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Oh Mother...! The Father Chronicles

Whole Lotta Rockin’ Goin’ On…

Dad's ipod
…in the Nursing Home, that is.
Taken February 16, 2008 with Nokia 6275i Cameraphone

Yeah, so my dad bought an iPod. My Brother the Trespasser picked it up for him, set it up and showed him how to use it.

Dad spent about three hours playing with it and yelling at us what a “great rig” it was. The volume was so high that I could hear the lyrics from across the room. Every now and again he’d ask if it was his or my brother’s, and did I think he ought to get one for himself? Give him a break – he’s 87.

He may have his days where he can’t remember what happened five minutes ago, but he has no problem with what happened 65 years ago. He told me the “Cabbage Story” again, at my request.

That was a big ship we went Overseas on. Everybody had a job they had to do, and I ended up doing prep work in the galley. You never saw such a big space, either. There’d be fifty soldiers working down there at once, getting the meals ready.

We’d be peeling potatoes, or cabbages, or brussels sprouts. Those little buggers are hard to peel – I still hate brussels sprouts to this day, don’t I, Maude?

Mother: I guess so.

Dad: You’re darn right, I do! I hated having to peel those things. We’d be down there for hours at a time, hunched over, peeling vegetables – it got pretty boring. Now and again we’d get up to shenanigans, like the time that big Mulatto fella almost stabbed me to death… closest I came to getting killed during the whole war.

Mother: Well, what about when you spent all those months in the hospital with Diphtheria?! That nearly killed you!

Dad: Well, there’s a big difference between dying of Diphtheria and getting stabbed to death by a big Mulatto fella, now, isn’t there?!

Mother: I guess so…

Dad: You’re darn right there is!

Me: So how’d you nearly get stabbed to death by a big Mulatto fella?

Dad: I hit him in the head with a cabbage.

(at this point the conversation pauses… as it does every time he tells me this story, because neither of us can stop laughing for a bit…)

We were bored, see? And we got up to a game of catch. We were supposed to be peeling cabbages in our group, and the outer leaves come off just as easy when you toss a cabbage twenty feet across the room to the guy on the other side. I suppose we could have peeled them faster if we hadn’t been fooling around, but it wouldn’t have been as much fun, I guess.

Anyway, I was tossing cabbages back and forth with this other guy, and the cabbage we were using for a ball was pretty much peeled, when this big Mulatto fella come walking in between us, just as I heaved my cabbage across the room. Smacked him right upside the head with it.

Cabbages are hard, too, when all the fluffy stuff is peeled off. He was a big fella, though, and even though it smacked him pretty good, it didn’t knock him over. He turned and looked at me and I knew I was gonna pay for throwing that cabbage.

Then he snatched up a knife and started walking toward me, and I knew I was a dead man.

Mother: You’ll notice he’s not walking around dead about now…

Dad: You shhhh – ush!

Me: Yeah, Dad – how’d you get outta getting stabbed to death?

Dad: I don’t know. He just stopped about half-way and put the knife down. He didn’t even say anything, just walked away. Maybe he thought better of it, or figured I wasn’t worth a court-martial. Anyway, he didn’t stab me to death, so that’s good.

Me: What’d you do then?

Dad: I went to my bunk and changed my pants.

And don’t forget to enter The Big “Extra Copy” Caption Contest!

Random Song for the Day: “Friend is a Four-Letter Word” – Cake

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The Father Chronicles

Ruby’s Right – You Can’t Trust That Internet.

Horses in Winter
Team in Winter – Source Unknown

I found this info while looking for links for this waaaaaay back story of my dad’s that he told me on Saturday. I’m still shaking my head.

Ruby says you can’t trust that Internet – and I guess she’s right, this time, at least. This is not a “Ghost Island” I’m about to talk about, although there aren’t many that can say they live there year ’round. And apparently the Canuckian Government Census-Takers ought to make the odd phone call now and again.

Cockburn Island (Island Week)



Cockburn Island is a ‘ghost’ island in Ontario, which despite the apparent signs of life (there’s a small town and marina) has an official population of zero. The 1996 census listed a population of just two, but both people had left by 2001, making this the least populated incorporated municipality in Canada.

Some of these abandoned houses are supposedly still used as holiday homes, but what interests me if the makeshift airport to be found deep in the forest. It’s evidently still in use but I’ve found no mention of the airport around the internet. Most websites say that the marina is the “only way of getting on the island”, but it’s clearly not. If you asked me, an abandoned island would be the perfect place for an evil empire to keep its headquarters…

Thanks: Matt Blum & Taylor

  blog it

Clearly, one can’t believe everything found on the internet. Wikipedia has this to say, slightly (slightly, I say) closer to the truth:

“Cockburn Island is an island in the Canadian province of Ontario, located in the Manitoulin District. It is separated from the westernmost point of Manitoulin Island by the Mississagi Strait, and from Michigan’s Drummond Island by the False Detour Channel.

Cockburn Island had a permanent population of ten in the 2006 Canadian census. The island does, however, have a recreational summer population of anywhere from 50-200 people. In the 2001 census, the island’s population had been reported as zero, due to Statistics Canada’s counting method of rounding off population figures for communities of smaller than 15 people.

It is the least populated incorporated municipality in Canada, and township offices are located on the mainland in Thessalon, actually in the district of Algoma. The island is not connected to either Manitoulin or Drummond Islands by bridge or ferry service. The only available transportation is by private boat or float plane from Manitoulin or Thessalon.

A small portion of the island is taken up by the Cockburn Island 19 Indian reserve, which also has no permanent population; this is a heritage land belonging to a First Nation whose primary community is located on Manitoulin Island. The remainder constitutes the township of Cockburn Island.”

First of all, the “airport” is an airstrip, upon which small planes can land and take off, and sometimes, they even do! In really stormy weather, when you can’t get out by boat, and you have a heart attack, or appendicitis, or you fall out of your tree, making a radio-call for a plane is the only way off the island to a doctor… assuming the weather isn’t so bad that a plane can’t fly, in which case, you’d be SOL. Luckily, this doesn’t happen often.

Secondively (Suzism), “both people had left by 2001″…?! Nope. One died, and her husband most likely spent that winter on the Manitoulin. He went back to Cockburn, though, and eventually remarried. Ummm. Not sure where he found her, but it probably wasn’t anywhere on the Island itself, which is only 15 miles across – hard to miss a woman, even if she’s trying to hide. I haven’t met the new wife, but my kid has, and she says the new wife is pretty groovy. They raise peacocks. Or something.

Thirdly, Cockburn Island proper is now privately owned, by some rich guy from somewhere in the U.S. I haven’t met the new owner, but my parents have, and they say he’s pretty groovy, too…. He’s let everybody that owns land and buildings keep what’s theirs… I think they have to sell to him when they’re sick of the place or something. Fair enough, I guess.

AND….. no. It’s not pronounced the way you’re laughing at, either… It’s pronounced “CO-burn.” Stop laughing, now.

So how do I know all this? Well, my parents are “Haweaters,” having been born and raised on Manitoulin Island, as opposed to “Sandtrampers”, which is what they’d be if they’d been born and raised on Cockburn Island. There’s always been a fairly friendly rivalry between the Haweaters and the Sandtrampers. Having been raised by Haweaters, but having spent much of my childhood on Cockburn Island, I wonder if I might be able to call myself a Hawtramper…? Sandeater…? Hmmmmm….

Thessalon is where *I* was born and raised. I generally refer to it here, Where the Walls are Soft, as “Teeny-Tiny Town”. My dad opened up a farm machinery sales business in “Teeny-Tiny Town” in 1947, married my mom in ’48 and moved her there from the Manitoulin. His business turned into a Ford dealership (please, no “Found On Road Dead” jokes…) and eventually, he sold it – 1977, that was, and got himself a job rebuilding, and then captaining a big ol’ steel tugboat called “The Debbie-Cin”, with which he hauled a barge back and forth from Cockburn Island to Thessalon for The Midway Lumber Company.

Dad had a cottage on Cockburn Island by then, although we’d spent many summers docked at the so-called “marina” (cement pier) there, before the camp, as we Northerners call a “cottage”, was built. The town on Cockburn, by the way, is called “Tolsmaville”. So there, Internet. I taught you something.

Anyway, back to the job my dad had, hauling timber on a barge… it’s interesting, mainly because my mom and I got to go back and forth with him. What would have been an hour’s boat ride in my dad’s 31 ft cabin cruiser took about four hours in The Debbie-Cin. That’s when we were towing an empty barge from Thessalon to Cockburn. The return trip, with a full barge, was more like 7 or 8 hours. I did a lot of reading that summer.

But it’s even more interesting, now that I learn that my dad came full circle when he got that job. He had another job hauling stuff from Thessalon to Cockburn during The Dirty Thirties. 1938, to be exact. He was 18 years old.

That was my first job off the Manitoulin. I guess it was my first job for anybody other than my own dad, now I think it through a little. My brother Marvin got it for me. He’d been hired to haul hay to Cockburn from Thessalon, because he had a team of horses. Not everybody did, you know, and most of them worked in the bush hauling out timber, although you didn’t see much of that in the winter, I guess.

The boats couldn’t run in the winter, obviously, and sometimes Marvin would get a job carrying the mail, or hauling farm parts over the ice. There was a lot of people living there then – they didn’t start moving off the Island until after the War started. World War II, I mean.

Me: That’s when the ferry stopped, wasn’t it?

What ferry?

Me: The ferry from Meldrum Bay to Cockburn.

(snorts) I don’t know where you hear this stuff. There wasn’t no ferry from the Manitoulin to Cockburn! You’re all mixed up. They tried running a ferry from Blind River to Cockburn for awhile, but they couldn’t make a go of it, and it shut down after a year.

Me: I thought I heard it from you..!

Well, like I say, you’re all mixed up. Now, where was I?

Right, Marvin had a team of horses… So, he could usually get a job hauling something in the winter. He didn’t have a boat, so people like Bill Jones made runs in the summer, carrying the mail, and goods, and people back and forth between Cockburn and Meldrum and Thessalon, but Bill would usually hire Marvin to help out in the winter, and that year Marvin asked me to give him a hand. They had hay to haul from Thessalon to Cockburn, and Bill Jones only had Marvin’s team, and his own and one other to do it. Gord Nichols, I think it was.

Remember how we’d go on the snow machines and follow the tree-line? That made the trip easier, when they set out everybody’s Christmas trees in a line all the way from the breakwater in Thessalon to the breakwater on Cockburn. Any old idjit could follow that. They didn’t do that in 1938, though, and a lot of idjits got lost and froze to death. (laughs)

Bill Jones knew what he was doing, though. He’d been doing it awhile. It was my first real job, and I was nervous. We had to haul a great big sleigh full of hay, and I was driving. I didn’t have to worry much about getting lost, because I was following Bill, and Gord Nichols was behind me. I was kind of leery of the ice, mind you, because the Great Lakes don’t really freeze. We were on the North Channel, and you could usually count on decent ice, but you had to be careful because there’d be air pockets, and sometimes you’d hit open water real sudden. Lots of people went in, and lots of people lost their teams.

Anyway, we got about half-way to Cockburn and decided to stop for lunch. It was cold as hell, and we stomped around a lot, clapping our hands to ward off frost bite. Remember how I used to make you do that at the half-way mark? You gotta make sure to do that now and again – if you sit still too long your toes’ll fall right off, when you take your boots off.

So we stomped around and unhitched the teams and led them up to the back of Bill’s sleigh to feed. We were just about to eat lunch ourselves, when Bill noticed the water coming up around his feet. He started to yell at us all to get the hell away RIGHT NOW!!! I never run so fast in my life!

Marvin had the double-trees and he’d just managed to hook the goose-neck into them (Les Says: I have no idea what that means, but I didn’t want to interrupt him at this point…) when the back end of the bob went down through the ice and dumped all of Bill’s hay into the channel.

I don’t remember who hitched up Marvin’s team, might even have been me, but all of a sudden we were flying over the ice, with Bill yelling to spread out so we didn’t all go down at once for the weight. I was scared to death and I didn’t have anybody to follow anymore. I was sure I’d somehow do something wrong, so I kept trying to hand the lines over to Marvin, but he wouldn’t take them.

I found out later, that Marvin had already lost two teams that winter, delivering mail, and that’s why he had me driving in the first place! I was mad over that for a long time.

We did finally get to Cockburn. We’d lost a sleighful of hay, but the horses all got there, and so did we, so I guess it could have been worse.

But I never hired on with Marvin for a run like that again.

Random Song for the Day: “Oh No” – Gogol Bordello

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J.O.B. NaNoWriMo Photography Real Life The Father Chronicles Writing

Breathe.

"Trickle Down Theory"Taken October 20, 2007 with Canon PowerShot A550
“Trickle Down Theory”
Taken October 20, 2007 with Canon PowerShot A550

I’m …. tired. The last couple of weeks have been draining. I didn’t realize how tense things were getting, what with the good things, like gearing up for NaNoWriMo, the bad things, which I will get to in a sec, and the confusing things – mostly just trying to find “my place” at the J.O.B., which is difficult, as I was sort of dropped down into the middle of the project, and I feel like I’m just sitting around picking my nose most of the time. I don’t feel very useful there, truthfully.

I’ve outlined a couple of freelance magazine article ideas – another good thing. One, I actually wrote a proposal for, because it’s about an organization that I want to write about, but needs “interviews” with staff, and I thought it best to get the blessing of the head honcho. I got an immediate ‘yes’, and I’m excited about the project, which I already have a publication in mind for. And now (Sigh…*), I have to break it down into manageable chunks that can be dealt with on my lunch hour, since I kind of want to be face to face with the people I need to speak with.

My father is getting better. This was one of the “bad” things that I thought I might be jumping ship for, and I didn’t want to post about it, because we didn’t really know how things were going to turn out. He had a stroke, and then a heart attack, interspersed with several gushing nosebleeds just to make it all interesting. Even more interesting, he made friends with an imaginary bug that lives in the ceiling above his bed in the Critical Care Unit. He spent his whole first day there watching it dig a hole in the plaster and run around the curtain rail.

Yesterday, his 87th birthday, they let him out of Critical Care and he’s now in a general ward. A Co-Ed ward. With two “chicks”. He was a little put out with this at first, because he says he has enough trouble with women hitting on him, and he couldn’t see how he’d get any rest with two more hanging around his bed all day… turns out, he and my mom know the grandmother of one of them, so now it’s all good. I guess you don’t hit on the guy in the next bed if he’s a friend of Grandma. Or maybe you do but he doesn’t mind so much – I’ll have to ask.

My novel, now… I’m off to a slow start. Somehow, I’m not worried, though – I’m not sure why I’m not worried, but it may be that my main character, Emma, is very very solid in my mind, and I love her to pieces already.

I’m having trouble getting to the “getting it down part”, though, and that’s entirely because too many of the new things are still too new, and damn it, there’s too many of them. I want to go back to the more laid-back schedule of school and Ruby, J.O.B. and Ruby, Mom and Dad and Ruby, and rum on the weekends. Routine, please. The writing is more likely to happen then.

I won’t be going back to that routine anymore now, though, because I’ve gone and changed things and started a few things up that are designed to force me out of this place and into the Great Unknown, which, in my case is anything beyond 50 miles of here.

What, me – scared?! Pah!

Yes. Shitless.

I find the picture at the top of this post very calming. It reminds me to breathe, and to learn to take things as they come and actually do something with them. I’m learning how to recognize opportunities and yes, create some that weren’t there before, and Ta-DA! A life away from here is now “seeable”. The last thing I want to do right now is what I’ve been doing my whole life: hide from the things I want, and make up reasons to let them float by. I can’t dive at them though, either, because I’m likely to get myself run over. They are bigger than me.

I’m growing into them though… 😉

Random Song for the Day: “Aerodynamic” – Daft Punk

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The Father Chronicles

The Bee Keeper

The Bee Keeper & Hives
The Bee Keeper & Hives

My dad was the youngest of the six boys, and the only kid younger than he was, was my Aunt Lynne – the only girl in the family – and probably pretty much spoiled for it.

Since my Dad was the youngest of the boys, he was the one left on the farm to help out at the start of the War. As a sideline, my grandfather kept a small stand of trees that he sold timber off of. My father’s “sideline” was bees.

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It Helps If the Whole Family Is Crazy Oh Mother...! Real Life The Father Chronicles Zenishness...

Almost Perfect…

Yeah, yeah, if it was all perfect what would I have to look forward to, blah, blah, blah. I wish I could remember the actual quote for that – it was killer.

BUT, regardless, it really was an almost perfect day. And the one disappointment isn’t getting me down much, because it may yet happen, and if not today, then tomorrow. ‘Cuz I wants it.

Matthew Mansel Falls & Eleanor Maude (Van Every) FallsJuly 28, 1948Meldrum Bay, Manitoulin Island, Ontario
Matthew Mansel Falls & Eleanor Maude (Van Every) Falls
July 28, 1948
Meldrum Bay, Manitoulin Island, Ontario

Today is my parents’ 59th Wedding Anniversary. FIFTY-NINE!!!!! Holy ol’ shit, Bloggosphere! My brother and sister-in-law (the Barber-Falls actor/director/producer/musician type people. Yes! Those famous ones!) took us all for a drive over hell’s half-acre and God’s green earth – we didn’t exactly get lost, but I don’t think we knew where we actually were most of the time – and poor unsociable, hermitaged, non-people-loving Me had a wonderful time. Me, who’da thunk?!

We ended up out for dinner at Trout Lake Resort where I ate an incredible white fish dinner (and a beer; can’t forget the beer – in public I drank a beer!) where we asked Mom and Dad how they got engaged.

Father: She called me on the phone and said she was coming on the train and to meet her at the station and that we were getting married.

Mother: I did not!

Father: Yes she did. She was desperate.

Aubrey: Were you desperate, Ma?

Mother: I must have been, I guess.

Me: So, how’d it really happen?

Mother/Father: I’m not telling you.

My sister (Tootie, of last July’s Caught Smokin’ video, for those of you that remember when I had a real blog) and her husband weren’t present for this celebration because of a trip to Manitoba to attend the nuptials of my Un-Brother, Ken, who somehow convinced his lovely companion that she should make an honest man out of him (she must be desperate), and who discovered the one romantic bone in his body (no, not that one, you pigs) and decided that he could only marry on the anniversary of his parents. And she went for it! She did! Congrats to them both, the foolish, foolish youngsters.

One more sister (Big Sis)was missing, as I think she may be up a tree somewhere in Southern Ontario. It’s okay, though – it’s her tree.

On the ride home, we popped into my cousin Carl’s driveway to get tasted by large dogs and learn how to get rid of unwanted Jehovah’s Witnesses. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long, long time.

As we unlocked the door, a tired Kyla, all “peopled-out”, sent me off to Ruby’s for coffee, crosswords, and more laughter.

I came home to my small, but soon to be remedied (wish hard) disappointment, but at least I have good things to write about. And I didn’t snark at anybody all. day.

Yup. An almost perfect day. It’s all good.

Random Song for the Day: “Walkin’ on Sunshine” – Katrina and the Waves

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J.O.B. Real Life School The Father Chronicles

And That’s the Way It Is…

Taken May 13, 2007
with Canon Powershot A550
© 2007, Les Becker

I’ve quit The Dream Job. School was (is) going down the crapper and I’ve been spending catch-up time in school worrying about The Dream Job, and catch-up time at The Dream Job worrying about school. Nothing was getting done.

If I can “fast-track” through school somehow, I might manage to give myself a buffer of a few weeks to look for a job before the funding runs out. I’m at a point financially, finally, that I can start to sock a way a bit of an emergency fund against having no income, but I doubt I have time to build much of a cushion. Not to mention, that this situation is temporary. The funding will stop. And hell, I’m not even sure I can finish school by the deadline, let alone early.

At this point in my life… well, let’s just say that this is not where I expected to be.

Random song for the Day: “The Joker” – Steve Miller Band

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Artsy Fartsy Little Bits of Stupid Projects The Father Chronicles

In Pursuit of a Dream… Take 2

I have been forcibly “de-funkified”. I really should thank Carol for doing it with her nasty comments (and even nastier private emails), but I’m not quite ready to do that, because, truthfully, I don’t think I’m quite ready to be “de-funkified” at all.

But she’s right. Wallowing in it, publicly or privately, only makes things worse.

I still don’t have A Dream. So, I’m going to force one. And I’m going to be purposefully vague about it (sorry), because it’s an old dream, and only a couple of people know about it.

One of those people is the one that killed it. Granted, I let it be killed. I let it be killed because Way Back When, I didn’t have any guts. I don’t have any guts, now, either, but I intend to grow some.

Anyway…! On with it.

Way Back When, when the world was still new (1982, I think it was), I saved up $250 to help make my dream come true. A friend of mine, The Dream-Killer, boosted me along. I worked in a restaurant as a dishwasher for really crappy pay back then, and it was only part-time, since I was in school. Still, when I got that paycheck every week, all I wanted to do was buy jeans and party. The Dream-Killer would remind me about saving for my dream, and I would gratefully set aside some cash, and then steal beer money from my parents. Sometimes, I just cut out the middle step and stole beer instead. Even so, it took a long time to save up $250, let me tell you, but I did it.

I lived in a teeny-tiny town 50-odd miles East of here. I had to come up here to the Sault to plunk down my money and make Step One happen. The Dream-Killer came with me for support. We skipped school and hitch-hiked, of course. I wasn’t about to spend Dream Money on bus fare, was I? I wasn’t stupid.

Hitchhiking 50-odd miles sometimes takes hours. By the time we got here, The Dream-Killer had almost convinced me that The Dream was too big for me…

“You’re too young. No one’s going to take you seriously.”

“$250 really isn’t enough to do this with.”

“That guy is just looking for money. It’s going to turn out like shit.”

Almost convinced me. Almost.

And then, killing time until Step One would be underway, we wandered through the mall… and saw…

The Chair.

It looked a lot like this…

“Look at that chair! Don’t you love that chair?”

(It really was a cool chair. Yes, I loved that chair…)

“That chair would look sooooo gnarly in your room!”

(It really would…)

“It’s only $200! You should buy the chair!”

(I really wanted to buy the chair. But The Dream…!)

And then…

“You know… I don’t know how to tell you this… but… your stuff’s really not…. that… good.”

Poof!

I bought the chair.

My father worked up here at the time, piloting one of the Lock Tour boats, and reluctantly agreed to truck it home for me. Wicker chair… Open truck bed… My chair blew out of the back of the truck at about Echo Bay.

We got turned around to go recover it just in time to see another truck wing by us with my chair in the back! Pissed my dad right off.

He took off after this guy at breakneck speed, berating me the whole time for being so stupid as to spend $200 on a chair for Chrissakes, and now he had to chase it down the damned highway, and so help him God, if he got pinched for speeding, I was paying the God-damned fine.

He caught up to the guy and pulled up beside him. Waved.

The guy waved back.

My dad yelled at him to stop, God-damn it.

The guy wouldn’t stop.

My dad darn near ran him off the road before he gave up and pulled over, telling us he was “trying to catch up with us”… ?! The chair survived with nary a scratch or break, surprisingly, and the story is incredibly funny now, but only because I survived. I was certain through the whole “chase” that my dad was going to roll the truck and kill us.

We pulled into Thessalon an hour or so later; my dad with a snarl on, and me with a crushed Dream, an un-crushed chair, and $50 burning a hole in my pocket. I’m pretty sure I spent the $50 on beer. And probably grass, too.

Every time we had company over after that, my dad would tell The Chair Story, bring people into my room to show them The Chair, and beam as if me spending $200 on a chair fer Chrissakes was the most brilliant thing I could have done. Maybe a highspeed chase down Highway 17 East was one of his dreams, I don’t know…

A year and a half later, my first apartment went up in flames. Wicker burns really fast.

I’ve always regretted buying that chair and forfeiting what I thought at the time was a pretty good chance at a really big dream. I’m not really sure if my heart is in this yet, but I’m going to give it another go.

Step One is now actually Step Three – as the world has changed a little since it was new. I have changed a lot since the world was new, but I’ve already begun Step One. I’ve talked to some people, and got some advice. Step Two is coming in short order.

It’s going to cost a lot more than $250.

I know it’s a bit of a cheat to not actually detail this further, but I haven’t exactly grown those guts yet. And I hope some of you will wish me well anyway. Comments are welcome. No Dream-Killers will be taken seriously. I hope.

Random Song for the Day: “9 Crimes” – Damien Rice