and points of interest. One of those is a tour of the old jail house in Jim Thorpe. If you've ever heard of the Molly Maguires, this jail was where 4 of them were executed on the gallows. The staff and many visitors (reportedly) have experienced many strange things, from apparitions to voices of people that aren't there; obviously, it's considered haunted. There's a handprint on the wall of the jail cell of one of the Molly MAguire men that he placed there before being hung for murder. He, and the others, had maintained their innocence until the end, and he placed his handprint on the wall with dirt from his cell floor. He claimed it would last beyond his death as proof of his innocence. The handprint has purportedly remained in place despite attempts to paint over it, re-plaster the wall, etc.
I'm an open-minded sort, and happen to believe there's a lot more to this world than we know or can ever know; Christine is actually spiritually sensitive, much like her mother and her mother's father (the one whom Sam gets his middle name from, in Scotland). She said she saw two of the four nooses on the gallows moving; also, while down in the dungeon, she sensed movement "behind" the closed door of one of the cells, as if someone had walked by and looked out the small window to see who was out there. She asked me to take a picture a moment or two later, and this is what I got:

I've cut out the portion of interest and magnified it for you to get a better look:

If you've ever heard of "spirit orbs," this is exactly what I seem to have gotten on our digital camera. Trust me that this is no dust mote or anything on the lens. Pictures from in front of other cells and other places don't have that in the picture. So, what do you think?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Not-so-Super Trooper

Forgive me, but I'm not going to link to any online articles about this; I saw this story on the news last night. A NJ State Trooper ran a STOP sign, clearly marked and even "Advertised," and broadised a minivan occupied by a woman's teenaged (17 and 19) daughters. Both were pronounced dead at the scene; the trooper is currently on desk duty.

Unknowns (to the public, anyway):
- how fast the Trooper was driving
- whether or not the girls were wearing their saftey belts
- whether or not the Trooper was responding to a call

Knowns (as I see it, anyway):
- the Trooper is in the wrong
- unless there are extremely mitigating circumstances, the likes of which that are so mindboggingly unheard of as to make thinking of any cause for a headache, he needs to be fired as a police officer

Police officers, like many other people in uniform, have some of the hardest and oft-times, least thankful jobs/duties out there. Also, like others in these similar career fields, they are held to a higher standard, and rightfully so. You expect the people charged with keeping your neighborhood secure, your nation safe, your ticker ticking, etc. to have a higher standard to adhere to than Joe/Jane Citizen. For him to have ran that STOP sign is a greater failing than if you or I did it. You can't go around telling other people they need to obey the signs and be aware of them if you aren't doing it.

I can't even begin to imagine the pain their mother is going through, having lost both of her daughters, her only offspring, in the same day. Stories and incidents like this make me want to hug Sam close and never let go.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Father's Day

As my wife and I prayed tonight, she made some comments regarding those who were separated from their fathers, in some cases permanently. It got me to thinking about several people I know whose fathers are no longer with them in body, though I'm sure they're there in spirit.
First is my wife; sadly, her father passed before I even had a chance to meet him. I've been assured by both Christine and Helen, my mother-in-law, that he and I would have gotten along famously. I feel some pain for her on Father's Day, as well as other holidays that are meant for family.
Next is Rob, whose blog "Laughing at the Pieces" is linked to over on the right. It's been several years (forgive me, Rob, for not knowing exactly how many) since his father passed. Pop Staeger was a really great guy; "salt of the earth" was created for folks just like him. Hell, he even came down to pick us up after a Penn and Teller show post-midnight in Philly. I'll let Rob tell that story, if he wants.
Pop Hoffman was the most recent to pass, and it reminds me I need to call Lizard and Mom Hoffman to see how they're doing. A few posts below this one was my tribute to him, so no need to really repeat it.
One uncle on my dad's side, Uncle Don, and two uncles on my mom's saide, uncles John and Bill, have all passed on. They are missed at family gatherings, and Uncle Bill will be particularly missed when my cousin Caryn gets married next month.
So, I guess the main thing I'm trying to get at is...never assume you'll always have your parents around. Don't wait til another day to sort things out, no matter how "right" you may be about a situation. To all of my family and friends whose father's are with them in spirit only, my heart goes out to you.

Monday, May 15, 2006

For the DnD fans

If you've never played DnD, this web comic probably won't mean much to you. Heck, if you've never played 3E DnD, a lot of the references will probably escape you.

Without further ado, I present to you Goblins. This link will take you to the first comic so you can read it from the beginning.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Meeting a Living Legend

First of all, my apologies for it being so long since my last post.
Secondly, to preface this post, I need to explain that I just ended my 4th week of attendance at the NCO Academy (NCOA). Basically, the NCOA is a 6-week long course that's designed to help Technical Sergeants (TSgt/E-6) learn how to become managers/supervisers, or perhaps improve on that. It's a required course for anyone aspiring to the rank of Master Sergeant (MSgt E-7). It's mostly classroom learning, but they do occasionally have guest speakers. Today, we had the best guest speaker so far. His name is Gail Halvorsen.
Retired Colonel Gail Halvorsen was one of many pilots that flew the cargo aircraft during the Berlin Airlift. That, in itself, is pretty cool, and worthy of mention. What really makes him stand out is that he came to be known as "The Candy Bomber," "Schokolade-fliegen," and "Uncle Wiggly Wings." For the full story, you can go here as a start; of course, Google will give you a lot more places to go. Essentially, it started with him meeting some children that were gathered along the fence outside of the Berlin Tempelhof airport. He told us that despite the difficult times they were having, not a single one of those approximately 30 children begged for any sort of handout. He had two sticks of gum in his pocket; he decided to pass them through the fence; the children split the gum up as best as they could, with some children only getting to smell the wrappers. Not a single fight broke out among them, he said.
He promised them he would drop some more candy near that spot, since it was along the final approach. The children asked how they would know which plane he was in. Col Halvorsen came up with an ingenious idea; he would wiggle the wings of his plane as he approached.
The story eventually got picked up by a newspaper in Berlin; on the front page was a picture of the aircraft Col Halvorsen had been flying; the tail number was readily visible, and legible. A General called the unit's commander, a Colonel, who called then-Lieutenant Halvorsen into his office, asking him if he knew what was going on. After explaining the situation, the Colonel didn't take any adverse action against Halvorsen.
He talked to us about the importance of integrity, and how it's the little decisions that can make such a big difference down the road. I really wish you could have been in the auditorium with us; he was truly a marvel to listen to.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Jeri and 7s

Well, my good friend Jeri made a post based on something she had seen on another blog. In that post, she said she'd like to see my list, amongst others. So, I put what thought I could muster into it and this is what I came up with:

7 Things to Do Before I Die:
- take Sam (and any sibling(s)) to Europe
- live to see any grandchildren
- watch the first manned expedition to Mars set foor on the soil
- see political moderates become the majority again
- retire a second time (well, first time will be in about 2 to 3 years)
- get back to (and stay around) 250 pounds
- stay as young as I possibly can

7 Things I Cannot Do:
- see clearly without glasses
- stand closed mindedness
- ice skate
- play any physical sport well
- drink Corona or Guiness beers
- drive at or below the speed limit
- resist my wife's smile

7 things that attract me to people:
- sense of humor
- being genuine
- creativity
- giving spirit
- independence
- open-mindedness
- relaxed

7 Things I Would Never Say:
- "Jay Leno really cracks me up"
- "So, what did Paris Hilton think about this product?"
- "What our country really needs is more armchair quarterbacks and political extremism."
- "Ugh, the smell of popcorn makes me sick!"
- "Johnny Knoxville...what talent!"
- "The idea of two women getting naked and [CENSORED] just absolutely disgusts me."
- "Roleplaying games are the Devil!"

7 Books or Series I Love:
- Lord of the Rings trilogy (if you don't know who the author is by this time....)
- The Belgariad (series)
- Illegal Aliens by Phil Foglio (and can't remember the co-author)
- Requiem for the Devil by You-Know-Who
- Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (series), as long as we can pretend "Mostly Harmless" never existed
- The Stand by Steven King
- Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

7 Movies I can watch over and over:
- The Fisher King
- The Shawshank Redemption
- The Fifth Element
- Lord of the Rings trilogy
- Last of the Mohicans
- The Man With One Red Shoe
- Sneakers

Monday, October 31, 2005

RIP "Pop" Hoffman

I got word today about the passing of the father of a good friend from childhood. That circle of friends was truly special, as one set of parents was every child's parent. More to the good than the bad, though they wouldn't hesitate to correct your behavior on the spot if needed.
Jack "Pop" Hoffman, father of my friend Chris (aka "Lizard") was a great guy, full of life, spunk and enjoyed life to his last day. He was, among other things, a heckuva pinochle player, and truly a joy to be around. Lizard was the apple that didn't fall far from the tree, but that's not really a bad thing in this case. Pop Hoffman is one of those folks that the cliche' "salt of the earth" was coined for. He will be missed by his family and many friends, but that sadness will be tempered by the joy he brought to all of their lives.

P.S.: Pop, it's not nice to double deal in Heaven.