Category Archives: Randomnesses

Just randomness that might be on my mind

A True Valentine – Photo Restoration


I had been saving this for an eventual review I was writing up, but in honor of it being Valentine’s Day, a day for couples to show their affection to one another, I thought I’d share it.  Below is a photograph of my grandparents, that I’ve scanned and cleaned up in the top version, and attempted to colorize in the bottom version.  When I originally asked my Granddad about it, he guessed that the photo was taken at a photo booth in Brodhead, Ky at the Little World’s Fair.  The date isn’t clear when it could have been, but it was before they were married in ‘53. (Assuming on my part by lack of any form of rings)

To this day their still married and two people that I strive to make proud, professionally and personally.  I don’t have the original picture, I gave that back, but I do cherish that I have this, as a reminder, and as of proof that love between two people can stand the tests of time.

Clontz_Brodhead_Fair_old

 

Clontz_Brodhead_Fair_color

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A geek in a small town: Mt. Vernon USA


Okay, so its time for a little rant I suppose.  I live in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky.  Most people that come to this blog probably don’t even know where that is, or when they read Kentucky, they develop their own opinions rather quickly.  Well the fact is, its a rather small town, not exactly in the rural parts of Eastern Kentucky, but at the same time, not far out of it.  Now of course, some people might find that thought calming and peaceful, and think it sounds like a nice place to be.  I’m not saying its not!!  I’m not condemning Mt. Vernon, or Rockcastle County, or anything like that, far from it!  Sure, it has its flaws, what place doesn’t?  And obviously If parts of me didn’t enjoy living here, I wouldn’t be, but it does makes things more challenging for me at times.

Map picture

Okay, so obviously I’m a geek.  I know, that’s a huge shocker considering the name of the page is Geekasms, so I definitely don’t hide from it or try to dress it up as anything else.  I’m a tech geek, movie geek, comic geek, I hit the high notes of most things in the realm of Geekdom at one point or another, and most that know me wouldn’t argue that point.  Unfortunately, Mt.Vernon doesn’t exactly lend itself to the expansion of certain elements of my geekery.  (I realize I keep making up words using ‘geek’, but hey, I’m entertaining myself!).  There are plenty of examples I can pull from.  One  from a few years back, being Gmail.  I adapted to Gmail as soon as I was able to.  Grabbed an invite from a messaging board, and have never looked back since, and although Google has gradually adapted Gmail with new functions and aspects including chat and others, its been of no use to me because well…..not many people I know have yet to use Gmail, or even consider it, even with me trying to get them to try it.  They have no interest in changing what they already have, and leave me alone in my Gmail Geekground (play on playground….I know, starting to get sad already)

More up to date examples would be things like Twitter, LinkedIn and social iPhone apps.  On Twitter, I have less then 100 followers, even today, and a very small handful of them are actually from Rockcastle County, and even fewer still live anywhere close!  The worst part about that is, I’ve almost reached 1000 tweets!  Those are a whole bunch of lonely tweets, no doubt.  I’m also on LinkedIn.  A website that is obviously picked up in other parts, but no where around me.  I have very few connections on LinkedIn, and nearly all of them come from people I work with, not anyone from home.

Then we have the iPhone.  Yes, many, many adapters to the iPhone, but very little usage in the world of apps I reside in.  No one local uses foursquare at all.  I still play with it, but its more of a self entertainment then anything else.  Even using apps or searches on foursquare or twitter to find users close, its always just me, and people that have traveled  up or down I75.

I live in an area of either very slow adapters, or people that do not adapt at all, while I do my best to be on the front lines and cutting edge of everything going on.  Plus, don’t even get me started on the difficulties of finding graphic design work anywhere close!  (Possible rant for PCS site later on)

So why am I ranting?  I have no idea.  Maybe I hope to get a few sympathetic followers (@Michael_Parsons) or some comments, or I simply have no goal in this but to simply voice my frustration out on the fact that I feel like I’m alone in the world of Geekdom in my general area.  But, it is what it is, and I shall continue to fight the good fight, with my army of 1!!

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Store on Zazzle


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After some people have shown interest in a few of my designs, and if/where they could get them on a shirt, hat, etc I’ve decided to setup a little “shop” on Zazzle.com.  So here is my one shameful plug for my slowly developing page with the banner that you can click below.  I’m slowing gong to start filling it with items, along with random shirt designs that pop into my head, including the wildcat design I did for BCMS last year.  I have never really done anything like this, so am unsure of the success I could possibly find on Zazzle.com or where their royalty percentages rank compared to other sites.  I will possible blog about the ups and downs I face while setting up shop on Zazzle.  If anyone has had any experience using Zazzle, or know of a better site to use or have anything other suggestions, please feel free to shoot me an email or comment below.

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2010 Topps 1962 Mickey Mantle Reprint Relic


Back in the days of elementary and middle school, I used to collect baseball cards.  It was the big thing where you would take some to school and trade, or meet up with cousins and friends to trade or see who has what.  It wasn’t for monetary gain, you didn’t necessarily care about the condition of the cards, the big thing was to have your favorite player(s) or try and collect every player for your favorite team.

Well now 15 years later, for whatever reason I’ve started buying a pack of cards randomly when I go to the store, and with more knowledge of properly taking care of things, keeping them in “mint” condition, I would say I’m more of a proper collector now.  Although my knowledge is limited right now as to what cards are worth keeping, which are good investments, I do come across a card once in awhile that I know should be worth something, the question is what is themickeymantel value.  I have come across one such card, one that is apparently rare enough that asking friends online, no one has any knowledge of it, and its been hard finding any info on it anywhere online up to this point.

The card in question comes from the Topps 2010 Series 2.  It is serial numbered up to 62 (with mine being 38/62) and numbered as MMR-1 on the back.  It also has a piece of a game used bat, showing through a 62 cut in the card.  I did read that the chance of getting the card is 1:70,000.  If anyone knows anything about this card or has any additional information, feel free to contact me or comment below.

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Ballard Parsons


This was written by my uncle John and originally published in the June 10th, 2010 edition of the Mt. Vernon Signal.  As it covers a subject I have previously wrote about, I wanted to post it here because I feel the two compliment each other, showing how Ballard touch multiple generations the same way, showing what a truly special person he really was.

On Saturday, June 12 we will celebrate the 20th “Ballard’s Day” in Wildie. Ballard’s birthday is June14, he would have been 70 years old. This is a pitch-in meal and everyone is invited, you don’t have to bring anything to attend, just yourself.

Ballard Parsons was born on June 14, 1940. In the summer of 1952 he was helping his Dad haul milk and bale hay. He was already driving both the truck and tractor and was on his way to becoming a farmer. He was a big and strong 12 year old boy. This was about to change.

Around the first of July Ballard began to get sick. His parents thought he had a cold or the flu. His younger sister Libby was sick too. Ballard began to have trouble keeping his balance and he stumbled a lot. This was really out of the ordinary for him because he was such a strong young boy. By July 4, he couldn’t walk. Kenneth Stewart, his cousin, came by to check on him and immediately loaded him in the car and went to Mt. Vernon to find Dr. George Griffith. Dr. Griffith met Ballard, Kenneth and Ballard’s Dad, Shirley Parsons at his office.

Without delay Dr. Griffith sent Ballard to Berea Hospital and asked about any illness in other family members. When he found out that Ballard’s sister, Libby, was sick too, he ordered her brought to his office. When he examined her he sent her to the Berea Hospital too.

What the family and Kenneth Stewart feared was unfortunately true. Both Ballard and Libby had contracted infantile paralysis, or polio. Ballard had reached the critical stage, but Libby’s had been caught early. Libby was treated and sent home, Ballard was not so lucky.

From the hospital in Berea Ballard was sent to St. Joseph hospital in Lexington. The disease had already done a lot of damage to Ballard’s strong body. He was losing use of his muscles and they began to waste away. He was also losing his ability to breath on his own.

Ballard was sent from St. Joseph to Cardinal Hill Hospital in Lexington for treatment. Cardinal Hill was almost brand new then. It was built especially to treat people with polio, mostly children. The money to build the hospital was from the “March of Dimes” campaign. This was a fund raising campaign to treat and find a cure for polio that almost every child in school participated in. You got a card with so many slots to place dimes in. When you filled that card up with dimes it was sent to the March of Dimes. It has been said that the March of Dimes should get most of the credit for conquering polio, it certainly saved Ballard’s life.

Ballard spent an entire year in Cardinal Hill. In order to breath he was placed in an “iron lung”. This was a huge device that his body was placed in with only his head outside of it. By mechanical means it caused his lungs to inflate and deflate and in effect, breathe for him. During this time Ballard was also given therapy to teach his body to breathe again on its own, the primary goal at that time was to get him off the iron lung.

Ballard was able to breathe on his own by the summer of 1953 and he came home.
He was in a wheelchair and he could only move his left arm and his right leg, both very little.

A couple of years later his Dad, Uncle Shirly to all of us nephews and cousins, bought Joe Bullen’s store in Wildie. Ballard ran that store every day but Sunday from then until he died in 2003. Here is where the real story of Ballard Parsons begins for me.

I speak for many people that grew up and/or lived in Wildie. Ballard’s store was the place to be. When I was very young it was Uncle Shirley’s store and I went there almost every day. If it was in the summer and school was out I went two or three times a day to talk to Ballard and just loaf. When school started back I would go after school and usually I would go at night with my Dad, because everybody in Wildie came to the store to loaf and exchange gossip. When my older brother, Tommy, was still home he loafed at the store too, when my younger brothers, Mark and Lynn, got old enough they then learned the art of loafing at Ballard’s from professionals.

Ballard would sit there in his wheelchair and be the center of all the conversations. There was a good reason he was in that position, it was because he was always the smartest person in the store and he knew more about what was being talked about than everybody else. He was never a pretender about what he knew and he was never smug, he was just smart. Ballard could add numbers in his head as quick as a calculator. When people bought groceries from him he would add up the total simply by the customer holding up the item bought. It didn’t matter how many items were bought, Ballard was never wrong in his addition. He was also the best checker and Rook player I have ever seen.

Ballard was my cousin. I loved him as much as anyone could love a cousin. I spent a lot of time with him over the years and I will never feel like one second of that time was wasted. He was always happy and he was positive in his outlook. He appreciated hearing a good joke and he was good enough at telling them that you would laugh until your belly hurt. He loved bluegrass music and you could often walk in on him singing along with the radio. For all of Ballard’s many talents, and he had more than most, singing was not one of them. But he loved to sing and that was all that mattered.

Ballard and my brother Tommy taught me to love the Cincinnati Reds and the Kentucky Wildcats. They both loved these teams and when Tommy went to the store they talked endlessly about them, depending on the season. I always felt lucky to be there just to hear what I thought was their expert opinion. The first teams I remember rooting for were the 1956 Cincinnati Reds and the 1958 Kentucky Wildcats. The ’56 Reds team had great hitting and poor pitching. It was Frank Robinson’s rookie season and he was voted rookie of the year in the National League. Johnny Coffey and William Henry Branaman (Ballard’s uncle) took Tommy and Ballard to Cincinnati to watch the Reds play that year. The ’58 Wildcats won the NCAA that year. We listened to the championship game on the radio in the back of Uncle Shirley’s store.

Ballard was the best farmer around, and he never left the wheelchair in the store. After Uncle Shirley died in 1970 Ballard helped his brother Donnie with the farm. For well over thirty years neither Donnie nor any other farmer who loafed in the store did anything without first consulting Ballard. He was always right too.

As I got older and went to the Army and then to school, I didn’t get to Ballard’s store as often as I had in the past. But, after I got out of school and settled back in the county, I started going to see Ballard almost every Saturday. When I could I would take my girls with me, I simply wanted them to know Ballard and his special place in the world. Some of my most favorite Saturday memories are when my three brothers and me would sit with Ballard for two or three hours. We ate our lunch there. We would eat pickled bologna, Vienna sausage, potted meat or whatever else was on the menu. .

Ballard died in 2003, just before my Mother did. My trips to Wildie were reduced in number greatly. I still go to church there and I still go to see my sister and brother-in-law, but a great part of the place is missing.

It goes without saying that my parents and my grandparents were great influences in my life. But, I can say without a doubt in my mind that Ballard Parsons was one of the greatest positive influences I’ve had. I don’t know how many times I have gone to see Ballard when I was feeling down or a bit depressed. All it cost me to feel better was a pop and bag of potato chips alone with a conversation with my cousin. I always thought if Ballard could be as happy as he is why I can’t be just a little happy myself. And, as I write this I now realize I had those thoughts and didn’t even realize at the time I was thinking like that. It happened so much it became an unnoticed habit. What a blessing I experienced by growing up around Ballard Parsons. I am sure I speak for a whole lot of other people too.

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Rockcastle County Vector


One of the jobs I’ve recently had involved putting together some images for a presentation that was given during a Chamber of Commerce meeting where debates for some of the local positions up for election were held.  In my search, I failed to ever find a clean vector, or even just a clean clipart image of the border of Rockcastle County.  So after a little research and work, I put together a vector of Rockcastle County’s border.  After that, I created the borders for the 5 separate districts within the county, and finally on top of that layer, put the borders for the separate precincts within the districts.

Rockcastle County OutlineRockcastle County with district borders    Rockcastle County with district and precints

Below are links to download the Rockcastle County border, in three separate formats.  Additional versions and variations of the county, including a vector of Kentucky’s 34th district. (Rockcastle, Lincoln, and Madison Co) are available by email.  All that I ask, if you do use this, is to simply let me know by email or comment on here.  Thanks.

 

Download links

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Photoshop

PNG File

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The little things….


Last night, a Lexington Police officer was killed in the line of duty by a hit and run while he was investigating a call.  He was 27 and a father.  Its a sad and tragic story that has been on the news all morning. [news article]  Even though I had already processed the story, thought about how selfless those men and women are, swallowed the distaste for the coward of a man who did this, nothing struck me more profoundly and brought me to such soul searching until I saw this on facebook posted by Kristen Pflum, a reporter for LEX 18.

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Reading this caused my heart to sink, something I even acknowledged with a comment on this status saying as much.  Its hard to believe that sometimes I do forget how much I wanted to be a Dad.  Its one of the reasons I never fought to save my first marriage, something I’ve never admitted to until now, on this rarely read blog.  We were in two different places in life, and maybe it was selfish of me, but I wanted kids, I knew I did, I wanted to be a Dad so bad, to be able to feel that love, and when she said she didn’t, it changed my whole perspective, it changed everything for me in regards to her.

Then when Canaan came around, so many grey clouds and questions with that, its hard to imagine it could have been any more of a mess.  I don’t hide the fact that I regret not having the chance to be involved more when he was first born, even more so as I have watched Abby grow, but I don’t regret fighting and being determined to be a part of my son’s life.  All the times I cried and was upset, fighting and struggling with his mom, thinking that it would be easier to not be involved.  My heart would never let me do that, I might have thought it at my lowest points, but I don’t regret ever making the decisions I’ve made, I question them sure.  What little I am able to be involved in his life right now, of course I question if the little he gets to see me is actually a good thing for him or if it just confuses him and makes some things worse.  Why wouldn’t I?  He’s my son, I want the best for him, and even though it might hurt me, I want him happy, and I seriously question if I’m selfish sometimes when it comes to wanting to be his father more then I am now.  He has grown every time I’ve picked him up, he breaks my heart every time he asks when he gets to go back to his mom, or not telling me he loves me, or cries when I come to pick him up, but I would never change the fact that I’m his father.  I never for even a moment not want to be his Daddy.

And even though he’s my first, and I have Katlyn, who for someone that doesn’t share an ounce of blood with me will end up being like me more then my two biological kids, and challenges me as a parent and a person everyday, and I love her with everything in me, my heart is with my Bug.  I have 3 kids, and I’ve only got to be around 1 during their first year, to watch them grow, get teeth, try to walk to say Daddy, to yell DaDa, to just mumble it, partially because that’s all she can say.  To hear them cry and laugh to watch her struggle with something new, and see the determination in her beautiful blue eyes.  She has been everything I wanted and looked forward to in regards to being a parent.  And if anyone that reads this, thinks I’m putting Canaan and Katlyn down, or saying they’re less of anything, I’m not.  I’d do anything for any of my kids.  My kids are my heart and my life.  I would probably surprise people how many times a week I sit and wonder if I’m doing the right thing, if I’m a good or a bad parent.  I have a lot of alone time, a lot of driving, and they’re always a constant thought.  Wondering how I can connect more with Katlyn as she gets older and I more and more become “Dad”.  How I can connect more with Canaan in terms of father and son, something I feel I fail at because of what little time I have.  They’re both a challenge and heartbreak for me because I do feel I let them down.  Abby is just the better reminder of why I wanted to be a parent, why I looked forward to it and what makes me so determined to be a good parent, a good man and roll model for all three.  I’d do anything for them, and even though I have to get onto them, and their behavior drives me insane at times, I cherish ever single second and already wish I would rewind time, or free time in a single moment.  I feel guilty losing sight of that.  With all the stress and rushing that life gives me I could say its easy for me to forget the little things, but that’s shameful to when its the little things that drive me.  That get me to strive to be a better man.  To be someone they would be proud to call Dad.  The little things that are the most important in life are the same that are so easily taken for granted.  Little moments in their life as they grow, the joy in just one of their cheese tooth filled or joyful 3 tooth smiles, the satisfaction of accomplishing one of your life goals…and like being able to come home to the love of your children…

If you can’t tell by the rambling, my children are my life and soul.  Everything I’ve ever done and will ever do, is and will forever be for and about them.  I hate that such a horrible tragedy brought to light how selfish and unappreciative I’ve been of the little things lately.  I hate that a son will now grow up without his Dad because his Dad had it in him to be a great man.  I hate that a father won’t be able to throw a ball to his boy, or to be in the stand for his son to see as he stands out in a ball field.  To carry him on his shoulders, or to be there as a “man” the first time a girl breaks his heart.

In all the politics, stress, debt and struggle we go through as adults in everyday life, its scary we forget to cherish the little things that keep us going.  Something Brayden will never have to struggle with.

God Bless Bryan Durman.

2 of my “little things” after dropping off their big sister at school.  4/30/10

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Ballard’s


As I do some nights when I can’t sleep, I’ll surf the internet looking for random things; sometimes serious and sometimes silly.  Well tonight I just felt like doing Google searches for different things that have meant a lot to me in the past, in an attempt to get inspiration for a painting or a picture.  In my many random searches, I searched Wildie, Ky. just to see what pictures might come up.  While searching I came across a blog entitled Unusual Kentucky which appears to be a blog written by an individual who travels the state and shares interesting findings.  One of the blog’s entries was simply titled “The Nameless Grocery” with the below picture.  Well I immediately knew the store, its one of the few staples of Wildie along with the church and Jan’s, simply known as Ballard’s or Ballard’s store.

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So, even though the post was made in 2008, I sent in a comment explaining that even though the store didn’t have a name, it was genuinely known as Ballard’s, and how everyone knew Ballard.  In typing my comment, I started thinking about when I was little.   I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I stepped foot in that old store, but I could remember the coolers in the back where as soon as I walked in with my Dad I’d run back there.  Or learning to play pool on the pool table, or going from confusion, to acceptance, to practice of putting peanuts into a bottle of Coke.  I remember sitting on the old wooden bench with my Dad and brother.  I can see Ballard wearing his glasses, and can almost hear his somewhat high pitched voice, and the old phone he had sitting right next to where he’d sit in his wheelchair.

Every ounce of it, are fond, happy memories.  Ones that I haven’t thought about in a long long time.  Its almost bittersweet recollecting on such a simpler happier time.  Its nice to remember being that carefree.  Where just the simple fact that getting to ride down to Wildie with my Dad overjoyed me, or the feeling of the dew and cool fall air blow through the valley as a bunch of us played football in the backyard of my aunt and uncle’s house.  Remembering what it was like to not have to worry about bills and taxes and blah blah blah.  Where I still looked at my Daddy as my hero and never thought I’d be that old.  Its sad, because the way the world is now, my kids, my niece and nephews, they’ll never have a place like Ballard’s.  I doubt they’ll have places where the sound of a board creaking, or the smell of pinewood and dust triggers some memory.  Its sad that our lives have become so complicated, and I don’t mean by simply becoming adults, but it seems like everyone’s life, every generation has become more complicated.  Who knows, this perspective could be one that every generation has as that pass from child to parent.  Regardless, I hope I’m able to find ways down the road as my children get older, to give them some of the things that my Dad gave me growing up, by simply taking me to a nameless store.  At least nameless to anyone not fortunate enough to truly know.

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Madelynn Kate


Today came the arrival of my first niece; Madelynn Kate.  Weighing 7lbs 10oz and 20 inches long, partially causing me to realize how small my Bug really was…

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Fortunately I managed to be at the hospital when she arrived.  There was something almost surreal being at the same place I was 9 months ago, being where my brother was; in the delivery room and nursery.

So to do my very best at eventually winning the favorite uncle award.(a guy can dream!) I’ve been working on her nursery.  After Abby’s nursery, I’m more comfortable working in Madelynn’s, in a way that almost makes me feel guilty.  If I was allowed I’d probably go back and work on Abby’s some more, but I know better!!  LOL

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Showing progress from first night to second.  Including tweaking of the castle and towers, adding an additional flag and starting on the surrounding stars.  Still not happy with the overall look though.

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Canvas painting


My first ever attempt at painting. I’m “okay” with it. It’s a pair of calla lilies

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