Category: 2007

Christmas day

I read recently that American 15 year olds rank 33rd among industrialized countries in math.  In science they ranked 27th.    I agree with W.E. Williams when he said “Few people appreciate the implications of poor math preparation.  Math, more than anything else, teaches one how to think logically.  If one graduates from high school with little or no preparation in algebra, geometry and a bit of trig, he is likely to find whole areas of academic study, as well as the highest paying jobs, hermetically sealed off from him for his entire life.”    I know, there are exceptions, but for the most part I believe what he said is true.  If I had it to do over, I would have tried harder in math and science and I would have tried to be more influential with my children in those areas.  I wish one of my teachers had imparted this information to me early in life (and I hope I would’ve listened).   Ah, the clarity of hindsight!

The other morning I had breakfast at a local restaurant with my daughter (Debby) and uncle KD’s wife (Mary).   It was so good to set down with family and enjoy a good meal and good conversation.   The conversation was easy and relaxed and no tears were shed, although all three of us were still grieving our loss on December 6th.   I left the restaurant knowing that we would pick up with our lives, but carry KD in our hearts wherever we went.

I took our little boat (Puffer) out of the water the other day after a short ride up the canal.   I was surprised how well the anti-foul paint worked on keeping barnacles off the bottom of the boat.  I cranked up the old power washer and, with biodegradable bleach feeding into the hose, cleaned it as clean as a whistle.   The little 5 horsepower motor was flushed with fresh water for ½ hour and now everything is stowed for the winter, waiting for spring to arrive.  I used it about 4 times this year.  I wonder if that is enough to justify its existence in my life?  Let’s wait and see how it goes next year.


Christmas was very good.  My daughter, Jerilyn’s mother and her son Dean and his family (Kathy, Chris, Brandon) helped us celebrate on Christmas Day.  Jerilyn prepared breakfast, consisting of French toast and pancakes and Kathy fried some delicious bacon.  Afterward, we opened presents and enjoyed each other’s company.  My son was in TN enjoying his Christmas with his family and Jerilyn’s son Mark was in Florida with his wife Rachel, soaking up the sun and enjoying the good life.  Jerilyn and I attended the Candlelight Service at our church on Christmas Eve and it was very moving.  This time of the year always leave me feeling good.  Sometimes, it is hard for me to get the “Christmas Spirit”, but this year it seemed to come so easy.  Maybe, I needed the Lord in my life more this year.

My Uncle Claude is home from the hospital after suffering a heart attack several weeks ago.  I understand his left foot is numb and he is on dialysis 3 times a week.  I pray for him every day.

When I was a young man I remember attending church one day and the minister said to the congregation “If anyone here has a special need, form a line right here in front of the pulpit and I will pray for you.”   I stood in line and finally it came my turn to be prayed for.  “Ok, young man”, the minister said, “what’s your problem?”  I told him “I’ve got a hearin’ problem”.   Well, he put his hands on both my ears and prayed for 10 minutes.  After he removed them he asked me “Son, how’s your hearin’ now?”    “I dunno”, I replied, “It’s not until next week”    I am so full of it!


I hope you’re enjoying the Christmas season.  Thanks for reading my weekly missive.




Never Regret Growing Old…It Is A Privilege Denied To Many


Yard work

Well, it finally happened.  My Uncle KD lost his battle with cancer on Thursday (12/6) at 4:25 pm.  It will be a long time before the hurt goes away, but it will, I know it will.   His wife of 47 years (Mary), his son (Duke), grandchildren (Timmy & Melissa) & daughter-in-law (Brenda) are all suffering more than I, but that does little to ease my sadness.  His memory will stay with me as long as I walk this earth.

Jerilyn and I spent Monday doing yard work.  Leaves were all over the place and our grass needed cutting in some places.  We loaded it all up and took it to the city dump.  The truck was full and leaves fluttered out as we made our way there.  By the time we returned home leaves were again covering our yard.  I think one more trip to the dump will do it, but I must wait several weeks.  Then the chore will be done for another year.   I always enjoy fall, watching the leaves turn and then drop slowly to the ground.  After a while, the weather turns cold and I have to don warm clothes and walk briskly to wherever I’m going.  Isn’t it amazing how cold air can add a little juice to your steps?  I walk nowhere slowly in the winter time.  Nightfall is here by 5pm and we are safely tucked inside our home by then.  Jerilyn stays busy getting ready for Christmas, while I do things on the PC or read the paper.  I wonder how she stands me sometimes.  I really need to be more helpful.

We travelled with our close friends, Don & Louise, to Roanoke Rapids and the Randy Pardon Theater (brother of Dolly).  We enjoyed the trip with our friends and the show was probably a 6 on a scale of 10.  Isn’t it amazing what a little diversion will do to raise your spirits?  I needed that trip,  I spend too much time thinking about the loss of my uncle.  The show was titled “Carolina Christmas” and was attended by a lot of people on bus tours.  Seems as though Randy Pardon has lost his job.  He appeared on stage drunk and was arrested.  He was fired from a job paying him 1.5 mil.  It appears his name will be removed from the theater.  The folks in Roanoke Rapids are upset, apparently, they financed the theater via additional taxes.

Jerilyn and I will be attending a Christmas party tonight (Saturday) given by our close friend Joann.  She does this each year and we always have fun.  A lot of the people at the party we only see once a year and, yep, it’s at her party.  This has been going on for 15 years and the holidays would not be the same if she stopped doing it.  Special people do things like that don’t they?

I went to my doctor yesterday to have my 6 month prostrate exam.  My reading jumped from 3.2 to 5.0 last June and I had biopsies taken then.  They were all clear.  The doctor said if the reading stays around 5, then we will continue the 6 month examination routine.  If it has gone back down to 3 then we will check it once a year.  I should get my results next week.

A retired Methodist minister (Lewis Morgan) wrote a wonderful Christmas poem and sent it to Jerilyn.  I would like to include it for you to read:

A Plain Man slouches toward Bethlehem,

wondering as he wanders:


What happened to that Old Gang of Mine, gone like a used sunset?

No wonder I can’t find them, they’re chatting on the internet.


who took away my memory and hobbled me with fears?

Who stole my yesterdays and left me with all these years?


What alien kidnapped my grandbabies, absent from my empty lap?

How I miss all the rasslin’ and the hasslin’ !   May I please have them back?


Who absconded with my Thanksgiving Friday and painted it black?

And how is it that upstart Rudolph now gets to lead the pack?


I really miss “Joy to the World” and all the Christmas rhymes.

Guess what I just heard? “Let it snow, let it snow” for the 1000th time.


And what Grinch took my baby Jesus?  Could anything be stranger

than a thief who would throw out the Babe and cop the Manger?


Which merchant emptied out my bank account and made me sad like this?

Thank Heaven, O Thank Heaven, they didn’t get my Christmas Mailing List.


I hope you’re enjoying your Christmas season.  Thanks for reading my weekly missive.




Never Regret Growing Old…It Is A Privilege Denied To Many



The depth of a person’s determination to succeed

A perfect SAT score is 1600 combined. Bill Gates scored 1590 on his SAT. Paul Allen, Bill’s partner in Microsoft, scored a perfect 1600. Bill Cosby scored less than 500 combined. Now, you may wonder, what does all this mean? I guess it says that you can succeed in life even though your SAT score indicates your intelligence is only slightly higher than a woodpecker’s. I do not remember my SAT score, but I am sure it was not in the teens. We have designed all sorts of ways to measure human intelligence, but absolutely no way to measure the depth of a person’s determination to succeed. If Bill Cosby can achieve the success he enjoys with a 500, maybe I didn’t try hard enough.

A good friend and I loaded up and drove about 2 hours away to attend a playoff football game our Poquoson High School team was having. We won easily. The following Saturday I rode with Jerilyn’s son (Dean) to Charlottesville (also 2 hrs away) to watch them play in the state semifinal game (we lost). Both trips were fun and the time spent with friends and family was enjoyable.

I received this tip the other day, and thinking it was a good one, decided to pass it on to you: Put your car keys beside your bed at night. If you hear a noise outside your house, or someone is trying to get into your home, just press the panic button for your car (if your car has one, ours does not). The alarm will trigger the horn and the l sound will frighten away most would-be criminals. You can also use this alarm as you approach your car in a parking lot at night. Test your car to make sure you are within the range needed.

We attended a country music talent show the other night. It had four contestants, winners from previous talent shows during the year, and they were all good. I wonder how many of us have ever placed our talent on public display. I would never have the courage to get on stage and say, “Here’s what I can do. Do you like it? If you do, let me know by applauding.” Gee, I barely have the courage to stand in front of a large group and talk. Stage fright is a terrible thing. Most of us do well in small groups, but that is about as far as it goes. I found out early that if I could get by the first two minutes I calmed down and was able to continue without too much nervousness. I have always admired people that could make speeches or perform in front of a large audience effortlessly.

The water pump in my truck is leaking badly. I was trying to determine whether I should do it or not, depending on it’s complexity, and so, I Goggled it and came up with this website ( Upon arriving there, I selected auto repair as the category and then typed in my question. They go off and find an expert to answer my question (takes a couple of minutes) and then come back and give me the guy’s name and tell me that he has been a Chrysler service manager for 12 years. I then have three payment options ($9, $15, $25). I figured the $9 option would not get me a lot, so I opted for the $15 plan. If you are unhappy with the answer you do not have to pay anything (which I liked). Anyway, in a few minutes the guy gives me detailed instruction for removing and installing the water pump. He tells me that I need two special tools, gives me the Snap-On ID # for the tools, and tells me what to look for when I examine the pump and fan blade assembly. I was impressed. I had the information I needed for $15. I decided I would not attempt the repair myself. I checked with several repair shops and the price ranged from $232 – $375. I have, of course, opted for the lower price. I go to the truck doctor Tuesday (12/4). The timing belt is just behind the water pump. I will have them replace that also. The truck has 138,000 miles on it. I can’t complain too much. Anyway, the whole point here is, if you have a major problem and need help deciding how to fix it, for as little as $9 you can get all the help you will need in making that decision. I think my life just got a little simpler.

My uncle’s cancer has gotten worse. He is very weak and unable to get out of bed. I pray for him several times daily and he is on my mind constantly.

I hope you’re enjoying whatever season it is in your part of the world. Thanks for reading my weekly missive.

Posted By bipolar66 to My Window on The World at 12/03/2007 05:42:00 AM



10 longest running TV shows

I ran across a list of the 10 longest running TV shows and wanted to share them with you.  I have placed an asterisk beside the ones I was fond of:

  1. Knotts Landing* (1979 -93)
  2. Dallas * (1978-91)
  3. My Three Sons (1960 -72)
  4. Law & Order (1990 – ?)
  5. The Simpsons (1989 – ?)
  6. Bonanza * (1959 -73)
  7. Ozzie & Harriet (1952 – 66)
  8. Death Valley* days (1952 – 1970)
  9. Lassie (1954 – 72)
  10. Gunsmoke * (1955 -75)

As a young lad growing up in the mountains of Virginia during the ‘50’s, our selection of TV programs to watch were very limited.  We received one station out of Huntington, West Virginia.  That was all we had.   There was never an argument over what program we would watch.  If you didn’t like it, you did something besides watch TV.  I had a vast collection of comic books and, if it was still daylight outside, there were many options.  It was always easy to round up some friends and play “Kick The Can”, or, “Tag” or, some other game we had played a gazillion times.  Sometimes, less is more I think.

That darn garage door opener is still giving me problems.  The opener has been installed and works quite well with me using the switch mounted on the wall, but the two remotes refuse to work.  After getting my son to look at it, and then calling over my next door neighbor, I gave up and called the Sears Guy.  He arrives here next Wednesday to solve the problem.  If it is my fault I pay, if not, there is no charge.  Guess I’d better get my wallet out.

I went to NC to visit my brother Jerry the other day.  He and his wife, Patty, are doing ok.  His health is about the same.  He has been in a wheelchair for close to 5 years.   It is always good to visit him.  Our connection goes back so far that when we visit each other old memories start flowing.  Both of us have changed a lot since we were kids, but in a lot of ways we are still the same.   Both of us have had our ups and downs, but life has treated him more severely than me to this point.  Hey, if you add up the good times and subtract the bad times we still come out winners.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

My next project will be overhauling the carburetor on my lawn tractor, affectionately known around here as “Big Red”.  Big Red is a 1974 Wheel Horse.  I have owned it about 10 years and, up to this point, has never given me a minute of trouble.  But now, it is having trouble breathing properly.  It continually wants to stop and rest and, on close inspection, has revealed that its throat is sore and needs attention.  If I am unable to fix it, out comes the old wallet again and a new carburetor will probably be the cure.  Can’t complain, everything wears out sooner or later, heck, look at me.

Our local high school football team (Poquoson) made it to the post season playoffs.   They defeated the #1 seed last week and advance to play a team about two hours away (Brunswick).  I am seriously considering heading off to the game, scheduled to start at 1:30 pm on Saturday.  It has been a very long time since I attended a high school football game.  I’m looking forward to it.  Heck, I think I’m going !

Tomorrow, Jerilyn and I will be eating Thanksgiving Dinner with her youngest son (Mark) and his family.  Her other son, Dean and his family, are spending their TG weekend visiting relatives in NC.  Mark & Rachel invited my son (Rusty) and my daughter (Debby) for dinner, but they had other plans.  I’m hoping to get up with them this weekend and spend some time together.  Before I retired I used to look forward to the 4 day weekend during TG.  Now, I have a 7 day weekend.  Ain’t life great!

I had the opportunity to visit a friend the other day that I have not seen in 35 years.  She is 70 now.  I would not have recognized her and she did not recognize me.  I walked into her home, escorted by her son, and say “Bea, do you know who I am?”.  With a puzzled look, she says “no”.   Now, I see my mug in the mirror every morning.  I think my face is the same as it has always been, just with more etching(character lines I like to call it).  Bea clearly had no clue as to my identity.  “I’m Tommy Hale”, says I.  She quickly corrects me, “Tommy Joe, is that you?”   Unknown to her I dropped the “Joe” years ago.  Seems, only mountaineers use their middle name.  Folks around here never use their middle name, so I dropped mine.  If someone calls me Tommy Joe, I immediately know where they are from.   I also know they know more about me then they should.  Anyway, Bea and I had a wonderful reunion.  It is always good to see an old friend.

I hope you’re enjoying whatever season it is in your part of the world.  Happy Thanksgiving!



“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

Mark Twain



My Washington Redskins

Several weeks ago, we were at the Poquoson Seafood Festival and I spotted a guy in his 30’s, wearing a T-shirt, and sporting tattoos all over his body.  By his side was a female companion with just as many.  Years ago, the only people with tattoos were those in the military, mostly GI’s and sailors.   Today, it seems as if everyone under 30 has one.  Some are tastefully done, a small design around the ankles, or one on the shoulder blade.   Most of these are worn by females.  Our males seem to be more aggressive with theirs, almost always, wearing them in a prominent place, to be seen by all.  Girls, it seems to me, wear them as body decoration.   Guys, on the other hand, are making a statement.   Personally, I see no harm in them, but, like anything done excessively, tattoos all over your body seems to be over the edge.  Years ago I hired a young black fellow.  By the end of his second week he was sporting an earring.   “Randy”, I say to him, “when I hired you, you weren’t wearing an earring”.  He looked at me and smiled, “I knew you wouldn’t hire me” he says.   Today earrings are worn by many men and we think nothing of it.   My, how times have changed.

Well, the saga of the garage door opener continues.  I am almost finished with the installation that was started more than a week ago.  Last week I had the Opener in place, plugged it in and pushed the button to raise the door.  Nothing!  Several pushes later I realized this thing wasn’t working.  After a lot of analyzing, I determined the unit was not processing the electricity it received.  A call was made to Sears and in a few days one of their installers came out to assess the situation.   “Well”, says she, “it looks like it has dropped, one of the boards inside is crushed”.   This is when I pointed to the box and showed her that it had been returned to the store by someone else.   I think that when she glanced around the garage and noticed all the Craftsman/Sears tools, she decided they did not want to lose a good customer by accusing me of dropping the unit.  Plus, she could not deny the unit had been returned by someone else.  The new unit is now installed and working properly.  I still have to figure out how to get the two remotes working properly.

I just finished spreading lime and fertilizer on our yard.   The grass seed I sowed in early September has not done well due to very little rain.  We received a good dose of rain yesterday (almost an inch), so everything should be soaked in and doing what it is suppose to do (make the grass grow and be very green).   It is also approaching the time of the year when I should take the boat out of the water and stow it for the winter.  I noticed that my friend Dick, who lives down the channel from us, removed his the other day.  Whenever he removes his, I know it is time for me to do the same.  I used my boat 3 times this past summer.   Not much, but I plan on using it more next summer.

My Washington Redskins have not been doing well as of late and this Sunday they play the Dallas Cowboys (Dallas is my 2nd favorite team).  My son is a Cowboy fan, having been born in Dallas, and so Sunday will be an exciting day for both of us, more for him then me, I suspect.   Jerilyn’s daughter-in-law, Kathy, is a Cowboy fan also.  If my ‘Skins lose I am in for a lot of harassment.  If they win, my strut will be very pronounced.  Sports can add a lot of flavor to our lives.  It gives us something we can share with friends & family.  We all need, in my opinion, something or someone to “root” for.   It takes us away from our daily lives and entertains us.  Humans have been entertained by sporting events for hundreds of years.   That is even more so today.  We can watch a sporting event 24 hours a day.  Athletes are some of the best paid people in America.  Some of the salaries they receive are outrageous.   I have to locate my envy button and turn it off.

Our local newspaper has been carrying the flap about a $12 million donation to William & Mary University being revoked by a high school chum of mine (Jim McGlothin).   Seems, Jim is upset because a cross was moved from its long held position to one less conspicuous.  I knew Jim quite well as a high school student and although he went to church regularly, he was not overly religious.   With a little research, I was able to discern that he is probably worth in excess of $800 million.  I may be wrong here, but I suspect you cannot accumulate that much moolah without doing a lot of unchristian things.  So, why be concerned about a cross placement at your alma mater?  I suspect it has more to do about power than the placement of the cross.  I believe that once you make a commitment, you should follow through with it.  If you are unhappy with something, express your disappointment, but follow through with your commitment.  It is a shame that all the good that could be accomplished by a donation that size to W&M University is lost.  I have seen Jim once since our high school days.  He has attended a few of our reunions, but, I was always absent at those (unintentionally).  Were he to ask my advice, I would suggest he renew his pledge and work with the school board to resolve his concerns, all the while understanding that his will may not prevail.  But, $12 million is a big club and entitles you to be a bully I guess.

For the last few days I have had a pain in the center of my heel on my left foot.  The pain last for about 30 seconds, goes away completely for 3-4 minutes and then returns.  It started Wednesday morning and finally subsided this morning.   It hurt whether I was standing, sitting, or sleeping.  The pain was not severe, but I definitely knew it was there.   I just hope it does not return.  I have no idea what caused it.  Maybe, I’m being punished for unspecified wrongs.   If so, I hope the punishment is over.

I hope you’re enjoying  whatever season it is in your part of the world



“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

Mark Twain



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