Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Beast

I stride around the corner of the house, hands full of mail and moving fast. I'm looking down at what I'm doing, concentrating on just getting the job done, but when I look up what I see stops me in my tracks.

The corpse is sprawled across the bottom stair. The attack occurred just steps from the safety of house and home, so close it breaks my heart to realize. A fan of ... stuff ... spreads out across the sidewalk, arcing out from the base of the stairs; a spray of strands and gobbets that had, until recently, been found on the inside of the victim lying cold upon the stair. The fan shape points like an arrow, backtracking to the source of the fluids and flesh decorating the sidewalk. A great wound torn through the flesh and deep into the secret inner workings of the corpse.

The corpse. The wound. And the Beast that is, even now, pulling forth and eating soft, squishy things with apparent relish.

I freeze, holding my breath. The Beast has not noticed me yet, so intent is it upon its feast. Claws scratch and scrabble at the concrete as it works the wound, thrusting its face deeper into the great, tearing hole; nuzzling in to find greater delicacies.

I'm not prepared for this encounter. I've not taken a full, deep breath. Thus it is mere seconds before the stale, used air within my lungs pushes its way out through my frozen lips with a small puffing sound.

The head snaps up out of the open maw faster than the eye can follow, bits of flesh and guts spraying into the air. Eyes, black and shiny as pools of wet ink, stare unblinking into my own. Paws flex, claws gripping the ground, as the whole body tenses.


The Beast springs away, leaping down the sidewalk in a zig-zag pattern; broken field running in nature.
I watch the squirrel flee before turning back to inspect the terrific mess he has made of the pumpkin sitting on the bottom step, shaking my head as I do so.

""I'm sure glad I don't have to clean all this up."

I deliver the mail and move on through the neighborhood.

Talk to you later!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fallback Position

Today's Earworm: The Munster's Theme.

I tried to think of something to blog about from today, but I failed miserably. This means I'm going to drop into my 'fallback position'. For those of you who haven't been paying attention, that means a blog about Handsome.

I have to be careful now, since as I sat down to write this I discovered that Handsome has started his own Facebook account. This means that when I post my daily link to WYMOP on my FaceBook wall, Handsome will get the link as well. He might actually start to read these things!
* * * * * * * * * *

Handsome is definitely growing up.

Last year, when we went and got him his football gear he was all excited, and he acted it. He couldn't wait to get home and put on the jersey, and he wanted to wear the helmet to bed. We had to hurry home so he could suit up and walk around the house. He spent the evening after we got him his football equipment sitting on the couch and watching television with his helmet on.

This year it's not football, but wrestling, so I knew it was going to be a little different. I was surprised,  though, at how much more casual Handsome was about it all. I took him out on Sunday to get a pair of wrestling shoes and protective headgear. He tried on the shoes, and he tried on the headgear, but he was completely cool about it. It was no big deal. We tried the headgear until we found some I could adjust down enough to fit him properly, and that was comfortable. And that was that. It all went in the shopping bag, and I heard no more about it as we went food shopping for better than an hour.

When we got home it was the same deal. It was in the bag, and he put the bag on the table and started to walk away. I had to flag him down and ask him to show the new equipment to his mother. He did it with a minimum of protest, but there was protest; it was like he could have cared less. Practically a teen-age attitude. Total cool.

His mother and I put the groceries away, and I set up my laptop on the dining room table as I usually do. Then I went looking for Handsome. I can't remember exactly why I went looking for him, but I did. I strode up to the TV room door, which was closed, opened it on the fly and just walked right in.

There, on the couch watching television, was Handsome.

Wearing his wrestling headgear.

I stopped dead, looking at him with what felt like a huge grin on my face. His eyes eventually left the television and rolled sideways to focus on me. The first thing he noticed was my smile, and he sat up a little straighter.


That's my boy.

Talk to you later!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Jamie? Adam?

Last night I pulled into the driveway at Handsome's house with a backseat full, and I mean full, of groceries. There was stuff piled in on top of other stuff until I couldn't see out the rear window. Handsome and I got out of the Jeep and started to load ourselves up for the first of many trips inside with the groceries. As I leaned into the backseat to pull out yet another bag, I saw from the corner of my eye a two-liter bottle of Diet Pepsi slip from the plastic 4-pack holder and slide out the door. I took a breath to shout to Handsome to try to head the bottle off before it rolled down the driveway (which is a pretty steep little hill) and into the busy street beyond, but I never got the chance.
There was a crack as the plastic bottle hit the tarmac, and then a sudden loud Ffssshhhhssssss sound. Fizzing Diet Pepsi sprayed my legs, Handsome's legs, the Jeep, the driveway, and all the way into the garage through the open door. I leapt back, abandoning the bag I was trying to retrieve, and looked at Handsome in surprise. I looked around the driveway, but saw no sign of the bottle. There was Pepsi everywhere, but no bottle.
"Where the hell did it go?"
"Over there," Handsome laughed, pointing down the driveway.
I looked in the direction he was pointing and saw a trail of Diet Pepsi. It led away from us and down the driveway, all the way across the street (which has a breakdown lane on our side, so technically it was across three lanes) to the bottle, which was on the sidewalk over there, easily 50 feet away.
I looked at Handsome, who was a bit drippy with sprayed soda.
"How did it get over there?"
"It just ... went!"
Apparently the short fall from the floor of the Jeep behind the backseat was enough to shock all of the carbonation out of the soda at once. I found the cap beneath the Jeep, and it wasn't even cracked, it had been forced off due to the extreme pressure. The pressure had turned our bottle into a runaway rocket that had jetted across the street. Luckily there had been a break in traffic, or it could have been much worse.

Where the hell are the Mythbusters team when you need them to explain something?

Talk to you later!

Sunday, November 27, 2011


This morning, Handsome found some 'tattoo tape' in a bag in my room, something he must have left behind on a previous visit. It's basically a long thin strip of temporary tattoo that looks like a long vine with small flowers curling off it, all in black. You can tear off strips and apply them to yourself anywhere you like.
I was working here at my computer and I heard some odd noises. I turned to  find Handsome standing behind me, the front of his shirt pulled up and tucked beneath his chin. He was tearing off short strips of tattoo and sticking them to his exposed chest and stomach in an odd pattern.

"What are you... are you writing something on yourself?"
"Well, what are you writing?"
"Hello, my name is Handsome," he said.

I buried my face in my hands, remembering a time when the worst I had to worry about him doing was filling his pants when there was nowhere convenient to change him.

Wrestling starts tomorrow.
This should be ... interesting.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bend Your Knees

Sometimes, I know I have mentioned it before, Handsome and I go to the local Roller Rink and skate for the afternoon. We started a few years ago, and while he was learning to skate for the first time I was trying to re-learn what I had forgotten more than 20 years before. I did pretty well, too, and I've had one fall in the 3-4 years we have been going there. hat wasn't really much of a fall, either. It happened right after we started going there, and I was skating behind little Handsome trying to act as a living safety net. The little guy went down, and I went down while trying to catch him. I wound up catching myself on my palms and feet, trying not to crush him.
That was barely a fall. 
So today, as I was skating around, I was offering advice to some of the younger kids out there. 
"Bend your knees," I would say as I swept past some poor kid who was stiff-legged and trying desperately to keep his balance through arm waving. "Stay lower!"
I told several kids through the course of the afternoon. "Bend your knees! Bend your knees!"
Well, I bent my knees. And my back, my neck, my right arm and my left rear cheek. And some ribs, in there somewhere, it feels like. I finally fell down, and when I did, it was huge! I started out moving fast, but then I rolled. I sprawled. I slid. It didn't hurt that much when it happened, but there was plenty of time for people to notice me falling, and then time for people to see me landing, and the look on people's faces as they watched me skid to a stop was Holy @#$%! I think he's dead!
I popped right back up.
"Oh my God, are you ok?"
"Oh, sure, I'm fine. You just have to stay loose."
Luckily it was time for Handsome and me to leave, because I was talking out my bruised and painful butt. I walked out the door, and then limped the rest of the way to the Jeep.

I am going to be so sore tomorrow!

Talk to you later! (If I can get out of bed, that is...)

Friday, November 25, 2011

By the Job

I may have mentioned somewhere along the line that Handsome has decided he needs to make some money.
Does he want chores?
Does he want an allowance? 
He wants day work. He wants to come to us with little jobs that he feels he can do, and make a bid on it.
My boy, the Independent Contractor.
So last weekend I went to their house and was going to try to take care of the yard a bit. I grabbed the rake, and set to work on the leaves. Not two minutes later I heard a voice behind me. It was Handsome, and he was looking at me with his huge blue eyes and doing his Oliver Twist voice (he's never seen the movie, but it's the pitiful voice he uses to beg for something, and whenever he uses it all I seem to hear is 'please, sir, may I have some more?).
"Dad? Can you stop doing the leaves, please?"
"What?" I said. "Why?"
"Mom's paying me $10 to get up all the leaves."
Well, I went in to ask about that. It seems it's true, his mom is paying him $10 to get up all the leaves.
"Well, when's he going to start?"
"He started yesterday," she answered. "He says he has a three-stage plan."
A three-stage plan? For the leaves? That sounded complex, and well thought-out, quite surprising from my nine-year-old. When I heard that, though,  I had but one thought:
"Did he get the money up front?" I was smiling, but curious.
"No, I told him he had to do the work first, then he gets the cash."
So, he's still an inexperienced con man, I thought. Good.
So that afternoon I showed him where the leaf-blower is kept, and what extension cord to use, and where to dump all the leaves this year ( tend to stagger where I put them in the woods out back. I don't want to build up the forest floor too much in one spot.) and let him have at it. 
Eventually he asked for a little help moving a pile he had gotten together, so I helped  him shift it. Then I needed to make an adjustment to the leaf blower, and I used it a bit to test it and make sure I had it the way I wanted it. after I had been blowing the leaved for a while, Handsome asked me how long I was going to be doing that.
"Just long enough to get me a discount," I said.
So I stopped. That was almost a week ago. The yard is still pretty full of leaves.
Tomorrow he has a play-date. While they are in the house yelling and playing the wii, I'm going outside to rake up some leaves.

Hell, I can always use ten bucks!

Talk to you later!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Something to be Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dinner was at my in-laws' house, and everything was quite good. Swollen bellies and drooping eyelids abounded. When it was all over, and the table had been cleared, Handsome and I retired to the back yard with gloves and ball for a little game of catch.
"Be careful," we were warned. "Don't let the ball go over that fence behind Handsome. That's the KS's yard over there, and they're the mean, Grinchy people in the neighborhood! If the ball goes over there there could be trouble."
"We'll be careful," we promised, and the catching commenced.
Back and forth the ball flew, sometimes whacking into the fence, but more often than not being caught.
Then I chanced to throw a nice fast one, right about chest high on Handsome, glove side. He snapped his glove up, but too quickly; he hadn't opened it wide yet. Rather than catching the speeding ball in the pocket of the glove, he back-handed it from below. Slapped higher, the ball hopped up about two-and-a-half more feet.
-Just high enough to clear the fence into KS territory.
I opened my mouth to say "Oh, no!", but before I got the chance Handsome was already shouting.
"Good one, Dad! Way to go!"
"What?" I said, incredulous. I hadn't thrown the ball over the fence, he had hit it -
"Way to go, Dad!" he shouted again, shooting a glance at his grandparent's house.
That's when I got it.
This day, people all over the world find things to be thankful for.
My boy was just thankful I was there to take the blame.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Talk to you later!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


If you've never had laryngitis, well good for you. I've lost my voice before, and each time is a trip! So, for those of you who have never lost your voice entirely, here's a few things you've missed out on.

  • The strangest cough you're ever heard. It sounds a little bit like a cat hacking up a hairball, bit it's nowhere near as productive. Lots of air comes out, not much sound, and it's about as satisfying as scooping up what looks to be a delicious piece of fruit or candy, only to find it's made of wax. Lots of wind up and anticipation, matched by lots of disappointment.
    • Do not try, as I did, to just cough again and again, hoping for a different result. All you get is a sore throat, and Satisfaction seems to be off enjoying somewhere sunny.
  • Friends and co-workers who think it is the height of humor to wait until you are in the middle of saying something, then lean right into your face and yell "What!?" at the top of their lungs.
    • Do not try, as I did, to ask them not to do that. All that happens is you get a second face full of "What!?"
  • Friends and co-workers who do not find it funny at all that you have lost your voice, and show that concern by asking what happened.
    • Here's how it goes:
      • She : "Oh my God, have you lost your voice?"
      • Me : Nod.
      • She : "That's terrible! How did it happen?"
      • Me : Stands there staring at her, quietly wondering just how the Hell she expects me to answer that?
  • Trying to explain something to someone, where there is no give-and-take in the conversation but instead a long, whispered monologue by you, actually becoming physically debilitating.
    • In trying to be heard by the party you are explaining to, you tend to try to stage-whisper, in other words you are whispering as loud as you can. This, apparently, takes quite a bit more air, thus quite a bit more breath, than does normal speech.
      If you keep blowing out, and blowing out, constantly like that without taking some sort of break, you can make yourself a little dizzy, and you will have to have a seat. If you are already seated you can unknowingly make yourself quite dizzy indeed.
      If this happens, do not, as I did, attempt to get up. The results can be disastrous for you, though it appears they are amazingly funny to one's son.
There's probably more, but I may have forgotten it due to lack of oxygen when I almost passed out explaining Handsome's new wrestling program to him.

Talk to you later, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Great Communicator

Last night there was a parent's meeting about the wrestling program Handsome is interested in joining. I got out of work and tore to the house to take a quick shower and see him before I went to the meeting for 7:00.
"I'm just here for a quick bite and a shower and I'm going to head out," I whispered to him. I still have laryngitis (See yesterday's post), so a whisper is pretty much all I can manage.

"Are you going to come back?" he whispered in return.

"Wait a minute," I whispered. "I have to whisper. My voice is gone. You don't have to whisper, you can talk!" (the exclamation point does not denote volume, merely emphatic whispering)

"Sorry," he said, with more or less normal volume. "I can't seem to help it. If someone whispers to me I have to whisper back!"

So we had our strange conversation, me whispering and him whispering about half the time. I ate, took a shower, and went to the meeting. After the meeting I simply went home rather than going back to Handsome's. As I explained in our strange conversation, I was tired and did not feel well, and I couldn't very well read him a story if I couldn't talk.

When I got home, I decided to call him up and tell him goodnight, and that I had a lot of information about wrestling for him. Wife put him on the phone, and I heard a nice, clear "Hello?"

"Hi Handsome," I whispered as clearly as I could. "I just wanted to call and say goodnight. I have a whole lot to tell you and Mommy about the wrestling program, but I think I'll wait until I'm there tomorrow to tell you since I think it's easier to understand me face-to-face."

There was a long pause, and then he whispered "What?"

I did not know this, but apparently when I laugh hysterically in the middle of a bout of laryngitis I sound very much like Ernie from Sesame Street.

Now I know.

Talk to you later! (Maybe... or maybe I'll just whisper to you...)

Monday, November 21, 2011


The Set Up:
 Yesterday I woke with laryngitis. If I really try I can get out this strange monotone that sounds a lot like Twiki from the old TV show Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Dad was on his way to his Social Club, the local Moose Lodge, to put on a Sunday morning breakfast. He invited us, Handsome wanted to go, so we went.

The Story:
We walked in and I made sure to stop by the kitchen to say hello to my Dad and Sister, who were both working the breakfaast, and let them know we were there. Handsome saw some other kids, and though he had been moaning theatrically in hunger on the drive there he was off like a shot to play. Dad emerged from the kitchen and decided to introduce me to some people.
Now, I have no memory for names, and will frequently forget the names of my extended family members unless I have prompting. I was being introduced to folks who I knew I was going to forget in an insultingly short length of time, and I couldn't even say 'hello, nice to meet you' in a very audible fashion.
I was trying to say hello to people, and I realized that it wasn't my Dad's fault I couldn't speak. He honestly might not have noticed, figuring that he couldn't hear me because he has trouble hearing anything. He was being the good host and showing me around, when he introduced me to one elderly woman who was sitting at a table having breakfast with some friends.
"Rob, this is Blah-Blah. Blah-Blah, this is my son, Rob."
I warned you I was horrible with names.
Well, Blah-Blah looked at me, and then at Dad, and said to Dad "I would have known he was your son without the introduction."
"Why's that?" Dad said with a grin. I braced myself for what I knew was coming next.
"Because he looks just like -"

We interrupt my remembered moment of painful anticipation to explain why. Why I was dreading Blah-Blah's next words. I am 42. My Dad is 63.  My Grandfather if Eighty Ahemumblemumble. I have frequently been told that I look just like them. Not a young them. Them. Being told I look just like someone half again my age, or even double my age can sometimes be depressing. I love them both, but that doesn't mean I want to be them. This has gone so far as to have at one time, someone who met my grandfather in his later years, upon seeing my name on my credit card, assume I was my Grandfather's son.
Not grandson.
Okay, the explanation is now over, and we return you to my moment of terrible trepidation.

Old Mrs. Blah-Blah looked at me, and then my Dad, and said, and I quote:
"I would have known he was your son without the introduction, because he looks just like his sister."

There was a moment where the three of us were silent, and all you could hear was the hubbub from all the surrounding tables. Suddenly I half-whispered/half croaked "Oh my God, I love you!"
To which she replied "It's nice to meet you too!"
She smiled and waved as my feet got me the hell out of there before my mouth could scrape together the wherewithal to ask her to drop the old stick she was sitting next to and run away with me...

I wish that for just this once I could remember someone's name after meeting them just one time, but I can't.
All I can do is hope that God knows who I'm talking about when I'm wishing all manner of good things be bestowed upon Mrs. Blah- Blah!
I'm sure He'll figure it out!

Talk to you later!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

How am I Cute?

Just a quick story to let you know what I'm dealing with here.
Last night, Handsome was at his cousin's 11th birthday party. She has an older sister, who is 13 or 14. I'll call them Young Cousin (YC) and Older Cousin (OC). OC had a friend there, one of her best friends, whom I'll call M. The party was at the Roller Rink, and as soon as I could strap some skates on the kid, Handsome was out there zooming around. About five minutes after that, he was coming around the bend with OC on one side and M on the other, all holding hands in a short human chain.
When my 9-year old Handsome came around the bend holding hands with two of the prettiest 13 or 14 year old girls at the party, a huge grin stretching his face near to snapping his cheeks, I had to go get my camera. Handsome is pretty big for his age - most people guess he's 11 or 12.
Well, it was dark in there, and the lighting is all colored and strobe, so none of my pictures of the little ladies man in action came out, but he had fun, they had fun, and a couple of their other friends who got a kick out of Handsome had fun. Most of the other boys were skating after each-other, playing tag and roughhousing, but Handsome skated with his pretty crew for most of the night. A good time was had by all.
Shift to today, this afternoon. We happened to see M this morning while we were out, and she went out of her way to come say hi to Handsome. I am getting a huge kick out of this. He was a cross between cool and goofy; he tried to pull off cool, but it collapsed on him and he wound up all smiley with a little blush.
We were driving away, and I had to poke a little fun.
Had to.
I'm his Dad. It's in the contract.
"So, M came to say hi, huh?"
"So... how is she today?"
There was a little blushing going on now. Him, not me.
"You guys skated together a lot last night, didn't you?"
"That was her! She kept skating with me, and asking 'Who do you like? Who do you like here at the party?', and I was like 'Dude! I'm 9! I don't like like anybody! Not like like, like that!'"
Rudolph's nose didn't blush this big. This was fun.
"Oh, did she now?"
"Yes! And she kept saying I was cute, 'you're so cute' she said."
He looked at me and threw up his hands.
"How am I cute? I'm 9 and I have body-odor! How is that cute?"

I almost wrecked us laughing while driving.

Handsome, if that's your only problem we'll buy you a lifetime supply of deodorant and other boys around the world will just have to learn to hate you.

Talk to you later!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mail Call!

It's a scene that replays itself again and again on my route. Well, two scenes, really, but they come as a set.
There is one particular house sort of toward the end of my route.

When it snows, some people don't bother to shovel. These people shovel.

This summer I was fighting my way past a creeping tendril of thorny bush that seemed to be tasked with guarding the porch from invasion, growing ever further out and more fully blocking the top of the stair. They cut it back, then wired it completely out of the way.

They seem intent on doing everything right, everything they can do to ensure that I can get to and from their mailbox. This is a good thing, believe me, and I would be happy about it if not for one thing.

They refuse to pick up their mail.

Days go by, and the mail just piles up in their box.

Weeks go by, and I'm prying at the mail that is already in the box, trying to slide and stuff and cram more mail into the box until it is more than overflowing; it is deformed and out of shape from the pressure of the paper held within it, all trying to burst loose and be free.

Eventually I have no choice but to throw a rubber band about each day's mail and stack it on top of the straining mailbox.

I have tried taking the mail back to the Post Office, leaving a notice in their mailbox saying that the mailbox was full to overflowing and they can either come get the mail at the P.O. or they can call for re-delivery. When I have done this in the past, the very day I leave the notification there is a call put into the Office asking for re-delivery the next day. So the next day I bring out the huge bundle of mail and leave it on their porch, leaned against the wall beneath the box.

And there it stays.

Okay ... all that up there? That was not the scene, or scenes I was talking about. That was just the set-up.

Are you ready?

So, yesterday I made my way up on their porch, and found that I was right behind the lady of the house who was working her key in the lock. As I approached she got the key to turn and the door opened. The door that is right next to the currently filled-to-overflowing mailbox.
She looked back over her shoulder at me, and I saw her gaze focus on the mailbox. Letters, magazines and catalogs spilled forth from wide open box like some square gargoyle vomiting forth over spill from torrential rains. A stack of banded off mail from days gone by gave the little gargoyle a strange top hat, so that the box was simultaneously bursting and being crushed by built up mail.

"Here, let me take those from you," she said, turning back to meet me. "There's no room in there anyway!" She nodded her head toward the overworked receptacle with a sheepish grin.
"Thank you," I said with relief as I handed her the wad of paper that comprised that day's post.
I walked away happy, satisfied that, after seeming embarrassed by the state of her mailbox, she was going to do something about it and I'd have a nice empty mailbox to work with, at least for a little while.

Can you guess how this turns out?
Sshhh... don't spoil it for the others!

So this afternoon I go skipping up the stairs to their porch, past the tamed vine of thorns, and I turned toward the mailbox to find ...

...that it still vomited mail like a frat boy with a big appetite on morning 2 of Spring Break: Daytona!

Are you serious?

Talk to you later!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mail Bag! 11-18-2011

 It's Mail Bag time again! 

So, I'm going to choose 4 items that appeared in my Junk Mail Folder in the past 30 days, and give you my 1st response to them. Off the top of my head. Just from looking at the Subject line, not actually opening them. It is all Junk Mail, after all...

  • Digital Deals: "Perfect for any MP3, iPod, iPhone, iPad and so much..."
    • But I do not own an MP3 player, iPod, iPhone, iPad, or so much more. Thanks for pointing that out, I feel just so much better about myself now. Terrific.

  • Handy Toolbox: "Video: Quite the Chain Saw: Quiet, Cordless and 40v"
    • It might just be me, and I might just be under the fading influence of Halloween and the Coffin Hop, but doesn't this sound like just the thing to get for the budding serial killer in your family? A 40 Volt cordless electric chainsaw that bills itself as "quiet"? What's the next line? "For those days when you just can't move the whole body!"

  • Dish Promotions: "This is the best DISH Network offer EVER!!"
    • Um... I don't really watch TV. So, I mean, if the offer includes a television, that would be a step in the right direction, but what I really need is a few extra hours for each day wrapped up in that  amazing package so that I have time to use the rest of the junk!

  • AARP News:  "Robert, we're getting organized for the holidays..."
    • How many times do I have to tell you people, I'm only 42 years of age! I'm not retired, I'm not old enough to be retired, and I have no plans to retire in the near future!
    • ...although if you have some sort of plan that would allow me to retire right now, I'd love to hear it!

Well, that's it for this month's Mail Bag.  I can't wait to see what the AARP will be offering me next month!

Talk to you later!

    Thursday, November 17, 2011


    Handsome came running into the room with a sheet of paper fluttering from one hand. The paper was slapped authoritatively down on the dining room table, then he took two big steps away and started to do a strange dance. It looked a bit like a chicken. An Egyptian chicken. He walked farther away from the table and tried to scale the open dining room door by bracing his hands and feet on either side of the doorway. He didn't get very high, but then he didn't try for very long. He then took off across the kitchen, getting still farther from the sheet of paper he was carrying as he entered the dining room where I am currently sitting.

    The paper is his homework.
    This is his method of 'getting it done'.

    He has so far chair danced to a song only he could hear, chair danced as he sang the song that formerly only he could hear, chewed a cookie with his mouth open the whole time, and worn one of those small erasers that you can snug onto the end of your pencil suction-cupped to his forehead like a unicorn with a bad case of Microantler. He is right now singing an impressively clear falsetto version of 'Staying Alive'.

    I am supposed to be helping him with his homework, and I can't even keep up with his warm-up exercises.


    Talk to you later!

    P.S. - He just proofread this for me and let a tight-sounding fart rip on my arm as he did so.

    P.P.S. - He insisted that I include that part about the fart.

    P.P.P.S. - Even I couldn't make this stuff up!

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    It's The Little Things...

    I was at work this morning and I had to mark the ends of some of the trays we use to hold the mail. I went to my desk, where my sorting rack is, and scooped up the big black, square-tipped permanent ink marker I use to mark hew tape labels I put on my hold bins. I went back across the floor to the trays I was working with and did my marking.
    Marking done, I strolled back across the floor to put the marker away. As I reached out with my left hand to open the drawer in my desk, I noticed a dark black spot on the tip of my index finger. I held up my hand to look at it.
    There was a nice thick black oval on the tip of my finger, a perfect oval except for the very tip of my finger, right by the nail. Right there next to the nail, it was smudged.
    What the ... oh no!
    I thought back to my walk across the floor. Hadn't my face been itchy? It was so hard to remember, I mean, you itch, you scratch, it's reflexive. I couldn't specifically recall breathing as I crossed the floor either, but I was pretty dang sure I had done it! Had I scratched my face as well? Try as I might, I couldn't remember.
    One of my co-workers, ME was walking by.
    "Hey," I said. "Look here for me, would you?"
    I pointed to the side of my face, and he peered closely at me as I explained.
    "I have this ink on my fingertip, and I think I might have scratched my face. I don't want to walk around looking like an idiot for the rest of the day."
    ME smiled and shook his head.
    "Nope. You're good."
    "Whew! Thanks, I mean look," I held up the marker so he could see the words imprinted on the side.

    Permanent Marker

    "This wouldn't have washed off, I'd have walked around looking like an idiot for a week!"
    He just smiled and shook his head again as he walked away.
    I finished sorting my mail, and pulled it all down, getting it ready for delivery. I loaded it into a hamper, and wheeled it out of the building and down the ramp to the parking lot so I could get it in my truck. I walked over to my mail truck and started to open the driver's side door, but I stopped dead, key extended.
    The day was overcast, and the gray sky was reflected in the big square window built into the side door of my truck, turning it into a slightly foggy but otherwise perfect mirror. There, reflected in the mirror of my window, was a letter carrier dressed and ready for the road. He had his arm outstretched, key pinched between his fingers and aimed at the door lock.
    And he had a nice black line running up the side of his face.

    Yup. That's my buddy when he's bored...

    Talk to you later.
    I'm going to go wash my face.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Lets Do The Time Warp Again!

    Time is relative. And I mean relative in the most back-woods, inbred, 'I am my own grandpa' way possible. Time does what it wants, and though we seem to think that Time runs in a very linear fashion, and at the same speed at all times (unless of course, we are approaching the speed of light, thank you, Mr. Einstein.), this is just so much Bull-Byproduct.

     We have been manipulating Time since we were children, and now that we are adults we have either forgotten it or failed to recognize it for what it is.Who among us has not, as kids, stared at the wall clock, waiting for that bell that signals the end of the school day and wondering just how that last three minutes can take so long?

    I thought so.

    We do this as adults as well. We do it all the time. We just need to learn to control it!
    Ever had a 10 minute wait all alone in the doctor's office, stripped down and johnnied up, sitting there with your butt cheeks sticking to that butcher's paper they use? That 10 minutes takes an hour, doesn't it?

    At least!

    I ran into the 'time-stretch' just today, as I was sitting there staring at the screen wondering what in Hell I was going to write about here. I fiddled around. I blew my nose. I got a drink, then accidentally took a nap. I woke from the nap needing to get rid of that water I had rented, so I went to the bathroom. I washed my hands and blew my nose again. I checked my email, my FaceBook, and my twitter, and I emailed, posted and tweeted respectively. I looked back at the blank, white field that I was supposed to be filling with words and noticed that it was still blank and white. I checked the clock in the corner of the screen.

    90 seconds had gone by.

    Why, oh why does this not happen when I'm trying to get Handsome to a soccer game? Then I always run into the reverse effect, the 'time-crunch'.  It's a 20 minute trip from my parent's house to the soccer field, so I give myself a half-hour. I should have 10 extra minutes when I get there, right?


    I pull out of the driveway with 30 minutes to get there, but somehow by the time I reach the 1st major turn-off, which is only 2 blocks away, 20 minutes have gone by! I now have 10 minutes to make the 20 minute trip, which pretty much guarantees a white-knuckle, hold-on-to-both-butt-cheeks ride where I'm almost never using all four tires at the same time!

    Why can I not control this? Why is it always working to my disadvantage? I see it in my writing. If I'm stuck, and can't think, and basically wind up with a mild cast of writer's-block, time stretches out so my misery just seems to go on and on. And then, when the block breaks down, or the story starts to flow, and the words just seem to pour out of me like someone's turned on some weird faucet somewhere, kind of like right now, time seems to-

    Waitaminute! Holy $#!+ look at the time! Oh my God where did my lunch go? Oh... crap, I'm way out of time, I have to g

    Talk to you later!

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    I Mean, There IS a Warning ...

    My teeth clamp down, jaw muscles flexing. There is a horrible cracking, and ...
    It's like there's an explosion in my mouth. The pain is surprising; my eyes begin to water, my nose to run. My tongue feels like fire in my mouth, and I gasp in surprise!

    It's a mistake.

    The intake of air pushes cold fire down my throat, igniting my lungs. My tongue feels acid-coated, burning until all the nerves go dead.

    I'm hoping that the nerves die quickly.

    Eyes and nose streaming I snort and hack, trying to clear my lungs, but it only gets worse, the oxygen feeding the fire within me. I cough. I sort. I make sounds like Felix Unger in that old Odd Couple television show from the '70s
    Nothing helps; I must endure.

    Eventually, after what seems like hours but was probably only seconds, it begins to fade. The fire recedes, the acid slips from my tongue, nullified by time and massive amounts of saliva. I wheeze slightly and look down at the tin that still sits in front of me.

    "Well ... it does say 'Curiously Strong', " I say, as I smile slightly at my own antics.

    Then I reach for another mint.

    I will never learn!

    Talk to you later!

    Sunday, November 13, 2011


              Handsome is an only child. The house he lives in is on a a main street, pretty much a tertiary highway. He has no real neighborhood to speak of, no local kids that he can just go out and find to play with.

    We go to some trouble, as I think all parents should, to the best of their time and ability, to make sure he has a social life where he sees and plays with other children. Swimming lessons. Soccer. Football. Now we have the Cub Scouts.
    Today was Handsome’s soccer tournament. Three games, at 10:00, 12:00 and 2:00. Five fields filled with kids from towns all over the place. A whole tam’s worth of local kids that Handsome knows and has played soccer with, and against, for three seasons.
    Between the 1st and 2nd games, Handsome disappeared. Wife went to find him, looking at groups of kids on this field and that, and at other kids were waiting for games who moving between the ongoing games themselves.
    Where did she find him and what was he doing, surrounded by hundreds of kids, quite a few of which he knew and felt comfortable with?

    Playing alone, off on the side of the fields, jumping on and off a stump.

    Why, you ask, when there were all those children for him to play with, soccer balls all over the place?

    It’s what he wanted to do.

    Go figure.
    Talk to you later!

    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    Once... But Later...

    Once, I said
    "I don't need email! If I have something to say to someone I'll just call them on the phone! Of course, I suppose that means I should get a mobile phone..."
    But Later I said
    Wow, sometimes it's just hard to get a hold of people! I suppose I could use an email address. Or two. Or four.  Well, okay, if I have nine, but I have most of them auto-forwarding to the main address, then I shouldn't miss any messages..."

    Once I said
    "Why would I text? I don't have anyone I'd care to text with. I don't text."
    But Later I said
    "You can text me the details. Yeah, just use my Yahoo address. I have it auto-forwarding texts to my phone, I'll get the message for sure!"

    Once I said
    "FaceBook? That's like that MySpace, right? I was never on MySpace, I'll never be on FaceBook either. It's just a stupid social thing, the New Millennium version of those party telephone lines they advertised in the '80s."
    But Later I said
    "Yeah, I saw that posted on FaceBook. I couldn't believe she said it either, but I 'liked' it anyway. Stole it for a re-post!"

    Once I said
    "Blog? No, man, even the word sounds stupid. Look, I don't care of lots of writers have a blog, I'm not going to be one of those self indulgent guys... I mean, what could I possibly write about with any kind of regularity that anyone would care to read?"
    Later I said
    You're here reading this, aren't you? What do I have to do, draw you a picture? I think we both know how that turned out...

    Once I said
    "'Twitter'? 'Tweeting'? Are you serious? I don't care that they call it a 'micro-blog', it sounds so stupid! There is no way I'm doing that!"
    Later I said
    "So, this Twitter thing can help me get my work out to more people, maybe help me build a fan base for when I write a book? Really? Hmmm....."

    Yup. That's me. A will of iron!
    No, wait! Steel! Yeah, steel!
    ... no, wait!

    Tweet you later!

    I mean... uh... dammit!

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    Special Rules

    There are special rules.
    Traveling, double-dribbling (hell, quadruple-dribbling) and up-and-down is all allowed for him.
    I cannot grab a rebound out of the air, it has to hit the ground before I can touch it. I can try to box him out but I can't just stand there and grab it before it gets down to him at all. If I grab or even intentionally re-direct the ball before it hits the ground, then it's his ball, possession taken from the top of the key, duly checked.
    If I do manage to get a hold of a rebound I have to clear the ball at the top of the key, whether he's hit the rim or not. He never has to clear it at all. Just has to grab it from anywhere and shoot.
    He is allowed to pretty much maul me on Defense, and has done everything up to and including hitting me in the nuts. (I cry foul on the nuts thing. Well, first I cry, then I cry foul.)

    So, even with all these rules in place to make it as even as possible, negating the fact that I am a foot and a half taller than he is, and my arms are much longer, how old does it make me seem that a nine-year-old beat me at 1-on-1 basketball this afternoon?

    Pretty old, huh? Yeah ... you can say it.

    I'll just be over here tuning up my walker, you know, putting fresh tennis balls over the feet, stuff like that.

    Talk to you later!

    ...if I can find my teeth, that is. Dangit! I left them around here somewhere...

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    With Kids In Mind

    Okay. If you have been paying attention to this for long enough, you know I have had a couple of failures in the "monitoring what my child sees in movies" department. Not cataclysmic failures, just regular old failures, but they were horrifying enough at the time. Let me tell you about a couple of the biggies, and the solution I've discovered.
    For those of you who care about these things, I am about to throw out spoilers for the films The Neverending Story and Bridge to Terabithia. They are older movies, so I don't think anyone will care, but I felt obligated to warn you. If you don't want to know anything about these movies because you intend to see them in the near future, then cut and run now, and I'll see you tomorrow.
    Still with me?
    Okay! On we go!
    The Neverending Story. We saw it when Handsome was, oh I don't know, three or four. It was in the 'children' section of the video store, and I believe it even had an additional sticker on the box saying it was a 'Family Movie'. It was definitely rated G. It's a fantastic adventure story with all these really neat magical and made up creatures. One of the main characters, someone you follow for a while, is a boy riding a horse. Eventually the boy is riding this horse through a swamp. So far, so good.

    And then the horse gets sucked down into the swamp and dies.

    Yup. Surprise!
    Wife and I were staring at each other over Handsome's head as he watched this boy on the screen of maybe 11 or so scream and cry and pull on the bridle, trying in vain to save his horse. The horse thrashes and whinnies, going down hard. But for all their concerted effort, eventually there is a blop sound, and the swamp swallows up the horse.
    I was horrified, and I was in my late 30s at the time! We stared at Handsome, wondering what he was going to make of this. We were amazed.
    In a stupendous effort of self-denial, 15 minutes later in the flick, when the boy (now horseless) finds a giant turtle that rises up from the swamp to talk to him, Handsome made his move.
    "That's where the horse went," he said, pointing at the screen. "He went under and turned into a turtle!"

    Oh. My. God. I love that boy.

    It was a near thing. He came to his own rescue on that one, saving himself from some sort of emotional scarring right there. Unfortunately, it didn't work out quite that way with The Bridge to Terabithia.
    In this heartwarming little film a young boy and girl become friends and have fantastic imaginary adventures in the woods near their homes. The boy is the point-of-view character and he pretty much falls in love with the sprightly, spunky, extremely cute little blonde girl who becomes his best friend in the world.

    And then the girl dies.

    Yup. Again. No warning, no nothing. Dead. We don't actually see her fall in the river and drown, but we hear all about it. The protagonist cries his heart out over it. He goes to the funeral. He cries. He talks to her parents. He cries. He talks to his parents. He cries. He figures out how to deal with it and come to grips with her death, but what is he doing while he is doing all this? You guessed it.
    He cries.
    Handsome was traumatized by this. He cried. he Forbade his mother from watching it, because he said it would make her cry. He sat down and (I love this part) re-wrote the movie, with a different ending. I think he was just 5, so it was more that he drew the pictures and told me exactly what to write beneath the illustrations.
    In his version, the girl lives.

    Both of these movies wound up being unexpected messes for me. If I could I'd go back and make it so that Handsome had never seen that damn sad movie, but I can't. Instead, I found this:
    Go ahead, click on it. It will bring you to a site called "With Kids in Mind: Movie Ratings That Actually Work". If you are a parent with young children, this site is a must for you. Add it to your Favorites right now. Forget ratings like G, and PG, this rates each movie on a scale of 1-10 in three categories: Sex, Violence, and Language. And that's not all - they have scene descriptions of whatever anyone has had a complaint about in each category! Their Terabithia entry they actually say " We hear that a girl drowned and we see her parents and friends grieving. "
    See, I'd call that right there a clue...
    Seriously, I go to this site all the time now. If you are a parent and your child wants to see a movie that looks just awesome in the commercial, but you haven't had time to check the movie out yourself, do yourself a favor and check this site out. Don't be like me. I found out the hard way that people just aren't going to name their movie "That Film Where Someone Dies Halfway Through and Scars Your Child For Life!"
    Though it would be fantastic if they would .. and you know that title alone would make all the kids want to see it simply because they're not supposed to...

    Okay, got to go. Check out the site. 
    Talk to you later!

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    That Smarts

    My son is pretty smart. I know all parents say that about their kids, but he is. He's not a genius or anything, I'm not saying anything like that, but he's pretty bright about somethings. He figures things out. He also has quite a memory about some things. He can't remember to clean his room, or put his dished in the sink once he's finished a meal half the time, but if you mention to that kid you might give him a dollar then you better be prepared to follow through, because your casual remark is now burned into his brain as a solid promise, and he means to hold you to it.
    Here's the problem with having a smart kid. Well, one of the problems, the one that whacked me in the face this afternoon. He likes to explain things. He's not all snotty about it, like 'I know something you don't know', but he genuinely wants to share what knowledge he has. It's kind of cute, sometimes. Like just a few minutes ago, as I was waiting for him while he plays with some of the other kids after school, he was explaining something to a girl who was playing Wall-Ball with him. I overheard him, and he sounded quite earnest in his explanation, repeating himself a few times to make sure she understood completely.
    “Dink,” he was saying, “means penis. When you call someone a dink, you're calling them a penis.”
    She just stared at him, so he repeated the entire lesson for her.
    “'Dink' means 'penis'”, I heard him explain, enunciating clearly for her benefit. “And 'dinky' means 'small'. So, if you say someone is a 'dinky dink', then you're calling them a 'small penis'. Or saying that they have a small penis …”
    The explaining may have gone on further, but I think the part of my brain that allows me to hear his voice shut down for a while, so I would not have to listen to my 9-year-old son explaining about penises to a 9-year-old girl.
    On school grounds.
    I'm sure we'll get a phone call sometime.
    Think they'll laugh if I suggest to them that he teach Sex-Ed?
    ...yeah. Me neither.

    I know I should be all concerned, and I am, I swear I am, but ... there's a little tiny part of me that's proud too.
    Twisted, huh?

    Talk to you later!

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Water Great Communications Business I Am In!

    This morning as I approached the Post Office, I saw that the street was full of running water. Then I noticed the firemen and workmen around the street, and a little farther down, one of the DPW trucks.
    Terrific, I thought. I don't have time to ask about this now, but I'm sure they'll let me know about it if it'll effect the building. I drove up the driveway and hustled into the building just in time to clock in for the day.
    For those of you who might not know, yes, I am a mailman.
    So as I was walking to my bench (where I sort my mail) I saw my boss walking across the floor talking to one of the firemen. The fireman was talking, old Useless was... excuse me, my boss was walking with him and nodding; it was a scene of great camaraderie.
    I, for one, was touched.
    I went on to my work, sure that if there were some problem or other, that my boss would jump right on to the loudspeaker system and let us all know in a clear, professional manner. After all, he's the Supervisor. He's a leader of men.
    So I worked through my morning, getting all my mail sorted and prepared to load into the truck for delivery. My last stop before I go out on the road with my route? Well, what is the last stop you make before any trip of any length or duration?
    So I went in the bathroom. I closed the stall door behind me. I took a seat. I contemplated life, considered the Stock Market, and tried my damndest to figure out a solution for all our issues in the Middle East.
    Okay, so I'm lying. But you know what I was doing, and I don't think I have to spell it out for you.
    What's that?
    No. I will not spell it out for you. Smart ass.
    So anyway, there I sat and all that, and someone entered the bathroom proper. Since it is adjacent to the locker room, this is not unusual, and whoever it was simply went to the sinks and then right back out.
    Just someone checking his hair,I thought, since the mirrors were right there over the sinks. No worries.
    I finished my business ... of thinking of a Middle east solution ... yeah, that was it ... and I stood and hit the lever to flush.
    Nothing happened.
    I hit the lever again.
    Still nothing, not even any pipe noises.
    I wasn't sure what to do. I mean, at home I'd have been checking the tank, but the Post Office uses tankless models and there was nothing to ... oh. Wait a minute.
    I fastened and zipped and buckled my way out of the stall and went to the sinks.
    There, taped to the center of each mirror, one for each of the two sinks, was a large note.

    "Water Shut Off - Do Not Use Untill Further Notice"

    Yes, I noticed the spelling. But I also noticed that there had been a complete lack of any type of announcement addressing the fact that the water would be shut off.
    Or that I would be unable to flush the toilet.
    Or wash my hands. (Contemplating life is a dirty business - so there!)
    I understand that shouted curses were heard emanating from the men's locker room. Someone asked me about it as I exited. I claimed no knowledge, and I'm sticking to it. I am a lavatory Johnnie Cochran - deny, deny, deny.

    ...and I am proud to be a part of what is essentially a communications industry. 
    Except internally.
    If you're my boss.

    Talk to you later!

    P.S. - I have a container of baby wipes in my mail truck for removing newsprint and other dirt from my hands prior to the eating of my lunch, so I was able to clean my hands. Just thought I'd point that out.


    Monday, November 7, 2011

    The Friendly Skies?

    Denver International Airport is set up a little differently from Logan. The ticket counters and check-in is on the upper level with the restaurants, while the Security Checkpoint is on the lower level in a two-story open air space. From the food-sellers you can look right down and see the roped off pathways that herd potential passengers to four or five inspection points. Usually that area is full of people, all hurrying to through to their flights; taking off shoes and belts traying things up to pass through the x-ray machines, trying to get themselves together on the other side of the machines and get out of the way for the people who are coming through behind them. From above, you can eat your pizza or burger, or even Chinese food while looking down on a scene reminiscent of a tipped over ant farm.
    When I went through there at 10:30pm local time last night on my way from Colorado back to Massachusetts, it was a little different. The rope lanes were empty, and the only people to be seen down there were uniformed security personnel at the two inspection points they still had running. There were five people manning each station, and they looked bored.
    Well, I thought, I'm either going to breeze right through here or these folks are going to make a training exercise out of me just to have something to do!
    I made my way through the rope-maze completely unhindered. There were two other people trying to get through as well, and I simply followed one of them to the inspection station to my right. She let me go through first, so I pulled out all my electronics and fluids and tossed them in two trays, threw my shoes and jacket on the belt and started through.
    "Sir, do you have anything metal in your pockets?" asked the guard just as I was about to step through the metal-detector. I checked.
    Change. I had a few coins in my pocket.
    "Not a problem, sir, please just step through here."
    He was directing me through the bio-scanner that stood next to the metal detector.
    "Put your feet in the yellow footprints and place your hands above your head please!"
    I did so.
    The woman running the machine declared me clear, and I stepped through to the secure portion of DIA.
    The woman's partner, an slightly vertically challenged man began to bark at me.
    "Sir, what do you have in your hand?"
    I answered at the same time the female officer did, that I had coins in my hand, thus the bio-scanner.
    "What is in your back pocket, sir!"
    Now, there was no one there. We were in a big, empty space, yet this little man was shouting. Constantly.
    There was nothing in my back pocket.
    "There's something in your back pocket sir!"
    "No, there isn't."
    "There's something in your back pocket, sir!"
    "He's wearing cargo pants," the female officer said. "It's just the shape of the pocket."
    "He has something in his pocket! His left rear pocket! Your left rear pocket! Your left rear pocket!"
    By this time I had  unbuttoned my left rear pocket and had my fist jammed in it, with my back to this Pocket Drill Instructor so he could see what I was doing.
    There was nothing in the pocket.
    He began to shout that he was going to pat me down. Shout, not say, or tell me. Shout. In this big, open empty space. I agreed immediately, but he continued to inform me. Loudly.
    "I'm going to pat you down, sir!"
    "I'm going to pat you down, sir!"
    "I'm going to pat you down, sir!"
    "I'm going to pat you down, sir!"
    He finally began to 'pat me down', which consisted of him rubbing his flat palm down my backside again and again. Like you would a cat.
    He found nothing in my left rear pocket but my left rear. Apparently this did not make him happy. I didn't think my rear was that bad, but he seemed upset by it.
    "Come here, please, sir!"
    I went with the loud little butt-stroker, and we stepped up to another machine, one I had never seen before.
    "I'm going to swab your hands sir!"
    "Um... okay?"
    He ran a piece of greenish paper over my right hand, and then shouted at me again.
    "I'm going to swab your other hand, sir!"
    The green paper again. Then he took the paper and stuck it in a slot in the machine like he was pushing a very thin bank card into a futuristic ATM.
     We waited.
    I realized that this walking poster for Little Man Syndrome was checking me for explosive residue.
    Are you serious?
    It occurred to me that the only thing left was for me to wind up in that small room off to the side that I'm so afraid of, with Little Man snapping on a blue latex glove and shouting "I'm going to check your rectal cavity, sir! I'm going to check your rectal cavity, sir!"
    I started to look for someplace to run to. He was little, and I was pretty sure I could take him, but that might not go over too well in a post 9-11 airport.
    The light on the machine came up green.
    "Thank you, sir, you can go!"
    "Have a nice flight, sir!"
    I actually felt my sphincter unclench.  I finally went and collected my stuff and got the hell out of there, walking alone down to the train to the gates. No crowds, no bustle, just me.
    Breeze right through or become a training exercise for bored security personnel?

    "Hello, my name is Rob and I'll be your training exercise for this evening. Just let me take my shoes off and I'll read you the specials..."

    Good God!

    Talk to you later!

    Sunday, November 6, 2011

    Human Honey

    On Halloween, someone toward the end of trick-or Treating gave Handsome a Devil Dog. He walked away from the house holding it in his hand, and said "All they were giving out were Twinkies."
    I looked at the Devil Dog in his hand, and thought:

    "That's not a Twinkie. That's a Devil Dog. A Devil Dog, you see, is two flat 
    chocolate cakes with a layer of cream in between them. Sometimes, most times, the cake is dry. You have to have a drink handy if you want to scarf down a Devil Dog or you might choke to death! You have to have chocolate and cream, you want to try a Big Wheel, or a Swiss Roll! There you have the chocolate cake, but 
    you have the cream fully enclosed by the cake, and the cake is protected, practically hermetically sealed by a coating of chocolate! That chocolate coating keeps the cake fresh and moist, and that in turn keeps the cream soft and fluffy, so the whole thing, either the Swiss Roll or the Big Wheel, is nothing but a fistful of chocolaty-creamy goodness! You can eat two, maybe three of either of them before you need to swill down some milk to clear your palate. The improvement over the Devil Dog is almost indescribable! 

    The Twinkie, on the other hand, has nothing to do with chocolate! No chocolate cake, no chocolate coating, no chocolate nothing! What you have instead is a loaf of golden yellow cake, the underside of which has three little holes, like  the Twinkie has three little butts, but instead of something nasty coming out they use those holes to shoot the Twinkie so full of soft, sweet moist cream filling you can't understand how the damn Twinkie doesn't just explode. The delicious golden cake is so moist, and stays so moist, you can eat a whole box of them and never get thirsty. I have no idea what their secret is, whether they use alien technology or oompa loompas or if they just make them with unheard of amounts of love, but Twinkies don't go bad, or dry out, or ever become inedible through natural means. 
    You can unwrap a Twinkie the day your child is born, put that delectable creme-filled treat out on a plate in the middle of the kitchen table, leave it there, untouched and unprotected until your child's 18th bitrthday and then allow them to eat that plate full of yellow sugary goodness and it will be just as edible, just as moist and just as delicious as it was the day you unwrapped it 18 long years ago. Twinkies are like man-made honey, and should be buried with our dead in case they wake up from their sleep of Death, once they've shuffled off this mortal coil, and are feeling a mite peckish when they do. Twinkies are our Perfect Food."

    But what I said was, "Uh... that's a devil Dog."

    Talk to you later!

    Saturday, November 5, 2011

    Technology Bytes

    Sometimes I have difficulty with technology.
    Please, let me explain.
    I ran into something on the plane trip to Denver that I had never seen before. Every seat on the plane had a small video screen set into the back of it. Now, this sounds great, except that I didn't have any headphones, so i had no sound. I know I could have rented a set of their headphones for just $2.00, but I wasn't going to be watching it anyway. I was planning on writing as much as I could. And I did. The problem was that the battery in my laptop here died a lot faster than I though it would. With no warning, no alert or alarm, and the battery indicator said it was fine. It just died.
    Luckily I had just saved my work (such as it was) and I wasn't too worried that I had lost anything. Instead I dozed a lot. But when I wasn't dozing, there was that silent video screen. I had no idea how to turn it off, or even change the channel, though I saw others in the plane doing both. I was far too lazy to simply ask for instructions or help, and I watched the screen whenever I was awake. It was some sort of video loop, and I kept seeing the same things go on over and over again. There were three music videos that caught my eye.
    Again and again.
    There was one that looked like a lot of fun. The kids in it were dressed up like it was the 50's, and in some parts they seemed to be re-creating parts of the movie Grease. Like right at the end of the video they have a drag race, like at the end of Grease, except in this video they were racing Cooper Minis, which kind of cracked me up.
    So I watched this video nine times. That I know if. All in complete silence. It looked like fun but I never heard a word.
    Well, this evening when I sat down to Blog, wondering exactly what the hell I was going to write about, I saw a picture on my Yahoo homepage of the kid from another video I saw that day, No sound for that one either, but I did see the video a few times. So I watched that video, and the decided to watch that other one, the one I saw nine times with never a word. I typed the name of the artist (which I had seen at the end of the video, nine times) into my search engine and hit "Enter". The video I wanted popped up-
    -and my laptop died, battery dead, shutting down with no warning, no alert or alarm.
    I got up and got out the cord, and plugged the laptop in.
    Apparently my laptop battery had just enough life left to allow me to watch one, yes, say it with me, ONE music video. Three and a half minutes. Maybe. And then it dies.
    I know you can't tell this just from looking at me, but I'm freaking out inside right ow.
    Does anyone have a spare laptop battery handy?
    I thought not.

    I'm going to bed. But first I'm going to plug my machine firmly into a wall and watch that #$%@ing video!

    Talk to you later!

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    Danger Will Robinson!

    So this morning I flew into Denver again. The last time I had a little trouble in security ... okay, actually I was laughed at, but I seemed like trouble to me! Did things go smoothly this time? Um... sort of. I mean, I didn't get arrested or anything. But I did have a few things go a little hinky for me.
    This is one of them.

    Going through security? No problem.
    I was all kinds of ready. Nothing on my pockets, my shoes untied for easily slipping them off and on. I wasn't even wearing my belt, but had stowed it in my carry-on. I pulled out my laptop, netbook and my new e-reader and slapped them in two trays along with my phone. I threw everything through the x-ray machine and I walked through the metal detector without a hitch. I walked to the other side of the machine and waited for my stuff to come sliding out toward me.
    And I waited.
    And waited.
    I looked over at the lady who was running whatever the scope is called that allows them to see through your luggage and check the general cleanliness of your underwear. She was looking through the scope into the bowels of the machine (I just constructed that entire sentence around my desire to use the word 'bowel' in a blog!), both hands up cupping the sides of her face to block out ambient light and allow her to see better.
    She called another security officer over, and he took a look. Again with the cupped hands. They then waved over a third cuppy-handed individual, and he took a look.
    They were all looking at my stuff, still in the machine. I began to have visions of myself huddling in the corner of a small room that reeked of stale sweat, feces and fear, trying in vain to cover my self as a large man stood over me with one upraised finger, like he had a bright idea. That finger, in my little vision, was slathered with petroleum jelly. I heard, heard the man say "Now, I'm not going to lie to you here. This is going to hurt you a lot more than it's going to hurt me!"
    I was just starting to look for a good direction to run when the conveyor belt shuddered to life and the machine began to vomit out my belongings like a kid with no self-control the day after Halloween. I started to grin foolishly and grabbed my things. I slapped the shoes on my feet, tucked all the electronics away, and was about to pull out my belt and put it on when a large man wearing a security uniform came around the corner and hustled toward the security checkpoint.
    As he went by, I could swear I saw Vasaline on his forefinger.
    He was definately  already wearing blue latex gloves.

    I left the belt in my carry-on and I ran for my gate!

    Talk to you later!

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    The Hippy-Hippy Shake

    Over the past couple of days I have been writing a lot. Some professional writers might not think so, but it's been a lot for me. NaNoWriMo has begun (The NaNoWriMo button to the right will get you to my page at the National Novel Writer's website) but I was in the middle of writing a Sci-Fi story for Handsome, and I wanted to finish that before I started my NaNo novel in earnest. So I was working on both of them at the same time.
    Well, that wasn't working out too well. I wasn't seeing the kind of progress I was hoping for in either project, even though I was writing my rear cheeks off. I've been drinking more Hydrive over the past couple of days in order to stay a little alert while writing, especially since Tuesday night I got about 3 hours of sleep and last night it was closer to 2 and a half.
    2 and a half hours of sleep, and then I went to work.
    Now, usually I do not drink Hydrive in the mornings. All that caffeine in me that early in the day is a recipe for everyone around me to be annoyed. I mean really annoyed. Like, carrying pitchforks and torches and chasing me over the moors annoyed. But there I was, driving to work with a Hydrive in my hand, one to replace the one I had been drinking while I was writing before work (I did manage to finish and print up Handsome's new story, by the way!). My breakfast was ... minimal. So by the time I got to work I was what they like to call 'wired'.
    I sang. I danced. I sang some more. I tried to keep it quiet, and I did manage to listen to my audiobook for a while as I was sorting mail, but it didn't last. Eventually I was pushing my sorted route out of the building in a big hamper, getting it out there into the parking lot so I could load it into my truck. That was where I saw PW.
    PW is a coworker who loves to hate me. He has fun hating me.  The part that he hates is that he's a somewhat angry man and I tend to make him laugh. That kind of spoils the mad. He's a little short too. Pretty much if you were to take Grumpy Dwarf, shave the little bastard, and slap him in a Postal Uniform, you'd have PW.  And I did have PW, right there in the parking lot with me.
    Now, since he has fun hating  me, I have swung the complete opposite way and have fun loving him. I do things like sing love songs to him across the workroom floor, and I make sure to wave when he leaves the building, or sometimes salute as he walks by. And there he was, backing his truck out of its spot int he lot.
    I stood where he could see me, and I started waving. He backed out, saw me there, and started to drive by without acknowledging me at all. Well, in my Hydrive-enhanced state I just couldn't let that stand, so as he pulled by me I started to jog alongside of his truck, still waving. And yelling goodbye. Loudly.
    I could see that he was trying not to laugh, and as he came to the stop sign where he would take a right and travel up the driveway along the side of the building to the street I decided to stick with him. He was only smiling, I hadn't yet broken him, you see. So he made the turn and I paced him, running alongside and bidding him a fond farewell at the top of my voice from about three feet away.
    Suddenly he floored it. I knew he could only run to the end of the driveway and then he'd have to stop again, so, with a youthful exuberance borne of massive caffeine overload, I sprinted after him. I didn't do too badly, managing to stay alongside the speeding vehicle and looking in his big wing-mirror to watch him watching me. His watching was happening through slits,  his eyes squinted nearly closed with laughter.
    At the end of the driveway, mission accomplished, I stopped, put my hands on my knees and tried to breathe. As he drove away, I jogged back to the rear parking lot and loaded my truck . As I was loading up another co-worker, JS, asked me "So, did you catch him?"
    "Catch him?" I replied, "I never lost him."
    "Really? He must have been laughing his ass off."
    "Yup, he was. But the real funny part is still to come."
    JS looked at me quizzically. "What's that?"
    "I am going to be so sore tomorrow!"

    The sore did not wait. My hip, which does trouble me from time to time, decided that today it was time. I limped all day, and sometimes it hurt quite a bit. But all I had to do to feel a little better was remember PW's squinched up little laughing eyes, watching me flailing along beside his truck like a total fool.

    Tomorrow morning I'm getting on a 7am flight direct to Denver. I'm going to be stiff and sore as hell when I get off that plane in DIA. Am I going to have a Hydrive as soon as I get up, and be all twitchy and restless for the duration of the flight? Oh, hell no.

    I'm packing one in my checked bag and drinking it as soon as I get through baggage claim!
    Watch out, Denver!

    Talk to you later!

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Protective Gear

    I came around the turn using a little drift, not a lot. I was in second place, and coming up on the leader. I know he saw me coming, but I didn't really think he could squeeze any more speed out of his car. I crept up on him and was about to pass, edging up beside him, the guardrail just whipping by beside me.
    There was a sudden sharp screech of rubber and road and before I could react he'd slammed sideways into the nose of my car, driving me into the guardrail. I fought for control, sparks flying as he kept the pressure on, forcing me hard against the rail.
    Quick as a thought I jammed on the brakes, effectively popping backward out of his forceful embrace, and cutting the wheel a little to the left, away from the guardrail. He wasn't expecting the move, and it took him a second to react to my absence beside him. A second too long.
    Without my car to act as a buffer he slammed into the guardrail just as we entered the last turn; a sweep to the right. I slipped out to the left, behind him, and twitched my wheel to the right as I hit the gas again, setting up a slight left drift. As he rebounded hard off the rail, swinging wide to the left before regaining control and entering the turn. I, in my slight left drift, feathered my wheels to the left, just slightly into the skid. My wheels suddenly gained purchase, gripping the road like some clawed metal beast, and I floored it.
    My angle was perfect, and I slipped past on the inside track, shooting through the widening gap between his car and the rail at a much better angle than he had. I roared across the finish line a mere car length ahead of him.
    Completely forgetting where I was, I let go of the WII controller with one hand and threw my fists in the air in triumph. My legs flexed hard as I started to jump to my feet and throw a one-man victory party. I say 'started' because, as I said, I had forgotten where I was.
    As my butt left the edge of Handsome's bed, where I had been perched, the very top of my head connected forcefully with the underside of his upper bunk.  My cry of "Did you see that?" degenerated into "Did youwaauughh!" My vision went a little funny for a second, but that may have been the tears of pain blurring up my view of the world. I nearly knocked myself silly again when I tried to grab my head without first releasing the controller.
    "Are you okay, Dad?"
    Handsome was horrified, but laughing. I managed to bite back the first response that sprang to my lips, and then the second. And the third. I finally gave him the fourth response that came to my mind, just happy that I'd finally thought of something to say that didn't involve a swear word or five.
    He went to his closet, and came back with something for me, and we continued playing. He giggled, but I didn't care, I wore the thing he had fetched from his closet.
    I know it was meant for skateboarding, but it fit and I didn't have to worry about my head any more.
    I may be the only one I know who actually wears a crash helmet to play Mario Karts for the WII.
    But, dammit, I won!

    Talk to you later

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Happy NaNoWriMo!

    Today marks the beginning of NaNoWriMo 2011, and I am ready and raring to go!
    I know I said all the writing stuff would go over to The Storyteller from now on, but this is a funny story. At least, it's funny now.
    It was not at the time.
    I've mentioned NaNoWriMo before, the National Novel Writing Month challenge. We have the month of November, 30 days, to write 50,000 words of a first-draft novel. I'll be putting a button in my sidebar much like the one I had for the Coffin Hop, but this one will take you to my page at the NaNo website, where they keep track of my word count and I can post little excerpts if I like. There's one there now... but first, the story.

    I've mentioned Scrivener, the writer's program I got that helps to organize and plan your writing as well as write it. I have never been an organized writer. Never. Short or long, I've never done much planning before I sat down to write, I just sit down and write. I have a Christmas Novella called the Christmas Spirit that runs for 66 pages, and that's cut down and revised. The original 1st draft ran 81 pages, and I didn't plan a damn thing. I just had the idea, sat down and wrote. Well, I sat down a few times and wrote, but you get the picture: I never planned. Much like this blog. Just about everything you see here is all 1st draft, no real revision (other than spellchecker) and it's off the top of my bald, shiny head.
    Scrivener was allowing me to plan. I had character sketches, setting sketches, and a whole scene-by-scene rough outline. I had a floor plan to the house the story takes place in! Can you be more prepared than that?
    So this morning I woke up to the first day of NaNoWriMo, and I felt confident. I had the day off. I'd start out working on my most recent story for Handsome, and then switch at 10:00 and start kicking the rear cheeks off my NaNo project!
    The morning rolled along and I worked on my son's story. It was going well, the story was flowing and I was almost typing it was coming out so fast. Then came 10:00. I closed Handsome's story, went to the bathroom (essentially 'going before I left the house') and clicked on the Scrivener icon on my desktop.
    I hit it again.
    I began to freak out, slowly but surely.
    I said "Screw the shortcut!" and went to the windows menu.
    Not only did I get nothing, but it told me it was still looking for it from the last time I asked for it.
    My heart was racing like I was running in a race, but I was sitting in my desk chair.
    My freak-out had begun in earnest.
    I went to the program list and tried to bypass the Shortcut.
    Nothing. I went into the C-drive and attempted to start the program from there, right where it lives. When I got there, however, I discovered that great whacks of the program were missing.
    Hold on, I'll say that again.
    I discovered that great whacks of the program were missing!
    I paused to take a breath. Actually, I paused to remind myself to take a breath. By now my heart was pounding in my ears so loudly I couldn't hear that my breathing had stopped. I won't even go into the numbness that was setting in.
    Okay, I thought, all I have to do is re-install the program, right?
    But what, thought back some evil, heartless, Devil's Advocate portion of my mind, what if one of the great whacks that went all Walkabout was all your saved work? What happens if -
    By this time the rest of my mind had its fingers in its ears and was singing "What's Under the Scotsman's Kilt" at the top of its lungs while I went into the program manager and uninstalled Scrivener. I mean, what was left of Scrivener. I went to the NaNoWriMo homepage and used their link to get to their trial version of Scrivener, the exact version that had just gone off the rails on me.
    Now, I live in a kind of Internet Bermuda Triangle. My download/streaming speed does strange and unusual things for reasons no one can explain. So today, when I attempted to download Scrivener, which is 43.3 Megabytes, the download stalled out.
    At .7.
    Not 70, or even 7. POINT SEVEN.
    I tried it again.
    Point nine.
    This program that was supposed to be helping me so much, that I had looked so forward to using, that I had been counting on to make my NaNo experience this year flow smoothly and easily, now had me standing up in the middle of my room, staring at the screen and yelling "You mother#$@%ER!!"

    Eventually it downloaded, and I found that my saved work was still there waiting patiently for me to find it again. I sat down to write with an unopened Hydrive beside me. I had so much adrenaline flowing through me by that point I think adding a little caffeine to my blood may have actually caused my head to explode!

    So now I'm behind on my NaNo project. You can see an excerpt at my NaNoWriMo Author's page. Just click on the "Novel Info" tab.

    There. That's the story of how Scrivener eased me along the path to novel writing.
    Not exactly goose dirt through a hot tin horn.

    Talk to you later!