Golden State trade off

POSTED IN | 11:27 PM
Sometimes people move. And on occasion, when the celestials lineup, these moving people need help. And sometimes they need a lot of help.

And so, here I am, going to California, to make a trip out of saying farewell to some truly golden amigos (Dave and Syd) who will call L.A. their new headquarters. I might do a spot of driving along the way too. We'll see.

We roll out on the morrow, U-haul style. We got the 12-footer. It has a big walrus on the side of it. I feel this can only be a good omen. Like the ancient eskimos of the north used to say: "a walrus a day keeps the engine trouble at bay." Or something like this. It doesn't translate so well.

So goodbye, Sooner state. I'll be back soon enough, but sans two compadres. But we don't have to get to that part just yet. There's still about 1,600 miles to go.

Super Dave, loading miscellaneous crap for a killer last-minute Goodwill run.

I'm taking the more managerial, supervisor role in this whole thing.

We're also gonna spend New Year's Eve at the Wigwam Village in Arizona. Boss. I'm excited. Nothing like a concrete tee pee motel room to ring in the new year, eh? I find I'm easily amused. Cheap thrills, people. The best kind. Oh, and we're gonna have fireworks too. The deluxe accommodation package, most def.


As a side rant, I'm realizing more and more my hatred for owning stuff. Perhaps it's the fact that I've helped a good number of people move this year (a good remedy for accumulation). I don't know.

The ownership of material goods feels emotionally oppressive to me. And when you're straining your back over the matter, physically oppressive too. Here are some rules I think the congress should usher right into the law books, effective immediately:

1) If you own china, for the love, use it! If you don't use it X amount of times per year, you must get rid of it by means of violent destruction in the shaming presence of famous homemakers (i.e. Martha Stewart).

2) You shall never own anything made mostly of glass. This is a terrible furniture material and should by no means be moved lengthy distances to subsequent dwelling places. Melt it down. Shatter it. Turn it back into sand. But just. Don't. Move it.

3) Futon mattresses will hereby be forbidden on all accounts. They are hellishly un-wieldly and unfit for manual human transportation.

4) Adopt the motto: "We don't need this much flipping crap!" Use it often. Catechize yourself with it. You will learn to like the results it produces.

5) Follow the above rules in accordance to the law, BUT: In the end, it's really better to SELL ALL and start with NOTHING in said new location. Trust me. It's the best option.

These should be the rules. Our country would be a better place. Our backs would be healthier. Our spirits lighter. Our moving-buddy friends happier. And our homes more blissfully modest.

Seriously. We don't need this much flipping crap. Do we?

NOTE: this post in no way reflects the negative moral character of Dave and Syd on account of them owning stuff. and honestly, they are quite modestly loaded. praise the good fortune gods.

Spontaneous Teleportation

"Will you pass the trail mix, John?" the question sounded crisply in the mountain sunlight.

Since a young boy I've had the background fear of spontaneous teleportation.

On Monday we ventured to the spiring (cough), no, in-spiring (cough), no...okay just old Wichita Mts. in SW Oklahoma. A great outing on many fronts.

But it was in those foothills that this thought of teleportation revisited me with sudden candor. Not sure why.

And I remembered lying awake at night in years past, contemplating being suddenly ripped from my warm sheets and dropped down in sundry, distasteful armpits of the globe:

-deserted windswept mountain tops.

-broad expansive deserts.

-wooded wilderness with bears


-and the MOST fearful location:

-THE OCEAN- in the water with only a life jacket and manflesh-eating G. Whites finning on all sides.

NOTE: This particular thought caused me not a little discomfort.

And what would take place once I teleported to these places?

What would I do?

What would happen to me?

What would attack me?

"OH. What?" I snapped back into reality in the Wichitas, coming out of the gray matter wonderland.

"Yeah, sure, here's the trailmix."
So we gathered. We talked and mingled. We raced cars and jingled. We joined feed bags around the kitchen trough. There was bread breaking and the giving of thanks. There was a little wine too, heh heh. But all in all a quite enjoyable day here at the Stu Ranch. Hope yours was equally enjoyable. So here are a few momentos.

fyi: the cadillac is having lens trouble and currently off-line. yes. mourn with me. so, the sidearm capturing-device is filling in. just fyi.

Christmas is a sad time for some...

Flashlights were a big hit with the nephews. I don't think they read the manual about not shining them at peoples' faces.

Further Inspection: darn. ants not included.

Josh and Granny. Notice the child's fistful of candied pecans. That's what grannies do best...

Walking it Off: post-feeding walk with the beasts. At one point the number of dogs in the house hit seven. Surprisingly only one slice of foolishly placed pie was claimed by the hounds. The children sustained no injuries.

Sticks and Stones: Grandpa showing Grandson the finer points of field-side martial arts. They say the younger years are the most formative of a child's life...

Two-year-old inversion, courtesy of Sir Alex.

Enjoying himself, or just the attention.

The whole fam, in case we left some out. Two key figures (see below) couldn't make it today as they are basking in the UK's delight with the "other" side of the family. You might also notice the black shape in the shadows on the right side of the frame. That's Molly. I guess she wanted to be a part of the moment too.

Vid chat screen capture. Did you know they got computers all the way over there in Engle-land?

To be Fair


Like they say, it takes two to stand and stare at a hole instead of working. But it looks like they're working. No, no, it doesn't.

But I wanted to even things up with the criticizing of construction workers. Those Costa Rican hombres drag their feet, but hey, so do we.

Birthday Pie


Lemon Meringue. Nothing says I love you like a mountain of whipped egg whites and sugar.

Party Wagon

POSTED IN | 11:36 AM

Boxes of booze: Quite the birthday party wagon stock up for my celebration yesterday.
...or just amassing bulk packing materials for a friend's impending move. Whichever you like best.

Cookies and Cream

POSTED IN | 11:35 AM

Nice folk in San Jose

POSTED IN | 10:05 PM

If you should ever find yourself in the vicinity of Costa Rica's capital, these would be some lovely people to look up. This is the small group I went to while down there. Took this shot the last week I was there.
We studied the Bible, chatted, ate together. All very nice. I brought the average age of the group down to about 42, I think. But it's good to be around wiser folks who've been around the block (and the barrio). Hopefully something rubbed off.


I was in middle school when I first noticed there was something wrong with me. It was subtle and yet I couldn't shake the feeling. The feeling that something was amiss. So, the madre was consulted and then the physical therapist.

After setting down his tape measure he confirmed my suspicions. Indeed, all was not right.

And so he gave me the prognosis: my left leg was 1 centimeter shorter than my right leg. I bowed my head in sorrow and he held me to his bosom. "We're gonna get through this, sonny," he said.

I noticed the irregularity when I would walk, the horizon bobbing unusually high on a right-leg step and dipping below normal on a left stroke.

So I got a lift to put in my shoe, along with my inserts addressing my already known about flat feet. And things were better. And over time, I went back to check on it in high school.

Good to go.

Ol' lefty had caught up to his parter in kinetics. No more lift necessary. No more bobbing horizon.

But still, even now, I get the feeling of imbalance at times. The feeling of janky body mechanics. Mostly when running. It registered keenly on my senses last night for some reason.

But I usually ignore it, recognizing it as mere mental invention. And this works, like I've learned to ignore the voices. But that's a different story.

Cedar chest momento


The hat: sis-in-law, Laura, showing off a relic of the college years (she spent some time in Fayetteville, AR before turning Sooner).

"Calling" the Hogs, a live demonstration.


Mr. Lockhart died on December 12, 2007. And he was meaningful to me, because for the past 18 years he’s been a next-door neighbor.

I didn’t know him overly well I would say, but having rubbed shoulders with him at the mailbox, out in the yard and across the fence, the inevitability of living in close proximity creates a mutual bond between persons.

So, in the wake of his farewell, I can say that his presence on the block will be missed. The way he devoutly flew his OU flag outside on every game day, his soft-spoken voice, his sauntering gait.

I mowed the lawn of he and his wife since I was 16. After each mowing, Mr. Lockhart would mosey over to my house and hand the check over with a smile, his scrawling, telltale left-handed script a noticeable mainstay (and largely illegible).

But some interesting conversations with other block-side neighbors have arisen on account of the recent passing of life. One stands out among the others.
And as I sat last week in the pleasantly grandma-ish and comfortable living room of Marge, a 70-something widow on the block (and former mowing client), I saw in her a perspective that I should like to emulate, if e’er I make it to such a seniority.

And I should say I love sitting in Marge’s boisterous armchairs with her needlepoint masterpieces resting here and there in various states of completion. Each one is for someone else. Each one with a story.

And Marge always tells stories. She told of the day she moved into her first house in Grand Rapids. It cost 36 thousand. Her family was very poor growing up and she never imagined she would be able to own a house. It was a blessing beyond her comprehension.

And I tried to take note: don’t simply expect blessings or feel entitled to them. And learn to appreciate every blessing in life as uniquely significant and worthy of thanks.

And so, after a while, we talked of death, a subject many older folks purposefully avoid. But Marge’s faith, optimism and assurance always strike me deeply.

“John, we just don’t know how much time we have,” her slightly shrill, Minnesota accent filled the room. “We just have to be thankful for everything that we have. I can’t do a lot of things that I used to, but you know what…I just sit here and I stitch and I read and I go to church and that’s enough.”

Invariably we spoke of her late husband, Bud, who died in '91. I remember him only vaguely. Many things don’t stick when you’re a seven-year-old neighborhood brat scrubbing about the street.

Marge told about Bud’s funeral, about his cremation, and his ashes being placed in a holder in the cemetery, with space right beside for hers when the time is come. She talked of her own death and future burial plans like the weather or the news. She didn’t flinch.

So, interesting lessons to be learned in the presence of death, it seems. It fronts the question of eternity and sifts out life’s forefront concerns.

And those who knew him think of Mr. Lockhart. He will be remembered. He will be missed. On Cheyney Court and elsewhere. And I pray for faith like Marge, who leans on her assurance in Christ to the point of freedom from fear of temporal death. And that is a remarkable freedom.

Chop Sooey!

POSTED IN | 11:57 PM
Ventured to the OU vs. Arkansas b-ball action yesterday with the bro and his fam/in-laws. Haven't been to a basketball game in many moons. Our team is somewhat suspect, but we pulled out a victory regardless. There were free hot dogs and beverages in the mix, so a fine outing overall.
Yesterday I went to a funeral in the morning, a basketball game in the afternoon and a wedding in the evening. An interesting assortment of societal events. It didn't seem so odd then, but now it kind of does.

The majestic Lloyd Noble Center.

High quality defense. Maybe...

Joshy refusing to eat ice cream. The critics called it a bratty powerplay, but he recovered with some seeming heartfelt cordiality in the end.

Cheap half-time thrills: The Village People, only four of them are dummies attached to the middle guy who was the puppet-master of sorts. Pretty funny until you realize that this man has devoted his life to this as means of gainful employment. But you know, you gotta do something...

Go team. I promise I was not harming the child (Carson) in this photo.


Worst Headline In A Long Time:

POSTED IN | 11:54 AM
Conley Cops to Copping Copper, Cops Claim


From the Norman Transcript, of course. Leading the nation in mediocrity, irrelevance and grammatical blunders (though the sports section rife with OU coverage is decent). But I'll bet that some editor/headline writer is still quivering his red pen with daft, alliterative delight.

Meet and Greet

The door opens and you enter a room full of people.

It is full of mostly unknown faces, spread here and there in various social bubbles. There is music playing faintly in the background and a table with munchies on it.

People permeate the scene, coming and going...chatting, sitting, standing, mingling.

So what do you do? How do you respond?

Do you meet new people? Do you find the people you know and pull up a chair?

Are you uncomfortable with all these stangers? Do you find the nearest warm body and strike up a convo?

All questions we ask in social settings, I think. Or perhaps we don't ask them, but merely feel them.

And I find the variable social responses to a group environment particularly curious. How people react in the environment, what they do, who they talk to, what they "get" out of the experience.

Oftentimes I make the mistake of thinking that everyone thinks like me. Certainly this is not the case. And earlier this year, through some enriching convos, I came to a broader understanding about social situations in particular: not everyone likes group settings. And actually, some people really DIS-like them and would prefer, for example, bamboo splinters under the fingernails. And some people are in the middle.

So, it's good to understand the various personal perspectives concerning group settings and meeting new individuals. And one perspective isn't better than another. Outgoing isn't the ideal. But I find that I really do enjoy these things. Or meeting new people, at least.

The Technique:

I scan the crowd for familiar faces and address these people. Then I move on to the new peeps, employing predatorial methods to meet and greet. The key is to single people off from a social bubble and then attack. I find this method less intimidating (for me) than addressing a whole group of newbies.

And I like the mindset of thinking of everyone I first meet as a friend. No pre-reqs necessary. And I generally need to know more about people than less for some reason. Background, profession, family details, etc. I don't know why, but I do. And having completed many, many interviews for journalism stories, introducing myself and sparking a dialogue isn't scary like it used to be (see a very shy middle school J Stu).

But we're all coming to the scene with different personalities and backgrounds and side dishes (hopefully). And a group setting tends to display this smattering of sundry people types. And I find this cross section interesting and enjoyable. I also like to just kick back and observe sometimes too.

So, yeah, this is my perspective. Been thinking about this lately.

It was nice to meet you though. Great party. I'm gonna go get some more dip and carrots at the food table now.

ship them back (?)

Back in May the OK gov't peeps gave the thumbs up to a bill that effects hispanics and is mostly shady: House Bill 1804.

Do we know about this? I really didn't until a few weeks ago.

The bill's language says that legal residents can get in serious doo-doo if they give undocumented people rides or let them into their homes.

So, you can actually get your can locked up for a year and pay a $1,000 fine for hanging out with undocumented folk, or giving them a lift to and fro.

So now the State is not only crimping our ability to buy quality beer (see silly liquor laws), but also who we can drink that beer with and under what circumstances. (though hopefully you wouldn't be drinking in a car anyway)

No good is this.

My mom has a good friend from Peru who has had her legal resident status for more than 20 years. And she was very nervous about the new stipulations, becoming so concerned that she went downtown to the authorities to make certain she wasn't going to get the proverbial boot of deportation.

And today I was chatting with a friend's mom who is a nurse in OKC. Last week she treated a hispanic baby who was very sick and close to dying. The mother, an undocumented oklahoman, was afraid to bring the child in for help because she was afraid of the negative legal ramifications.

No good.

All political leanings aside, there must exist a base sense of humanitarian good will I think. It is true: there are millions of undocumented people in our country right now. And more all the time. This is an issue, and a very complex one at that. But when do we look at these out-of-towners as people? Or as friends? Or as individuals who need help?

And I wonder what our responsibility is toward this people group specifically. Or less privileged (at least legally speaking) peoples in general. How am I using my privileges to help others?

So anyway, I say boo to the new regs. I'll give rides to everyone. And if you need a place to stay, you can crash with me, regardless of which side of the tracks you're from.

*whoa, a political post. interesting*

Bottled Holiday Cheer: a Haiku


It doth swish in glass
The Holly and the Ivy's draught
Only one glass, Sant'

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

(i don't know why, but when i was a small lad i used to call it "Elka Helka.")

Another Round

POSTED IN | 11:15 PM
Thought I'd post a few more pics of Ice Catastrophe '07. And really, if we're honest, there's nothing else going on in the state, so it only seems fitting.

And in the height of the outage, amidst the suburban chaos, I actually enjoyed pulling out the oil lamps and reading by wick-light. It would be cool to have a lights out party sometime I think and just hang out and play games or some such activity with lamps and candles. But I think that was called the 60s, so maybe that idea is played.

Spikey thaw. Watch your face.

Ice mace.

We lost a lot of good power lines out there...

Everdead. Looks like a real porker tried to climb every branch with less than environmentally friendly results. Well, that's just what initially comes to mind...

Specialist Sharp (or just Steve as we call him), brassing in some holiday (or horriday) cheer with other trombone quartet members (not pictured). Since I was in Costa Rica, the army band picked up yet another trombone player (not pictured), making things quite crowded in the section with six.

Considering our whole band is about 40 strong, that's a hearty amount of sliding low-brass representation. By comparison, this is twice as many trombones as a 100 piece symphonic orchestra usually fields. So, sadly, the double fortes on the music have to be dialed back to a robust mezzo forte. No airing out of the dynamic sails.
But that's just some bandee talk.

Happy Holidays, people.

Frozen Stuff

POSTED IN | 11:12 PM

Little Red Tamihood.

The White Wonder in her element.

The ministry's children's home sits on several acres in Coronado, Costa Rica. At the back of the property runs a pristine river. Cold water, abundant, leafing foliage. Very nice. Oftentimes the kids walk to the river. This is one such time.

Downtown OKC


Stationary skater.

OKC fog.


POSTED IN | 12:09 AM

Ariela and the family wabbit. For Sam. And methinks that an unsafe place to position such a creature.

Norman Hangout

POSTED IN | 12:24 AM

Drifting at the South Canadian River. I-35 in the distance.



Older brother "Fatman" doing what a fatman does best.

The Cheesy Poof Progression

POSTED IN | 11:20 PM




Jenny's Prayer


Jennifer offering a prayer for the evening meal in the children's home. You'll notice her sister, Milady (see below post) chiming in at the beginning of the prayer and interrupting. Cute kids, these. Her prayer is rather moving too, when you realize where she and her siblings came from. Their mother died of cancer and their father is an alcoholic and unfit to care for them. Jennifer and her siblings arrived at the children's home to live in March 2006.

The Little Girl Can Eat

POSTED IN | 10:34 AM

Milady, 2, enjoys some lunch in her Coronado, Costa Rica, orphanage home. She likes to take big bites.

GO. O-U.


Two-year-old super fan nephew. Sadly bedtime called before he could watch Mizzou lose. Such are the toils of childhood.

Up in your business

One of the most alienating things I found of being in a foreign country (Costa Rica, for example) is the lack of comprehension of peripheral dialogue. Oftentimes it's difficult enough to decipher what Pablo is saying to you in your immediate convo, much less what Maria and Norma are yacking about in the background.

And it's this almost numbing (at times) lack of cumulative comprehension that can make one feel rather detached and like one ought to have better practiced one's conjugations for the perfect indicatives (no he estudiado).

And so in returning to the Land of the Free and the Home of the Twinkie, I've found these peripheral conversation tidbits to be of some comfort if not amusing also. Generally I'd say that I like to know what's going on around me and kind of what people are saying. And in catching the tidbits, I like to reconstruct what people could be talking about and the potential broader contexts.

Here are a few tidbits I heard while walking across the campus of the University of Oklahoma on a crisp November day:

Tidbit No. 1 (kid talking on cell phone while walking his bike): "Well, yeah, but I want you to know that I'm NOT afraid of that..."

Tidbit No. 2 (smartly dressed businessman to businesswoman): "Oh YEAH, if you sear it in the pan, Mahi-Mahi is just REALLY delicious..."

Tidbit No. 3 (girl with calf-length suede boots, large sunglasses and a purse with greek letters on it): "Oh my gosh, her parents are like total hippies..."

So yes, it's in the peripheral things, it seems, that we find some sense of familiarity and attachment, if not a touch of wholesome amusement. Or maybe I'm just nosy.

I wonder what people think of my conversations.

Porter and Eufala


The good thing about riding a bike is that if you need to stop for any reason, you can. Even in the middle of the road.