Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Yodle Eh Heeee Hooo!



     Sometimes we find ourselves walking on unstable ground.  Heart rate slightly elevated, we press on, leading our followers into potentially harmful territory.  After a peroid of time, familiarity tends to mask the potential hazards and the elevated heart rate becomes the norm. The thought of searching for a more stable foundation on which to walk never seems to occur to us because we are so focused on  tiptoeing through the self induced road blocks of our every day lives.

     When the ground that we walk on finally gives way and begins to crumble around us, we have one of two choices to make as I see it.  We can ignore it and keep going like a man who refuses to stop for directions, because admitting that a wrong turn has been made would be too harmful to his pride.  Or, the second and much wiser decision would be to get ourselves and our followers out of the path of the avalanche before it completely consumes us all.

     If what I am talking about sounds completely stupid, it is.  If you think I am talking to you, I am.  I wont pretend to have all of the answers or to even be wiser than anyone else.  I include myself in this and my own poor decisions too.  I just think that our time here on earth is so short that we should be doing everything we can possibly do to make sure that we live it to the fullest and spend as little time being unhappy or angry as we can.

      We are never alone.  There is always someone who is willing to help push us in the right direction.  Our loving families, our loyal friends, trained professionals, you get the idea.

    You are never as hopeless as you feel.  You are much more powerful than you give yourself credit for.  I even believe that to a certain degree you control your own destiny. 

     Get out there and create some happiness for yourself for crying out loud.


    

    



    

    

Sunday, December 27, 2009





     Before you call me an idiot, let it be known that for as long as I can remember, I have always worked the day after Christmas.  That being said, and my ignorance now exposed, you will understand why I would willingly go with my wife to the mall on December 26th.  What an idiot!

     Somehow in the midst of all of the parking lot chaos, I was able to score a spot right up front which gave us an overwhelming feeling of optimism.  Maybe this isn't going to be so bad, I said as we slapped each other a victorious high five.

    The game plan was simple, we were to go get a couple of links taken out of  my new watch, grab a quick bite to eat and then over to get an iced coffee.  The problem with this simple plan was that everybody in the free world had the same simple plan.  Well fed,, well caffeinated and well entrenched in this endless sea of shoppers clinging to what was left of the holiday atmosphere and racing to find the perfect sale item to spend their gift cards and Christmas loot on.

     In the middle of all of this pandemonium, I just had to pause a moment to observe the different types of people around me.  I do this every time I am at the mall, which isn't very often I must tell you, but it always gives me a bit of a chuckle.

     You will always run into the group of 5 to 8 teenage boys who haven't quite grown into their ears yet but they think they are the coolest with their hats turned sideways and pants much too large.  The heartbeat of  mall life clumps to the rhythm of high heels on the tile floors as the over dressed runway types sache much too seriously and full of themselves from one high end shop to the next. And then there is us, we are the stroller pushing, people watching, overbearing kiosk salesman avoiding people who never want to be there as much as we thought we did before we actually got there. 

     What I have taken from this experience is that next year, we will wait a few days before venturing out into the retail world.  I must admit, much to my friends' dismay I'm sure, it really wasn't all that bad.

   

Friday, December 18, 2009

Good Lord! That's Not Funny




     I bit my lip today, I bit it hard enough to bleed.  Have you ever had to behave in a professional manner with the taste of blood in your mouth?  No big deal right?  We bite our lip, it hurts, we bleed a little and then we move on.  But I did it a second time, in the exact same place.  This time I blamed Jesus Christ, or so it seemed because His was the first name that came to mind and then escaped my mouth as I doubled over from the pain.  This time the blood was too much to ignore and my lip began to swell to a point where it felt like I had a marble between my cheek and gums.

     A few hours went by and I was so busy with my work that I had almost forgotten about the entire incident.  That is until it happened a third time, I mean how could I avoid it?  The inside of my lip was so swollen that it was resting between my teeth.  I looked up to Heaven with that look of complete disbelief and feeling of betrayal.  You know the look, it's the look that you get when you find your best friend and wife in bed together, that look you get when the cool kids at school leave a bag of flaming dog crap on your front porch and then ring the doorbell.  The only word I could get to come out of my mouth as I was swallowing the blood was, "REALLY?!"  That's what I said, but what I was thinking was, "That was completely uncalled for and it's totally not cool even if You are "THE LORD" or whatever."  And then I thought to myself, can this guy read my mind?  Is he going to be mad because I am mad at him?  Am I still going to get presents on His birthday or did I just blow it?  But no, I am the one bleeding here and in a considerable amount of discomfort, so I have a right to be upset.  But then again wait.  How could I be mad at Him for anything?  How could I even mention something so trivial as my bleeding, swollen lip to a Guy who gave His own life so that my sins would be forgiven?  Furthermore, the amount of pain that I was experiencing was laughable in comparison to that which he had endured. So, after wiping the tears that had welled up in the corners of my eyes (yeah, it really hurt that bad, it's a deep bite) and spitting the mouthful of blood into the trash can by my desk, (it was too much to swallow at this point) I laughed it off, looked up to Heaven again (why do we always assume that Heaven is directly above us?) and winked.  Let's face it, I've had this coming for awhile now so it should come as no surprise that this would be my debt to pay.

     You're a funny One Mr. Christ, and if I don't get a chance to talk to you before Friday, Happy Birthday..................................We're cool right?   

      

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Congratulations! Here's A Meatloaf




     On Monday night, I got a text message that simply said, "Baby Time."  I would be willing to bet that everyone in the neighborhood got that same text at 8:40PM.  Our neighbors and good friends Brian and Gina had their baby, their fourth baby actually, and as you can imagine, we are all so happy for them.

      So is it a global tradition or just a local one here amongst our friends and family that when a new baby is born and has come home from the hospital, friends and neighbors prepare a meal for the family as a nice gesture and to lighten the load of the  parents while they adjust to life with a new person in their home?

     My wife, being on top of things like this as she tends to always be, decided last night to make a meatloaf and mashed potatoes with fresh green beans for our dear friends on their first night home from the hospital.

     Everything was going according to plan, green beans cut and steaming on the stove, potatoes boiling in a big pot, and the meatloaf baking in the oven.  What great friends and neighbors we are, wouldn't you agree?

     There was just one problem, one that we didn't see coming, but when it did it hit us like a ton of bricks.  The smell of this meal had begun to permeate throughout our entire home.  It was a glorious aroma and we hadn't actually planned our own meal for the evening.  There was no way that I was going to let this batch of culinary wizardry leave this house.  Baby or no baby, this was my dinner, Gina and Brian would just have to fend for themselves on this night and that was that.

     Not a sliver of guilt, zero remorse and a full belly.  We are terrible neighbors and even worse friends, but when it comes to delicious flavor, good will always takes a back seat.  Congratulations Brian and Gina! 


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Everything's Better With A Doughnut




     Think about this for a second and you will see that it's true.  Everything's better with a doughnut.

     The Titanic sunk to the bottom of the ocean.  No matter how you say it or whether or not you knew someone who went down with the ship,  this is an absolute tragedy.  But to hear this news with a jelly doughnut in your face, while it's equally as tragic it's a lot more delicious. 

     Stubbing your little toe on the leg of the coffee table is one of the worst household pains that one can experience without any real bodily damage, think about it and you'll know that I am telling the truth.  It's the kind of pain that makes you want to use foul language and spit on your own carpet.  Again, take the same scenario and insert a bear claw.  There is no less pain and you still want to use foul language but you don't because you have a mouth full of deep fried flavor.

     You come home from work to find that your spouse has packed up and left you while you were gone.  Oh Crap, I'm really going to miss her/him you'll say, and you will mean it.  You totally didn't see that one coming and you feel like there's a hole in the pit of your stomach.  Mmmm, well at least he/she didn't take this apple fritter.  An obvious oversight that you will take advantage of and for just a moment the void in your soul will be filled. 

     I am not a scientist nor a therapist, so if you try these methods and they fail to work for you, please do not try to hold me responsible.

     Today's topic was brought to you by a complete lack of anything useful or productive to say, but this cinnamon roll is fantastic.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Festival of Lights




     A couple of days ago, actually the same day as the great Griswaldian Christmas light fiasco that I spoke about yesterday, we went to enjoy The Festival of Lights.  They do this every year at The Mission Inn, not far from where we live.  This place holds a special place in our hearts for a few reasons.  My wife and I stayed in the historic inn on our wedding night before flying off the next morning to go on our honeymoon.  The Christmas light display that they manage to improve upon every year is truly a sight to behold.  And this year, our 8 year old daughter had a chance to be a part of the festivities with her school choir. 


     There was a chill in the air, a chill by Californian standards anyhow.  For those of you who actually get to experience the seasons and changes in climate and color of leaves, you can understand why we would be excited to pretend that winter was upon us.  We didn't have to shovel snow or de-ice anything.  I didn't have to put chains on my truck tires (thank God, because I don't have chains), but we did bring our jackets and I did duck into a gift shop to buy a beenie to keep my head warm.  Talk about being at the right place at the right time.  It was the beenie that  I have pictured in my mind for a long time as being the perfect one for me.  The right stripes, the right style, the right colors, and only $7.  Glorious!  I think I said it out loud, startling the girl behind the counter who hadn't noticed that I had ever even entered the store. 

     So there we were, celebrating our faux winter, listening to 3rd graders rocking to modern Christmas tunes, and taking in the spirit of the holiday season.  It was perfect.  We had such a good time as a family, doing what families do, regular families, Norman Rockwell families, families from the 50's who weren't in such a damn hurry all the time and actually took the time to enjoy themselves. 


    
     The "funk" that I have mentioned being in recently has suddenly vanished.  I find myself in the mood that I have been trying to find for some weeks and it feels good. 

     It's funny and actually pretty amazing what 4 Christmas songs, a good $7 beenie, just hanging with family and 50 gazillion lights can do for a guy's outlook on things. 

     Hello Christmas Spirit.......Where the Hell have you been?!......Happy Holidays my friends.
    


       

     

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Tangled Webs She Weaves





     Yesterday, I went outside to deck the house with Christmas lights.  I'm a bit late to the show this year, but there's been a lot of the plate so cut me a little slack.  The truth about me is that I am not very organized, but when it comes to my Christmas lights, I am as precise as a surgeon.  The outdoor lights spend their 11 month slumber neatly placed in their own storage box in the garage.  A place for every bulb and every bulb in its place because I would hate to have to deal with a tangled disaster next December. 

     The box was open, I had my high powered staple gun ready to rock and the lights were well on their way to showtime.  There is one shrub in front of the house where 2 sets of hands come in, well, handy I guess.  The shrub is close to the side of the house so I usually stand on one side and hand the strand of lights to my wife on the other side and together we wrap the lights around said shrub. 

     Things were going very well, that is until the wifey came around the shrub and handed me what looked like an electrical nightmare.  This is not how I handed them to her between the wall and the green leaves less than 12 seconds ago.  No, what I handed her 12 seconds ago was as well organized as a perfectly rolled up garden hose.  The picture above is what was returned to me, delivered with a guilty and apologetic smile followed by an outburst of laughter from both of us.  "What the Hell is this, Griswald?" I asked once I was able to breathe and the cramp in my side had given way to the tears rolling down my face.  She had no explanation for what had happened and was saved by the ringing of her cell phone.  Off she scampered, and there I stood alone with my bulbs and wires.  THANKS HONEY! MErry christm....................

    

  

Monday, December 7, 2009

Aaaaay, I Had A Good Laugh






     I've been in kind of a funk lately, a bad one that has lasted a bit longer than some of my funks in the past.  I haven't had anything to laugh about really, or should I say that I have not seized the opportunity when it has presented itself because of this dark, unrelenting little funk.

     That all changed at 3:27 AM this morning when I rolled out of bed to get ready for work.  Yeah, 3:27AM, I work at 5AM on Mondays, it's brutal for a night owl like myself.  Anyway, at 3:27 this morning, I lumbered into the bathroom to brush my teeth and go pee,(not neccessarily in that order).  That was when I looked in the mirror and realized that my hair had decided to style itself under the curtain of darkness while I slept.  It looked as if all of the air in my head had begun to deflate from my left ear at an extremely high psi.  All of my hair seemed to stand straight up from the left and then took a hard 45 degree turn to the right.  Keep in mind I am not by nature an early riser, so I happened to notice this anomaly with one eye closed and the other reluctant to function at such a ridiculous hour.  But this was too good, I had to take the opportunity to crack myself up and I went for it with all of my heart.

     I struck the Fonzarellian pose, we all know the one, when he is in his office, aka the mens restroom at Al's Diner and he goes in with both hands to make the neccessary adjustments to his hair only to realize that, "Aaaaaayyyy", it's already perfect.  I laughed out loud for a good couple of minutes, trying to stay as quiet as I could so to not wake up the wifey.

Sometimes it's the simple things isn't it?  A much needed laugh and a good start to what turned out to be a pretty decent day.  

   

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Haunted By The Holiday Spirit




     So today, I got up early as planned.  Wifey just about jumped out of her socks to see me out of bed so early on my day off, knowing that it is not my day to get up with the kids, which means getting our oldest off to school.  How I was able to pull it off is a mystery, but I never question a good thing.  See, I was up on time because we had planned the night before to go out this morning to get all of the Christmas shopping done.  We shopped and shopped.  And when we were done with that, we shopped some more.  All the while I pretended to enjoy it.  Target, BevMo (that was fun), Costco, Toy R Us, Baby's R Us.  Truth is, I didn't care where we were or what we were doing, I just missed hanging out with my wife.  Life has been so hectic with work and the kids and so on, that we seemed to have forgotten about each other lately.  What a perfect day, just to be able to enjoy one another's company.  Not to mention that 95% of the shopping is done.

     We managed to get the Christmas tree all set up tonight too.  Quite a festive turn of events considering that both of us have been so burried in our work and soccer games and school events and so on.  And that's when it happened.  The explosion of laughter that came from the area of this very computer was deafening.  It seems that wifey had posted on Facebook that we had spent the day shopping together.  Some of my friends have since caught wind of this info and are not very pleased about what I have done to the sacred bond of manhood.  I have broken a cardinal rule, it's true.  I did it knowing that the risk was great and that the chances of escaping without incident were slim.  I was called out in public.  A slight breeze picked up at the gallows confirming only that I would swing like a pendulum when the verdict was read and the execution was well, executed.  I faught the good fight, I tried to plead my case.  It was no good, I had put us all in a bad spot and surely justice had to be served.  If I had done it, then there would be no doubt that the rest would be expected to do the same.  The bond was broken, the circle of trust had been infiltrated by evil.  I took my lumps, I paid the price, AND I ENJOYED EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!!  Sorry guys, I'll see you at the poker game on Friday right?..........Guys?......Hello?...........Shit!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Blog About Nothing




     When you write a blog that pretty much talks about nothing, one would think that the bar is set pretty low, and the expectations would be even lower.  Safe to assume right?

     Day in and day out, I manage to get something posted on my little Seinfeldian blog about nothing in particular, with pictures that pertain to that nothing in particular in one way or another.  For a while this has been a pretty successful approach, that is until a few days ago.

     Ever since I decided to write that book, I have drawn a complete blank when it comes to writing anything at all.  The quality of my blog about nothing in particular is beginning to decline, (I didn't think that could be possible), the pictures that pertain to my blog about nothing in particular don't seem to be having the same pop or relevance that they normally would.  What is going on?  Could it be that I have spooked myself with the thought of writing a book?  Fear is a writer's worst enemy, Stephen King even said so himself.  I have the ideas, I have them all lined up in my mind, that is until I sit in front of the keyboard.  This is when my mind starts moving much faster than my fingers can type.  The thoughts that seemed so clear to me 5 minutes ago start to look like sdpfwpwdtmprq erdgtwnrpgpwreutepgdnwerhgh as soon as I try to put anything down. 

     Does this happen to you?  Is this just part of the writing process that I am not accustomed to?  Please tell me that this will pass and that at the end of it these thoughts will flow freely to paper.  Please tell me that this blog about nothing in particular will continue to be fun and that the groove will come back.  Of course it will, this is ridiculous. 

     The book has a forward by the way.  It's a full page now, which doesn't sound like much, I know.  I have had to rewrite a few times just because I would think of better ways of saying what I wanted to say.  I guess this is  part of the process too.

     Thanks for lending an ear.  I will be back with better stuff soon, you can rest assured.  Goodnight.

  

    

          

Monday, November 30, 2009

On Second Thought





As annoyed as I often get with people, the thought never occured to me until today.  A man was in my way and without saying anything directly to him, in fact, without saying anything at all, it seemed blatantly obvious, to me anyway, that I was trying to get by this man.  How could you not notice?  I am not walking from side to side behind you because this is fun for me.  I am moving faster than you, and you need to let me walk by you.  Anyway, the thought never occured to me as I was contemplating removing the contents from my nose and launching them at him with the highest velocity which can be generated from the middle finger or even the index finger depending on ones own personal methods, that on second hand, maybe I shouldn't.  As much as I want to be as far away as possible from this cat, someone loves him with every fiber of their being.  This guy means the world to someone despite that fact that I want him to trip on his untied shoe.  It's funny how the mind works sometimes.  I finally got by the old guy and just gave him a half smile and went along with my day.  As it turns out, it's a lot easier being a nice guy than it is to get all fired up.  Perhaps I should try this more often.  No promises that it will work or that my new found attitude will last, but I will give it a try. 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

'Tis The Season




     Because I have signed a contract stating that I would not speak about my place of business in public, I wont tell you what company I work for, but I will give you a snapshot of what a day in the life of a sales manager for a  huge retailer is like. 

     Let me preface this recap by telling you that I have two young daughters, so as you can imagine, the day starts pretty early around here.

     Oh, I guess I should also mention, before I begin, that in order to survive in the fast paced world of big business, you must be able to weed out the worthless information and only process what is crucial to the needs of the business.  All the while keeping a positive attitude and your stage presence at its peak.  Afterall, 'Tis the season.  So, without further ado, I give you, "My Process" with a holiday twist.

    " Hey, can I get a discount on this?  Did you check your email even though you just walked in 2 seconds ago?  Hey John, I need a break. I know you have it, I buy it here all the time! (You're right, I've only worked here 11 fucking years.  Of course you know my inventory better than I do.)  I need your signature on this.  John, I need a break.  Can you help me with this?  I need you to train all of your employees on this immediately, even though it is the day before Thanksgiving and we are getting our asses handed to us.  Did you get those reviews done?  I need you to cut your payroll  even though you lost two of your high dollar employees this week.  I know you just got here but how did you not miraculously know that I have asked for this to get done three times this morning?  Hey John, I need a break.  I'm sorry I was 45 minutes late.  You guys usually call me when I'm late. (This one actually made me laugh, but only after the guy walked away.)  Is this the complaint department?  Just make it happen.  Come see me in the office when you have a minute.  (Shit! Now I need a break.  I think I will go take my break since I've been here for 4 hours.)  John, I need to go on my lunch.  John, you have a phone call on line 1....and line 2.  Do you work here? (No dumbass, I am wearing this name tag because I am the president of this company's fan club and I come in here to fix other people's fuckups just for the sport of it.)  John, I need my last break."

     This is a day in the life.  It is a lot like juggling cats, I would imagine anyway.  This is how it goes almost every day.  This job is not for the squeemish or weak at heart.  This job is never easy, and for some masochistic reason, we come back for more every day.  We thrive on the adrenaline rush.  We live for the challenge.  We will be back on Friday to do it all over again.  Until then, I'm taking my break.

     HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!  

             

 

    

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Chapter





     Through no fault of my own, and without provocation or request, I was surgically inserted into this world in the Autumn of 1973.  As it turns out, I am the son of a Viet Nam veteran father from Omaha, Nebraska and a Danish immigrant mother, who were never meant to be together in the first place, and later, you will understand why this is actually a good thing.

     My friends in the blogosphere, the paragraph above is a rough draft first paragraph of the book I have decided to write titled, Fatherless To Fatherhood.  Don't get me wrong, I've had a stepfather who is the most amazing man I have ever had the privilege to know, but I didn't always recognize that fact and I didn't always give him a fair chance.  For the details of it all, I guess you will have to wait until I get it all down. 

     The book will take you on a journey through a rough beginning, an amazing mother who gave her all to do it on her own, an absent father, and the promise to oneself to not let the cycle repeat itself.

     I am hoping that there are people out there who can relate to this story and how one chooses to deal with their circumstances.  I will post a page here and there for input and constructive criticism and together I think we can make this project amazing. 



Friday, November 20, 2009

6 Days






      My computer died.  It completely died.  I bought a new one, a really nice new one.  Come to find out, I needed a new wireless adapter with my new computer.  This means that I had to be without the internet for 6 days.  During this 6 day period, all I could think of was that I needed to write something on my blog.  What am I going to do?  I have the internet on my phone.  Maybe I can post from my phone.  I wont be able to post pics but my followers will understand.  That's it, I will post from my phone.  It's genius!  What?  I can't post from my phone!  There are people waiting for my post.  I'm not an ego maniac or even close to it, but I know how it is when you are looking forward to reading a post and it doesn't come.  A couple of my favorite bloggers don't post on the weekends and it drives me nuts.

     All I want to do is scribble on my blog.  I have so much to say and there is no internet connection in my house.

     Suddenly my heart bleeds for people like Mark Twain, Thomas Jefferson, Ansel Adams, old Bill Shakespere, and Ben Franklin.  The Hell they must have endured for all of those years.  Waiting and waiting through sleepless nights and endless days for their internet connection to come up so that they could post on their blogs.  For years they would wait only to meet their own fate before ever having the chance to post their pics, or read comments from their previous day's post.

     6 days I waited until finally, I was back up and running.  Last night, I sat in front of the keyboard and my new enormous monitor only to draw a complete blank.  So much to say, so many thoughts that have built up over the last 6 days, what do I say first?  Nothing.........Nothing at all.  I went to sleep disappointed in myself for not having it all planned out.  Do I talk about the holidays looming on the horizon?  Do I talk about how my lack of any sort of relationship with my father has been poking the back of my mind lately?  Do I talk about and post my friend's pictures which are completely amazing?  So many options, so much anticipation, 6 days of wanting so badly to write only to come up with nothing?  It's all there and I can't put it in any sort of order at the moment.  I guess this post can be considered my, "Hi, I'm back" post,  and tomorrow perhaps I will have it all sorted out. 

            


Thursday, November 12, 2009

As F8 Would Have It

 


     I took this photo a couple of years ago at the San Diego Wild Animal Park.  This is the type of photo you take that you know you are never going to do anything with but feel obligated to take anyway because, how often are you this close to a lion without being dead?

     And then it happened, yesterday sometime before noon in a Cleveland suburb, this picture was given a purpose.

     A new friend of mine, who happens to be the author of the extremely popular, and one of my absolute favorite blogs f8hasit, decided to publicly praise my extremely unpopular by comparison blog, which caught me completely off guard. You might ask, "Why is this a bad thing, and how does the picture of the big cat tie into the whole situation?"  First, it is not a bad thing at all.  In fact, I am honored that someone of Nancy's writing caliber would take the time to read my blubbering, let alone take it a step further and give me an award for it. Second, the popularity that automatically comes with being associated with Nancy and her blog f8hasit gives you a sense of being on stage and having to perform on a much higher level.  That lion, with its stoic posture and in control  demeanor tells me one of two things.  Either he knows that he is the undisputed king of the jungle, or he too was given recognition by the iconic f8hasit and feels compelled to perform at a much higher level.

     One of the conditions of accepting this award was that I had to write a list of 5 of my current obsessions.  So, here they are in no particular order.

1. I must climb that hill behind my house very soon because it taunts me and seemingly dares me to do it.

2. Writing a weekly column for some small, local fish wrap is something that I really want to do, and figuring out how to make that happen has taken up a lot of space in my mind lately.

3. Camping, (if you call living in a trailer with running water, heat, a toilet, shower and a king size bed camping) with my family is something I love to do and in fact we have at least two trips in the pipeline as we speak.

4. The Canon Rebel T1I camera is something that I have been obsessing on lately, but I can't get the boss to let me get one without a fight.  I choose my battles wisely these days so the Nikon Coolpix will continue to do just fine.

5. Last and most definitely not least, it is football season my friends. Football season is my favorite time of year, so to answer your question Mr. Hank Williams Jr.  Yes sir, I am always ready for some football.

     Thank you very much Nancy.  I hope to be able to keep you and my new found readers entertained for a long time to come.

        

          

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tit For Tat




OK, so if you read my last post, you know that I just don't really care about a whole lot of incidental BS these days. But this one got me going for sure.  Tonight, John Allen Muhammad was executed in Virginia because of his actions in the high profile case of the DC Sniper.  So the man who killed so many people seemingly just for the sport of it is dead.  Most people would say, "Tit For Tat, justice is served."  While I think that this is just a terrible situation and that his death does not really solve anything, this is not why I bring up the topic tonight, because as I said, I really don't care.

    As  I watched Larry King on CNN cover the story tonight while the execution was being carried out, I was troubled by what one of the victim's family members had to say.  Keep in mind, my family member was not a victim so perhaps I am speaking out of turn but this is what completely blew me away.  After Muhammad was dead, Larry asked the brother of one of the victims how he felt about the whole situation and made note of the fact that Muhammad left behind family, including his own children and how terrible this whole ordeal must be for them as well.  Are you ready?  This is what floored me.  The victim's brother then says that his sister also left behind a family and children because of this senseless act and that he has absolutely no sympathy for Muhammad's family now that he is dead. 

     Whether or not you believe that he deserved to die, whether or not you believe that justice has been served, how could you not have at least an ounce of sympathy for the children who have had to deal with the fact that their father has done something so horrific and that now he is dead?

     I'd like to believe that God would want me to hand my anger up to Him and to try to find at least in some small fashion some peace in my heart after all of the time that has passed since these terrible murders.  Am I completely off track here?  Do I not have the right to speak up until my daughter is dead?  Or my mother?  Or my wife?  Could I find peace if I were in the same situation?  I hope I never have to find out.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Are You On Drugs?"




The other night I went to my mom's house after work to collect my birthday card with a monetary gift enclosed (I'm an only child so yes, at 36 I still get birthday gifts from my mom), birthday dinner which consists of a curry gravy with white potatoes and Danish meatballs, and some nice conversation to top it all off.

     I began to explain to my lovely mother as I am going to explain to you now, that I have reached a point in my life where I am decluttering.  There are a lot of things that I just don't care about anymore. "What do you mean you don't care?", she says to me with a bewildered look on her face.  "I don't know how to explain it." I said to her with a smile.  There are things in life that people stress out about that really just don't matter.  About a month ago I was one of those people.  I stressed about work, I stressed about what people think of me, and finally something clicked and I said screw this.  Life is way too short, I am 36 years old and I am going to start living my life in a stress free manner.  At the time that I was trying to explain this to my mother, I couldn't come up with the right words that would make her understand exactly where I was coming from.  So, she says to me half-jokingly and half concerned, "Are you on drugs?"  We had a good laugh about it because she knows damn well that I am not on drugs but that I was obviously stumbling through my new found outlook on life.  I don't have it all figured out and I'm not sure exactly where this is all coming from, but as long as I am having fun I guess I will just roll with it. 

     There are still moments when I have to fight off the old ways of getting annoyed about things and have to remind myself that I DON"T CARE!  Don't get me wrong here, I do care about things, I care about my friends and family, I care about being productive at work, I care about being a good human being and a good father and husband, I just don't care about a lot of the incidentals that clutter up so much of our time.

     To this point of my blog it has been like the ascent of the roller coaster ride.  Now that you are on board and have reached the top and there is no turning back, I guess it's time to really start riding my mind.  Do you have what it takes to raise your hands above your head or are you going to close your eyes and white knuckle the handrail in front of you?  Either way, I don't care, as long as you enjoy the ride, do it however you like.

        

Friday, November 6, 2009

High On A Hill, It Calls To Me




     In April of 2000, my wife and I jumped on a quick flight from Ontario Airport to the airport in Oakland California to begin our honeymoon.  Honeymoon in Oakland?  The armpit of California? Why would you honeymoon in Oakland?  There is only one correct answer to that question, which is that you would never honeymoon in Oakland California.  As it turns out, you can't just fly from Southern California  straight into San Francisco which happened to be our destination.  I've never been able to figure out the reasoning behind making us fly into Oakland instead of just flying straight into SFO, although I have a theory that it has something to do with the rivalry between So. Cal and Northern California.  They don't want us up there at all, but since they can't stop us from visiting at least they can make us have to go through Oakland first.  That makes me think, maybe I will lobby for a South Central International Airport, not that LAX is any better I guess.  I seem to have wandered off course here but the tone had to be set.

     So, we play the game, we fly into Oakland knowing that a quick taxi jaunt over the Bay Bridge will remedy the situation.  As the taxi circles around to start our journey across the bay, there it is in the distance, "high on a hill, it calls to me" (the lyrics of Tony Bennett, we all know where his heart is).  The most beautiful skyline I have ever seen sprawled out in front of us.  Coit Tower stands guard overlooking the bay, the Transamerica building stands in the center of it all making its point. There's Alcatraz, the stories that place could tell.

     It's not long before we find ourselves at the hotel that we will call home for the next several days.  To the rest of the world, it is the White Swan Inn, to us it is a little slice of Heaven.  This is an old but elegant place with a bit of primitive charm.  The wood floors creek beneath your feet, the elevator is a bit tempermental, but once you get the gate like door closed properly, it gets you where you need to be. 

    

     There we were, beginning our life as a young new family, and beginning our love affair with the city by the bay.

     Once you get out onto the streets of San Francisco, your brain almost immediately goes into sensory overload.  The sites, the sounds, the smells, some good and some not so good, this isn't a fairy tale so you need to know that not all of the smells are pleasant but they all add to the experience of life in the big city.  The food in this town is just amazing to top it all off.  We love to eat and we love it even more when the food is delicious.  From Joe's Crab Shack, to Neptune's Palace, to the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and my personal favorite, The Grand Cafe, you just can't find a bad meal in San Francisco, at least I never did.


     Why do I bring up this topic today, almost 10 years after the fact?  I bring it up because we miss our time there.  We have been talking about maybe going back there sometime soon.  With the holidays on the way and our work schedules being what they are, we will have to wait a little bit longer but posting pictures and talking about it might just hold me over for just a minute or two. 

      

    

    

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What The Hell Am I Doing Here?



     After a long day of trying to make unrealistic corporate dreams come true, I found myself without a topic worth writing about, nor the energy with which to even try to come up with something.

     Then it came to me, not like an epiphany but more in the form of an email from an old friend.  An old friend who is a writer, a real writer with a real writing job and a real writing husband who also has a real writing job.  Anyway, in this email she says that she loves this little blog of mine and at that moment, I thought to myself, or maybe I said it out loud, either way it doesn't matter, "What the Hell am I doing here?"

     I started this blog not ever thinking that anyone would read it even once let alone follow it or comment on whatever rubbish happens to spray out of my head on any given day.  I'll be honest, I did do a little self promoting on FB and by way of a little word of mouth, but even then the thought of people actually reading this never really occurred to me.  Call it stage fright or lack of confidence in my skills.  My wife is the same way.  She is an artist, a good one too, who doesn't like her own work or think that it is as good as it really is.  Is that normal?  Besides, what's the big deal?  I'm not selling a product here.  I didn't serve you a heaping plate of nachos with a long hair in it or anything.  It's just a blog, chill out fat boy!

     In a way it feels like a secret is exposed.  Not a huge life altering, Michael Vick dog fighting ring, Heidi Fleiss prostitution ring, Monica Lewinski Oval Office kind of secret. No, this is more of an I like to stack 8 or 9 cookies with a glass of milk and mow them down when no one else is looking, pick that flake at the edge of my nostril when I think I am  out of the view of other motorists, wear these jeans twice without washing them kind of secret.

     I LIKE TO WRITE!  I LIKE IT A LOT! I MAY OR MAY NOT BE ANY GOOD AT IT BUT I AM GOING TO CONTINUE TO WRITE UNTIL I NO LONGER WANT TO WRITE!  That my friends, was liberating.

     Listen, I'm not sure why you people have decided to read this blog but I do know that I am glad you are here.  So far it's been a lot of fun and I hope at the very least we can all have a few laughs and share some stories.

     For a guy who wasn't sure what the heck was going to happen when I sat in front of the keyboard tonight, I sure did spill a lot of ink didn't I?

     

 

               

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Covert Operation




     Last night at around 11:57PM under the cover of darkness, I decided to conduct a highly sophisticated and not easily executed covert operation.  I was going to sneak into my 36th birthday hopefully without being noticed and without incident.  Much to my dismay and promptly at 12:00AM, like an angry parent waiting up for a disobedient child to get home long after the previously agreed upon curfew, there it was waiting for me.  There would be no sneaking around, and there would be no getting away with one.  I was caught and the punishment was to be  steep.  Violently, my 35 was taken from me and all that was left in the end was the body of a 36 year old man.  Tattered and torn, I lumbered upstairs and off to bed to sleep off this traumatic event.  I woke up this morning only to realize that the first morning of 36 feels a lot like the last morning of 35.  This might not be so bad, I might actually survive this and come out on the other side smelling like a rose.  An old rose with pedals falling to the soil below perhaps, but fragrant and colorful none the less.  Today, I will spend the day with my family at Disneyland.  It's "The Place" (that's what we call it), the place where we can go as a family to get away from the ho hum and where everything is perfect.  Today, I will use "The Place" as neutral territory, a safe and familiar place to be to get acquainted with my new 36 and hopefully we can come to an understanding that is beneficial to us both.  I wont lie, I am a bit skeptical and apprehensive, but willing to give it a try.

       Today's photo is a picture of the smoke created by my birthday cake as seen by the nice folks up at the International Space Station.  Leave it to NASA to be on top of it huh?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Just Listen




     Here, in my little blog that wishes it could, I tend to do a lot of talking about nothing.  In the real world believe it or not, I am a man of very few words.  I spend a lot of time observing what is going on around me and laughing about it.  Have you ever consciously taken the opportunity to shut up and just listen to what people say when they don't know that others are listening?  There's the know it all, " I told them but they wont listen to me."  The do it all, "I have to do everything around here and the rest of them don't do shit."  This one cracks me up the most because we all think that we do more than everyone else and yet there is still so much to do.  If we all do it all then why the Hell isn't it done?  The badass, "They know not to mess with me because I will go off!"  Yep, you're a 59 year old woman with a bad haircut and an obvious limp.  "They" obviously know when "They" are outmatched.  The road rager (this one is me 100%)  " Dammit, why are you sitting in my blind spot?  Get off the damn phone idiot!  You should know that I want to get over even though my signal isn't on!"  The rich guy's wife, "....................................." she doesn't say anything because she doesn't have to, and how dare you look at her even though she is wearing next to nothing and her fake rack is defying gravity.  Get over yourself Barbie, you're not that big a deal.  The do gooder, "Here, let me give you a hand with that."  Why is this guy so underappreciated and often considered annoying?  Is it just me?

     There are so many different kinds of people, and yet we are all so much alike.  Take a few minutes in the mall or the grocery store or amusement park the next time you think about it and just watch and listen to what is going on around you.  I promise you will have a good laugh and probably something good to write about.            

    

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Truth or Chocolate?



     2000 years ago what we know as Ireland, England and northern France today, was the Celtic Empire. It was believed that the 1st day of    November marked the end of the harvest and the last days of Summer.  Soon would come the cold days of winter.  Samhain, believed to be the God of Death would allow on this one day of the year, all of the souls of those who had left the earth, to return to their homes.  This of course terrified the people who would run into the fields to stear clear of the ghosts and goblins that were sure to inhabit their homes and town centers and mini malls and Starbucks.

     Now, somehow  throughout the course of the 2000 years that have gone by, the tradition has been distorted and reshaped into something that..................well something that scores me a lot of chocolate.  So, get those kids into their Hannah Montana costumes and send them out there into the world with their pillow cases and well versed chants about  smelling feet which apparently makes them hungry, hungry for only something good to eat.  Get out there and make Samhain proud........ I can't wait to do quality control on the chocolate goods...........What?  You have to run several tests to make sure that the candy is good. Right?  HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Research Is Complete And Now It's Time To Do




     A few days ago I posted a similar picture brought to you by the nice folks over at Google Earth of this hill that I all of a sudden after 4 years of living in my house at the base of, feel compelled to climb.  Today, I revisit this topic because this is how important it has become. 

     Yesterday, I was hanging out with a dear friend of mine who grew up under the shadow of this hill.  I told him that I was going to climb to the summit just to prove to myself that I can do it and to make the damn thing quit taunting me every time I am out and about in town.  There is nowhere in town that I can go to be out of its sight.  A quick moment passes with no response, but then he says to me with I smile, "I've done it.  I've done it a handful of times and it is awesome up there.  Just do yourself a favor and don't go up there on a day where there is even the slightest hint of a breeze down here. Because if there is a breeze down here it is wicked windy up there."   At this point we get into my truck, (it's a dark blue GMC Sierra with custom wheels, a billet grill and a snug top on the back for those who are trying to keep the paint of their mental picture fresh) and drive around the neighborhood and up into the hills to the east of this rocky peak to get a look from all angles.

     So here we are, the research is complete, I have exploited every angle that Google Earth has to offer, I have gone into the field to see it with the naked eye.  The time for preparing and just talking about it have faded into the shadows.  Now....... Now is the time to start doing.  When I say now, I don't actually mean right this minute, I do have to go to work today.  I say now as in, now it's a plan and not just an idea.  I am going to invite my friend Mark to join me for a number of reasons.  He is an extreme outdoorsman, he has a new Canon EOS T1I that will shoot this endeavor in full 1080p, and I think that he would enjoy this just as much as I will.

     Will you stay tuned to see the real life pictures taken from the peak?  Do you think I can do this?  Do I think I can do it?  Let's just go for it! 

   

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Farewell To Greatness

 
     Ladies and gentlemen, the captain has just turned off the TOO MUCH INFORMATION filter and would like to warn you that what you are about to read is not going to be pretty.

     I'm 35.  I'm 35 for one more week and the gravity of 36 is beginning to pull things in the wrong direction.  The hair on my head has statred its migration to my upper and middle back.  I have told the girl who cuts my hair (less frequently than she used to I might add) that when the flesh yarmulke becomes the focal point of my dome, she needs to just pull out the clippers without warning and just shave my head.  This started out as a joke but I fear that the day when it becomes a reality is much closer than I had anticipated.

     I remember being a strong 16 year old kid painting the trim on my Mom's friend's house.  With one foot on the roof the ladder slipped out from under me and SPLAT!  Flat on my back on the driveway from about 10 feet up.  I remember laying there for a moment wondering if I was dead or if I had actually just defied the laws of physics.  Nothing hurt, nothing seemed out of place.  I slowly rose to my feet, checked to see if there was blood pouring from any of my orifices....  Nope, all good.  I looked at the pavement on the driveway and asked it, "Are you ok?"  I was unstoppable and it was awesome.

     At 35, I wake up in the morning to the screaming of a stiff lower back that takes at least 30 minutes to cooperate.  My Achilles tendons, the ones that are supposed to give me the spring in my step act like bungy coards that are stretched to their limits and leave me walking like Frankenstein down the stairs to get the kid off to school. 

     At 35 my eyelids are starting to hang over themselves to the point where I can see them in my line of vision.  They are drooping from the top down like a pair of socks that have lost their elastic.

     At 35, you start to remember all of the little comments you used to hear your grandparents make about their age and you begin to realize that these comments are not too far away from coming out of your mouth too.  Some may say that they age like a fine wine and to them I communicate the only sign language that I can remember.  I tend to be aging like a fine cheese.  No, not a sharp cheddar or muenster or even a tasty brie.  No, I am aging like one of those Danish cheeses that you can smell from a mile away.  It stinks to think about not being unstoppable anymore. The time has come to bid a fond farewell to the greatness of my younger years.  Now, I will take things just a little slower and maybe see more of life instead of rushing through with reckless abandon.   I know what you're thinking.  36 is not old, and you're right, but 36 is older than I want to be.  There is no evidence of the kid who used to live in this body and I think that is where the struggle lies.

     So, at 35 and 358 days I come to grips with the fact that there is nothing that I can do to stop the decomposition of my youth, so I might as well look in the mirror, point and laugh at the guy I see and keep on keepin' on.

     WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?