The Ramblings of a Mad Man

Posts tagged “Florida

From House Republicans: One Proposal Not Offered


September 28, 2013, 6:56 PM

WASHINGTON—When House Republicans laid out their terms on Saturday for funding the federal government, one widely discussed idea wasn’t among them.

Proposals to delay the new federal health law and repeal a tax on medical devices were included in the GOP plan. But House Republicans skipped ending government contributions to offset the costs of health-care premiums paid by lawmakers and their staffs. Although touted by some lawmakers, that proposal proved to be deeply unpopular among the Republican ranks.

Although some Republicans publicly clamored for the change, many resisted doing so privately, said Rep. Dennis Ross, a Florida Republican. He had pushed this week to attach a measure limiting federal health-care contributions to lawmakers, staff and to some White House officials to the short-term federal spending bill, but he found few supporters.

“I can tell you that I’m not popular with staff, and I’m not popular with some of my [fellow GOP] members who don’t want to see their contributions to health care go away,” Mr. Ross said in an interview Saturday.

Mr. Ross said his plan would show the public “that Congress is willing to accept the ramifications of a bad law.’’ The lawmaker had circulated a letter seeking support to add his amendment to legislation funding the government into the new fiscal year. Only one other Republican signed on: fellow Floridian Rep. Bill Posey.

The issue arises because of a provision in the new health law aimed at lawmakers and staff.

Currently, lawmakers and their aides are covered under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. And just like most large businesses that pay for part of their employees’ health-care costs, the government has traditionally paid part of the insurance premium for lawmakers and congressional staff.

But a provision of the new health requires lawmakers and their aides to sign up for coverage through the new marketplaces aimed at covering millions of Americans who don’t have insurance through a large employer.

Because of their income level, lawmakers and many aides will not qualify for subsidies, increasing the cost of their health care. So, in August, the Obama administration released draft rules saying that the federal government could continue to pay a portion of premiums for lawmakers, staff and family for insurance obtained through the exchanges.

Mr. Ross’s amendment would prevent the government from paying those premium subsidies. He said the goal was to ensure that Congress receives no “special consideration” under the new health-care law.

“Nobody likes my amendment, because it requires us to do what the letter of the law says,
” said Mr. Ross, who estimated his health-care costs would go up by at least $6,000 if his amendment became law. He said that House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) told lawmakers at their closed-door meeting on Saturday that they would address the issue some other time.

From the Washington Wire


Coral Castle Museum

Supernatural or Science?

If you had visited Coral Castle in the 1940s you would have been greeted enthusiastically by a man weighing a mere 100 pounds and standing just over 5 feet tall. He would have asked you for ten cents admission and introduced you to his fantasy world.

As you moved around his sculpture garden in stone, and the significance of each piece was explained, you would have been witness to the great pride Ed Leedskalnin took in his work.

Since it is documented that no one ever witnessed Ed’s labor in building his beloved Coral Castle, some have said he had supernatural powers. Ed would only say that he knew the secrets used to build the ancient pyramids and if he could learn them, you could too.

Today, you can tour the Coral Castle using our audio stands, with narration available in English, Spanish, French or German. We also have knowledgeable guides available to conduct tours. Features of the Coral Castle Museum include a 9-ton gate that moves with just a touch of the finger, a Polaris telescope and functioning rocking chairs – all made entirely of stone.

We wonder what was the inspiration that could cause a man to spend 28 years to carve a Coral Castle from the ground up using nothing but home made tools. An homage to unrequited love? Perhaps to illustrate ancient sciences that defy gravity? Or maybe just sheer, raw human determination? The Coral Castle is an everlasting mystery to those who explore it.

From the Coral Castle Museum Website

How did he do it?

To this day, no one knows how Ed created the Coral Castle. Built under the cover of night and in secret, at a time when there were no modern construction conveniences, Ed would only say that he knew “the secret of the pyramids.” When he died, his secrets died with him, and to this day scientists and thinkers still debate Ed’s methods.

By the way, they actually explain how he did it. The guy himself explained it when he gave the tours in the 40s.











Our Vacation













A Little Piece of Heaven


I spent time with my kids and my niece at the Lake Mirror Promenade this evening. We enjoyed a stroll around the lake, played in the park a bit and walked through the gardens. The weather was beautiful and the kids were quite tranquil. They had a good evening and so did I.


There are only a few other things that could have made the evening better. Maybe some day soon.

Sunday, 1 July 2012- Life Kept Going

All right, I told you guys I would finish telling you about Sunday. Here it is Tuesday, so I might as well update you this far.

On Saturday, while we were at the beach, I got a call from a DCF investigator. She told me she was sitting in my sister’s drive way and asked if we were home. No ma’am, we most certainly were not home. As I said last night, I wasn’t going to hold up our plans to hang around waiting on a bunch of bureaucrats to do their job. I told her that we would probably be home around 1800hrs (EST), but I would contact her as soon as we arrived. It turned out to be more around 2200hrs (EST) when we got home. Our Gilligan-esque side trip cost us several hours and I was still unwilling to ruin an enjoyable day just to get back for that.

I called the local investigator, while the kids were getting bathed and changed. I told her that she was more than welcome to go ahead and come out that night or she could come by in the morning (Sunday), while we were getting up and ready for church. She wasn’t thrilled at the idea of coming by that late at night, so she told me that she would be here between 0800-0830. I just old her okay, we would be here at her convenience. The kids and I headed to bed for the night.

I woke up around 0700 (EST), I warmed up some coffee, got dressed and sat in the dining room looking out the front window. No, I did not have anything to feel guilty for, and yes I am innocent of the bullshit claims Morgan has made, but I still get nervous when I have to deal with bullshit bureaucracy. I know too many people who have been screwed over by the system when people who are committing actual criminal activity get away scot free. It is disgusting and it always makes me nervous. You guys have read it before, here on the Ramblings of the Mad Man, I DO NOT TRUST BUREAUCRACY! I do not trust the courts and I definitely do not trust the Department of Social Services after learning the number of times my wife had been reported for neglect or abuse while I was away and they never attempted to contact me or my chain of command to inform me. With some of the bullshit that Morgan has been reported for, our children should have been removed from her custody a long time ago.

Anyway, back to the day. Ms. M, this is what we will call the social worker, arrived promptly at 0800 (EST). She was kind enough to call me about half an hour before to inform me that she would be here within the next hour. I met her outside. I had already informed her that my daughter was diagnosed as autistic, and I reminded her that Rose would probably not take to her well. My darling daughter definitely reads my emotions like words on the page. She knows when I have my back up and when I am irked by someone. She will respond with the same sentiments towards that person, but far more openly. I lead Ms. M into the house and we sat at the kitchen table. She informed me of the report that was made and that it was more of a courtesy to the NC DSS for her to come out and investigate. I gave her a run down of my history over the last 12 months or so that she understood what was going on. I had my own records from court, to include the stack of DSS records that my lawyer had subpoenaed in regards to my wife. I told Ms. M that a judge in NC had informed Morgan that she was an unfit mother and the kids would be remaining in my care. Morgan being the devious cunt that she is, would definitely try to bring me down to her level and attempt to cast doubt on my suitability as primary custodian. She probably didn’t expect me to bring my records with me everywhere I went, didn’t expect our daughter to tell Ms. M that it was an outright lie, and definitely didn’t expect for me to have people who have witnessed her atrocious behavior in regards to Rose and Dave.

Ms. M stayed for about an hour. When she was ready to leave, she definitely had a great deal of information to take with her. She wrote up her summary of the investigation while sitting there with me. She told me that as far as the Polk County DCF was concerned, this case was closed as unsubstantiated. Both kids were very polite. Dave was shy as usual. Ms. M had me ask him the questions she needed me to. Dave would answer me, allowing her to gauge his responses. I did the same thing with Rose until she decided to speak to Ms. M directly. All in all, it was a minor inconvenience, but also probably a good thing that I was more than willing to assist the NC social worker in her investigation, even from 5 states away.

Ms. M left around 0900 (EST). I felt better once that was out of the way. Morgan’s stupidity is going to piss me off to no end. Oh well, I guess all I can do is grin, bear it, and be prepared to prove exactly the kind of person/mother/woman/wife she is every chance she forces on me. She definitely isn’t making fans and friends around the country with her bullshit.

Anyway, at 1015hrs (EST), the kids and I loaded up and headed to my sister’s church. Rose wasn’t feeling completely ducky that morning. I suppose having to get woken up early just to answer questions about whether or not your daddy hurts you puts a girl in a pissy mood. She told me that she wanted to go back to Aunt Missa’s house and hang out with Grammy. Dave hung out with Aunt Missa and Shy-Shy while I made the two minute drive back to the house. Rose climbed out of the car and headed into the house, calling for her Grammy as she came in the door. I told my mom that Rose wanted to hang out with her while Dave and I were at church. Grammy, of course, had no problem whatsoever with this plan and sent me on my merry way directly.

The service was about our nation being founded on Christian principles. Many of you may disagree with that and quote the “separation of church and state” comment incorrectly. I urge you to go online to the Library of Congress website and actually pull up Thomas Jefferson’s letter in which this phrase was first stated. It was a fact that I never knew, but he was talking about one specific denomination that was trying to become the state religion of our country. It was an interesting and informative service.

The church had communion at the end of the service. Every time I think I am getting to a place where I can forgive Morgan for her bullshit, she does something else to top herself. So, I still cannot bring myself to take communion, because to me, my inability to forgive my future ex-wife would cheapen God’s forgiveness of our sins through Christ’s sacrifice. I know the highlights of the bad things I have done in my life, and if God can forgive me for that, and I am still unable to forgive Morgan, then I do not deserve to take part in communion. I also cannot bring myself to give tithes. I ensure that the kids are able to, but I do know what it says in the bible about making amends with someone before making your offering. I am not ready to do that with Morgan. I don’t know when that will be, but I know it won’t be anytime soon.

After church we headed home. My mother’s 52nd birthday was last week and we had a combined birthday party for her and my Aunt K. We actually went to Aunt K’s house for the party. Her and my uncle have a pool and we had a hand full of wee people that would absolutely love to go swimming. My kids, my niece and another family member’s child all had a blast playing in the pool. Us parents had to get in on it and then everyone but my grandmother wound up in the pool at one point or another. It was like the old days. We had a lot of fun. We got home that afternoon and the kids were pooped.

I waited until it was time for the harridan to call the kids. Dave told me before she called that he didn’t want to talk to her other than to tell her that he loved her and missed her. After that brief interruption of our vacation, the kids went about playing while I went out to my cousin’s house. You guys will recall him from recent posts. He lost his 3 year old son. I went out to see him and his wife and to just spend time with them. There is honestly nothing I can say to help them. I personally hate platitudes and try not to say them to other people. The best I can offer is my presence to my cousin when he needs me. I am there for a shoulder or an ear. I have been through the fires of my own personal hell, but it cannot compare to the loss of a child. I may have lost mine for a time, but God saw fit to bring them back to me when I needed them the most. I will continue to pray for them and hope that they are able to find their way through this darkness in their lives.

I just had a thought of something I would like to tell you about. Something that breaks my heart and completely pisses me off at the same time. Saturday, when we went to the beach, my sister and I went with our best friend “Hey-Hey” (or The Continuous Train-Wreck ) t0 the beach with our kids. All of the kids had an amazing time together. They all played and laughed and just had fun being kids at the beach. My poor little boy asked “Hey-Hey” at one point, “Are you going to be my new mommy? I don’t like my other one.” What the fuck is wrong with my wife, Rose and Dave’s mother, that my son finds it perfectly acceptable that either one of his parents can be replaced? I am not angry with my son or my best-friend for my son’s innocent question. I am completely livid and disgusted with my children’s mother. She has taught our children that it was perfectly okay to replace me while I was gone. My son has repeated several times that he does not want to live with his mother, that he loves her, but doesn’t like her, and that he just wants to live with me. Morgan disgusts me to no end.


The kids will openly give Morgan the cold shoulder when we are all around each other. They will either completely ignore her or tell her to leave them alone if I am there. Dear reader, I have never attempted to create a wall between my children and their mother. She is doing that through her own behavior and whatever she is telling them about me. It is obvious that my kids do not believe her bullshit and are just about fed up with her inability to be a stable, loving parent. They seriously do not deserve her as a mother. I guess we can’t choose who our parents are. I just have to do my best to ensure that she doesn’t royally screw them up. It’s a good thing I have already gotten the referral for family counseling put in.


Anyway, my friends, I am going to go for now. I have to beautiful, blond haired, blue eyed angels that want my attention. Take care, dear reader. God bless and have a happy and safe Independence Day. Remember those who have paid the ultimate price to ensure your freedom.


Remembering the Blessings

It’s been a long week and this one won’t be any shorter. I made the drive down to Florida on Friday. I got in around noon, had lunch with a friend, went and dropped my stuff off at another friend’s house, relaxed, showered and then went over to visit with my sister and niece for a little while. I was kind of tired after the drive and the evening up to that point, so I headed back to my friend’s house, curled up on the couch and promptly drifted off into La-La Land.


I got a call Saturday morning, about 0730, from my friend’s 9 year old. “Mr. Chris, you need to wake up, get showered and get dressed.” Well, of course I promptly rolled off the couch and staggered into the bathroom for a nice steaming shower. I enjoy a good shower that leaves my skin reddened and tender to the touch. Yeah, I like it hot. My future ex-wife could rarely stand hopping into my shower without immediately playing safe cracker with my hot and cold knobs. Ha ha, no innuendo intended there.


Anywho, after completing my personal hygiene regimen, I put on my dress blues. It was the nicest thing I had, and I had mad respect for that little boy. I can honestly say that between Landon, Kacy (his sister), and my niece Shy, they saved my life in the month of April. They kept me from going completely insane over the fact that I still hadn’t been able to see my own children and wrap them in my arms. Landon’s favorite colors were red and blue, and I just happened to be wearing my dress blues with my maroon beret.


I am still completely astounded by the number of people who showed up for the service. There were so many people that there were about 40 people standing in the foyer, listening to the speakers when the service started. I am getting ahead of myself. I arrived at the funeral home about 15 minutes before the viewing was to start. I met up with my oldest and closest friend and her daughter. When they arrived, the parking lot had been so full that they had to park in the grass. I would like to point out the fact that women in high heels and uneven lawns are not a safe match. Fortunately I was close enough to catch her and then took her hand to get her to firmer ground.


We went in, said our prayers, hugged my cousin and his wife, and then we headed to Party City to get some balloons. Okay, you might be raising your eyebrows on that one. Let me explain. Landon absolutely LOVED Spiderman. The kid was kooky over him. My cousin and his wife decided that they wanted to do something in his memory, so they asked that everyone bring either red and blue balloons or actual Spiderman balloons. My friend and I went to get more, just to make sure all of the kids that were present had one and that anyone that wanted to participate, but didn’t get the message, would be able to. Her daughter gave me a hug, tears in her eyes, and instructed me to hurry back. There is nothing like a child’s broken heart to break your well trained stoicism. There were tears slipping down my cheeks as I walked out of the room and headed for the parking lot.


We went to Party City to get the balloons. I thought I had been rather calm and collected, right up until I am standing at the counter as one of the employees was blowing up the balloons with helium and she popped one. Natural reaction for most people might be to jump, make a sound of surprise, etc. My natural reaction at a sound like that is to have instant adrenaline flowing, right hand reaching for my side, and my heart to start racing, while still having that little jolt of surprise. Okay, so I may have looked cool on the outside, I was an emotional disaster area on the inside. Like I said, that little boy helped keep me going when I needed it the most.


We headed back to the funeral home, arriving about 15 minutes before the actual service would start. One of the funeral home employees showed me where to store the balloons and then I headed in to check on a few people. I wound up outside with my uncle, Landon’s grandfather, for a while. He was very distraught, of course. A lot of people were surprised that he made it. He was too much of a wreck when my father passed away in 2005 to come. He held up pretty well. Well, he was a typical member of our family, stoic on the outside, only showing a little emotion, but a boiling cauldron of emotions on the inside. You learn to read people’s moods when you are around that a lot. Especially when you tend to be that way yourself.


The service was beautiful. The speaker, an octogenarian, former minister, had that slow, southern drawl. He reminded us that not only was it a time for grieving, but it was a time for rejoicing, that Landon had moved on ahead of us to a better place. I personally believe that. You can decide for yourself. I guess we’ll all find out in the end. After the service, everyone moved outside to release the balloons. My friend and I went and collected the balloons we bought, I got some sharpies out of my car so people could write messages and then we headed for the parking lot. My cousin James said a few words, and then at the count of 3, we all released our balloons, sending them towards the heavens. I hope Landon loved it. He had hundreds of balloons coming his way, all his favorite colors or character.


After it was over, I gave my cousin and his wife a hug and then headed back to my friend’s house to change into something less official. It was Florida in June, so of course it was sweltering and humid. My dress shirt under my jacket was drenched (remind me to get that dry cleaned, btw) and I needed a shower and to get into something more comfortable. I changed into my favorite pair of Wranglers, a polo and my Ariat boots and headed to my cousin’s house.


I hadn’t been there 15 minutes when Kacy, Landon’s big sister, climbed up into my arms. She wrapped her arms around my neck, laid her head on my shoulder and said, “Uncle Chris, I miss my bubby.” I had to wait a moment so that my throat would clear, and with tears silently rolling down my cheeks, I told her, “I know, baby, it’s okay to miss him. Just remember, you can talk to him anytime you want. He is always in your heart.” I had to head outside after she decided she was done with me. I don’t like being emotional in front of people, I tend to want a quiet place to collect myself, resettling the emotions, before heading back into the crowd. Almost all of the people that had been at the service were there. People were sitting, standing, leaning on something, almost all discussing their experiences with this amazing little guy. He touched so many hearts in his short years on this earth. He was so full of life that he gave everyone a little bit of himself. A smile from him, a hint of mischief in those beautiful blue eyes, could send you skyward. He will be missed and thought of with love and happiness.


I am thankful that I got to meet this amazing little person. I will always remember him for the hope he gave me. I’ve mentioned the dark places I have been in my mind before. I wasn’t completely out of them when I was home in April. I spent time with my cousin James because he himself is full of life, and because his children are awesome and have the easy ability of making you fall in love with them. Thank you, Landon. Your very presence, your playful spirit, those little hugs that were so unexpected saved your “Uncle” Chris from himself. I love you, my little shooting buddy, and I will miss you. Save a place for me.


Home is Where the Mind Relaxes

The drive down to Florida was a bit of a nightmare. According to Google maps, it is supposed to take 9 hours, 58 minutes. Normally, I can make the trip in about 7 ½ to 8 ½ hours. With the heavy rain all the way down and the unexplained 2 hours delays in Savannah, GA and Orlando, FL, it took me 12 hours, from door to door. I was exhausted by the time I arrived at my sister’s home.

I have been here since Saturday, and I have slept peacefully each night. There have been no late night tossing and turning sessions, no turning the laptop back on and surfing the internet. I have spent time with family and friends, driven around the old neighborhoods and went and sat by my dad’s graveside. I spent some time talking with him, wishing he were there to provide advice. My whole family is here, trying to find ways to help. Being around the chaos of my family has been good. My mind has been relaxing, rebooting.
Sunday night I went out with my cousin Cliff and his girlfriend, Ria. We had a good time. We definitely did a lot of laughing and joking. We went out to dinner and had a few drinks. Being responsible, I stayed with them for the night. When I got up Monday morning, Cliff and I went to breakfast at Waffle House. It was good and we were able to sit and chat comfortably.
Monday night was an old friend’s birthday. We went to a restaurant called Texas Cattle Company. The food was pretty good, but the company was better. It has been many years since we spent time sitting and talking for a few hours. We had a great time. My friend’s mom had called the restaurant on Saturday and told them that my birthday was last week and I had just returned from Afghanistan. Texas Cattle Co will give you a free or very reduced price steak if it’s your birthday. They were cool enough to go ahead and hook me up too.
Afterward, we went back to her house, and we sat and talked with another friend from high school for a few years. We got caught up on where everyone is in life, told each other about friends we had lost touch with after high school. It was a good time and I was ready to head home for bed by 10pm. I definitely am happy to be able to get some sleep on a regular schedule.
The Friday before I left, I went and saw my therapist for the first time. She suggested that I work on getting a sleep schedule set while I am down in Florida. She also said that I would probably be able to relax and fall asleep more easily. Well, she is two for two so far. She just might have an idea of what she is talking about. I suppose I will give her a chance. She just might have some insight and I need a change and learn to trust women again. Maybe she will be the savior of the female gender for me.
Today, I woke up around 9am, showered and headed over to meet up with one of my cousins for lunch. While waiting for her, I went to the ever present Walmart and acquired myself a pair of sunglasses. Somewhere along my journey, my Oakley M-Frames have gone missing in transit from Afghanistan, and I didn’t feel like wearing the Revisions that they issued me. Florida, or at least Lakeland, has lived up to the state’s nickname of the Sunshine State. I swear it rained from the night before I left North Carolina up until I made it through Orlando. That was some nightmarish traffic…..
My cousin and I went to a restaurant that my family has frequented over the last 20 or so years. I learned this evening that my grandmother has decided to boycott them because of her last visit there. According to my sister, the service left something to be desired when they were there and my grandmother will never return. I guess they won’t miss one customer, but it seems like a bad business policy to employ staff members who drive away customers that have been going there for a few decades. None the less, we did not have any issues with poor service.
After lunch, I made my way to the other side of town and went to see my uncle. It has been a while since I had seen him. We spent a few hours talking and just catching up on life. I don’t understand the why people in Florida have so many damned dogs! Almost everyone in my family has multiple dogs, all small ones. They are all loud and yap a lot. Okay, I have owned a Chihuahua, but I am convinced that the people I bought her from must have blown a lot of pot smoke in her face. She was unbelievably calm and lacked that weird, palsy like tremble that most Chihuahuas have.
My grandmother called me while I was there, and told me that she wanted me to go to dinner with her. I ended up taking two of my other cousins with me from my uncle’s house. They seemed like they needed to get out and I love taking people with me to see my grandmother. It gives her other people to talk to so that my ear gets a rest. 😉 I love her to death, but she definitely shows her age sometimes by repeating her stories.
All in all, it was an excellent day. I surrounded myself with family members and just had fun. For the last hour or two, I have been playing Words with Friends on Facebook against my uncle and an old friend. My brain is relaxing, my mood isn’t so dour, and I am generally in a better mood. Home is definitely where the mind relaxes.