Sunday, January 27, 2008

The First Day of Turtle’s

I always start to get a little anxious in January. Stir crazy.

Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to the Detroit Tigers spring training camp in mid February. In Lakeland Florida – where it will be nice and warm for those multi-million dollar arms and bats and gloves.

And that’s when spring would start, for me anyway.

That was until this year.

This year, my little girls are playing ball for the Turtle club.

Hey, laugh at the name all you want, but the Turtle Club is known far and wide for raising great traveling teams and running solid little leagues. The Turtle club is a club to be wary of. Named Turtle’s because the facilities – comprised of ten to twelve diamonds - sits along the Turtle creek.

Alannah will play T-Ball, and Ashley-Rae will play something called Blast-Ball. I didn’t know there was a level below T-ball.

My hope is that my girls enjoy playing ball this year, and so they can grow up as players in this organization. They can learn all that I learned from playing ball. Like teamwork. And learn the fundamental skills that will build their confidence.

Build a confidence that will carry over into other aspects of their lives.

I was not that surprised when we received a call – an automated voice message – instructing us that Alannah’s team was to start practice on Saturday, January 26. After all – I had taken them both in to register with the Turtle Club a couple of weeks before Christmas.

These are some serious Turtles”, I thought to myself.

I looked outside. The ground has six inches of snow cover, more to come that night, and the next day.

It’s January.

We arrived at the gymnasium. The room was full of six and seven year old girls. They all had running shoes and ball gloves. Some had hats. Some wore uniforms from years gone by. Years of Blast-Ball experience I guess.

Alannah wore her T-ball uniform from two years ago, with the huge Canadian Tire logo on the front and the number ten across the back. And her rival league shirt was noticed

Alannah had played T-ball two summers ago, for the South Windsor Fastball league. And that was very good – but it started in April. The last week of April. And the kids - boys and girls - all ran around, and had to be told every time that you run to second base after you run to first base. The accomplishment at the end of game was to get a juice box. Every game ended 40 to 40. Every kid (ten in all) hits every inning, and the last hitter runs all the bases. So there were ten runs every innings for both teams – for four innings.

And that was just fine.

This is where Alannah learned most of her glove-hand skills; such as how to put hr glove on her head, how to pick up sand and stones in her glove like an hourglass, how to catch butterflies with her glove. And of course, how to throw your glove in the air and catch it.

T-ball was secondary to having fun.

The Turtles might be a bit more focused than her previous team. But after watching the coaches run the six and seven year-olds through the drills in the gym, I saw that their primary goal is to let the girls have fun too.

I was very proud of how Alannah did this first day. She moved side to side well, catching the ground ball in her glove each time, stopping to turn and throw to the glove of the coach. But then she would do a spin and fall down – looking to see who would laugh at her joke.

In the batting area, she hit the ball hard off the tee, on a line into the net in front of her, just like my dad would have taught her. But then she would hit her helmet with the bat and stagger dazed like one of the three stooges – again looking to see who would laugh at her jokes.

And the coaches were great. They let her have her fun, but then they explained nicely that she didn’t need to make people laugh right now. She could do that later. And she smiled and said “ok”.

I think the Turtles will teach them that playing ball is more fun than catching butterflies and balancing the glove on ones head. Or hitting ones self in the helmet with the bat for a laugh.

I like this group. I am excited about the girls playing this summer. I can’t wait.

I am usually tempted - when I become fond of groups like this – to jump right in and help – to offer to volunteer – take on some responsibility. And I will avail myself to these guys if they would have me. But there seems to be a tried and true method to this group. A process that they have found success with. I think I will watch this year, and participate as a parent, to learn their process. Or maybe if need be I could umpire.

I don’t know.

But this year is not about my participation with the Turtle Club. This is the year that my girls will fall in love with baseball.

At least I hope they will. What do you think, Dad?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cleaning My Clubs

Every January, I like to bring my golf clubs out. There may be a foot of snow outside, but I am not preparing to play on this very cold day.

It's more of a therapeutic activity.

I am preparing for the days yet to come.

I set my clubs out in order - from wedges to long irons. I lay my persimmon woods out on a soft towel. I place my putter to the side. I get my warm bucket of soapy water, stiff bristle brush, and drying cloth set up along the side of my bench in the basement.

And I proceed to wash my clubs.

Golf is very important to me. Golf defines who I want to be. It is my analogy of how I must try to live my life.

I start with my driver, and as I wash and polish the cherry red of the persimmons wood - I think about faith. As I hold the driver shaft in my hand, I focus on the faith it takes to take that first step towards an objective. Usually that first step takes you the farthest, and the execution must be sufficient to provide you an opportunity to progress to the steps that follow.

From there I wash my fairway woods, where I think about opportunity. During a long par five, it's my fairway woods that offer me the greatest opportunity to increase my reward. And opportunities should not be wasted. Opportunities must be grasped and made true.

I then wash each of my long irons, one through six - each with varying degrees of loft. Each with varying degrees of distance they will carry. And I think of how far I have come, how lofty my goals have been, and how thankful that I have managed to navigate my course and still remain in play.

My short irons bring my thoughts to accuracy. Accuracy for how I approach the final steps. Accuracy for how I take those final steps for completing the task and achieving the goal. The closer I can strike to my target, the better my opportunity for accomplishment.

My wedges help me consider that those times when I miss the green, straying from my objective. Discipline and a gentle touch is required to recover from setbacks, and perhaps even surprise myself by chipping into the hole. To take a setback and turn it into a reward.

I wash my putter most delicately. I apply special softening agents to my grip, and polishing the brass face to clearly reflect on the target in sight. The putter must be used to place my shot at the target on the proper line, straight or undulating. The putter is used to close the deal. To realize the objective. It requires a gentle touch.

As I review the golf balls stored in their sleeves, I consider the integrity of how life should be lived.

Perfectly round.

And measured to ensure the roundness remains in tact. This ball, once put into play, must be played again from where it lies. No cheating. No improving my lie in ways unfair, untrue. I must remain true to myself to be judged so by others.

My gloves, shoes, tees, and other items are also cleaned and washed - as they are all those things that support me. They are those things that without, I am a lesser player in the game of life. As are my family, my friends.

Finally before I put them all away, I clean my golf bag. For this is the container that carries my tools through the round. This is my home. This is the baggage of all my possessions.

And with lesser tools I am a lesser player.

And without the integrity of these tools of my character, I am a lesser man.

But patience is also an important virtue.

And patience is best tested for a golfer by waiting out the January snow.

Ode To Timmy's

This morning, as with most mornings, I pulled through the drive through of our local Tim Horton’s to get my morning coffee. I’m a double-double guy, useful to know if you’re ever on your way to see me, and are wondering what you might bring me.

An extra large Double-Double. Thanks.

For my non-Canadian readers, let me explain Tim Horton’s.

Tim Horton was a hockey player. A Maple Leaf. And when his career was drawing to a close, he opened up a coffee shop.

Today there are more Tim Horton locations in a Canadian city or town than gas stations. They are more convenient than finding an ATM machine. They are more popular than most anything else Canadian.

When a new location is built, the town it will be built most likely will add an extra lane of road there, a turning lane, because quite often the entrance is lined up down the street.

And it occurred to me that there are three retail chains that basically define Canada as a country:

  • Canadian Tire hardware stores – most famous for auto-accessories, but you could also furnish you home there as well. Maybe even with Canadian Tire money – the coupon bills in denominations – each decorated with the proud Scotsman.

  • The Beer Store – only in Ontario – owned by the Provincial government and the only place you can get a ‘two-four’ of Blue or Canadian.

  • And Tim Horton’s

They sell coffee. They sell donuts. They sell great lunches as well. But mostly they sell Coffee.

One of the most Canadian scenes you will see is the early morning Hockey moms and dads – taking their little ones to hockey practice, sometimes as early as 5:00 am. That is when their teams ice time is. And as you survey the crowds of proud parents in the stands at the rink, 90% of them are holding a cup of Tim Horton’s coffee.

Likely it’s a double-double.

Double-Double. That’s about as fancy a name for a cup of coffee that Tim Horton’s offers. In fact it is not even called a coffee, it’s called a “Timmy’s”.

A Timmy’s double-double.

When you walk into one – or even pull up to the drive through window – they smell great. The smell of fresh baked donuts mixed with that rich Timmy’s scent. Ahhh.

And there is always a slightly plump girl there to serve you, with a smile, like a friend – like the girl from the small farming community you pass by every day. These fine young ladies are affectionately referred to as our buxom beauties of the great white north.

Tim Horton’s is so important to the Canadian mindset that to boost moral to our troops in Afghanistan, Tim Horton’s sent a crew there to set up shop on the main Canadian base in Kandahar.

A little bit of home.

They have tried to expand into the United States, I believe with marginal success. I guess people down there must equate them with Star-Bucks? But there is no comparison. Star-Bucks is a totally different audience.

Maybe those American’s don’t have to take their kids to the rink at 5:00 AM?

Someone should make a car freshener that smells like a Tim Horton’s.

Could that ever be said about any other hockey player?

http://www.timhortons.com/

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Becky's Big Day

On my desk at work, I have tons of photographs.

These photos are set up in various holders and frames, scattered amongst my various toys like my Don Cherry bobble head, Alannah’s t-ball bobble head, sponge stress balls, globes and even a stuffed Maple Leafs zamboni.

Some would say that such a display suggests I don’t take my job too seriously.

In truth those toys and photographs are there to help me not take my job too seriously. I can be a bit obsessive about what I do. I have to watch it some times.

So I play.

And I look at my favorite old photos.

My screen saver on my PC is full of new photos – pictures taken since digital cameras became the norm, not the novelty.

But I have not yet scanned in my old pictures.

I have some great ones: friends I went to University and College with, my beautiful wife from the days when we met, days when Paul and I were kids in Lawrenceville.

My favorite pictures are of family. And in particular my Brother Paul’s family – since my little family came along with the digital camera.

And in this collection are two very special pictures of a little girl, my niece, Becky Brill.

In one picture she is about two or three years old, and sitting in a chair opposite her dad. They both have their feet up on a coffee table, and because her dad has his foot up on the coffee table, so does Becky. And because Paul is reading a book, so is Becky.

But Becky’s book is upside down.

In the other picture, I am holding Becky as one would commonly carry a four or five year old, on my hip with my right arm supporting her. And she is smiling big. And so am I, which is odd for me in pictures.

When my co-workers see these pictures, they think the younger one is of my daughter Ashley-Rae – because Ashley-Rae looks just Beck did then. The older Becky they think is Alannah – as Alannah looks like Becky at that age.

These Brill girls are all pretty.

Becky and her younger brother Ben were both raised mostly in Mexico, while Paul and Leigh were down there as part of various projects. Construction projects if you will. They returned to the American Gulf coast – resuming life in Baker, Louisiana – just north of Baton Rouge.

I have had such little chance to spend time with Becky and Ben when they were in Mexico. But those times I did were very special.

As you can see in these pictures, Becky has grown into a fine young lady.

And I hope both of my girls grow to become even half the young lady that Becky has become.

Today is Becky’s birthday. She is now eighteen. Look out world!!

Happy Birthday Becky. I am very proud of you.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Minus Four and Medium Rare

My cousin Sarah sent me an email the other day. It was a play on Jeff Foxworthy’s “You know you’re a redneck when…” jokes.

My favorite “You know you’re a redneck when” joke has always been “you have more tires on your home than you do on the vehicles parked on your front lawn”.

That one paints the picture.

But this version had a Canadian bent. “You know you’re Canadian when…

If you've worn shorts and a parka at the same time, you may live in Canada

If you've had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a
wrong number, you may live in Canada

If you measure distance in hours, you may live in Canada

If you can drive 90 kms/hr through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching, you may live in Canada

If you install security lights on your house and garage, but leave both unlocked, you may live in Canada

I do not know if Jeff Foxworthy has even read these jokes, let alone written them, but please let it be known that I did not write them.

But I was thinking about them just this evening.

You see, the evening was slipping away on Darlene and I when we realized we needed to do something for ourselves for dinner. The girls had already eaten given the unique circumstances of the night.

But we were starving.

Darlene went upstairs to fry up some bacon and cut up some tomato. A BLT sounded like a great idea. But then I stopped and said, “Do we have anymore of those frozen hamburger patties you made the other night?”

Yes”, Dar replied. “But you’re not stinking up the house frying burgers in the kitchen!

No”, I retorted, being the natural retort-er that I am. “I will BBQ them, sound good?

It’s 4 below outside and its snow squalling

“So?”

And outside I went in my favorite winter work jacket, and a beer. Out to the back patio. I brushed the mound of falling snow off the BBQ, opened up the hood, twisted on the propane tank valve, and flicked the starter switch.

Booosch” when the flame as it lit the flood of propane on the first attempt.

As the BBQ heated up, I was cleaning the grill. And I started to think of the email Sarah sent me. “You know you’re Canadian when…” I thought.

Then it dawned on me.

You know you’re Canadian when you have to brush the snow off the BBQ to make dinner.”

That’s a good one.

Then I heard the splash. And I heard the giggles. And then the whispers.

The neighbors behind us were in the hot tub. In a snow squall. Glasses of wine were clinking. And they were giggling at the idea that I had caught them.

And that’s when I realized what truly Canadian meant.

“You know you’re Canadian when you can have a couple of wines and fool around with the missus in the hot tub during a blizzard.”

And then I swear I heard Ann Murray sing “Snowbird”.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Clinton vs. Obama and McCain vs Romney - A Michigan Double Bill.

It is widely held that if one wants to remain friends, the topics of politics and religion should be avoided.

But these are such amazing days that we see for our American neighbors.

And next week, we in Windsor will watch closely as the Michigan Primary is held. Michigan is in such a tender and fragile – prone – position right now. Windsor is as well, and it is definitely in Windsor’s best interest to see a strong Detroit.

So we do care. Very much.

When you sleep next to an elephant ... you best know which way they role.

As you already know, both a woman and a black man are running for the presidency of the United States of America. Both are running for the nomination of the Democratic Party.

We always knew the day would come when one or the other would occur. But, I at least, didn’t expect both to happen at the same time. Barack Obama seemed to appear out of nowhere.

It is about time indeed for both.

The standard has been set. You cannot transcend race or gender and then use race or gender to distinguish yourself from your opponent. It erases the fact that either was transcended.

And so far I believe this standard has been pretty well met. Let’s see how South Carolina goes. Race is a powerful influence in South Carolina.

But the question is “Are any of these three Democrats capable to be president?“

It would be an awkward position for any man to be in, that of “First Gentleman”. But I think of all men who could break down that barrier … Mr. Clinton could do so.

Though I am fairly certain Bill would not likely be granted his own Intern.

You must remember that former presidents are still referred to as “Mr. President”. So in the event Mrs. Clinton should go on to win the American Presidency, the couple would be referred to as “Mr. and Mrs. President”.

They would have matching bath robes.

If you remember in the mid 1990’s, there was much speculation that Mrs. Clinton actually had greater influence on her husband and the White House than expected.

And I honestly do not see anything else that distinguishes Hillary Clinton from Barack Obama or John Edwards.

So flip your best coin.

On the republican side, I am so delighted that John McCain is doing so well so far. I have liked Mr. McCain for the last eight years. I believe Mr. McCain and his every word I see to be sincere and honest. There has never been a politician since Mr. Carter that I can say that about. But I see Mr. McCain as being much more capable than Mr. Carter.

However Senator McCain is in support of an Illegal Immigrants bill that I personally question. While I certainly do not condone illegal immigrants into the U.S. or into Canada for that matter – I do know that such measures bills further restrict Canadian access to the U.S. Border.

Since Canada and the United States are so dependent on each other as our largest trading partners – I do not see such a move helping Michigan. Instead it would tighten the noose around the largest North American trading route between the U.S. and Canada – the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit and Windsor. It is border restrictions now that are negatively impacting not only Canadian automakers, but their American big brothers as well.

He is running against Mitt Romney, who I also see as a very good man. I like Mr. Romney. But I do not believe Mr. Romney has the depth of understanding that years in a prisoner of war camp that John McCain has. That being said, Mr. Romney may well be the best answer by brining business sense to the internal running of that country.

Fred Thompson? I like this man very much. He is very McCain like. A bit gruffer and less civil. Mr. Thompson would also make a wonderful President – but he is not that likeable; even though I seem to like him.

It looks like the race between Mr. McCain and Mr. Romney can only be obstructed by Mr. Huckabee. Again it comes down to a coin toss – a coin with two good faces and a tail.

And Governor Mike Huckabee? I don’t think I could trust him as far as I could throw him. Maybe a couple of feet if I stretched well before trying. He probably weighs what, about one-eighty?

Rudy Giuliani exploits 9/11 in such a fashion – conjuring thoughts and images from the tragedy at every opportunity – appropriate or inappropriate. I am surprised that with only 3% of the American’s polled support remaining, that he is still running.

I wonder how all the candidates tie back to the oil industry. Does that really matter?

Canada is the largest supplier of oil to the United States.

Damn those Canadians.

Let’s hope one of the faces turns up, because they are just now finishing eight long years of pure “tail-end leadership”.

I do not wish upon my American friends and family the spectacle of electing a person to this most important role based only on the novelty of being black or female. I do indeed hope the Americans find the most qualified person who fits the needs of the next four to eight years well.

As a Canadian, most Americans – including my own friends and family - may say I have no business in writing these observations. But this election does impact the world. And living across the river from Detroit, Windsor is very much so desperately impacted by the state of Michigan’s economic status.

And there is still this one truth that all political pundits try to overlook:

American’s will pick celebrity over notoriety.

Thank your stars (literally) that Arnold Schwarzenegger is Austrian born and ineligible to run for President.

Although we might see them try to amend their constitution.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A Revolutionary Green Commuter’s Pod

Seven years ago, in October of 2000, I found myself driving 120 miles to work in the morning, and 120 mile home at night. I did this from October through December.

Darlene and I had just taken our first home together, in a little town called Amherstburg. We lived in the historic downtown area of Amherstburg, historic because it was the main Canadian battle ground of the war of 1812.

But I still worked for a software shop just north of London - 120 miles away.

Everyday, as I got on the 401, the main expressway that travels from Windsor to Quebec City, I would usually find myself driving beside the passenger train – the Via Rail train that I have ridden so many times since – as it had also just left the Windsor train station.

Driving home at night, I would most often look over and see that same Via Rail passenger train returning to Windsor. And every day, for the next three months, I would play with this idea:

What if I could just pull my car (at that time it was a Mercury Mystique) right up onto that train?

I would imagine that I would just pull right up onto the train, onto a special automobile ferry car on the train, and I would lock myself down and just ride the train, in my car, to London. Once we got to London, I would simply pull off the train, and drive up to the office.

Wouldn't that be sweet?

But remember, I had three months to play with this idea. I don't know if you have ever made the drive from Windsor to London on the 401, but most of that drive is very flat, and very boring.

"Wouldn't it be great" I would think each trip, ".. if as I pulled on to the train, I could plug my car into the train".

"But why plug in? – what would you get?"

"Why, I would get all kinds of stuff?" I would answer myself. "The train would be like a moving service centre".

And then I would explain to myself again how I had worked this all out.

You see, at first, it would be great to simply pull your conventional highway vehicle up onto a train and piggy back to another city without the hassle of driving. Or the danger of driving. The 401 can be very dangerous, especially in the winter.

The 401 is the busiest commercial trucking corridor in Canada. And Canada (believe it or not my American friends) is the United States largest trading partner. The number of large semi rigs on the 401 usually outnumbers standard automobiles.

And that is why the 401 is dangerous. Trucks have schedules. Trucks have drivers who are tired. Trucks have drivers who are trying to optimize their efficiency for the maximum profit of a trip.

So as the timeline of the "Auto-Ferry" would evolve (I'm sure we can come up with a better name than "auto-ferry"), it would begin with people simply pulling their cars up onto the train, and riding to the destination station, sitting in the car, listening to the radio. Maybe you could pack a lunch, or hit a fast food place. When you arrived, pulled off the train, and simply drove to your final destination.

But wait? They serve meals on the train. In first class they serve very nice meals on the train. Maybe there could be a first class Auto-ferry car – where I could order a very nice meal? Maybe even a glass of wine or a beer if I am going to be on the train for a couple of hours? That would be nice.

What if I could also watch a movie? I could bring a portable DVD player? Or my car may already have one? Or maybe I could rent one from the auto-ferry? And while I am at it, I could hook into their wireless Internet conncetion?

Hey, there are a lot of services that a person could pick up on? What if I bought a commuter car – specifically for this kind of travel?

What do you mean?

An electric car. An electric car or minivan. A pod if you will – built to fit the train car. That you could drive in and around town once you got there. I could pull it up onto a auto-ferry train car and simply plug it right into the train for services? I could plug it in to:

  • Recharge my "pod"
  • Have Satellite TV or Radio to watch in my "pod"
  • Have a high speed internet connection in my "pod".

You could use a touch screen in the dashboard of your pod to order a meal - or even get a tune-up - while your traveling.

Hmmm?

When I ride the train now, I ride for business. A majority of the automobile traffic on the 401 is business commuters. Lets play with the "Business Trip" scenario.

I live in Toronto, and I do business in Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City. Because I am in sales, I have a mini van that I drive to carry product and promotional material with me. Now the Auto-Ferry Pod has become an attractive option. The company replaces my gas guzzling mini-van with a mini-van pod. The advantages are that my travel is more productive and less expensive. Here is how:

Instead of driving and limiting my productive time to simply making phone calls, I can pull my auto-ferry mini-van pod onto the train and connect. From that point forward, I am at the office. I spin my drivers seat around and now am sitting at my desk. My laptop plugs into the jacks in my pod – at my desk - for power and internet connection. I VPN (Virtual Private Network) into the office. I have access to all my files on line, email, chat, even video-conference if need be. I have both a printer and fax machine in my mini-pod. And maybe even a coffee pot.

While I am travelling, I can be as productive as I would be in the office – because actually I am in the office. It is my office that is going to Quebec City.

I even have an overnight cot in my mini-pod. I can lay on my cot and watch TV – satellite TV – as I spend my evening on the train. Or listen to music, or even goof around on the Internet – writing my blog and checking my stats.

I like this idea. I do know that my hometown Windsor really could use an idea like this one right now.

Windsor is the "Detroit" of Canada. Neither Windsor or Detroit are doing very well right now as the big-three automakers are floundering, being overtaken handily by the Japanese Toyota and Honda.

Windsor and Detroit need a "revolutionary idea". And this is a good one. The fact that Windsor is at one end of the busiest commerce lane in Canada, perhaps North America, may prove to be a tremendous catalyst for this idea. And as the product of the auto-ferry and the pods to travel the route catches on, other routes will spring up – using old Am-Track lines in the US – and the Trans-Canada railway in Canada.

Imagine if you upgrade these rail systems to the high-speed railways of Europe and Japan. Imagine if you exported the Mini-pod overseas.

Imagine how much greener it would be.

Imagine how much more independent this means of mass transport would be.

Imagine how economically inspiring this industry would be.

Imagine?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

My Little Mazda Mizer 808

I believe I had a mullet in the first half of the 1980s.

Up until when the Coast Guard shaved my head. But then they sent me home for being a Canadian. They actually accused me of trying to fool them.

I had as bare a scalp as I ever did. And I learned that I am not a man who looks good with a shaved head. I truly look like a pin head. The head of a pin. It took six months for my hair to grow back to even a punker cut.

But I digress.

Passing into adulthood in the Southeastern states of the U.S.; well, I was assimilated.

I had long hair halfway down my back. But it was cut over top of my ears. I pushed the hair on my forehead straight back.

I’m pretty sure that is what they call a mullet.

But we didn’t call it that back then.

I don’t think we called it anything?

I had a Mazda Mizer – an 808 – it was a four-cylinder two-door Datsun look-alike – it was the first Mazda sold in North America. It was a four-on-the-floor standard.

And it was a great little car.

I got it in high school, my Dad did help me buy it from a nurse. It had an AM Radio and 8-Track cassette player.

It was silver – and the hot Georgia sun had oxidized the paint so bad that I took it to Earl Schrieb’s and had them paint it metallic powder blue. They didn’t even take the old decal pinstripes off – they just painted right over them. So I repainted the pinstripes myself.

And you could tell.

The interior was black vinyl seats – splitting from the sun. and black rubber floor. The dash was all black. And when I would climb in that car in the summer – after lifeguarding – those seats burned. So the seats were usually covered by beach towels. And a trip to a carpet store for black remnants let me carpet my little car in black shag.

I took off my old gas pedal and put a chrome bare foot pedal down there.

My 8-track cassette case held the following jewels

  • Styx – Grand Illusion
  • Queen – News to the World
  • SuperTramp – Breakfast in America
  • Steve Miller – Fly like an eagle.
  • Johnny Cash Live at San Quinton
  • The Best of Hank Williams (not Jr.)
  • Lynard Skynards Greatest Hits
  • Frampton Comes Alive
  • And a bootleg copy I got in Windsor on a summer vacation of the Best of The Beatles.

Pretty eclectic, eh?


I had no air-conditioning in that car. You wanted air conditioning? You drove a little faster with the windows rolled down.

And the faster you drove with the windows down, the louder you had to turn up the stereo.

That AM radio was quickly replaced with a Pioneer AM/FM radio. Cassettes had just come out – but had not yet caught on. We had no boom-boxes – no super-woofers. But we had four good speakers. And 96 Rock in Atlanta sounded great.

I drove that car through the remainder of my time in Georgia – through University – while we lived in Baton Rouge Louisiana.

For a brief time – one semester – I would drive into New Orleans from Baton Rouge everyday to attend courses. This meant driving on I-10 over all the bayou. On one day – coming home from New Orleans – my engine seized up.

I didn’t take care of that great little car. I didn’t bother to check the oil. And so it gave up on me.

I got out of my little car – lifted the smoking hood, and started walking the 20 mile bridge over the bayou. There were four lanes of expressway. Shortly along came two Coast Guard officers who stopped to help me; a man and a woman.

They were extremely kind, generous, and persons a mullet headed clod like me could look up to. They left an impression.

I wound up selling my Mazda Mizer 808 to the garage that towed it away for me. I couldn’t afford to fix it.

And that next February, in 1983, I joined the United States Coast Guard myself.

And that was the last I ever saw of my mullet.


But the next car I bought was a Mazda 626. That car I drove to Canada.




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