Friday, March 30, 2007

365 Equals a Year of Blogging.

I had an interesting announcement on the 1st anniversary of me being a blogger - my younger brother announced he has quit smoking. Or, as he put it "Smoking for 50 years and what do I get? A stroke."

Apparently it is a "minor stroke" - sort of a warning - so he said he and his wife were quitting .... cold turkey.

Of course, I have not heard her say anything about quitting yet. They were the only reason I had an ashtray at my house and it was out on the deck.

Good luck and good health!

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Friday, March 23, 2007

What's the exchange rate for a Euro Dollar?

It was a lot of fun and nostalgia as I remembered how I made a replica dollhouse MANY, MANY years ago back in Missouri.

My daughter was 8 then and her 33 birthday comes up next month.

One reader of my blog lives near Amsterdam in the Netherlands and she requested a copy of the "How-To" booklet I had produced 25 years ago. She is opening a shop featuring dollhouses and miniatures and thought my views would be beneficial.

I found the original artwork, scanned it into my computer - changing the address to reflect where I live now - and sent it to her. On the front it says the price is $10.

She e-mailed back to say it arrived and was a fun read and very helpful. She added that her country, along with 11 others, now uses Euro dollars and she would send me the equivelent of $10 USD.

My first international sale and I have no idea how much I will receive.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Building a SMALL house... really, really small.

When I lived in Jeff City, the capital of Missouri, I purchased a really fine looking home. It had slopes and angles and odd parts jutting out. An interesting house that caught your eye.

So I decided to build a replica dollhouse for my daughter.

I did research and found that while dollhouses were very popular, nobody had suggestions on building a copy of your actual home.

There's also a reason why the "standard" for miniatures is 1 foot = 1 inch. Odd sizes creates odd problems and ALL accessories are built to that proportion. Well, I know that now.
Measuring the height and the width of the front and sides, I had an idea of the general mass involved then adjusted all the figures down to a structure my 8-year old could physically move around and play with for years and years.

The finished product turned out pretty good.

Neighbors came over when I was taking pictures with my daughter and her friend out in front of the real house. Painting it a similar brick red and duplicating the shape and window placement made it work well as a copy.

I even sat down with an artist buddy of mine and produced a step-by-step brochure so others could do their own replica house but avoid all the mistakes I made... such as NOT using the accepted standard sizes.

Oddly enough, the DIY folder happened to turn out as a 12 Step Program approach.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

It was ALMOST invisible ...

See, I was living in Tallahassee, Florida and it was a nice looking house, except when you saw the big, black trash can sitting in the bushes by the gate. All week long it just sat there until garbage pickup day when you rolled it down to the curb.

All the neighbors had these large black trash cans too of course. Nice subdivision with probably 6 different patterns of houses and all the little changes here and there to make it appear more varied than they were. Different materials, some stucco, some brick, some wood.

Big UGLY trash can though. Caught your eye as you walked by. It really bothered me.

So one day while I was in my garage/workshop (the cars were always parked in the driveway) I was moving around my collection of $1 cans of spray paint that I had collected over the years and, in one hand I was holding green, the other was brown and I had an inspiration.

My then-wife thought it was dumb. Our 15-year old daughter didn't share her thoughts with her parents anymore. The City of Tallahassee had an immediate reaction.

That evening when I came home, there was a new big black trash can sitting at the curb. There was no charge for the new one.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Skipping the 30th Bridge Run

Life is all about decisions.

There are 13 colorful runners numbers hanging on my wall. I have done the Cooper River Bridge Run (actually the Walk) once over the old 2-lane Grace bridge and many times over the 3-lane Perlman.

I have my badge from the walk over the LAST time on the old one and the FIRST walk on the new Ravenel. So now, it's time to do something else on that day.

And that of course means thoroughbred horse racing in Camden, SC for the 75th Carolina Cup.

There was a day in 2004 when the two events did NOT happen on the same weekend so I accepted an invitation from my cousin to drive to her city for the excitement of pounding hooves....flat racing AND steeplechase.

The "races" have quite a history and are filled with tradition. A silly comment I heard often was "I was there all day and never saw a horse." Those young drinkers missed a fun part of the day.

If you are extremely fortunate, you meet for ham biscuits and Bloody Marys then caravan to the family parking spot in the infield.

These are highly coveted prize locations and are handed down from generation to generation and appear as items of contention in nasty divorces.

You park, erect a tent and tables and open up a huge fancy meal, served on the good china and silver with bouquets of flowers for the centerpiece. Ah, The Sport of Kings!

It seems a shame that the Bridge Run and the "Cup" usually happen at the same time.

A coordinated date could mean an additional 50,000 to 70,000 people at each event.

That's a lot of shrimp.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

"Well, I haven't really READ your blog yet...."

So I get a call from a free-lance writer in New York City who's working on a magazine article about older people using computers.

The editors of a national publication had received my story suggestion and it meshed with their thoughts on doing something about high tech 21st century senior citizens and here we were, talking back and forth on a Monday morning. I was being interviewed.

I told her it was about a year ago that I started my blog. Then I explained that "blog" is short for a web log and I post it on the internet.

"It's like writing a diary," I said, "but many people have the key to open it and read all that you want to include."

She asked what I wrote about and I said I was re-living some of the best years of my life through stories and old pictures. Days as a Marine Corps photographer, college and being a newspaperman in San Diego. The 1960s mainly.

We talked for a while and I asked if she had received all the material I had sent and if she had taken a look at my blog?

She said her computer had crashed over the weekend but she planned to get it up and running and then she would look at the 75 postings I had done since March of 2006. I asked when she had last backed up her files. There was a long silence.

As a helpful senior citizen with a computer, I mentioned that I back up my files about every 2-3 months.

Then I told her I knew how to land the Goodyear blimp in an emergency.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

"Have a good day, Guv"

Back in the 1970s when I was the Director of Tourism for the state of Missouri, I got a call on a Friday afternoon from the Governor's office.

They were calling to see if I could substitute for the Governor the next day as Parade Marshall during a Parade Of Boats on Lake of the Ozarks, about an hour drive south of Jeff City, the capital.

"Sure," I said and asked "would it be OK to bring my family along for a sunny day on the water?" "Of course," they responded then asked me to be sure to wear a dark blue blazer and gray slacks. Wow, there's a dress code even for the Governor.

Monday, back at the office I heard unofficially that there had been a death threat called in against the Governor on Friday.

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