Friday, February 20, 2015

My Winter Fascination

After digging out both of our cars and being able to get out of our driveway on Wednesday, I took a ride through Smiths Grove to survey the effects of the snow on the area. 

I found plenty of one of my favorite things about winter weather that I hadn't seen around here in a while: icicles. 

I am fascinated with icicles. I have been for as long as I can remember. I like their look when they are glistening in the sun. The larger they are the greater my intrigue.   

To me, after accumulative snowfalls, icicles represent God's best and fastest forming natural example of illustrating how little acts (single drops of water falling toward the ground and freezing one by one) can compound into something that is unique and beautiful. 

As a kid I would seek them out, take them down and pretend they were any of a variety of weapons. I used to this frozen this arsenal to fight off imaginary enemies. 

Of course the ultimate use of an icicle was as a Star Wars light saber to defend myself against Storm Troopers and engaging those from "the dark side".  

I was very pleasantly surprised when, during my cruise down Main Street here in "the grove", I found several structures with icicles hanging from their roofs. 

These are some that were on our town hall. 

These were some pretty impressive patches of icicles but they weren't the best that I found. 

The building that houses our local fast food/ice cream shop, Flavor Isle, was where I would saw the best formations.  
The awning covering the outside seating area provided the most unique. 

Here's a view from the inside of the awning. 

As you can see the ice on the awning and the right side of the building was pretty cool (no pun intended) but it was the left side that runs along 1st street that was the most accessible. 

The fact that they were in direct sunlight gave them a glistening look as well. 

While I don't "play" the same games with icicles as I did when I was younger, I still like interacting with the descending tapering columns. 

Here is the link to my latest edition of the"My Point of Vue"series, on my YouTube channel. I apologize in advance of your viewing and admit that I temporarily turn into a bit of an icicle fanboy on this video.  
My Point of Vue: Icicle Edition

If you're like my wife, some of you may be asking, "if you are so fascinated with those icicles why did you destroy  them?"

Well, my interaction with icicles has always been a tactile activity. The challenge of taking them down in one piece and holding them in my hands is part of my fascination. 

I don't want to get too deep into this aspect of icicles but I will say this. Knocking them down not only was fun but it created a canvas for a new formation. One that was there the very next morning. It's a cycle that quite often happens in the realm of creativity in both nature and art.  

So there you have my reunion with an aspect of winter weather that I had not had the pleasure of experiencing in a while here in southern Kentucky. 

An image search on the internet will result in hundreds of pictures of larger and better icicle formations than what I've shared with you here. But what's special about those I found is that they were right here where I can experience them. 

Are you a fan of icicles, like me? Do you have any memories of adventures or fun with them in the past? If you do, I'd be interested in you telling me about them. 

Thanks for letting me share yet another of my personal fascinations. 


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Finally, A Snowfall Worth Blogging About

Authors Note: Been a few days since I've published a post. The last one was the first of a pair about my dog, Angel. I planned on posting the 2nd in the series next followed by one about my childhood dreams and other things I've been thinking about, discovered or learned about lately. But then the biggest snowfall since 1994 hit Smiths Grove on Monday. That changed the complexion of this week. Here's what has happened so far. 

The winter has been a bit frustrating for me this year. Because I've been working as a transportation driver and am traveling all around Warren County all day, I have to deal with the weather no matter what it may be.  

What little bit of snow we've gotten over the last 3 months has been nothing but a nuisance. A couple of times it's made the roads a bit slick and driving a bit tricky. But it always turns out to be much ado about nothing. 

The temperatures, which have seemingly alternated from subfreezing to springlike almost on a day-to-day basis, have made dressing for getting in and out of my van pretty much a "best guess" every day.

My frustration lies in the weather's inconsistency. So what did I do in my exasperation? I had a "talk" with winter during the first week of February. 

Make up your mind. I mean is it winter or is it spring? Also if you're going to bring us snow then make it a snow worth dealing with. If you're not going to do that then quit teasing us with flurries or squalls that barely cover the ground and make the roads just slippery enough to be annoying. 

My tone during my little ultimate was serious but I felt it fell on "deaf ears". And then a few days ago my tirade was answered in a "be careful what you ask for" manner. 

The first flakes fell about 3AM Monday morning and it didn't stop until after sundown that day.

I made a series of videos throughout the day and posted them on my RHFactors YouTube channel. Here are the links: 
February 16 Snow Report 1
February 16 Snow Report 2
February 16 Snow Report 3
February 16 Snow Report 4

This shot of the snow built up on our deck railing was taken just after the flakes stopped falling. 

Here is the proof of the depth of the snow just outside our carport in front of our house. 
Both Paula and I have been at home since the snow started. I've been off because my company has been closed and Paula has been working from home via her laptop and cellphone. 

Yesterday, we got dressed in layers of clothing, put on boots, hats, and gloves and headed outside. We dug out my car, making a path out of our driveway. I am really disappointed that I didn't take pictures of my car before I cleaned it off. It was covered up with the most snow ever. 

But I did take pictures of it when it was covered up again Wednesday morning with a couple more inches of white stuff. 

Here's the brief video I shot Wednesday as well. 

On Wednesday afternoon I went back outside and finished shoveling; making it possible to get Paula's car off the carport and out of the driveway. 

It was a very strange experience shoveling so much snow here for the first time. I mean I've shoveled as much if not more snow before in my life. But not in my 16 years living in Kentucky. It was kind of disorienting and surreal to a degree.  
As I sit here writing this blog late Wednesday night we are supposed to have record breaking below 0 temperatures over night. They're talking -10 or lower. 

We have taken all the proper precautions such as: opening faucets that have water pipes on exterior walls and running a small space heater in our back bathroom.

Tomorrow I am off of work again so I am driving Paula to her office. Then I'm going to Walmart and paying our utility bills. I'll be glad to get out and about for the first time in 4 days. I've got a little bit of cabin fever. 

So there's what my week has been like. It's been the worst week of the winter so far. What has been yours? How much snow have you had where you live? I'd be interested to know. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

All About Angel:Part 1

It was ten years ago this past week 
(February 12, 2005) that we adopted our dog, Angel. I would like to take the next couple of posts to share our life with her through words and pictures. Let's start at the beginning. 

It was a Saturday morning, a decade ago, when Paula, James, Brandi, and I got in the car and drove for almost 2 hours to Hardinsburg, KY. Our destination was a veterinarian clinic which also served as the local animal shelter. 

James had talked us into getting a puppy, which would be our second dog. Although he loved Dory, who we adopted just a little over a year earlier, she didn't act like your typical dog. 

James wanted a dog that would sit on his lap and fetch a toy or Frisbee in the backyard. He convinced Paula to come on board with the idea. I was totally against it. But after a long lobbying campaign and some persuasion, I finally gave in. 

But I did it with the understanding that I going to be a reluctant helper with this dog. The puppy would be their responsibility.  

Both James & Paula went searching on the local pet finder website to look for their "lap dog". After missing out on their initial choice, James decided he wanted this little cutie pictured here with her siblings.

So we prepared our house for a 2nd dog. According to the website this dog was not going to be very big as an adult. So we got a smaller crate. 

The long ride took us on the rural roads I had never been on before. For entertainment along the way I took a new stand up comedy CD to listen to along the way. It was by a guy I had just discovered named, Brian Regan (pronounced "Reegan). 

In a bit of universal serendipity, at the end of March of this year, I will be going to the local performing arts center to see Brian Regan in person. 

Our journey was back in the days before GPS so we followed the "Google Maps" directions we had printed out. Two hours later, we finally arrived. 

I told the desk clerk who I was and why we were there. We sat in the waiting room for a few minutes. It was a busy Saturday morning.

Finally our new puppy was brought out to us. We had decided on her name through a process of debate between all four members of our family that started with wanting a name that had something to do with Valentine's Day. Somehow we got to "Angel."

When James was handed the pup and they met. I was lucky enough to catch their initial connection with my camera. It's still one of my all-time favorite pictures.

When we got back to Smiths Grove it was time to introduce Angel to her new sister, Dory. They were instant friends and would be inseparable for the next 8 years. 

As far as personality was concerned they were almost complete opposites. This picture taken just minutes after they met symbolizes to me the "Ying & Yang" roles they played out as our family pets. 

Paula stayed true to her promise about being responsible for Angel. She is the one who trained our new puppy until the young dog was house broken.  

Angel quickly became a member of the family and Dory's constant companion. 

Although we knew from the size of her paws that Angel was not going to be the small dog that we initially thought she was; we still enjoyed the time she was little. Paula got the "lap dog" she wanted but for much too short a  time.  
And she was just so darn cute.

My favorite story and picture from Angel's first year with us came from her curiosity about the world outside our backyard fence. 

One day while out in the yard with just Dory, Something in the nearby neighborhood caught Angel's attention. She needed to see what was out there. Her only possible means of escape was the gap in between the two sections of the back gate. Only she couldn't escape completely. 

When I heard her barking in a way I'd never heard from her before I went out to the yard and found this. 
She was not hurt at all but she was stuck. I had to carefully get her out. She never attempted that type of escape again. 

By the end of 2005, the small puppy that we brought home in February was a much bigger dog. 

Here are some of my favorite pictures of our 2nd pound puppy over the next couple of years. 

The last picture I want to share with you in "part 1" is one that may come as a surprise to some of you. We had a 3rd dog. 
This is a picture of our 3 dogs. You probably recognize Angel & Dory on the ends of the couch. The puppy in the middle is Gavin. 

He was part of our "pack" for about a month in November 2008. To read the details as to why he was only with us for a month check out RHFactors blog posts from November 10, 11, 15 and December 11, 2008. 

There's a lot more about Angel I want to share with you. The biggest part is how all of us has adjusted to her being the only dog in the house for the last 18 months or so. 

Make sure you come back for that and more in part 2 of "All About Angel." 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Last Lecture

In my last post I mentioned that the last "hold in your hand" book I read was called "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch. 

I promised details about this unique and inspirational book and it's author, so here it goes. 

Randy Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. In August 2007 he was given a terminal diagnosis due to pancreatic cancer. 

Knowing that he had a limited window of "good health" he decided to give one last lecture at the college. It was presented on September 18, 2007 and serves as his legacy. 

The book I read is a compilation of observations and advice based on that lecture. 

In the interest of brevity (okay, quit laughing at the fact that I used that word in one of my posts) here's the link to Wikipedia with all the details of Pausch's life. Randy Pausch's Story

My favorite parts of this book were: Pausch's stories about his family including how he met his wife and what he loved about his kids. 

I also enjoyed his shared love for Walt Disney World and his stories about his visits. My favorite was about a cast member who did something that resulted in his family becoming lifelong visitors to the Orlando resort. 

I was a bit envious of some of his accomplishments. Getting to ride in the NASA jet that simulates zero gravity conditions and his time as a Disney Imagineer. 

I do admire the lengths to which he went to get to those two experiences though. 

Pausch drew me in with the subject of his final lecture: following your childhood dreams. It got me thinking about mine and which of them I have and haven't achieved. 

Here are a couple of things I'm taking away from this book. 

"Brick Walls" that block your way in life are put there so you can discover just how much you want what they're keeping you from. 

If you want something badly enough you'll find a way to get around or even knock down those walls.

"Brick Walls" aren't always circumstances or situations. Sometimes they are people.

Experience is what you get when you don't get what you really wanted. 

There are other lessons I've learned but I don't want to spoil things for those of you who may be interested in reading this book. 

If you are going to read the book and want more information about it here's the link to the video of Pausch's presentation on You Tube. 
The Last Lecture Video 

I really enjoyed and learned from "The Last Lecture." Randy Pausch was born just a month after I was. He lost his battle with cancer in July 2008. 

Of all the things that I gleaned from his book, realizing how blessed I've been in my life, in the time since he lost his, helps me live each day with a spirit of gratefulness. 

Now, my questions for you. What childhood dreams have you fulfilled or accomplished? Which of them do you wish you could still get to? 

Let me know. I'd be interested. I plan on discussing mine in a future post. I'd like to include some of yours as well.  

Sunday, February 8, 2015

My Book List

I am a reader. For many years now I have had a personal goal of reading at least 6 books in a year with an ultimate goal of finishing, on the average of, one book a month.  

My top choice for subject matter is biographies of people I like or admire. Probably to no one's surprise my second preference for reading material are books about anything that has to do with the Disney; especially those about the parks and company history. I do occasionally read novels as well. Spy and time travel stories are my favorites. 

But ever since I left my last call center job back in 2013, my reading time has diminished. I don't read much at home because I always find other things to do. 

Don't get the wrong idea. I have not abandoned the printed or digital book world. I still enjoy the feeling of holding and thumbing through the printed pages of a published work. 

The most recent print book I've finished was given to me by my friend, Patty. It's called "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch. 

Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in the early 2000's. His story and book are an inspiration to me. I will share the details about that in my next post. 

I do enjoy reading print and digital books. However, I am, by far, more of an audio guy than a visual one. The fact that I listen to about a dozen podcasts every week is evidence of that. 

With an increasing amount of my time being in places where I can listen but not read I've turned to audio media as my means of enjoying books. 

I borrow audio books on CD from the Smiths Grove library. Over the last year I've borrowed and listened to: 

"Killing Kennedy" and "Killing Lincoln" and "Killing Jesus" by Bill O'Riley, "Micro", Michael Creighton's last book, and most recently, "How I Got This Way", an autobiography by former TV host, Regis Philbin. 

Just this past week I finished listening to the audio version of the only Stephen King book I ever read: 11/22/63. Its one of my all time favorite books. I read the print copy back in 2012. It combines two things I'm very interested in: time travel and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. 

In addition to what's available to borrow from the library, I am a subscriber to book service. I get a special discounted credit each month. I can use it to purchase 1 audiobook.  

Over the last year I've bought and listened to: autobiographies by: Tim Conway; Gavin McLoud, Jim Gaffigan, Andy Williams, Billy Chrystal, Mariano Rivera, and Mel Blanc. 

I've also listened to: 
"Kingdom Keepers VII: The Insider" the seventh and last book in Ridley Pearson's Kingdom Keeper series (it's about a group of teenagers who unexpectedly become part of the battle of the Disney characters for control of the Disney Parks); 

"Mary, Lou, Rhoda, and Ted" the history and story of the classic TV show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. 

M*A*S*Ha book about my all time favorite TV series, that explores the effects of culture and history on the show and vise versa. 

"Food: A Love Story":  Jim Gaffigan explores his relationship with eating and the knowledge of food around the country based on his years of travel for his comedy career. 

I have enjoyed all of these books and recommend them to anyone who may have an interest in the people or subject about which they are written.  

Also if you do like audio books, offers a free one month trial. You can download one book for free and then get a credit once a month. You can cancel anytime you don't want to continue. 

As I write this I am waiting for my February Audible credit to process so I can buy my next audiobook. I think it's going to be Martin Short's autobiography. 

I am also in the middle of reading 4 different books on my Kindle Fire tablet: a Johnny Carson biography written by his longtime friend and lawyer; a pair of "For Dummies" books, one about learning to play the ukulele and another about starting a podcast; and one about how to sell things on Ebay.  

I also have a couple of books by my favorite Disney history author, Jim Korkis, queued up and ready to be read when I get to them. 

My next print book will be the one that singer/comedian Ray Stevens wrote and signed for me when I met him last December. 

So as you can see my book list is a long one and continues to grow. I love reading and listening to books. 

There are times during my work week that it's just me in my van with my current audio book playing on the car stereo as I make my way around Warren County to pick up my next client. It's a great way to spend the day. 

Are you a reader? What kind of books to you like to read? What have you read lately and what do you recommend? Would you be interested in being part of a RHFactors book club?

Please leave a response, comment or question on this blog, Facebook, Twitter, or email. I look forward to hearing from you. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The First Post Of February

Welcome to the month of February. With the first month under my belt, 2015 is shaping up to be a good year so far. 

I am planning on posting a lot more this month than in January. But I'm having problems convincing myself that subjects I want to write about are interesting and "conversations starters" like I promised you they'd be at the start of the year. 

I am going through yet another phase of doubt when it comes to the value of posting about the daily events of my "ordinary life". Are the things that are happening in my life and want to share something my readers find entertaining and engaging? 

I have started several posts over the last few days. In the middle of  writing them I think to myself, "No one wants to read about this." Then I stop writing and delete the draft. 

Now I know you as a reader are kind and gracious just by the fact that you consistently come back to read what I have posted. This may be the blogging equivalent of asking "Do these jeans make me look fat?" but I'm going to ask anyway. (FYI that question was rhetorical. No need to answer. I am already well aware of my physical condition). I need your help.  

I would like some feedback in regard to just what kind of things or subjects you like to read about here on the RHFactors  blog. 

Which type of posts to you enjoy reading the most? Those about my time with my granddaughter, stories about my life experiences, things I remember from my childhood, stuff that I see around town, reviews of books, movies or TV shows I've seen and recommend, my Lego activities, or something else?

I know I started this blog to keep in touch with friends and family members. But, as I mentioned in my first post of the year, I want to expand that. Knowing what my readers like will help with that. Thanks for your help.