Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Knees Have It

This morning Handsome was channel surfing while he was eating his pancakes.
"Heh. I remember this."
He'd come across an episode of The Backyardigans, a television show he watched when he was much younger. It's an animated show, CGI technically, designed for toddlers to post-toddlers. There are five animal children who go out in their back yards every episode and have different imaginary adventures - imaginary adventures that are brought to live for you, the viewer, through the magic of television.

And here they are:
Tasha          Tyrone          Pablo         Uniqua          Austin

Now, as you can see, Tasha is a Hippo, Tyrone a Moose, Pablo is a Penguin, and Austin is a Kangaroo.

But what the hell is Uniqua? She's pink with pink polka-dots. She has antennae, curly ones. Beats me what she is. I'm pretty sure they made her up.

Now, the episode that happened to be on when we hit the channel had Pablo and Uniqua as scientists performing some sort of experiment. Handsome watched for a minute or so, feeling all nostalgic - well, as nostalgic as a 9-year-old can, and then a dance number started. Handsome watched them dancing for a second, then screwed up his face as he pointed to the screen.

"Isn't it weird that Pablo has legs?"

"What?" I said.

"Pablo's legs - they're weird," he said. "They look too long, I mean, they have knees!. Are penguin legs supposed to have knees''

First of all, yes, penguins do have knees.

Second of all I turned to Handsome with a feeling of incredulity.

"That's what you've picked to be weird about this scene? There's a penguin dancing in a lab coat, speaking English and conducting scientific experiments while wearing a propeller-topped beanie. He's dancing with a strange antennae'd thing that's got pink polka dots on it, a thing that's also speaking English while performing experiments, and that's what you find unusual enough to comment on? Pablo's knees?  Seriously? And what the heck is she, can you tell me that?"


Oh my goodness, look at those penguin knees. Hmf. My kid - weird people.

Talk to you later!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Rough and Tumble

Today was my day off, so this afternoon I was there behind Handsome's school to pick him up when he got out of class. There were children running this way and that, heading for their parents or simply playing with one another, and there I was in the middle of all that trying to find my boy. I finally spotted him as the crowd was thinning out, standing and talking to one of his classmates. As I walked over to get his attention, I heard a voice behind me cry out Handsome's name. Handsome turned and looked past me, and I turned about to find the source of the cry. 

Standing on the edge of the parking lot was a boy. A big boy. Bigger than Handsome, and he's pretty big. I found out later that this boy is a 7th grader who used to go to school with Handsome, who is in the 4th grade. This boy was just here with his father to pick up his younger brother, but apparently he remembered Handsome from a couple of years ago and he wanted to play. He was calling him over to the parking lot, hands spread, fingers beckoning in a "c'mon, lets go" gesture.

Handsome walked by me and dropped his book bag with me.

"I'll be right back, Dad," he said as he walked by. As Handsome approached the boy dropped into a kind of fighting crouch, hands up and ready. Handsome looked at how close to the cars they were.

"Come out here," he gestured toward the grassy field. "We need more room."

What I found out later, but had not a clue about at the time, was that way back when Handsome was in the 2nd grade and this boy was in the 5th grade, they used to go at it rough-and-tumble a lot. I also found out that, because of their disparity in age, Handsome lost in his shoving-pushing-wrestling matches with this boy with stunning regularity. This may have had something to do with the other boy's eagerness to go a round or two with my son.

They squared off. The older boy was slapping at Handsome, trying to get him to react and make an opening, but Handsome just covered up and took the blows to his arm. They circled a bit, then the other boy's father called out that they had to go. The boy turned to tell his father he'd be there in a minute, and while he was turned away Handsome gave him a stinging slap to the arm, much like the blows he had already received. The older boy got a little mad at this, and charged Handsome. They clinched, and the boy tried to use his greater size to bowl Handsome over.

Now, I've already mentioned a few things that I didn't know at the time, but there was something the boy didn't know, that I did. Something that was about to become pretty important.

Handsome recently trained as a wrestler for a season.

When they clinched, Handsome swept the boy's leg out, sending them both tumbling to the ground. Handsome was ready for it, however, and got to his knees in a flash. He got a grip on the older boy and, very systematically, as he had been taught, maneuvered around him, locking up his arms and rolling him to his back. The 7th grader wound up lying on his back with one arm completely useless and the other only able to flail ineffectually at Handsome's back, unable to get up, move Handsome, or do anything at all useful.

They stayed that way until the other boy's father came to get him, at which time Handsome simply released him and rolled to his feet. The boy's father helped him up (actually finding this situation pretty funny himself) and told him it was time to go. The boy, frustrated and, I have to think, a bit embarrassed about the ease with which he had just been handled by a kid three years younger, spun away from his dad, dashed around him, and went at Handsome like a runaway train.

Handsome didn't flinch or run away. He ducked slightly and stepped into the charge. He caught the boy under one arm and turned away from him in what some martial arts call a 'wraparound hip throw', while others call it a 'front sweep take-down'. Whatever you want to call it, Handsome easily put the bigger kid face down on the ground and wound up sitting on his back, holding the boy in a double hammer lock. 

For those of you who don't know what a hammer lock is, put your hands behind you as if you're being handcuffed. Now slide your hands up your spine towards the back of your neck. At some point they stop (unless you are unusually flexible), and you've reached as high as you can go - any higher and it will hurt your shoulders. The higher you go beyond that point, the more it hurts, until, at some point (again, unless you are unusually flexible), one or both of your shoulders dislocate. This is a very controlling arm lock when applied by someone who knows what they are doing, as there is plenty of opportunity to provide immobility or pain without actual damage.

And here was Handsome, calmly sitting on the older boy's back keeping him completely helpless with this hold. Not hurting him, simply holding him until his father could come collect him again.

Now, I was watching this whole thing and listening to the impressed murmurings of the other dads who were there to collect their kids. Their mutterings were summed up by one of Handsome's smaller classmates who spoke to Handsome in a tone filled with wonder.

"Wow. You just whipped a 7th grader!"

My favorite thing about the whole scene was Handsome's attitude and control. He never lost his temper, even when the other boy switched from slapping hands to closed fists. He used only the necessary force to control the situation, and made the kid completely helpless twice without ever actually hurting him. He did exactly what his wrestling coaches trained  him to do, and it was as effective as could be.

But besides that, there was this little voice in my head that kept saying "Wow. He just whipped a 7th grader!"

Talk to you later!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Socks and Squirrels

Today I just have two questions that occurred to me while I was working this afternoon.

They concern, as the title of today's entry says,  Socks and Squirrels.


Why is it that while I walk around all day at work my socks get pushed further and further down my legs and into my shoes, so that I wind up with the tops of my socks down around my ankles and a whole bunch of extra sock material all loose inside my shoes? I pull them up from time to time during the day, sometimes even working some of the material back out of the sneaker, but I can’t seem to keep ahead of it. It’s a little like when I put my keys in my pocket and they are just fine, and then I pull them out and they’re in a hopeless tangle that I can’t seem to undo. Somehow my hip has managed to tie my keys into knots that I can’t figure out and, unlike my hip, I have hands!

This sock thing is really worrying to me because I walk so much. What happens if I walk too far? Will I somehow wind up with my socks coming off entirely, just stuffed all the way down into my shoes and not even on my feet at all?

What is it about squirrels that makes them completely unable to handle it when a car comes along while they’re crossing the street? I realize they are just little wild animals, but they do have a sense of self-preservation even if they lack any and all common sense. I know they know how to avoid danger. I’ve seen them. They get caught out in the open by a dog or something and it’s zing straight to the nearest tree. I mean straight. As a ruler. Like somehow they instinctively know that little rule we all learned in school, that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

 They know this rule, that is, until they see a car coming down the road as they are crossing. When that happens, they go spastic.

They run left, then right, then left again. They double back on themselves so often and so sharply they actually step on their own tails, which further panics them. They run away from the car, then toward the car, then seem to realize that that is just stupid, and go back to right and left.

Now, all this is done while the car is slowly rolling toward them, the person behind the wheel making shooing gestures with at least one hand and calling out to the rampaging rodent in a strange falsetto.

“Run! Get out of the way, little squirrel! Go on! Shoo!”

Oh sure. It’s just me.

They get so confused that earlier today I swear to God I saw one of the little blighters stop in the middle of its frantic zig-zagging and actually flip a coin! How it managed to do this without thumbs remains a mystery to me, but I will say that he needed to work on his catching a bit. The coin hit the road and rolled away with the fuzzy-tailed little driving hazard following after it to see if it was going to come up heads or tails! Lucky for me it rolled toward the curb, and while the tree rat stared at the coin with its black button eyes, trying to figure out the difference between heads and tails, I rolled safely past.

You know, I wonder what would happen if we could get some little socks onto a squirrel just to see what would… no, no, that’s a question for another day.
Talk to you later!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

An Action Extravaganza!

There’s a movie I watched back in the late 80’s, called “Man on Fire”, starring Scott Glenn. There was a remake in 2004 starring Denzel Washington, but I’m not here to talk about that particular version - it’s that older, Scott Glenn version that brings me here today.

That 1987 version looked terrific. I remember watching the movie trailer at the beginning of another movie and thinking wow, I gotta see that!

The original movie trailer for the 1987 version of Man on Fire is just over two minutes long and contains just under 60 seconds of gunshots, car crashes and huge explosions. All the indications were that it was an action extravaganza. I got the video (yes, back then we didn’t have DVDs yet, and if someone had mentioned ‘Blue Ray’ to me I’d have thought they were talking about a science fiction comic book), plugged it into the machine and sat back to enjoy the show.

The movie itself is 92 minutes long… and contains just under 60 seconds of gunshots, car crashes and huge explosions. The rest of the film is Scott Glenn (an actor whom I normally enjoy very much) quietly seething as he holds muttered conversations.

Not exactly an action extravaganza.

The movie did, however, have one hell of a trailer.

Now, to slightly misquote The Cos, I told you about that movie so I can tell you about another one.

There is a movie available right now from RedBox, called Hugo. It’s more than available, actually; it’s in their New Releases section. It also shows up in their Family section, and that was how it caught my eye. I was looking for something to watch with Handsome last Saturday when he came to visit with me for the night. Though the description of Hugo sounded a little iffy, especially when pondering whether it would hold the attention of a 9-year old boy who just loved the movie Real Steel (but then, who didn’t?). Just to be sure, I watched the trailer they had on

The trailer was 2 minutes and 18 seconds long, and had 90 seconds of chase scenes, a boy running from a police dog, something that looked like a robot, a train bearing down on a boy on the tracks, a cool-looking train wreck, trips spills and accidents. It looked like a humorous action extravaganza.

I’ll bet you see where I’m going with this.

I did, at the time, hope aloud that they weren’t simply running a man-on-fire-style trailer.

We settled down with popcorn, and Handsome just had to finish something up on the computer as I put the DVD (See? No more video tape. All modern and everything!) into the machine and pushed Play.

Hugo is 206 minutes long, and as far as I could tell contained roughly … 90 seconds of chase scenes, a boy running from a police dog, something that looked like a robot, a train bearing down on a boy on the tracks, a cool-looking train wreck, trips spills and accidents.

Not exactly a humorous action extravaganza.

I dozed off in the middle of the movie, waking to a drool-covered chin and Handsome still fiddling with his computer while keeping one eye on the movie. I eventually had to make him put the computer away and go to bed. When I asked, he wasn’t really sure what had happened in the movie. I, of course, missed about a half-hour right there in the middle due to the Sandman whacking me upside the head with extreme prejudice. Since neither of us actually saw the whole movie, I don’t feel competent to offer any kind of review… but I can tell you one thing.

It did have one hell of a trailer.

Talk to you later!

P.S. - Just as an FYI,  the 2004 remake of Man on Fire starring Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning is a much better movie. If you're a Denzel fan, and you haven't seen this flick yet, my advice is to go find it on NetFlix or something.

It's an extravaganza!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

With a Stick

Last week it was 80 degrees and sunny here in Massachusetts. Too hot for me personally, but out on my route I had everybody and their brother meeting me at the door to take in the mail. They all had the same thing to say:

“Wow, must be great to have your job today!.”

No, wait, some of them had this to say:

“Oh, I wish I had your job!”

Or this one:

“Must be terrific to work outside!”

Then there’s the ever-popular “Warm enough for you?” Yeah…that one’s a pip.

I even had one gentleman, he’s probably a terrific guy, who let loose with a “Can’t beat your job with a stick!”

Well, that was last week. When it was 80 degrees and sunny.

Yesterday was only in the high 30’s, maybe 40 degrees. That, of course, was before you factored in the wind, which was gusting up to almost 40 mph. That kind of a gust, as anyone who works outside during a New England winter can tell you, gives you a wind chill factor of “Holy @#$%-ing $#!%!!”

Now what I want to know is, where were all my fair-weather friends yesterday? I didn’t see hide nor hair of any of them, and believe you me, I was looking!

I especially didn’t see that gentleman who’s probably a terrific guy hiding behind the blinds in his living room as I rang his bell repeatedly while screaming “With a stick, huh pal? I got your stick right here! Right here!”

I left before the police arrived.


I think I may try medication.

That’s what the voices are telling me to do, anyway. Well, some of them. It’s a bit of a debate.

Talk to you later!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Band Aid

So since I got whacked in the face while playing in the YMCA pool with Handsome yesterday, I am currently wearing a band aid on the bridge of my nose. If you saw yesterday’s blog, you saw this picture:

I’m wearing the same band aid as in the photo. I slapped some antibiotic ointment on it, covered it up, and left it alone. I’ll pull the cover off this evening after work and take a look, but I plan to cover it right up again. But that’s not today’s point. You see the photo - the band aid doesn’t exactly blend in, and it’s right there in the middle of my face.

It’s flippin’ obvious.

Now, in my workplace they tend to make fun of things, or at the very least to comment on them. I wore a down vest, and it was “Hey, Rob, the 80’s called, and they’d like Michael J. Fox’s vest back!” I ride my motorcycle to work and it’s “Hey, tough guy! Want to go for a ride on the back of my hog?” I ride my bicycle on to work, and I hear “What’s the matter, your car break down in this 40 degree weather? What a shame!” 

This last one is usually followed by laughter.

So you can imagine how braced I was walking in this morning with this band aid on my nose. All morning long I was ready, and I mean ready, waiting for the first shot to come. Wondering where it would come from, who it would be.

I walked across the floor, out in the open, tense, ready to hear it. Ready for anything.


I spoke face-to-face with people, some of them the very ones who snickered at the thought that my car might be broken down, necessitating my using a bicycle. I stared into their eyes and I saw their focus shift about, darting away then settling repeatedly on the space between my eyes; the band aid. I waited, held my breath in anticipation of the zinger.


All morning long, and now, out on the road, talking to a few of my customers, it’s the same thing time after time: I see people notice the band aid and act like it’s not there. After seeing all this I’ve come to a conclusion.

Band aids are magic.

People see them but refuse to see them! It’s like that Alec Baldwin movie where he plays The Shadow, called, coincidentally enough, The Shadow, where people were hypnotized not to see stuff. But I know how to find out. I know just how to put the magic of the band aids to the test.

I’d considered doing the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ thing, and wrapping myself completely in nothing but band aids and seeing if I was invisible. The only problem with that was they’d wind up stuck to some seriously sensitive skin, and eventually I’d have to peel them off.

Oh. My. God.

That idea went out the window.

Instead, the next time I fly anywhere I’m going to band aid a few pills to my body, in plain sight. Right on my face.

Let’s see what TSA does with that one.

No, wait. I’ve had troubles with TSA before, and I wasn’t even trying to be a smart-ass then. (Please see blog entries Logan on a Monday, Danger Will Robinson!, and The Friendly Skies? to see what I mean)

Maybe I better re-think this whole plan. Before I wind up in that little security room with the gloves and the jelly... and the terror...

Talk to you later!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Swimming and Bleeding and Stuff.

I'm supposed to be the adult. I mean, when Handsome and I get together and we start to roughhouse, I'm the one who's supposed to have the ability to see when things start getting out of hand. I'm the one who's supposed to reign things in before someone gets hurt, right?

When will I start actually start doing that? Before someone gets hurt?

Because better than half the time, it's me. You think I would learn after all this 'negative reinforcement'.

But no.

We went to the YMCA for free swim this afternoon. It was a last-minute thing, and we got there almost half-way through the 2 hours the pool was open for today. We suited up, lockered our belongings, and hit the water.

That's when things started to go wrong.

We started out playing tag in the water, just the two of us. That was going just fine, until it developed into a little wrestling over who was currently 'it'. It was during the wrestling that I got kicked in the jimmies.

I should have taken that as a warning. I should have.

We grabbed a couple of those flotation noodles, you know, the 6' long foam tubes you can use to float on... or whack each other with, at your discretion. We, of course, chose the 'whacking' application. Half-way through our foam-beating splashing battle, Handsome picked up a different pool toy. It was something like a barbell, if the weights were big chunks of foam, the same material as the noodles were made of. It had a certain rigidity from the 'bar' portion, as that appeared to be a plastic tube.

This was the beginning of the end.

"I am so Darth Maul with this," he said, spinning the floaty barbell thingie about like a quarterstaff.

He hit me with it. It hurt. He hit me with it again, and it hurt again, and I realized that the ends of the plastic tube were open, rather than capped.

This was the middle of the end.

I decided to use the length of the noodle I was still using to my advantage, and began to lay about his head and shoulders with it from a good seven feet away. He charged in, trying to cut the distance and get inside the effective reach of my weapon, at the same time coming to well within the effective range of his own. he brought the thing down on my face like a club, 'swinging for the bleachers' as they say.

This was the end.

Remember that tube I said appeared to be plastic? I think I was wrong. I think it was metal, probably aluminum or something else light, but I was right enough about the ends not being capped. That open edge whacked down on the bridge of my nose, right where my glasses usually sit.

Wasn't wearing them. Lucky break.

As Handsome continued the swing the edge scraped down my nose, taking a good strip of skin with it.

I spent the rest of Free Swim pressing paper towels to my face trying to stop the bleeding.

Like my face doesn't have enough troubles?

Someday I'll learn. Maybe.

I hope it happens soon.

Talk to you later!

P.S. - Handsome was very apologetic, and no, I didn't even yell at him. Like I said, it was at least half my fault. He's 9. I'm 42. If one of us should know better, I guess that would be me.

Maybe I am starting to learn.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


This evening Handsome and I watched a movie before he went to bed. As I was putting the DVD into the machine, I made the mistake of asking him "So, you want popcorn with the movie?"

I couldn't help it. It was reflex. Movies and popcorn, I mean they go together like franks and beans, Calvin and Hobbes, movies and popcorn... wait, I've just done that one...

Anyway, like I said, it was reflex. I asked without thinking. I know this, because what I would have been thinking, had I been thinking, was okay you dufus, you are about to ask Handsome to eat popcorn in your bed!

"Yes, sure," was his answer.

So I, still unthinking and working entirely on autopilot, went downstairs and popped up two bags of microwave popcorn. That way we can each have our own, I reasoned, and avoid fighting over the bag during the movie.

You see, I was thinking, on some level. But not all of them. I was thinking on the mental level of a guy watching a movie, not on the mental level where I'm the father of a boy who occasionally makes the Peanuts character of Pig-Pen look like the 'after' portion of a soap commercial. I was all the way back upstairs and handing him the steaming bag of discharged kernels when I began to realize my mistake.

"Okay, I am asking you to try, to try mind you, not to make a mess in my bed with the popcorn, alright?"

In one's lifetime there are a finite number of breaths one draws. When these run out, your number's up, so, in essence, each breath we take is a digit in the countdown that is our life, and each one is thus more precious than we can say.

So why, oh why, did I waste one asking that question?

For the record, I'd like to say that he did try. When the movie was over it only took 5-6 minutes of picking with my fingertips to get up all the parts and specks of popcorn that I could see. Of course, that was only the specks that I could see. I'm sure I'll be finding little edible white chunks in my bed for a long time to come.

Since I shower at night before bed, I just hope that I don't get to work in the morning and have someone find a little popcorn that managed to stick itself to the back of my head in the night.

That might be embarrassing.

Talk to you later!

Friday, March 23, 2012


I recently bought a bicycle. The plan is to ride to and from work and hopefully get in some kind of shape while saving gas money at the same time. I spent some time up in the second floor at Dick’s Sporting Goods riding three biked around, checking them out. Handsome went with me and checked out some bikes as well. He’s not all that good at using the hand brakes yet, but he managed to only have one accident.

That I know of.

At least, no one was hurt.

So I was being all careful to try and get the bicycle that was most comfortable for me. At least the most comfortable one they had marked “Clearance!” And I was, like I said, riding all three possibles around in Dick’s for a while. But while I was checking things like seat comfort, bike weight, handlebar width, where the brake levers were positioned and whether I’d have a problem hitting them in an emergency and whatnot, there was one thing I failed to check. At least on the third bike I looked at, which happened to be the one I settled on.


The 1st two bikes I looked at had the gear shifters built into the handgrips, seven on the right, three on the left for a total of 21 gears.


Now, riding around in Dicks, it’s not like you’re ever going to get it up there into the higher gears. You’re pretty much going to leave that left shifter alone and work around the right, leaving it in the lower gears so you don’t go careening out of control, taking out staff and stock as you go. So I didn’t even notice that the bike I finally settled on, the one I looked at last because it was the most expensive of the three, doesn’t even have that shifter built into the left handgrip. It doesn’t have one anywhere. There’s just the one sprocket in the front, and the 7 in the rear. 

It’s a 7-speed.

Not a 21.

How in the hell did I miss that? I had checked it on the other two, and this was the most expensive of the three, so why would I think it had less?

And the worst part is I didn’t even figure this out until I was on the way to work this morning. I went to upshift and there was just nowhere to go! I must have looked a little funny pulled over by the side of the road, scratching my head and looking for something that just wasn’t there.

Well, long story short (yes, I know, ‘too late!’) I rode the damn bike to and from work today. It’s about a 15 minute trip, apparently, all loaded with my work stuff. The bike worked fine, I guess, although I do have one thing to say.

I am going to be so sore tomorrow!

Talk to you later!

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Since today was my day off I was at the school this afternoon picking up Handsome when he got out. It being a beautiful day, and me being able to pop the liftgate on the back of the jeep and make myself a shelter from the  sun where I could keep relatively cool, he got to stay and play with the other kids for a couple of hours before we actually had to go. I sat in my little man-made cave with my laptop and worked on my novel while he played.

I was sitting there, with my legs hanging out over the rear bumper, when Handsome joined into a game of basketball on the playground. I took immediate interest. I play basketball with Handsome sometimes, and we've developed some rules to make things a little more 'even', and make up for the fact that I'm a head and a half taller than him. Keep in mind that I'm only  head and a half taller than him, and he's nine.

  • I have to dribble the ball while he does not; he claims he can't, not while moving at all, so that gets rid of traveling, double-dribbling, etc, for him . For me these rules still apply, and I have to dribble.
  • He is allowed to practically mug me to get the ball, claiming he has no idea how to guard another player. He hugs me, pushes me, wraps up my arms, and clubs my hands all in an effort to gain possession of the ball. I can do none of these things, and if there's any accidental contact there is an immediate cry of "Foul!", and he maintains possession of the ball.
  • Rather than guard me and try to either scoop the ball or block my shot (he claims he does not know how), Handsome will simply push me at the moment I try to make the shot during a lay-up. He was wrestling at 120 lbs, and somewhere along the way he learned how to really throw himself into a push. He comes at me from the side, and I have found myself stumbling, if not outright flying, across the court time after time.
  • I am not allowed to grab the ball out of the air. All missed shots, rebounds, etc, must hit the ground at least once and I have to grab them on the bounce. If I snag the ball out of the air, even if all I do is toss it up against the bottom of the hoop or backboard and grab it as it comes back at my face, possession of the ball goes to Handsome. This was my idea, and it helps negate my height advantage.

Well, these boys would not be playing by the Handsome rules, and I was interested to see how Handsome would cope when all the rules applied to him as well. Some of the boys he was playing with looked quite comfortable with the ball, and I knew they'd take no nonsense about the rules.

Handsome dribbled the ball. He made rebounds. He passed and shot. He guarded other players, blocking the occasional shot and stealing the occasional ball from someone performing a lay-up. He set picks to let the ball go out of bounds on the other players and give the ball to his team's best shooter.

I sat in the back of the jeep and kept repeating "Holy $#!%!! Holy $#!%!!"

He's no Harlem Globetrotter, but apparently, Handsome can play.

Seems we have to have a little talk about the 'rules', the next time we play....

Talk to you later!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

So Now the Pig Has a Chin...

All day long, people talking to me about how wonderful the weather was today. That's all I can think about.

All the 'you must love this', and 'lucky you, out in this all day', and 'I wish I had your job today' stuff.

It was sunny and what they call 'unseasonably warm', reaching just about 80 degrees. I do not like 80 degrees. I can't really take 80 degrees very well, (See entry titled "No Sweat, No Problem, Not Really" for more on that. or better yet, just put 'anhidrosis' into the little search field at the top of this blog.) so I spent the day walking around feeling worse and worse and wishing it weren't quite so early in the season so people would have their hoses out. I would have liked it if they had their hoses out.

Oh well.

So I had a crappy day, and I still feel lousy, and all I can think about is those damn cheerful people telling me how lucky I am.

But you, dear reader, did not come here to witness more bitching. Since I was recently sick I'm pretty sure I used up this whole month's complaining allowance already. Since all I can think of is those damn people, it's like writer's block - I can't think of anything funny to tell you today.

Instead, please allow me to take up the next four and a half minutes of your day sharing the funniest thing I've seen - Christopher Walken telling a children's story. What can I say, I love this guy!

I'm taking my headache to bed.

Talk to you later!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Just One of Those Faces

Alright, my whole life I've been meeting people who say I look familiar.  I've never met them before, but there's something about me that's hard for them to put their finger on that causes them to ask "Are you sure we've never met before?" I tell them I just have one of those faces. I mean, some people do, right? They just look familiar because they have a common look, or hairstyle, or they follow a particular popular style of dress, something like that. That kind of thing happens all the time, right?

Then there are the people who look like someone else, someone famous. "Oh my gosh, you know who you look like? A skinny Peter Delouise! I mean, exactly!" Or a young someone. That's a good one too. "You look like a young Burt Reynolds! You could be his brother! Well, like 30-40 years ago, I mean." So you look like you could have been related to someone way back before you were born. Not the easiest connection to make, but the subconscious is a powerful thing, easily making connections and sometimes drawing conclusions that we'd have a hard time coming up with if we were really thinking about them.

Well, that's what it is in my case. I look a lot like someone famous, but he's quite a bit older than I am so sometimes people have a hard time consciously making the connection their subconscious made in a split-second. I'm here to clear up the whole thing for you, so the next time you see me you can say "Hey, you know who you look like...?"

Mr. Clean
Me Clean

Erie, isn't it? It's like twins, separated at birth, only born many years apart. 

I think I'm catching up on him, though.

And, of course, one's just a cartoon...

So, what do you think? Should I be getting commercial royalties or something?

Talk to you later!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Filling the Scrip

This morning I called in sick to work again so I could go to the doctor. My headache was much better, though I was still running a low fever and still lacked the capacity to draw a nice, full breath. With my screwed up ability to deal with heat I'm a little leery of going out for a hike in the sunshine while I still have a fever.

So I went to the doctor.

I dozed off in the waiting room and missed my call. Someone else waiting to get in was kind enough to wake me and I went stumbling through the doorway and into Doctorland without an escort, which, it seems, just isn't done.


I saw the doctor, but more importantly she saw me. I got a 5 minute breathing treatment (which left me a little dizzy and with a numb face) and a prescription that I could pick up at the CVS that was right up the road, coincidentally right on my way home.

Also coincidentally, this was the very CVS I had walked out of, months earlier, in what I'll call a.... um... 'showy' fashion. I might have made an impression. They might remember me... (please see my entry titled "Here's Your Medicine - Psych!" for further clarification)


So I kept a low profile. I didn't make eye-contact. I spoke in a slightly different voice than my own, and I was extremely polite. All this, and the pharmacist who was assisting me still looked at me a little funny. So did the guys working behind the counter back there. Did they remember me? Did they recognize me? I had also gone to the trouble of altering my appearance slightly, so how could they have tipped to the fact that it was me?

I mean, look, would you recognize me?

Of course not! So what was with the odd looks?

I may never know.

Talk to you later!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Note to Self

I felt well enough this afternoon to get myself out of my room and take a little trip over to Handsome's for a visit. I showered, plunked my butt down in my Jeep and headed over there, seeing him for the 1st time in 3 days. I, having pretty much been in lock-down isolation for two and a half days, had no idea it was like 75 degrees when I was getting ready to go over there. I figured it out when I got out to the car, in time to take off the jacket I had put on for the trip.

When I arrived, Handsome was out back playing on the deck in the back yard. Aware that my playing options were limited, since I had all the stored energy of a rag doll on Quaaludes, I offered to play a game of 'Horse' with him. We found the basketball, and the game began.  Handsome was very happy to win 2 out of 3 games before I had to stop and stagger into the house and have a seat at the dining room table, where I had left my stuff.

Note to Self:

When already quite heat-sensitive, especially to the build-up of internally generated heat from physical work that is unable, due to your lack of an ability to perspire, to bleed off, fever exacerbates the condition.

In other words, when you usually run into overheating trouble working or playing, even lightly, in 75 degree temperatures when starting at your normal temperature of 97.5 (my usual, 'healthy' temperature), working or playing, even lightly, with a starting temperature of 100.1 gets you into trouble even faster.

To make sure I understand this when I read it later: work or play, even lightly, in any kind of warm temperatures, when you are already pretty heat sensitive, while you have a fever, is a recipe for taking a forced nap after 10-15 minutes. For at least 20 minutes. No matter how uncomfortable a chair or position you've chosen, or how crippled this nap will make you upon awakening.

That is all.


Talk to you later!

Saturday, March 17, 2012


So since all I did today was lie in bed, read, doze and try to breathe, I don't have a hell of a lot to blog about. I've lost 6 lbs since yesterday morning... but that won't carry the day. Instead, I think I'll tell you a quick little story about Handsome.

Now, this was way back when the boy was only 2 years old. I was doing whatever I was doing out in the kitchen, and he came toddling out with a concerned look on his face.

"Daddy, help."

"What'sa matter, Little Man? (we used to call him Little Man)"

"The TV's invisible."


"The TV's invisible."

Now, I was surprised that he could even pronounce 'invisible', and I have no idea where he had gotten the word, but I was pretty sure I had never explained it to him. Besides, how could the TV be invisible? I was pretty sure this was just some little game he was playing, but he was quite serious as he took me by the hand and led me into the TV room. He pointed to the set and said "See? Invisible."

According to the sounds coming from the TV, one of Handsome's favorite shows at the time was on, something called "Little Einsteins". What was on the screen, however, was the Comcast 'Guide' function. he must have hit the button on the remote by accident, and now didn't know how to fix it.

What he did know, however, was that his show was there, and he could hear it, he just couldn't see it.

It was invisible.


Talk to you later!

Friday, March 16, 2012


Hello everyone out there in cyberspace!
I am sick today. I left work early, came home and went to bed.
For those of you who don't actually know me, I'm a typical sick man. 
So today I'm doing a pictorial blog,showing you myself at certain stages of my day today,
just so you get the idea. 

Here I am leaving work early, with the goal of coming home and going to bed:

Here I am laying down to pretty much pass out when I got home:

This is one of me when I woke up. As you can see, I was all 
hot and feverish, and had kicked off the blanket:

And here I am when I looked at the clock and realized I had yet to write a blog for the day:

And that's pretty much been my day. As any of you out there who have ever dealt with a sick man, especially this sick man, I'm having a typical sick day at home.

Wish me luck for tomorrow.


Talk to you later!

Thursday, March 15, 2012


The last thing I do every morning before I leave for work is to check the weather. I work outside, and I’m a little temperature sensitive, so it’s become kind of a habit. A sensible one. It’s been pretty warm of later, so I’ve already made the springtime shift to shorts for work. It’s easier to control my overheating issue if I err on the side of caution; I can always put on long pants later if I’m that cold.

So, according to this morning’s AccuWeather Forecast the town I work in was supposed to be mostly sunny today, with a high of 44-46 degrees. Not shorts weather for everyone, but I do tend to overheat, and if you’re exerting yourself in the sunshine, especially while wearing a sweatshirt, you can generate plenty of heat. I decided to stick with the shorts.

Well, I set up my route and got it out there on the road. The sky was gray and overcast, but I had faith that the ‘mostly sunny’ was just around the corner. Every once in a while I would run into a customer. They would usually look down at my bare legs and ask “What, you think it’s Summer?”

I had a few answers I ran through while I gave them all big smiles, like “This’ll break,” and “Spring has sprung,” and “I’m just optimistic!” The longer the day wore on, though, the less optimistic I felt.

The morning passed. No sun.

I had lunch. No sun.

The afternoon wore on. Nope, no sun.

Eventually I had just four streets left on my route, just about an hour’s work. Well, I thought, I hope the sunny part comes soon, ‘cuz I’m running out of day here!

That’s when it started to rain.

I had more thoughts then, but I can’t reproduce them here, as my Nana occasionally reads my blog.

Hi Nana!

So I finished my route in a drizzle, optimism a thing of the past, waiting for the downpour to strike. It didn’t, but I discovered a new mathematical formula today. It goes like this:

44 degrees + cold drizzle + shorts - sunshine = “those ain’t kneecaps, they’re goosebumps”

Yeah... those ain't kneecaps, and my nipples were so hard all day I ruined the front of a brand new shirt!

'Cuz that's how I roll!

Talk to you later!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Clean Rugs and Dog Dirt

Wife's dog had been a little under the weather lately. He's been having some stomach trouble, and thank God he's a small dog or that house would have been a terrible mess.

Now, apparently dogs are like the rest of us. Whether we're taking our 'morning constitutional', offloading the giant beef burrito we ate for lunch the day before, or just sitting down to get some serious reading done while losing a little weight at the same time, we're looking for a comfortable spot. Warm and comfy.

In other words, a cold seat is bad for 'business', if you know what I mean.

I think you do.

Well, dogs seem to be the same way, in that respect. Whether it's the squats or the trots, this little dog seems to need the warmth and softness of a nice rug, like in the dining room or living room, rather than the cold hard (very easy to clean!) linoleum kitchen floor. This rule seems to apply whether the food is heading North or South on him, and what with this little stomach thing there has been stuff soaking into those rugs all week long that has come out of either end of that little dog.

Ah, I thought, these rugs smell like the Great Outdoors... in the backyard of a slaughterhouse with a backed up septic system...

So I borrowed a rug cleaning machine from my mother and dragged it over to the house. I spent an afternoon running that thing over those rugs again and again - the directions say to keep going until the machine is pulling clean water back out of the rug.

I got close.

So it smelled much better in the house, terrific in fact, fresh, clean and lovely. I brought the machine back to mom, happy as a pig in a poke with a job well done.

...and the next day I walked in the front door to find a splotch of something Dog yakked up on the living room rug. The nice clean living room rug. I wiped up the mess, trying to deep-clean with nothing more than a sponge and some paper towels. Then I went to have a talk with Dog.

"See? The kitchen floor is good... linoleum is your friend..."

The little @#$% sat there and watched me as I got down on the kitchen floor and patted it. Stroked it. I praised it to the heavens trying to get him to see that this was the place to go if he couldn't get outside.

He watched me patiently, with his head tilted to the side in that cutely quizzical way all dogs have, and then he darted in to bark at my face while it was down there at his level and pranced away, convinced that I wanted to play.

You know how everyone in the world, whether they have a dog or not, complains about dog breath? How it's  been universally accepted as a standard to which all other bad breath is to be measured?

Coating the dog breath smell in a fresh coating of dog vomit smell does not help. Unless the aim of the breath was to render 200 lbs of bald guy unconscious on the kitchen floor faster than a double-shot of NyQuil PM...

Talk to you later!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I’m Sorry, Mom and Dad

Hi Mom. Hi Dad.

I’d like to take this moment to apologize for some of the stuff I put you two through when I was younger. They didn’t call them ‘play-dates’ back then, but I’m sure I went on my share. I know I ate a lot as I grew up, sometimes it must have seemed like I was actively trying to eat you out of house and home. Middle-of-the night sickness, finicky eating, misbehaving in both school and the home. But that’s stuff every parent, especially parents of a growing boy, kind of come to expect. It just goes with the territory.

But that’s not why I’m here today.

I’m here to apologize for something more specific than that, something not every parent has to go through. Those who do, however, probably earn themselves a special place in Heaven for their patience and perseverance. I’m talking about being the parent of a kid in the school band.

I played the trumpet. Eventually. First, I had to practice the trumpet. Scales, fingering exercises, hours spent searching for notes and just not finding them. Learning to read music, playing haltingly until I learned the piece, and even once I’d memorized it I’d play it again and again.

And again.

So let me just say I appreciate the patience you showed me when I was in the school band, and I apologize for all the noise. You are two special people who I’d nominate for Sainthood if I could.

I love you both.

…and in Family News, Handsome brought some drums home from school last week… how wonderful

Talk to you later!

Monday, March 12, 2012

It’s a Derby, Dude!

So a couple of days ago Handsome competed in his 1st ever Pine Wood Derby with the Cub Scouts. He had a blast, running about playing with the other kids as I stood with the other parents and watched the races. Handsome and I didn’t do very well our first time out; we had built a car that looked good, and went by nice and slow so you had plenty of time to admire it.


Well, I thought, I guess I’ll have to cheer him up. You know, tell him ‘Better luck next time’, and all that. Little did I know…

After the race I asked Handsome if he had fun.


“Well, that’s terrific,” I said. “I’m sorry you didn’t win, but at least you had a good time! That’s the spirit!”

“Besides,” he said, very nonchalantly, “I plan to win next year.”

Now, I was all kinds of impressed with this attitude. I was proud of the way he was taking the loss, and blown away that the Scouts could have such a positive effect on my son. That night, in fact, he got out some paper and began to sketch designs for the car he wants to run next year. A Bugs Bunny car.

Then he mentioned a Lightning McQueen car. And a Tasmanian Devil car, then another, and another.

“Waitaminute!” I said. “Aren’t you going to settle on one car to work on?”

Nope. The new plan is to make all of his ideas, then see which runs the fastest. Over the course of the year. This is why he needs to start now.

“Where can we get the wood?” he said.

“I don’t know,” I said, “I’ll have to look it up.”

He beat me to it. He used his own Google-foo. I went upstairs to find him on my computer checking out a website where we can get whole Pinewood Derby Car kits.

In lots of 10.

It’s gonna be a long year.

Talk to you later!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Photo Finish

So I have this short story idea, and I’ve been waiting to write it. It fits well into a short story collection I’m working on, and I’m kind of writing them in order, and I just haven’t gotten to this one yet. 

The basic premise is a young guy sees an old Polaroid Instamatic camera in a consignment or pawn shop. It has some film with it, and even though the guy tells him the film’s most likely gone bad after all this time, the kid buys it anyway, just on a lark. He takes a couple of pictures, and the machine spits them out just like it should, and the film actually works. The photos may be a little cloudy… but he’s having fun with this old camera. And then he notices that, no matter what he takes a picture of, no matter where it is, there’s this guy in the shot. He wasn’t there when the pictures were taken, but there he is in the pictures, every single one, starting with the first shot where the guy’s way off, almost lost in the distance. But, the kid notices, with each new picture the guy’s getting closer…

Creepy, right? A haunted camera. The story goes on from there, but you get the basic idea. I’m all kinds of happy about this idea because it seems to be pretty original, and I’m looking for that. So, like I said, I’m holding on to this story until I get to the spot where I think it will fit with some other stories I’m writing. Been holding on to it for more than a year now. And then…

So I was looking at my mother’s bookshelves, and there’s a whole section on Stephen King. I’ve read a lot of the books from that section. A lot. But there’s one that I’m not certain I’ve read, a novella collection of his called Four Past Midnight. I looked at the table of contents to see what stories are in there, maybe jog my memory a bit. One of the stories, The Langoliers, I remember reading, and The Library Policeman sounds familiar, but the other two, Secret Window, Secret Garden, and The Sun Dog don’t sound familiar at all. So I checked on line for the collection, looking to read a small synopsis of the stories involved, maybe that will jog my memory.

And here is the first line of the description of the story titled The Sun Dog:

Kevin Delevan receives a Sun 660 Polaroid camera for his fifteenth birthday. He soon notices that there is something strange about the camera: the only photographs it produces are of a malicious, feral black dog that seems to move closer with each shot as though to attack the person who is taking the pictures.

Son of a bitch.

Now I’m all wanting to read the story to see if I’ve read it before and my subconscious is playing ‘Oh, what a wonderful idea I’ve had *nudge, nudge, wink*’ with me. But I’m not going to read it. Not until I finish writing my story, so I can avoid any inadvertent ‘influence’. Though, if I was going to be influenced, I could choose worse influences than Stephen King…

Now all I have to do is try to figure out how I can make a case for Mr. King stealing my idea.

More than 20 years before I even had it.

Yeah, I know, I hear you. Good luck, Dude.

Talk to you later!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Full Circle

Today is Handsome's Pine Wood Derby with the Cub Scouts. I wanted to go watch, since I worked on the car with him so much, but I was scheduled to work. I have a rotating day off, and this week it happens that it falls on Wednesday rather than Saturday. There are things I could do that would allow me to be there, just as there s at any workplace in America; taking time off, etc. But I work for the Postal Service, where things are not that easy. I managed to be at the Derby today, but what I went through to get there is today's story.

Three weeks ago, I asked for today off. I have plenty of vacation time saved up, it shouldn't have been a problem. But I was denied.

"We really need the full complement that day," was the reason given.

Okay. Fine. There are other ways... like I could swap days off with someone who's scheduled day off was today.

I went to two different people who were slated to have today off. Both of them said they would have swapped, but the boss (who refused my day off request) had already asked them to work that day for overtime. Since they were working rather than having the day off, that wouldn't fly.

So I tried a 3rd guy, who was also slated to have this day off, and had not been asked to work like the others. He was very helpful, agreed right away, and we started to file the paperwork that would allow us to swap schedules like that. My buddy went up to the Supervisor's Desk with his, talked to the Boss for a moment, then walked my way with a weird look on his face.

"What's up?"

"We have a little problem," he said. "Boss said to hold off on putting these slips in, he might want me to work that day."

Seriously? The guy I was trying to work this with isn't even on the overtime list. He's not supposed to work his days off, unless there' some sort of emergency. If you know about an emergency more than 2 weeks in advance, is it really an emergency?

Fine. I made one last attempt, had one last option. I couldn't take a vacation day, and I couldn't swap days off with anyone. I'd have to work a split.

I put in a slip to change my schedule so that on that day, today, I could go into work for just an hour, then leave for a long lunch, say 2-3 hours. I could go to the Derby, but then I'd go back and finish my route for an 8-hour workday.

This plan was fine with Boss, as long as I was going to be there to do all the work, in whatever stop-start method I liked. That was terrific, as I had to move the time of my long lunch once the Scouts released a schedule for the Derby and I found out I was going to miss Handsome's race anyway.

So there I was, after three weeks of fairly continuous effort, all squared away with work and the Derby. I would leave the one to go to the other, and then go back and then go back and finish my job. I had the times all set, and I was good to go. Then, yesterday, when I got back to the office after finishing my route, Boss came over to me.

"Hey, about you going to that thing tomorrow," he began.

My stomach dropped. What was he going to say now? What had suddenly come up that would stop me from working my split. that would keep me from getting to the Derby after all, after all this time and effort? I tried not to throw up, and looked at him.


"If nothing goes wrong, like if I don't have any sick calls or anything, I think I can get you right out of here if you like."

"Huh?" I said.

"I think you can just set it up and go, not even worry about coming back. If no one calls in I can cover it. That be okay with you?"

In other words, he was offering to give me, with the exception of about an hour, the whole day off. Just like I had asked for 3 weeks earlier.

Do you think he knows just how close he came to having one of his employees just sitting there screaming?

Talk to you later!