Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Writer's Block?

At lunch today I sat there and wracked my brain for something to blog about ... and I came up empty. I wound up working on my current ghost story instead. It's becoming longer than I had planned, but as anyone who has actually spoken with me can tell you, my stories do tend do drag on a bit.
That's what editing is for!
The end result of all this is that now it's 11:00 at night, and technically I only have an hour to get something in here for Wednesday ... and I'm sitting here wracking my brain and coming up empty.
I'm doing what I can to help myself think. For a while I was spinning my chair back and forth, but that didn't help. I tried drumming on the chair arms for a while, but that just degenerated into the solo from "Wipe Out". Whenever I drum on anything like that it becomes that solo. Actually, it becomes an arrhythmical mess, but I always say it's the drum solo from "Wipe Out". Less embarrassing that way.
Hold on, this is an emergency. I know what I need to do. I'll be back in a bit.

Okay, I'm back. Took me a while to get back. I decided to do what really helps me think. I grabbed the book I am currently reading and headed into the bathroom. I didn't have to go (have you noticed that even when you don't have to go, if you go in there and sit down you suddenly have to go just a little? I call it the Token Trickle. I Tokened, but that was it.) but I stayed in there reading "Full Dark, No Stars" by Stephen King.
Man, that dude can write.
So I stayed in there, reading and waiting for inspiration to hit, until I got to a good place to put the bookmark back between the pages. I closed the book and rose from my seat.
I said I rose from my seat.
Okay, I tried to rise from my seat, but apparently my legs up and died from the knee down. I made myself get up, holding on to the vanity counter for support and tried to walk back in here.
Have you ever noticed that when your legs are dead from the knee down you ...
What are you looking at me like that for? What, like I'm the only one to ever have done this? Horse hockey! You know you've done the exact same thing! Maybe not for the same reason, but you've done it more than once, so you keep your weird 'I don't know what you're talking about' looks to yourself. You get me?
So anyway, have you noticed that when you are in this odd dead-leg state, when you try to walk your ankles don't flex properly? You lift your foot from the floor and instead of actively stepping it just hangs off your ankle like it's in desperate need of a large Viagra shipment? You try to step forward normally, try to bring your foot down heel first like you did on the way in to the room you are now trying to leave, but your foot just refuses to cooperate? You wind up doing this exaggerated tippy-toe, looking like the villain sneaking through a silent film. You aren't silent, though, as the circulation always begins to come back before you get wherever you are going, even if it's just across the room. It's like that trickster, God, has turned the entire floor into one huge joy-buzzer, and with every step you hear yourself saying "ooohhhh .... ahhhhhh ..... ohmiGod ...".
So, I just  ooohhhh .... ahhhhhh ..... ohmiGod dead-foot tippy-toed my way out into the hall and into my room. Half-way here I realized I had forgotten my book, and I gave going back for it a brief consideration.
No. Way.
So I managed to collapse into this chair here, and here I'm staying. The joy-buzzer feeling is starting to subside, thank God, but I think I'll give it a while yet before I try to walk anywhere.
Besides, I still have to think of something to write for today's ... hang on. What the ...?

I just did a word-count on the babbling I just did up there. Over 700 words. 700 words of nothing. Nothing!
Waitaminute... a whole piece about nothing? Holy @#$&!! It sounds like I just wrote "Seinfeld"!

I have to post this, then go back and read it. I really wasn't paying attention when I wrote it.
This is Writer's Block?

Talk to you later!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dust To Dust

The Bible (as I understand it) says that God created Adam from clay. There is the burial prayer that mentions 'dust to dust', and in Genisis, 'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return'. There are some out there, Skeptics they are called, who would have you believe that this is all simply a story, part of a Christian mythology. There are also some out there who would argue that Genesis was a stronger band while Peter Gabriel was singing with them, while the rest of us feel that the band only became stronger when their drummer, Phil Collins stepped up to become their front man. But that is an argument for another day. 
Ashes to ashes. Dust thou art. Skeptics would say this is metaphorical, or allegorical, but I have proof that this is a completely different kind of -orical.


Historical fact that we, as a race, as a species, were formed from clay and soil. And I have proof. Not something as dry and dusty (pardon the pun) as research. I am not going to simply extrapolate and infer from what others have said before me; instead, I will document a fact. A modern fact, from yesterday, today, and most likely tomorrow. An ongoing fact that seems so common it is often overlooked for the miracle it is. That miracle?

My son, Handsome.

As he did yesterday, and the day before, and probably will tomorrow, I know that when I get there tonight and check to see if Handsome needs a shower, he will smell of dirt. He will smell of dirt, and soil, and the good clean earth. Well, maybe not so clean, but good all the same.

Now, I know there are those of you out there who are saying that this is no miracle. That a 9 year old boy who smells of dirt is as common as... well, as common as dirt. This, however, is not the miracle; this is but the precursor. The 'herald' of the miracle, if you will. 

Here is the miracle.

When Handsome goes into the bathroom and emerges on the far side of a shower all clean and sparkling, I will walk up to him and I will put the tip of my forefinger beneath his chin, and I will tilt his head back. His chin will rise quite high, the small fold in the skin around his neck will peel open, and there the miracle will be revealed. 
This boy, this son of mine, this son of God's as we are all sons and daughters of His, will swear to me that he got under the water. That it flowed over his body. That he did use soap and did scrub himself all over with the scrubby-thingie (yes, I know it is called a 'loofah', but I have testicles and thus must refer to it as a 'scrubby-thingie). He will swear to it, and I have no reason to doubt him. 
But, if he did all this, if he washed so thoroughly, where did the ring of dirt about his neck come from, that is revealed when I tilt his head back? Did it weather the storm from the shower head? Did it resist the cleansing power of the soap? Did it, perhaps, somehow fight off the abrasiveness of the scrubbie-thingie? Is all this possible?


The only explanation I can come up with is that the soil about the boy's neck is, in essence, oozing forth from his very skin! That it is, in fact, his essence! They say that you are what you eat, but were that true he's be excreting chips and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups from his skin. The dirt must be bubbling up from inside the boy somehow, remnants of the soil and clay he was formed from on the day of his birth! 
I mean, it's either that, or my son is being slightly less than truthful...

A miracle!

Tomorrow I'll tell you how this little miracle-maker brushes his teeth, swears he does a thorough job of it, but the toothbrush remains somehow bone dry and free from fresh toothpaste! Water-into-wine nothing! That's a miracle!

Talk to you later!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Vacation - OVER

Today was my first day back to work after a week's vacation.
Whoop. Ee.
I was almost late for work.
Oh no.
I have a bunch of mail, a pile of big heavy catalogs, that someone told me we had on Saturday, but the person doing my route cut them.
I see.
My boss asked me to help out and do some of someone else's route, even though I'm on the list of people who aren't supposed to do that.
He then instructed me to cut that pile of big heavy catalogs so that I'd have time to carry more of that other route.
Of course.
I had a 'Murphy's Law' morning, and everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I left quite late for my own route, never mind the large portion of a second route I took. My boss told me to be off the road by 6pm.
I'm all done now, having worked straight through and taken my lunch and breaks at the end of the day, trying to make sure I got the mail out and at the houses before people got home from work. Now, writing this in a parking lot with the sun beating down through the huge windshield they designed into the mail truck so that there is a greenhouse effect and I'm sweating (yay, I'm sweating!) into my eyes, I'm not going to get my full lunch and breaks and be off the road by 6pm. My boss, however, will not be there when I get back to the office. He says he has a life, and can't wait around for everyone to get back. As if I don't have a life.
Nice one.

Today was my first day back to work after a week's vacation.
Whoop. Ee.

About today... can I take a mulligan, or are there no take-backsies?

Talk to you later!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Handsome! We Give You... Irene!

I'll try to make this quick, in case the power goes out again. I stayed at Handsome's house last night so I could get it ready for the hurricane. I woke up and watched the second half of "Batman" (The original, with Michael Keaton as Batman. He's good, but there's no keeping Jack Nicholson from stealing the show as the Joker) and started getting the garage ready. I took a break and went to play a game with Handsome, who just got three new games for the Wii for his birthday. I came downstairs to finish the garage while Wife went to the store, and that's when the power went out.
I was kind of counting on the power lasting for longer than that; the storm didn't seem to really have gotten going. Although I did watch a tree go down across the street from me. No property damage other than the tree, so it was pretty cool. Anyway, Handsome was counting on the power lasting as well. When his Wii went dead on him I could hear him wailing all the way down in the garage!
We told him that it might be a while before the power came back on, and one way to make the time fly by would be to help his mother and me in the basement!
No dice.
"No thanks. It's my birthday."
He was so casual about not helping us, he rounded it out by rolling away on his scooter. 'No thanks,' roooollllllll ...
We moved on to getting the basement ready for water. You see, the house is set into a hill, and what happens when we get too much rain or snow-melt is water comes in through the back wall of the basement and then follows the paths that 60 years of feet have worn into the concrete floor. It comes through the back room into the family room, then takes a left and flows through the laundry/mechanical room and into the garage, and from there down the slope of the driveway to the street. It's like a little river all our own, and I've been tempted to throw a line in there once or twice during past floods.
Can't do any worse than the last two times I went for stripers.
So all we really have to do is get the stuff up off the floor and let it go. We were in the process of that when we had a visit from a little practical joker I've mentioned before. I like to call him God.
We were in the basement moving stuff, and we could hear the wheels of Handsome's scooter rolling back and forth across the kitchen. I'll admit, I was getting a little steamed that he wasn't helping, but I was trying not to yell at him about it; it is his birthday after all. Suddenly, the power came on. Lights, televisions, etc. From upstairs we heard a "Yay! Now I can play my game!" Footsteps pounded across the kitchen and into Handsome'd bedroom, and seconds later we heard the start-up melody of his Wii come blasting from his television.
The lights went out.
"Awww! Dangit!"
There were slow, angry footsteps back across the kitchen to where the scooter, I just knew, lay forgotten on the floor.
The lights came on.
Footsteps pounded.
The lights went out.
The lights flickered on and off. They came on again for about 3 seconds; long enough for Handsome to take a cautious breath. They went out again before he could 'yay'. Then they flickered again.
I just had to laugh. All I could picture was God, white robed, white bearded, blazing with a blinding light, and laughing like Pete Puma. One Hand on a huge Celestial Light Switch, flipping It up to watch Handsome run, and then down again to watch him stomp.
"Look! Lookit him scoot! Wait, Peter, Gabriel, watch this, you gotta see this! Ready... and.... off! Ha! Lookit him stomp! Wait, wait I'll get him again. Got him! Honest to Me, I slay Myself! Next time help your dad, Kiddo! Watch his face when I flicker it like this... oohoooo, I love this kid!"

So, thank you God. Thank you for giving my son a 9th birthday I'll never forget!

Talk to you later!

(if the power holds out, that it...)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Handsome's Birthday Weekend - Day II

Today was day 2 of the Handsome Birthday Weekend. Yesterday was the kid/friends party, today was the family party. The party was at the in-law's house, and was scheduled to start at 6 pm. We, on the other hand, were supposed to be there by 4 pm latest. I couldn't figure out why. I was figuring we'd get there, the in-laws were putting it on, I'd do a few things and relax until it was time for people to start arriving.
Or so I thought.
As soon as we got there I was sent out to drive through the rain heralding the arrival of Hurricane Irene and pick up the cake. No worries, it was just up the street at the store. But there was a small list that went along with it.

  • Cake
  • Pepsi
  • Ginger Ale
  • Cheese-Its
I went to the store, picked up all that stuff and headed back to the house. I picked up the phone I had left charging in the Jeep and brought the stuff inside.
"Did you get the message?"
"What message?"
"We forgot to put something on the list. We need ice cream."
"Right. Okay... I'll be right back."
Back out in the rain I went. Back to the store, through the same checkout line I used before, and back to the house with the ice cream.
"Did you get the message?"
"What message?"
"Handsome is hungry. We wanted you to pick something up at McDonald's for him tp eat before people got here."
I checked my phone. No voicemail, no missed call. No nothing.
"Um... no, I didn't get the message."
I took Handsome's order and went back out into the rain. Through the drive-through. I would have pressed one for English, but, sadly, it was not offered me. Got my order in, paid and picked it up, drove back to the house.
As I climbed the stairs to the living room where everyone was waiting I heard my father-in-law say "Did he get the message about the chilli?"
I sighed so loudly they all heard me and laughed. It was a joke, and I was happy. Wet, but happy.  I had about 30 minutes before anyone was due to arrive, so I went to dry off.
And take a nap. So much for relaxing until people showed up. I was exhausted!

The rest of the party went off without a hitch.

Talk to you later!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Spin the What?

We had Handsome's birthday party today. His actual birthday is on Sunday, and apparently we'll be celebrating it by hosting a hurricane in his honor. We considered a clown, but that's been done. And done. There's the poney ride, but then who do you think would clean up after it? Yup. Yours truely. I said neigh. We talked about a bouncy house, but they're so dangerous... Then we heard Irene was going to be here that day, and we thought 70 mile per hour winds and torrential rains, thunder, lightning... what more could a kid ask for?  So we told him we ordered him a hurricane. I'm not sure if he knows it's going to be here no matter what, but we're not telling him. We want him to feel special, so do me a favor; keep it under your hat.
So today Wife and I took Handsome and 5 friends to Plaster Fun Time, and then to a small pizza place for lunch. When it was pretty much over, and two of the friends had already been picked up, Wife went to the restroom and I finished the clean-up. As I was coming back from the trash barrel I heard one of the friends say "You want to play Spin-the-Bottle?"
Keep in mind, this is Handsome's 9th birthday.
I said "Spin the what?"
The friend looked up as Handsome said "I don't want to play a kissing game!"
That's my boy. Once he's old enough I'll unleash him on the girls, but for the moment I'd like him to stay small enough, or failing that young enough, for me to hug. Without a fight. Well, too much of a fight.
Anyway, the friend explained that it wasn't the kissing game, but a dare game. Whomever the bottle indicated when it came to rest would have to take a dare or be pronounced 'chicken'.
Sounded safe enough. What could they get into while stuck in a booth in a pizza joint?
"Okay, so, Spin-the-Bottle," said the friend.
"Spin the what? I come back and hear 'Spin-the-Bottle'? I don't think so!"
Wife had just returned from the restroom. The game was explained again.
The game began.
I didn't pay attention for a while. I mean, someone had to eat all the leftover pizza and cake, otherwise we would just have to cart it around, right? Wife went out to make a call, doing some last-minute planning for the hurricane (nudge-nudge wink-wink). When my attention returned to the table full of kids, I was slightly aghast.
One friend, E-, the one who had proposed the game, had her head back and her tongue out. Another of the friends, J-, was counting and pouring salt onto E-'s tongue. According to the count he did it for 15 seconds.
Holy ##$%!
I kept my mouth shut and watched. The bottle spun. J- got a 10 second salt treatment. Another spin. E- got 10 seconds of pepper.
I felt nauseous just watching.
Handsome got 10 seconds of salt and almost threw up. J- was looking a little green. E- looked fine, and was playing with a nonchalance I found both admirable and disquieting. Finally, the bottle pointing at an unconcerned E-, I saw Handsome pick up the hot pepper. Without any clue as to what it was, he said "Let's use this!"
I had to put my foot down. "Not with that, Handsome, your head will explode."
At my words I saw J-'s eyes light up, but E- nodded and said "Yeah. I wouldn't want you to die or anything. Not on your birthday."
Oh thank God she didn't know his birthday is really Sunday.
Boy, I hope he likes his hurricane!
Talk to you later!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Handsome Host

Today, Handsome had a couple of kids over to watch a movie. We got "Surf's Up" from a local RedBox, and drove home to invite in the kids who live across the street. Now, as a quick reminder, I'm living at my parent's house at the moment. Their house hasn't been a 'kid house' for over 25 years. I talked to Handsome on the drive.
"Now, you know, Handsome, I'm happy you're having your friends over to watch the movie with you. That's great."
I put on my 'Dad' voice.
"But, you know, Grandmama's house isn't really what you'd call 'kid friendly'. You do really well there on your own, picking up after yourself and not breaking anything, but when you have guests, they're your responsibility."
"Okay." He didn't sound too sure of himself.
"Basically, what that means is that you're responsible for any messes they make, as well as your own. You understand?"
"Uh-huh ... " He still didn't sound too confident in his answer.
"What I'm saying is that any messes that happen, you're cleaning up. I don't care how big they are, you're cleaning them. Understand, Kiddo?"
"I understand!" By George, I think he's got it!
He went and fetched W- and his sister M- from across the street, and I started the movie for them. To leave them alone but stay close enough to keep an ear on them, I brought the laptop down into the kitchen and worked on my current story. Handsome was playing the host. He brought out art supplies and set them all up at the table in front of the television. He came out and asked me if they could have a snack, specifically some popcorn. I popped it in the nuker and gave them each their own bowl. They had their drinks (All either water or a non-staining flavored water. This wasn't my first time at this particular rodeo!), and they were all out there having fun. I worked my way through a fictional argument between two of my characters in the kitchen, and kept my ears peeled. I heard W- say "Oops! I made a little mess." 
Handsome sprang into action. Sort of. He described, in detail, where the paper towels were so that W- could run to get some. After that I heard him speaking up with a certain regularity.

"No, clean that up!"
"Leave that alone ... don't make a mess there!"

I sat out in the kitchen and chuckled. Possibly a little evilly. 
Eventually, realizing that they weren't even watching the movie, Handsome got them to go back outside to play. I strolled into the living room and my heart went 'pitter-pat'. I picked up three popcorn bowls and matching water bottles, and I skipped into the kitchen like a happy little schoolgirl. A 200 lb, shaven-headed goateed schoolgirl. 
That was it.
Three kids ranging in age from 4 to almost 9, playing in a room for over an hour, and that was it for a mess.


I think I need to have these little 'responsibility' talks with Handsome more often, and then have kids over. The possibility of having to clean another's mess apparently turns my son into a mess nazi!


Although ... I would have to work on my skipping skills a little.

Talk to you later!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It's Never Going to be an Olympic Event

We went camping, Handsome and I. It's on an island, in a river, and you have to canoe your stuff in. We were supposed to be at the site furthest downstream, the same one we had last year (see: Sweat, Handsome, and the Poo Hole), but as we approached Handsome saw something just off shore from the middle site. There was a tree hanging out over the water with a long orange rope hanging down, the loop tied into the bottom just touching the water.
"What's that?"
"That's a rope swing."
"A rope swing?"
"Yup. You get a hold of that rope, and climb a little higher. See those wooden rungs nailed to the tree like a short ladder?"
"You get a hold of that rope, and you climb a little ways up those rungs. You hold on to the rope as high as you can and just swing out over the river. Once you're out there, you just ... let go."

Need I say that our plans changed immediately, and we stayed at the middle camp? The one with the rope swing? There was still one hell of a lot of stuff to do to get camp set up when he was already wading out there to get the rope. I didn't really have to watch, I could just listen to keep track of his progress.
"It's cold!"
He just stepped in.
"Oh my God it's cold!"
He was in to the upper thighs.
"Oh my -

This portion of WYMOP has been edited by The Management, due to the fact that Handsome's mother, grandmother, and aunt all read this blog. Suffice to say, I was informed, colorfully, when the cold water reached his testicles. The Management takes full responsibility for his choice of words as well as his decision to share the information. It's my fault, he learned that from me.
                                                                                 -Thank you

Eventually he was perched on the rungs someone had nailed to the tree, rope in hand. He was on the top rung of the three, and I stopped what I was doing to go watch. He was clutching the rope and staring at the slow moving water. he glanced over and saw me standing on the bank, arms crossed on my chest.
"You're enjoying this, aren't you?"
"I'm watching you. It's the first time you've done this, and I want to make sure it turns out okay, that you don't get hurt. If you do, I want to be here to help as fast as possible."
That seemed to mollify him. His focus returned to the task at hand.
"Should I go?"
"Go ahead."
There was a screech.
There was a splash.
There was sputtering, as, entering somewhat on his back like that, some water went up his nose.
There was complaining about a water-fueled wedgie.
I was grinning like a fool as I returned to getting the camp set up.
Forget all that hooey I spouted at him as to why I was watching him so closely.
I enjoyed that.

Talk to you later!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

High Stakes... and Low Steaks

Sorry, it's more about the camping trip. I still haven't left yet, barely done any packing. but I did a little to get ready...

I had to replace the tailgate grill from last year, since the one I had was inadvertently left out to fend for itself against the elements this winter.
It didn't make it. Well, it sort of made it. If you can call being half-filled with water while the other half was filled with a wasp nest 'making it'. I didn't. Especially since the water rotted out all the workings inside. I tossed it and planned to get a new one. I actually purchased one a month or two ago in preparation for this trip.
I just put it together yesterday.
did test it though, cooking part of Handsome's dinner on it last night, and the good news is, it worked perfectly!
The bad news is, I dropped the steak on the way to put it on the grill. Right down on the deck.
More good news is that, what with Handsome watching TV, I was able to rinse it off and he never even knew!
More bad news is, he does have access to this blog. Just no interest. If he ever does develop an interest, and read this, I hope I can still take him. Or, at least, out-run him.
I did print out a few of my blog entries that feature him to read to him while we're camping. I think he'll get a kick out of them... I know I do! They may spawn some interest about this blog in his almost-9-year-old little heart, but I sort of doubt it.
I guess I'll take my chances.

Until we return from the wild, farewell!

In other words, 'Talk to you later!'

Monday, August 22, 2011

Handsome's Camping Expectations

By the time you can read this, I'll be on an island in a river with Handsome. I'm on vacation this week, and he asked, weeks ago, if we could go camping again. In the same place we went last year.
In case you wanted to read about last year's trip, here's a link to my post about it (Sweat, Handsome and the Poo Hole)

This year I'm a little bit behind the 8-ball on it. We're leaving this afternoon, hopefully right after lunch, and I haven't started packing yet. I just started some laundry I need to get done before we go so I can at least start with some clean shorts! We may be there for 2 nights, unless Handsome decides he wants to come back after one. I told him he may get bored out there; no phone, no electricity, no internet or cable tv. He said we can bring books.
"You're going to read?" I'll admit, I sounded a little surprised.
"No. You can read to me!"
We all have these mental pictures of the Pharaohs, with one slave wielding a huge fan for them, one popping grapes into his mouth while a third stands ready with a pitcher of wine, should the Pharaoh develop a thirst. Sound familiar? Well, I'm pretty sure this is how Handsome sees himself. But in his picture all three slaves are wearing my face!
I did just pack up a few things I wrote in the past year to bring. The four parts I have so far of the Sci-Fi series I am writing for Handsome. A ghost story that I wrote with him in mind, more funny than scary (I hope). The story of three children, a mean old woman and a very fat cat.  The Leprechaun story that is being published in an E-zine soon. Some other short stuff.
Now it may seem like he's getting his wish, but keep this in mind: I wrote this stuff. This means that I'll be reading it with a pen in hand, making notes and corrections and flipping the pages over to make more extensive notes on how the story could be made better...
You see, in my mental picture, there isn't a slave, there's Pharaoh and his tutor. The tutor is completely engrossed in getting it all right and is absent-mindedly handing the fan to Pharaoh so he can fan himself. And my God does the Pharaoh look bored!

Now I have to try to set this to auto-post at about my usual time, later on today.

Talk to you later!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

You Wouldn't Hit A Guy With Glasses, Would You?

Yeah, I've worn glasses for a long time, but I should have been wearing them longer. I don't think I was 20 yet, not quite, but I was one of those stubborn people who kept telling people (as well as myself) "I'm not that old, I don't need glasses yet!"
But I did.
I used all kinds of little tricks to get by. I knew all the local streets so I didn't have to read the signs. I always ordered the same thing at McDonald's, so I didn't have to read the menu board. But my best tricks were at night.
You see, the problem with my eyes is that the pupils are too big. That's a little like having the wrong size lens on a camera, and it throws the focus off. It makes me near-sighted, but it also does one more pretty interesting thing. I have what is called 'night-blindness'.
You'd thing that, what with my enlarged pupils, I'd see quite well in the dark. It just isn't so. When it gets dark my pupils really dilate, and that's like having an even bigger lens on the front of that camera. My focus goes so out of whack I have a much harder time seeing anything at all. Plus, there's an added bonus when I'm driving at night.
Headlights. When a car is coming the other way in the dark, all I can see are their headlights. Everything else in front of my car just disappears into blackness, and all i can see are the approaching headlights.
But I had tricks for night time.
If there was a car ahead of me I could see and follow its tail lights. I just had to hope they were going the same way I was . Well, the same way I meant to, since I was going wherever they were.
If there was no car ahead of me, but there was a car coming the other way, I'd just ... stay to the right of them. I'd estimate my position on the road relative to theirs.
My last trick was to keep an eye on the lines to my left. Keep that line next to me, and I was good. Let it get too far away, or cross it, and I was dangerously out of my lane.  I couldn't just try to bracket the lines ahead of me, like most people do without even thinking about it, because I couldn't even see them.
So, I was driving around secretly unable, for the most part, to see what was going on around me once the sun went down. But that was okay, I had my tricks, and they worked just fine.
Until ...
One evening my friends D- and P- and I were heading to the mall. I was driving. I got to the spot where I had to get in the left lane to take the left turn onto the road that leads to the mall. No worries, I sat there waiting to turn, directional on. The light changed to green, and off I went. I took my left, and there was a car coming the other way. No worries, I just glanced out my side window and found the dotted white line running right beside me, straight and true. I squinted into the oncoming headlights, and saw that I was staying just to the right of them, exactly where I wanted to be.
That was when P- and D- began to freak out. They were yelling at me to "Pull right! Pull right!" I looked at them in confusion, since I was pretty sure there was a breakdown lane over there but couldn't fathom why they needed it. I looked forward again and saw a second set of headlights next to the first and heading right toward me! I yanked the wheel, heading for that breakdown lane I was pretty sure was there, and the cars whipped by on my left, heading in the other direction and moving fast. I looked down to find the line and make sure I was going straight ... and rather than the white line delineating a breakdown lane, I saw the double-yellow.
Then I remembered.
I had taken a left into a street that was four lanes wide, not two. There were two lanes of traffic traveling in each direction. I had taken a left and set myself up going perfectly straight, right in the middle of a lane ... on the wrong side of the street, driving right into oncoming traffic.
After we all checked to see if our pants were dry, my friends wanted to know what the hell my problem was.
Actually, I cleaned up the language a little there.
I fessed up, and explained that I was having a hard time seeing. They said "No kidding," (cleaned up the language quite a bit here) and pointed out, in a very colorful fashion, that I was taking their lives in my stupid, blind hands.
I think there may have been threats involved.
So... yeah, I've worn glasses for a long time. Better that than have to go to the proctologist to get my car keys back.

Talk to you later!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Prepare To Die!

Have you ever seen "The Princess Bride"? I have. It's a wonderful movie with an amazing cast and the story is terrific. If you haven't ever seen it, I suggest you do. It is appropriate for children, and one day, long ago, I sat down and watched it with Handsome. He was only four at the time so he didn't understand a lot of it, but there are colorful characters, plenty of action (No blood) and I firmly believe that every child in the world should see Andre the Giant in action at least once.
Handsome loved the whole show, but what really caught his eye was the sword fight. For those of you who have not seen it, there is a lengthy, very flashy duel right in the middle of the movie. Right before the duel, the character of Inigo Montoya (played by Mandy Patenkin) explains to his opponent that he has searched for his father's killer for 20 years. When he finds him, he plans to look him in the eye and say "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." After this explanation, they begin their amazing duel.
This duel absolutely captured my son's imagination. For the rest of the weekend he would occasionally stop what he was doing and square off with me. He would turn sideways and raise one hand while keeping that elbow down, imitating the fencing stances he'd seen in the movie. The hand would go up by his chin, palm facing in, and he would say "I am Montana.You killed my father. Prepare to die!" Then he would come dancing toward me, thrusting his hand like a sword.
Oh my God, it was adorable!
At least, it was adorable until Monday, when we got the call.
"Hello? This is Mrs.S- down at -" She named Handsome's pre-scool. It was one of his teachers. The somewhat manly one.
"Uh, yes? Is anything wrong?"
"Well, yes. We are having a problem down here with Handsome."
"A problem?"
"Yes, and I'm quite concerned."
I was becoming quite concerned myself.
"I wouldn't usually make a call like this, but I'm becoming concerned for the safety of the other children."
Now I was worried.
"Mrs. S-? What exactly is the problem?"
She paused.
"Well, Handsome keeps pointing at the other children and telling them to 'prepare to die'. Once or twice I would consider to be playing, but he has done it quite a few ... excuse me, but are you laughing?"
Yes. Yes I was.
One - She was talking like she was worried about another Columbine. Because of the antics of a four-year old with a loaded finger.
Two - It's a great movie, she should see it someday.
Three - It's a four year old boy pretending to be in a sword fight. If you can't recognize a child using their imagination, then you shouldn't be working with them in the first place. Retire and take up knitting.
Talk to you later!
P.S. - I almost forgot. Mrs. S- did retire the next year. I have no idea about the knitting.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Now and Then - Cycling Safety

I see people now taking their kids for a rides on the back of their bikes, and it makes me nostalgic. I'm reminded of the times when, as a child, I was taken for a ride on the back of my father's bike.
Sort of.
You see, it's not the same, really. Not even close. Right here I'd like to do a little "Now and Then", just to show you the differences that spring to mind when I make the comparison.

Nowadays I see people, men and women, cruising along smoothly on their 21 speed bicycles with adjustable seats, air shocks front and back, wearing their helmets and, I swear to God, in at least one case I've seen checking their on-board GPS. If they have their child with them, if they've dared to take a child out in this dangerous athletic situation, I have never seen the child having fun. In the child seat, there is no fun.
The child seat is a little more than a seat. It's more like the cockpit of a rocket car. The child, be they boy or girl, and the only way to tell  sometimes is the color of the gigantic safety helmet, is firmly and completely ensconced in flame retardent, shock resistant, molded plastic. The interior of this egg-shaped portable panic room is well padded; good thing, since each seat comes equipped with adjustable nylon straps and buckles, usually configured in a five-point restraint pattern that would make any member of the 'Dangerous" ward of any psychiatric hospital in America feel right at home. These straps have been designed, and are frequently used, to strap toddlers down to the point of suffocation. Once strapped in the children are almost completely protected from anything up to and including small arms fire. The only parts of the children that are visible are the tips of their chubby little fingers, the soles of their 'Kid-Keds', and the tops of their heads.
Oops! My apologies, I just misspoke. Not their heads.
Their helmets.
Their safety helmets are fitted, padded, impact resistant, fire retardant, shock proof, electrically insulated feats of safety-oriented engineering that sometimes weigh nearly as much as the children they are protecting. I recall seeing a child whom I thought was physically handicapped riding in the seat on the back of his mother's bike and thinking how brave he and his mother were. Come to find out the child was fine, but they had attached a HALO collar to the helmet as it was the only way the child could wear the helmet without the weight of the thing pushing him right out of the seat.
Now, you'd think that once all this safety equipment was in place the children would then be free to enjoy the ride.
Not exactly.
They're strapped into the seat so tightly they can barely move. They're wearing this over-sized helmet faintly reminiscent  of a 'Spaceballs' character, and the helmet pretty much fits into the shape of the seat the kid is strapped into. They can't turn their heads without leaning forward, and they can't lean forward due to the straps. They're pretty much strapped down in an eyes-front position like they're having some sort of 'Clockwork Orange' therapy. For the entire ride the only scenery they have at their disposal is ... Mom or Dad's flexing buttocks.
At least they are outside getting fresh air. Unless of course, Dad ate at Taco Bell...

Back in my day, the child seat was not the technological marvel that it is today. Mom and Dad had 3-speed bikes, and my sister and I rode on the backs of them. My child seat for the bike? Hard to describe, but I'll try. 
Take two 12 inch by 12 inch pieces of 1/4 inch thick plywood. Attach the two of them together along one side with a hinge, so they can open and close like a clamshell. Now, wrap that plywood in a thin sheath of foam rubber, say 1/2 inch thick.
That's comfort.
 Cover that baby with a thin layer of plastic to keep the foam from getting soaked by rain, pee or vomit, and you're almost there. To the plywood you have arbitrarily decided to call the 'bottom' or 'seat', attach two arm-rests made from two 'C' shaped pieces of metal tubing, with the open part of the 'C' attached to the sides of the 'seat' by another pair of hinges. This way when you fold the 'back rest' down flat upon the 'seat', you can fold the 'arm rests' in to hold the whole thing down flat. In this way, when there are no pesky kids sitting in it you can fold it closed and have it double as a carrying rack! Bolt that baby to the rear fender, or better yet, on top of the store-bought carrying rack, slap your toddler in there and take off like you were born to be wild!
I'm not sure, but I think there was a simple cinching strap to act as a seat-belt. I'll have to ask my mom.
Notice that I have not mentioned my helmet? that's because upon my head was... hair. Unless I was wearing a baseball cap to ward off the sun. Helmets weren't even required in professional hockey back then. Why would you bother putting one on your kid?

To sum up:
     Now - Children on the back of their parent's bikes can withstand anything up to, but not including, a direct nuclear strike, but they can't see much, and they have to be wary of Dad reaching for the Di-Gel before a ride.
     Then - Safety was not, repeat NOT a factor. In fact, if a parent today slapped their kid into my old-time bike seat, I'm pretty sure they'd get arrested and the child would wind up with Children's Protective Services. But I had a great view, the wind in my hair and the sun in my face.

I still had to worry about Dad eating Mexican, though.

Talk to you later!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Silent Hill, But A Noisy Bird

I recently told this story at work, so what the heck, I may as well tell it here. At work it got a laugh, so I have high hopes for it here.
More than a decade ago, my wife and I had an apartment. In this apartment we had a collection of… Unusual pets. We had lizards, turtles, a hedgehog, snakes, a 4 foot iguana and last but not least, an African gray parrot. The parrot was a problem, at least for me. You see, the thing he hated men. Whether it had been abused by a man or was just naturally insanely feminist parrot, I have no idea.most times when it saw me, even just passing the doorway to the room it was in, it would squawk and screech and either act threatening or hide in its cage.
On the night in question the evil bird was in its usual perch on top of its cage. I was strictly leaving it alone, as was my habit. I did, however, try to remain within the view of the feathered feminist, hoping it would eventually grow used to my presence.
Now that so much time has passed, I have absolutely no memory of where my wife was this evening. All I know is she was not  and I was alone with the bird. I had come home from work and decided to break out my PlayStation and do my best to finish the game Silent Hill. I pulled the console close to my game chair and started in.
My 'game chair' was a shaped block of foam with fabric sewn over it in the shape of a small easy chair. No frame, no hard edges, nothing to gouge me or to break if I happened to throw myself about in the chair in either excitement or anger at whatever game I was playing. A soft, comfortable perch.
Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the game Silent Hill, it was a horror role-playing game. There was a bit of a mystery to it, and lots of suspense.  An abandoned town, fog and snow, strange dogs without skin attacking from the darkness.
Very creepy.
As the game went on I followed clues through the town, avoiding monsters as I went. The clues lead me to the old abandoned school. I entered the school.
As my virtual mystery grew more suspenseful, my real-life day wore on. The sun went down. I leaned toward the screen. I slipped further forward on that soft, frameless chair, until my behind was perched on the edge, barely clinging to it.
Inside the virtual abandoned school, my avatar was suddenly attacked from behind by a pack of little zombie babies, undead toddlers armed with knives. It happened quite quickly and unexpectedly, one of the little daycare refugees leaping out and sticking his shiv into the back of my avatar's leg.
I was focused. I was concentrating. I was completely sucked into the game.
The bird (remember the bird?) chose that exact moment to screech loudly.
I screeched back. In terror. My legs shot out straight as they tried (I think) to leap to safety. Instead, they lost their purchase on the floor and I slid off the front of that chair I was perched upon, landing hard on my ass.
My tailbone slammed into the floor, and dammit if that didn't hurt! The small part of my brain that was still locked into 'virtual land' was sure that one of those little 'tykes of the living dead' had just stabbed me in the ass with their pig-sticker. I scrambled away from the chair, eyes wild, looking for my decomposing assailant...
... but all I saw was the big grey bird from Hell, standing on the top of his cage, head twisted around to look at me with just one eye. I realize that beaks, by their very nature, are inflexible and can not bend, but I swear to God that demon parrot was grinning!
I rolled to my feet just in time to see the do the 'two feet one beak' shuffle right into the safety of its cage. I pointed my finger at the bird and said "You're lucky!" I checked to see if I had wet my pants (I hadn't) and  turned on some lights, as the apartment was now quite dark. I tried to return to my game.
I couldn't.
I couldn't concentrate on it. I found myself keeping one eye on the cage in the corner of the other room, waiting to see the bird emerge. For its part, the plumed terror kept making little sounds that sounded exactly like chuckling.

I turned the game off and watched TV.


Talk to you later!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Ride Home - Part 2

...Continued from Part 1

It's 20 years later. I have a Jeep. It even works. But someone I know is having car trouble, so I'm lending them the Jeep and using the motorcycle.
Except for yesterday. Yesterday was pouring out. So I went to the person borrowing my Jeep and asked for a ride to work. I don't want to use any names in this blog, so I won't use one here. This person, however, does bear a striking resemblance to my Dad.
Just because of the resemblance, I'll call him Dad.
Yeah, sure, that's the ticket...
So anyway, it was Dad's day off, so he was able to give me a ride in. I asked, on the ride in, what he was doing later on, say between 5 and 5:30, since I would be needing a ride home as well.
"Call me for a ride," he said.
So he dropped me off at work, and I walked around in the rain like a moron all day. (This may sound harsh, but it was indeed how I was feeling by the end of the day. Soaked to the skin and feeling like a moron.) When I got the mail truck back to the lot I called my Dad's cell-phone.
You see, unlike the first part of this story, I have a cell-phone now. So does Dad.
So before I took my stuff back in the office to clear and clock out, I called Dad's cell phone. I got voice-mail.
I hung up with no message and called the house. Yup, that same number I had called for a ride home 20 years earlier and been shut down. No busy signal this time!
No answer, either.
I hung up on the answering machine and called the cell phone again.
Voice-mail. Wit-woo.
I left a message this time.
"Hi Dad, it's me. Rob. I'm just about done with work and I need a ride. It's a little earlier than I thought, but I still have to go in the building to clear out. Just give me a call so I know when to look for you out in the lot. Thanks! Bye."
I went in the building and cleared out. I kept an eye on my phone, looking for the call back. \
No call.
I kept going out of the building onto the ramp, just in case the signal wasn't penetrating the building.
No call.
Granted, I was only in the building for about 15 minutes, but it was worrying. I was remembering a walk home 20 years prior, and this one would be a lot longer, and it was still raining like a bastard. That's when I saw JP. JP is a woman I work with who happens to live in the same town as my parents, and not very far away from them at that. I asked JP for a ride, she said yes, and I avoided the Long Walk.
Yay me!
Yay JP!
On the way to her car I called Dad's cell phone again.
"Hi, Dad? It's me again. Rob. I never heard from you, so you must be busy or something. Unless the signal was blocked by the building and you are actually on your way here right now. I hope not, 'cuz I just got a ride. So, no worries, I'll see you at home. Thanks!"

JP drove me home. We were halfway there when I was struck by a thought. Again.
I sighed. Again.
I said to JP, "You know, I'm going to laugh of we come around that corner and my Jeep is sitting right there in the driveway..."
We rounded the corner.
My Jeep was sitting right there in the driveway.
I sighed. I slumped. I thanked JP for the ride, gathered my work bags and headed into the house. I went upstairs and walked past Dad's office and into my room. On the way by the office door I said "Hey" to Dad, who was sitting at his desk in front of his computer. Right next to an extension for the phone I had called. The one with the answering machine I hung up on.
I put my bags down in my room and went back to the office door.
"You know those two messages?"
Have I mentioned that Dad is a little hard of hearing sometimes? This was one of those times. He had no idea anyone was in the house with him.
He almost fell out of the chair.
When I could hear him through my own laughter, I realized he was asking "What messages?"
"The two messages on your voice-mail. One saying I needed a ride, the other saying I had a ride."
I made a sweeping gesture toward myself.
"Never mind them. I made it!"

That was yesterday. Well, it was 20 years ago and it was yesterday. It rained again today. Mom dropped me off at work this morning since Dad took my Jeep to work with him. Two times in my life I have needed a ride to that house from work due to a car in the shop. Once the car was mine, once it wasn't. One time was 20 years ago, once was just yesterday. Once I was relying on my best friend, once my Dad.

Now here's the funny part, the part that has me giggling slightly. The plan today is that Dad will pick me up when he gets out of work. As I sit here in the library, chuckling and pounding the keys through yet another lunch break, I'm wondering:

Will I make it home?

Tune in tomorrow and find out!

Talk to you later!
(I hope...)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Ride Home - Part 1

So some years ago (read, about 20) I was without a vehicle for a while. Well, I had one, but it wasn't working right then. I had started working for the post office, but it was a different office, than the one I'm in now. This one was right in the town I was living in at the time. There came a day that I needed a ride home, to my parent's house. A friend of mine, my best friend at the time, was doing some work on the house, and I called him for a ride. He took the call downstairs, but then moved to the upstairs extension so we could continue working while we talked. I told him I'd need a ride in a while, but I wasn't sure exactly when I was getting out of work, and he said just to call back whenever I was out and he's come pick me up.
So I got out of work, and I called the house.
Busy signal.
What? How could there be a busy signal when we had call-waiting? Maybe someone else was calling at the exact same time and I was getting bumped? Hmm... it was possible. So I waited a bit and called back.
I called back in 5 minutes.
I was waiting for another 5 minutes when I was struck by a thought, and sighed. I slumped. I grabbed my work-bag and started walking. I thought I had it figured out, but I was dreading the confirmation.
Eventually, I made my way across town to the house. I opened the door and walked into the kitchen.


There, on the kitchen counter, was the phone my friend had originally answered my call on. He had, as I said, moved to the upstairs extension so as to be able to talk while he worked, but once our call was over he never came back down to hang up this phone! With a phone off the hook, no calls could come in, including mine.
I sighed.
I shook me head.
I did both at the same time.
I went upstairs, where my pal was working in the bedroom with the radio blasting, steaming the walls and bopping to the music. I was behind him, and he didn't know I was there, so it was up to me to open the conversation.
He almost steamed his hand off.
"What are you doing home?"
"I live here."
"But, how did you get here?"
"I walked."
"But... I thought you were gonna call for a ride?"
"So did I."
So I brought him downstairs and showed him the telephone in the kitchen. I arched an eyebrow.
"Did you forget something?"
I was unaware of just how red embarrassment can make the human face.

Now I know.

That, as I said, was about 20 years ago.

To Be Continued...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hats Off To Me!

Usually, lately, I wear a straw cowboy hat at work.
Yes, laughably un-stylish, I know. But it's the best hat I've ever found for staying cool in the heat, and I really needed that until I started sweating again (See "No Sweat, No Problem - Not Really!). Besides, Handsome picked it out, so I love it.
But that hat is for being in the heat and sun, not the cold wind and rain, like today. In fact, I think if I wore my cowboy hat in the rain too much the straw would all swell and the hat would start to fall apart. Not good!
So today I resorted to my summer-weight postal cap. Mesh in the back, fabric in the front and sheathing the bill, it's supposed to be cool, but it's not that great. What it will do, however, is keep the rain from hitting me straight in the face and my glasses. It's been hanging from the little nub at the end of the flip-down sun visors in my mail truck for months now. That's how you can tell it's my truck; there's a mailman with cowboy hat in the neighborhood and there's a postal cap hanging over the dash in the parked truck.
Anyway, I took that semi-retired cap down and put it on this morning when I got my route on the road. It was performing admirably, keeping my eyes free of rain as well as keeping the water from running down my face from the top of my head. Marvelous!
About half-way through the day I noticed something. It was raining pretty hard, and even though I had the hood on my rain coat up, the hat was saturated. As I was walking along I would look down at the mail on my arm the bill would drip water onto it.
The water was brown.
My hat is blue-gray. But the water was brown. This hat, that I have not worn in months, was dripping brown water.
I held out a palm, cupped to catch some of the falling rain, and I looked at it closely before it dribbled away. Clear, clean rainwater. I held an envelope out, exposing it rather than trying to protect it, as I had been doing. The white envelope grew wet, and the ink ran a bit, but everyplace there was no ink the envelope stayed white.
I removed the cap and looked at it. It looked normal. Worn, yes, weather-beaten, sure, but clean enough. I brought it close and cautiously sniffed it.
I sniffed it for real.
I sniffed it so long and hard that I dislodged something somewhat solid from within my nose and sucked it high up into my sinus cavity, where it made me gag and snort and run, squealing like a little girl,  to the truck for a napkin so that I could blow my nose.
Nope. There was nothing wrong with the hat that I could smell ...
So I put it back on. It continued to drip discolored water onto the mail I was holding.
I held out as long as I could, then threw it into the truck in disgust. I'll wash it tonight, run it through the dishwasher or take it in the shower with me or something. But, in the meantime ...

What the hell do I have on my head? What was in that hat? Because whatever it was is all over my head from the eyebrows up! I'm came into the library for my lunch, just so I could type this, and I stopped by the bathroom and washed up, but man ... I'm sitting here feeling like I should be boiling my head!


Talk to you later!

Sunday, August 14, 2011


I'm sitting here with absolutely no idea what to blog about today. Nothing terrific happened today, well, nothing anyone wants to read about happened. My mind is a complete blank. But I look to my right, and there,sitting on the cart right next to my little printer, is a book I picked up on my trip to Colorado earlier in the year: "Write a Novel (and get it published)". I picked it up because it has what looks like a great section on Structure, and that seems to be a weak spot in my writing.

But that's not important right now.

Seeing that "How To" book lying there gave me a thought. I'll bet there are a whole bunch of "How To" books that don't exist, but should! So I thought I'd try making a list of helpful "How To" books that, as far as I know, don't exist yet.

"How To" Books that Don't Exist
(but should)
  • "Mickey-Mousing  -  A Home Owner's Guide"

  • "No, Really, It's for a Friend!"
    • ... or "How to purchase an embarrassing ointment or other personal product"
  • "No, Really, It's A Horrible Cold."
    • ...or "A Guide to Avoiding Kissing, Shaking Hands, or Otherwise Touching the Strange Relatives you Only See at Weddings and Reunions."
  • "It's a Boy!"
    • ... or "Lawn Care - Long Term Solutions to Labor-Intensive Problems"
  • "No, Really, It's A Terrible Cold."
    • ...or "A Guide to Avoiding Kissing, Shaking Hands, or Otherwise Touching the Strange Dude Your So-Called 'Friends' Set You Up With."
  • "Yes, Officer, But I Can Explain... "
    • ...or, "How to get out of a ticket when you are so, SO in the wrong..."
  • "The Immune System of the Gods!"
    • ... or "How To Get Around A Hottie Who's Using The Old 'No, Really, It's A Terrible Cold' Defense"
  • "My Computer? It's In The Shop"
    • ... or "What to Tell The Dork Who's Urging You to Read His Blog"

Okay, I think that's enough punishment for you few readers tonight. I think I'll wrap this up. 
Just a warning: I may return to this topic at a later date. 

Now... I have to get up early and call my local computer shops. I feel I need to warn them that there's about to be a run of people who feel the need to get their computers "In The Shop".

Sorry about that.

Talk to to you later!

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Being bald, as I am, has an amazing number of advantages. For example:
  • When I walk or run I am aerodynamic.
  • When I swim I am hydrodynamic.
    • (When I dive, I am both.)
  • I know it's raining before anyone else.
  • Haircuts (not styling, just a plain old cut) cost from $10-$15, but I haven't had a haircut in 12 years.
  • I don't get bed-head.
  • I don't get hat head.
  • Being caught in the rain does not ruin my day.
    • High winds also fit into this category
  • I don't ever have a bad hair day, though I have been known to have a wild hair across my ass.
  • I don't own a comb or brush.
  • I don't have to buy shampoo or conditioner.
  • I don't ever waste time washing, rinsing, or repeating. Especially the repeating.
  • My hair never gets in my eyes, caught in anything, or pulled.
  • I will never again have gum in my hair.
  • I don't have to worry if my sideburns are straight. Sideburns? What sideburns?
  • I am easily describable, having an eerie resemblance to Mr. Clean, Dr. Evil, the "Have a Nice Day" logo, the WalMart Rollback Guy, Pac-Man, and most emoticons.
  • Whenever someone finds a hair in their food, drink, or pretty much anywhere else people tend to find hair where it doesn't belong, no one ever points the finger at me.
  • I have a bitchin' hat collection.
  • I have never found a gray hair.
    • Except for my beard. Oh, and my chest. Oh, and ... uh... nevermind.
  • Sometimes it's fun to go into a Salon that has a "Walk-Ins Welcome" sign in the window, park my butt in the chair and watch the woman's face in the mirror when I say "Juuuuust a little off the top, please!"

    So you see, there are many advantages to being bald.

     ... so why do I still miss my hair?

    Talk to you later!

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    Jury Duty

    I haven't been called for jury duty since I was 18. I didn't get chosen when I was 18, but I was called, and I went down to the courthouse to serve. That was 24 years ago, and I haven't received a summons since.

    How did I go 24 years without ever getting summoned?
    Who do I know?
    In other words, what's my secret?

    I have no idea.
    Honestly, I've watched people around me get the summons, I've seen people taking time off from work to go, I've delivered countless notifications of the summons to people, and I've heard all kinds of stories about people having, getting out of, and being chosen for, jury duty. And in the midst of all this judicial responsibility I have floated untouched, free as a dandelion clock blown on the wind.

    And I've enjoyed it.

    A few months ago this dandelion clock came crashing down, and I was tethered to the ground to float free no more.
    I received the summons in the mail.


    I tried to keep a stiff upper lip. I tried to do everything I could to make the experience as pleasant as possible. I responded to the summons online, and promptly. I filled out the questionnaire they sent for me to bring in with me. I alerted my workplace, and got the day off. I GoogleMapped  the way to the courthouse to which I was assigned (they did not send me to my local court), and even programmed it into the GPS in my car so as to be ready for the big day. There was only one hiccup: I filled out my leave slip incorrectly at work. I did not realize there was a special way to fill it out to account for jury duty. It was a near thing, since I'm scheduled to appear on Monday and today is Friday, but I got that little situation all squared away this morning. I couldn;t think of a single thing more to do to get ready.

    Then I checked my E-mail when I got out of work this afternoon. I had an e-mail from the Office of the Jury Commissioner waiting in my in-box. I steeled myself, and I opened it.


    We appreciate your willingness to serve, but due to the changing needs of the court, your service is no longer required.We apologize for any inconvenience this cancellation may cause.

    I. Am. Teflon!

    Talk to you later!

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Mail Bag! 8-11-11

    Okay, I'll try to run through this quickly, so you can stop wasting time here and get back to FaceBook, where things are really important. I'm going to run through the Junk folder in my email program and see what got stuck in there in the past 30 days or so. I'll pull out a few choice little tidbits, and you can see how my junky ridiculousness stacks up against your own!
    I'll give you the From, the Subject, and my immediate response. Got it? Good.

    • Free Lobster - "Limited Time: Free Red Lobster Dinner Details Inside"
      • I don't eat lobster. Sorry, but it crawls on the bottom of the ocean eating he stuff that fish either won't eat, or have actually already eaten. I'll pass.
    • Eagle America - "ORDER NOW Before We Go On Vacation!"
      • Don't tell me what to do!

    • Digital Deals - "Don't throw your iPad away - get this for it"
      • I can't throw my iPad away. I don't own one. Thanks for pointing that out. Why don't you take your whatever-it-is and shove it up your ...
    • Sporty's Tool Shop - "Make yard work simple"
      • I have made yard work simple. I have a son. Beat that, Sporty!
    • Elementary Teachers Wanted - "Become a Teacher. Learn How."
      • Am a teacher. Know how.
    • Sheer Cover Makeup - "Free Sheer Cover Makeup Introductory Kit"
      • I know I look bad, no need to point that out, thank you very much. There's a reason I have no picture on my homepage!
    • AARP - "Robert, Sign Up for the AARP Travel Newsletter Today"
      • I'm 42. I know I look bad (see above) but you're jumping the gun a little here. Why don't you take your newsletter and pretend it's a whatever-it-is (see further above).
    • Wen by Chaz Dean - "WEN: Your secret to great hair days"
      • Look. You people have contacted me before. Nothing has changed, I still make Pac-Man look hairy. Why don't you leave me alone? Maybe the AARP needs your services. You could check their newsletter. But first you'd have to stick your head up there to read it...
    • Digital Deals - "It's like an etch-a-sketch notepad"
      • Terrific. I shake my head and the idea goes away, so I'm going to buy a notepad where if you shake it the note goes away?
    • CVS/Pharmacy Extracare - "REMINDER: Get 25% Off This Weekend!"
      • No offense, but I'd rather add 50% on to this weekend! A 3-day weekend would be pretty nice right about now!
    • Handy Toolbox - "How to Suck at Fixing a Flood"
      • I think I got it covered. I can suck at fixing just about anything.
    • Digital Deals - "Rub-a-dubba-dub it's a shower deal today"
      • Look, that's just way too cutesy for me. I refuse to even open that one!

    Okay, I guess that about covers the highs (read: lows) of what hit my junk email folder in the past month.
    Do you get junk mail every month that is beyond junk? Would you like to share? I'd love to hear about any of them. Please, grab the mouse, tickle the keys and leave me a Comment.

    I'll be here all week!

    Talk to you later!

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    All Thoughts Of Corgi Are Corgi

    I was on my way to work this morning and I saw a man crossing he street with a Corgi on a leash. For those of you unfamiliar with the Corgi, let me give you an image to work with.
    First, take a weiner dog. Those long, low, hot-dog shaped canines with the stretched out bodies and the tiny little legs. Now, take this weiner dog and thicken him up. Broader across the chest, thicker around the middle, and give him a good-sized head and feet. Make his legs a touch thicker as well, but not one millimeter longer. They look a little bit like the skate board of the canine world. Oh, before I forget, take their floppy weiner-dog ears and thicken those up too. I know you pretty much gave the image in your mind a head that's just a touch big for its body, but now give it a pair of ears that are a little large for the head. Big, kind of bat ears that stand up from the head, like German Shepard ears, but larger. Make it kind of .. the Dumbo skateboard of the canine world.
    If there is anyone reading this who happens to own, live with, or is otherwise friends with a Corgi, please put down that knife/gun/great big rock and stop planning my violent demise. I like Corgis. They are friendly, intelligent dogs, usually with tons of personality. And despite how I am describing them, they are cute as hell. 
    They do look a bit like God made them on an off day out of some spare parts he had lying about, though. He just got lucky, as He seems to do, and they wound up cute.
    Okay, so, this cute frankenstein's monster of a dumbo skateboard of the canine world was crossing the street.  His owner was walking, but the Corgi was on a leash and had to keep up, so he was running. Corgis run in a way that reminds me of ferrets and those old hand-cars for railroads, the ones with two guys working a toggle-lever like mad. Anyway... as this little beastie was running across the street, this is what I imagined running through his head:

    Running ... running ... running ... why the hell are his legs so long? This isn't fair ... isn't fair ... I don't care if a car is coming ... wow this street is wide ... I swear to Dog, next time we use that walk-signal thingie ... can't you carry me? ... okay ... here comes the curb ... oh, high curb, high curb! ... OUCH ... Oh my Dog that hurt! ... Wow, I wish my rear legs were just two inches longer! ... okay, dude, I have to sit right here for a while. I think I just did myself an injury, thank you very much! Nope! I'm sitting right ... did you say 'biscuit'? Okay, now you're talking! Let's go!

    Yup. This is how I entertain myself on the drive to work.

    Talk to you later!

    P.S. - By the way, I must confess. I stole the title of today's post from a paper a friend of mine wrote for school on the train on his way to the class more than 20 years ago. Thanks, F-!

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    You Try To Say Something Nice...

    My son and I went to the roller rink today. Yes, that same roller rink that was not open the other day when Handsome went to play in the stream. The rink was filled with children of various ages, and just a few adults. There are a few adults you see there often; I like to think of them as the 'regulars', and they are usually people who skate quite well. One of them was there today, a pretty tough looking guy who skates like a champ. He's quick and graceful, as well as playful, skating forwards, backwards, and sometimes actually sideways, dancing to the music they have blasting over the loudspeakers.
    Today there were two other skilled adults there, two people I had never seen, but they seemed to be about my age, maybe a touch younger. The woman was skating in a very straight forward manner, but skillfully, gliding effortlessly through the crowd, avoiding traffic jams and tangled kids like they weren't even there. The man was more showy, skating backwards and forwards, throwing in spins and almost acrobatic moves. The two of them occasionally danced, skating together, her forward him backward. I told Handsome to keep an eye on them and try to learn from what they do since they really seem to know what they are doing.
    I, on the other hand, re-figured out how to skate without falling down just last year, so that's what I stick to; I go out and try very hard not to fall down.
    When the skate was over, and we were all leaving, I saw the woman changing into her shoes. Her partner was still out on the floor, but I paused by her bench.
    "Hi," I said. "You skate very well."
    She brightened, and as I went on to say "You two are fun to watch," she gestured toward me and spoke at the same time I did. I nodded, and waved goodbye, and it wasn't until I was walking away that I puzzled out what she had said.
    "It's great to see older people out there!"

    I'm 'older people'.


    It's almost 9:00. I have to drink my Geritol and totter off to bed soon. We older people need our rest! I'd proof-read this stuff first, but I have such a hard time with these little tiny letters... Man! I have to start putting this blog out in a large print edition in case anyone out there my age should want to give it a read! I hope I remember to start doing that, but you know the memory is the second thing to go. Right after ... after ... uh... that thing ...
    ... what was I talking about?

    Anyway, it's almost 9:00. I have to drink my Geritol and totter off to ...

    Talk to you later!

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Just A Little Rainy Day Advice

    To whom it may concern:
    If you are anxiously waiting for the arrival of the mail (some might say with bated breath), please, take note of the weather.
    If you attempt to look out the window of your lovely, climate controlled, completely weather-proof dwelling, and the world outside appears to be quite wavery and indistinct, there are three things it could be.

    1. You are having some sort of acid flashback. The odds of this happening to you are for you to decide. I have no idea what kind of life you've lived, I'm not here to judge, to each his/her own.
    2. You have forgotten to put on your glasses. Again, whether you have done this or not is for you alone to decide. Do you even wear glasses? Maybe you would be able to remember things like that if you hadn't done so much acid...
    3. It's raining out. 
    There, that's it, that third one there. That's what I'm here to talk about. If you think it may be raining there are things you can do to find out. Verification, as it were. You can check the weather in the newspaper, on the news or weather channel, or you can check it online. You can listen for the drumming sound of rain in the roof or even on the very window you are trying to see through. Last but not least, if you are feeling really daring, you can open the door and step outside. If you come back inside in need of a towel, it's raining.

    This may seem like a bit of an oversimplification to some of you, but trust me folks, there are some people out there in need of this information.

    Now, is it raining a little, or a lot?
    To help you with the difference between "little" and "lot", I refer you to Sesame Street, episodes 24 and 37. I don't think I could do a better job of explaining it than Big Bird, Grover, Bert and Ernie, and that Grouch fellow. Experts one and all!
    If you are having difficulty seeing out your window, then I'll go out on a limb here and say it's raining a lot. If it's really raining, there are certain terms and phrases that people use. 'Raining cats and dogs' is an oldie but goodie, though it does conjure up some seriously disturbing images. My grandfather would say it was 'raining like the dickens', although I have no idea what a 'dickens' is, or what it has to do with meteorology. I would be most likely to steal a phrase from my own father and say it was 'raining like a bastard', though again, I have no real idea what someone's legitimacy has to do with the weather. I just like the sound of that one.
    Now, once you determine that it is indeed 'raining like a bastard', you may continue to keep an eye out for the mailman. Remember the mailman? At the start of all this was the premise that someone was waiting anxiously for the mail? Remember?
    When the mailman comes along, take a good look at him. Or her. Even if you have to open the door to do it. Why not, you're going to open the door to snatch the mail from their hand anyway, right? So look at them. Are they soaked to the skin? Do they have a downtrodden, exhausted look on their face? No spring in their step? Is their hat all shapeless and pulled to the side a bit because the brim has absorbed so much water? Can you hear their shoes squish with water every time they take a step?
    Okay, then my advice to you is not to take the mail from their hand, shake it a little, and say "Aw, it's a little wet," in a disappointed voice. And whatever you do, do not ask "isn't there any way you could get this to me dry?" If you do either one of these things (and if you have done them you know who you are) then what you probably got for a response was a blank stare lasting anywhere from 2-10 seconds before your carrier turned and walked away without answering.
    Now, I'm advising you not to do these things because, when this situation arises, that 2-10 second stare is when we are deciding whether to kill you or not. The longer the stare the more we are weighing whether or not prison would be worth it.

    Think about it.

    Talk to you later!

    Sunday, August 7, 2011

    Just Another Rainy Day

    I was in my room at my parent's house today, and Handsome had stayed over for a visit. We were the only ones in the house at the time, and we were looking for stuff to do since it was raining all day. Going fishing was out. Playing soccer was out. I even called the local roller rink, but they are closed on Sundays during the summer. It actually says right in their website "If it's raining call us! We are usually open 12:30pm - 3pm".

    I called. It's bull-byproduct.

    So I was in my room wondering what to do with the boy, when he called up the stairs.
    "Dad! Can I have a towel?"
    Now, I know this boy, and I know he's hard pressed not to make a mess no matter where he is. You can track him through the house by following the fingerprints on the walls. You can tell he's home because whatever he came in the house with, be it a library book, a wet jacket, or if he has nothing else to drop, his shoes, will be found in the middle of whatever room where it will be in someone's way the most. This is the boy who once took a shower, was dressed but still wet from the shower, went to meet me in my car as we were on the way out somewhere, was out of my sight for maybe 8-10 seconds, and when I got to the car he was inside it and covered in mud.
    Covered in mud.
    When I asked him what the heck happened, how did he get that way, he looked down at himself in surprise.
    I'll say that one again, just because I was there and I still don't believe it.
    He looked down at himself in surprise, and told me he had no idea what happened.

    I'm sorry... I need a moment here... this still freaks me out... I'm baffled... hang on ... 

    Okay, I'm back. So, with all this and more in mind, when my son asks me for a towel I'm wondering what the hell happened that is just too big for the paper towels he has down there. Spilled milk that looks more like a violent murder scene, with it splashed on the walls and ceiling, a rookie police officer running away to throw up so he doesn't contaminate the scene? Some sort of foodstuffs pulling a Mount St. Helens and covering the whole first floor of the house in a cloud of nasty particles? Even a spontaneous indoor rain of the afore-mentioned bull-byproduct, falling with even less explanation that a rain of frogs, covering the floor with an inch or more of bovine feces?
    My heart in my throat, I called back. "What do you need it for?"
    He strolled into the room, looking just as he had all morning, no telltale stains or splashes on his clothes. He walked up to me, arms outstretched, asking for a hug.
    Thinking he was buttering me up for whatever horror he had to tell me about, I hugged him.
    He was soaked. Right though to the skin. I pulled him away from me and looked him over.
    "How did you get so wet?"
    "I went outside," he said matter-of-factly. 
    "To do what?"
    "I went out to play in the stream."
    My eyebrows shot up. 
    "What stream? There's no stream..."
    He brought me over to the window looking out to the street in front of the house and pointed.
    "That stream."
    The gutter. It was raining so hard the gutter was flooded, and a small river of water was flowing past the front of the house, pushing with it all sorts of street trash. Wrappers, dirt and sand, yard waste, any fluids that cars had dropped in the street lately, all sorts of stuff. That was what he had played in. That was what he was covered in. 
    That was what he had just wiped all over me with that hug.
    I sighed and handed him a towel.
    "Stay off the furniture until you dry off. Unless of course, you want to take a shower, change clothes?"
    "Nope. I'm good."
    He went back downstairs and I returned to my search for something to occupy us.

    What, did you think there was going to be some big, funny blow-up for the finish? Naw. I was slightly disgusted, but he did go back out in the rain, so he did effectively rinse off. Besides, it kind of made me smile.

    Hell. I used to be a boy.

    Talk to you later!

    Saturday, August 6, 2011

    What's In A Name?

    I was in the shower after work and I was wondering what to throw into the blog for today. You're in luck, I think this one will be short.


    Not that this blog isn't about me every day. But the very first line of my very first post on the very first day of this blog was "Hi. My name's Rob, and this is my Blog."

    Rob. What does that actually mean?

    Well, I googled it. No surprise if you know me, since I walk around claiming that my Google-fu is strong.
    I was expecting some sort of definition, like:

          Rob: verb - to take property, either tangible or intangible, from an unwilling being by use of force, violence or the threat of violence. Example - 'John had $500 until a man robbed him at gunpoint.'

    That's not what it says when you Google  "Name Meanings" and put in "Robert". What you get is:

         Name Meaning: Bright Fame

    Bright Fame. Me. Ha.
    Fame, hopefully, in the future, from my writing. Hey, that would be great! But 'Bright'? I've been writing ghost and horror stories for more than half a year. Not exactly the brightest of genres. Hmmm....

    So, instead I looked at some random entries in this blog to see if I could help define "Rob".

    So, according to all this, I came up with this definition:

         Rob: noun - One who screams at spiders while burning the heck out of pancakes because he's being repeatedly kicked in the groin by Time Traveling Ninja Sausages, and then blogs about it - at gun point!

    Um ... I think I'll stick with the 'Bright Fame' definition. I really hate being kicked in the groin!


    Talk to you later!