Thursday, June 30, 2011

Oh, Snap! Come to my Macaroni Party…

This evening, after I cut the grass but before I washed the kitchen floor, I stopped and watched 'The Regular Show' with Handsome. For those of you who have never seen 'The Regular Show', IMDB describes it as 'the daily surreal adventures of a blue jay and raccoon duo that attempts to deal with their mundane jobs as groundskeepers at the local park'.
In this episode the raccoon gets a catchy summertime song stuck in his head. He's singing it constantly, and driving those around him crazy. If you've read my blog post titled Earworm, you know that happens to me all the time. I looked over at Handsome and said "I bet that's what it's like to live with me, huh?"
He looked at me, dead serious, and said "Yes. And it's really, really annoying."
"Okay, okay, I get it," I said. We went back to watching the show.
In the show, and I actually quite like this story concept, the song takes on a life of its own. It manifests itself outside the raccoon's head, becoming a visible yet intangible character all its own, and now it was following and annoying everyone in the show all by itself. In order to combat it, the characters in the show write their own highly catchy amazingly inane song, get a band together, and play this new song at the summertime song in a strange and surreal battle of the bands. The catchiness of their new song beats the summertime song into submission, and it fades away. Their new song was basically a continuous repetition of the words "Oh snap! Come to my macaroni party then we'll take a nap!"
We watch the show to its conclusion, and then Handsome went in the bathroom while I got ready to wash the kitchen floor. I was in the hall when the bathroom door opened and Handsome emerged. He was singing quietly to himself, and he got as far as "Oh snap, come to my macaroni party —"
He looked up to find me pointing an accusing finger in his direction, a delighted smile on my face.
"All I –"
"But Dad, all I –"
"But –"
Aggravated with me for not letting him talk, Handsome stomped up the hall into his mother's room. He went in, and slammed the door behind him. I stood, still pointing the finger, only now it was pointing at the closed door. I stayed that way for perhaps 30 seconds. The smile was still on my face as I shouted, one last time, "Aha!"

Still smiling, I started washing the kitchen floor.
Fun is where you find it!

Talk to you later!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Priorities and Battered Parts

Today was the first day of Handsome's summer vacation, and it was a hot one. When I got out of work, I took him to a pond that is relatively near the house (read: only 15 minute's drive) that has a boat ramp that the locals swim off of. I told him we were going to be there for an hour, hour and a half maximum. I had stuff to get done around the house. We pulled up at about 6 PM, and we were the only ones there. Handsome went straight in the water while I took out one of those fishing rods that are my constant travel companions. I had some worms left over from yesterday, so I threw on a bobber and made a cast.
First cast, caught a pretty little bluegill.  Yay me! I made a few more casts, but I had a big hook on there for sunfish. Too big, it turned out. They kept nibbling the bait right off the hook. I put the rod aside and jumped in the water with Handsome.  We swam. We wrestled. We splashed and played full bore for about an hour. Handsome hit me in the nuts, as he seems to be required to do whenever we play in the water.
Not once, not twice, but thrice.
At about 7:15 I hobbled out of the water to dry off and start getting ready to get him home.
"You have about 15 minutes, and then we have to go, right?" I said, my voice slightly higher than usual due to the testicular trauma. "I have stuff to get done about the house, so we can't stay here all night, okay?"
"Okay, Dad!"
Excellent. I gathered all the stuff together and put it back in the jeep, getting ready to go. I had stuff to do.
The last thing I was putting back in the jeep was the rod I had been casting with. Just for the hell of it I cut off the medium sized hook I had on there and put on a much smaller one, one that was appropriate for panfish, or sunfish. I made a cast and caught a fish. The smaller hook made a huge difference.
Now I had caught two fish, and I was ready to go. Handsome saw me catch that second fish and said "Can I try?"
"Sure," I answered. "But you have to make it quick, we're supposed to be leaving now, so I can get some stuff done."
He made a cast, and caught a fish. He made another cast, caught another fish. He made a third cast with he same worm on there, and caught a third fish.
"That must be a lucky worm!" I said. I went to the jeep and got out Handsome's fishing rod and started casting with it. I caught fish. They were all sunfish until Handsome caught a little bass. Then he caught another. Eventually I caught one too.
We worked that boat ramp, he to one side and I to the other, until we ran out of worms, and I had more than 20 when we started out. That was when I went to the jeep to check the time and said "Whoa! Handsome, we have to go!"
"What's the matter, Dad?"
"It's almost 8:30! No wonder it's starting to get dark!"
We jumped in the jeep, me moving awkwardly due to my battered parts.
Did I get anything done that I meant to tonight?
Instead, I caught fish!

Hey, I have my priorities ... and a strange soreness when I walk.

Talk to you later!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Four Goals

When we got the canoe to the river, I had certain goals.

  1. Have a good time
  2. Get Handsome some exercise
  3. Catch some fish
  4. Keep Handsome's sneakers dry

How did we do?

  1. Have a good time:
    -Yes. Handsome was actually fishing with me. He suggested a fishing competition, which I took him up on. He was choosing the spots to stop, he was choosing which way to go. Somewhere in there the two of us had a world-class splash-fight, the two of us whaling away at the water with the paddles after I “accidentally” splashed him with water while paddling. A few times. All in all we were on the water for a little more than three hours, I think, and a good time was had by all. Both. Whatever.
  2. Get Handsome some exercise:
    - Not so much. Oh, sure, during our splash-fight he wielded a paddle with wild abandon and a certain amount of joy, but paddling from place to place … not so much. He did do a lot of waiting until I had built up a good head of steam and then shoving the blade of the paddle into the water at an angle to see if he could make a little rooster-tail. Sometimes he did make the water arc through the air like that, but more often than not he just sent us veering off towards a bank or into a submerged log.
    I was getting exercise, though...
  3. Catch some fish:
    - Not so much on this one either. Not a fish was seen at all, in fact. We did hook a few trees, and once Handsome actually managed to wrap up two completely separate trees at the same time. That
    has to be one for the record books. Handsome lost two bobber and hook set-ups, each too high in a tree to reach from a canoe. He seems to have the strange habit of aiming at a spot that is only 10 – 15 feet away and winding up to cast like he is aiming for the other side of the Earth. I did have a bobber come off my line, somehow, but we pulled up the anchor and tracked it down. That part was actually fun.
    But for all that fishing, no fish. Again.
  4. Keep Handsome's sneakers dry:
    -It was
    so close! He insisted on wearing his sneakers rather than leaving them in the jeep to stay dry. They stayed dry through all the canoeing. They stayed dry through all the fishing. They even stayed miraculously dry during our huge splash-fight! We had gotten all the way back to the Jeep, and were unloading the canoe for the ride home, and he wanted to show me something. A spider, I think. All of the sudden, SPLASH! A two-footed leap, landing right in the river.
    Did he apologize for it?
    Could he explain how he wound up jumping in the river, when I had
    just told him to be careful and keep those sneakers dry?

So, four goals, but only one of them met. At least a good time was had by all.



Talk to you later!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mailman Tan

Yes, when I wear sandals it looks like I still have socks on. I swear I don't.

Yes, when I wear shorts that are shorter than the Bermudas I wear at work, there is a sweet-looking white stripe between the tan part of my legs and my shorts.

Yes, if I take my shirt off, from a distance it looks like I'm still wearing one. A white one with nipples on it, but a shirt nonetheless. It's even a V-neck.

No, I do not wear a hat all the time while I am in the sun, even though I am completely bald. This is a huge disappointment to all of my elderly customers, but, honestly, the only way I could make my tan lines any funnier is to have the top of my head be completely white. They say I'm going to get sunstroke, but I'm still not doing it. Hat on  for a while, hat off for a while. Deal with it, people.

None of this is my fault. I am a mailman, and I have to dress like one. I work outside every day, but I have to wear, as Emilio Estaves said in "The Breakfast Club" (that was for all you movie buffs) "the required uniform". Unlike Emilio, my required uniform is not tights (thank God!) but the uniform that you see mailmen across the country wear every day. We all have the same affliction: Mailman Tan.

For some of us, Mailman Tan is more ridiculous than for others. Take me, for example. My ancestry is  Irish, English and Scottish; if my skin isn't tan, it's translucent. In the wintertime I make milk look dark.

So please, those of you out there with good tans, or amazing natural coloring, remember this the next time you see a guy who's sandals show off his tan legs and starkly white feet. Remember this when you see a man cutting the grass wearing a tank-top, but you can plainly see that for the rest of the week he was wearing a shirt-sleeved shirt. Remember this the next time you are about to point a finger and laugh, or call out "look at that guy's tan!" Remember, and refrain.

We know we look ridiculous. We know people are staring. We know people want to point and laugh. But please, Mailman Tan is not our fault. We see the rest of you, with your beautiful, even coloring, and all we want to do is fit in with your 'normal' society.

We don't have good tans. We don't have good natural coloring. All we have is our small shred of dignity.

Please, leave us that much.

Won't you?


Talk to you later!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Handsome, Making Scents. Does That Make Sense?

When children are born every one goes on about how good they smell. The smell like gentle soap, new skin, and just… Baby. It's not like they're doing anything to actually get dirty and make a smell. Eventually, when their diet changes a little, the stuff that comes out of them smells, but that's not actually them. They still smell like gentle soap and new skin.
Within the reach the age where they are running and playing. Sometimes playing outside. Then they will come inside from playing and have a bit of an odor. The odor, however, is not that bad. The reason for this is it's not actually them that smells. Underneath the odor day probably still smell like gentle soap and new skin but they have an overlay of dirt. Sand. Grass. Like little well tuned playing machines, they don't generate smells of their own. They just smell like whatever they been playing in. It's easy to wash off, and when you get right down to it dirt itself doesn't actually smell bad.
Then they reach a certain age. I'll only speak from my own experience on this, so I'm not actually talking about girls here. I have a boy. I have a boy and I was very aware of when he reached that certain age. For my son, specifically, that certain age was eight; I'm going to kind of assume that four boys in general that's about the age when this happens.
At that certain age, eight for my son, they begin to generate their own smells.


When he doesn't brush his teeth you can tell the first time he speaks. From a distance of up to 8 feet.
When you ask him if he's had a shower already, and he says 'yes', for verification just wait until he moves. When he disturbs the air, if he has not actually showered, a strange, dare I say 'funky', smell will waft across the room.
When he kicks off his shoes, you know. Period. Wherever you are in the house. If in the morning before school he cannot find his sneakers, you simply follow your nose.
Last night, right before sundown, my son Handsome got involved in a water fight. He wound up standing in the kitchen, shivering a little and asking for a towel. He was soaked to the skin, every article of clothing he was wearing was saturated. Including his sneakers. Rather than throw the sneakers in the dryer last night, and keep people awake with the thud-thud-thud-thud that would be coming from the dryer, I waited until today. They were still wet when they went in, but they were dry when they came out. When I took them out there seemd to be a bitter, burning smell coming from the dryer. Worried that I had damaged the belt or overheated the motor, I stuck my head in the drum and took a sniff. I could still smell it, but it seemed faint. I looked at the sneakers but I had tossed on the floor and thought No way. There was no soap involved but at least they were washed with water. It can't be them. I picked up one shoe just as Handsome came down to the laundry room, and I took a sniff.
My sinuses cleared. My eyes started to water. My lunch leapt up into my throat, bringing my stomach with it.
"Oh my God!" I said.
"What?" Said Handsome.
I grabbed the other shoe and chucked the two of them at him, where they landed at his feet.
"Put them on! Put them on now!"
He looked at me quizzically, and opened his mouth, probably to ask what was going on.
"Don't ask any questions, just put the shoes on! Sit right there," I pointed at the bottom cellar step, "and put those things on. Please!"

Apparently, I'll never learn. Whether it's his breath when I'm trying to move him while he's sleeping, or the smell that comes off his feet even in shoes that I assume are clean, my son has some powerful smells.
I'm dreading the next phase in this particular development of his. 
It can't be good.

Talk you later!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Meeting Harley

There is a house on my route that, for a few years, had quite a few people rolling through it. It seems to have stabilized with the people who are in there know, and they have been there for about three years. One day, shortly after they moved in to the house, I was walking their street and I turned up their walkway. I wasn't really looking where I was going. I had my head down and was sorting the mail as I walked, but I caught a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye, looked up, and stopped dead.

Right there, not three feet in front of me, was a dog I had never seen before. A Boxer. It was a beautiful animal, all tight bunches of muscle beneath that thin, shiny coat they have. Large, intelligent brown eyes were open wide and staring at me as the animal strained at the end of his tether. I got the impression that he was a puppy, but a puppy right at the end of his growth. He might get a little heavier, but he wouldn't get much bigger.
Hey there, Big Guy,” I said, in as calming a voice I could muster. “You're new around here. Who are you?”
The Boxer didn't answer, obviously, but he continued to strain, pulling hard and steady at the end of that tether. He didn't bark, or snarl. His ears, though cropped, were up and forward, his little nub of a tail was wagging. I was a little nervous, though, since this was a new dog to me, and they had pretty much tied the other end of his tether to the mailbox I had to get to.
I love Boxers, but sometimes they are a little high-strung. By 'a little high strung', I mean 'like a squirrel on amphetamines'. Not all of them, but enough. And, like I said, this was a new dog to me. What made me even more nervous was that, though he had not made a sound, he was quivering all over. Visibly. Like he was barely under control. Remember what I said about a squirrel on amphetamines?
I decided to take a chance. I knelt down, still out of the actual reach of that tether, and held out a fist for the big dog to sniff. You hold out a fist rather than an open hand because that way, even if they do bite, you're more likely to take all of your fingers home with you.
I consider that a plus.
He sniffed that fist like a maniac, and eventually I felt okay reaching down to flip over the tag that was hanging off his collar. Engraved on the back was one word, all in capitals.


Harley? That's your name, Harley?”
Harley was busy sniffing my arm, and the knee that had shifted into his range when I reached for the tag. He was still straining against that rope, and quivering like a struck tuning fork.
Well, it's nice to meet you Harley. Here's the deal. I need to get to that mailbox over there, and I need you to not take a chunk out of my leg when I walk by. In return, I won't feed you, but I will scratch behind your ears. How's about it?”

I took his not having tried to bite me yet as an assent, stood, and started up the walkway. Harley kept pace with me, sniffing my leg, hip, mailbag, everything he could, but he didn't try to stop me or get in my way. I made it to the mailbox, which happens to be falling apart, and started to work the mail inside. That's when I felt Harley's front claws digging into me, one set in the front of my hip, the other in by backside.
Harley wasn't quivering because he was high-strung, or because I made him nervous.
Something hard and a little damp poked me in the thigh. Then again.
Harley wasn't afraid of me at all. Harley liked me.
Poke – poke – poke
Harley really liked me!
You know, people always talk about getting bitten, and how strong dog's jaws are. No one ever talks about what a good grip they have! I'm not sure how many pokes to the thigh I took while I twisted and pried those fore claws of iron off me. All I know is that I got out of there without the need to wash my leg … although I did walk out of there feeling that the damn dog owed me something.
Dinner? Flowers?
I wasn't sure.
The good thing, tough, is Harley's always glad to see me, and I haven't had any problems with him at all since then.

I refuse to turn my back on him, though.

Not without dinner first, Big Boy!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Postal Workers Say the Darndest Things!

So, I've been working for the postal service for about 16 years now, in three different offices, and I've heard a lot of people saying a lot of weird things. For today I tried to make a list, from memory, of some of the more odd things I have heard people say at work. This includes anyone who works for the postal service that I have had contact with; other carriers, clerks, management and inspectors. Remember, this is just what I can remember, listed off the top of my head.

  • Carrier : (Speaking dead seriously) “I have both kinds of stairs on my route. Up and down.”

  • Carrier : “When you get to the end of the driveway, just give the mail to the dog.”

  • Clerk : “That crazy lady from your route was in here yelling at the front counter today!”
    Carrier : “Really? Which one?”

  • Manager : “I don't know. No! Wait! … No, I was right. I don't know.”

  • Manager : “So I said to myself, 'what would Conan the Barbarian do?'”

  • Carrier : “Do I want to be sick tomorrow? Yeah, I think I do. I want to be sick tomorrow.”

  • Carrier : “It's just a beard, it won't hurt you.”

  • Carrier, alerted to a new family moving onto his route : (say this one aloud) “Oh no! Now I have a Boyle on my route!”
    Other Carrier : “Nope. It's a whole family. That means you have a bunch of Boyles on your route! Better you than me, buddy.”

  • Carrier : “When I walked into the yard I was positive the dog was locked in the house, right up until it bit me in the ass.”

  • Carrier, talking to another Carrier : “You need to see “The Dirty Dozen” and “Kelly's Heroes”, and then maybe we can have a conversation.”

  • Carrier, to an Inspector who was following him on his route that day : “See, she just ran up here to say hi and be patted.”
    Inspector, to a Carrier currently patting a large dog that just ran out to meet them on the street : “Good thing she turned out friendly! I was looking on this sheet for someplace to write 'carrier eaten by dog'.”

  • Manager : “Now why do you say this is going to take you an hour and a half? K.S. did it the other day and it only took him an hour!”
    Carrier : “Well, did K.S. Just walk the relays, or did he have to drop off the relays first. I have to drop the relays off, too.”
    Manager : “Now, don't bring K.S. into this. You don't want to start comparing yourself to other people.”

Okay, there are more, but I think that's enough for now. I have to get up in 4 hours, so I guess I should get some shut-eye.

Talk to you later!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Safety Talk

As you all know, or would know if you read the “About Me” page, I'm a mailman in a small New England town. Occasionally the management is obliged to give us what they call “Safety Talks”, where they warn us about things that they consider to be dangers on the road. In other words, things that the main office feels may contribute to lost work days across the country. Basically, our local guys get an email from the main office with what amounts to a script, and most of the managers I have had over the years tend to just read the thing word-for-word. They figure that someone at the office wrote this, and it must contain all the information that they have to get across to us, and that way they really don't have to think about anything themselves, spontaneously, in front of a crowd. Easy as pie, right?
Over the years I have heard safety talks on:
  • Dog bites, and how to avoid them
  • Children who are out of school for the summer, and how to not run them over with the truck
  • Icy roads (would you believe they tell us each year that ice is slippery? I kid you not.) and how to drive on them
  • Bees, hornets, and wasp stings, and what to do about them (we were told to carry sprinkle-on meat tenderizer and use that on the sting. What it does I do not know, but if I ever find out I promise I'll share it here!)
  • What to do if you feel you have been exposed to Anthrax. The deadly compound, not the bitchin' band. (I think I recall the advice being to try to fall where someone would find the body quickly)
  • Wet leaves – Autumn's secret killer! (try not to stop on wet leaves, turn on wet leaves, walk on wet leaves, whatever. They're slippery. Got it!)
  • What to do if you think you have picked up a package bomb (I have my own plan for this one. I carry clean underwear and baby wipes with me in my truck. That way, when it turns out to be a false alarm I can clean up and change my pants, which are going to be in a State of Emergency all their own)

Anyway, you get the point. Some of those we get every year, some are kind of one-shot talks that are the result of our country's social and political state at the time. But this morning's Safety talk was a new one on me, and I just had to stop and pay attention.

Lightning, and how to not be struck by it..

According to Wikipedia:
An estimated 24,000 people are killed by lightning strikes around the world each year and about 240,000 are injured. In the U.S., between 9 and 10% of those struck die,  for an average of 40 to 50 deaths per year (28 in 2008).  In the United States, it is the #2 weather killer (second only to floods) The odds of an average person living in the U.S. being struck by lightning in a given year is 1/500,000.

The Postmaster of my office was giving this talk, and he started out reading from the email, just the way I mentioned above.

When there is lightning stay away from trees. Don't use a hard-wired phone, but a cell phone is okay. Buildings aren't a guarantee of safety either. You need to avoid the wiring, any metal pipes and plumbing, and stay away from the windows. Don't go in the middle of a field and lie down, like they used to tell you, that just makes you a bigger target.”
Wow,” I murmured to the carrier next to me, “We can't go anywhere.”

What you should do,” the Postmaster continued, “is to get in your vehicle with the doors closed and wait it out.”
Right,” I murmured, “you can't go near the windows in a building, but the windows in those tin boxes they call vehicles are okay. Just counting on the tires, aren't they?”

Some of the effects of lightning strikes that you don't hear that much about are loss of memory, loss of hearing, lack of sleep, and anger issues.”
Ah hell,” I said aloud, “I have all of those now.”

Now, the Postmaster had done alright so far. He had stuck to the script they had sent him, and he had gotten the message out to all of us, no matter how strange it seemed at the time. Now, however, he dropped the hand holding the paper down by his thigh but failed to say the magic phrase “Okay, that's all I have...” I shut up and started paying more strict attention. He was going off-script! This might actually be good!

Well … I know that when we're sailing, storms can surprise you. They come up quickly on the water sometimes. What they tell us to do is to get somewhere shallow and drop the anchor.”

We were all silent. Some of us were looking at each other, kind of wondering where he was going with this.

You see,” he continued, “the idea is that the lightning will hit the mast and just flow straight down through the anchor chain, into the ground.”

We were still all looking at each-other, wondering who was going to say something. I was torn.

On the one hand I wanted to tell him that was wonderful advice for the next time I was sailing down Jersey street on my Mail Yacht and there was as sudden lightning storm.

On the other hand, I had the intense urge to raise my hand so I could ask whether our mail trucks would be outfitted with an anchor for us, or if it was up to us to supply the anchor ourselves, and if so whether there was a catalog or something we could order one from.

While I was pondering, stalled out in my indecision, we all saw the Postmaster's eyes change as he suddenly recognized the complete inanity of his last statement.
Well … that's just a thing they told us, not that you can … Okay, that's all I have! Be safe out there!”
He walked away, and my chance was blown.

Curse you, Self-Realization!

Talk to you later!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Here, Fishy, Fishy, Fishy!

Last night I put my son, Handsome, to bed and took a little nap with him. It wound up being a little more than an hour. I left there at about 10:30 an headed for home to get all my stuff ready. I got everything prepared in advance, and in the Jeep. That way when it was time to go I could just get in and turn the key. I sat down and wrote my blog, and if you read it then you know that yesterday I was writing about having a hard time staying awake at the library.
Ha! Little did I know...
So anyway, I finished and posted yesterday's blog entry and then I cruised about the internet for a while, just kind of killing time. I watched an episode of “Archer” the show that's on FX, had myself a sandwich, and drank some Hydrive. I kept checking the time. Just in case, I set the alarm clock. If I did fall asleep, I didn't want to over-sleep, and miss my chance. I did use that alarm to get myself another half-hour nap before 2 am arrived. That's when I got in the jeep and took off running.
Fishing for Stripers.
I got to my spot, well, as close to my spot as you can get to with a car, and walked the rest of the way in. A mile up the railroad tracks, in the dark, at 2:30 in the morning. Alone. Boy, it's a good thing I don't have a vivid imagination, huh?
So I made my way to my spot, and stayed there for three hours. High tide was at 4:35am, so I had an hour and a half of the incoming tide and the same for the outgoing. I fished two different spots in the area, one for the incoming, one for the outgoing, moving all my gear on the slack tide. At each spot I cut up a bunch of old bait I had, chopping it pretty fine and trying to chum the area with it. My hands got fairly nasty, and I dulled up my knife doing all this.
My reward for all this effort, the drive, the hike, the chumming of the waters, the keeping two rods running?

Not a damn thing.

In the past in this area I have seen crabs, a few eels, tons of baitfish, one shark (which I tried to catch, but with no luck), not to mention quite a few Stripers.

This morning, nothing.

The residents in the area, if they were awake early enough, were treated to the sight of me standing at the shoreline, throwing handsfull of chopped up fish-parts into the sea, and calling “Here, fishy, fishy, fishy!”
It didn't work.

The saying goes that there is a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot. I left the house with the intention of doing the former, but wound up doing the latter. And the best part was showing up to work on about 2 hours of sleep, reeking of fish (from cutting up the bait) and having people ask me how I did.
“The only bites I got were from the mosquitoes,” I said. They look at my glassy eyes and they notice my hands, scalded red from scrubbing the bait-stink off as much as I can.
“Well, I don't know how you do it. You wouldn't catch me out there like that!”
No. Apparently I don't catch anything out there like that. Thanks for reminding me. I don't tell them that it takes a special breed of idiot to go stand on the shore in the middle of the night, hoping to God it turns into fishing.

I can't wait to go again!

Talk to you later!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Working Lunch... Sort Of.

I had a strangely tired day today. I don't know why, I mean I got as much sleep as I usually do. I even stayed in bed an extra half hour this morning, hitting the snooze twice before getting up to work on a short story before going to work, so, technically I got a little extra sleep. But this afternoon I had almost an hour, adding together my lunch and both breaks, so I went to the library to try to write for a while on my lunch.

I went in, found a carol next to an outlet and set up my laptop. The machine booted up, I found my "Stories" file, opened the document with the correct story in it, and
zzzz ... 
What!? Oh, I guess I dozed off for a minute or two there. Where was I ... okay, here's the story, now I just have to read back a bit to remember exactly where I left off this morning, and
zzzz ... 
*Snort* Huh? Oh! Did it again, how about that? Okay ... so the young man is talking to the priest about a possible exorcism, and let's see, I think he was about to
zzzz ... 
Crap! I think I dozed off again! Well, at least that would explain this line of drool that's connecting my bottom lip to the desk. Gotta wipe that up ... God! I hope no one saw that! Are there knuckle-marks in my cheek from leaning on my fist like that? I hope not. Right! I need to start getting some words into this story while I still have
zzzz ... 
Wow I have to pee! Where the hell did this line of drool come from again? Was I asleep again? Oh for crying out loud! Well, this trip to the bathroom should wake me up ...
There. That's better. Now to get some words into this story before I run out of ... Holy Crap! Is that the time? Wow, lunch is over! I have to shut this thing down and get back to the office. Jesus! At this rate I'll be done with this story sometime in 2012!

... and that was lunch. Sort of.

Talk to you later!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Does Catnip Give You The Munchies?

Late last month I saw an ad in my Facebook sidebar. "Bloggers needed." I checked it out. I wound up going to a Facebook page for product called Chronic Catnip. They have their own website as well as the Facebook page, and apparently they're looking for bloggers.
Well hell, I thought, I'm blogging every day anyway. Whether they pay money or I can use as a writing credit, either way it kind of looks like fun.
So I followed the contact information and sent them an e-mail. They said that they were looking for bloggers with the humorous bent, so I sent them a few links to blog posts here at "While You're Making Other Plans", choosing three or four of, what I consider to be, the funniest posts I had. Since this wasn't entirely unsolicited, they had been advertising for bloggers, I sat back and waited for a response. I was a little excited, and looking forward to getting a response, since I would count this as an actual writing job. Whether it was for pay or just for using is a writing credit, it would be solicited writing for someone else. Yay me!
So, figuring that I would get an immediate response, I waited.
And waited…
And waited…
And 2 1/2 weeks later, as I was sitting at my computer, and e-mail came in from someone at Chronic Catnip, sent from their iPhone. The message, in its entirety, was "Rob, still interested in blogging?"
Well, I was sitting right there, so I banged out an immediate response. My send time was only 10 min. after I received their e-mail. I asked a couple of questions, basically asking what they were looking for, and hit Send.
That was almost 2 weeks ago, and I am yet to hear back again.
I'm still waiting.
Should I be surprised that a small business whose symbol is a stylized cat smoking something that looks suspiciously un-cigarette like seems to have a hard time getting back to me in a timely fashion? That their attitude seems to be quite laid-back?
I think not.

If anyone from Chronic is reading this, please, feel free to contact me through the blog. I'd still be thrilled to blog for you guys. It still sounds like fun, and I would still try to do a good job.
Maybe just a little bit… Slower than I had originally intended.

Still waiting.

Talk to you later!

Still waiting…

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day! I'm Tired ...

You hear about the gifts that dads get on Father's Day, and people laugh. A tie. Socks. A  cool sweater ... stuff like that. I remember that I used to get my father books that I like as well, so I could borrow them once he was finished with them. Luckily we have similar reading tastes. My son, without ever hearing about the book thing, took a page out of my own book by getting me something that he wanted as well. Actually, it was something that he already had, but I needed one of my own so that we could use them together. He refused to have Wife pay for it, and she took him to the sporting goods store so he could spend his own money on me.

A tennis racket.

Handsome got a tennis racket for his birthday last year, and has pretty much just been waiting for the chance to use it. I have always begged off, saying "I don't have a racket! Tell you what ... I'll get one this week."
He's tired of waiting. He got me one for father's day.
I appreciate it, the thought and all, and the fact that he spent his own money on it. I love the fact that he wanted to spend the time doing something with me, and I know I have to take advantage of this now, before it wears off. He'll be a hulking, surly teen-ager before I know it, and by then I won't be able to pay  him enough to actually want to spend time and do things with me. So we went out tonight, once it had cooled off enough for me to play for a while without overheating too much, and we played tennis.

Can of practice balls: $2.00
Tennis Racket: $26.00
Gas to get to the tennis court: $ 0.75
Playing Tennis with your 8-year old son: Priceless!

Yeah, what the commercial fails to mention is that in order to play tennis with my son I had to take it up for the first time when I am 42 years old and 35 lbs overweight. We played for somewhere between an 60 and 90 minutes.
Screw tennis elbow! I have tennis knee, tennis foot, tennis heel (yes, it's a different pain than the tennis foot), tennis 'weird spot on the inside of my thigh', tennis chest, tennis shoulder, and, last but not least, tennis testicle.
That last one had to do with a hard shot by Handsome that took a strange bounce. Upward.

It's Father's Day, and I'm tired. I kind of wanted to go fishing, but this was good too. Except for the testicle.

I don't think a book would have killed me.

I'm going to bed.

Talk to you later!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Naked Deliveries

 There is a certain kind of person I have a hard time delivering the mail to. There are the rude ones, like Mr. Crabbypants, but I can generally deal with those. They make me mad at the time, but it usually passes. There are the super-uber-friendly people, and they tend to get on my nerves a little, sometimes more, depending on my mood, but they're not that bad either. I don't look upon their deliveries with dread. No, there's a special kind of customer for whom I look upon their deliveries with dread, especially if I have something they are going to have to sign for.

Naked people.

Now, when I say 'naked people', I know what happens in your heads: you picture some hottie, either male or female depending on what you like, naked. And hard upon the heels of that thought is the Hey, that's not so bad thought. And I agree. If the person you reflexively imagined was the one to open the door naked, I wouldn't have such a problem with it. Less of a problem if you were imagining a woman, to be honest with you, but still, if it was a good-looking man I'd still have less of a problem with it than I do now. It would be less … shocking.

Old people. It's always old people. Why is it always old people?

I have nothing against old people. According to my son I am an old person, and it's getting to the point where I can't really say 'no'. But I recognize that I'm older now, and I tend to cover up more. Sure, I'm naked in the privacy of my own home, in the shower, getting dressed, etc, but when someone comes to the door, and they knock or ring the bell, I know that they are expecting whomever opens the door for them to be dressed. Or at least covered up decently. And I strive to meet that expectation. Pants are a must, and a shirt if I can get one in a decent amount of time. But naked? Oh, hell no!

But the people I'm talking about are substantially older than me, no matter what my son says, and they seem to be more relaxed about their clothed state. And when I say relaxed, I mean relaxed. There are parts on these people that are quite obviously relaxed that I didn't even know you could relax!

So here I have three examples of mail deliveries gone awry. Mail deliveries with a side order of yeesh!

Naked deliveries.

Judge for yourself.

Mrs. P.-
Mrs. P. lived in an old-age housing community. Small, squat houses set out in a grid. I don't know why, but Mrs. P. would get certified mail all the time. I'd be ringing her bell and looking for a signature or two. Now, I also don't know why, but apparently whenever Mrs. P. was home, she would take off all her clothes. Every week I would ring the bell, and every week she would call out “Who is it?”
“Mailman,” I would answer. “I have a certified letter here I need you to sign for!”
“Just a minute!” she would reply. And she would answer the door. It didn't matter if it was summer or winter, early in the day or late, she would answer the door holding a blanket up in front of her, blinking at me standing out there in the sunlight.
“I need to sign for this?”
“Yes ma'am.”
“Okay, don't look.”
And she would turn around. Still holding the blanket in front of her. Not wrapped around her. In front of her. And her naked septuagenarian fanny would meander off across the room in search of a pen.
I had a pen. After that first time, when she said “Don't look” and I said “What, ma'am'?” and looked right at her, I always made sure I had a pen; right there, handy and in full view. And I would tell her “I have a pen right here!” But usually I was telling it to a set of small, ancient and naked buttocks as they made their way across the room away from me.
Every week.
I don't know.
I'll never know!

Mr. M.-
Okay, this one actually made me nervous. There is a house on my route with a very old fashioned outer door. It is entirely made of wood planking with no windows or screens. There is no way to see through to the inner door, and no way to see out without opening this outer door. The inner door is also solid wood, with no windows, but there is a mail slot in the center of the door. It's a medium-sized slot, and at the time the people who live there were getting an awful lot of mail. I couldn't usually get it all through the slot in one go. What I would do instead was I would take one magazine they were getting, usually the biggest, and I would stick it half-way through the slot and use it like a funnel. 3-4 big hunks of mail would go through this way, and then I'd shove the funnel piece through. Easy as pie.
Until …
One day I shoved that funnel piece half-way through and I started to push the rest of the mail through. Just as I was shoving the second handful through, that inner door opened. Mr. M.- was standing behind the door and reached around it to take the mail from me directly, rather than letting me funnel it through the door slot.
“Whoops! Sorry, Pal, you caught me without a stitch on!”
It was true, he did not have a stitch on. As he leaned around the door to take the mail from me I could see bare skin from his armpit down past his hip to his knee. It was just a strip of him, the outer edge of him, so to speak, but when he leaned out further to take the mail from me, more of him was exposed. The exposed portion of him was getting precariously close to his own personal “Danger Zone”.
What was not true, was that I “caught” him. I didn't open that inner door; he did! While I was in the act of pushing mail through the slot! Obviously someone was out there when he was opening the door! He was all smiles about it, but I was slightly creeped out.
It hasn't happened again, but I still feel a little dread whenever I approach that solid outer door. I can't help but wonder what might be waiting for me on the other side!

Mr. and Mrs J.-
One day I had a certified for Mr. and Mrs. J.- . I had never rung their bell before, never seen the inside of their house, I just knew that it was an elderly couple living in there. I rang the bell and heard a faint holler in response. I opened the door to find that the front room in the house was actually the porch; it had been enclosed and made into a kind of foyer room. There was another storm-door setup to go through before you got into the house proper, and it had that big coming-in-from-the-porch step to get in there as well. I could hear a television turned up loud coming from the other side of that second door, and I heard someone yelling “Hello” from in there as well. I opened that second storm door and pushed the inner door open.
Inside was a sort of long, narrow room, almost like a hall. There was a door at my end and one at the far end. The television I was hearing was at my end of the room, right next to the doorway I was standing in. The door at the far end was bracketed by a pair of easy chairs, set up so the occupants could watch the TV. The chair on my right was vacant, but the one on my left was occupied. Mr. J.- was seated there, leaned back in the chair with one leg up, the ankle resting across the opposite thigh. Over his lap was spread the newspaper, and he was obviously using his own lap as a kind of desk as he read the paper and watched the news. He was stark naked, and saying “Hey there! Can I help you?”
Now, you may think that the paper being spread out like that was essentially keeping him 'decent'. I think he may have thought so. But remember that I was at the other end of a long room from him, and down a step. Down a tall step. The way he was sitting, kind of slouched back, both knees high, one ankle lying on the opposite knee, meant that the paper was held as high as the knees. From my position, in front of and slightly below him, I could see that he was not alone. From where I was standing, probably open-mouthed, I could see that he was not the only one sprawled out in that chair. Between his thighs, beneath the paper, lying all spread out on the cushion in front of him and staring back at me with it's one good eye, was his constant and lifelong companion, whom I'll call Johnson. Johnson was, as I said, all spread out and taking the air, actually protruding a bit off the front of that cushion, a bit like a lion looming off the edge of a promontory, ready to pounce. An old, wrinkled, sagging lion, with not an ounce of pounce left.
And kind of … purpleish.
He asked me again, shouting over the sound of the television, if he could help me. I'm pretty sure I was stammering when I answered that I had a certified letter for them that required a signature.
“Hold on” he said, and then he called out loudly for his wife to being him a pen. It took a couple of tries since she couldn't hear him over the television, but eventually she came through the door behind him with a pen.
A pen. And nothing else. Not. A. Single. Thing.
Apparently my mind was unable to cope with the very old, very naked Mrs. J.- after having to deal with purple, non-pouncing Johnson.
My mind shut down.
The next thing I remember is being out of the house on the sidewalk again, blinking in the sunlight. I'm not sure how long I was in there, but I have the impression that they were a lovely couple. Just naked. It kind of freaks me out that I can't recall exactly what happened in there.
I hope I didn't eat any home-made cookies or anything. Who knows what could fall in the batter!

Well, that's it for me and my Naked Deliveries. Well, that's it so far. No pretty girl answering the door accidentally nude, no hunky guy just being buff in the buff and taking on the mail.
One old girl who wold tell me not to look and then show me anyway, again and again.
One smiling old guy giving me the old “Whoops! You caught me naked!” while he practically flung the door open at me.
One old couple who seemed very comfortable with my discomfort, and actually caused a little black-out.

If it wasn't what you were expecting, hey, I'm sorry, but I wasn't expecting it either!

Thank you to everyone who participated in my poll. And for those who voted for the other titles, don't worry. I'll get to them eventually.

Talk to you later!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Oh Yeah. Hydrive, Baby. Check it Out!

As I sit here, trying to come up with something to blog about this evening and coming up blank, it occurs to me that I am tired. Now, normally I would reach for a Hydrive, and that gave me an idea. For those of you who have never heard of Hydrive, I decided to put in a quick little bit about how I found my favorite energy drink.
I used to drink soda all the time. I was a big fan of a certain Pepsi product called Mountain Dew. High in sugar, high in caffeine, it was what kept me going through the day. I don't drink coffee, so I'd have one with breakfast. I need to focus at work, so I would have one in the morning. Need to be alert for that drive home after working 10,11 or even 12 hours? Have another Mountain Dew.
Now, there were some people at work, well they weren't all at work, but most of them were, who would get on my case about the amount of Mountain Dew I was drinking. "Do you know what's in that stuff?" Yes, yes I do. "Do you know how much caffeine is in that?" Yes, yes I do. "You don't think drinking that is bad for you?" Yes, yes I do, but only because it makes people like you who are all hopped up on the four coffees with extra sugar they had in the morning, come over to me every day to tell me how bad it is.
Eventually, the Mountain Dew wasn't giving me a kick. I was drinking it all day, so I was used to that amount of caffeine. All day, everyday. Then, I found Amp.
While Mountain Dew has a 4.5 mg of caffeine per ounce, Amp has a whopping 9 to mg of caffeine per ounce. Way to jumpstart your heart! Once the coffee drinking do-gooders at work learned I was drinking Amp, you'd think they lost their ever loving minds! Not a day could go by without two, sometimes three of them stopping by my bench to harp on the damage I was doing myself. All that caffeine! Every day! Did I know what I was doing to myself?
Yes, I knew exactly what I was doing to myself. I was making myself hate my coworkers. Well, some of them anyway. Then, wonder of wonders, I discovered Hydrive.
Whereas Mountain Dew has 4.5 mg of caffeine per ounce, and Amp has 9 mg of caffeine per ounce, Hydrive also contains 9 mg of caffeine per ounce. However, with additional taurine, guarine, and other ingredients creating a proprietary energy blend, the total blended energy blast contained within one ounce of Hydrive comes out to 15.3 mg.
4.5… Nine… 15.3.
I'll take the 15.3 please.
And here's the kicker: it says right on every bottle "Enhanced Water Energy Drink".
So, the caffeine Nazis began to come up to me and inspect my new drink. "Water? You drinking flavored water? That's awesome! That is so much better for you than all that energy crap you were drinking before! I'm actually proud of you!" And they'd walk away.
And there I would stand, and still do to this day, accepting congratulations for being so healthful while I pounded down 245 mg of proprietary energy blend per 16 ounce bottle.
I kind of have to hope that they get to me with their congratulations early. If they wait too long, I can't hear them over the thunderous beating of my own racing heart.

Oh yeah. Hydrive, Baby. Check it out!

Talk to you later!