Thursday, June 28, 2007

Playing with my balls HNT

I do love this time of year. I can finally get out and play with my balls out in the sunshine. Maybe get a little burn if I don't use a little protection. Spending all sorts of time working on perfecting my stroke. Work on my grip. Even changing positions and trying new things. Experimenting with new "equipment". Getting to play with different partners, even for an entire weekend. I hope to get out of town to play with other like-minded people. Sometimes I've found that I can learn some new tricks from others!

Of course, one needs to be well-equipped to do this, and I'm lucky enough to say that I am. Even all the way down to the spikes! Of course, the goal is to score, and I've scored quite well in the past. I find that I do my best work when I use a short stroke, especially around the short stuff. Some people dislike the sand, but I don't find any problems with my balls in the sand. I'm a little weird like that. I know that many people use different wedges to help them out--I'm old-fashioned. I just use one. But I like it.

Ultimately, though, it's the chance to commune with nature, up close and personal. To spend a few hours out in the sun, working up a good sweat, working all the muscles in my body, and enjoying the company of others. Sometimes friends, sometimes total strangers. Always passionate.

Damn, I love the summer!

This week's Mystery Guest is a long-time HNTer (aren't they all?) who has provided a wide variety of pictures. Some very sexy ones, but mostly on the silly side, and usually in conjunction with other bloggers. She's not going to reveal herself, but if you see her HNT this week, and do a little investigating, you'll be able to see all four pictures of this series. Well worth the dumpster diving, if you ask me!
"...the Other HNT" is a little bit on the tame side this week, but probably still warrants a bit of a NSFW warning. Hope you'll stop by and leave a commment!
As promised--next week's HNT will have a theme! Check out the details here! And as an advanced warning--I'll be out drinking beer and watching fireworks next Wednesday night. I probably can't open comments until around midnight MDT. Depends on when I get home. Plan on commenting either really late that night, or actually waiting for Thursday!
For those who don't plan on coming back before next week, I hope you all have a safe and fun Canada Day/4th of July!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Farewell (no, not me!)

As I was perusing my favorite blogs tonight, I found no less than five of them who have announced that they were either taking time off, or closing down completely. And that really sucks.

Next week's theme

Not this week, but next week's HNT theme will reflect the celebrations of both Canada Day and Independence Day. Last year's holiday theme worked pretty well, so we'll do it again. Beer, sun, fun, beer, road trips, get the idea. I'd like next week's HNT pics to be patriotic, fireworks, picnics, brass bands, Mom & apple pie celebrations. Take your cameras out with you this weekend and be proud you're a North American! Let's have some All-American/Canadian HNT pictures! However, I draw the line on bottle-rockets-out-the-butt pics or videos. Please. To show you why, I offer the following:

This guy goes twice!

This is probably the "best".

And if you thought girls don't do this sort of thing...

For those of you who don't celebrate the 1st or the 4th, feel free to take pics this weekend on your picnics/beer drinking/road trips or whatever you do this weekend!

Just Relax In The Goodness...

Musical Monday #20

With my mouth being in excruciating pain last week, I spaced out Musical Monday last week. To make up for that, I offer alot of choices...

As previously mentioned, I'm concentrating on the music of George & Ira Gershwin. I seriously doubt that any of you wouldn't recognize some of their songs. One of the most recognizable, and most recorded, of their vast song catalog is "Summertime", from their opera Porgy and Bess. It has been recorded in just about all contemporary styles, and by just about anyone who's anyone. And that's what's great about their music--it's pretty much timeless.

Since this is the first Musical Monday of the summer, I've picked 6 different versions of this song. Couldn't find a decent recording of Janis Joplin/Jimi Hendrix, but I did find versions by Sublime (whom I'm finding I wish I'd listened to back in the day...), The Zombies (best known for "She’s Not There" and "Time Of The Season"), Ray Charles and Cleo Laine, Tori Amos, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, and a wonderfully soulful version by Carl H. Hall. Enjoy the summer!

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Public Service Announcement

I saw this article earlier in the week, and figured I'd share it with you. It has to do with the health safety of your sex toys (those of you who use them...). There was a specific part towards the end of the article that caught my eye...
    "...There is no government oversight of sex toys because, officially, sex toys aren’t meant to be used on people — they're “novelties.” So neither the Environmental Protection Agency nor Food and Drug Administration has any oversight of their marketing or manufacture. And there seems to be no official research by government or universities on sex toy manufacturing or ingredients..."
Leave it to the government to determine that sex toys aren't intended to be used on people. Are they supposed to be used on the pets? Displayed as art work? Kept in the silverware drawer? Just some questions for a lazy Saturday morning...

Friday, June 22, 2007

Home for the weekend!


Like father, like son...

This is the arm that they COULDN'T find a vein in for the IV on Wednesday...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dr. Mengele HNT


Bekah has been regaling us for the past 10 days or so about her teeth, and the root canal she's ending up getting. Last month, Crystal told us all about her adventures with nitrous oxide at the dentist's office (oh, so much better than I ever could! If you've never read her, go NOW!). Today, it's my turn!

Once upon a time, maybe 25-30 years ago, my dad filled my lower left molar. The one that dentists call "#18". I'm sure it hurt like hell, and he looked at his baby boy, and enjoyed every moment of it! Somewhere over the past 15-20 years, I have, on numerous occasions, told him that I thought that the filling had cracked or something. I can't eat on the left side of my mouth, and if something happens to wander over there, and I bite it, it makes me climb the walls. Even if it's something soft like bread. I've had a popcorn kernel over there--not a very pretty site... Dad never could find the problem, and surmised that I was really a wimp.

Fast forward to this past Mother's Day. I'm sitting at home, eating my cold fried rice from the night before, and felt a couple of hard bits of something... Turns out, #18 was falling apart on me. I saved the two pieces (see below...). It didn't really bother me, other than the gaping hole left there that my tongue seemed to have a fascination with. Until Saturday. I'm sitting at the computer, and take a swig of diet Coke. Oh, sweet Mary, Jesus and Joseph. It only got worse during the day. To the point of keeping me up that night. You can read the rest of the weekend in my post from a couple of days ago.

Monday, I went in to see the dentist. He took a quick look at the x-ray and gave me my two options. The first that he suggested was to do a root canal, and then get a crown put on. There was still plenty of good tooth left--just the inside was decayed beyond salvage (due, of course, to the cracked filling that Dad never found...). The cost for this fun? About $2K. Option two--extract the tooth. At a fraction of the cost. After checking my dental insurance (also known as "how much money is in my checking account?), I obviously went with option 2. Because of the roots that were twisted around, I was referred to an oral surgeon, with an appointment for this morning.

I couldn't get this focused really well, but these are the two pieces from Mother's Day.

#18 is on the right. Note the temporary filling that doesn't really fill the gaping hole
(the second tooth from the left is a "good" filling), and the roots that seem to be almost crossing.

This morning, I went in for the extraction. Dad took me, since I wouldn't be allowed to drive (general anesthesia). It only took about 20 minutes for them to find a vein to tap. Deep, deep veins. But once they did, it took all of 30 seconds to knock me out dead cold. I have no idea how long I was under, but they hit me up with some Novocaine, used the "lower molar forceps", and packed me with gauze. They may have done other unspeakable things to me, but I sort of doubt it. I came to, Dad got my prescriptions--penicillin (to prevent a STD? what DID they do???), and a nice supply of Tylenol 4 (didn't know they went past 3!), and I spent the afternoon napping. Either I'm a glutton for pain, or it just hasn't hit yet. I haven't cracked open the Tylenol yet. Probably will before I go to bed. And then save the rest (I'm taking bids...).

The disappointing thing about all of this--I wasn't allowed to take the tooth (or all the pieces) home with me. A biohazard, I guess. I had hoped to at least get a picture of it, or some of the procedure. Even had the camera with me. Nothing. But don't despair! I've got a couple of pics for you from home. WARNING!--these aren't pretty! And they're really big. Only click if you're a weird duck! This is the gauze after about 45 minutes. And this is what an extraction looks like while I could still open up this wide before the Novocaine wore off.

All things considered, an exciting and educational day!
This week's Mystery Guest is another one of the long-time HNTers to finally show up here. I still don't know at this point if she's going to reveal herself or not She will be revealing herself on Thursday afternoon. I do know that there's a distinctive tattoo on her back that her longtime fans would recognize immediately. It's there, but you'll have to look for it. She participates in all the things that the cool kids do--Boobiethon, FUFridays, HNT, and just about any meme she gets tagged for, from what I can tell. If you think you know who it is, be sure to drop her a line!
The angelic Mystery Guest this week is Zoely! Stop by her site and check out the Goth side of her!
Seems like the guys like to get their anonymous shots in before the gals for "...the Other HNT". As always, it's NSFW, but if you visit, please leave a comment! Your fellow HNTers would appreciate it!
Be aware that there WILL be a theme for HNT two weeks from now. In celebration of Canada Day and the 4th of July! Stay tuned for details!!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Alfred Hitchcock Would Love This...

Many of you will remember my weekend of bird killing last July. If you need a refresher, check it out here. I'll wait...

Well, it's apparently that time of year again. But I believe the birdie elders have been teaching the young ones a little better. Apparently, they are jumping out of their nesting area and flapping their wings immediately. Directly through the open door to the balcony. Flying around my living room. Normally, I don't think I really mind too much. The door has to stay open, because there's no A/C up here (it's Montana), so I've grown to accept that things may fly in. Mostly bees and the occasional moth.

My first birdie friend visited Monday. He was so cute. Just like a terrified 15 y.o. girl who's behind the wheel of a car for the first time. I think the bird had its eyes closed. It would fly beak-first into the wall. Then the TV. Then it would poop. The wall again. The CD rack. Every time it did this, it would fall to the floor in utter exhaustion. Breathing heavily. Eyes big. Then it would poop again. Exhausted to the point that I could get close enough to actually touch it. But as soon as I did, it would find the strength and courage to get away from me (alot like the women in my life....), flapping its wings for all they're worth, bouncing beak-first into new obstacles. And pooping some more.

I was successful in finally herding it out to the balcony again, where it ended up near the drainage hole. The same drainage hole where previous generations of birds fell to their eventual demise. But this time, it was different! Mustering all of its little birdie strength, it ran through the hole, and FLEW!!! Out in the great unknown! I watched it fly all the way across the street, until the crow swooped in and grabbed him and landing on the roof of another apartment. Would he come back here? Who knows? Didn't get the chance to tag him...

This morning, as I'm getting ready to go to surgery, one of his siblings took the leap. Still running beak-first into things, but this time I was near my camera, so before herding it out, I snapped a picture. He made it to the top of a picture frame on the wall.

I finally got this one out the door, but I didn't see where he ended up. Hopefully the elders are getting the word out--STAY OUT OF THE APARTMENT!!! But if you do--don't poop.

Monday, June 18, 2007

More evidence...

Here is more evidence that the original OsShirt was stolen, and bits and pieces of it sold to unscrupulous characters...

Thanks to Phain for the picture!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Weekend

One of the things about playing in a band is that you can't always pick your crowd at a gig. We have played for some wedding receptions that were more like funerals (even had one where the two families fought with each other!), and we've had some crowds that we figured would break up hours before our contracted time, only to stick around and have fun to the end of the night.

Friday night was one of those "mystery" gigs. The only thing we knew is that it wasn't a dance, but a show. We don't do shows. There's nothing worse than having people watch us play. At least when they're dancing, their attention isn't totally on us. So who hired us? The Boy Scouts of America. To be fair--we've played for them in 1999, too. Big camporee going on, and we were the "show" for Friday night. Which involved two flatbeds, 3 generators, and hundreds of boys in the hills north of town. Hundreds of boys who had been camping out all week. Hundreds of boys who hadn't seen a woman all week. Things stared out with a couple of Eagle scouts who were quite disorganized, but were successful getting the crowd hyped up. Then it was our turn.

What do you play for a bunch of teenage boys, especially knowing what crap they listen to on the radio? Well, pretty much anything you want. From our first notes, we had a mosh pit in front of us for the entire night! For most of these kids, we were the first live band they'd ever seen/heard. We even got away with playing two slow songs--and all of the boys just sort of drooled, watching our lead singer (yeah, she's hot). When it was all over, they wanted our autographs, and thanked us, and then walked away with smiles on their faces.

Was it hokey? Yeah. Would we want to do this on a regular basis? Oh, hell no! But would we take the enthusiasm any day of the week!
The Father's Day BBQ I anticipated for today didn't happen. Too many family people out of town, so were getting together later this week. I did get to give my dad a treat. Remember the tooth I broke on Mother's Day? Well, it's gotten worse over the weekend. Kept me up Saturday night, and to the point where I couldn't even drink a glass of water without climbing the walls. So I went to the drug store and got some sort of temporary filling material (who knew they made that stuff?), stopped by my parent's, and let Dad do his dental thing (he's been retired for about 13 years). The good news--he hasn't lost his touch, even with the arthritis, bad eyes and absence of the spit-sucker thingy. The bad news--I HAVE to get to a dentist and get this taken care of as soon as possible! Damn, I hate the dentist...
I don't want to stir the pot here, and I'm not commenting on the state of affairs. Just something I've noticed over the past few Sundays. As I channel surf, I continue to pause at the religious channels. Not for the preachers, but the music. Have you ever really watched for awhile? They are full-blown concerts. With sets that dazzle the eye. Six to eight TV cameras. 150-200 voice choirs. Small orchestras. A slew of soloists out in front. Concert halls that hold 5000 worshipers. By the time all is said and done, how many tens of thousands of dollars were spent on TV production, set design, and everything else, only to be spent again next Sunday? Wouldn't all that money be better spent on other things? Say, like feeding/clothing the needy? Health care for children and the elderly? Housing for the poor? Just wondering...

Friday, June 15, 2007

Da Count #20 - Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my dad's 74th birthday. Last year at this time, he found out that he might have a cancerous tumor in his bladder. Since then, he's dealt with all of this stuff. In spite of it all, he's still going strong! Just hope he makes it to 75...

If you want to read more about "Da Count", click on the button below...


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Contest Winner

As mentioned below, I had a slight delay regarding the winner of the contest, but I can announce it now. The winner, with 22/24 correct answers, was Snow White, followed closely by No One In Particular and The Good Doctor with 20/24 correct. Snow White is the winner of the $50 iTunes gift card. Congrats!

Beer Drinkin' HNT, and Contest Results!

Looks like sometime tonight I'm going to pass the 500,000 visitor mark. Woohoo!
UPDATE: Visitor #500,000 stopped by at 4:28AM MDT (8:28PM local time) from Sydney, Australia. Their ISP is Chilli Internet Sollutions. Congratulations! (sorry--no prize...)
Summers here in town mean the return of everyone's favorite function, "Alive @ 5ive" (I don't want the search engines here looking for "Five". Plus I'm channeling my favorite album from the Jackson brothers...). Anyway, it's beers and food at 5:00, and live music from 6 to 9. Not sure who's playing tonight, but no one's there for the music. It's a chance every week to meet up with friends, have a good time, and catch a new band each week.

This is something that's been going on here for 10 years, I believe. My band has played for at least 8 of those years. This year, we will be at the final one of the summer. Crowds aren't quite as big in September, but we won't be broiling in 95° heat, either.

Tonight, I meet up with a couple of high school classmates to celebrate the 50th birthday of one of them. She's almost the last one in our class to turn 50. We'll eat, we'll drink, and drink some more. And like the old farts that we are, will be home around 8:00. Some of us have to take care of HNT!

This week's Mystery Guest is a long time HNTer, having participated for well over a year. She drinks Bud Light, smokes Marlboro Lights, has a few tattoos. She's gone to Sturgis! Her dad is a guitarist in a band, and I believe she's been on stage with them a time or two. She can put her legs behind her head (can't wait for that HNT!) and showers twice a day. She's a fighter, and doesn't let life keep her down. She's also got a very girlie side, which we get to see each week, and is a very proud auntie!
I'll be revealing her here late Thursday afternoon, but if you know who she is, stop by and say hi!
This week's MG is the lovely Jinsane over at Mind Blowing Insanity. Stop by and check out her Tool Time pics!
"...the Other HNT" is full of lovely shots today! The guys stepped up to the plate early--thought that's all I was going to get for the week at one point! Stop by and check everyone out (and leave a comment!). As usual, it's definitely NSFW!
The Graduation Picture Contest has ended. As promised, it wasn't very easy. No one got all of them correct, but most got more than I anticipated. First off--who were the graduates (click it to big it)?

1. Rob of Opening Time
2. Jules of Julie, Do Ya Love Me?
3. Jon of Kick In The Pants
4. Regal of Life…Or Something Like It
5. No One In Particular of Tasty Tidbits Of Life
6. Polt of Polt's Palace
7. Vixen of Secrets Of A Blue-Eyed Vixen
8. Snow White of Snow Wonders
9. Leela of Leela Lamore
10. Beth of Snark City
11. Summer of Summer Is The Shizzle
12. BTExpress of BTExpress
13. Hella of Just Rambling On!
14. Vic of Geekalicious
15. Tara of Tara Tainton
16. Biscuit of One Biscuit Hound
17. Phain of Le Chat Qui A Peur
18. Exposed of Hidden In Plain Sight
19. Osbasso of Views From The Back Row
20. Chelle of It's My Escape!!!
21. Moose of Give A Moose A Muffin
22. Simply Me of This And That
23. Bekah of My Kingdom….
24. Skindee of Adventures In Blah Blah Land

Many thanks to everyone who submitted their pictures! For the record--Jules, NOIP, Phain, Moose, Simply Me and Skindee were correctly identified by everyone who answered. After that, it was a crap shoot.

Some people threatened me with physical harm if they didn't win. A couple of them tried to bribe me. But I stood strong! The winner--OK--this is embarrassing...I'm awaiting clarification from someone... I'll have the winner ASAP!!! Sorry!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Musical Monday #19

Any of you who have been coming by here for awhile should remember the big symphony concert we put on in the later part of July. A free outdoor concert for 10,000 of our closest friends. Something that I've been intimately involved with for almost 10 years now. You can check my July archives for the past two years to see what they were like.

This year, we're doing an all-Gershwin concert (plus the "1812 Overture"--must be a law or something). And we'll be adding a small chorus for the first time to sing background parts from "Porgy & Bess". We'll also be playing "Rhapsody In Blue", "American In Paris", "Cuban Overture" and a suite of popular songs written by the Gershwin brothers. Should be a fantastic concert!

To get into a Gershwin mood, I've been listening to alot of Gershwin lately, performed by a wide variety of performers. That's what's so wonderful about the Gershwin's music. While the orchestral pieces are intended to be played as written, their songs lend themselves to many different interpretations. For Musical Monday this summer, I'll be posting nothing but Gershwin. First up--"I Got Rhythm" performed by jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli (plus his vocal stylings!). Enjoy!

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Out of Hiding

At least that's what it seems like. Funny how lack of inspiration hits so quickly... I just had nothing to blog about all weekend. Got to chat with a couple of people, but for the most part, the weekend was spent cleaning house--reshelving, rearranging, tossing things out, etc. Summer must be coming up quickly!
The first hint of competition in the Contest has surfaced. There are 4 people who are close--but none of them are 100%! Surprisingly, all four of them are missing different people! Remember, the Contest ends Tuesday night at midnight (MDT). There's a $50 iTunes gift card up for grabs!
Ah, love.... There's two buildings of my apartment complex. The "other" building seems to have a great deal more turnover than my building. Fairly recently, some rather noisy younger people moved in. I'm not sure if it was a couple that was shacking up, or a couple of guys with their girlfriends. All I know is that they'd been coming home after bars closed, with their music up loud enough to be heard for a couple of blocks. And they could wake up the neighborhood just from the yelling and cursing and laughing from their cars to their door. Well, somewhere along the way, something happened. It's gotten much quieter around here lately!
(Two different cars. Click 'em to big 'em)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

One More Birthday Present HNT

Someone asked me after last week's HNT about what other things I got while I was in Dallas for the big weekend. I certainly didn't go down there expecting anything more than beers and good times. Which I got over and over! But I got a little bit of something from everyone that was there, each holding a special moment, at least.

Focusing on what Tara Tainton and her lover/friend/roomie got me (only because they got me a couple of fun things...)--I loved the Lava Glitter Lamp that I posted last week. The other really fun thing was this USB-powered mini-aquarium! The fish swim around, and the blue lighting is sort of hypnotizing. If you think that watching glitter float around is a time killer, then you'd be in for a treat watching this! And I have. For hours. (be sure to click to see the fish!)

The other gifts I received mean as much to me as well. The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, the cap, the lap dances (!), the beers, the nightlight (using it!), the quiet times, the t-shirt (ha!), the heirloom, the scrapbook, and the rest of it--all of it meant a great deal. Oh, so did the burned copy of "Pirates"! No, not the Johnny Depp thing. But "Pirates", the most expensive porn movie made to date. Can't quite watch it from beginning to end, if you know what I mean, but everything I've seen so far is pretty good! It even has a plot! Thanks, Tara!!! And thank you all that were with us in Dallas! I won't forget that weekend!
As Phain noted in the comments, the Dallas bloggers weren't the only ones that I got bday presents from! It was not my intent to leave anyone out (though Moose can tell you that I'm terrible at that sort of thing...). So to all of you that took care of me for my bday, my many thanks and humble apologies for not mentioning some of you!
My plea for a Mystery Guest this week apparently worked, as this young lady stepped out of the shower and stepped up to the plate. She's a little shy, so she won't be revealing herself. I can tell you that she's been an avid HNT participant since she first started joining in. She's single, she's sexy, and hides a few mildly shocking secrets behind her innocent smile. Which, unfortunately, you won't see here. But I don't think you'll mind...
A nice collection of pictures for "... the Other HNT" this week. It's NSFW, as usual, but tamer than in the past. For the most part.
Click here to get to the Contest. The winner will receive a $50 iTunes gift certificate! The contest ends next Tuesday night at midnight, and the winner will be announced (along with the answers) with next Thursday's HNT. It's admittedly difficult, but give it a shot!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Springtime in the Rockies

To get the real feeling for these, be sure to click 'em to big 'em!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Release, Reward, Request, Really Good, Reality

WARNING: This post will frustrate some of you!

One of the things that has developed about being "Os" is that I'm apparently someone that people can trust. I don't deny that. I appreciate that trust. And I'm talking beyond the whole anonymous site, though I think that's a part of the reason. Over the past couple of weeks, I've been privy to a number of secrets. Some of them might come out over time, others never will. But as they've recently piled up, I find that I need a release. So, without breaking any confidences here, I've decided to "release":
  • CONGRATULATIONS!!! And you're welcome!
  • Congratulations!
  • I don't think it's wise, but tread lightly!
  • Congratulations! I hope that everything works in your favor!
  • Good luck! I think it's the right way to go...
  • I think you're jumping from the frying pan into the fire...
  • Now that you've started the process, I hope you see it through!
Whew! I feel so much better!
Click here to get to the Contest. I've decided on a prize! The winner will receive a $50 iTunes gift certificate! The contest ends next Tuesday night at midnight, and the winner will be announced (along with the answers) with next Thursday's HNT. If you think that you don't have a chance... I estimate that the winner will have no more than 14/24 correct. So let's get those answers in!
I have no Mystery Guest this week yet...
OMG! I have found my newest vice. Made by Breyers. A&W Root Beer Float Ice Cream. Vanilla ice cream with an A&W Root Beer Sherbet Swirl. One step away from the real thing, which itself is one step away from Heaven. Tish, you've got to try this stuff!!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Musical Monday #18

A bit of the travel bug has set in on me. There are a couple of places where I'd like to go this summer, but unfortunately, I don't see how I can possibly afford it. Well, I could, but that wouldn't be the "responsible" thing to do. I've done all the google mapping, and figuring out what it would take, and how long it would take, and how much expensive gas it would take. I just don't think it's in the cards. Other than maybe a quick one in July. And a distant one in August. A long ways away, but if I buy the ticket soon, it wouldn't be TOO terribly bad. To the person that I discussed that one with--we need to make a decision soon!

In my early school days at Bishop Gilmore School (like the way I can just change on a dime?), one of the first music groups to really catch my ear was Simon & Garfunkel. It helped that Sr. Mary Thomas was a big fan of them. Both their music and their lyrics. She used to play their songs constantly. To the point that we could sing along with every one of them. I heard this one the other day, and it fits my wanderlust. Traveling by bus across America...

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Yet another music service that's letting me down... Trust me, it's a great song!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Class of 2007

Yesterday, on the hottest day of the year to date (87° F), a few thousand friends, family and staff crammed the un-airconditioned PE Center at the college to watch the 33rd commencement ceremonies for one of the two local high schools. The significance, you ask? To watch the second of my nieces graduate. She's on the left in this picture:

I have gone to my share of high school graduations in my lifetime. I can write out all the instrumental parts to "Pomp & Circumstance" from memory. There are certain things that you find in every commencement ceremony (though, now that I think about it, there wasn't any sort of benediction...). What I discovered yesterday is that I really enjoy the whole process. Even though I only knew my niece, and maybe 2-3 others, I was struck by the whole unabashed naïveté of the entire graduating class. The attitude that they were going to conquer the world that we, their elders, had left on there doorstep. These kids, who know FAR more than I ever did at that age, have a sense of being invincible. Invulnerable. Unconquerable. And every class that I've seen receive their diplomas has thought the same thing. The theme of the valedictorian's speech, jointly given by the seven who received a 4.0 GPA (btw--the smart kids don't fit the "geek" label like they used to), was "success" and "no regrets"--be successful at whatever you do, and hold no regrets about doing it.

The other significance came from the numbers of faces that I recognized in the gym. A number of my classmates had kids graduating. A number of friends of my parents who had grandchildren graduating. The principal, who greeted me by name in the hallway. He was a young social studies teacher when I went to the same school over thirty years ago. In fact, I was part of the very first graduating class from that school. Our class is responsible for the godawful school colors of brown and gold. In a two-school town like this, it's the community of events like this that are special.

It also got me to thinking of the past HS graduation ceremonies that I've been part of. Two of them stick out in my mind. Those would be the first and the last ones that I was involved as a faculty member. The first was in 1980, less than two weeks after Mt. St. Helens erupted. School had been cancelled for the rest of the year, due to the huge amount of ash that was still on the ground and floating in the air. No finals! But the administration felt it was important to hold graduation on schedule. So the ceremony was held in the gym, with a fine layer of dust coating every inch of the bleachers, percussion equipment, hallways, etc. But did anyone notice? Not in the least! (Ironically, it's the same gymnasium used in the movie "Dante's Peak" - a volcano movie - where they have a town meeting and all hell breaks loose!) The second memorable one occurred 10 years later. I was also one of the senior class advisors (and oh, what an excellent class to work with!). One of the class officers, who was also in my band, asked if I had any music from the year that most of them were born (1972). Well, of course I did. So she and I came up with a mix tape of music from 1972, and decided that rather than a stuffy recessional piece played by the band, they'd march out to the first song of the tape, which "happened" to be Alice Cooper's "School's Out". Of course, she and I were the only ones to know about it. I caught hell from the administration, but I had numerous parents commend the decision. And rather than file out, the whole class just stayed on the floor, hugging and high-fiving. Took the entire first side of the tape before people started to head out. A perfect way to end their school career.
As the senior class was filing across the dais to receive their diplomas and a congratulatory handshake from strangers they didn't know (school board members), my brother-in-law leaned over and wondered aloud which one of these kids' "success" meant a highly productive meth lab. Or getting married quickly, only to become a wife-beater. Or getting to a good college, only to piss away their parent's hard earned money by partying every night and flunking out. He said it semi-jokingly, but he had a point. Among this class of 2007, there's going to be violent/sex offenders and drug dealers and scam artists. There's also going to be a handful of them dead by the 10-year reunion. Hell, there may be a couple dead within a year.

But every year, the hope renews, because in that same class will be successful businessmen, philanthropists, doctors and teachers. And it's that hope, and that naïveté, that is what makes me like these things every time I go to one.