Southern Man

Monday, April 30, 2012


As Teen Daughter begins to spread her wings to fly away she struggles with the typical teen trap - to get a credit card, you must have credit. She complains that everyone - including her employer - has declined her for credit. This actually sounds a little atypical, as she's had phone bills and such in her own name and paid them. But she's never had a car loan. I suppose that is how Southern Man got his first batch of credit cards 'way back in the day. And Teen Daughter has been known to exaggerate from time to time. But she finally got approved for a credit card!
Southern Man is also struggling to rebuild his credit. There was a time when the plastic in his wallet represented open credit well into six figures. Well, the financial ruin of divorce and subsequent poor decisions on his part took care of all that. Southern Man is well on his way out of that mess but as that mess meant negotiating with his credit-card debtors for payoffs it's been about two years since he's had any credit cards at all; the ones with balances got closed and everything else was cancelled. This is a little scary. But a few months ago he got a little Capital One card with a whopping $400 credit line. He's used it for gas and hotels and such when visiting Twelve-Year-Old daughter and just the other day he went online to pay the bill and found that his credit limit was up to $700. And then he got approved for a second card (from Orchard Bank) and when he activated it and went online to create an account he found that it had a $2000 limit!

Now, he's had plenty of offers from "rebuild your credit" outfits where the cards have substantial fees. Southern Man don't do that. These are standard no-annual-fee credit cards where there's no interest if you pay them in full every month. Ditto for Teen Daughter; she held out for proper cards as well. Hers actually has some nicer benefits than mine.

And now Southern Man can breathe a little easier knowing that if there's some sort of unexpected emergency he has something to fall back on. And for some reason he feels richer now than he did back then.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Dinner

As is our habit the clan gathered at the Ancestral Manor for the usual fest of pizza and dominoes.

Southern Son and his fiancée are collectively known as J-Tab.

Teen Daughter and Southern Father.

Let the games begin!

Southern Man was actually ahead - way ahead - for much of tonight's game but then he bragged about it and karma quickly corrected his score. What a great weekend! Lord, thank you for family and friends. Amen.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday At The Lake

The Usual Suspects gathered early this morning to head about an hour south to an area lake for horseback riding and hiking and geocaching and fishing and all manners of fun. More evidence that Southern Man has a social life that includes girls.

Where's my horse?

Saddled up and ready to hit the trail.

Southern Man and Gus.

On the trail.

Ride 'em, cowgirl!

After the ride we split off into smaller groups. Southern Man and a friend did a little hiking and geocaching, ate a delicious lunch at a diner, then met up with another friend for a little fishing. The day ended with steak and 'ritas and movies. Is there a better way to spend a Saturday?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Time Machines

As Southern Man has no Friday lectures, it's the last day of class. Final exams are next week. And there has been a steady stream, all day, of students all asking the same question.
Dr. Southern Man, what can I do to improve my grade?
Build a time machine. Go back four months. Study.

It's been the same story every semester for twenty-five years. Go figure.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Today our friends in Australia and New Zealand remember those who fought and died at Gallipoli during the First World War. Patriactionary remembers by posting this video and lyrics...

Now when I was a young man, I carried me pack,
And I lived the free life of a rover
From the Murray’s green basin to the dusty outback,
Well, I waltzed my Matilda all over.

Then in 1915 my country said Son,
It’s time you stopped rambling, there’s work to be done.
So they gave me a tin hat, and they gave me a gun,
And they marched me away to the war.

And the band played Waltzing Matilda,
As the ship pulled away from the quay
And amidst all the cheers,
the flag-waving and tears,
we sailed off to Gallipoli.

And how well I remember that terrible day,
How our blood stained the sand and the water
And of how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay,
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter.

Johnny Turk he was waiting, he’d primed himself well
He shower’d us with bullets, and he rained us with shells
And in five minutes flat, he’d blown us all to hell
Nearly blew us right back to Australia.

But the band played Waltzing Matilda,
When we stopped to bury our slain,
We buried ours, and the Turks buried theirs,
Then we started all over again.

And those that were left, well we tried to survive
In that mad world of blood, death and fire
And for ten weary weeks, I kept myself alive,
Though around me the corpses piled higher

Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over head,
And when I woke up in my hospital bed,
And saw what it had done, well I wished I was dead.
Never knew there were worse things than dyin’.

For no more I’ll go waltzing Matilda,
All around the green bush far and free
To hump tent and pegs, a man needs both legs
No more waltzing Matilda for me.

So they collected the crippled, the wounded, the maimed
And they shipped us back home to Australia.
The armless, the legless, the blind, the insane,
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla

And as our ship pulled into Circular Quay,
I looked at the place where me legs used to be.
And thanked Christ there was nobody waiting for me
To grieve, to mourn and to pity.

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As they carried us down the gangway.
But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared,
Then they turned all their faces away.

And now every April, I sit on me porch
And I watch the parade pass before me.
And I see my old comrades, how proudly they march,
Reliving old dreams of past glories

And the old men march slowly, old bones stiff and sore.
The tired old heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask, “What are they marching for?”
And I ask myself the same question.

But the band plays Waltzing Matilda,
And the old men still answer the call
But as year follows year,
more old men disappear.
Some day no one will march there at all.

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me?
And their ghosts may be heard as they march by that billabong
Who’ll come-a-waltzing Matilda with me?
Lord, let us always fight for what is right, but never forget the horrors of war. Amen.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Diet Week Sixteen

This will be the last diet update for a while. Weight is steady at about ten pounds higher than what Southern Man would like, but waistline is somewhat reduced. The plan for summer is to stick with the Southern Man's Platter diet, stretch and work out semi-regularly, keep working hard out at The Land, and see how it looks at the end of the summer. If weight and waistline are unchanged (or a bit smaller!) a new office wardrobe will be in order.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Family Dinner

Southern Man wasn't going to do a Family Dinner post tonight as there are only so many ways that you can say "the family gathered and ate and played cutthroat dominos and traded insults and otherwise had a great time" but since he got a nice pic of Youngest Nephew with a turtle...

Eldest Nephew and Stella admire the turtle.

... and that is all.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Robotics Competition

Dr. A (one of Southern Man's colleagues) found himself in charge of the IEEE regional student robotics competition and enlisted Southern Man's aid as a judge. So very early Saturday morning Southern Man hit the road and made the two-hour drive to the city hosting the competition.

Dr. A and Southern Man review rules and procedures.

The robots gather in the Quarantine Area where they await their turn in the arena.

In this competition the robots must navigate to at least two of three power sources - wind, solar, and hydro-electrical - charge a capacitor using their build-in wind turbine, solar panel, and electrical contact, and then move to a fourth station to use that energy to raise a flag. This is harder than it looks; of the thirty-six entries, only a third fulfilled the power requirement and only ten made it to the flag at all. After three rounds the very first robot to compete in round 1 had posted the best time. But the competition was intense; second place was only two seconds behind, and third through fifth places differed by only twenty seconds in the five-minute trial.

The day ended with the obligatory awards ceremony.

And of course there was geocaching. Southern Man already had his targets plotted out and picked up a couple during lunch break, a couple more before the dinner, and even did a little night caching on the turnpike on the way home. And he may or may not have agreed to be on the student competition committee for next year. That part of the conversation was a bit hazy. Travel, professional activity, socialization and geocaching make for a good day.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Four Pillars Of Game

As a follow-up to the previous entry Southern Man more or less plagiarizes this post from Smoke In My Eyes. SIME calls it "Four Pillars Of Game" but Southern Man will think of it as the four crucial aspects of social success - that is, to be both successful and be seen as successful in your social life.

He gives the four crucial ingredients of successful social interaction as
Be confident
Be interesting
Be exciting
Be a source of positive energy
which in turn lead to Four Pillars of Game, which he gives as
In other words, this zeros in on one of the four Biblical concepts described earlier - finding favor with man - and illustrates, in detail, how one might deliberately go about constructing a healthy and active social life. Southern Man, an introvert who can easily go days at a time without seeing another human being, is progressing nicely on three of those four concepts but needs all the help he can get when it comes to relationships and his social life. Now, ask Southern Man's friends to describe him in one word and "cool" and "exciting" are probably not going to make the list. Given his age and station that's not likely to change so he will focus on confidence and...contentment. He can't bring himself to say that he's happy, yet. Perhaps that's something that he can never achieve. But working to achieve confidence and contentment - the Inner Man - will reflect in the Outer Man and achieve the goals outlined here. As a start, one could simply glance at this list and say "today, I will do and be these things."

And it occurs to Southern Man that if he wishes to create a little bit of "cool" he should merely revive skills that he once had and has allowed to fall dormant. Southern Man was, at one time, a fairly proficient classical pianist. He should get some of those pieces back under his fingers and focus on his greatest weaknesses, sight-reading and improvisation. He also ought to pick up guitar again. The goal for both instruments will be to perform some easy pieces and improvise to the standard blues sequence. That would be immensely satisfying and a major step in building the Inner Man. It would also be cool. There's actually no excuse for not doing so; there's a full keyboard and acoustic guitar not fifteen feet from the PC. And Southern Man also played violin, 'way back in the day. His old student violin is still up in The Barn; a little work and he could be fiddlin' again.

Excitement? As soon as Southern Man gets his debts settled (about two more years) he is going to buy a motorcycle. Lord knows he's dreamed about it and talked about it long enough. And that will be exciting.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Four Ingredients of Success

While working today Southern Man stumbled across Ask James and the following pearl of wisdom:
We have four bodies. The flesh and blood physical, the emotional, the mental, and the spiritual. Every body is fed by food. Emotional food is fed to you when you are people who are positive and avoid people who are negative. Mental food happens when you read, develop ideas, absorb knowledge, spiritual health is obtained when you give up all these man-made definitions of success.
Being a well-educated Christian Southern Man was immediately reminded of this verse:
And Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature, and found favor with God and man.
So Southern Man amends James to say that success is when you make an effort, each day, to grow just a little as Jesus did: mentally, physically, socially (which includes emotionally), and spiritually. Every day do something that exercises both your mind and your body. Take the time to enjoy the company of others whenever you can (no small challenge for an introvert). And make a commitment to deepen your spirituality. Do these things every day and you will find success. Well, just what is success? Success is not measured in paychecks or possessions or the number of square feet of your house or "friends" you have on Facebook. It is measured by the growth of mind and body and spirit and soul. The rewards are peace with your circumstances and confidence in your abilities. The ultimate reward of success is happiness. So strive to be successful, and savor the rewards that will follow.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wednesday Adventures

The Personal Trainer put Southern Man through the wringer this morning. It's our last week together, so there was testing. Southern Man managed to post about 20% improvement over the initial numbers, but it just about killed him. The limitations of age are difficult to accept.

Then there was the usual afternoon geocaching on the commute between day and evening jobs. One of the hides was at the far end of an old railroad bridge...

This pic does not give a sense of how high and windy and scary the trek to the cache actually was.

...which was a lot of fun. Southern Man is working a pretty good streak for geocaching, having not missed a single day since last November. The plan is to continue for the rest of the year until all calendar dates are filled in, and see where it goes from there. Given that Southern Man is CDO there is a fine line between geocaching fun and geocaching work and he wants to keep things on the fun side.

And now he is home at dark-ish for home-made stew and salad and Teen Daughter's chocolate-chip cookies. For a work day, a good day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Starry Starry Night

After a long day at work Southern Man had to head out to The Land (dropping by the Brushhog Guy's house to pay him for the weekend's mowing) and talk to some of the other lot-owners about getting our road re-graded and re-graveled and then (about three hundred and thirty dollars lighter) unloaded some boxes and did some inside chores. And when he came out he was greeted by a gentle cool breeze and a beautiful clear dark sky with the Winter Hexagon perched on the western horizon and Venus glittering under Taurus and Mars glaring balefully overhead and the Big Dipper perched over the workshop.

The bright stars of the Winter Hexagon includes portions the constellations Gemini, Orion, Canis Major, Canis Minor, Taurus, and Auriga. Accompanied by his two dogs, the mighty hunter Orion, sword at on his belt and shield in hand, faces the red-eyed bull as the Twins and the Charioteer observe the carnage.

The Big Dipper, as it is familiarly known, is an asterism that is part of the constellation Ursa Major. The end of the Dipper (left in this photo) draws a line to Polaris (the North Star); this time of year the Dipper is inverted and high in the northern sky. Are your eyes sharp enough to see the double stars in the handle? 'Way back in the day, if you could, you were trained as an archer. If you couldn't, you got handed a pike and stood in front of the archers.

The temptation to stay was overwhelming but, sadly, it is a work night so Southern Man watched the stars for a while and then climbed back into The Titan to head back into town.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Diet Week Fifteen

Southern Man is pretty careful about following the diet proscribed by Southern Man's Platter and it's working well; weight remains steady at just above what Southern Man would consider ideal. One more week remains of the "official" diet, then we go into Summer mode and see how well it holds.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Dinner

Southern Man spent a relaxed morning cleaning and piddling around. Teen Daughter returned from a weekend down south just in time to watch a movie and then head out to the Ancestral Manor for Sunday Dinner.

Dinner was home-cooked burgers and pickles and chips, courtesy of Southern Sister.

Teen Daughter supervises as Southern Sister flips burgers.

Southern Parents.

Southern Son and his fiancée.

As usual after dessert a fierce round of Wagon Train followed.

Eldest Nephew contemplates his next move.

Youngest nephew shows off a very cool Star Wars shirt.

After-dinner entertainment courtesy of the talented Southern Son.

Little by little, structure and sanity return to Southern Man's life. It's good! Lord, as always, we thank you for your many blessings. Amen.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Shipwrecks and the Social Contract

On this day a century ago the RMS Titanic, while on her maiden voyage from England to the United States, was mortally wounded when she grazed an iceberg that tore open her side. It took her nearly three hours to sink in dead-calm water - long enough for the accepted rules of social behavior to temper the behavior of the passengers and crew. But along with tales of heroism and sacrifice there are some ugly truths to be had from the tales of those who survived and those who did not.

The tales of heroism and sacrifice among the upper-class men are numerous and legendary. Many saw their wives and children to safety but declined to leave the ship while women and children were still present. Only a third of the first-class men survived (and many of these in the earliest half-empty lifeboats, taking seats only when no others elected to board in that first hour when few realized the true scope of the disaster) while only four first-class women perished. As many as three of those four could have escaped but refused to part company with their husbands. Only a single child from first and second class perished; that child's mother, having along with her son been seen safely to a lifeboat by her husband, left that refuge to search for her husband and her daughter, who with her nurse had become separated from the family on the crowded deck. The three were last seen on deck, reunited and smiling, long after the last boats had left. Their son, who she had instructed to stay on the lifeboat while she searched, was the only survivor of the family.

An image from the James Cameron film Titanic.

Second-class men did not fare as well; less than a tenth survived, but not before seeing almost all of their women to safety. The casualties in third class were dramatically worse, with slightly over half the women and most of the men and children lost in a panic amplified by their low-deck quarters deep within the ship, language barriers, and locked quarantine gates - but those steerage-class women and children who made it to the boat deck were given priority at the lifeboats. Many of the male survivors were plucked from the icy waters or rode out the sinking on the backs of overturned lifeboats. Many were ostracized for daring to survive a disaster in which women and children perished.

The big picture does not paint a particularly endearing portrait of some of the women on Titanic: three-quarters survived, but only half the children. The refusal of women to allow their boats to return to the survivors in thee water are many. At least two later obtained divorces from their surviving husbands on the grounds that the husbands were cowards; the whispers suggest that those surviving spouses were an impediment to social status.

But, for the most part, the expectations of society held: men were expected to put the safety of women and children (and not necessarily just those in their own families) first, and most did. Most women accepted this, and did so gratefully. The reason is, most likely, that the sinking took such a long time; time enough to maintain order and the social contract of the day.

The sinking of the RMS Lusitania a few years later provides a stark contrast. Struck without warning by a German torpedo, Lusitania was wracked by explosions and almost immediately took on a severe list (hampering the launch of lifeboats on both sides of the ship) and sank in only eighteen minutes. Those who survived were those lucky enough to be near topside and who could get to a boat or were fit enough to swim the rough water. About two-thirds of the passengers and crew perished, with no discernible distinction between men, women, and children among the survivors; their reports run more to tales of mass panic than of orderly evacuation. It was the Americans who drew scorn here, with some claiming that many saved themselves at the expense of the more stoic English.

An artist's depiction of the last moments of the Lusitania, taken from this website.

But the real moral of this story must surely rest with the MS Costa Concordia, the Italian cruise ship that earlier this year struck a reef, then went aground and capsized over a period of several hours. Only about thirty passengers perished, so on the scale of human lives lost this was not an event that should even be mentioned in the same breath as Titanic or Lusitania. The real story of Concordia is how the social contract has changed over the last century. There was no orderly evacuation, no rule of "women and children first." Instead there was widespread panic and hysteria, grimly documented on multiple YouTube videos for all to see.

The Costa Concordia surrounded by rescuers. Photo credit: Daily Telegraph

What happened? Some argue that this is the inevitable price of feminism; as one blog commenter put it, "this is what equality looks like; deal with it." Others, that disasters on this scale are so unusual that few on the crippled ship realized there was any danger, then panicked when reality set in - much like the final moments on Titanic. Some point out that modern cruise-ship crew are little more than glorified bus drivers, with little training compared to those who took the ocean liners of old across the treacherous seas without benefit of computer-controlled navigation or satellite weather reports or radar, and that the disorganized evacuation was as much due to the negligence and incompetence of the Captain and crew as anything else. That YouTube link above will surely take you to the infamous conversation between the Italian Coast Guard and Captain Francesco Schettino, who had abandoned his ship with passengers still on board and remains under house arrest at the time of this post.

But there isn't much doubt that the social contract has changed. Is the world a better place for it, or worse? And what would be your conduct in such a disaster? Southern Man hopes that he'd have the courage and wit to save his friends and family. There is no question - none at all - that he would gladly lay down his life for his children. But would he make such a sacrifice so that a stranger might live? That is a question that no man can answer until the moment of crisis arrives. Southern Man hopes that should that moment come he makes the right call. Lord, you gave us Your expectation of our conduct in your Golden Rule. I pray that I remember it. Amen.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Workout

The Personal Trainer put Southern Man through the wringer once again, and the scales in the locker room tie with the all-time low weight. And that's after chocolate pancakes with Teen Daughter this morning! One week to go on this program...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Failure of Scientists

Southern Man, who is trained in the arts and practices of the physical and mathematical sciences, has read much over the past few years about how science has failed us. This is not correct. Science remains the best way to extract knowledge from the observable universe. The failure is not with science, but with the practitioners of science. Southern Man will not dignify most of them with the title "scientist."

Much "science" today is done by guys like this.

Exhibit A is the ongoing discovery that results published in top-tier medical journals - so-called "gold standard" science - can't be reproduced. In
this article Glen Begley, a VP at Amgen charged with producing new treatments for cancer, sadly laments that "more often than not, we are unable to reproduce findings" reported in major journals. Similar stories abound.

The hallmark of science is reproducibility. If it can't be reproduced, it isn't a scientific result.

Exibit B is the notorious case of the faster-then-light neutrinos, a result so extraordinary that truly extraordinary evidence would be required to defend it. And after the better part of a year it was found that a loose fiber-optic cable in a GPS system created a systematic error that, when corrected, invalidated the finding and deposited much egg on scientist faces.

Another hallmark of science is refutation. Good scientists makes every effort to refute their findings; only upon failure to do so is the work published. And these guys get caught out by a bad piece of hardware? Physics is the undisputed king of science, a field unsullied and pure and free of bias, and CERN is the temple of modern physics. But if these geniuses can screw up this badly, how can you count on anyone to get things right?

And Exhibits C-Z are the endless reports of manipulation and distortion and outright fabrication of data among the climate-science crowd, on both sides of the issue, to the point that there is no person or publication in the field that can be trusted. None. Zilch. Nada. Climatology has degraded into pseudoscience, spouted only by true believers and heretical deniers.

What happens when you mix science and politics? You get politics and dogma.

Is it any wonder that
enrollment in university science continues to decline? Is it any wonder that computer science (Southern Man's current field of teaching) continues to languish, in spite of demand for trained computer professionals? Is it any wonder that almost every doctor Southern Man knows is actively counseling their children to avoid medicine as a career? It's as if the word "science" is poison; something to be mistrusted and avoided; something with which you do not wish to be involved.

Southern Man's university is in the process of converting our "Computer Science" degrees into "Software Engineering" degrees. The support and excitement for this change at every level, from the undergraduate students to the university president, is unlike anything Southern Man has ever seen. Yes, science, which has practically been Southern Man's religion since middle school, now gives way to engineering.

And that may not be so bad. Engineers must prove themselves by designing and building things that actually work. Judgement is not met through peer review in the back rooms of academic journals but out in the world of practical things. Success and failure is not measured by what you publish (one notes that the majority of science publications are never referenced by another paper) but what you actually do that gets noticed and used.

So Southern Man is making the mental transition from scientist (and teacher) to engineer (and teacher). But quality engineering must rise from solid science. It should be interesting.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wednesday Workout

For some reason Southern Man's internal clock was an hour off this morning and he got to the gym an hour early so he went through a full set and then did it all again after the Personal Trainer arrived. He is tired and feels great!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Diet Week Fourteen

The Monday morning weigh-in was a tie with the all-time diet low so it's going well. It helps that Teen Daughter is also dieting so we help each other out a little. Onward to the next week!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Easter Sunday

A day devoted to family and rest. And cleaning. Let us not forget cleaning.

We gathered at the Ancestral Manor for a delicious Easter meal and (as it turned out) home video of the two older children when their ages were two months and eighteen months.

The two video stars.

The ever-beautiful Southern Mother.

Southern Father and Teen Daughter.

Youngest Nephew plays in the back yard of the Ancestral Manor.

Lord, thank you for the gift of Your son and the everlasting life He brings. Bless us and keep us, always. Amen.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Countdown to Easter: Holy Saturday

A third day spent at The Land in labor and contemplation. Actually, not as much contemplation as one would like as Southern Man put Harbor Master on the iPad and he's totally hooked.

Nothing warms the heart of a Southern Man quite like a good country trash fire. This washout is the site of the future garden pond, and a good example of just how red the dirt is out there.

Most of the remaining trash either vanished in the fire or came home in The Titan to be deposited in the apartment dumpsters. A cruel lesson: furniture does not store well outdoors no matter how well you cover it. The last of it - two desks, the built-in computer desk from the mini-mansion, a chest, various bookshelves, and so on - has finally gone the way of all things.

Remember that three-pickup-load of used brick from about five weeks back?

Now it looks like this. The grass is a lot greener too.

About 660 clean whole bricks, another hundred whole bricks that didn't clean up well, and a nice stack of clean partials. And quite a few in the junk-brick pile and twelve buckets of mortar that will end up as fill, somewhere. It probably took ten or twelve hours, all told. And some people pay good money to go to the gym to work out.

The masonry yard - everything from lava rock (foreground right) and concrete waste (foreground left) to three kinds of brick (that pinkish stack in the middle are leftovers from the mini-mansion that were at one time destined for a backyard grill) and several pallets of stone. All free, mostly from Craigslist.

This was the last Land Day of the weekend; on Easter Sunday we will gather at the Ancestral Manor for lunch, then the afternoon and evening will be spent in housecleaning and grading and contemplation of the profound meaning of this day. Lord Jesus, you paid a debt you didn't owe because we owed a debt we couldn't pay. Words can never be enough, but we thank and praise You. Amen.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Countdown to Easter: Good Friday

Southern Man again spent the day at The Land. All the lava rock (a Craigslist find from long ago) that was scattered everywhere is gathered in a newly-constructed bin, more brick was cleaned, and Southern Man began to tackle the remaining stacks. And again he worked until the stars came out and returned to La Casa well after dark, again weary but refreshed by a day spent in work and contemplation.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Countdown to Easter: Maundy Thursday

This week we celebrate the seminal event of Christianity: the week when the son of a carpenter, having become aware that he was more than merely Man, ended three years of ministry by surrendering himself for execution only to rise on the third day as the undisputed Son of God and Savior of Man.

Yes, Southern Man takes this account for fact. He's one of them born-again evangelical Christians. Deal with it.

Having excused his classes for Maundy Thursday Southern Man spent the day at The Land in labor and contemplation. Much brick was cleaned and firewood cut and stacked in an assault on the junk-piles behind The Barn. Indeed, the entire "burn pile" was entirely processed, striking a major to-do from the list. Southern Man worked until the stars came out and didn't return to La Casa until well after dark, weary but refreshed.

And then Teen Daughter came home and we went grocery shopping and cooked a late, late dinner and ate it (with key lime pie!) and went to bed at midnight-ish. A good day. Tomorrow is Good Friday.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Wednesday Workout

The best one yet - more reps at higher weights, longer endurance on the cardio machines, better stretches, and less fatigue and soreness. Improvement!

Monday, April 02, 2012

Diet Week Thirteen

More of the same: following the dietary wisdom of Southern Man's Platter and scheduled for two sessions with the Personal Trainer this week. No change in weight, which continues to hover a few pounds above the all-time low of several weeks ago. In other words, so far so good. Southern Man would love to drop ten more but that might not happen. An interesting development: Southern Man got the long-hidden candy out a few weeks ago but doesn't have nearly the cravings for sweets that he once did so it's lasting a long time.

Living Arrangements and Dramatis Personae 2012

It's been three years or so since the last update so for both regular and new readers (Southern Man assumes that "anonymous" is actually several people) here are the cast and recurring characters of Southern Man Blog:

Southern Man lives in a little apartment (Casa Southern Man) on the northwest side of Southern City and owns The Land, ten acres of unimproved former farmland that he is slowly but surely improving and on which he will one day live. The Land is his passion; he spends as much time out there as he reasonably can.

Southern Parents live about fifteen minutes to the west in the Ancestral Manor - the house that Southern Father built about forty years ago on five acres of river-bottom land - which is the locus for many family activities.

Southern Brother lives a few miles from the Ancestral Manor; he and his lovely wife have three fine boys collectively known as the Southern Nephews; they range in age from high school to just out of college.

Southern Sister lives in Southern City not far from Southern Man's workplace with her (female) SO and their adopted twelve-year-old son (SO's nephew); he is also numbered among the Southern Nephews (usually as Youngest Nephew).

There are no Southern Nieces.

Southern Son (formerly known as Teen Son and misleadingly called Eldest Son in some posts; there is no additional Youngest Son) lives with his GF not far from La Casa and the Ancestral Manor. Teen Daughter (who will get promoted out of the teens next year) lives with Southern Man and works and attends college here in the city and dreams of the day when she will be out on her own. Youngest Daughter (sometimes Twelve-Year-Old Daughter) gets promoted into the teens this summer; she lives with her mother and stepfather and various step-siblings and a one-year-old half-sister about six hours north and dreams of the day that she can live with Southern Man.

There are no Southern Grandchildren, at least not yet.

Southern First Cousin Once Removed (this "no name" policy can be cumbersome) and her husband and their charming three-year-old daughter (Southern Second Cousin) also live a few miles from the Ancestral Manor. The three youngest in this bunch (Youngest Daughter, Youngest Nephew, and Second Cousin) are a pretty tight little group and generate all manner of adorable mischief when together. Other various Southern Relatives on Southern Father's side are scattered throughout the south, particularly in a large state south of here. Southern Mother's bunch are mainly in the northeast and are not even a little bit Southern.

Southern Man and Southern Ex were married sixteen years and divorced about six years ago. She remarried and moved many hours north about eighteen months ago, taking youngest daughter with her. There is, sadly, another Southern Ex as Southern Man re-married (briefly) about three years ago. It was a terrible, terrible mistake and hopefully this is the last mention she'll ever get on this blog.

For those interested in ancestry: Southern Mother's line is mostly German but with lines that run deep in American History that may (or may not) include one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Southern Father's line is Irish; Southern Man's namesake immigrated from Ireland through New Orleans with his family about a century and a half ago. Southern Ex is also mostly German but her American line also goes way back and includes a signer of the Mayflower Compact. Southern Man categorizes himself as German-Irish; Southern Son has been to the Emerald Isle and thinks of it as his future home.

Got all that? Stay tuned for the next act in the Life and Times of Southern Man!

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Family Dinner

After a shower and a few moments of rest Southern Man and Teen Daughter headed out to the Ancestral Manor for our regular Sunday Evening Family Dinner.

LinkSouthern Father plants tomatoes.

One notes that the dirt at the Ancestral Manor is not red.

Southern Father also grafted half a dozen apple trees.

Tonight Southern Sister and her SO brought fajitas rice and beans and chips and salsa and cheese from our favorite Mexican restaurant...

That shirt came from the one and only Spam Museum.

Eldest Son also made an appearance.

...and after the feast out came the dominos once again.

Teen Daughter makes her move.

Teen Daughter strikes a thoughtful pose.

Lord, thank you for family and the wonderful times we have. Amen.

The Shed II

Southern Man was up much too early to head back to RCJ's and finish The Shed.

Southern Man actually looks like he knows what he's doing here.

RCJ screws around on the roof.

I could have sworn there were six acorn nuts in here...

Maggie was very little help.

RCJ's SO snapped this one.


Now that RCJ and his SO have both a trailer and a metal shed Southern Man proclaims them to be Official Southern Trailer Trash. He's pleased to number them among his friends.