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Porcupine Quills

Posted by jbharp on April 7, 2008

During the winter months, I frequently take my dogs out for a late night run at one of my favorite neighborhood parks. It’s close to my house and the loop is only 1.5 miles, which I usually run at least twice. That’s about all Charlie (the husky) can handle these days. Her slowing pace is partly due to her aging and gaining a little weight. But I’m partially to blame for that since I don’t take her with me all on my runs. On the other hand, CJ (the border collie mutt) ping-pong bounces all over the trail but stays close by my side no matter how far I’m running.

Nearly two weeks ago we started a run about 9:30 pm. Even though I’m familiar with nearly every rock, washout, and turn on this trail, a full moon lit up the path. It was a beautiful night; cool enough to need only a long sleeve shirt and shorts.

We weren’t the only ones enjoying a stroll in the lighted wilderness. Nearing the end of the first loop, CJ makes a quick bounce off the trail and an even faster return. Then the “bush” he bounced past waddled off a few dozen feet. Even though I knew Charlie as lagging behind I ran forward and called for her to catch up. A few strides later I notice something in CJ’s nose – three porcupine quills. By the time I was realizing the potential disaster, I turn around to see Charlie coming around the corner and pawing madly at her nose.

Charlie had gone in for the kill. It wasn’t until I got her back to the truck (not finishing the second loop) that I realized there was no possible way for me to remove them all myself. So I got to spend a few hours of the evening in the animal hospital ER. They partially sedated her to remove all the quills. One had gone all the way through her tongue. It was clear she was in pain. CJ wined a bit as I pulled each of the three quills from his nose, the last one with a pair of pliers.

My mom had a similar story with the dogs on the farm this weekend. There was one difference though. The small town vet, who primarily cares for livestock, charged a fee of $40. My bill was nearly six times that!!!

Here are a few pictures I managed to get on my cell phone. It was tough to get Charlie to hold still…understandably.



Posted in Outdoor | 3 Comments »

Stick Horses in the Gazette

Posted by jbharp on February 15, 2008

My Improv group is AMAZING!!! Of course we ourselves have known that for a while. But now we’re getting a chance to show the local area this fact. We’ve had a few visits from a reporter of Colorado Springs The Gazette. They have featured us in an article, a web video and the cover page for the weekend entertainment section!!!

Read the article here.

See the video here.

Posted in Improv | 2 Comments »

Last chance gone for conservatism

Posted by jbharp on February 7, 2008

The country’s choices have dwindled today with Mitt Romney suspending his campaign for the executive branch. Out of all the GOP contenders, I’ve grown to like Romney the most. I think he was the strongest candidate to implement and carry out ALL conservative values (social, economic, foreign affairs, ect).

His speech today at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) highlighted many of the major issues our country faces. And he addressed them with fervor and wisdom. This made it all the more disheartening to hear the end of his address when he announced the suspension of his campaign.

We are now faced to accept John McCain as the next best conservative voice for the White House. And he doesn’t have the best record at this role. His conservative rating was 65 for 2006 (here’s more details). McCain is the now the front runner and undoubtedly will get the GOP nod. Let’s face it – the Huck-a-boom has turned into a Huck-a-bomb (yeah, I thought of that term myself).

Romney’s address today shows his admirable character. He recognizes that America is at war and furthering his campaign would be harmful to the country in this critical issue. By suspending his run, it is clear that Romney truly is more concerned for his country than himself. This is what Huckabee should have done two weeks ago. If he had, then the conservative voice in America might still have a nominee in the race to proudly stand behind – Mitt Romney.

My favorite line today from Romney’s speech is this, “The best ally peace has ever known, and will ever know, is a strong America!”

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Chronicles of a Pathfinder (3)

Posted by jbharp on January 15, 2008

I’ll offer one last story about my old Pathfinder. This one is a doozy. It takes the cake. It’s about the time my Pathfinder ruined Christmas…wait that happened twice. I guess there are two stories left. I’ll sum them up here.

In 2005, I at least made it back to my brothers near Tulsa to have our family Christmas time. Then we began the caravan back to Arkansas to see the extended family. I stopped for gas just east of Tulsa and noticed an abnormal feeling as I rolled to a stop. That feeling turned out to be my transmission fluid leaking…actually dumping out from a busted seal. Transmissions don’t run without transmission fluid.

Fortunately, my brother’s family was still behind me. They picked me up and we returned to their house. I really can’t remember why we didn’t continue over to Arkansas, but everyone was upset that my adorable niece would not be there. But I got to spend an extra day with her at her house. And then when they went on to the in-laws, I got to spend two entire days by myself (including Christmas day). It really wasn’t so bad. I’m usually a go-go-go type of person. Always doing something with a schedule that is packed full of activities and commitments. So a few days to literally sit and rest was refreshing and reviving.

I guess I was due for another one this year…or maybe it was my truck that was due for another breakdown (that’s more likely). I was two hours into my usually nine hour drive back to Oklahoma when I stopped for gas in La Junta. It was a cold night and it became colder when my truck wouldn’t start. I tried to jump-start it twice with no success. It was about 11 pm and I realized I’d have to wait till morning to get any repair help. So then I was off in search of a hotel. The one I happened upon had a friendly middle aged man. Since I had broken down he didn’t charge my any extra for taking the dogs in the room with me. CJ and Charlie didn’t care much for the comforts of the hotel room though.

On Saturday morning (Dec 23), I finally located a mechanic in the town. La Junta is a pretty small town and for the most part still has a 5-day work week meaning many businesses (including mechanics) were closed. The shop keeper went to fetch my truck about a mile away and pull it back to the shop. I went back to the hotel for the rest of the morning and into the early afternoon while my starter was being replaced.

A few hundred dollars later, I was ready to hit the road again. But I turned around and headed back west to Colorado Springs. The driving conditions in Colorado were fine. It was the unlikely weather conditions in Oklahoma that forced me to make the U-turn. Ice and snow were causing power outages and closing down highways. So my truck wasn’t the only reason for the ruined Christmas of 2007. Blame the weather too. In fact, my truck was great in bad weather conditions…when it could start. 

Posted in truck | 1 Comment »

Chronicles of a Pathfinder (2)

Posted by jbharp on January 6, 2008

I rallied a few friends together July 4th 2005 to hike Pikes Peak – the majestic 14,110′ mountain in my backyard. The hike is over 12 miles long and climbs nearly 8,000′. It’s a long journey getting to the top, never mind getting down. That’s why we solicited the help from a few more friends to drive to the top and pick us up.

One friend volunteered but didn’t have a vehicle that she felt could make the trip. Thus presenting a perfect opportunity to display the heroic capabilities of my newly purchased Nissan Pathfinder. So my friend Sandy drove my new set of wheels to meet us at the top. 

My Pathfinder completed the journey. It got up the mountain and hauled all our tired bodies back down. But a loose gasket under the drivers side floorboard (I believe part of the exhaust system) made it’s presence known on the gruelling climb. Sandy thought she could smell rubber burning but uncertain what it was from she kept the pedal pressed and pushed on toward the top. The smell became more intense until she finally reached the peak. Finally stepping out of the truck she realized that her shoe had been burned and melted.

The gasket released so much heat that it melted a hole in my floorboard and turned the heal of Sandy’s new white tennis shoe into a black, smoldering glob of rubber. It provided a good laugh for us all and we were glad Sandy’s shoes held up enough so that her foot didn’t get burned.

I eventually had the gasket fixed and I put two thin pieces of wood on the floorboard to cover the quarter size hole. This hole in the floorboard wasn’t the only thing about this truck that made it a vehicle more appropriate for the Flintstones era. More to come…

Posted in truck | 3 Comments »

Chronicles of a Pathfinder (1)

Posted by jbharp on January 5, 2008

About two and a half years ago, I made what I thought to be a smart financial decision. I bought a 1995 Nissan Pathfinder and was very excited about the purchase. It was rough and rugged; a perfect vehicle for me and my dogs. I was able to pay for it completely. Yahoo, no monthly payments! But I soon realized that my new set of wheels would become a new set of bills.

Shortly after I bought it, I took a road trip back home. It was the summer of 2005. Before heading to Arkansas, I was at the farm in Oklahoma along with my brother and his new girlfriend. Ryan (brother) wanted to take Erin (girlfriend) back to Arkansas too. But she was teaching summer classes and would only be able to stay for the weekend. In order to let her have the pleasure of seeing the Harp boy’s hometown and to let Ryan have a break from the farm duties, I decided to cut my time in Pea Ridge a few days short to take Erin back to Oklahoma.

We went to church that Sunday morning before hitting the road. It was a warm summer day, so I cracked the windows a few inches. The passenger side window ceased to work after that morning. It wouldn’t go up and it wouldn’t go down. I was simple stuck a few inches from the closed position. I wasn’t too bothered by it. After all, it was summertime and I enjoyed riding with the windows down and a wind filling the cab. But that wasn’t always the case for any passengers riding with me, especially when cruising down the highway.

Erin concurs. She experienced a four hour ride that Sunday unable to role up the window just to keep out the gust during the 80 mph drive. I believe she had quite a headache when I finally dropped her off. Maybe a slight ringing in her right ear too.

Despite this trip Erin stuck around and she married my brother the following summer. But what’s even more surprising is that she is now driving her very own Nissan Pathfinder! All four windows work…so far.

I’ll share a few more Pathfinder stories over the next few days.

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“Special” Days

Posted by jbharp on January 3, 2008

Yesterday was Happy Mew Year for Cats. I celebrated in a number of ways. First I actually saw a cat yesterday, although I did not wish her a Happy Mew Year. But at least I did not let her play with my dog. That is the second way I observed the day, by not allowing my dogs to diminish the world of any cats. Finally, at improv practice I spent some time acting like a cat (inspired by a young girl at my church).

I know that it was Happy Mew Year because it says so on my calendar. I received it from my equality obsessed city organization. The calendar is full of cute and special days all year long. January 14 is National Clear off Your Desk Day. June 27 is Sunglasses Day. And September 10 is Swap Ideas Day.

There are two things about these “special” days that bother me. First is the space it takes up on my calendar. I have a fairly busy schedule and this 8.5×5.5 inch calendar is my method of organizing my events and looking ahead to see what’s on the horizon. So I often have events, reminders, and notes written on the majority of the boxes and in the margins. I need all the space I can get!!! A tentative camping/hiking trip is competing for space on August 2 with National Mustard Day. At least I used yellow on this day for my color coding method.

But I don’t mind having a special day noted on my calendar, as long as it truly is a special day. That it is a day of significance, meaning, worth, and a history to recognize.

It’s disturbing to think of people giving more honor and recognition on Chocolate Mint Day on February 19 than the previous day of President’s Day on February 18. And what a tragedy if some people will give more celebration to National Tap Dance day on May 25 than celebrating the service men and women of this country the following day of Memorial Day on May 26. The calendar gives equal recognition on December 18 to Bake Cookies Day as the recognition on December 25 to Christmas Day.

Well, I am glad to receive this handy little calendar from my work. I’m also thrilled they provide white-out.

Here’s a few more of the many “special” days on my calendar –
January 23 is National Pie Day – A day that is not to be confused with National Pi Day on March 14 (3.14).
March 22 is International Women’s Day – A day where no American Woman can be honored (not sure about men, though)
April 17 is Blah, Blah, Blah Day – A day when useless information is printed on my calendar.
August 8 is National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Night – An evening to recognize the utter short comings of zucchini compared to a flaming bag of poo.
September 28 is Fish Tank Floorshow Night – A night for all cats to begin an inner journey of self realization that ends on Happy Mew Year.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »


Posted by jbharp on December 25, 2007

Wreath Lights

This year was a unique Christmas for me. I spent the day alone, which wasn’t a first (I think only a second). Neither occasion was planned, but I found myself in a solitude situation due to the inadequacy of my vehicle…or rather scrap pieces of metal on wheels. I’ll be shopping for a new truck over the next few days. I would say that it is not only a Christmas present to me, but also a gift to everyone else in my life. It can even be considered a gift to those fellow motorist I share the roads with. Stay tuned to see my new wheels (hopefully as early as tomorrow).

Even though I was alone today, the day was still a fine day of celebrating the birth of Christ. I woke up early and went for a run in the chilling wind. Santa must have been pretty cold last night in this neck of the woods.

After cleaning up, I attended a Christmas Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral in downtown Colorado Springs. I opted out of a midnight Mass, despite the lure of being awake to usher in Christmas day. It was a pleasant time with so many other people there to recognize the reason we celebrate this holiday.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been reminded of the hope that surrounded our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of His second coming. God shown His light into this world of darkness through Christ.

The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined. (Isa 9.2)

Merry Christmas!!!

Posted in Religion | 2 Comments »

A Calculated Vote

Posted by jbharp on December 16, 2007

The recent poll for Republican Candidate show that Mike Huckabee has taken the lead. I’m glad to see that he is finally getting the numbers he deserves. I’ve heard many people scoff at the notion of Huckabee getting the GOP bid and saying that he just can’t win. What nonsense!!! This is the liberal mindset towards our troops fighting the war on terror in Iraq – they just can’t win. ABSOLUTELY CONFOUNDED NONSENSE.

Well, this nonsense should no longer be tolerated. Something else that should not be tolerated…rejecting a candidate based on his religion, that is Mitt Romney(aka the Mormon). This guy shares most of the same values as Huckabee and most evangelical Christians. Theology…no, but values…yes. And since we are electing someone to lead our country as President (not a religion for the country to adopt) then the values of Huckabee and Romney are both of high caliber and ideal for our country.

Keeping in line with the primaries….this is my kind of site: The Candidate Calculator.

I’m glad to say that my top candidate is …Sooey!!!
     Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R) – 91.96%
Followed by another fine republican candidate…
     Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney – 87.50%
The Democratic front runners were on the lower end of my list…
      Illinois Senator Barack Obama – 36.61%
      New York Senator Hillary Clinton – 30.36%

I got this calculator from a site of an official blogger for Huckabee.

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Posted by jbharp on December 12, 2007

Tonight ended the eight night Jewish holiday of Chanukah. I decided to observe some the holiday rituals this year. I purchased a Menorah and a box of 44 candles. It wasn’t a large Menorah. I wonder if it even met all of the proper traditions involved in lighting of the candles. It was a rather cheaply constructed Menorah. I briefly considered returning it to the store and getting a higher quality one. But I felt a great sense of ownership after I used superglue to repair the far right candle holder back onto its branch. If there was a guild of superglue workers, then I would be at the top of the trade.

Even though Chanukah is a well know Jewish Holiday (somewhat due to it occurring during the Christmas season) it is not one of their major holidays. That is not to say any celebration of God’s miracles and providences is minor in any way. It is just that Chanukah does not have as many commandments (mitvots) to fulfill as other holidays. But for Jewish Holidays, which are packed full of symbolism, meaning, self reflection and growth, this doesn’t say much. Chanukah certainly doesn’t deviate from having traditions packed full of meaning.

One interesting thing I learned was about the Menorah in the Holy Temple. Unlike the nine branched Menorah used to observe Chanukah today, the Holy Temple’s only had seven branches.

The Menorah in the Temple had seven branches: six outer lamps, which all faced the seventh center stem. The Menorah’s six outer branches represent the six realms of secular knowledge — physics, philosophy, astronomy, medicine, music and mathematics. But the Torah is telling us that society cannot rest on knowledge alone. Unless this information is focused and directed toward the center stem — symbolizing God, Torah and spirituality — then this wisdom is for naught. Or worse, it is destructive.

How true it is that everything else in life amounts to nothing without the central focus of God. It reminds me that God and science (and the other realms of knowledge) are not at war. But that God is the central piece to these forms of knowledge.

Chanukah was an enjoyable time. I was especially grateful to experience some of the evenings with others – the Horses, my cousin, and my roommate.

Posted in Religion | 1 Comment »