American Civics Volume II

Currently Playing on Google and definitely worth a few minutes of your time.

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The Origin of "Pork Man" by Guest Blogger NYC Watchdog

Hey all,

I'm back from rafting the New River in West Virginia. We had an amazing time! The water was high, the sun was warm, the beer was cold, and the gourmet pizza from Pies and Pints was fantabulous! I do have some catching up to do with work, so please welcome NYC Watchdog from A Pile of Dog Bones, who has graciously accepted an offer to Guest Blog on MTMD. I think you'll find this Hurricane Rita tale quite entertaining!

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday September 28, 2005 was R-Day + 4. The sun had woken me up coming through the windshield of my ambulance that was parked in the Texas DOT lot across the street from the Sabine County Hospital. We were entering our official 7th day of deployment, our 3rd day in Sabine, and the 2nd day of depleted rations. Having been diverted from the original deployment plan of stationing in Houston be the Austin EOC on R-Day itself had put the 3 days worth of rations we had brought to good use.

I started the day at our ad-hoc command center, the picnic table. My early morning meeting with the heads of the two other task forces, NY-2 and WV-1, continued where we had left the daily recap meeting the night before on the topic of food. We had been able to secure a case of emergency rations but there was no way to heat them up. We now had confirmation from the EOC that the Wal*Mart in Nagodoches was stocked with emergency supplies, although the food was still questionable. At the very least in my mind we could get a microwave we could operate off the ambulance inverters and perhaps some tents. We remained in agreeance that a mission needed to be sent out and we needed to continue not to tax the already limited resources of the hospital. After the meeting I sat at my bench seat in staging and was handed a Dr. Pepper by Doc Croc.

"Dude I know it ain't Pibbs but we're kinda running on empty in there," he said referring to the vending machine. At this point it really didn't matter, because caffeine was caffeine and I needed the jump start.

"I need you and Big J. We need to fly a mission into Nagodoches to the Wal*Mart. Wake the slumbering beast up." I told Croc.

With a nod Croc was off to the Doctor's private office across the parking lot. Ever the resourceful one, Big J was sleeping on his arrow bed in the lobby of the office in air conditioning. A few minutes later Croc was bounding back across the lot with Big J and another man in tow.

The other man stopped a good ten feet from the table as J and Croc approached. Wearing coveralls over a wife-beater t-shirt and an oil stained hat he was definately a local. Perhaps a local firefighter sent as a possible guide? Perhaps a mechanic looking for fuel?

J sat down opposite me on the table and the wood creaked. I motioned to the man standing off to the side. Jay explained, "He's one of the Doc's patients. He's a Vietnam Vet who's a diabetic and his meds are caught up in the post office that he can't get to because of the fuel situation. Croc says we're runnin' a mission, so I was thinking we could take him with us to the post office to grab his meds." Diabetics have become increasingly dependent on their needles and medications being shipped to them from Canada... which believe it or not was cheaper than getting it in the United States and was a route the HMO's were taking more and more.

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"Why not just let him be seen at the hospital?" I asked the obvious question not wanting to ignore the white elephant behind me.

"He don't trust them in there. He only came in to see the Doc but as we all know he won't be back until next week." replied J. The doctor who's office was across from the hospital had been in Arizona for a conference when Rita hit. He had been trying to make his way back but wasn't expected to do so until the end of the week.

"So I guess when you rolled over that's what greeted you this morning which is why your all chipper?" I inquired, looking past J at the man who must have then realized I was glancing him over and smiled showing me the three teeth he had left in his mouth and a whole lot of gum.

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"Well, yeah. Not that I slept well because I'm starvin like Marvin. You guys can stuff down these carbs but that stuff'll do me and Kevin in real quick." explained J. J was a diet controlled diabetic who basically followed a high protein and low carb regimen. Kevin was insulin dependent but had the same diet requirements. "Look at the very least we should try. The guy's a vet and he's on of us."

One of us. I didn't need to look again to know what he meant. He was a Vietnam Vet who suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I looked at Croc who nodded his agreement to J's implication. We had been under a strict order to make any transportation of civillians for emergency situations only. Trips to the supermarket or places of business had been banned because of the fuel shortage. It only made sense considering that we were working in a disaster area. Yet here was a guy in need who had suffered the same way the three of us had for the last 4 years. In fact he had been suffering for quite a bit longer than us.

After a moment of thought I said, "Okay. I can deem this as a preventive measure otherwise he'll end up as an emergency. We need to stop that from happening and if this is what will do it, then so be it." With the decision made the three of them set off in the logistics truck.

It was 8 hours before I would see Croc and J again. In the disaster zone our business is relatively simple... take care of the sick and save some lives. Business was good. We did over 23 911 missions in the County that day, along with a emergency intubation by Rotor Ray in the triage tent for a patient that got medivaced out (anything Rotor Ray touched got flown out... it became the nature of the beast). Everyone was doing admirably with only crackers and some sodas in their stomachs... but morale was dropping and Smoot from WV-1 and I agreed if the Wal*Mart mission didn't come back with something we would need to look further north... perhaps even Arkansas for supplies.

J and Croc pulled back in around 1600. They came back with a bunch of tents, air matresses, batteries, and some sleeping bags. Croc advised me that the food however, was a no go, and neither was the microwave. As they were unloading the Wal*Mart haul I asked J who was unusually quiet how everything went.

"It's all good," he replied.

Croc looked at him and then said, "Dude, you better tell him." Not good.

J looked around and then back at me and said, "Well remember the guy we took?"

"What about him?" I asked with a sinking feeling. Visions of him running off with the company credit card while flapping his gums down the street entered my head.

"Well, the way there he was telling us how he smokes pork. He's got these huge smokers in his yard and if we got him the medicine he would hook us up with some pork," he explained rubbing his hands together. "So when we got to the post office they had his meds. The box was right there on the counter, only he didn't have his ID on him."

"So..." I prodded.

"Well, the guy behind the counter was being a real douche, and Dog, I gotta tell ya I was jonesin' for that pork. So, I snatched the box and we walked out," finished J before quickly turning back to the truck.

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"So what your telling me is you committed a Federal Felony by interferring with the US Mail for a piece of pork?" I asked increduously.

J turned back with a huge item wrapped in brown paper. He handed it off to me and it weighed a good twenty pounds. "Dude, I committed a felony for three of these suckers. Not only that, but he's gonna smoke us some more tomorrow. Let those Postal Police come for me tomorrow... but tonight we're eating good!"

A few minutes later the town mortician showed up with a grill in tow and a flatbed full of charcoal and a bunch of hamburger and hot dog rolls from his store. Not only was he the mortician, but he owned the gracery in town as well. While everything in the freezers had gone bad, the bread was still decent and unmoldy. J fired up the grill and began heating up the smoked meat.

Sure enough, the pork shoulder and butt was the best I had ever had. We were able to feed all 76 of our responders off it and the hospital staff. Morale rose considerably since people were able to actually sleep in tents instead of in the hallways of the hospital or the fronts of ambulances... but most importantly they went to bed with full bellies from a hot meal.

Two days later Pork Man arrived with three more pieces. That's when we learned that he had hopes of opening a smoked meat stand/store next to his smokers. He had framed the store out, sinking all his savings from odd jobs into it, but it got wiped away by Rita. He now also faced the prospect of replacing all the windows in the trailer he was living in as well as repairing its roof. On R-Day+8 we took up a collection for him and was able to give him $500 towards his store or windows, whichever he felt he needed more. The man stood there and cried, and hugged us all.

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He became a staple of our stay in Sabine County, making us gumbo in a pot Smoot from WV-1 ran over on R-Day+13, then making us Crocodile Jumbalaya with a fresh croc he had caught just for us in the new pot we bought him on R-Day+17, and finally doing an uncountable number of ribs for us the night before we left on R-Day+20. Every visit from the Pork Man, no matter how bad a day we had, was a lifting experience.

Pork Man was a saving grace hidden behind the mask of a PTSD afflicted Vietnam Veteran. He helped us from becoming victims of Hurricane Rita ourselves... and what's a little Federal Felony between friends? He was afterall one of us.

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Gone To Lunch...And Dinner...And Breakfast....And...

Hey all,

I'm about to head out of town for two days, so I won't be blogging til Wednesday. However, I would like you to do two things for me:

1. Go click on the thumbnail for Tricia's Musings, which is Tricia's blog on the top of my sidebar. Tricia is an amazingly kind and considerate and tenacious individual who is now also a friend. She just won 500 Credits in my Where's Matt contest. I have rented space on her other blog, Odd Planet, and now she's renting here on mine. Her writing is intelligent, witty, and interesting. I'll give you more on Tricia later, but like I said, I'm about to head out of town.

2. Head on over to I Talk 2 Much where I just got bitch-slapped by Bitter Bitch herself. It wasn't so much a review of my blog as it was a smackdown, but it's entertaining nonetheless and she does have some points. It's always interesting to find out just what people think about the stuff you pour your heart and soul into, yano?

3. Coming Tuesday night, a guest blogger column by NYC Watchdog and maybe, if you're really nice and visit Tricia and IT2M, another contest. Woohoo!

Later all, and thanks for reading.

Happy Sun-Day

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Image of the Midnight Sun on the Arctic Circle in Norway

Just a little gratuitous sun shot on Sunday. I think the picture is inspirational and representative of humanity. Even on the northernmost shores of the planet, we will follow the sun with an adventurous spirit to take in spectacular sights for ourselves. I don't really want to get too deep on this day of rest, but I just love this photograph and still enjoy looking at it more than twenty years after I first found it.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: The Where's Matt Contest is nearing conclusion. So far, it has really boosted traffic to the participating sites because everyone is actively playing along and visiting each other's blogs--often for the first time discovering the writing of bloggers they have not visited before. Interactivity is what the blogosphere is best at, and I'm gratified that the participants are enjoying the game, having fun, and learning about blogs and writers they might not have visited otherwise.

Have a great day everyone, and thanks for reading.

"WHERE'S MATT?" Contest Begins!

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Hello all:

The contest is about to begin. The first clue will be posted on Meltwater. Torrents. Meanderings. Delta. ( ) after 11:00 pm EDT; or in a bout 30 minutes. More or less. The rules are easy. The first one to find out where Matt is going this weekend will win 500 Blog Explosion Credits.

1. In order to establish who guesses correctly first, all guesses must be submitted to this email address:

2. This should be a fast contest. This contest should also generate considerable traffic on each of your blogs. Because this is how it will work:

A. I will post clues completely at random on participating member blogs. You will receive no notification that a clue has been placed. Clues will be placed in the comment fields of the most current post only. However, if a clue is placed right now, and a blogger posts two seconds from now, there will be two posts you must search for to find a clue. Get it?

B. To discover clues, you will need to visit every participating blog quite often and search for comments. Clues may be posted to one blog 100 times or none at all. It's random.

C. All clues will be in the format: "WHERE'S MATT CLUE: Matt is hiding behind the maple tree." So you should be able to recognize what is a clue, and what is not. All clues will be posted by Matthew S. Urdan with appropriate links to my email and/or blog site.

D. All guesses must be submitted to

E. You can guess as many times as you want to, every hour of the day. In other words, there are no limits on guessing. However, the destination is quite specific, and the guess must be specific as well.

F. There will be one update posted by me a day through this email address to alert you as to the status of the contest. As soon as there is a winner, I will announce the winner. Otherwise, on a daily basis, I will announce how many guesses there are and that there is no winner.

G. These rules will be posted on Meltwater. Torrents. Meanderings. Delta. In case some of your email addresses do not receive email from this account. If this is the case, you need to supply a new email address that will not consider this email account as spam.

H. Links to participating blogs will be posted on Meltwater. Torrents. Meanderings. Delta. at 11:00 pm EDT, more or less.

I. Any questions? Ask them now.

Good luck!

This and That
The Shuttered Eye
My Corner of the Web
Tricia's Musings
Pointless Drivel
Odd Planet
Jetting Through Life
Rant Cafe
Jazz Coffee
The Dramedy of Life
Meltwater. Torrents. Meanderings. Delta.
The Poodle and Dog Blog
Living With Multiple Personalities
The Flip Side
Mystickal Incense and More Blog
Parenting Toys
The Adventures of Miss Lady Ma'am

Thanks for reading.

Titanic II

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Coming out this summer, folks! Check out the brand new trailer here:

Must see Titanic II Trailer

This will be a blockbuster for sure!

Thanks for reading.

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Coming this Friday, a new contest: Where's Matt?

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The object of this contest is simple. I am leaving town on Monday. I will leave clues on participating blogs as to where I am going. The first blogger to figure out exactly where I'm going will win 500 Blog Explosion Credits.

This contest will be fun. This contest will require blog surfing and actually reading posts and comments. This contest will help you make new friends, and this contest will increase traffic to your site.

If you're interested in participating in this contest you need to do three things:
1. Leave a comment on this post saying you want to participate.
2. Send an email to saying you want to participate in this contest. In this email include your name, your preferred email address, your blog name, and blog URL.
3. Adjust your email filters and spam settings to allow receiving of emails from .

All participants will receive complete rules and instructions via email Friday night at 11:00 pm EDT.

Thanks for reading!


P.S. Thanks to Scottage for posting a link to the Top 500 Rock Songs of All Time! ABBA's Dancing Queen is #215 on the list! How amazing is that? Admit it! You all love this song.

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America's Most Endangered Rivers

American Rivers has just released it's list of the 10 Most Endangered Rivers in 2006:

America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2006

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#1 Pajaro River: The Pajaro River, and the safety and well being of its riverside communities, are at a critical turning point. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is poised to recommend yet another old-style, over-engineered flood control project that will actually produce an ever increasing risk of catastrophic flooding. To protect these communities and restore the health of the Pajaro, the Corps must adopt a modern and comprehensive flood protection project that works with nature — instead of against it.

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#2 Upper Yellowstone River: Dubbed “America’s last best river” by National Geographic Magazine, the Yellowstone River faces burgeoning riverside development, with much of the construction occurring in the river’s floodplain and involving considerable alteration of the wild river’s banks. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the local officials of Park County, Montana must move urgently to guide development in a way that protects one of America’s most scenic rivers and avoids putting people in harm’s way.

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#3 Willamette River: Home to more than 70 percent of the state’s population, the Willamette River Valley is the heart and lifeblood of Oregon, but a loophole in state regulations allows companies to dump millions of pounds of pollution into the river in “toxic mixing zones.” The governor must make good on his promise to clean up the Willamette and end the use of toxic mixing zones on the river.

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#4 Salmon Trout River: The pristine Salmon Trout River is at the heart of one of Michigan’s largest remaining wild areas and provides drinking water and unparalleled recreation. However, a mining operation is poised to convert part of the river’s headwaters into an industrial zone, creating a risk of acid mine drainage that could contaminate the river and harm Lake Superior. The state government must deny the mining permit application for this mine.

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#5 Shenandoah River: One of America’s most storied rivers, the peaceful Shenandoah is facing an onslaught of development that threatens the tranquility and clean water that have attracted people to the river for centuries. County governments along the Shenandoah have a rapidly-closing window to get a handle on runaway development before it changes the character of the river and valley forever.

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#6 Boise River: Idaho’s Boise River provides drinking water, irrigation, and prized, family-friendly recreation, but if a Canadian mining company moves ahead with plans to blast two giant pits and remove over 1,000 feet of mountain in the river’s headwaters, it could also deliver cyanide and mine run-off to Idaho’s capital city. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality should deny the mining company’s request for a permit, and the U.S. Forest Service should work diligently to protect the section of the Boise River within its jurisdiction.

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#7 Caloosahatchee River: Drinking water for tens of thousands of people, a worldrenowned haven for birds and other wildlife, and the heart of a $2 billion local tourist economy, the Caloosahatchee is reeling from the effects of the Corps of Engineers’ decades of manipulation of Florida’s fabled “River of Grass.” Regular discharges of millions of gall ons of fertilizer and toxic laden water from Lake Okeechobee into the river threaten the health and economy of South Florida. The Corps, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and local authorities must work together and quickly to regulate not only the toxic discharges from the lake but the agricultural runoff and other pollution that are fouling it in the first place.

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#8 Bristol Bay: The Bristol Bay watershed in Alaska is an intricate system of lakes, streams and rivers that is the source of the single largest salmon run on earth, on the Kvichak River. But the Bay’s spectacular salmon runs and bountiful wildlife are threatened by plans to blast North America’s biggest open pit, cyanide heap mine into the headwaters of the Kvichak and Nushagak Rivers. As it crafts a management plan for the area in 2006, the Bureau of Land Management must protect these irreplaceable rivers in the only way that is sure to work, by closing the area to mining.

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#9 San Jacinto River: The Republic of Texas was born on the banks of the San Jacinto, and the river and its tributaries still nurture remnants of the state’s fabled Big Thicket bottomland hardwood forests. But unregulated sand mining, in which companies peel off huge swaths of forest to excavate the sand beneath them, threatens the health of this storied river and the people who depend on it for drinking water and recreation. It is time for Texans to protect what’s left of this unique place and have some say over the sand mining companies that are stripping off and hauling away the land that once absorbed and filtered the waters of the San Jacinto.

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# 10 Verde River: As a critical source of drinking water for Phoenix and other communities, and a haven for boating, fishing and birdwatching, the Verde is a jewel in the desert, but could find itself drastically diminished if plans move forward to increase pumping of water out of the aquifer that feeds the river, pitting one community’s water supply against another. The Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and local governments must closely review the impacts on the Verde of any pumping from the Big Chino aquifer, especially the project recently proposed by the City of Prescott and the Town of Prescott Valley.

For more information or to take action, please visit American Rivers.

Thanks for reading.

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Eleven (11) Wierd Things: Drat! Tagged Again!

I'm not realy into tags or memes (whatever memes are), but if someone thinks of you to tag you, I think that as a courtesy, it's only right to participate. And so it goes...Tricia, my last, and current, landlord over at Odd Planet has tagged me and asked me to come up with some wierd things about me. I don't know how wierd these things are, but maybe they'll be interesting to some. And to make this post more interesting, I've interspersed some wierd signs and photos I've found on the web. Enjoy.

1. I prefer most hot foods leftover cold the next day. Especially Pizza and Chinese.

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2. Two of my brothers were ballboys for the Detroit Pistons for Five Years Each.

3. I got to raise the Stanley Cup Trophy over my head, as if I would ever be a Stanley Cup Champion.

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4. Inexplicably, I enjoy most chick flicks--especially anything with Reese Witherspoon. Okay, maybe that's not so inexplicable.

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5. I've lived in Columbus for three years, but have never ventured downtown.

6. I haven't been Up North to our home in Charlevoix on Lake Michigan for three years, and I believe that Lake Michigan misses me.

7. When skipping stones in a river, I always ask the River Gods if it's okay.

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8. Every year I get an inexplicable craving to eat a favorite candy that I loved when I was a kid. Right now I'm in a Peanut M&M rut, and it's not hleping my attempts at dieting.

9. I love driving on high mountain roads with major dropoffs and views, but I'm scared to death of flying in a plane, although flying is undeniably safer.

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10. I buy lots of flower seeds to create the perfect garden every spring, but rarely do I ever plant them.

11. I always obey the rule: "I" before "E", except after "C"; even if it's wrong. How wierd is that?

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Thanks for reading.

"The Shuttered Eye" and "The Dramedy of Life"

This week I have selected two new blogs as MTMD Blog of Excellence Winners.

The first one is The Shuttered Eye.

The Shuttered Eye

In my opinion, this is the best photoblog on the web. Not only is the photography consistently spectacular and each piece is truly a work of art such as the photo of a Washington D.C. Fire Department Door below that is published here with permission; but each photograph speaks to the soul and captures an emotion. Unlike other photoblogs that are out there that contain spectacular photography of nature or city images or a farm animal or a sunset; The Shuttered Eye photographs really freeze time and capture moments that evoke an emotional response. To do so is high art. To do so consistently is why I have recognized "The Shuttered Eye."

DCFD Red Door

The second blog that I have recognized this week is The Dramedy of Life.

The Dramedy of Life

The first thing I can say about Shelly is that she must really have long legs since in her "About Me" section of her blog she says that she straddles Virginia and West Virginia. But all kidding aside, The Dramedy of Life is a pure joy to read and certainly one of the most positive blogs out there. Shelly keeps the tone light. Her content is varied and night she talks about the latest Grey's Anatomy episode, the next she discusses what Easter has meant to her growing up and now as an adult. Shelly puts it all out there, staying true and focused with every post perfectly illustrating the Dramedy that is life. And that mix: not too heavy, not too light, but jusssst right is why Shelly has attracted so many faithful readers.

In addition to her awesome writing ability, Shelly's blog, in many ways, has the same feel of "Cheers" or your local watering hole. Shelly's Blog Roll is long, as she interacts with many other bloggers who contribute a fair number of comments to her posts. Her blog design is unique and makes a statement as well. Hers is one of the few blogs that actually pulls off purple and makes it work for her.

With The Dramedy of Life, Shelly has created more than a blog. Shelly has created a community of friends. That is what has made her blog special, and that is why I have recognized The Dramedy of Life as an MTMD Blog of Excellence.

Thanks for reading.

Kayak 4 a Kure

Kayak 4 a Kure Logo

I just received word of an adventurous undertaking, and I would like to share it with you. John Dubina and Louis Breckenridge have formed Kayak 4 a Kure. Launching in 2007, this team of two, will kayak the entire Mississippi River from it's source to the Gulf of Mexico to raise funds for Children's Cancer Research.

Kayaking the entire Mississippi River is no easy task. Starting at Lake Itasca, Minnesota, the team will navigate the headwaters of the Mississippi River and continue to the Gulf of Mexico; traversing 2,350 Miles through 10 states. The Mississippi River is the third largest river (Behind the Amazon and Nile) and the second largest watershed area in the world (the Amazon is first), and is the primary watershed for over 40% of the United States, covering all or parts of 31 states, two Canadian Provinces, or about 1/8 of North America. Mississippi is an Ojibwa Indian word, which means "Great River" or "Gathering of Waters". And the definition is most apt.

Prior to taking on this daunting challenge, John Dubina has tackled the Caribbean by SCUBA, and now turns to kayaking. Sky diving right out of High School and skiing the slopes of New Mexico balanced out his underwater exploits. When he tried Whitewater Rafting last year he fell head over heels for it, which means he and I would get along fine if we ever met. John says: "As with everything else in life, this trip will benefit Children's Cancer Research by way of Contributions. Having a 2-year old makes me look at life under a new light, and if I have the opportunity to help other children then that is the least I could do for being blessed with a healthy child of my own." Amen!

Louis Breckenridge is an adventurer to the core, having served in the US Army and was a Special Forces Trained Soldier. He is an avid kayaker, hiker, whitewater enthusiast, outdoorsman and SCUBA certified diver. This trip is one of his dreams and he plans to carry forth many more adventures which will bring to reality his vision of being a world class adventurer while bringing awareness to various world issues from cancer to the environment.

Kayak 4 a Kure hopes to raise $500,000 in donations from individuals and companies for Children's Cancer Research. The cancer cure rate for leukemia in children has risen from 4% to over 80% at the present time. Obviously, we can do better, and with this expedition and the funds and awareness it will raise, hopefully we can get that much closer to eradicating this form of cancer that affect so many.

You can follow the progress of this expedition, now in its formative stages, at the Kayak 4 a Kure Website and the expedition's Blog. To get involved, to donate money, or for further information you may contact John and/or Louis at and or . You can also phone Louis Breckenridge direct at 806-678-3762.

Thanks for reading.

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9 / 1 1

With the imminent release of the Movie Flight 93 later this month, our attention is being drawn once again to that fateful day almost five years ago.

To me, the heroism that was displayed on that day and immediately after represents the best that humanity can attain. Many tears were shed. Many tears are still being shed.

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We often forget this as we are speeding down the highway when we are late for work or a party or because we just don't think. Melissa, over at Jetting Through Life has felt this personally. Her husband is a Police Officer in a Cleveland suburb. One of her husband's fellow officers just stopped his car to help a motorist who lost a tire and crashed into the median of I-90. A truck slammed into him and now he is in a fight for his life.

You can read all about the details on Melissa's blog, which has just undergone a redesign and looks fantastic by the way, but folks, for God's sake! When there is an accident on the highway, when someone is pulled over on a shoulder, when emergency vehicles are blaring their sirens and flashing their lights as they race to help someone in need; or even if they are just stopped on the side of the road giving someone a ticket--PLEASE MOVE OVER TO THE NEXT LANE, SLOW DOWN, AND GIVE THEM THE SPACE THEY NEED TO DO THEIR JOBS!

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Police Officers, State Troopers, Firefighters, EMTs and Ambulance Drivers. These men and women risk so many stupid injuries in their efforts to help you and me every ordinary day. And on extraordinary days when our entire nation is in need of life suport, such as after 9 / 1 1 or a disaster like Katrina; these are the people that we turn to the most to help us get through. We owe them everything we can do to help them do their jobs and to make their jobs safer to do--especially when we are racing down a highway somewhere.

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There are others heroes at work out there too, and they are engaged in work that most of us have never even heard of. Another consequence of us racing down highways is injured wildlife. We all see roadkill. We joke about roadkill. But sometimes I wonder whether or not it's cruel to joke about suffering animals.

Foothills Animal Rescue is a Wildlife Animal Rescue Unit founded in 1991 and operated by friends of mine, Tresa and John Adams.

Foothills Animal Rescue is a federally permitted volunteer group dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of injured and orphaned wildlife encompassing the entire area of upstate South Carolina and part of Hendersonville, North Carolina.

Although their focus is wildlife, they have never turned down any animal in need. They often take in exotics like ferrets, unwanted reptiles, and pet birds.

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They are proud members of our community who provide educational lectures, attend special events, and assist animals to the best of their ability.

9 / 1 1 is more than a date, it's more than a tragedy, it's more than a movie, and it's more than a symbol. To me, 9 / 1 1 is a call to honor our heroes. The ones we recognize, and the ones we aren't even aware of. Please think about this the next time you're speeding around that corner or passing a group of flashing lights on the highway.

Thanks for reading.

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Thank You Stephanie

Just a quick note of thanks to Stephanie over at Mystickal Incense and More Blog for the amazing write up she gave my blog last night in her welcome post to me as her current Blog Explosion Tenant. It's hilarious, generous and most kind. Stephanie is an awesome writer and should definitely have a column in the New York Times. Check it out!

Thanks for Reading.

Game Day

I've been invited to participate in an online game: The Quest for the Northern Chalice. The details can be found on one of the comments on the post about me and my brother, as well in comment fields on like 20 other blogs. Seems like it's a Blog Explosion Version of Dungeons and Dragons, but it sounds like fun and a way to interact with other bloggers.

I'm just making this post on this topic because part of the game involves searching for clues on other participants' blogs, but whoever is organizing this hasn't sent links to the blogs playing, just a list from a yahoo email account that obviously doesn't understand HTML. Linking the participants below will just help me play the game without tediously typing in HTML addresses.

If you're interested in watching this play out, let me know and I'll post updates on the blog. If you're not, that's cool, but check out all these blogs anyway because without exception, they are all very cool!

The Cartoonist They Call the Stik
Jaws Was A Lady
Pointless Drivel
Perspectives of a Nomad
Jetting Through Life
Happy Blank Day Blog
This Circus I Call My Life
Jazz Coffee
The Dramedy of Life
Meltwater. Torrents. Meanderings. Delta.
My Opinion On Sports
Living With Multiple Personalities
The Flip Side
Mystickal Incense and More Blog
Parenting Toys
The Adventures of Miss Lady Ma'am

Thanks for Reading.

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BROTHERS AGAIN! Or, the Heartwarming Story You've Been Looking for All Week

Something very strange happened to me yesterday that I never would have expected. I got an email from my brother:

matt- i am turning 40 on monday and i want to go on a rafting trip.

let me know your suggestions- (first timer)



your little bro.

What makes this email so strange is that Paul and I have not talked to each other for three years. Now, there is a reason for this that I won't get into, this is, afterall, a heartwarming post. However, we are both rather stubborn when we believe we are right. But what generated this melting of the cold hearts, believe it or not, came from the Blogosphere--read, all of you.

Happy Blank Day Blog

By now, you all know I love whitewater rafting. After getting to know Charlie from The Happy Blank Day Blog, I asked him if he would draw a cartoon for my blog. Instead, he offered to create a "Rafting Holiday" cartoon, and publish it on his own blog. This is the cartoon that he created for me for this special holiday:

Conquering Your Fear of Rafting Day

Pretty cool,huh? Love the hat! The hat and the glasses and the beard were my look circa 1996 on my first rafting trip on the South Fork American River in California with All Outdoors Whitewater Rafting. (You can see the picture that inspired this cartoon by reading the MTMD Classic Post: Celebrating 10 Years of Rafting!)

Anyway, the cartoon that Charlie did is amazing and I was super excited, so I emailed it to everyone in my email address book. My brother Paul got that email too. I don't know what happened next that led from him receiving the email to sending me the email posted above asking me for suggestions about where to go whitewater rafting; but I can recognize an olive branch when I see one. So I called Paul, we talked for a little bit, and I offered to set him and his family up for whatever kind of whitewater rafting experience he decides he wants to take later in May or June for his 40th birthday present from me to him.

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(This picture was taken at Paul's wedding in Chicago 12 years ago. Paul is on the right, I'm the one sporting the beard.)

So now after three years, once again it would appear, we are brothers again. And it took the Blog Explosion Blogging Community to make it happen. Thank you all so very much!

And thanks for reading.

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MTMD Welcomes Mr. Fabulous and His Blog: Pointless Drivel!

Pointless Drivel

In his own words, Mr. Fabulous describes Pointless Drivel as "just a collection of samplings from the cluttered mind of someone who has managed to get into his 40's without really growing up. You won't find anything profound here. In the immortal words of Edie Brickell "Choke me in the shallow water before I get too deep". Indeed. She was so wise. It's a shame she died so young. Edie, we hardly knew ye. What? She's not dead? Well, her career is.

I love reading Mr. Fabulous because he makes me laugh. I guarantee you that on any given day if you visit his blog, there will be at least several things that will make you laugh out loud. If you visit him today, make sure you check out his shout out to our friends in Canada. But if you are offended easily, you can send the hate mail to Gainesville, Florida. Deal?

Go ahead, click on the thumbnail link at the top of the sidebar and pay Mr. Fabulous a visit. Tell him Matt at MTMD sent ya! Maybe he'll share a slice of an orange with you.

Thanks for reading.



The contest has ended everyone. There were five entries. The winner of the Grand Prize of 100 credits is Trisha from Odd Planet. Her name was picked in a random drawing out of a Class VI River Runners Coffee Mug. The following individuals will be receiving 10 Credits just for entering: Michele from Jazz Coffee; Ethel from Ethel Experience; Jane from Janelovestarzan; and Scottage from Perspectives of a Nomad.

Thanks for playing everyone--we got a lot of 11th hour traffic to A Pile of Dogbones...Cya around NYC Watchdog! You were a great tenant, and I appreciate all the work you did promoting my blog! You rock!

Thanks for reading.

That's right! I am giving away 100 (ONE HUNDRED) Blog Explosion Credits to ONE LUCKY WINNER of this contest. Entering is simple: everyone who clicks on my tenant's (NYC Watcher) blog A Pile of Dog Bones and follows the contest entry instructions below has a chance to win the grand prize of 100 Credits. Additionally, EVERYONE who enters by clicking on that thumbnail and following the instructions below will win 10 credits today just for entering!

That's today, as in Saturday, as in April 8, 2006!

To collect your credits and earn a chance to win the grand prize of 100 credits, you need to do these things:
1. Click on the thumbnail that will take you to NYC Watcher's Blog on the top of my sidebar.
2. Copy one paragraph of text from any post on the site.
3. Create a comment on this post on MTMD, and paste that paragraph into the comment.
4. Write in the same comment, one thing that you like about A Pile of Dog Bones
5. Sign the post with your correct Blog Explosion username.

That's it folks! Remember, you must follow these instructions exactly. Only those entries left in comments on this post are elegible to win.

For everyone who enters this contest today, I'll send you your credits after midnight eastern time tonight.

I got this idea from my current landlord, Mike of The Crikey Files. Not a bad idea, eh mate?

Thanks for reading.

Deja Vu, or....Happy Conquer Your Fear of Whitewater Rafting Day!

Deja Vu.
I admit it. I'm guilty. I posted several photos of the work of Sidewalk Artist Julian Beever over the course of a few days. I did this for a couple reasons:
1. The Art is Really Cool!
2. I had never seen a lot of these pieces before.
3. Many of you in the blogosphere posted comments and emailed me regarding how cool these works of art are.

Being the obliging kind of bloggist that I am, I just posted more and more, taking you at your word that you had not seen these works of art, such as this one, before.

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But today, a couple of bloggers have informed me on comments left on my blog that I need to move on because all of these pictures have already been posted on many blogs several months ago.

I see. Well, I would just like a moment to repsond.

First, please excuse my crime of not reading the same blogs that you do.

And secondly, just out of curiosity, what is wrong about posting something that has been posted before and looking at it again? Maybe it seems kind of stupid to you, but then: How many times have you watched "I Love Lucy", "The Brady Bunch," "Gilligan's Island," "Bugs Bunny," or "Star Trek" reruns?

How many of you purchase CDs and listen to your favorite songs and albums more than one time?

How many of you have ever re-read your favorite novel, or studied one more than once throughout your high school and collegiate career? Really, I want to know who has only read "Romeo and Juliet" or "Julius Caesar" just once.

How many of you buy DVDs and watch them over and over again? How many of your children do? C'mon, I know each and every one of you owns a copy of "Finding Nemo," right?

How many times have you seen "Star Wars," or "Titanic," or "Miracle on 34th Street," or "Gone With The Wind," or "The Wizard of Oz," or "The Ten Commandments?"

How many of you return to your favorite fishing or vacation spot year after year?

How many of you return to your favorite restaurant week after week?

How many of you hang paintings and pictures on your wall to look at each and every day?

Have I made my point yet? If not, then I suspect you are the person who left those comments, anonymously, on my blog today. But you're right. If you've seen one sunset, you've seen them all.

Happy Conquer Your Fear of Whitewater Rafting Day!

Charlie, over at the Happy Blank Day Blog has proclaimed today, April 7, to be a holiday that is dear to my heart. In honor of which, he has designed a special cartoon, featuring a caricature of me circa 1996 with a funky hat and a beard from my first rafting trip on the South Fork American River in California.

Happy Conquering Your Fear of Rafting Day!

Thank you very much for this honor, Charlie! You rock! And I'm very flattered.

Thanks for reading.

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Gold Digging in NYC Anyone?

One More for shits and giggles: this is just too good not to post:

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Sidewalk Art: Part III

The comments have been so overwhelming regarding Julian Beever's work, that I feel compelled to post just one more picture:

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Thanks for reading.

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Submit Your Site For Consideration

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I have only been blogging since January 11 of this year. This is a very short time period. However, in just a few months, I have viewed literally thousands of blogs. I have seen great templates and bad templates. I have read great writers and poor writers. I have seen blogs with a purpose and blogs have no coherence whatsoever.

A lot of these things became clear to me in the last week or so as I constructed my April Fool's Day Prank Post. The prank was on Stephanie Davies and blog templates. So a thought occurred to me regarding really great blogs: Although a lot of us leave comments and some of the comments we leave are absolutely glowing regarding posts and they foster discussion and interaction, I wanted to leave a more indelible mark.

So I have created the MTMD Blog of Excellence Award.

The blogs I recognize must meet all of the following criteria:
1. An irrepressible and adventurous spirit.
2. Strong writing and variety of content.
3. Interesting, Functional, or Beautiful Web Design.
4. Clarity and Ease of Navigation.
5. A Focused Point of View.

Winning blogs will have the option of displaying the award on their blog in a location of the author's choosing.

The MTMD Blog of Excellence Award is really not an award that can be applied for, but anyone may suggest a blog for my consideration.

Without further adieu, the first five blogs chosen for the MTMD Blog of Excellence Award are:
1. Mystickal Incense and More Blog
2. Perspectives of a Nomad
3. Jessica
4. Jazz Coffee
5. Jetting Through Life

Congratulations! You are all most deserving.

Thanks for reading.

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Sidewalk Art: Part II

Thank you everyone who replied to my first post with the picture of the Batman and Robin sidework art. Because so many of you really enjoyed seeing that, and some of you said you had never seen this art before, I'm posting two more pictures from Julian Beever's work.

The first pic is of the world, drawn on sidework as it would appear in the illusion, the second pic is the same pic as it would appear if you were viewing it from the side. In the second pic, you can really see the mastery of the work in making it appear as an illusion.

I hope you enjoy these pics. For those of you who would like to see more pics of Julian Beever's sidework art, drop me a comment with your email address, or email me directly, and I'll forward a whole slew of these pics to you.

PICTURE 1: The World as seen when looking at it from the perspective of the illusion.

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PICTURE 2: The World as seen when looking at it from the side, showing how the drawing really appears in 2 dimensions.

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Pretty cool, huh?

Thanks for reading.

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Sidewalk Art

Julian Beever is an English artist who's famous for his chalk art on pavement in England, France, Germany, USA, Australia and Belgium. Beever gives his drawings amazing 3D illusion. We've all seen these pictures before because they have made the email rounds, but here is one that I'm really impressed with: Batman and Robin to save the day! Enjoy.

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Thanks for reading.

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MTMD Welcomes "A Pile of Dog Bones"

Yes! New York City's Watchdog is BACK! and A Pile of Dog Bones is publishing again with its creator in a brand new template design! You can check out the blog by clicking on the orange thumbnail over on the left at the top of the sidebar!

After having lost the rights to the blog in an unfortunate game of Texas Hold Em, NYC's Watchdog burst back onto the scene in the last few days, winning back his blog, just in time for my April Fool's Joke on Mystickal Incense Blog Author and MY Template Designer Stephanie Davies. Apparently, the April Fool's Joke post has become my most successful post in the blogosphere to date, and it tickled the funny bones of many and made NYC Watchdog a fan of MTMD as evidenced HERE.

Not only is NYC's watchdog praise glowing, but he then went out and rented space on my blog. So it is truly a great honor to host his blog here this week. Often tenants don't interact with the writers of the blogs they rent, they're mostly looking for promotion of their own blogs. But in this case, I know that NYC's Watchdog is a fan of my blog, and I made him laugh. More importantly, I suspect I've made a friend.

Go on! Click on the thumbnail. You know you want to check out his blog. Post a comment on his site and tell him Matt sent ya!

Thanks for reading.

Blog Templates: I'm Going Back to Blogger Dark Dots

I've decided. When I get home from work tonight, I'm going back to the original blogger template I had when I started the blog: The old dark dots.

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I really liked the look of the template, and if truth be told, it's really not a lot different than the template I have now, except that my current template has some nice pictures on it. If you look at the sidebar, it's organized the same way. The text, the bullets, the headings, they're all the same, really.

I've decided to go back to Blogger's Dark Dots for several reasons:

1. I've had some complaints that my template takes too long to load because of the background image in dial up. I never considered this. It has been suggested to me that I'm not winning as many battles in Blog Explosion Battle of the Blogs because nobody gets to see my blog before the 20 seconds is up. Actually, I think that problem is more related to Blogger server slowness than anything else, but I think it's also a legitimate complaint for some.

2. While I really love the design of my new template, I think it takes away from the content of my posts. I originally started blogging because I thought I had some things to say. I think pretty pictures distract from that, and I would like to focus more on my content without the peer pressure that comes with trying to compete with other well-designed blogs.

3. Michelle from Jazz Coffee says that thirty years from now, the orginial blogger templates will be viewed as vintage and classic, so after the current fads of cartoon character blogs fade, everyone will want one of the originals. I think this makes sense. So why not just stay with an original all along?

4. Shelly from the Dramedy of Life thinks my blog is hard to read because of the white text on black. Personally, I don't see it. I think my font is quite easy to read, but I use IE7. In truth, Firefox thins out my font a little, so depending on Shelly's screen resolution and browser, it may indeed be very difficult to read. I hadn't considered this. With my current template, I don't have the option of changing the background color. If I did, it would really destroy the look of the blog, and I don't have the heart to go to Stephanie and ask for a redesign. It would take weeks to work out new color schemes and blend them with the photos--we would probably have to change photos and the header graphic and the background to make it all work right with a different color font.

5. Most importantly, the new graphical look isn't helping expand my readership base. I was getting just as many hits if not more with my original look supplied by Blogger. When I was in Alaska, when I started this blog, I was receiving about 550 hits a day. I switched my counter to ClustrMaps when I got back from Alaska, so those initial hits aren't reflected in my current tally; but I was getting emails from climbers at Everest Base Camp because of the info I had posted regarded Denali. It's funny...I was getting more hits from Nepal than I was from Columbus.

So all in all, tomorrow, I'll be switching back to Blogger's Dark Dots. I hope none of you will be disappointed by the decision, but I think in the long run, it's for the best.

Oh, and Stephanie...

April Fool.

Thanks for reading.

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