Friday, July 27, 2012


     Here's the story.

So this afternoon I was driving like a maniac on the way to get Handsome to his swimming lesson late (because that’s how I roll). I mentioned something to him about a car I had when I was a kid, actually explaining what a ‘brake stand’ is.

For those of you who may not know, it’s when you step on both the brake and gas at the same time, hard. This has the effect (you hope) of locking up the front wheels while allowing the rear wheels to move freely, spinning to their heart’s content.

This is in a rear-wheel drive car, obviously.

The rear wheels spin faster and faster, until friction heats them enough that they start to smoke. Then the crowd, always assuming there is a crowd, goes wild.

It’s stupid.

I told him it was stupid.

“It was stupid. It’s a stupid thing to do — bad for the tires, bad for the brakes, just bad for the car. But I thought it was cool because I was seventeen and stupid”

He laughed at that, the way I’d called myself stupid.

“Well I was. I was seventeen and stupid, just like you’re nine and stupid. It’s not a bad kind of stupid,” I hurried on, not wanting to hurt his feelings. “It’s a natural stupid. We’re all stupid, and eventually we see it. I think it’s something like five years. You can look back at yourself, at things you were doing at least five years earlier than from when you do the looking, and you see stuff that’s stupid. You’re nine, and you think you’re pretty smart. You are pretty smart. But five years down the line, when you’re fourteen or fifteen, you’ll look back on this time when you were nine and say ‘man, I was stupid’. Then, when you’re 19 or 20, that all-knowing 14 or 15 year older you used to be starts looking like a real moron!”

He was still laughing.

“And look at me! I’m 43! That means I look back and see 38 years of stupid back there! You want to know why I sometimes seem to get a little mad and go off on weird rants? ‘Cuz I was probably just thinking about something that happened in that 38 years of stupid I have built up back there. You have to look bacl to when you were practically a toddler to see the stupid in your life, but I can already see me as a stupid kid, stupid teen-ager, stupid adult… my God, I can look back and already see myself moving into stupid middle age!”

I looked at him, sitting in the seat beside me and trying not to catch my eye so I wouldn’t see him laughing at me.

As if I’d be unaware?

“You just wait until you’re my age, and you have 38 years of stupid staring you in the back. It’ll blow your mind. And then, I’ll be 76! I’ll be looking back at over 70 years of stupid! I’m gonna be a miserable old man! I mean, think about it… you know, the next time we see Big Grampy, my Grampy, and you look at him and think ‘wow, he’s all serious, not a lot of fun, I wonder why he doesn’t look that happy’, you just remember that he’s… I think he’s… 87? I think he’s 87 years old. You know what that means?”

He was laughing, but he managed to get it out.

“82 years of stupid?”

82 years of stupid! Yes! You think that’s a lot of fun?”

I suddenly stopped and looked around the jeep.

“Why aren’t I writing this down? This could be a blog — why the heck aren’t I writing this down? I have a voice recorder — no, I have two voice recorders, in the car with us, but do I have either of them out and running? No.”

We drove on for a moment, then I asked: “And do you know why I don’t?”

Handsome took a chance.


I nodded. “Yup. Stupid. See, I could make some sort of excuse, but hanging out with you keeps me so young, I act at least five years younger than I really am. That allows me to see some of my current stupid right now.”

He sat there grinning at me.

“Stupid,” I muttered.

Talk to you later!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Gotta Learn to Type!

My son, Handsome, has become addicted to computer games. I always knew he would be, someday, but when it did happen it somehow took me by surprise, and still managed to sadden me. No more does he come to meet me when I go to the house, coming into the kitchen for a hug and to ask me how my day was. He never really listened to my answer, of course, but I was always glad when he asked.

Nowadays, I have to hunt him out instead. Well, ‘hunt’ is probably the wrong word. I don’t have to go looking for him, I know right where he is when I walk through the door. Truth to tell, he’s probably there now, as I write this. Sitting in the TV room in the house, his laptop perched somewhat precariously on a tray-table in front of him, one hand on the mouse the other dancing across the keyboard. His eyes, large and blue, stare almost unblinking at the screen before him, slightly glazed from hours spent watching colored pixels fly and spin across its shimmering surface as he and his on-line friends adventure, explore, raid and recuperate.

I have to admit, I get the same way when I get into games. Diablo, Ultima Online, Halo — and those are just the ones that were straight, on-line computer games. Don’t even get me started on the old PlayStation! I understand the attraction of these games, the feeling of accomplishment as you complete quests, solve puzzles, and just see improvement in yourself in the way you play. I understand just how addicted he is, and how easily it happened, and (hopefully) that his addiction to MineCraft (his current poison of choice) will be a temporary thing, and eventually he’ll show interest in the rest of the world once more.

But still, it saddens me.

For the most part.

Occasionally, him being the Handsome I know and love, he does something in or about the game that makes me laugh until the tears come, until my stomach hurts, until I need to either stagger to the bathroom or else wet my pants.

It happened again the other day.

Sometimes Handsome is on Skype with a friend or two who also play his games, and he can just talk to them while they play, strategizing, coordinating attacks, etc. That is occasionally amusing enough, hearing their excited voices shouting back and forth across the ether, the things they say, the fun they’re having. Usually, though, Handsome is relegated to using the in-game chat function, and he has to type to his friends, and they to him. These times are fun for me because Handsome, knowing he’s playing with slightly older children and not wanting to seem silly or ignorant, occasionally comes to me for spelling help. He usually comes out to finds me in a rush, spitting the words out as fast as he can so he can get back to the game and get his message out to his crew before it loses its relevance.

“Dad,” he’ll yell as he pounds across the kitchen toward me. “How do you spell ‘Greece’?”

“The country or the lubricant?”

“The country!”



He turns to head back to the TV room, but wheels back again to face me.

“What about the other one?”

“The lubricant? G-R-E-A-S-E. That’s also the movie, if you’re ever looking to spell that.”

He spins away, and then back once more.

“What about sausages?”


“No,” he interrupts. “The stuff that comes out of sausages, when they cook, the—”

“Oh! G-R-E-A-S-E. Everything grease is spelled that way but the country, which is E-E-C-E, okay?”


The thudding footsteps retreat across the kitchen from me, and I’m left to wonder exactly why he needed to know all that, when he was in such an obvious hurry. Trying to figure out stuff like that is the fun part.

Well, some of the fun part. Until…

It was about a half hour after he needed his Greece/grease lesson when I was walking past the TV room door and heard him shouting.

“No! No! Aww no…”

“Everything okay?” I said, sticking my head into the room.

He sat back with his head tilted back as if looking at the ceiling, though his eyes were closed.

“I need to learn to type, I really do!”

“Me too, someday,” I replied. “Why? What’s the matter?”

Those great blue eyes opened and fixed upon me from a face I saw was flushed crimson with a nine-year-old’s embarrassment. His mouth opened for a moment, but nothing came out. He closed it, tried again, and managed to get the words out, in a somewhat tortured voice.

“I meant to type pennies!”

Sixty seconds later I entered the bathroom, still laughing.

God, I love that boy.

Talk to you later!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Wetter Health Through Steroids

Last month I had a course of steroids as a part of the treatment I use to make me sweat when my anhidrosis is running rampant. It’s a two-part treatment, with three big I.V. infusions followed by about a month of oral prednisone to wean my system back off the steroids. The treatment last month didn’t quite work as planned — I had no reaction to the big bags-O-’roids (other than a distinct lack of the need for sleep, talking mondo fast and non-stop, little perks like that), and only started seeing some slight benefits when I was nearly done with the oral course of meds. So I immediately signed up for another two-part treatment in an attempt to just ram through the anhidrosis like a runaway bus through a paper sheet and get myself back to perspiring like a champ; honestly, before all this happened I used to sweat like a 500 lb man wearing a jump-suit in a sauna while eating a whole bucket of extra-hot wings. People around me were in danger of drowning.

Now, everyone I know, including me, is worried about the large amount of steroids I have been pumping into my system on a yearly basis. This doubling up on treatments did not go down well with some people (again, including me) but I didn’t have a lot of choice this time. I did, however, notice an almost immediate effect from this second course of treatment, and I called a halt to the first half of the treatment. I only got two big-bags-O-’roids rather than three, and started my oral prednisone, which is a much lighter dose, hoping this would be enough to continue the reaction and boost me back to watery wellness.

One little extra note: I had my two days of I.V. treatment, then called it off on the morning of the third day, then started the pills on the morning of the 4th day. That day and a half in the middle there, where I stopped the steroids cold-turkey and the pills had yet to kick in… I found out exactly and in great detail why they wean you off the I.V. treatment like that.

It was nap time. Every minute of every hour of the whole day and a half. I couldn’t get enough sleep, I couldn’t keep my eyes open, and I completely ruined the backside of a pair of shorts dragging my ass around work like that. I wore the material right away and wound up with road rash on my south-facing cheeks.

It wasn’t pretty.

Gravel hurts.

But then the pills started having an effect and my energy level has evened out nicely. I can actually get things done, and I’m not talking so much at work that the guys who work around me in the office have felt the need to try to throttle me with my own tongue. This is a good thing.

And I have been seeing a nice improvement in my natural ability to slick up like an eel in the heat and not just drop of heatstroke. This is also a good thing.

So, today being Sunday, I decided to go out and see if there’s any real difference in the way I’m working the water. I got Handsome out to the basketball hoop in the street beside my parent’s house and tried to see what I could do. We played a little one-on-one, and the game went on for a little longer than I had anticipated. It was… well…

Hmm. Let’s see if I can give you a visual to help you understand just how well Handsome and I play ball. You ever watch a professional game? No, scratch that, have you ever seen a really good pick-up game in the street, like in the movie White Men Can’t Jump? No, wait, have you ever seen the Harlem Globetrotters putting on a show?

We’re the opposite of that.

We stink.


The good news for me is that when you shoot 100 times and miss everything, including the backboard, about 70-75 times, well, there’s plenty of opportunity to run after the ball. In 85-90 degree heat, if that doesn’t make you sweat… well, then I guess my only option would have been to get a bucket of extra hot wings and head for the nearest health club.

It was not necessary. We finished our game, played another one of Horse, and I told Handsome I had to quit and go cool off. We went in the house, and while he went immediately to his computer I spread a towel in my bed and lay down under the ceiling fan.

Just for a minute.

I woke about a half-hour later, still fairly drippy and streaming. When I sat up, the towel stuck to my back giving me an instant view of the wet body print I had made on the bedspread right through the beach towel.

Mission accomplished. I had sweat up a veritable storm, created some serious laundry needs, and caused Handsome to stare at my bed in a 9-year-old’s combination of fascination and disgust ( I think the latter actually fuels the former) all in one fell swoop. As far as I can see, there was only one bad part to the whole experience…

…I’m really craving a bucket of chicken right now!

Talk to you later!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Losing Dollars and Making No Sense

So, a while ago you may have read my post about how the Post Office was doing its part to save money by getting me a rock.

If the above sentence makes no sense to you, please read my post titled “Rocking and Rolling” - it will explain everything.

Now, since that time there has been another, more recent change put into effect in an attempt to save money at my local office. It has been in the works for a while, the process beginning before my post about the rock (and since then I have also had 3 other vehicles, without rocks, and finally got my own assigned vehicke back just a few days ago, but thet’s another story) but the effect not being seen until the beginning of this week. It’s called ‘Excessing’.

Excessing, basically, is when the Postal Service moves so-called ‘excess personnel’ around within the greater organization.

“You need another clerk over in Town A? Well, they seem to have a surplus of clerks over in Town B, excess clerks you might say! We’ll just forcibly transfer one of the clerks from B to A! There, problem solved, yes? The clerk now has an hour to commute each way, when he used to have 15 minutes, but what the hell, I don’t know the guy, right? Right!”

So, one of our carriers, JA, has been excessed to another town and the forcible transfer went into effect the beginning of this week.We apparently have extra carriers in our town, I’ll call us Town B, like in the example. Town A was in dire need of carriers, and so they got one of ours. On paper, I’ll bet this looked like it made sense.


Every single day, even while JA was still here in Town B, we have been in a ‘State of Emergency’, where to get all the mail delivered for the day we have to force people to work overtime. People who don’t want it are being forced to work it. They were already spending more in overtime than they would have shelled out if they’d just hired another worker. Now, with JA gone, we are, in a word, ‘screwed’.

Doesn’t seem like the best plan of action, at least to me, for a company that’s already in serious financial trouble. But what do I know? I just work there.

At the beginning of the week, realizing what a hole this transfer was putting us in, our supervisor got on the phone and called local offices looking for help. Our offices do have the ability to ‘lend’ employees between each-other, in effect making short-term transfers in emergency situations - sort of our own little excessing program. Post Offices can lend each-other extra bodies.

Here’s where it gets weird.

We got immediate help sent to us from another local office. The same day JA started in Town A, we got help in the form of an experienced letter carrier who came in to do, effectively, JA’s old job here. And this New Guy is from … Town A.

Yup. That’s right. The town who so desperately needed warm bodies that the District gave them one of ours now seems to have at least one extra person to send out to help us! It seems as though there’s some sort of hole in the logic used in figuring out the whole ‘excessing’ thing, doesn’t it? It looks that way to us. You could usually tell who in our office had just heard where our ‘extra body’ had come from by the disposition of their lower jaw: if their mouth had dropped open so far they were tripping on their own chin, they’d probably just been told.

That is on the District level. What seems even worse to us is the decision that was made on the local level:

Us: “Hey, we just excessed a guy to your town, and now we’re really in a hole here. Is there any way you guys could send us another body, I mean, if you have any extra carriers we could use?”

Them: “Sure. You just sent us JA, right? Okay… we’ll send you New Guy for a while. How’s that sound?”

Us: “That sounds great! Thanks so much for the help, we really could use it now that JA is working over there instead of here!”

Yeah. Instead of sending back, even temporarily, the guy we sent there which apparently gives them extra help, the guy who knows our office, knows the job here, and could have continued, even just temporarily, to do what he had been doing here, they sent us New Guy. Who doesn’t know the office, doesn’t know the job here, and can’t just step in and do what JA had been doing here. He can eventually, but it takes him longer, so we get to pay him more overtime than JA was taking. And over there in Town A, JA is learning his job over there, which means he’s taking longer to get things done there than he would have here… or that New Guy would have been doing if her were still over there.

This way, both local offices can shell out even more in overtime than they did before. Genius!

And here’s another thing: you may think I’m just making fun of some of the decisions made in my office, but there were two local offices involved in this one!

I… I… I think…

…I’m speechless.

Talk to you later!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Horse of a Different Color

This afternoon Handsome and I decided to play a little 'Horse' out on the basketball court. I was a little excited about this since it's been very hard to get him off the new online game he's found, called 'Minecraft'.

"It's summertime, for God's sake," I tell him."Go out and get some fresh air, run about a bit, get some exercise!

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the game, or maybe call it by another name, I'll explain:

You take turns shooting the ball, until someone gets it in. Then everyone who's playing has to make that exact shot, in turn, from the same place and in the same way the successful shooter did it. If you miss, you get an 'H'. The game continues, people who miss when trying to mimic a successful shot getting the 'O', then the 'R', etc, until they have the whole word -- then they're out of the game. Last man standing wins.

Well, Handsome started the strangeness. He decided to try doing the goofiest things he could think of, in hopes that he would make the shot and then I would have to be just as goofy. He made silly faces, did the 'Squidward Dance' (SpongeBob fans, you know what I'm talking about!)and did several things that put me in mind of the Ministry of Silly Walks (Monty Python fans, now you know what I'm talking about!).

His growing facility with the basketball, not to mention his constantly increasing height, meant that I occasionally found myself doing some very odd things out in the middle of the street, where the hoop stands.

In retaliation, I decided to try to start getting him ready for wrestling in the Fall. I did push-ups, then took a shot. I did squat-thrusts and took a shot. I did reverse bridges and took a shot. I did push-ups using the ball, and last but not least I did clapping push-ups.

When I did the clapping push-ups, Handsome quit.

"I can't do those! he said. "I've never been able to do those!"

"Maybe not," I said. "But you can try."

Since he was fairly certain he wouldn't succeed, he didn't want to try. Trying to motivate him, I agreed to try my hardest to do something I had never been able to do. We were both surprised when I actually succeeded, and he did try and he also succeeded in doing a couple of clapping push-ups.

The upshot of this is that I, at 43 years of age, never going to a gym, and being at least 20 lbs overweight, did my first one-armed push-up.

I did two of them.

Mid-way through the second one, Handsome and I both heard something in me, somewhere, crack quite audibly. It may have been several places simultaneously, I'm not sure. For a while I was afraid it was one of my testicles just dropping off from the strain, but I think I'm good there.

I do know that at least one of the cracking places was my right shoulder, as right now I'm typing this all left-handed. My right arm appears to be on strike. No swelling or anything, no real pain either, but it's the weirdest thing: every time I try to do anything with my right arm now all that happens is it cranks around to give me the finger.

I got some strange looks in the supermarket this evening when I was trying to get the Cheeze-its off the top shelf. I did apologize to the nun.

So I'm off to work on recording something for a podcast I'm now occasionally narrating for, and then I'll practice signing my name lefty for a while -- I have to go to the bank tomorrow, and I'm not sure my right arm will be behaving by then. Then I'm for bed.

Talk to you later!

...unless of course my right arm gets the notion to strangle me in my sleep. Oops! Crap... I hope it can't read...

Friday, July 6, 2012


Kids. They’re funny, aren’t they? They do funny things, say funny things, they’re funny little people, right? Take this blog for instance. I try to write funny stuff here, sometimes with success, sometimes with stunning failure. Some of the funniest stuff I’ve written here, however, has to do with my son, whom I call Handsome. Sometimes it's all about him, and he isn't even there...

The other day I was at work and I stopped for lunch. Now, I don’t go anywhere for lunch, not a sandwich shop or a store, or anything like that. As some of you may recall I used to go to the library for lunch sometimes, but I’ve stopped doing that as well. I now go to the same place every day: the park that’s on my route. There’s a shady spot where I can park the truck, and someone’s wireless network for me to borrow. I frequently just swivel sideways in the driver’s seat and open my computer to work on something for a half-hour or so before returning to work.

This was my plan the other day — to work on a story I’m currently editing. I was prepared: I had the hard copy of the story with all my mark-ups and crossing out already done, all I had to do was type these corrections into the story itself. I’d pulled over in this lovely spot to get a big chunk of that done, but first, as is my habit, I decided to check my email.

Now, a word about email.

Handsome has his own email account. I set it up for him, and I monitor it. Well, that is to say I get an auto-forwarded copy of every email he receives He has a copy, and I have a copy. I explained this to him when I set up the account for him, and he was okay with it then. He still appears to be okay with it, and it’s a good thing, because I’m not planning to change it any time soon. I know that eventually he’ll be making his own email accounts and I’ll lose this monitoring ability, but for the moment it helps keep me sane. I don’t see his outgoing messages, only those sent to him.

Now, I started this account for him when he was eight years old, and as a parent I look at it this way: on one side of the monitor is my lovely innocent sweet little boy (Yes, I know he’s about 125 lbs and can lift me up. Shut up. He’s always going to be my little boy.) while on the other side of the monitor is every deviant, pedophile, weirdo and whack-job in the world, all slavering at the prospect of starting an electronic relationship with my little boy.

It’s even worse since I have a writer’s imagination, and a horror writer’s imagination at that! This means that in the blink of an eye I can follow the imagined chain of events of such an electronic relationship all the way from “Well, hello there little man, would you like to be my friend?” to “It rubs the lotion on its skin, it does this whenever it is told.”

 It’s enough to make a grown man gibber!

So anyway, back to the other day. I pulled into my favorite spot at the park, pulled out my laptop and logged into the internet to check my email.

Now, a word about the internet.

The internet is a terrific thing. Fantastic. I love it, especially as a writer — look at this blog, for example.

As a parent, however, it makes me gibber.

For instance, Handsome has a FaceBook account. I set it up for him (why do I keep doing these things that later drive me insane? Oh yes, because Handsome makes big blue puppy-dog eyes. That’s right, I’d forgotten.) so he could play ‘Words With Friends’ with his mother. I was actually excited — he wanted to play a word game, one that could potentially be educational! I set up the account and the two of them just played away, happy as a pair of clams. I was happy too, until the next day when I pulled in to my spot at the park and checked FaceBook.

Handsome, apparently frustrated at not being able to figure out certain aspects of FaceBook on his own, had posted a video of himself, asking for help! It was wide open and public, and featured my sweet little boy looking at the camera with his big blue eyes and saying “…so anyone out there, please help me!”

In my mind, every deviant, pedophile, weirdo and whack-job in the world with a FaceBook account -- which is to say every deviant, pedophile, weirdo and whack-job in the world -- was wiping the drool off his chin, smiling big, and typing “Well, hello there little man, I’d love to help you! Would you like to be my friend?”

I gibbered.

I called the house and got Handsome on the phone. I ascertained that there was just the one video and talked him through removing it from FaceBook. I believe I sounded calm and rational; I wasn’t upset, no, not at all! Meanwhile, inside, there was a whole lot of yelling and running about with waving arms going on. It wound up being handled, quite easily, actually, and my heart rate returned to normal. His FaceBook settings have been changed to limit (quite a bit) who gets to see what from him, as well as who can get to him.

So anyway, back to the other day. I parked, checked my email, and saw this:

Congratulations, [Handsome]! With your first video now uploaded, you're ready to go even deeper into the YouTube experience. Here are some tips to help get you started.

I would like to tell you at this point that I somehow evacuated a chunk of square building material, but I can’t. That would indicate that I soiled my pants, and that would be inaccurate. My sweet little boy was posting videos on YouTube, the trolling ground for every deviant, pedophile, weirdo and whack-job in the world.

I soiled my entire truck.

There was no link in the email leading to the video it was referencing, so I went directly to YouTube. I couldn’t find anything. I had no idea what was in the video he'd posted, and I was starting to gibber. Luckily, while I was frantically searching, someone responded to his video on YouTube, and he got an email about it. The email contained a link to see the comment, which was attached to video, and I could follow it there.

To make a long story short (yes, I know, way too late for that) I found that he’d posted three videos. Two were of him sitting in the kitchen and explaining something about a game he plays. I wasn’t happy they were there, but these videos were basically harmless. The third one, however, was an old video he’d made when he first got the laptop and was just playing with the camera. It was of him, in the same kitchen, dancing with the large stuffed pig that he won at the fair last year.

You heard me. A pig.

It was an innocent little dance, and it was just a kid having fun and goofing around. Some of those dance moves with the pig, though, if viewed in the right light… were a little evocative. If you were of the right frame of mind. I'll leave it at that.

In my mind I heard millions of fingers striking millions of keys, all tapping out the same message: “Well, hello there little man, would you like to be my friend?”

I soiled the entire interior of my truck again. Explosively.

I got on the phone.

Needless to say, editing work on my story was done that day.

It’s all been handled now. Media has been deleted from YouTube. Handsome has been talked to about posting things on the internet. I have changed my clothes and hosed out the inside of my mail truck.

Life goes on.

…at least, it’s going on until the next time that adventurous little so-and-so does something else on the internet that stops my heart.

I can hardly wait.

Talk to you later!