Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cool Guys

There have been many people, that I have come across in my life, that I would classify as "cool". For one reason or another, they have exemplified a total coolness. People who were just fun to be around. People who had a way about them. Always a smile. Truly creative. I know that there are some folks who would say that I am cool, but my coolness has been drawn from the coolness of others. What is cool? It is hard to define, but you know it when you see it. It is an aura. They buried a cool guy yesterday in Gratten Tomlinson. He was a cool guy. The funeral was nice and just as he would have wanted it. Funerals should be celebrations. Not sad times. I just heard that Myron Broadwell's mother passed away yesterday. Myron is a cool guy. Richard Owen is a cool guy. He has been a friend since high school. Sonny Smith is a cool guy. He has also been a friend since high school. Marshall Edwards is a cool guy. He was my pastor in the 1980's at First Baptist. Eddie Lee is a cool guy. He has been a friend since college. There have been other cool guys that I have known. Each one I draw from. But, you wanna know a secret? Just being cool does not pay bills. I am in a deep funk right now. I may have one more week of funds with no job and no place to live. I have a good emotional support group, and I know there are people who love me, but I am not sleeping worrying about my future. Please help me. I am not ready to have people come to my funeral and talk about what a cool guy I was. My PayPal acct. is It is difficult for me to ask for funds to continue to carry on. Please help me. Stay cool.

Another Day

When I started out writing this blog last year, I wrote a lot about my life. I shared some stories that may have seemed unbelievable, but they were all true. I have a friend in Atlanta who wants me to put the stories in a book and sell it. The problem with that is that I continue to think of things. I guess I could have several volumes, but I also am not the most motivated person in the world. So, we will see. I have been having a problem lately about not getting enough sleep. I have been waking up very early in the mornings, like around 4am. I used to sleep until 7:30. Yesterday, I slept until 7, and didn't know what to do. It threw off my whole day. I don't like taking sleeping pills. I am not big on those, as they make me groggy for the rest of the day. But, I may have to go with that. I also don't take naps in the afternoon. It goes back to my childhood, when we were made to take naps. It wasn't for my health. My Mother just wanted some quiet time. So, I don't take naps. I never liked my father going to sleep while watching the news in the evenings. He would wake up and ask what the news was. I used to poke him with a yardstick to keep him awake. Now that I am alone, I have no one to poke me, but I find that I go to sleep while watching TV, and then wake up all mad that I missed something. Maybe it is because I am currently in a motel. If I had my own place, somewhere a bit more secure or comforting, then I could sleep better. There is something for having your own bed, with your own covers, and your own sheets. There is something about motel sheets that are just not so comfortable. I guess if this was the Ritz Carlton, the sheets would be nicer. I am running out of money to stay here. Still no job. Maybe the lack of sleep is caused by worrying and stress of my situation. That is more plausible. At any rate, whatever that actually means, I need a job. I need funds. I need a bed. I need many things. I need to stay positive. I need you. is my PayPal acct., in case you can spare a dollar or two. If not, that's okay. Another day is all I ask to have. Please help.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Gratten Tomlinson

I learned this morning that Gratten Tomlinson passed away last Sunday. His funeral is tomorrow, and I plan to attend. My father taught Gratten at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where I was born. He graduated from there in Religious Education and went on to work in several churches. When Daddy was called to be the head of the Sunday School Department for the South Carolina Baptist Convention, he called Gratten to have him come and be on his staff. Gratten had also worked with my Aunt Clyde and Uncle John in Florida. They were my Mother's family. So, we knew Gratten very well, and he came to Columbia. Daddy had three men who worked with him on his staff. Gratten, Gary and Roger. Those three men helped Daddy, and they became a team. Gratten always had a joke to tell, and he was truly a cool guy. He loved sports and his family. When my father died 10 years ago this September, all I had to do was call Gratten, and he took care of the rest. He, Gary and Roger did my father's funeral. The last time I saw Gratten was last year at the visitation for Frances Snipes, Roger's wife. Gratten was so proud of his grandson, who had just won an "American Idol" style contest in the upstate. He got that talent from his grandfather. Gratten loved music. It was not a total shock to hear of Gratten's passing. After all, he had cancer. But, cancer didn't have him. He loved life and people. I know Daddy and Mother have welcomed him into Heaven. God bless you, Gratten. Thanks for helping Daddy. Thanks for being a friend.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Stormy Monday

I am a big fan of Blues music. I guess The Allman Brothers started that love for me, although it might have been Johnny Winter. At any rate, the Blues are good. Whether it is old style music or the newer stuff. Guys like B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, and many more really touch me. And, the Blues don't have to be depressing. It is sort of like Jazz. Some Jazz can be soulful, while others can be upbeat. It is the same with the Blues. I really got into it, when WUSC had a Blues radio program on Monday nights. After playing volleyball at First Baptist, I would go get something to eat and listen to the Blues on the radio. So, why am I bringing this up? There is a great line in a song--"If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all." That's kind of how I feel today. Yes, I am still trying to stay positive, but I am also searching for someone who can identify with my plight. "No one loves you when you're down and out." No, this is not a self-pity blog today. Or maybe it is. But, when I come off a weekend now, when most folks have good memories about something they've done, I am mostly coming off a couple of days of reflection. You see? I don't do much on weekends. I used to go places and do things. I used to go with friends to parks and have fun. I don't do that much anymore. Most of my friends have other lives. They have other friends. They do other stuff. I sit here at the motel and watch TV and reflect. I try and do things by myself, but I am a people person. I like being around people. I like to laugh. I watched some of "Mamma Mia" on TV yesterday. I don't usually like musicals, but that was a fun movie. I love the music of Abba. And, the film gave me a good feeling. Right now, I need good feelings. I need a job. I need a place to live. I need money to live. Things are not so good right now. "I wear my heart on my sleeve." If anyone can spare a couple of dollars, my PayPal acct. is "They call it stormy Monday..." God bless you and say a prayer for me.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

An Update

Well, I took 3 weeks off from my blog to remember my trip to Europe. Hopefully, some of you found it entertaining. Others might have been bored. Sorry about that. I hope that everyone gets to go to Europe and the Holy Land at least once in their lives. My father used to say that travel broadens one. He was right. So, what has happened to me in the past three weeks. Well, first, we passed a milestone. My Mother passed away 5 years ago this past July 8th. It doesn't seem like 5 years, and I miss her every day. She was a light in my otherwise dark world. Her smile and bright eyes kept me going. We will meet up again one day. Another thing that happened was a job interview. Hopefully, something will come of that. I am running out of money. I still am staying at the motel, although I would love to get my own place. Unfortunately, most folks want you to have a job to get a place. Or, you need to be a certain age. I have been telling people that I am self-employed, as "unemployed" sounds so depressing. I have been selling some autographs on the internet through eBay. That has helped. I have also been volunteering for Andre Bauer and have been to an event or two. Maybe I can get a paid gig with him. I also do a lot of walking. Joni put the fire under me to do that. Exercise is great to get the mind and body together. Speaking of Joni, her father was put in the hospital with heart issues. He got a pacemaker and should be better. He just needs to learn to slow down. I have personal experience in these matters from my father. Type A personalities have a tough time slowing down. Good luck with that. My car continues to act up. I got the oil changed, but it is still not good. Maybe I need a bicycle. I had lunch last week with Joni and her sister Tracy. Tracy has gone through some tough times with breast cancer, but they got the word from the doctor last week that she can say she is "cancer-free". That is wonderful news. While Joni was away from the table, I told Tracy about how her sister has helped me stay positive during these dark days. I knew she could relate to this. Tracy said she could see in my eyes that I want to live. I have thought about that a lot since that lunch. I do want to live. I want to make an impact in society. I want to do things I love to do. I want to be around people who love me. So, that's pretty much what has happened over the last 3 weeks. If anyone would like a copy of my resume, I would be glad to send it to you. Just email me. It is And, if you could spare a couple of dollars, my PayPal account is the same as my email address. Thanks a lot and may God continue to bless us all.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Going Home

July 25th was the last day of the Europe trip. It started off rather rushed. We had to get to the airport, and of course we were running late. Sandra and Talula hated me for taking pictures of them without makeup, as we ran for the bus. We got to the airport and were again subject to searches by men with guns. Our plane landed in Lisbon Portugal for gas before heading on to New York. I went out on the tarmac, so I could say I had been to Portugal. We weren't there long enough to go to the terminal. The plane took off to continue our eight-hour flight to New York. Along the way, Sandra told me that she had decided to marry her boyfriend, based on what he said to her the day before on the phone. I worked on a song that I had written in Israel called "Save the World for the Children". We had seen some Israeli children picking on one boy, as we waited to enter the museum. It made me think about my childhood. Years later, Pope John Paul II blessed my song. I also watched Sid Caesar in the inflight movie "Ten From Your Show of Shows". That was very funny, and I needed a good laugh after Sandra's news. I could also see the film "1776", which was being played in the cabin ahead of us. Anything to keep from being bored. We got to New York eventually. Customs examined the rose I had from the store in Lucerne. I guess they were afraid of bugs, so they took the bud away and left me with the leaves and stem. Thanks, guys. We got on the plane to take us to Greenville. I was so exhausted that I finally was able to sleep on a plane. First time. I had my head on Sandra's shoulder, and Sandra had her head on Talula's shoulder. The last trip for the Three Musketeers. We awoke about the time of the plane landing in Greenville. All of our loved ones were there to greet us. My parents took me to a motel to sleep before going back to Columbia. I don't know what happened to Judy or Sha. I still keep in contact with Talula. She is married and lives in NC. She has been a blessing to me through the years. Sandra got married to her boyfriend, and they live in SC. We have communicated, mostly through 3rd parties, until more recently on Facebook. Mr. Vivian passed away some years back. I visited his grave, when I lived in Greenville. Mrs. Sitton's son Jimmy has been a good friend over the years, and he let me stay with him in Greenville for a little over a year. Mrs. Sitton and I talked a lot about our trip. I don't know what happened to the school teachers on our trip. I guess they retired or died. It was a pivotal moment in my life, and in the lives of the others that went. We saw a lot of poverty and opulence. And, we saw a lot about ourselves. Now, if I could go back, I would pay more attention to the sites. It was a History tour that we got college credit for. I wrote a paper on our trip that I called "Beauty is Only Skin Deep Sometimes", but the professor rejected it, saying it wasn't about History. So, I had to go to the library and read about what we had seen, and I wrote a paper on that instead. Sorry, Dr. von Hasselin. I figure he is looking down on me from Heaven. With his bald head.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Boring Barcelona

I don't mean to imply that Barcelona is not a city that you should visit. But, when we were there in 1973, it was kind of boring. No night life to speak of. About all one could do was shop. There was a dictator running the country. The hotel said that we couldn't use their phones to call long distance, because there had been a fire somewhere in the country, and the phone lines had burned up. But, we could go to the nearby post office and use their phones. That made no sense. Barcelona was the last stop on our three-week tour, and we were all getting kind of tired. I guess we really didn't appreciate the Picasso paintings and the architecture. We went into one church with a beautiful chandelier. Sandra pulled out some glasses to look at it. I had known her for almost two years but didn't know she wore glasses. I asked her about it, and she said she only wore them if there was something worthwhile seeing. Thanks a lot, Sandra. We went to a section of town with a lot of artisans. One of our tour ladies bought a sword letter opener that would be confiscated by the airport security the next day. She never got it back. The real highlight of the tour was seeing a large statue of Christopher Columbus pointing toward the New World. We would be heading that way tomorrow. It was time to go home. That afternoon, Sandra wanted me to go with her to the post office to call home. She called her boyfriend. I couldn't hear the conversation, but it went on for quite a while. It was good she called collect. After it was over, I could tell she had been crying, and she was very quiet. She was upset. We went back to the nine-story department store. If anyone was having a bad day, shopping made up for it. During the tour, since I was assigned to protect the girls, I had been shopping for dresses, lingerie, swimsuits, shirts, pants, watches, crystal, souvenirs, linens, towels, jewelry, perfumes, and whatever else there was out there. Sometimes, I had to look interested. Other times, I was interested. Still other times, it was a good excuse to just sit. I didn't really have much time for myself, but that was okay. After all, we were friends. And, we had fun. I do wish that I was collecting music then, because the department store had a great record department, and I could have racked up on original Beatles albums, but I didn't know about the values of things like that back then. That night, we packed and got ready to fly back to the States tomorrow. It was time to go home. We were ready.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Spanish Riviera

We got up the next morning to get ready to fly to Barcelona. It was a little rainy. I wanted to go back to the perfume store to buy the Paco Rabanne pour Homme. After all, the girls said I smelled good. I don't know how they could say that with all the fragrances on me, but it seemed to stand out. I was standing on the curb, waiting to cross the street, when a large man came up to me and started a conversation in French. He spoke very fast, and all I could understand was that he was asking directions. I could pick out certain words, but I realized that my five years of French in school did not quite prepare me for French. It seems that Parisian French can be different, so I had to swallow my pride and tell the man that I was an American. He patted me on the back and off he went. I bought the cologne, and got back to the hotel in time to depart for the airport. Our plane ride to Barcelona was uneventful. It had been a little chilly in Paris, but now we were heading back to warmer weather. On our approach to the airport in Barcelona, we flew over the Spanish Riviera and saw the sunbathers. The girls and I got excited, because we could go to the beach. We found out later that the beach was 30 miles from our hotel, and we couldn't get there except by train. So, no beach for us. When we got to the airport, it was a little chaotic. In the past, our tour group went to the baggage claim; got our bags; and headed to the bus. So, I did that. Just about the time I got to the door of the airport, there was a man yelling "Alto, Alto". I didn't know Spanish, so I just kept walking. Then, he ran in front of me with a machine gun in my face. He was a soldier. Apparently, they wanted me to go through customs. Spain was still being ruled by Franco. It was a stark contrast to other countries we had been in. We got to our hotel, which was rather modest, and not nearly has swank as the one in Paris. There were speakers in our rooms that played music. The girls and I went walking, and ended up at a nine-story department store that sold everything. I got lost in there for what seemed like hours, but I finally found the girls. One of our tour members was a Spanish teacher. When we sat down for dinner, she looked at the menu and couldn't read it. It seems that the Spanish they teach you in schools is Mexican Spanish. The Spanish in Barcelona was entirely different. So, we were out of luck and had to take our chances with the food. Since we couldn't go to the Riviera, we looked into the possibility of going to a bullfight, but that was shot down. Barcelona was becoming a boring place for us. I hear it is better now.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Paris Sunday

Our tour of Paris fell on a Sunday. What a difference a week had made. On Sunday, a week before, we were trying to handle the threats of terrorists. We had been whisked out of Jerusalem in the middle of the night. During that week, we had toured Germany (my homeland) and Switzerland. I had defended Sandra, and we had grown closer. I knew one of Sandra's favorite songs was "Love the One You're With", but it was more than that. Now, we were in Paris. Our first stop was the Louvre. We were told not to take pictures in there, but you know me. Thankfully, my flash didn't go off, like some folks' did. We were threatened, once again, with being kicked out, but we weren't. The Mona Lisa was beautiful, but my favorite painting was by Henri David on Liberty. Sorry, I don't know the actual title. Look it up. One thing that one has to be prepared about in Paris is the traffic. People drive like maniacs. We went over to the Arch de Triomphe and parked the bus. We had to cross six lanes of traffic without stop signs or traffic lights. It probably wouldn't have mattered anyway. Pedestrians do not have the right of way. It is every man or woman for themselves. We almost got hit many times over. It was like being in the inside of a pinball machine. I almost felt like some drivers were trying to hit us on purpose. So, we got our pictures and made it back to the bus, slightly battered emotionally. One highlight for me was visiting the Museum of Modern Art. Some tour members wanted me to interpret the paintings, especially by Picasso. I learned a valuable lesson that day. I can pretty much say anything, and people will believe me. That came in handy later in retail. We saw a guy dancing on roller skates there. We also took pictures on a ledge that overlooked the Eiffel Tower. Hitler had taken pictures at that same ledge some 30 years earlier. The disappointment came, when they told us that we weren't going to the Eiffel Tower. I don't remember what the reason was, but we didn't like it. We got back to the hotel and had a church service in the dining room. The girls and I went out shopping and found a store that sold perfumes. Of course, they sampled everything and had me do the same. I smelled like a poofter. Look it up. Sandra told me her favorite on me was Paco Rabanne pour Homme. It was a turn-on. That was good enough for me. We had dinner in the hotel that night and went to bed. Sunday in Paris. Filled with art and smells.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Train

After the trauma of the night before, we were ready for some rest. We boarded a train to go from Lucerne to Paris. We had private compartments within our car that were big enough for the four girls and me. The compartment had a clear glass door and windows looking out onto the hallway of the car, so there wasn't total privacy, but we could lower the blinds, if we needed to. We had the blinds up, when a group of Portuguese soldiers happened by. They weren't supposed to be in our car, but they saw the girls, so they wanted to look. We tried to get the conductor to run them away, and he did, but they came back. It was rather frightening. Kind of like us being caged animals. At one point, I pointed to a ring on my finger and pointed to Sandra. The soldier pointed to no ring on his finger and pointed to Sandra. After a couple of hours of this, they finally got off the train, and we could relax again. With the memory of the night before still fresh, Sandra and I were becoming closer. I don't know how much closer we could be, but it was clear that she realized she was safe with me. The chaos of the last couple of weeks had been replaced by a time of rest. As I have said before, I have a hard time sleeping in any moving vehicle. Sandra didn't have that problem. She slept in our tour buses. Most of the time, she would sleep with her mouth open which amused us. She denied it, until I showed her a picture of her sleeping. After the soldiers left, she stretched out on the seat and used my leg as a pillow. She looked up at me and smiled. She then closed her eyes and was off to dreamland once again. I just stared out into the French countryside, thinking what were we going to do that night in Paris. No soldiers. No shopping. I knew. We would go to a fancy restaurant. Maxim's was the fanciest place I knew of in Paris. Me and her. Sandra woke up and said she was hungry. We went to the dining car, and she proceeded to break a tooth on some food. We got to Paris at dusk, and went to the four-star hotel that overlooked the Opera House. Sandra didn't want to go out. She wanted to get her tooth fixed. So much for my plans. I could speak fluent French, so I called the American Hospital in Paris for information on a dentist. It was Saturday night, and no one wanted to help. I kept telling them that it was an emergency, and no one agreed with me. I finally was able to speak to a dentist. He told us to get her to put wax on it, until she got home to the States. I left her and went out walking. I found myself at Tuilleries Gardens. It was a cold and misty night, much like our first night in London. So much had happened since that first night. There had been threats and a fight. We had seen a lot of old buildings. And now... So, I found a bench and was watching a fountain. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a guy getting closer to me. I was not comfortable, so I stood up and started to walk away. He began to follow me, and I realized that he wanted to rob me. I didn't have much money on me, but I did have my passport, so I ran. He ran after me. I ran for three blocks through traffic. I lost him. I hope he wasn't hit by the car that I ran in front of to get away. I got back to the hotel and found the girls wanting to go out for ice cream. It was about the only thing Sandra felt like eating. We found a restaurant close to the hotel. We also found that the waitresses didn't like us. I guess because we were Americans. The ice cream was good though. It had been another long day. A day filled with security measures and wishing things were different. How would my life be different today had situations been different that day? It is hard to say.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Karate Man

Our day in Lucerne was wonderful. Our bus took us to the base of Mt. Pilatus in the Alps, and we got up to the top in a tram. It was chilly up there with lots of black birds. We left the mountain on cable cars. That afternoon, we shopped. Lucerne has a lot of great boutiques. Sandra wanted to find an Omega watch. We went into a shop, where they gave us long-stemmed roses just for coming in. There was a lake nearby that had swans in it. I saw the swans eat whole apples and watched them slide down their necks. One store had beautiful blown glass. It was truly an idyllic place. As we were going back to our hotel, I stopped at the movie theatre to see what time the film was showing. Sandra and I wanted to go to the movies. It would be a nice time to get away. The film was in French, and she didn't speak it, but I did and told her that I would translate it for her. We were planning to go after supper. At dinner that night, the other three girls said they wanted to go walking around town at night. Sandra and I wanted to go to the movies. But, there was something that I was obligated to do, since we were in Israel. No matter what I wanted to do, I had to go along with the majority. So, if 3 of the girls wanted to go walking, and Sandra and I wanted to go to the movies, everyone had to go walking. Sandra looked at me very disappointed, but there was nothing I could do. And, the others didn't want to go to the movies. So, we went walking. It was pretty dark. Sandra and I stayed together walking, and the other girls went on ahead. We rounded a corner. Sandra was a couple of steps behind me, when I heard her scream out my name. I twirled around and saw her surrounded my five drunk Swiss soldiers. They had formed a circle and were passing her around to each soldier. Her long hair was draped on the shoulder of one soldier, when I grabbed his shoulder and put him down. It was a move I had learned in karate class in school. The soldier fell down, and I grabbed Sandra and ran. I could hear the other soldiers laughing and saying, "Oh big boy", but we didn't stay around to say anything. The other girls were about a half a block ahead of us and didn't see what had happened. When we told them, they got scared with us. I apologized for pulling Sandra's hair, but she said that she was just glad to get away and thanked me. We went several blocks out of the way to get back to our hotel, in case we were followed. Thankfully, we weren't. It was the first and last time I have used karate like that. We decided that we would have rather gone to the movies and had a laugh. It was a perfect day that didn't end so perfect, but at least we were safe.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Beautiful Place

We were leaving Weisbaden the next morning, and I realized that the casino was in the park, where I was sitting the night before. It was dark, so I had not seen the casino. I wish I had. We toured the Black Forest region of Germany. It was very pretty. But, the highlight of the day was seeing Rheinfall. It was on the border between Germany and Switzerland, and it was a beautiful waterfall on the Rhine River. It gets my vote as the most beautiful spot on Earth that I've seen. And, I have seen a lot of beautiful things. We left there and went by the outskirts of Zurich, heading toward Lucerne. We saw the Alps. And, there was a shock. Just a few days before, we were in 130 degree Israel, and now we were in 50 degree Switzerland. I was glad I had a light jacket. We checked into a nice hotel in Lucerne that night and found the area around the hotel was filled with shops. There was even a movie theatre in the next block. We had gotten to an area that was upscale. And, the girls loved the fact that we were so close to nice shops. Another great stop along our trip. A lot of good memories of a very good day. We needed that.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The River

We flew out of Berlin and back to Frankfurt. The cow was still there at the airport. Talula was happy. We boarded a bus to take us through the German countryside. We got on the Autobahn, which was cool. Folks could drive as fast as they wanted to. The bus also had the Armed Forces Radio network on, so we could hear American music. Good stuff. We stopped in Koblenz for lunch. It was a city where Sandra's father was in World War II as a US soldier. After lunch, we boarded a boat for a short tour of the Rhine River area. Or, at least we were told it was going to be a short tour. We saw castles and crops growing up hills. We saw livestock grazing up hills. We marveled at the animals not falling down the hills. After a few hours, we realized that it was not going to be a short trip. The river ride went on and on. Some people slept. Some snacked. Some stared off into space. And, the young folks were bored out of their minds. The girls made friends with the boys on the boat. How much trouble could they get into on a boat? Not too much. Finally, after what seemed to be an eternity, we docked at Rudescheim which boasted of having the narrowest street in the world. At that point, we didn't really care what it had. We just wanted to get to our hotel, which was in Weisbaden. It was after dark, when we got there. We had dinner. Some went to bed. The girls went out without me. I found a park across from the hotel and sat on a bench to reflect. It was misty and chilly. Being in Germany was a wonderful time for me. It was home.

Friday, July 17, 2009

East Berlin

It was an overcast day, when we went to East Berlin. That seemed to fit, since the city hadn't changed much since the war. Going through Checkpoint Charlie at the Berlin Wall was spooky. Our bus was stopped and searched by men with guns. Many of the buildings near the wall were bombed during the war and had not been rebuilt. We were told not to talk to any of the residents. After all, this was a Communist country. We saw the Soviet embassy. Most of the buildings were grey with no color. The only real color we saw were flags that the guide said were put up for a youth festival. It was sort of like going from a color movie to a black and white movie. We stopped at a restaurant to get some authentic German cheesecake. It was good, but the waitress wanted to talk to us about America. Seemingly out of nowhere came this man dressed in a trenchcoat. He said something to the waitress, and she disappeared. The guide said he was KGB. Great. We were being followed again. The highlight of the morning was visiting the Soviet War Memorial which had mass graves of Russian soldiers who fought to liberate Berlin from the Nazis. The hammer and sickle were everywhere, as well as statues of Lenin. When we got back to the wall to cross into West Berlin, guards with machine guns boarded our bus to look for escapees. They ran a giant mirror under the bus. We were told not to take pictures of the wall from the East, but of course I did. But, I wasn't caught. The afternoon was free to do whatever we wanted to do. While the girls rested, I went across the street from the hotel to the Berlin Zoo. I didn't stay long, but it was a nice visit, until I saw some Aryan boys. It was obvious who their parents were. All of the boys were over 6 feet with blonde hair. It was a strange sight. I got back to the hotel, and the girls wanted to go shopping, so we went to a department store and bought some things. One of my talents on the trip was to convert American money to the currency of the country we were in. I am not good in math, but I learned quickly that we didn't want to be cheated by the people in the stores. Or at least taken advantage of. It also helped to talk with your hands, because some shop keepers didn't speak English. We did learn bits and pieces of the languages so as to compliment the folks in the countries. They were more likely to help you, if you took a stab at their language. Toward the late afternoon, Talula wanted to get a German hymnal for her pastor back home. There was a large church in the center of town near our hotel. Part of the church had been bombed in the war, and they left up the shell as a reminder. There was a more modern church building behind it. Talula, Sandra and I went to the church to see about the hymnal. They had a gift shop there, but no hymnals were for sale. I stopped a priest there and asked him if we could buy a hymnal. He got very mad and told us they weren't for sale. We were told to leave, as we had insulted the priest and his church. When we got outside, Sandra reached into her oversized purse and pulled out a hymnal and gave to Talula. I'd like to apologize to the priest for us stealing a hymnal from his church, but it was for a good cause. That night, we just hung out in the rooms and rested. It had been a long day but a good one.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wheels Up

We had been told the night before to expect to leave early in the morning for Tel Aviv. We just didn't know how early. At 3am, we all 16 of us were piled into two cabs and taken to the airport. It was a last minute decision to get us out under darkness, so the boys wouldn't find out. Even at the airport in Tel Aviv, I was worried that their tentacles stretched out to the airport. The security in the airport was amazing, including body searches. Sandra had bought a wooden camel for her pastor back home. They x-rayed it, but couldn't see everything, so they broke it in half. She was pretty mad, but what could you do? We carried the two halves the rest of the trip. They opened up my vitamin bottle and broke the vitamins. But, they never asked about my knife. There was an Arab man in front of me with an urn filled with dirty socks. He was on his way to Paris on business, but they wouldn't let him get on his plane. We were flying to Frankfurt Germany. Due to the paranoia of the last few days, we were constantly looking over our shoulders. It wasn't until the plane was "wheels up" did we feel safe. We all took a deep breath once we got in the air. No more Sam, Omar and Sam. No more spying for the US. We were going to have fun again. We got to the Frankfurt airport, and there was a giant cow sculpture inside. I think it was advertising milk. Talula had come from a dairy farm back home, so it was good to see something she was familiar with. We flew from Frankfurt to Berlin. I was looking forward to seeing some things from World War II, as I have been a student of that era all my life. But, I had an unusual feeling landing in Berlin. I was back home. I had never been there before, but my family was from Germany 300 years before. It was in my blood. I did get strange looks in the elevator at the airport for humming the German national anthem. We got to our very nice hotel, and the girls and I took a stroll around the city center. It was a great break from the last few days in Israel, where we almost caused an international incident.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Around Jerusalem

Despite the threats against us, the Arabs did allow us to take our tour around Jerusalem. We also went to church at a Baptist church in Jersualem. We also found out that the boys had us followed by the boy selling candy. After lunch, most of the tour group went back to the Old City to see some more sites, but the girls wanted to get their hair done at a salon around the corner from the hotel. I knew the front entrance was being watched, so we went through the service entrance at the back of the hotel and down an alley to get to the salon. We had been in there for a few minutes, when the boys showed up at the window of the salon. They banged on the door and window but would not come in the salon. The owner of the salon told us that the boys were crazy, and we told her about the threats. She called the police, and they chased them away. After the girls got their hair done, we got back over to the hotel through the service entrance and were safely back in the hotel. I went across the street to a drug store to get something for my nervous stomach. There was an older Arab man running the store, and I asked him about the three boys. He told me that they were very dangerous people, and we should stay away from them. The man was very up front with me about the danger which scared me more. The other tour folks came back from their tour, and we had to tell them about the threats. The American officer from the consulate came over for supper for his information, and we told him about the threats and the intimidation. We were to leave the next day for Tel Aviv and to fly to Germany, which our next scheduled stop. That was the good news.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Touring Jersualem

We headed out the next morning to tour Jerusalem. We didn't think much about also being spies. One little boy kept following us around, trying to sell candy to us. 1 for a quarter or 2 for twenty-five cents. It became something of a joke, as he didn't know anything about US money. We got him down to 4 for 25 cents. We went into the Dome of the Rock, and I think that is the most foul smelling place on Earth. It is a beautiful place with huge Oriental rugs. The problem is that everyone must take off their shoes before entering the site, so imagine all of those stinky feet on those rugs. I wish they had some air freshener in there. We also saw the Wailing Wall. We weren't supposed to take pictures and were constantly being watched by soldiers, but of course we did. We took pictures of a lot of stuff we weren't supposed to. Like army forts. I guess it was the danger of the moment. We also went to Jesus's tomb. That was a very sacred place for us. That afternoon, we went by the store of Sam, Omar and Sam to hang out and talk to them. It was the time to be spies. We found out a lot about them, their families, and their friends. When it was time for supper, we reported to our new friend from the consulate. We told him all that we had found out. There was one thing though that we had not counted on. The three Arabs had friends working in the hotel. After supper, I went up to my room, and Sandra & Talula went to theirs. I called their room to talk about our day, and I heard a click on the line. The hotel operator was listening to our call. They heard us talking about spying on the boys. So, guess what the hotel employees did? They told the boys what we were doing. The boys sent a message to us. They would allow us to go on the tour, as we would be in a group, but if they saw us away from our tour group, there would be trouble. The threat was real. We were scared, but we couldn't tell Mr. Vivian. We were warned not to. I started getting acid reflux.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tour Changed

July 13th was the day the tour changed. No longer was it just a History tour for college credit. Nor a fun trip for 16 people. It got more serious. Before heading out on our bus tour, Mr. Vivian told me that he wanted me to provide security for the four girls--Sandra, Talula, Judy and Sha. We were to do everything together. If one wanted to do something, we all had to do it. We could vote on doing things, but we were to stay together. He didn't want what happened the night before to happen again. I told the girls about this on the bus. Sandra and Talula were okay with it, but Judy and Sha weren't as much. But, the tour leader had spoken, and we had to abide by his decision. We toured the area around the Dead Sea, including Jericho and Qumran. It was 130 degrees at the Dead Sea, and it was instant sunburn. Even the ice cream machine at the Dead Sea broke. It was the hottest I have ever been. We also heard gunfire and cannons near there. Seemingly, a fact of life in Israel. We also got a taste of how hard it is in Israel to confirm sites. There was a building along the road that said it was the inn that the Good Samaritan took the hurting man according to the Bible story. We went to Bethlehem and saw the Church of the Nativity. That was a moving place. That night, we were having supper in the hotel, when a man came to visit us. He was an American who worked at the US consulate near our hotel. It had come to his attention that we had been hanging around Sam, Omar and Sam. He asked us not to associate with them, because Henry Kissinger was in town trying to negotiate a peace between the Arabs and the Israelis, and this man didn't want us to be friendly with those Arab boys. As it turned out, this man was an intelligence officer. And, if you remember your history, in October of 1973, there was the Yom Kippur War. The US was trying to stop it, and the Arab boys had been trying to find out all about the US by being friends with us. He told us not to associate with the boys. We said that they were our friends, and it would look funny if we just broke off all ties with them. The man said that was true and then told us to find out all we could about them, including where they went and who were their friends. Then, the man would come back at supper each night and we would tell him what we found out. We asked what if we didn't do this, as it sounded like a spy mission. He said that they would send us home and cancel the rest of our trip. Well, our parents had prepaid for everything, so they would lose money. How would we explain that to them? So, we said okay. We didn't think it would be dangerous. Just some harmless information. Wrong.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

To Jerusalem

You never know, when you get up in the morning, what the day will bring. You hope that the day will be uneventful, and this day should have been that way. We left the kibbutz and headed south toward Jerusalem. We saw a lot of Biblical sites. We took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, and had lunch in Tiberias, overlooking the water. We had fish, which they caught next to the restaurant and served without scaling them. Head, eyes and all. It was pretty gross. I didn't eat fish for years after, and just recently have started eating it again. And, looking out on the water, one could see gas and oil floating on the water, so it wasn't the most appetizing place. We left there, and went to Samaria. It was a place that we could go, because our Armenian guide could take us there. Most tours with Jewish guides couldn't go to Samaria, as it was a racial thing. As the sun was setting on us, we got to Jerusalem. It was a very beautiful place with the sunlight on The Dome of the Rock that was not far from our hotel. We were staying in a hotel in the Arab sector of Jerusalem about two blocks from the old city. Very close to Herod's Gate. Across the street from the hotel were small shops, including a drug store and several souvenir shops. One thing that several of the women wanted on our trip was Mother of Pearl items. After supper, we went out across the narrow street to a shop just down from our hotel and found Sam, Omar and Sam. Two brothers and a cousin who ran this souvenir shop. They invited us to walk around the area near our hotel that night. Sandra, Talula and Judy said yes, but Sha was tired and was going back to the hotel. After the Arab boys closed up their shop for the night, we went walking. Each girl had a guy to walk with, and I was alone walking behind them. Sandra and one of the boys was just in front of me. During our walk, Sandra had her arm around the boy's waist and waved at me behind the boy's back. I thought it was a signal to get lost, so I did. I found out later that she was just waving as if to say hello. So, I dropped further and further back, until I truly got lost. I found myself in a very poor neighborhood of houses and barking dogs. I had no idea where I was, and it was almost midnight. I found some Jewish clerics walking along the road and asked them where my hotel was, but they would not respond. I finally found a cab and paid him a dollar to take me back to the hotel, which actually was only around the corner from where I was. When I got back to the hotel, Mr. Vivian was furious. Where had I been? Why was I not with the girls? They had gotten back about 30 minutes before me. I just told him that I had gotten lost, which was true, but he was mad at me for not staying with the girls. We were not to go out alone. He didn't know about Sam, Omar and Sam. He would find out the next day. We would all find out the next day.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Seeing Poverty

Our first full day in Israel began in a four-star hotel outside of Tel Aviv. They were nice to us by giving us a basket of fruit for our journey. Our day was spent touring the northern section of Israel. Our guide was Armenian, so we were able to go to some places that were normally not visited due to some travel restrictions within the country. We saw several old towns and cities. We had lunch in Haifa and, I was able to see Lebanon from our restaurant in the mountains. We left there and headed to Nazareth and saw the boyhood home of Jesus. Everywhere we went, our tour bus would be surrounded by kids asking for money. We were told not to give them anything, because it would just bring more kids out. But, we did have that basket of fruit from the hotel. So, just outside of Nazareth, we asked the driver to stop the bus, when we saw a group of children gathered along the side of the road. They came up to the bus, thinking they were going to ask for money. Instead, we gave them the basket of fruit, and a riot broke out. We stayed in the bus and watch the kids fight over the fruit. One boy grabbed a grapefruit. Others fought him for it, and the fruit exploded. The parts of the grapefruit went all over the ground, and the kids scooped it up and ate it. The one boy just had the peel left, and he displayed it proudly to the others and walked away. It was our first look at seeing extreme poverty in Israel. We also didn't give away any more fruit. We made it to our evening stop which was a kibbutz. The food was great, and we got to see something of an oasis. The girls and I also experienced another treat--brandy candy. It was hard candy with liquid brandy centers. We had a good time with that, and the adults didn't know why we laughed a lot that night. We were having a good time on our trip to Israel. That would change soon enough.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Roman Nightmare

On July 10th, we were to leave Rome and fly to Tel Aviv, or as Talula called it "Tel Aviva". We were supposed to leave the hotel in Rome at 10am to take the bus to the airport. Everyone got wake-up calls at 7, or so we thought. As the tour group assembled in the lobby around 9:30, we realized that Sandra and Talula weren't there. Mr. Vivian sent me up to their room to get them, and when I knocked on their door, they answered it very sleepy. It seems that the hotel did not give them a wake-up call to get back at them for the trick we played on the bellhop the night before. So, they screamed and hurried to get ready. As they ran into the lobby at 10am to leave, the hotel staff just smiled. We were all pretty mad, but they had the last laugh. We got to the airport, and I saw very heavy security. Police with machine guns. Now, you have to understand that this was 1973. Security was very tight back then in European airports, as well as in Israel. It wasn't like that in the US. Strangely though, they never asked me about the small knife I had in my pocket. We boarded the plane for Tel Aviv. We flew over the Meditarranean Sea to Tel Aviv. Our hotel was on the sea, and I went out that night to put my toes in the water. Judy went out on the beach with the bartender. Another night of sampling the local flavor. The Israeli leg would be very eventful and rather scary. And, it was just beginning.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Roman Holiday

We toured Rome the next day. We saw a lot of old stuff. We went to Vatican City and almost got thrown out of the Sistine Chapel, because someone took a picture with a flash. We got through it by saying it was an accident. In the spirit of experiencing the local flavor, the young people had some wine for lunch. Then, we had to chew a bunch of gum to try and get it off our breath, because our tour director was a Baptist minister, and he didn't approve of alcohol. We just didn't breathe on him for the rest of the day, until we could get back to the hotel to use mouthwash. I liked the history of Rome and would like to go back and see it again. One thing about Sandra was that she never talked about death. She liked to live in the moment. So, when I got a phone call in my hotel room from her that night that said to come to her room, because she was afraid she was going to die, I knew she was afraid. I got there and found her and Talula in terror. They had wanted towels in their room. There were buttons on a table to summon different hotel people. She thought that she had pressed the button for the maid but did the bellhop instead. She answered the door wearing almost nothing. She screamed. He smiled. They were afraid of him. So, she called me to come and protect her. We talked about how to get back at him and decided on playing a trick. She would call the bellhop back to apologize for being rude to him and invite him into the room. I would come out of the bathroom, having flushed the toilet, and zipping up my fly. And, then smile at the bellhop and tell him that we were all going to party together. So, we put our plan into motion. The bellhop got there pretty fast. He thought that he was going to have two American girls for himself. He knocked on the door and was invited in. I flushed the toilet and came out to surprise him. He ran out of the door in embarrassment. We had a good laugh over it. I told Sandra and Talula good night and went back to my room. Mr. Vivian wanted to know what was wrong, and I said nothing and went to bed. But, our trick would not go unnoticed.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Bumpy Ride

We flew from London to Rome. I had never been on a plane that had seats facing each other like on a train. I was on a seat facing the tail which was weird taking off. That didn't make me feel too good. Then, they brought around a snack of ham which didn't make me feel too good. Then, we hit an air pocket, and the plane dropped like 8000 feet in 2 seconds. And, I lost it. I started hyperventilating, and I got very cold. I couldn't breathe, and my heart was racing. They laid me down on the seats, and the flight attendants began to work on me. They had me breathe into a paper bag which helped a little but not much. They took my blood pressure and listened to my heart. My blood pressure was sky high. They gave me some pills for the nausea and to try and calm me down. Nothing seemed to be working. A little British lady a couple of rows back told them to give me some hot tea. That did the trick. My color came back, and my blood pressure got back to normal. To this day, if I get nervous or upset, hot tea works. When we got to Rome, everyone on the tour was asking me how I was. I felt great, because all of those drugs they gave me were taking effect. Floating down the sidewalk. They told the girls in our group to watch their butts, because Italian men liked to pinch them. We went to the Spanish Steps, which was around the corner from our hotel, and sure enough, there were butt pinchers there. I didn't get any pinchers after me, but the girls did. Go figure. Probably because I don't have a butt. I wanted to get a good night's sleep after the plane trip. It was very welcome.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

London Tour

The next day, we toured the sights of London. The Tower of London. Big Ben. Westminster Abbey. Buckingham Palace. Trafalgar Square. The Old Curiosity Shop. And other stuff. It was actually kind of a blur because of jet lag. I really don't see how some people do it. It took me about three days to get adjusted. That afternoon, some of us decided to go to the British Museum. We used the subway (tube) to get there, but we only had 30 minutes to see it, as we got there just before closing. The Rosetta Stone was about the only thing we saw. One thing that we had to get used to was the traffic. Having to look right then left was different than anywhere else, and we almost got run over several times. One thing about European drivers is that all bets are off. Forget stop signs or traffic lights. It is every man or woman for themselves. Good luck to the pedestrians. Another thing about London. The food was good, but they liked to serve the drink at the end of the meal. So, if something is hot, you just have to deal with it. I liked the bean soup, but not having water with it was tough. That night, we went to see the play "The Mousetrap". I guess it was good. Most of us slept through it. I didn't realize until about a year ago that one of the actors in the play was later "M" in some of the later James Bond films. After the play, we headed back to the hotel and to bed. I wish we had more time for London. That's one of the places that I would like to go back to. After all, most of the people there spoke English. Although, I was amazed how many Pakistanis were there. They seemed to work in the menial jobs, much like the Hispanics in the US. The tour had just started with lots more to come. Tomorrow, we would fly to Rome and another adventure.

Monday, July 6, 2009

London Calling

I have never been able to sleep on a plane or a bus or any public transportation. I have been able to sleep in a car, which I think goes back to when I was a kid. So, it was not surprising that I couldn't sleep on the plane from New York to London. I did watch a movie called "The Thief Who Came to Dinner", but I couldn't get into it. It was because of being deprived of sleep. As the plane got closer to London, we passed over Ireland, and I got to see the green hills of that country, and it made me want to visit it one day. I had always heard about the London fog. In fact, I had worn clothes made by London Fog. It was like pea soup coming into the airport. I was amazed that the pilot knew where the airport was, because we didn't see it until we landed. We landed at Heathrow, and I thought about The Beatles doing the same less than 10 years earlier. It still seemed like a dream. It was 7:30 there, when we arrived, but it was much earlier on our body clocks, so the tour gave us that day to get adjusted to the time difference. Everybody had jet lag. Most just wanted to get to the hotel and sleep. When we got to the hotel in downtown London, our rooms weren't ready, so some just collapsed in the lobby. We waited for what seemed like hours before getting into our rooms. Mr. Vivian (the tour leader) and I shared a room, as we were the only two males in the group of 16. Despite the fact that he was my college professor of Speech and Drama, I had no idea that he had a phobia for germs, and would wash his hands constantly. It became quite annoying in the room, and I found myself going out a lot. I went out that afternoon rather than sleeping. I was a bit of a zombie walking around London. I saw row houses and Hyde Park. I even had an American come up to me asking directions to the American Embassy. I used a British accent and sent him in the wrong direction. I went into a restaurant to order a grilled cheese sandwich. They didn't know what that was. After I tried to explain it to them, they ended up making me a quiche. That night, me and the other young people on the trip went walking around the neighborhood and found an underground mall. It was closed, but it was the first time we had been together without the adults. We decided then that we would experience the places besides the typical tour sites. We wanted to experience the night life and see the cites. We wanted to be with the people. It sounded like a good idea, but it would get us into trouble later in the tour. We went back to the hotel, and I finally got a few hours of sleep.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Travel Day

I have friends who are younger than 36. I actually like people younger than me. I don't really know why, but I don't have much in common with most people my age. Maybe Richard is the only one. I'll have to think on these things. Anyway, last year at this time I wrote about what happened on my trip to Europe. I was a very eventful time in my life for many reasons. I suggest that you go back into the blog archives and read the ones from July 5-25 for more information. This time around, I just want to write some observations. Many of which may be the same as what I wrote last year, but maybe not. If I sound like a travelogue, I'm sorry. But, I needed to think again about this time in my life. On July 5, 1973, I went with 15 other people to Europe. We met up at the Greenville/Spartanburg airport and flew out for Charlotte and then New York. On the trip were teachers and students. I was the only guy except for the tour leader. In my age group, there was Sandra, Talula, Judy and Sha. Sandra and Talula were my best friends on the trip, and we became inseparable. Some on the trip, like Talula, had never flown before, so it was a new experience. I had flown a few times. One thing we learned was the use of gum. Chew gum on takeoffs and landings to help with the ears popping. I still do that to this day. It also helps to calm any nerves one has. When we got to Kennedy Airport in NYC, we had a few hours to wait before boarding the plane for London. Some of us had lunch there. Others decided to explore the terminal. I saw one man selling pencils. When it came time to board the plane, Sandra and Talula weren't there. I had to go find them. It was a job that I had a lot on the trip. There was a lot of wandering for the three weeks we were in Europe. Some I knew about, and some I didn't. Maybe that was a good thing. We all got on the plane in time and bought the earpieces for the music and movie. Everyone was excited about this new experience that awaited us. We had no idea what we were getting into. It was an adventure. I felt like it was all a dream. Sandra told me that it wasn't a dream. It was real. And boy, was it real.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Peach Parade

I had another experience that I can cross off of my list of things to do. I was in a parade today. I had actually been in a parade once before, but that one was by accident. I was coming back from Laurens, after visiting my parents, a couple of weeks before Christmas. I was on this two-lane road and saw out of the corner of my eye a flatbed truck coming into my lane from a side street. I had to swerve to avoid hitting it and found myself in the Prosperity SC Christmas parade. I was driving right behind the Santa Claus float for about two blocks, until they turned off the road I was on. I waved to the few people along the road before moving on. But, the parade today was planned. I went to the Peach Festival in Gilbert SC, and walked in the parade passing out Andre Bauer stickers. I gave out a bunch of stickers to everyone I saw. Mostly country folk. Most of them were very nice. It was hot, but very much a party atmosphere. I even met Congressman Joe Wilson. Andre was once again nice to me and gave me another tip about a possible place to live that I will have to check into next week. I had not been feeling good the last couple of days. I think it was a stomach virus. But, being around those people today helped me feel better. I don't know if it counts being in a parade, if you don't really wave at people as you walk by, but giving out the stickers and walking by folks who were sitting in chairs, I guess constitutes being in the parade. At any rate, I am counting it as such. Unfortunately, I didn't get to eat any peaches. It was really too hot to do that. Maybe next time. So, there aren't many things left on my list of things I haven't done yet that I want to do. Because there are some things I just don't want to do like bungee jump or parachute out of a plane. Although, I did do a parachute simulation at Fort Jackson once, but it wasn't quite the same. It was only about 20 feet off of the ground. I don't think I want to ever wash windows on a skyscraper either. Some stuff is just common sense. I would like to fall in love, or have someone love me, but that is for another show and another life. And, I would like to open my own memorabilia store, if someone would be willing to go into business with me to put up the money. I have the stuff. Maybe one day. I also would like to fly in a private plane. I have been in big planes lots of times but not the small ones. The smallest was a 25-seater. Maybe one day. After I take some Bonine. I don't know what all else right now. I'm sure I can make up a more formal list, but that's for another blog. Another day. And, happy 4th of July to you and yours.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Some Things

This past week has been one for the books. First, there is all the hooplah surrounding our governor. If you have read my previous blogs, you can see where I come down on that issue. It is just a shame though. South Carolina is really a good place to live. We are not all sex-obsessed. We are not all rednecks. We are not all crazy. But, the media seems to think so. Maybe after all of this scandal is over, folks will once again see us as good people. Maybe.

Then, there was Farrah's death. We all knew it was coming. And, she should have gotten more press, but unfortunately Michael Jackson died on the same day. The TV stations have turned into the Michael Jackson channel. All Michael. All the time. We have learned a lot about him and his family. I hope there are some who are prosecuted for providing Michael with the drugs, if in fact that is what killed him. But, you know history repeats itself. Think Elvis. How many other celebrities are out there who have people catering to their every whim? Can someone say no to these people? Where is the responsibility?

Several others have died recently too. Seems to be going around. Like Karl Malden. He was 97. He was one of those people who you thought had already died. Is it possible to die twice?

The Army is pulling out of Iraq. At least, most of them are. A lot are heading to Afghanistan instead. How would you like to be a travel agent right now? How could you sell Afghanistan?

I went to the zoo yesterday. A calming place. The animals don't know who MJ is. They don't know who Mark Sanford is. They don't know where Iraq or North Korea is. They just hang out. We could learn from them.

If you have read my blog before, you may have read about the time that I accidentally got in the Prosperity Christmas parade by trying to avoid hitting a truck and finding driving behind Santa in the parade for a couple of blocks. Well, this Saturday I will be in the Peach Festival parade in Gilbert for Andre. It will be the first legit parade I have ever been in. I will have to practice my wave.

The 36th anniversary of my trip to Europe is coming up. Last year at this time, I wrote all about my trip, but I may put in some anecdotes or revisit those days. It was pivotal in my life.

Rock on.