Thursday, December 17, 2009

Revitalized

Every once in a while I need to be reminded that I like music. Kind of odd for a guy who makes a third of his income in the industry, but I'm an odd lot anyway. I've written about this before. Being fed up with the state of things assaulting my eardrums. The local classic rock station working the same playlist they had when I was in high school, the dearth of good metal these days, the church choir (Hey I saw a whole flock of red faced warblers the other day. You were bird watching? No I was at choir practice.... Sorry, I'll be here all week.)

So last week I remembered Queen. Yeaaaaaah Queen. There was a time, back when that I wore the grooves out of Classic Queen and Greatest Hits. That's a reference to vinyl for the younger readers who may be thinking that I just got tired of the grooves. I played that shit till there was daylight showing through from the other side.

Anyway, I got on YouTube and started soaking up some live performances. The sad thing about Queen is that their heyday was back when concert films were few and far between. Fortunately they played some really big shows that got put down for posterity. After a few views though, the decided lack of cell phone video more than made up for the quantity of material overall.

So there's the Wembley show that PBS always plays at midnight on the last night of the summer membership drive.

There's the Budapest show from '85 that sometimes plays back weird because of European video conversions.

There's Queen playing We Will Rock You in double time to a really confused audience somewhere in Eastern Europe.

There's Freddy in flowing locks and tight pants in the seventies.

There's Freddy in a mustache and tighter pants in the eighties.

There's that call and response thing he did with the crowd at Live Aid, one of the timeless moments of rock.

And then there's the one that got me...

Hammer To Fall has always had a deep effect on me. No good reason why. It may be the line about growing up tall and proud, in the shadow of the mushroom cloud. In elementary school we were still shown cold war Civil Service films about preparation for nuclear war. Maybe it's the eloquently expressed futility of modern life, "build your muscles as your body decays". Maybe it's the thirst for relief, "let the anesthetic cover it all" the same reason I liked Comfortably Numb so much. At any rate, it would not be entirely outside the realm of possibility that you could catch a certain sound guy with a small tear in his eye while that song is on.

But the one that really got me...

I stumbled on a version that Brian May and Roger Taylor did with Paul Rogers. It starts with Brian May way out in the crowd, alone in the spotlight on a bar stool. Empty bar stool next to him... no Freddy (sniff). Not that he ever really looked young but now he's looking a little worse for wear, the voice starting to get a little raspy, like aged whiskey. It's just him and that one of a kind guitar, he's using a 10p piece for a pick and it's just gently chiming out of a Vox that's away up out of sight somewhere.

I pretty much openly wept at the sheer, aching, shimmering beauty of it. That's my drug. I might not get another hit for months or years. But tonight... I got a hit. For six minutes and seven seconds nothing sucked. There was no boss, no kids, no grinding, no straining. Just the pleasant strains of the wire choir. That's my drug.




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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's A Mad Mad Mad World

The world is just nuts. Cultures. Paradigms. I flipped open Effbook this morning and the same person had posted an article about Darfur and photos from Pet Society within minutes of each other. I'm not putting that out there with any sort of negative inference or anything. My life is full of the same sort of thing. At work, patients lie in the ICU on ventilators while I complain about the HVAC computer being slow.

It just strikes me now and then how wide a range the human experience encompasses. My kids fight over my iPod Touch like it's the end of the world, while a billion people walk this earth having never made a phone call. I'm pretty poor compared to some in this country who live in big houses, but even here I'm far above the bottom of the barrel. And even the people who are the poorest of the poor would be considered wealthy by comparison in a lot of other places.

That's one of the nice things about civilization. The farther up the ladder you climb, the more free time you have to think about and do all the things that make us civilized. When "keeping the wolves at bay" starts to mean paying the water bill and not keeping real wolves from eating your babies you start to have time to think about flower beds and network television.

The thing that really makes us civilized though is when we sit atop our piles of riches and scoop up a handful for our fellow man. Not to toot our own horn too much but that's the very reason our family is involved with Habitat For Humanity to help out folks in our own neighborhood and Heifer International to give a leg up to people on the other side of the world whom we'll never meet.

We've seen with our own eyes what a powerful difference the right kind of giving can make for someone. We've chosen organizations that "teach a man to fish" instead of just offering a simple hand out. This didn't start as a pitch for holiday giving. I could have written it in June and meant it just as much. Maybe I'll re-post this next summer. A reminder to enjoy your present circumstances and keep things in perspective.

And since I may or may not post again this year depending on my level of exhaustion I'd like to wish everyone who still reads me a Merry Christmas, and also a Happy Hanuka (I thought there was a "C" in there but apparently my spell check is even more goyem than I am) and also a Joyous Kwanza, Pleasant Solstice, and whatever other holiday you choose to celebrate. Think of the poor, the hungry, the huddled masses and break 'em off a lump. Share the warmth y'all.


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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Let The Holiday Atrocities Begin

Today was the day folks. To be honest I'm surprised that people were able to hold out as long as they did. Today was the day the first Christmas decorations showed up. My neighbor down the street covered his front lawn in what appears to be an all new LED setup this year. Looks like environmental consciousness is finally taking root. No fewer than fifteen lighted ornaments including two six foot LED trees and two white reindeer (with strobes for effect) grace a lawn that I will be forced to view every time I exit my house.

I know it won't be long before the neighbors directly across the street break out the 3/4 scale plastic nativity scene. And with that I am going to end this post before I get in to a full scale rant about people who don't buy in to my religion or even attend church mucking up our high holy day with glitz and cheap props. I think I will go light a candle in the living room and sign Silent Night instead.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I ran into a bunch of students today at the hospital. It's pretty easy to tell how far along they are. The bags under the eyes are usually a pretty good barometer. Hair too, not much time for styling when you're cramming to be a doc or a nurse. Today's batch was as fresh as they come. Slim, stylish kids in lab coats, makeup all done, hair all pretty (guys too). I showed them through some of our space and watched them soak it all up like they were on the set of a TV show.

I ran into one of them later on after work. She said she was changing majors. I said that was probably a good idea if you weren't positive you wanted to run yourself into the ground for the sake of your fellow man.

Nursing's hard on a girl. You see a flock of nursing students flutter by on a tour, all sweet smelling with their hair all perfect and it's kind of awe inspiring to know that (possibly unwittingly) they're going to sacrifice their youth and good looks in order to keep the meds flowing and the bed pans squared away. (I know that's putting it extremely mildly, nurses, it's only for the sake of brevity.)

It's even more inspiring to see the real nurses. Overweight because despite being physically demanding the work isn't much for cardio and let's face it, the gym? After a day on the unit? Hair in a pony tail, joints aching, baggage from the stress tucked somewhere out of site. And no thought except for the comfort of their patients. People who call nurses angels are mistaken, God probably doesn't make angels work a double during flu season.

Anyway, it had me waxing all thoughtful about the passing beauty of youth and the true beauty of a life spent in service of your fellow human beings. Next time you see a nurse who is by all outward appearances un-lovely, keep it firmly in mind that she took a pass on another career with less wear and tear and better outfits to give comfort to often ungrateful patients.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Location, Location, etc.

I got the soda treatment today. That brief instance where someone gets up on their high horse and snickers at you for referring to carbonated beverages as "pop". There was a lot of that when I was away at college in New York. New Yorkers have particularly high horses. I only let it bother me the first time though. (In my defense I was pretty much laughed right out of a room.) After that I decided that was one particular flavor of nonsense that I wasn't going to put up with.

So now when it happens I have a response:

"Oh, right, begging your pardon oh urbane one... I realize that your big city upbringing has endowed you with a certain air of superiority with respect to carbonated beverages. But you obviously need it pointed out to you that there is a problem with your feet and in particular your nose. When you are standing in the shade of sugar Maples and breathing the air that is cooled by the Great Lakes... it's pop. Now why don't you toddle off in search of a gellato or something (heh, good luck)."

Perhaps my own horse is getting a little high here but really, you've got some nuts to stand in the very heart of "pop" country and haughtily snicker at somebody like the Pepsi you drank back in the Burroughs is somehow ever so much classier for being called "soda". We may be hick, we may drink cheap beer from cans, but we don't pay $400 a month to park our cars, so who's the smart one now city kid?

Done ranting...

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

All Saints Eve

I wonder if the people who complain about creches on public lawns and Christmas greetings from cashiers are the same people who cover their lawns with styrofoam grave stones and plastic ghouls. Would they be offended by a giant inflatable jack-o-lantern in front of City Hall?

I only ask because of all the holidays Halloween is the hardest to explain to my kids. Sure, we play along because costumes and candy are fun. Honestly, we find any excuse we can to get into costumes the whole year round. But explaining the made-in-Taiwan gore-fest that some people put on is just beyond me.

We're Christians, so explaining all the trappings of our religion's holy days is easy. The patriotic holidays are a snap too. I really love all the harvest type decorations that people put out. Corn stalks, pumpkins, gourds, the occasional jolly scarecrow, all these things speak of the joy of the season. But when my three-year-old stops dead in his tracks, shuffles real close to me and grabs my hand because there's a bloody skeleton crawling out of my neighbor's flower bed... I'm at a loss to explain that shit.

"Well you see son, once upon a time there were pagan holidays that involved carving turnips into scary faces to scare off all the evil spirits. After a while the Church created All Saints Day to balance things out, but it didn't really work so well. People are a superstitious lot and even though they go to church on Sunday it still pays to placate any evil spirits that might be roaming the neighborhood on a frosty autumn evening. Story tellers of old would scare the villagers with chilling tales of ghosts and goblins. With the advent of cheap printing these stories continued to circulate widely and eventually transformed into the gore genre of cinema in the 1950s. Americans maintain a fascination with the occult and are happy to bring it on home from Wal-Mart. Even though most people don't have any concept of what evil really is, who the Devil is, or anything to do at all with spiritual beings like angels or demons, they're happy to participate in a holiday that involves costumes and candy."


So just ignore that creepy dead guy with his bony hand scrabbling at the edge of the sidewalk and concentrate on that big, fluffy pumpkin in the next yard. Maybe if you think about that big, happy jack-0-lantern I won't have to hold you in the dark for an hour later on because you had a bad dream about the living dead coming for you from out of the hardy mums.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Days Gone By

Today marked the celebration of the 175th anniversary of the town I live in. It wasn't much to look at. The town board didn't realize that we were due for a shindig until it was almost too late and they just threw something together. The 150th was way better, mostly because I was eight and there was a guy with a real... live... teepee.

The Town Hall is one of the oldest buildings in town. It's a three story cobble stone structure and it's just one house up the street from me. The third floor has a museum in it with as much historical junk as could be scraped together. It's actually pretty neat to see how much variety there is, considering that the only source of relics is the attics of a township that only covers thirty-five square miles. Civil war uniform, Edison wax cylinder player, WWI firearms. This is our stuff, kinda cool.

And along all the walls are photos of the town. Railroad bridges being built, train depots, and the coolest of all, aerial photos from several decades. The one from 1965 struck me as particularly cool because about half the town just isn't there! One thing that is on it though is the old three bay garage down on the corner. It was remodeled into a modern day convenience store when I was a kid but I can still remember it as an auto shop with a news stand out front.

That news stand was the reason I started writing tonight. Inside was nothing but a magazine rack, piles of newspapers, a black and white TV and a very bored clerk. But outside there was a Coke machine. A particular breed of Coke machine not often seen even way back in the dark ages of the late 1970's.

This Coke machine was of the beautiful design wherein a long rectangular door on the left side opened up, just like the fridge at home. Behind the glass were five or six holes from which peeped the caps of glass bottles of pop. (I'm from Western New York, it's my story and it's POP, all right?) Simplicity itself. You drop in two quarters, grab a frosty bottle and give it a yank. The metal jaws grasping the delicate hourglass let go and you have yourself a pop.

Simple, right? One payment, one pop. But no... a much older, much wiser cousin let me in on a little secret. This was the cousin that would later on know all sorts of things about computer hacking, he was almost dangerous. The secret was that the jaws didn't just let go of the pop that you paid for and latch on to the next one in line. They were on a timer!

So this meant that any industrious lad with a couple chums could treat the whole gang if they could scrape up four bits between them. One guy fed the coin slot and manned the door, one or more would squat and hold arms out underneath, and the guy with the fastest fists would be the puller.

Clink-a-chunk, clink-a-chunk, fwip.... deep breath.... yankyankyankyankyank!

The best of the best could get four or even five cold ones out before the jaws slammed shut. But even a pre-schooler could get one for himself and a friend.

Wrong! Stealing! Yes, I know. But how sweet it was. How utterly sweet to be the Orange Pop Bandits!

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

On Love

All you need is love (name that band)

She love me... she loves me not... (name hat game)

Love is patient, love is kind, etc... (name that book)

I'm not even gonna mess around here, I just read a post by Irish Gumbo about love and now I'm waxing thoughtful. (Which is unusual these days, I'm running low on wax.) The first paragraph talks about all the ways we learn about love and the second about all the ways we loose it. That's what got me to wondering... is it possible to loose love?

If you're allergic to religion don't click away here, I'll keep it brief and non-confrontational. The Bible says, and I'm paraphrasing here, that God gives without repentance. Which is a fancy way of saying that God is not what we used to call an Indian Giver on the playground. If God gives it to you, no matter how things go after that, you've still got it. If He says He loves you, there is not any imaginable course of action that could cause you to fall away from that.

So now I look at my own life and wonder if that doesn't apply to me as well. As a child I fell into the love of my parents and the rest of my family. Luckily for me I have Super Sweet parents who never did anything to me to make me doubt their love for me; at least not in any real sort of way, restrictions on teenage lifestyles aside, they did it out of love after all. But looking around, The Missus has some issues going on in her family, but does she still love the one that left. I'm thinking that it's so, otherwise she wouldn't be bothered by it.

As I grew up my boyish heart turned to thoughts of love, or possibly it was just the testosterone cocktail coursing through my veins. With the eye of (relative) maturity it's easy to see that most of what happened to me in those years was just puppy love, or lust, or what have you. There was only occasionally any glimmer of anything even remotely approximating love that transpired between myself and any of the girls that I dated back then. The one point of interest is to look back and see in the (very) small handful of relationships where we got it just a little bit right. Mostly I never give even a passing thought to past relationships, but for one or two, where there was that tiny germ of proto-love, something remains. Not anything to worry about, don't misunderstand me one bit. There's no interest in rekindling old flames, but that tiny drop of love warms my heart when an old girlfriend turns up on MyFace or SpaceBook and is happily married with beautiful children. Apparently there's no return on that deposit but it seems to remain proportional.

Until I met The Missus my friends always received the greater portion of my love. I still maintain a fierce love for my Bros from way back, even though contact these days is sporadic at best. Even the one guy I was always at odds with, the one friend that's "broken up" with me and vise versa numerous times. The bond of love that is true friendship maintains a place for that guy in my heart. I still care.

And finally, to wax theological once again (just briefly), to quote Gumbo, "Love will not feed you, or clothe you, or put a roof over your head. It will, however, sustain you." In my life I've seen that God's love is enough. The Bible says not to worry about money or clothes or even what I will eat. God cares about the birds of the field and sustains them, how much more will he sustainsus that He loves. (that's Us as in Humanity en toto not just us the Christians).

As the guy who's responsible for bringing home the bacon (for six) a good deal of my mental process is dedicated to our sustenance. Sustaining us. Things go best when I rely on my moto, paraphrased from the Good Book, "I may not ever be rich or have nice things, but God loves me and I know he's not going to let me and mine starve on His watch."

Anyway, I don't feel like that was terribly coherent but it was on my mind this morning. And now my Short People are up and want me to make waffles. Time to make sure the Love is baked in...



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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Rooftops

Guys that shingle in the rain on a Sunday morning come in two types:
Alcoholics who only care about money...

...and guys that really love their mom.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Step Into The Room

Monday morning.

A brief pause while the ramifications of that soak in...

There, now that you're chock full of all the negativity that those words are loaded down with... consider the following:

This last Monday I stumbled in to work in my usual stupor. A full week and a weekend of gigs behind me, I was less than chipper as I stumped across the parking lot. Half way to the building though I looked up.

Above the asphalt still shrouded in early morning gloom, a seven story edifice rose up in front of me, glowing with the light of dawn. The sun had just crested the horizon and the light of day had crept down the bricks to the level of the granite sills on the first floor. The ship of my consciousness ran aground on an island, warm and inviting. From where I had paused to zip my sweatshirt against the wet chill of a New York September morning I turned and caught the full glory of Sol, painting shining making the very clouds to sing with joy at the start of a new day.

There was a wall of light in front of me, a glowing cliff face behind me, and I stood for a moment on the cool floor of a cathedral. The still of the night air remained, with a soft sound like the echo of a congregation saying, "hush".

This is where I skip the part about God and the beauty of the Universe and perspective and whatnot. Draw your own conclusions. I was in the parking lot. I had a moment there for a couple of seconds. It was like a drink of water for my soul. Then a car door slammed and I went to work.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

End Of An Era

I was just browsing on Effbook before I went to bed the other night and out of the mess popped this eloquent post by my lighting guy. I've never known him to get all wordy before and I must say I was quite impressed. I think there's a blogger in there, struggling to get out. Here is his post, un-edited, in its entirety:

I just looked through my friends profiles on Myspace and it's a weird eerie feeling. Almost as if there was a plague that wiped the world out... I'd say more than half my friends haven't logged into their account in months, some over a year or more. It got me thinking. If the world ended tomorrow, we would all leave behind these pages, these moments in time of our lives.

It's a creepy feeling to see that people have just stopped using the site all together. And all that is left is the last moments, thoughts, and pictures that we shared with each other. It's hard to fathom that people could just drop something they were madly addicted to just like that. Only to be replace with Facebook. It's a weird trend that I never saw coming to be honest.

A year ago, I thought about what it would be like to be 80 years old and how we would all still be using Myspace to keep in touch. How life would be so much different for us than for our Grandparents generation. I thought about how sad it would be to see profiles of our friends still accessible, even long after they have passed on. It would almost be a living/breathing tombstone of some sort that we can stop by and remember the good old times without even leaving our homes.

It's making me feel old. I'm losing trust and faith in intangible things that have controlled my everyday life for the past 7 years. It makes me wonder what will be the next new great thing... I'm excited and saddened at the same time and I'm not exactly 100% sure why...

I asked a few people why that they switched over to completely Facebook over Myspace and the only answer I got was, "that's what everyone else is using now."

If anyone happens to know who the Leader of "Everyone" is, let me know, I have a few other questions for them.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It's That Time Again

It's still Summer here. Even though the back to school sales started before my kids were even out of school this year. (Apparently all Wal-Marts cater to the needs of kids in Georgia who start in mid-August.) It's still Summer even though it's fast approaching the official start of Autumn. And it's still Summer even though the radio ads have started for the Trans Siberian Orchestra.

That's right kids, forget the Jewish holidays, Columbus day, Homecoming, Halloween, Thanksgiving and all that crap. It's time to get ready for a ROCKIN' CHRISTMAS!!!

Double-yew... Tee... EFF!

Silent Night By Candle Light



First of all, click the link to the post above to see my brief composition on What Christmas Means To Me. Then leave my faith completely out of it and go look at your calendar. IT'S THE MIDDLE OF BLOODY SEPTEMBER!!! I'm going to stop short of a full on rant because I think you get the point here.

Don't rush me...

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Chicks In Town

We've taken one more step into the crunchy granola world. If you had told me ten years ago that's I'd be growing my own produce, home schooling and raising chickens I would have laughed until I peed. But here I am.

A buddy at work is going through a divorce and is getting rid of his flock so he can sell the house. We got five of them just to give it a whirl. It's not like we're saving a bundle on eggs, even if we get a dozen a week we'll still have to buy three dozen (from our friends who raise chickens) to keep up with demand. But it's a good lesson for the kids and they mostly keep quiet and eat table scraps so what the hay.

After I got the ladies settled in the back yard the kids came out to name them. Miss O named the shiny black one "Princess". Because her world is a largely princess-based affair. J-Man named the big white Brahma "Cloud" because he's a pretty literal fellow when it comes to things of a creative bent that do not involve physical comedy. And lil H-Bomb named one of the black and white Leghorns "Chickenie" (pronounced CHIK-nee) because he's got a thing for chickens and his creativity was overwhelmed by his enthusiasm for all things poultry.

That left the two identical looking Leghorns for The Missus and me to name. I suggested "Salt" and "Peppa" to quickly quell H-Bomb's suggestions of "Toot" and "Poopie" (suddenly he got creative).

So that's our flock. Mostly they stalk around and make subdued chicken noises. They consume our table scraps. They lay no eggs because they're still pretty freaked out. Occasionally they escape and run around the yard. We were afraid the neighbors would be pissed off but they thought it was a hoot. It's fun to watch grown-ups chase a fluffy basketball with gusto and then be afraid to grab it for fear of being pecked. Ahh, farm livin' is the life for me...

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Goin' Green

When I was a kid I used to write away for stuff. Sitting in front of the TV on a Saturday morning I would get bombarded by advertisements. After a few years it sank in that my parents weren't going to buy me everything I saw. But beneath the candy coating there was something more.

It started with a class project in fifth grade. Each of us had to write away to the chamber of commerce in two states and write a report based on what we received. I don't remember what the first one was but I do remember that Alaska didn't respond so I got off on that one. The seed was planted.

I collected proofs of purchase from the non-sugar, non-red-dye-number-two, non-interesting breakfast cereals my parents stocked the kitchen with. I got stickers, scratch off board games, plastic knick-knacks made in China.

I wrote away for the no purchase necessary to win contests on food products we didn't buy. Game pieces came in the mail. I didn't win. But I did get something in the mail and that was pretty cool. There was no internet, there were no video games at our house, it kept me occupied. I thought about writing to Pueblo, Colorado for pamphlets on subjects I had no earthly interest in. I very nearly wrote away for information on diseases I didn't have. When I found out I had asthma I thought, "Huh, now I can write away for that."

The one that stands out in my mind to this day was toward the end of my writing away days. I was about thirteen and my science teachers were filling me with environmental awareness. GE or the power company or somebody had a commercial on TV about a package on saving energy that you could write away for. So I licked a stamp and made my request.

Four to six weeks later a large-ish padded envelope arrived at my house with no return address on it. Inside was a night light with a photo cell on it. Plug it in, turn out the light, it comes on. It took me two hours to figure out why the hell it had come. I was pretty bummed that it hadn't come with anything else. Not one single shred of information. Apparently the power company was pretty interested in saving trees as well as watts.

I was so perplexed that I wrote away again from my friend's address and four to six weeks later an identical package showed up. Just a light in a padded envelope. No return address. No reading material. Such a perplexing event it was that it took nearly a decade to top it. In college in the dawn of the internet era my friend Milo used his dial-up connection to surf to the No-Doze website and click a button for a free sample. I watched him do it. Three months later a padded envelope showed up at my apartment with my name on it. There was nothing inside but two No-Doze in a single serve packet. I kept them for years.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I Don't Care... Really

So it's the first day of school and it really gets you thinking that-

Yeah I don't care... we home school.

And then I heard that President Obama was rolling out a new program for kids similar to the Hitler Youth. Or at least that's what the media seemed to be screaming about on the radio when I drove to work this morning.

Whatever. Don't care. My thoughts on politics are still confined to the narrow belief that politicians should stop screwing me and go eff themselves for a change. Whups, I must have knocked my cup over, there seems to be a puddle of malice on my desk.

And global warming is still going on, or maybe not because I had to wear a sweatshirt to work every morning in July. But that's probably just another facet of global warming, likely the fault of the Republicans, again. (Dang, now there seems to be bile dripping on the floor.)

Oh, and the economy sucks. I know because I heard it on the news. We have to be told when there's a recession on because it's still the Great Depression in Western New York. We pinch pennies, we don't buy big stupid houses that get foreclosed on, we're the working definition of thrifty. Once again, don't care. (We're practically in Canada here anyway, we could secede in a heartbeat if we felt like it. But we don't, we're too busy washing out zip-lock baggies to re-use in our lunches tomorrow.)

But that brings me to the final thought. The thought that got me started on this rant in the first place. I didn't set out to rant about all that stuff, I was only going to illustrate my point with a few instances and it got out of hand. My point is that no matter what way the wicked world goes, God is looking out for me. My needs are met. I'm not getting rich or making any progess at all really, but my family is out of this world and I rest my head on my pillow every night, secure in the knowledge that God will not let us starve on His watch.

And you know thisss.... maaaaaaaaaan!*

* Yes I referenced the movie Friday in a post about my faith.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

This Is The Day

Today is the kind of day that you dream about when you're shoveling the endless drifts in the perpetual darkness of January. It's warm, slightly breezy, I would even go so far as to say balmy. The lawn is mowed, the house is (halfway) clean, the children are out playing.

Now is the time when I most long to interact with my internet community. Don't get me wrong here, I'm not looking to displace the family on a national holiday. Most days though the time I have in my day to read blogs and poke around on Effbook and Tweeter is at the very end when my poor brain cells are screaming for sleep. So here I am, rested, refreshed, and the net is basically dead because everybody is off doing family stuff.

Point taken... where's the pruning shears and the hot dogs!

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Summer Daze

Cheesy title, I know, but I'm about to get a little cheesy here. Summer is slowly drawing to a close. After the longest run of miserably cold summer weather in recent memory we're finally having a nice stretch of it. But even though it's pleasant out, and the trees aren't showing any color yet, there's a certain freshness in the breeze that signals the start of Autumn.

Construction crews are finishing up at schools and the custodians are out sprucing up the grounds for Opening Day. The stores are packed with families loading up with clothes and the ever growing list of supplies their kiddos need for the year to come. My own memories drift back to the joy of a new pack of pencils and a stack of empty notebooks. It must be the writer in me that got excited by the boundless potential in those objects.

But today my memories drift even farther back, to a time when there was no time. My days were measured in mealtimes and bedtimes and there was no schedule other than that. The sunny days spent with my school teacher mother are almost universally of sun drenched sidewalks, leaves, the smell of baking earth and new mown grass.

As I walked down that same sun drenched sidewalk today (I live on the street I grew up on) with little H-Bomb those memories came flooding back so quickly and sharply that I had to draw a breath. Here a whole summer has gone by, consumed with deadlines and late nights and not so much by games and picnics. An ache developed in me that I had to work very hard to push aside so as not to disturb the perfection of those moments.

Carefully, so as not to upset things, I set part of my mind to recording our little walk to the post office. Sun on concrete. Little blond head. Perfect air. Tiny fingers working the key in our mail box. Little shoes going slap, slap, slap. If I remember nothing else of this summer I'll remember the walk I took with my two year old son this morning.

It was a blessed moment.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Love This Place

Took the kids to their soccer games tonigt at the same field I played on as a kid. Ascending the hill in the mini van is a lot nicer than cranking up it on my Huffy used to be. Waiting for the games to start I looked East over the valley that I live in and hung up for a second.

I. Love. This. Place.

With the field in front of me, tall, tasseled corn to my right and deep woods to my left I looked out over the patchwork of fields and forest. Late summer cumulus clouds threw the landscape into stark relief as they tumbled slowly off to the East.

I've lived elsewhere, I've roamed, I like being on the road. But like comedy without tragedy, like love without loss, there is no wider world without home. There is a deep, peaceful joy that settles in me when I take notice of where I am. When I drive these roads, when I see these hills, when I am tucked safely in under the boughs of sugar maples... I'm home.

P.S. Much love and prayer goin' out for mah man Irish Gumbo.

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Wordless Wednesday - Hangin' Out





Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Gettin' Down

This post is the opposite of whining about work... read on.

Work has been getting me down a bit lately. With a huge project ramping up and the number of contractors in my life doubling overnight I'm looking at every aspect of my work day turning into cramming something in between two other things that I already don't have time to do.

But then some meetings happened.

I was off this Monday and returned to work somewhat dizzy from my allergies, not really wanting to dive back into the world of capital projects. The first meeting was with the Infection Control officer who was impressed by my calm response to a sink she caused to overflow. This is a woman that my department used to be at odds with. I'm happy to say I've won her over by listening to her requirements and attempting to meet them. I must have been the first because I don't usually manage to meet all of them but just trying seems to have scored big points with her.

The next meeting had me sandwiched between two contractors and my bosses. One of the contractors lead of with, "I don't know what you're payin' this guy, but it's not nearly enough." I dug in my pocket to hand him a tip but I had no cash. Uuuuuuhhhh.... still chuckling at the irony, which was not lost on my superiors.

Later in the day when I finally got down to doing some actual, hands on work, I heard from a co-worker that the general contractor had been asking about me. I had been trying to give the impression that I'm easy to get along with and it's my job to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. I guess it doesn't hurt that being charged with monitoring Life Safety measures makes me a fearsome sight in the eyes of outsiders. Once they find out that I have a truck load of responsibility and a thimble full of actual authority I'm sure we'll be able to settle into an easy working relationship.

Then the fire alarm system went haywire, keeping me from my lunch, but when I finally got to sit down it was across from a department manager who's always got good advice for me. When I told him that I felt like I was drowning he told me that it was all right because at least I was managing, "managing". He said it twice. Apparently my boss is so glad not to be stuck in the fray himself that he's got some leeway for the mistakes I make while I learn the job.

I guess the lesson learned is that as much as I would like this job to be like my previous experiences with chaos, running music festivals and such it's going to take a while. I'd like to be the guy on the ground with things running smoothly, using my expertise to thwart mishap and dodge calamity. Remembering back though, on the morning of my first fest I nearly threw up when I got out of bed and nearly got back in. It took a decade of running events before I got comfortable in the chaos. I'm hoping that decade pays off with a quicker acclimatization to this environment. I guess at some point though the work load has to peak and I'll manage to get my footing.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Babywearing, Not Just For Girls

I spent a couple hours yesterday with the wee bairn strapped to my back. The Missus makes these little carriers that look sort of like a slingshot but with a flip and a twist you've got your baby firmly on your back (or front) and can go about your business with your hands free. Here you see the two of us just grabbing some stuff out of my truck. Us boys were on the move, gettin' stuff done.We've been through all the phases of carrying a baby around. While delicately handling our first newborn we never even thought of slinging her around. Then we started spotting stuff in catalogues and got ourselves a Bjorn. Good idea, and the kids loved it, but we were constantly re-adjusting the straps to fit our different sized shoulders, and it wasn't really all that comfortable for the one's doing the packing.

Next came what was basically a frame pack with a seat in it, I think it was a Kelty, it's still collecting dust in the back hall. Another hefty investment that lead to all manner of muttered curses and strap pulling to get things situated. Again, the Shorties loved it, but it was a big pain in the neck (literally) and a hassle to cart around places.

Finally The Missus stumbled upon The Sling. A simple loop of fabric that just goes over a shoulder and your babe snuggles down in there, or if you hang it differently they can sit up or ride on your hip. Lo and behold, a method used by women for as long as fabric has been available to the human race hits the internet age.

The Missus acquired a couple and also a podegi (like you see me wearing in the photo) and suddenly we're in babywearing bliss. A simple piece of fabric, one size fits all, and when you're not using it you can fold it into the diaper bag (or continue to sport it as a fashion accessory if you're crafty like that).

She made a few for herself, for a few friends and now our front room is practically a podegi factory. She's set up on Etsy and looking to spread the joy and earn a little mad money. If your back is tired of all the modern methods of hauling your wee ones around it's worth a look. I think she's even got a free shipping deal going right now. Happy babywearing!

P.S. Yes, this did start out as a cute pic of me and my Shortie and turn into the history of baby apparatus at our house and end up as a plug for my wife's Etsy store. That's blogging for you.


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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Turning Japanese

I got e-mail notification of a couple comments on an older post and whaddaya know... they're in Japanese. With a quick trip to Babel Fish I was able to determine that it was just spam. I had to leave it up though because the nature of the translation is on par with other such comedic pinnacles and, "We are capture all your base." Here's the link:

iPod Or Lightsaber

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Feel The Burn

For no reason at all today this memory jumped to the forefront of my mind. It was about ten years ago that I was down in NYC visiting a couple college friends in the Village. We were looking for a bit and I spotted the Yaffa Cafe where I had eaten once with my roommate as a freshman. So we ducked in there, got a table for six and proceeded to soak up the atmosphere.

I ordered an omelet with onions and peppers in it and jumped back into conversation. I was parched from the evenings activity and my ice water was soon gone. The place was jammed and I couldn't get a refill to save my life.

Well, the food came and I don't know if I had just misread the menu or if some unintentional slight on my part caused the waiter to retaliate, but the omelet was mostly jalapeno peppers held together with a single egg.

I was starving so I wolfed it down anyway, at one point shoveling with one hand and holding my water glass over my head with the other. I was sweaty to begin with as we had been out drinking in New York in August. Between that, the place being packed and the omelet from hell I was drenched. I think I was actually high from all the capsaicin coursing through my bloodstream.

Anyway, that just popped into my head and I thought somebody might get a grin from the imagery. I'm off to see what's spicy in the Dayton Cafe. Nite all.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dear Tooth Fairy

This week I'm mixing a youth theater production of The Wiz. Because of the production schedule I'm only seeing my family for about an hour and a half each day. Yesterday after tossing down a few burritos with my Short People The Missus got them bundled into the car to take the two biggest ones off to soccer practie. It was shortly after that when the drama began.

Miss O, who is six, grabbed her water bottle for a quick sip in the middle of practice and knocked out her loose front tooth. With a mouth full of water a little blood goes a long way and between her screaming and the shocked screams of all the people around her it was apparently quite a scene. The Missus described it thusly:

Oh, someone's child is screaming.
Whoa, someone's child is really screaming.
Wow, that kid is really bloo-ohmygosh!

It was some serious drama there for a little bit cause my wee gal enjoys her a good flip out periodically. But eventually everything settled down and by the time practice was over she was skipping merrily down the street.

That night at bedtime she was a little conflicted about putting the tooth under her pillow for the Tooth Fairy. She wanted me to see it first. So she grabbed paper and a marker and taped a note to her door asking the T.F. to please wait until the next night. Then she placed the tooth on a shelf by her bed, underneath a little silver bed so that if the T.F. didn't see the note, the bell would wake her up. (She also wrote in parenthesis at the bottom, "I Love You")

In the morning the tooth was still safe and sound and I couldn't wait to get home from work to see it. As soon as Miss O came bounding up the stairs she showed me the new space in her face and demonstrated her new found difficulty pronouncing "th" sounds. A few minutes into dinner I asked her how soccer practice had gone.

"Pretty good except for the bloody screaming part."

(HAAAAAAAA!)

She looked a little put out that I was laughing at her but I explained, as I often do, that it should be taken as a compliment when someone laughs at your "good line". Well, the house is packed and it's ten minutes to curtain. I'm off to mix a show.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Aw Fer Corn Sakes!

IT'S HERE! (This tasty post is dedicated to my man Irish Gumbo who is likely in need of a little salty-sweet goodness this week.) It's finally finally here. As we were driving by on our way home from a trip to the Scottish Games near Syracuse we saw The Sign was out and Wolfleycorn is back!

Wolfleycorn? Yeah, that's right, Wolfleycorn. Alloneword. That oh so delectable, home grown variety known as Butter & Sugar that the Wolfley family lovingly tends and sells by the side of the road is what I am talking about. Every year the townsfolk for miles around watch the fields and keep tabs on the weather and wait for the sign to appear.

Then the word spreads like wildfire. Faster than flames can jump from the parched boughs of a California redwood the word is passed across back yard grills, shouted from car windows, mulled over with salivating expectation between porches and sidewalks, it's even on Twitter this year! (I wonder if Wolfleycorn has a MyFace page yet?)

And then the moment finally arrives when one get's to the stand, a humble picnic table in the Wolfley's front yard. A few small bills are folded into the slot in the cash box and a dozen ears slide into the conveniently provided recycled plastic bag. Now for what you city slickers pay for a few tough old ears that we wouldn't feed our swine, much less our children, we are fairly rolling in the golden goodness over here.

The happy bundle is hurried home, often to a waiting pot of boiling water, hurriedly cooked for a few tense minutes and then... Oh sweet, salty, full-fat buttery Heaven! It's so tender you hardly need cook it at all. It's more to warm it so the butter will melt than anything else. The only way to get corn that is any more fresh and tender is to take boiling water into a field and bend the stalks over into it.

Little children dance and sing, old men glass over with nostalgia at corn so fine as this. OSHA requirements for the safe handling of butter go flying out the window and it drips from pairs of elbows on to the table cloth. A dozen ears disappear and talk breaks out of going back for another dozen for dessert. The menu every night for the next month is more than likely to include a healthy dose of Wolfleycorn.

Surely there is no doubt that all is right with the world. God is in His Heaven, smiling down on the residents of Alexander. The bounty of the Earth is ours to carry off and fill our bellies full. It's summer. The Sign is out!

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Breaking The Surface

I'm like a stealth submarine surfacing after a long mission. Tonight I felt like putting a few words down to remember this time at a later date. We had some friends over for dinner and just had a time of it. Let me start at the beginning though.

I walked through the door today to hear a noise that sounded like my vacuum cleaner was going to need service. It turned out to be a Kirby salesman showing off the new model to The Missus. That was not the first thing that I noticed though. The first thing I noticed was that there was a greasy giant in my living room next to my wife. (And that's not a statement lightly made as I am 6'2") So with my hand on my knife I learned that the sweaty, porn-stached man was cleaning our couches for free and we did not intend to buy a new machine from him as our (very) expensive old one worked just fine and didn't sound like it was broken.

"It's the power" he said

"You couldn't pay me to listen to that" I said

"It only sounds like that in houses with hardwood floors" he said

"We've got hardwood floors" I said

He kept cleaning. We kept ignoring him. We paid him no attention as we prepared for dinner. He would extol this virtue or that one as we passed through the room. We continued to ignore him. The company showed up. He took a smoke break. He finally finished up and left a couple dozen filthy filter pads spread out on our floor, ostensibly leading up to a presentation about how much dirt was in our couches. Yeah. We know. Did you miss the four children (plus two visiting) in the picture dude?

At last we sat down to a quiet dinner. At least in relative terms. Six children fussing over dinner at the kids table in the other room is easily ignored when you roll like we do. The dads took turns getting up to give our ladies a break.

It was my first time hanging out with my wife's friend's husband. We had met a couple times but never had a chance to talk. We like all the same stuff. They raise animals, make wine, garden extensively. He was a true townie though apparently. He claimed no knowledge of a number of things that should be in the manly lexicon. How to change one's oil, tools, carpentry, the use of the word "shit" in polite conversation. (Really, it's totally acceptable if you live in the country. If you spoke to a farmer about a "manure spreader" he'd probably skip his groove for a second until he figured out what you were talking about.)

So now I've got a buddy who needs to learn some stuff and I love to learn people about stuff. Even better is that he's interested in putting on his own steel roof and I'm just about to do one at the Dayton Ranch. What a perfect opportunity. I have a feeling there's going to be a well worn path between our places before long. It's a rare event 'round here when the women folk can sit like hens while the men folk go and play. I'm excited.

And out of words. It's bedtime. G'nite.

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Take Back The Beep

"Hi this is Jon Dayton at BNB Sound, it's probably just too loud for me to hear the phone ringing so leave me a message and I'll get right back to you. Thanks... At the tone, please record your message. When you have finished recording, you may hang up, or press one for more options. To leave a callback number, press five. (Beep)"

That's what it's like to leave me a message when I don't answer my phone. I only have a cell phone so if you need to call me and I can't answer (which is most of the time) you'll have to burn fifteen extra seconds of your life to get to the point where you can say what you need to say and move on.

Someone has finally taken up the cause. There was an article in the New York Times on the subject encouraging people to put pressure on cell providers to change their ways. The truth is that these additional instructions can in most cases be turned off. The process is often quite involved because the providers want them there to make you use up your air time. Often you can press a key when leaving a message but it's different across providers so you have to remember which key it is for every contact you call.

The article has gotten four major providers to sit up and take notice (somewhat) and provide means to voice your opinions on line. Here are the links.

Verizon: Post a complaint here: http://bit.ly/FJncH.

AT&T: Send e-mail to: customerissues@attnews.us.

Sprint: Post a complaint here: http://bit.ly/9CmrZ

T-Mobile: Post a complaint here: http://bit.ly/2rKy0u.

Some of them are just the usual complaint forms but a flood of input is pretty hard to ignore. If you're on Twitter you can spike your tweets with #takebackthebeep and let 'em have it that way.

Not that this is a lofty crusade or anything but it would be a pretty nice accomplishment to get a little change to happen. I'm grabbing my cell phone to send out a tweet or two and then (deep breath) check my voicemail.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Iron Maiden

In the few minutes that I had all to my lonesome last night I was out in the shop watching some videos on YouTube. For no particular reason the selection was Iron Maiden and there was a lot of footage of their recent tour which was turned into a TV show or a DVD or maybe both and a breakfast cereal as well. (It's all about the tie-ins these days)

What was really good to see was that after close to three decades they're still incredible and still obviously loving it. What's more is that there are still enough fans, new and old to pack 100,000 a night into stadiums to revel in it with them. (And might I add, it still sends a shiver up my spine when that many people all shout, "CAN I PLAY WITH MADNESS!!!!" all together. True, they're starting to show some wear but hey, The Stones all look like hobbits these days and they still rock.

I suppose it's not really important which band it is. I just think it's cool that it's still possible to attain longevity in the industry these days. With fans becoming ever more fragmented in their tastes and the industry finding it ever harder to make sales it's nice to know that success as we dreamed of it as kids with cheap guitars is still out there, still possible.

And while I'll likely never get in on the action at that level, it's just good to know that despite all the moaning and groaning in the media about the music industry people are still willing to play the game. To make the records, to buy them, to stand in line for the shows and buy the t-shirts. There's still a reason for kids to bang out chords on cheap guitars and dream about tour busses. And, most importantly, there's reason for people to call This Guy (right here) and book him to mix a show.

Take 'er easy. See you in the mosh pit.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Steep Downgrade

I felt like I've been on a downgrade, one of the ones with a sign on the side that says trucks use low gear. Some people liken a tough spot in life to climbing a hill but this one felt more like trying to keep it between the guard rails with the jake brake screaming and the tie downs ready to break loose. And I'm not gazing out from the peak now, I'm cruising in the flats, in twelfth gear with the throttle cracked, sipping fuel. It's an easy haul for a bit.

I'm not sure exactly what it was that got me from being so pissed off and worthless feeling that I was shaking yesterday to being OK today. Actually I know exactly what it was. As I was walking down a hallway early this morning at work I said a quick prayer, "Dear God, Help." He did. Within the space of a few hours I was suddenly on top of four remodeling projects and had a grasp on a gargantuan office move that's coming up. I worked late, sped home, got the kids into bed and I still feel like I have enough energy to get something done.

So I'll not dawdle here. Just thought I'd poke my nose in and let my bloggy friends know I haven't fallen off the Earth. Peace. Hit me up on Twitter, yo.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Happy Burf Day To Me

Thirty-three for anyone who's wondering... moving on. I just wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone who sent me electronic birthday wishes. A lot of people look down their nose at such things but I find the dozen text messages and thirty thee (odd huh?) well wishes on Facebook to be quite heartwarming.

Having only gotten a couple traditional cards this year, some with nothing more than a name hastily scribbled inside, receiving personalized electronic missives is changing my view of things. For instance, I got one from the CEO of the hospital where I work. That was one of the ones with my name in pen above the printed birthday wishes and his below. Not exactly a heartwarming exchange at first glance, but the guy sends out eight hundred of those a year when he doesn't really have to send anything. Slightly less exciting than that was the same treatment from my mother-in-law.

Then there were close to fifty electronic messages that honestly for the most part were caused by a reminder from Facebook. Considering that those folks likely gets hundreds of birthday reminders a year and took a moment to peck out a few words for me that's pretty nice too. I think I'll be a little more engaged with that myself this year.

And one final (unrelated) item that needs getting out. I hate Pork Pie snare drums. There is just no reason at all to even own one. I remember years ago when they came out wondering why in the hell anyone would need a drum that sounds just like a piccolo snare but ten times louder. And owners of Pork Pies are always super excited about them. When I hear the first couple warning shots on one and say, "Pork Pie eh?" the response is always something similar to what you would expect from a guy who is tapping his secretary and isn't shy about who knows it... "awwwww yeah."

So then I have a performance to try and mix that has snare drum bleeding into every microphone. Usually I can turn off quite a few mics and still have way more snare than I want. And so does everybody else. I'm actually thinking of buying a piccolo and keeping it in the truck for just such occasions. "Here ya go buddy, you can play mine or get off the stage. See? It sounds just like yours but it's not louder than BOMBS!"

End rant. Happy Burf Day to me.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Ho Hum

It's VBS week at church and all the Short People are ecstatic. All, that is, except lil H-Bomb who is not old enough to go. He get's ice cream though so he's fairly OK with the whole thing. It's also VBA now, Vacation Bible Adventure. woo.

At any rate, the big kids in our family get to go but it's really just a little bit more than J-Man can handle (He dropped the Super a little while ago. Apparently the whole hero thing was getting to be a drag.) He does fine the whole time he's there and is super good but it totally uses him up. Come bed time there's just nothing that can please him and it turns into an all out scream-fest.

I have to admit that things are getting better with him. There's still no reasoning with him until it runs it's course but there's a whole lot less of grabbing him and putting him back in bed. He seems to have lost interest in kicking me in the face, I totally won out with persistence on that one.

The real losers in the battle though were H-Bomb and Sweets. The baby is at that age where he's starting to get really freaked out by his siblings crying. H-Bomb is becoming quite stoic though. He lays there quietly under his blanket, making the occasional staccato , "suck, suck" noise like Maggie Simpson. He rolls over. Suck, suck. He snuggs up the covers. Suck, suck. He sighs. Suck, suck. He pauses for a break in the torrent of screams to politely ask for a drink of water. Suck, suck. With one final sigh of resignation he fishes around under his pillow, finds what he is looking for, and cracks a book open to peruse by the light of the moon.

What a guy.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

iPod or Lightsaber

I got an iPod touch for Christmas this year. It was a thoughtful gift from The Missus. I figured I would get some use out of the internet with it but I had no idea. What a sexy little device it is. All these helpful applications. Read the New York Times at breakfast, sure. Look up something on Wikipedia, no problem. Check gas prices, the weather, no end of games for the kids, and having the whole internet on a card that fits in my pocket is just bliss.

But more than that there's the deep joy that comes from owning a device that has leapt from the pages of the sci-fi books I used to read as a kid. At that age I never would have dreamed that this much power and information could fit in the palm of my hand, or that you could get them at Wal-Mart. Captain Kirk's tricorder is a clunky gizmo by comparison.

I had a little moment when I was tweeting on a break today. I looked at this little technological jewel in my hand and saw past the glitter of the information age. The screen was all smudgy from the Short People playing with it. The case is all scratched and foggy from riding around with me. It has that "lived-in" look that the creators of Star Wars spent so much time simulating.

I slipped it back in my pocket, daydreaming about the Cantina scene and Isaac Asimov. Han Solo's light saber hasn't got anything on my iPod. (And no... I don't have the light saber app.)

--End gushing--

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Summertime Roll

I achieved a level of suspension of disbelief that even a production geek has a hard time reaching this morning. In real life it's pretty hard to just enjoy stuff. There's always the list of nagging chores, and blah blah blah in the background.

Well, I woke up early this morning and called into work. Then I went back to sleep because yesterday I had a throbbing headache all day and Miss O had to go to the hospital in the big city to make sure she didn't have meningitis. (She doesn't, just a virus and a crick in her neck. But we play it safe with the health of our Short Peoples' brains.)

When I woke up it was just me and the boys. We ate some cereal and went outside. I wound up sitting in a chair, in a sunny spot by a Maple tree, the smaller of the two monkeys in my lap just soaking up the summer. It only went on for about twenty minutes but I found myself on the other end of a host of memories from my childhood.

My earliest memories are of breakfast and heading outside with Mom, who was a school teacher and off for the summer, and wandering around our sun drenched yard. They're just fuzzy memories with dashes of clarity. Grass, tulips, Maple trees, Mom. (I started capitalizing Maple trees because they are important to me.)

Now I know what it feels like to be the grownup in those scenes. For a few minutes it was just me and some small people, trees, grass, breeze, a distant lawn mower. A big truck on the next street caught our interest. The first ripe black berries grabbed our attention. Then the girls woke up and needed our presence.

But the morning of July 6, 2009 is firmly planted in red letters on the calendar in my mind. A morning so ripe with goodness and the endless possibilities of childhood that it nearly made me shed a tear. I might have if it weren't for the intense waves of happiness that washed over me. Bare feet. Buzz cuts. Tickles.

I'm so high.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Un-Post

Yeah, so you're not supposed to post about how you can't think of anything to post about but... the only thought of any interest to me is my lack of creativity. So that happened.

Sometimes you just need to put your nose to the grindstone and settle in for a good long push. Every day of work, every night of extended bedtime battles with the Short People, every feeble attempt at cleaning up the house, has left me with no extra computing cycles to ponder over interesting tidbits.

In a way it's kind of nice. Blogging was something interesting to explore, then it became a skill to hone, and finally a source of community in an otherwise pretty minuscule social circle. But (and women never seem to believe this) guys have the ability to think about nothing at all. After a work day that carries me nearly ten miles through all the corridors of a hospital and all the rest, I'm just in neutral and that's quite all right.

At the end of my day, the last hour or two that used to be a joyride through the blogging community and a chance to sharpen my wits at the keyboard is now just an hour or two of floating. But it's a fairly pleasant sort of floating. As with everything, this too shall pass.

Somehow without noticing it work will subside, the kids will start behaving, we'll get a handle on the housework. And one evening, I'll get a little spark and run to my computer to see what it turns into.

Or not. But I get the feeling that all the people I've met through this process will be like the handful of IRL friends that I have. We see each other a lot and then we don't. But when we meet it's as if no time has passed and we pick up where we left off.

This isn't a parting letter. Don't send your condolences or anything. I'm just out of words after three hundred posts in a year and a half and felt like writing about it. I at least owe the ChurchPunkMoms and the IrishGumbos a word of explanation about my relative silence. There's no crisis. I'm still here, still reading, just too pooped to crank out the nightly posts.

Ah well, it felt good to type. But there's laundry, and dishes, and likely a Shorty or two up out of bed and in need of a re-re-re-re-re-re-tucking in. So I'm dropin' 'er back in neutral and heading back in the house. G'nite.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Deep Enough?

J-Man helped me measure the hole I was digging for The Missus' new clothes pole.

This message was sent using the Picture and Video Messaging service from Verizon Wireless!

To learn how you can snap pictures and capture videos with your wireless phone visit www.verizonwireless.com/picture.

Note: To play video messages sent to email, QuickTime� 6.5 or higher is required.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Giving

My wife bought me an early Fathers' Day present. Nothing spectacular but something I've been wanting to add to the back yard for a little while now. You wouldn't expect a box of those little solar garden lights to inspire waves of love and gratitude but they did.

Gift giving is important, despite all the griping folks do around Christmas time. Every culture on Earth has some sort of gift giving ritual. As Americans, of course, we've sterilized and mass marketed ours in shrink wrap. Other cultures often initiate gift giving upon meeting someone for the first time. It builds a bond and initiates trust.

It also greases the wheels. Just ask any construction worker how much his motivation improves when the White Box (do-nuts) arrives on the site. Somewhere deep down in the recesses of our brains a little droplet of goodness seeps into our systems when we exchange gifts.

So now in the fine tradition of Public Television stations everywhere let me encourage you to up your giving. Hand an unexpected cup of coffee to a co-worker and see if you don't work better together. You might make some one's day just by handing them a writing implement and saying, "keep it" (It doesn't even have to be yours, grab one off somebody else's desk). Spend a buck a head on your children at the dollar store and watch their little faces light up.

AH.... that's better. I took a week off from the interweb just to see what it felt like. I felt like crap but not, I think, for the lack of screen time in my life. Blogging, Tweeting, and Effbooking have become somewhat of a pressure release valve for me. I thought I'd be doing myself a favor by leaving off, but after a hectic week of feeling worse than usual I'm back.

See you in the details.

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Good Day

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I Think I'm Winning

Work has sure had its ups and downs lately. After a perfectly peaceful three days of Memorial Day Weekend, "the grind" couldn't be a more accurate term. I could tell at least a dozen stories of delays, minor successes, triumphs, and at least two of them include it raining on the ground floor of a six story building.

It seems as though all these small victories, combined with the way I just naturally do business have made me the cooler. Three times now I've been sent to march straight into the path of women at work who are widely credited as being dragon-ladies. Apparently nobody ever tried listening to them or trying their best because that was all I did and it seems to have made me a hit.

It brings me back around again to a new affirmation of my faith. My father and I both hold a quote originating from St Francis that states (roughly) witness daily, use words when necessary. Without ever even so much as mentioning church, much less going on about my faith, I have accomplished the basic task of every Christian. That is, to share the love of Christ with my fellow human beings. It doesn't take tracts or awkward conversations. It just takes a moment to put yourself in a position to be the eyes, ears, hands and feet of Christ in whatever manner you find yourself capable of.

Cheers.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The State Of Things

Everybody's feeling a little meh. The Missus in particular but we're all feeling it. Work is wearing on me, even though I feel like I might be winning, gaining some ground. The Short People... are pretty much savages. They're cure savages but they're just strung out on daylight savings time or something and it's pretty much like being in the primate house at the zoo.

So let's focus on the positive, shall we? First of all, the new Green Day is so good that it hurts me. I got through washing the dishes tonight purely on the songwriting excellence and flawless production values of Know Your Enemy. To think, scrappy little Green Day who were nobodies when I was in high school are still pissed off enough to make music that gets my blood flowing.

A brief pause while I blast that track one time on the shop sound system.

Yeah, moving on. The Missus has nearly finished hand crafting Miss O's flower girl dress and it's pretty much as spectacular as anything you'd find on a rack at the store. Except that it's way better than that because there's just enough of a hint of my-mom-made-this about it to make it fairly glow. I may need a shot of Motörhead to recover from gushing about a dress. Bee right back.

Surprise, surprise it's Memorial Day weekend already. We'll likely be doing just a ton of gardening this weekend and that's always a good feeling. We're expecting a visit on Sunday from The Missus' college roomie and our favorite soon-to-be-married couple is stopping in for hot dogs and merriment on Memorial Day Monday. I'll be lucky if there's anything left of me to drag into work on Tuesday.

I just ran out of steam there. Good enough. I'll leave you with the following encouragement. Don't be afraid to blast the stereo and mash your favorite air guitar to splinters, and don't worry about the neighbors, they need to hear it too.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Prom-a-pa-looza

Prom... fucking laaaaaaaaaame dude. Didn't go. Either year. Didn't even think about it. Instead, spent a lot of time doing this:

Let the record show that the quilt top Fender with the white pick guard belonged to SOMEBODY ELSE. Normally I wouldn't be caught dead wearing one of those things but I was just sitting in that night. My usual date was a BC Rich bass that summer.

But the real purpose of this whole thing is to show off pictures of yourself in the heart of the awkward years isn't it? So I dug out a few goodies. Like this one of me and my best bud Skeeder on the day we switched clothes. That's me sporting his button down shirt, taper leg jeans and loafers with no socks. And he's on the right wearing the stuff I had on this morning.

Don't think for a minute that I wasn't capable of stylish dress on my own though. There was also a day, I forget what the actual occasion was, that the whole Coffee Club decided to wear suspenders and ties to school. This is me and my friend Nuke with a fresh cup by my locker that day.

And yes, that is Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali on my tie. But what you really wanted was prom pictures right? That was the assignment. I'm not the least bit sorry to say that I didn't try to get laid in a rented car wearing rented clothing after having eaten dry chicken at some restaurant and attending a chaperoned dance. Instead I went to the anti-prom my senior year with these folks.

The guy directly to the left of me had a cabin out behind his mom's house and it was pretty much off the radar. About twenty of us got in there and got a face full of beer and listened to the same two tapes that we had been jamming all year. Two Maxell 90s. One with Pork Soda on one side and Ritual de lo Habitual on the other and the second with Seasons In The Abyss and White Zombie.

Nobody suspected that anything was even slightly amiss. We had been hanging out there all year. No annoying pictures in itchy clothes in the front yard. No wrist corsages. No signed parental notes excusing us from the mandatory drug and alcohol free after party in the gym. No sneaking in gin in a Sprite bottle. No sneaking out the back doors by the tennis courts for a smoke. We had coolers and ashtrays.

Anyway, I'm sure you all had a wonderful time at your proms. I don't mean to take away from any of that. I was just busy doin' other stuff.


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