Thursday, April 11, 2013

Texas Toilet Seat Museum

At the Austin Home and Garden show getting smarter on remodeling my master bathroom (another story), I impulsively purchased a three day and two night stay at one of five hotels in downtown San Antonio.    I expected smoking my pipe in the room would be a problem and the restaurant and bar would be expensive, but I was blindsided by having to pay for parking in the hotel lot.  The first hotel I called wanted $28 a night to park.  (I'll pause here while you reread that.)  I finally found a bargain where hotel parking was only $10 a night and jumped on it.

Let's cut to the chase.  My first stop was going to be the Texas Toilet Seat Museum...a few minutes, a few laughs, and I'd move on.  The GPS lead me to an older neighborhood to the end of a dead end road and a small bungalow with a two car garage.  I almost missed the sign that said open by appointment only because it was dwarfed by a much larger sign made of toilet seats announcing the annual neighborhood dog parade.  Can this little adventure get more weird?

The man who answered the phone agreed to open the museum.  Shortly, an elderly, bent gentleman with a bamboo cane left the house and entered the garage side door.  Another two minutes and the front door of the garage was swung open.  I met Barney Smith.

You couldn't help but love this guy;  small and frail, but with a twinkle in his eye, friendly almost mischievous smile, who radiated energetic enthusiasm.  Barney mentioned he wasn't sure how long he could be open.  He and his wife, of 73 years, Louise were 91 years old and he had to care for her almost constantly.

 For almost an hour and a half, Barney told me of his life as a master plumber, facility engineer for a christian school, and artist.  He's been featured on TV "The Early Show, "The View", and "The Montel Williams Show." and plays recordings for you.

His collection has almost every imaginable theme using mediums from hot glue, decoupage, and intricate carving with a Dremel tool.  I couldn't begin to describe all that I saw or heard, so I'm just going to post links that follow.

Roadside America


You Tube -21. Barney Smith's Toilet Seat Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas 

You Tube - A Trip To The Toilet Seat Art Museum

Barney's museum is a hidden treasure that is must see if you find yourself close to San Antonio.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Three Teachers

Stephanie gave me a deja vue moment just now with her Facebook post about stringing popcorn and cranberries, something I have done since 5th grade.  That's almost 50 years ago if you're counting.

Reading her post I relived the same experience in Sister Mary Theodore's 5th grade class at Sacred Heart Catholic school in Waterloo, Iowa.  This was the same lady who pushed my male classmates and me into polka dancing with girls.  You can imagine how awful it was until I kissed my first girl that year, then it wasn't so bad.  If only Sister Theodore knew she jumped started me into liking girls.

Another memorable teacher was Mr. Blackman, the assistant principal at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa.  While he was technically not a teacher, but we managed some quality time together at least one morning a week to discuss my more creative thought processes and actions.  He thought so much of me that six weeks before graduation he arranged that I come back the next year to continue our relationship.

Finally, there is my high school sophomore math teacher whose name I've forgotten.  I can still see his face, though.  I struggled through that class, and I wish I could tell him how well he taught.  You see, when I was 20 years old and struggling with formulas in an electronics book I had an amazing experience.  Suddenly I had this rush of images in my mind much like shuffling a deck of cards, the images of him and his chalk board work.  It only took five years, but I remembered and finally understood what he was talking about.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Myers-Briggs Personality Test

When a Facebook friend recently commented on herself, "Some days even I question my sanity!!!!", I'm thinking "maybe".  Just a little humor there because if anything Mandy sometimes fails at filtering how she says thing which I find endearing as long as I'm out of ricochet range.

So, I'm sitting here trying to describe my recent visit to my mom who's in a hospice.  It's more difficult than I thought to put those three days of confusion and contradictions into words.  Anytime I can't find the words its a big clue that I'm neither comfortable with the words I want to use nor with what I'm trying to say.

This lead me to recall a few of us in the office a taking a personality test, the goal being to solidify team building by learning other's reaction to different office situations.  Four of us shared the results with others.


Michael values close, personal relationships, and he will often put the needs and desires of those who are loyal friends ahead of his own needs. He is an even-paced individual who thrives in a peaceful, harmonious environment. Michael will work to avoid conflict and sudden changes in his lifestyle and finds joy in keeping tradition.  Systematic and detailed, Michael focuses on the process. Others see him as practical and logical. He tends to be sensitive to criticism, but prefers to internalize his emotions rather than expose them. Michael likes to clarify expectations before undertaking new projects, because he works hard to meet the standards  that are set for him.

Michael would prefer things stay the same, rather than to risk a new venture (unless it is proven and true) . He is typically peaceful and low key, and is usually seen by those around him as a good friend and listener. He tends to adopt a "wait and see" attitude about things, rather than taking charge of a situation, usually preferring to let others take the lead.

Michael usually avoids being the center of attention. He tends to pick his friends carefully and is usually cautious and not overly "open" to strangers. Michael may sometimes come across as being skeptical of what others tell him they will do, but once a person has proven their reliability, Michael is willing to invest more time and trust in the relationship.

Let's see if now I can describe my Iowa visit to say my final goodbye to mom.  Its more confusing than sad since we've learned she won't be leaving us in the foreseeable future.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Grumpy Old Man Seeks Ann-Margret

Perhaps not grumpy yet, but there have been moments.  And, my youthful thoughts of dedicating my retirement to wine and women in thongs just isn't working out.  Not having a job is affecting me more than I imagined, though unemployed/under-employed is the nature of writing military technical manuals.  I've certainly enough interests (photography, music, motorcycle/bicycle, guns, bible study) to keep me busy, but the continuous motivation is difficult to maintain.

A recent discovery has helped.  It seems that several universities (Yale, Princeton, and others) and educational websites (TED) offer free entry level, college lectures and symposiums .  These have sparked my imagination and hopefully maintaining my mental agility above the level of bingo.

It's going ot be interesting to see how this plays out.

Monday, January 31, 2011

My Obituary

No, this isn't a cyber prediction of my impending demise, but rather an intellectual exercise on how I be remembered. What will my obituary say about my time on this earth?  What will others think on hearing of my passing?

Actually, this is a tool in a book on setting goals, which at 60 years old is pretty much limited to my admireable vices.  Still, its an interesting game defining the high points of my family, work, social, and spiritual life.

I'll play with this idea for a few days, and then let is pass without putting anything on paper, and it'll be an interesting exercise.  Who knows, I may find something important to devote my retirement to.