Current Project

  • Currently I am editing my book! I look forward to having it published!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Things are Looking up!

Well I took a trip to Rio Rancho, NM for a job interview. My brother lives there and he had a lead on a job where he works. I went and interviewed, but the job just wasn't for me. Then I get a call from Siemens Health Care.

Two phone interviews later I am scheduled for a Face to Face the week of the 17th! Looking very promising. Then my wife finds someone to lease our house! How cool is that!

I came home have been packing for three days now. My brother is on the way as I write and is bringing his trailer. We are going to load it full and take it back on Sunday, then return for Suzy's graduation on the 21st and then rent a UHaul to take the remaining stuff to NM.

My brother and his wife are letting us stay with them, saving us rent and utilities until we get back on our feet. You got to love family that acts like family! My dad is helping out too by paying for our medical COBRA until we get benefits with a new job.

All in all things are looking up. Thanks to all who have been helping out with support and encouragement.

Just one last note. I finished my book! I am in the process of final edit and then the process of finding a publisher begins.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lost my Job and other TibBits

Well after working for Diebold for three years I was fired after a Bank manager from US Bank filed a complaint against me. She lied and said that I grabbed a teller and some other bullshit that does not bear repeating. At any rate, they canned me and now I am looking for work. I applied for UI and got it, thank God, and I just put in for Food Stamps.

I have been looking for a job now for over a month, but no one is hiring. Well enough of that bull, on to something a bit more upbeat.

I am writing a book! Yes, after it's first conception over twenty five years ago, I have finally started to write a book. I came up with the idea while stationed in Okinawa back in 1984. I wrote an outline back then but that is as far as it got. After I lost my job I sat down and wrote another outline then just started to write.

I am on chapter 36 now and it is going well. I have taken a week off of writing to concentrate on getting a job but will return to writing this weekend. My best friend Keith is reading it as I write as is my mother-in-law. They both love it and beg for more chapters. ;)

I have tentatively titled it "The Voyage" and hope to have it finished by this summer. So, keep an eye out for more post on it.


Monday, February 8, 2010

EBay Feedback.....What is the Deal?!?!

Now tell me if I am way off base here.

I buy something from EBay and I pay with Paypal with 30 minuets. Should I not expect positive feedback right away? Should I have to wait until I post feedback for the seller before I get my feedback? I say NO, as resounding NO!

I call it "Holding my Feedback Hostage". They will not post you positive feedback as a buyer until you leave positive for them, they are in essence refusing you your rightful Positive Feedback until they see what you give them. Their product may be broken, not as described, wrong item or very slow shipping, but if you want you positive feedback you must post positive for them or they will give you nothing.

Right now I have about thirty paid for auctions, all paid for right away, but I only have feedback for about nine of them. This is total bullshit.

Today I had a seller send me a request for positive feedback on a item I paid for on the 29th of January. He has still not left me feedback, so this is what I sent to him.

"Well let me see. I paid on the 29th of Jan and you have still not left me feedback. I paid you promptly, so you should have left positive feedback, you did not. So why the hell are you asking for feedback from me? I am not sure I understand. I would have left you positive feedback as you shipped very promptly, buy not receiving feedback from you has left me sour."

I hope that he will get he point here. If I pay quickly, I should get positive feedback right away, and if I do not, you will get Negative or none from me.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

It's My Eighth Wedding Anniversery

Eight years ago I married a young women, the sister of a friend of mine. She was going through a divorce and I was looking for a wife, funny how that works. I saw her hang around with my friend and when I asked about her he offered to hook me up with her. A few dozen dates and a divorce later we were married on February, 2nd 2002. Yes, 02/02/02, she has a thing for numbers.

I was almost forty and did not know what to expect as I had be single most of my life. A few girlfriends here and there, but nothing serious. Now I was married and had a kid on the way. I was blessed and did not know what I had done to deserve it.

Now eight years later, we are still going strong. It is weird, we seem to compliment each other. I will be thinking of something and she will ask about it. Like she was reading my mind. They say there is a soul mate out there for each of us, I was lucky to find mine.

So here is to Suzy, my loving wife. I look to many, many more years to come.

Thank You.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Do you know what TEOTWAWKI is?

TEOTWAWKI - The End Of The World As We Know It. This is an acronym that I recently discovered. It means what life is going to be like after a major disaster, man made or otherwise. With 2012 coming and the world the way it is I have looked into perhaps preparing for the worst. I am not talking about building a fallout shelter in the middle of nowhere, but perhaps just being cautious and having things ready in case we should need to leave town quickly.

So I have started to put together what is commonly referred to as a Bug Out Bag, or Get Out of Town Bag. It has simple items in it that you would not commonly think of as survival gear. Warm dry clothes, personal hygiene products, food and most important WATER! It will also have medical supplies and some other survival gear and it will all fit in a small backpack, sitting in the garage, ready to be grabbed and tossed into the back of the car and off you go.

It is a little piece of mind, nothing too radical. I have heard of a lot of folks starting to do this. It is simple and when you need to leave in a hurry you do not want to be running around the house looking for stuff. Another way to do it is to get a large trash can, like one you might have in the garage and fill it with the stuff you might need for a family of four for 96 hours. You could also do it with 3 or 4 five gallon buckets with lids. This way each family member can grab their can and get going.

I may go as far as setting up four individual buckets for each of us and one backpack with the common stuff, IE survival gear and medical supplies. You can find out more by Googling Bug out Bags.

I hope it does not come to it, but I for one will sleep better knowing we have the means to get out of town quick if something should go wrong. I have heard it said that civilization hangs by a thread at all times. We can see that this is true and you only have to look at what happened in New Orleans. One disaster and it was total anarchy, every man for himself, with reports of Police even abandoning their jobs to save themselves. You will not be able to count on anyone but yourself so be prepared, you will be the one responsible for protecting your family.

Another thing to think about is your health. I mean right now. How are your teeth? You should make sure to go to the dentist and get your teeth in good health. There will be a serious shortage of Dentist if things fall apart and a tooth ache is the last thing you need. Also, any elective surgery you have been planning, get it done.

So set yourself up a BOB and tuck it way, you could even make a smaller one for your vehicle and that way if you get stranded on the highway you have some stuff to keep you occupied until you get rescued.

Here are some link to get you started.


and a list of good items to collect.

Basic Bug Out Bag/Kit

Packing it:
* Large hip bag or fanny pack

* Flash cards or small booklet (purchased from local bookstore)
* (Tom Brown's books of Survival are good, though too big for this smallest of the kits.)

Environmental Protection
* Space blanket
* Hand warmer packs

* Stored
^ 1 or 2 Qt. canteen. (I like the canteen, since it lets me use the water as needed for non
emergencies, and that trains me to keep it in the car.)
^ You can buy retorts of water (like juice boxes) if desired.
* Carried/found - baggies 1Qt. size
* Purified - iodide tablets

* Stored
^ Soup packets or bullion cubes (Herb Ox brand is best!)
^ Coffee packets with sugar packets.
^ A salt and pepper packet is nice too.
* Gathered
^ Folding can opener
^ Small fish kit (Hand line, 2 swivels, 2 sinkers, 2 hooks)
^ Snare wire
* Preparing
^ Sierra Club stainless steel cup, fork, spoon

Fire Making
* Bic lighter
* Fresnel lens
* Waterproof matches
* Hexamine tablets and maybe a stove

* AA flashlight w/ spare bulb (Maglight) or candle

Health and First Aid
* Minor Kit (purchase) Band-Aids, aspirin, smelling salts
* Bug repellent
* Lip balm - find some that doesn't melt
* Sunscreen

* Mirror
* Whistle
* (see also: Fire making and Light)

* Compass - small keyring type
* Local map

Social Survival
* Coins and Bills ($1 coins/ $20 bills)
* Ammunition (one or two 50 round boxes for trade, money may have no value)
* Pen and paper, waterproof
* Swiss Army Knife {for scissors and corkscrew}

Cleaning Up and Sanitation
* Toothbrush
* Small hotel type soap
* Condoms +/or Tampons

* Miniature Bible or cards or dice

General Tools
* Swiss army knife (Captains)
* Cordage
^ Dental floss
^ String - Use fish line
^ Cord - 20 ft. 1/8" nylon
^ Wire - small spool
^ Sewing kit - hotel type
* Screwdriver disk
* Aluminum foil 1ft/sq
* Hacksaw blade - short
* Bobby Pins
* Safety pins
* Fingernail clippers
* Red Bandanna
* Rubber bands
* Nails
* Cup hooks
* Small file
* Super glue +/or epoxy, small
* Tape

Carry Also
* Clothes, lots of them
* Money
* Water
* Food
* Cell phone, CB radio and/or Emergency Location Transmitter (ELT)
* Duct tape
* Flares and/or strobe
* Larger flashlight
* Any personal medications & glasses

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dying Young and Those Left Behind

First of all, I am not dying. I just had my well visit and everything is good to go.

I know a this guy. He is rich, has a great job, big house, two cars, pretty wife and two kids. But he works all the time and spends his off time doing his hobby, refereeing soccer games at the international level. He seems to have what most would call a great life and now he is dying of cancer. He is around 42 years old and his children are seven and three.

Now he is where I was 5 years ago roughly, and that is when I made the decision to leave my job and the big city to spend more time with my family. He does not get that choice, he will be dead by my birthday and his children will grow up without a Dad. That kills me. It makes you think about the choices we make in life. Do we work all the time to support our family and never see them, or do we take a lesser job and spend more time with the kids. I chose the latter and I think my life is better for it.

The other thing I have done is ensure that I have enough life insurance to pay the mortgage and all the bills. I would hate to think of me dying and leaving my family in a tight spot. Suzy is finishing her degree so that she can get a job if she needs to. What I am trying to say is hope for the best, plan for the worst and play with your kids like you are going to die next month. Leave them with a memory of you that will last them a lifetime.

This man's diagnosis has reaffirmed my resolve that my children will know that their Daddy loved them and that he was there for them when they needed it. In addition, I am going to record myself reading a few of my favorite books, just in case. I have had several friends tell me one of the big regrets they have about relative that have past is that they do not have voice recordings of them. One even told me he kept on paying his wife cell phone bill just so he could hear her recording. That is very sad. I will not make these mistakes and I am planing also to do some videos too.

Dying young sucks.

A Turning Point in the Madness

Last night a Republican won the Senate seat in Massachusetts, something that has not happened in over 46 years! The Dems thought it was "in the bag" and when it started to go downhill for them, they started the blame game immediately. The Dems on Capital Hill blamed Coakley, She blames them, and this all started before the results were final. As the news has reported....

Massachusetts Senate race results: Obama's signal that all is changed

Scott Brown did the impossible and this is a resounding signal to the Dems that America does not want their brand of Socialism. I, for one, am jumping for joy, as is most of America, the America that is, that holds the Constitution, Bill of Rights and Our Founding Fathers sacred.

The Liberal Left in this country fooled the youth and independents into voting for them stating that they were "Change", now they see that this kind of change is bad, very bad and they are speaking up by voting out the Dems. 2010 will be a year of reckoning for the DNC and a strong message to Mr. Obama that we do not wish to become just another Socialist member of the European Union.

Let us all stand up and let them hear our voices loud and clear at the polls, NOT one more step will we fall back! No longer will we allow them to take our Liberties one small piece at a time until all our freedoms are gone, and just a memory, something our grandchildren will read about in a book, an illegal book at that.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dogged out by the Wife......Harsh

Well on my way home for a job I passed the KFC and thought, man that would be good for lunch. But being responsible fiscally I decided against it. When I got home my wife tells me, I could really go for some KFC. Now she never goes in for fast food, for her it is a once every month thing, maybe. So I think maybe she is going to tell me to go get some, but no, she say no more.

Later she asks if I would like some left over chicken and dumplings warmed up for lunch. This was not the what I really wanted, but I said OK. She calls me over and hands me a plate of food that looked like a dog had yaked it up. I sit down and start to eat and she joins me when I am almost done. She starts to comment, "It doesn't look like it warmed up too good." I tell her that is seems to have lost something in the translation. She tastes her's and then pushes it away. She gets up and dumps her's in the trash! She let me eat mine! Here is the evidence....

Then she tells me, full stomach of mush, that she is going to KFC to get some chicken. I am floored! I tell her, "What's the deal, make me eat the crap and then you go get yummy KFC?!" She smiled sheepishly and then asks me if she should get original or extra crispy.

To her credit, Suzy arrived home a few minuets later with a BUCKET of KFC, so I at least get to have that wonderful, crispy, yummy KFC for dinner. I guess I will let her off the hook.....This time. ;)

Battlestar Galactica 2000

As I have stated before, one of my hobbies is Replica Prop Building. Right now I am currently working on BSG2000 props so I thought I might write something about the series.

Now I am 47, so I was around for the original BSG. At the time, it was the bomb as they say. Great special effects and good characters. But face it, by today's standards is was ridiculous. Hooker nurses and Disco aliens, by the time they go to earth they we on flying motorcycles, just too corny. Another thing was the fact that everyone in the fleet was doing OK and you never heard of food shortages or dissension among the fleet.

The new BSG is a bit different. The Cylons return with a vengeance and in a matter of hours wipe out 99 percent of humanity with nukes, very ugly. They use all of the human frailties to do it too as they have evolved to the point where they are now organic beings, flesh and blood, but still manufactured. They have 12 models and they use there human disguise to infiltrate the defense system and shut it down.

But enough of the story in detail, go watch it yourself. I would like to comment on the writing and casting. The writers really did an excellent job writing a gripping story filled with all the weakness and strengths of humanity. You have, drugs, gambling, sex, murder, revenge the whole gambit of humanities failings, but you have bravery, sacrifice, nobility and all the things that seem to redeem us in the end.

The story has high points that make you cheer the characters on and lows that have you wanting to just hold them and cry with them. In the end, it is hope and perseverance the saves what is left of mankind and they endure, despite the overwhelming odds.

I highly recommend this series to any scifi fans out there and anyone who just loves a good drama. You can root for the good guys or bad guys, and the lines blur quite a bit in this series as to who is who. So go out and rent the miniseries, this is the first disc, a four hour movie that sets things up and shows the Cylon attack. I think you will enjoy it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Let it go.......

I was recently watching Meet the Robinsons with my kids and the end song they play with the credits is "Little Wonders". I did not think much about it, but later watching the bonus features I really listened to the words, and they spoke to me. This happens once in a while with a song. I reaches me on a personal level, and later there was an interview with the writer/singer, and he told of his inspiration for the song. He was walking his dog, in a hurry, and the dog would not move. He pulled at the leash and nothing. Looking down he saw that the dog was facing into the wind, enjoying the breeze on his face as it hit him. It is the little moments that matter, living for the now. This made me think of things that have happened in our life, mostly the relationships my wife and I have with the in-laws.

What is it with in-laws? You seem to either have a great time with them or it is a total bust. The way my family is I never understood this. Even after my Mom and Dad got divorced we still got together for holidays and birthdays. They did not fight, it was all very amenable. When Suzy and I got married, my entire family took her in and made her feel at home, part of the family. My dad was not sure at first, as we had a pretty fast romance and marriage, but he still embraced his new daughter-in-law with open arms.

My experience was just a bit different. Perhaps some of this was my fault as I have pretty clear cut ideas about the whole wife/husband relationship and what it means to be married as opposed to other types of relationships, IE., mom/daughter, brother/sister, sister/sister. To start with, my wife asked that we not tell her family, except for her brother, that we were getting married. She had her reasons, the foremost was he ex and the fact that they were related, something like 3rd or 4th cousins by marriage. They were still trying to dispose of joint property and she did not want him knowing the she had just remarried as he would be vindictive, a prediction that came true in the end, but as I like to say, that is another story.

When we finally broke the news to the rest of her family, her sister, brother, aunt and grandparents were thrilled. They all made me feel welcome. Her mother was another story. She felt slighted and she let Suzy know in no uncertain term her displeasure. Suzy was in tears and I was furious. I said some things that on later reflection could have been said better and it led to a lot of bad feelings between Mom and I for the first year. We patched things up and now I have a pretty good relationship with her mom.

Then came her sister's drama. Her sister has not made great decisions in life. A high school mother, she had to give up her first child for adoption. Even though it was an open adoption and she keeps in touch with her daughter, I think it has left scars on her. Then she married her present husband. He is not the brightest bulb in the box. Not entirely his fault as he was not allowed to graduate high school by high guardians as a teenager. Then of course, he made some really bad decisions in his life. Together they have had four children, three girls and one boy.

Now I will not go into the horrid details of the huge disagreements we have had with these two, suffice to say it has been ugly, very ugly. I am all about responsibility, being a good parent, having a clean and healthy place for the kids to grow up in and most of all, putting your children first. Suzy's sisters husband is all about himself, buying cigarettes and giving money to his family when there isn't any food in the house. Not bettering himself for his families sake and getting a G.E.D., even when the opportunity was laid out for free before him. Her sister on the other hand keeps a house that is so bad that it makes me want to puke from the smell of the baby shit, dog piss and rotten food on the dirty dishes.

Suzy tried to get her sister to clean up her act and in doing so alienated herself. This has caused me no grief as I just wanted to get clear of the mess, but Suzy loves her sister and her nieces and nephew. For over two years now she has not be allow to see them or talk to them. All efforts to bridge the gap by Suzy have been met with rebukes and nasty, snide remarks. Her hateful, vindictive sister knows that the best way to hurt Suzy is to deny her access to her nieces.

So I put it out to the cosmos that Suzy's sister needs to Let it Go. Her sister loves her and loves her children. Who cares what I think? I am just the in-law and I could really care less how they live, I was just trying to help them better themselves, but HE is the master of his house, HE makes the decisions for his family. But he too needs to Let it Go.

I end this post with the lyrics from Little Wonders. A very poignant song that points out the fact that we live out our lives in the moment, not the past, and we need to get over it and get on with our lives. The moments we miss will be lost forever, like tears in rain.

let it go,
let it roll right off your shoulder
don't you know
the hardest part is over
let it in,
let your clarity define you
in the end
we will only just remember how it feels

our lives are made
in these small hours
these little wonders,
these twists & turns of fate
time falls away,
but these small hours,
these small hours still remain

let it slide,
let your troubles fall behind you
let it shine
until you feel it all around you
and I don't mind
if it's me you need to turn to
we’ll get by,
it's the heart that really matters in the end

our lives are made
in these small hours
these little wonders,
these twists & turns of fate
time falls away,
but these small hours,
these small hours still remain

all of my regret
will wash away somehow
but I cannot forget
the way I feel right now

in these small hours
these little wonders
these twists & turns of fate
these twists & turns of fate
time falls away but these small hours
these small hours, still remain,
still remain
these little wonders
these twists & turns of fate
time falls away
but these small hours
these little wonders still remain

The singer/song writers music can be found here. Rob Thomas and you can listen to the song here Little Wonders

Sunday, January 17, 2010

How I Met My Wife or My Search for Mrs. Cleaver

When I was young, I knew that I eventually wanted to get married, but being young, I wanted to first see things and play. I joined the Marines at seventeen and left on a grand adventure that took me to six continents and 18 countries around the world. During that time I learned one thing. The divorce rate in the Corps was HIGH, VERY HIGH. I decided that I would not subject a potential wife to the rigors of that life, and, I am old fashioned, I planned to marry for life.

Abruptly my life in the Corps ended with the downsizing of the Marines in 1991. After thirteen faithful years of service I found myself booted out on a Medical Discharge thanks to Uncle Bill's (Pres. Bill Clinton) decision to reduce the number of Marines from 365,000 to 185,000. This too is another story.

So I find myself a civilian again with no job and injured. I was given a huge check, a lump sum settlement, and made some hard choices. I paid off my truck, found a place to live and paid the rent for a full year, paid my utilities for the year and then sat back and had a pity party.

I drank myself into an ulcer and bitched about the unfairness of things. After I came to my senses and having only $500 left in my bank account, I sobered up, found a job and started to live again. I played, went out to the bars, met women, but just never seemed to find the right girl. I would tell my friends, "I am looking for June Cleaver's daughter", they all told me the same thing, "She don't exist". I then joined up with my 501st friends and then one day I noticed this girl with one of my friends. I had just convinced him to join the 501st and was making him a costume.

He and I had known each other for around eight years. We had met during my war gaming years and had become good friends, but had drifted apart when he had gotten married to a very controlling wife. After his divorce, we hooked back up again and as I said, I had convinced him to join me in my Star Wars group and one day I see this girl with him. I asked who she was and was intrigued when I found out that it was his older sister.

Now I had met her about five years before when she was visiting her brother and he had come over for some reason or another. We had spoke briefly and I had given her a gift of some homemade candles that I had laying around my apartment. I really did not give it another thought as she was married at the time. Now she had returned, and she had just left her husband. I asked some more questions about her and he said, "Do you want me to hook you up with her?"

I didn't know what to say, "Sure", I told him and we arranged a dinner with the three of us. I was very nervous. I wanted to leave a good impression, so I cooked a grand meal. Steak with all the trimmings. They arrived and the meal went very well and while talking afterwords she told me she still had the candles I had given her all those years ago. I couldn't believe it. That one small act of kindness and she had remembered and kept them all this time. I knew there was something here. We started to date and the more I learned about her, the more I knew that she was the girl I had been looking for all those years. She cooked, sewed, quilted, cleaned, wanted to be a stay at home mom and she wanted children.

I had found June Cleavers daughter! I kicked my game into high gear and we dated intensely from October till January. Her divorce was finally complete the first week of January and I knew it was time to make my move. I told her that I wanted to make her my wife and to my surprise she said she would have to think about it. I was floored.

Thankfully, her brother came to the rescue. She had gone to him and told him she just wasn't sure she should get married to me, he told her this. "Your right, all Tom would do is give you a House with a white picket fence and a family, let me hook you up with some of my other friends who will beat you and cheat on you." Well that seemed to do the trick and she finally relented. I also found out later that she was concerned about our age difference as I am eleven years older, but that has not been a problem at all.

We were married on February 2nd, 2002. Yes that is right, 020202, my wife has a thing for numbers. Needless to say, there were some interesting times at the beginning of our marriage, her mom and I did not hit it off and her former husband's family was convinced that she had been cheating with me for years, but we worked it all out and now things are running smooth.

Frank was born October 1st, 2002 or 10012002, and Jack came along January 31, 2005. Suzy and I have been married now for eight years this February and I see no end in sight, which is a good thing. We mesh well and I am finally getting her to lighten up some and enjoy life, something I am really good at and she is helping me to be a nicer person, something she is really good at.

I look forward to living out my life with Suzy and raising my young ones. But sometimes I think about it and say to myself, "Your 47 with a four year old and a seven year old, are you out of your mind!?!" Then Jack or Frank will come in and say they want to play and I forget what I was thinking and start playing with my then and become a kid again.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Some Thoughs of Health Care

Two years ago in October Frank got what appeared to be a spider bite on his face. This infection would not go away and was misdiagnosed by the local witch doctors, who completely bungled the job of testing for what type of infection and just kept throwing general antibiotics at it. They all failed, finally in desperation we drove four hours to Salt Lake City and they tested it and said, "Well it is a MRSA infection and we need to knock it down and find the source of the infection.

After a rigorours round of serious antibiotics they operated the day after Christmas and pulled a infected wire (from a previous operation) and some infected bone out and then we had the joy of a PICC line Vancomyicin for 2 week and then 6 weeks of Zyvox. All said and done with our wonderful insurance we were out about $30,000. The Meds alone were over $14,000 our cost. So our insurance sucks, that is the long and the short of it.

Now Mr. Obama and his Socialist regime, for that is what they are plain and simple, want to take over the health care system and let the Government run things. This just scares the living shit out of me. I have experienced Government health care first hand, and I am here to tell you that free does not mean better.

I broke my elbow while in the Marines and went to the military hospital. When I got to the emergency room I was told to sit and wait. They had me sit there for five hours while they took care of sick dependent kids and other minor cases. Several time I approached the orderly and told them that I was in extreme pain and had a broken arm. They just told me to sit and wait and they would decide if I had a broken arm.

Finally after waiting another two hours I had had enough and called a cab. I was going to a civilian hospital and would just pay to have my arm fixed. The taxi arrived and he came in and called my name. I stood up and started to leave and a nurse and doctor came running over. "Where do you think you are going!?" I told them that I was going to seek proper medical care. They immediately decided to take me to a treatment room and look at me. Well another four hours later my arm was in a cast and I was well drugged. But it took them a total of just under TWELVE hours to do it and I was in terrible pain for most of it.

When you are not paying for your care, you get the care THEY decide you get and only when they think they are going to get negative press do they jump to help you. I have read horror stories about the rationing the goes on in Canada and the UK. They claim that this will not happen in the US, but they are already greasing the skids. Just look at their recommendations on mammograms.

If they get their way and take over the Health Care System, thousands will die from neglect or just plain refusal of treatment due to cost. I fear not only for my family, but for myself. I am closing in on 48 and soon I will not be profitable to the govenment to treat if I get cancer or some other high cost medical problem. It is as simple as that, they will look at how old you are, how much your care is going to be and at a certain point you will be written off, "counseled" to go to a hospice to die.

I also think about Frank's little incident and how we might have been waiting months to get the tests we needed and by then it would have been too late, the MRSA would have spread to his brain and that would have been it.

The government is NOT your friend in this. They seek to control the population through the control of the Health Care System. DO NOT let them or you will have no one to blame but yourself.

Friday, January 15, 2010

My Alter Ego, Darth Vader

PhoenixVader in costume

Ever since I was a kid and saw the original Star Wars movie (Episode IV, A New Hope) way back in 1979, I wanted to be Darth Vader. He was The Man, he had the power and he let no one get in his way. But back then there was just no way.

The years passed, I forgot about Darth for awhile, graduated high school, joined the Marines and left home. 13 years later, I returned from the Corps and found a job and settled down to a comfortable life. I worked my way up until I made good money and spent it on all the things that I wanted. Buying toys for myself became a habit and one day I decided that I should try to finally make that childhood dream a reality.

While starting my search I also was going through a phase in my life where I was wondering what it was all about. I had no wife, no children and at the time no girlfriend. I hung out with my friends, drank too much and played all the time. I started to look into Big Brothers.

Back to my search for Darth Vader. I was on the Galaxy Trader website and there was a banner at the top. They were looking for people with Star Wars costumes to do a charity event in North Phoenix. I thought, this would be a good thing to do, so I called the number listed and got in contact with the East Valley Arts for Children. They were doing a fund raiser and boy what a deal that was. A $1,000 a plate dinner. All the local mayors an other big wigs would be there.

I gathered up my costume parts and went to talk to them. When I arrived they asked me to wait in the lobby of the hotel. I sat there, my Vader helmet and Chest armor that I had brought to show them sitting on a table. Two young men walk up and the one starts freaking out....

"A Vader, we have a Vader in Phoenix!" He kept on and on about it, I thought he might be crazy (I later found that he was, but in a good way). I also found out that they were both members of a group called the 501st. A group of great guys and gals that all had one thing in common, they had good quality Star Wars costumes. Most of them were Stormtroopers. They actually had plastic armor molded from the armor used in the films. They looked awesome. But these two were the only ones in Phoenix. Now they had a Vader and they promptly had me join the 501st.

At the time I was only the 2nd or 3rd Vader to join. The costume was VERY expensive to get together, around $3,000, compared to the Stormtroopers which was about $1,000. So, I was a bit of a celebrity, flanked by my two Stormtroopers we marched around at several events. Mostly dealing with kids charity and such. We started to have a ton of fun. But I thought that something was still missing. I loved the way children reacted to my costume, awe and wonder in there eyes. I actively started to search out events we could do for charity with kids. Along the way we picked up new members and soon we were 10 strong.

Chicks dig the dome. Working the line at the premiere of Attack of the Clones

The DSSD was born (The Dune Sea Sniper Detachment). According to the bylaws of the 501st, we did not have enough members to start a full Garrison, so we were a detachment of the Denver Garrison. One of our members became obsessed with getting our own Garrison status and actively started to recruit members. We helped them get armor or a good Star Wars costume and before we new it we had 20 members and the Dune Sea Garrison was born!

We now had a Boba Fett, Imperial Officers, a platoon of Stormtroopers and Vader. We started to do events where we collected toys, these were donated to the Marines for their Toys for Tots program, and boy were we successful! We gather thousands of toys each year. Then, after going to Star Wars Celebration II, where we went to the Riley Children's Hospital and visited some really sick children I had the defining moment of my life.

The DSG at the 2005 MS Walk

We had just finished up and were leaving when a nurse came to me and said that there was a child that wanted to meet me. She had missed the event as she was getting her chemotherapy treatment. I followed the nurse and there in a Radio Flyer wagon sat a small girl, no more that 6 years old. She had several I.V.s in her arms and she was wrapped in a blanket. I knelt down and she took my hand. I looked down and she had a Vader figure in her other had. She looked up a me and said, "I just wanted to hold your hand." I wept silently, holding her hand, grateful that I had my helmet on so that she could not see her Vader cry. I stayed there until she let go of my hand and then she was gone.

I will never forget the look in that girl's eyes. We never met again, but she changed my life that day. I devoted myself to charity for kids. When we got back to Phoenix, the Dune Sea Garrison, well known in the 501st as a party garrison changed it's way. We still had fun, but twice a month we did some charity work. Visited the local hospitals, collected toys, went to homes for mentally challenged kids, The Works. We were a busy group of guys and gals and we swelled our ranks to over 50 members.

Sadly, my choice to move to Wyoming caused me to leave the Garrison that I had helped build, but I believe I left it in good hands and they continue to do great works of charity. I even got my 15 minuets of fame as they say and was a credited actor in a documentary on the 501st called "Heart of an Empire" where I spoke on film.

I have only donned my Vader three times since coming to Wyoming. Twice for Halloween and once for a charity event for Big Brother and Sisters. There is only one other member of the 501st in the state and he is a Vader too up in Cheyenne.

Even though I do not were my costume much any more, Vader will always be a part of me now, but not the villain from the movie, but a gentle giant, breathing noisily, kneeling down to hold the hand of some child that needs it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Home Schooling or Public School (Otherwise Know as Zombie College)

We home schooled Frank for preschool and kindergarten, but for first grade we talked with Frank and he wanted to try public school. We didn't really want to, but as it was his education, we decided to let him make a decision.

We jumped through the hoops and finally got him enrolled in one of the local schools and all was well. Then after a couple months he start crying every morning, "I don't want to go to school" "It's boring me to death". So we scheduled a meeting with his teacher. After speaking with her we thought things might be OK, but Frank still persisted in his crying each morning, not wanting to go to school.

I for one could not understand this as I loved going to school. Meeting friends, learning stuff. Well after talking to Frank and going to his school and checking things out this is what I have gleaned.

Public school has changed. A lot. Massively. We used to go to school, sit in ONE classroom and learn from one teacher. We went to recess a couple times a day, had a full half hour for lunch, which we ate in the classroom. PE, Art, Music, Library were all taught by one teacher and in one classroom. They encouraged us to run an make noise at recess and when the bell rang, we were out of there, running to the play ground or for home at the end of the day.

Now Frank's school is a bit different. They show up and wait for the bell, but wait, it's not a bell, but a soft bonging. The first day of school I did not even hear it. But the kids all lined up by class and waited for the teacher. This is when they held role call. If you are not there at this time, you are marked absent for half a day. HALF A DAY! Even if you are 1 minute late! This is ridiculous. We would just get a swat from the teacher. Next they march in single file to there class rooms and then take off there cold gear and hang it up and go to class.

Now I have not had the pleasure of seeing first hand what they do after that, but from the reports from Frank and his Mom, they go from place to place having different class, PE in one room, Art in another, Music in another. Different teachers, different rooms. Each time they line up, have to shut up and march from place to place.

Lunch is in the cafeteria. Now they have to line up again, march to lunch, get there meal, sit at a specific table. By the time all this happens half of their limited lunch time is over. Then they have to wolf their food down in 10 minuets before they have to line up again and march back to their class room. The whole time the have to be quite. Every day Frank returns home with half of his lunch still in the box. We have started to give him only 2 or 3 crackers, half a sandwich and a small portion of fruit and he still brings stuff home.

When I go to pick Frank up after school they march out in single file, by class, led by their teachers. It is just crazy. They are teaching our kids one thing, to be a zombie.

Frank's home work is another thing. It is practically non-existent. And when he does bring home something, it is only 3 or 4 questions. When we home schooled he had 3 or 4 pages of home work each night. I had Frank bring in some extra home work that I had him do and show it to the teacher. She didn't even look at it, just grunted and moved on. If she does not care about my son's education, then who will? One of the other 5 or 6 teachers or "Paraproffessionals" as they are called, basically teachers aids.

They had a fire drill the other day and it was remarked in the newspaper that the ratio of adult to child at this school was 5 student to every adult! This is ridiculous.

Another thing that Frank was complaining about is the fact that unless the outside temperature is BELOW Zero, then they are required to go outside for recess. I am sorry, I don't like going outside when it is below 30, but they thrust these K thru 4th graders outside when the temperature is 2 degrees and they freeze for 15 min two times a day in the winter. This is just crazy!

We finally talked it out, my wife and I, and we have decided to pull Frank out before he looses all self will and identity or he freezes to death. We are going to home school him again and I know for a fact that we can do a much better job of it. Thank God Wyoming is one state that fosters the home schooling process. Our letters are written and will be dropped off tomorrow and Frank will have one more week of school and then he will restart his education.

One of our neighbors who home schools has kindly given us a complete curriculum for 1st and 2nd grade and I am looking it over in preparation to begin the process again. I have set Frank up for Taekwondo and Ice Skating for his PE classes and looking forward to visiting the local museum and library for field trips. Frank is thrilled and ready to dive in again. Maybe we can undo the damage that the public system has done.

I can only hope.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A little about replica movie props

What the heck are these replica movie props anyway? Well, the short of it is this. Have you ever been watching a movie and said, "Wow, that was a cool gun, wish I had one" or "look at that neat gizmo, that would be cool to have".

Well I took it to the next level. At first I had no idea what I was doing. I was a fan of the Star Wars movies and at the time I was single and making good money. My life had virtually no direction. I was trying to get together a Darth Vader costume. Not just any Vader costume. I wanted to look like I just walked off the set. I started to search the internet, finding bits and pieces here and there. Mostly Ebay, when I stumbled on the now defunct Galaxy Trader website.

He offered the chest armor, the chest box, shin guards, belt with lights, gloves and the body suit. All in one convenient location. I contacted them and ordered the lot. Found some boots and a helmet on Ebay. I was now set, but wait! I had no lightsaber. I searched and searched but nothing.

I then discovered the RPF. The Replica Props Forum. Back then it was much smaller, but had a lot of talented people. Above all, they had information. Information about what was used to make the lightsabers in the movie. I was blown away. Vaders lightsaber was a flash gun from a 50's era large format camera. You know, the ones you see in the old movies that you had to replace the flash bulb in?

Unfortuneatly, they were hard to find. I set out to make on from parts that looked like the flash. I found a template someone had made and using it and a sink tube I started. Ordered some parts from one of the members of the forum, the grips, shroud, d-ring and before I knew it, I had a lightsaber! I was thrilled. I then started to upgrade it, make it better. I found a flash on Ebay, not the correct one, but one that was real close. Before I knew it, I had a real Replica Lightsaber, that I had made.

I then joined the 501st, but that is another story. They needed props for their costumes, and before I know it, I was making Stormtrooper blasters, comlinks and all kinds of Star Wars props for my friends.

Then I started to think about the movies I loved as a kid and started to make things for myself. I would occasionally sell them to people, but mostly I did it for me. Now I make things for myself and my wife (she loves MIB, Smallville and Indiana Jones). Her collection is getting pretty nice, but mostly I do what are called Paper Props. The signage, documents, wallet contents, ID's and what not that you see in a lot of shows.

For example, I just finished making the "Sarcoma" cigarette carton and packs from the new Battlestar Galactica.

A fun little prop for my smoking friends. Just print and fold and voila, you are smoking a prop!

So, that is what I do for fun. Some people don't understand, but hey, that cool. I don't understand Monster Trucks or Stamp collecting ;). Each to his own. I do get a kick though when friends of my wife come over with their kids and I print them out a Hogwarts invite letter with list of required items. The children just look at you like you gave them something that they will treasure for a lifetime.

My Job, a Love/Hate relationship

I have a good job. Well at least it is a fair job. The pay is ok, but not what I used to make in the "Big City" There I worked in the SemiConductor biz and I made excellent pay (100k+), great benifits (health/dental/vision). Problem was that I never saw my kids when I was on my work schedule (compress work week, 3 day one week, 4 the next, 12 hours shift at night 6pm to 6am.)

When I got off my last day I would sleep till around 4pm and get up, tired. One day off wasted sleeping ;( Then the day before my cycle began, I would have to stay up all night to switch back to nights and then sleep all day my last day off, again another wasted day off. I got up at 5pm, got to spend about 10 min. with my kids before I went to work, got off at 6am only to get home around 7am with all the traffic, see my kids for about a half an hour then they went to bed to sleep all day.

So...I looked for a different job. Now mind you, we had other reason for leaving the "Big City". Crime, traffic, pollution, overcrowding, rude people. The list goes on and on. Then one vacation, we went to Wyoming to visit some of my in-laws. My God, I fell in love with Wyoming. Wide open spaces, no pollution, polite people, no crime to speak of and NO TRAFFIC!

I spoke with my wife and we decided to move there. I start by looking for a job. I finally find something and start the negotiations. We haggle of pay and we settle for what I feel is enough to make it where we are going to live. They tell me all of the "great" benefits we are going to get and what my duties will be.

I am to be the Remote Tech in SW Wyoming working of the Bank equipment. No Boss around to harass me everyday, work on my own. Sounded like heaven. Well.............

By the time we get moved, sold our old house, finished training and got to our home town, prices on houses has gone UP around 50K! So much for that benefit. So we move into an apartment.

Next we start using the "Great" health benefits. Again, not as advertised. Nothing is in network, we are so remote that to be in network we must drive to SLC to see a decent doctor or dentist. On top of that, the local dentists tell us, "We do not take your insurance, you have to pay full up front and put your own claim in. We do not need your business." Well isn't that nice.

So after bitching to my boss, he finally agrees to give me a day off once in a while to go to SLC and do my dental. Fine. Problem semi-solved.

Then my oldest boy, Frank, gets sick. Take him to the local witch doctors who totally blow the diagnosis and almost kill him. Rush him to SLC, where real doctors operate the day after Christmas and all is well. Well except for the 30K+ medical bills. Oh, didn't I tell you about the wonderful medical benefits? They cover crapolla! I have huge deductables, massive co-pays and the prescription plan bites. My last job, need pills? Max cost was $15. Didn't matter what the drug was, $15 covered it. Now I pay a percentage, and brother some of the drugs they put my boy on were $500 a week, MY COST.

So, where does the Love part of this come in? I am the Remote Guy. I get up in the morning and check my calls on my computer. If I have calls then I, yes I decided which one to run first and plan my own day. If I have no calls, well, it becomes a hell of a coffee break. I also get to drive through some of God's most awesome work. SW Wyoming is beautiful, Summer and Winter. I have seen more game animals dead on the side of the road than alive in Arizona. I have passed herds of antelope so huge that it too 10 minutes at 65 MPH to pass them. I have seen Elk, Moose, Deer, Antelope, Hawks, Eagles, Badges, Wolverines, Skunks (EWE!), Wolves and just more of Gods children while driving around to my jobs (I cover and area from Pinedales, WY to Evanston, WY.) so some days I spend 6 to 7 hours just driving. Some days I do not get a single call and I still get paid 8 hours! If I sit at home all day and get a call after 5:30pm, then it is overtime. You can't beat that!

So, my benefits were not as advertised, but then again. I see my children every day, spend hours of quality time with them and they know who the Father is, not just some man that they see leave at night and show back up only to go to sleep. I tuck them in at night and play with them, make them lunch and love them as much as I can.

All the other stuff pales in comparison when I can cuddle with my Jack and he whispers in my ear, "I love you Daddy"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

PhoenixVader now has a blog, God help us all ;)

Well, I finally dove in and started a blog. My wife is going to be gone for a month and I wanted a way for her to see what the kids were up to and also to share with my friends what I have been doing.

I am an avid re-creator of movie props, otherwise known as "replica movie props". I have been doing this for close to 10 years now and right now I am keen on the new Battlestar Galactica series. I also have several replica props from the Indiana Jones movies, Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. As time permits I will share some photos and perhaps from downloads for you ;)

Well that's about it, other that to say the I am a 47 year old Father of a 5 and 7 year old, married for 8 years (seems like just a year or so ago she hooked me) to my loving wife Suzy ( and living in SW Wyoming.

See ya later.