Monday, December 31, 2007

No wonder this blog doesn't have a sponsor...

I have not made any New Year’s resolutions since January 1, 1987, when I vowed I wouldn’t do that anymore.

That also was the year we (my fellow DJ and I) hosted a Live New Year’s Party at WMOR Radio in Morehead, Kentucky. We didn’t do a live remote from a bar or ballroom, but instead (for budgetary concerns) we had about 25 people in the hallway outside the booth, mostly friends from high school home on Christmas break. I’m not entirely sure, but I believe there was alcohol involved.

This is what happens when you turn over a radio station to two 19-year olds.

Anyway, we did a countdown of the top 50 songs of the year with a big “Auld Lang Syne” singalong at the end in the booth. We planned out the evening perfectly, with the #1 song being played right after the midnight sing.

About ten before midnight, our friends came in the booth from the hallway and we sang. We celebrated for a few minutes more, then told our friends they had to leave. FCC regulations and all, we explained. And Jim (the boss) might be listening. After they left, we congratulated ourselves for timing everything out so perfectly.

For a little while…

About quarter after twelve, it occurred to us that we hadn’t played any commercials during the evening. This is a somewhat important part of the radio business, I’m told.

We played thirty of them in a row, hosed down the bathrooms and left.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I know the words to "Come on Eileen"...

VH1’s Top 100 Songs of the 80’s was on TV last night. At the same time, the American Movie Channel had the Top 100 Movies of the last 100 years. I couldn't look away.

It seems everyone has a countdown of some sort. Well, why not me? For the next couple of weeks, I’m going to countdown some things.

Here’s the lineup I’m considering:

Top 10 Movies I Tell My Wife I’ve Already Seen So We Won’t Rent Them
Top 10 Times I’ve Almost Peed My Pants
Top 10 Light Bulb Wattages
Top 10 Things I’ve Forgotten to Buy at the Grocery Store
Top 10 Women/Girls I Almost Asked Out
Top 10 Months of the Year
Top 10 Songs I Sing without Really Knowing the Words
Top 10 Pairs of Sunglasses I’ve Lost
Top 10 Substances I’ve Gotten Stuck to My Shoe

I can’t wait to get started.

And in case you are wondering…Livin’ on a Prayer and Casablanca

Friday, December 28, 2007

I, for one, use Expedia...

Ah, travel agents…

They represent people too lazy to get on the internet and book it themselves.

They keep telling me their “client” is very demanding while they demand unreasonable things.

They threaten that the client is going to cancel if he doesn’t get his way. They whine. They threaten. They sometimes alternate between the two in perpetuity.

When they call, before the threats or the whining, they like to tell me they are calling from the United States. Well, congratulations. I didn’t realize they had phones there. Call me from the Artic Circle. Then I’ll be impressed.

Now, I’m not talking about the people who plan trips for large groups. These guys are usually slick, classy and organized. I’ve met a lot of great ones here. They don’t whine. They don’t threaten. They don’t have to.

The people I’m talking about are those who book plane flights and hotel rooms for six people and are convinced they have organized the SALT II Nuclear Peace Talks.

Having said that, I think I’ll call my travel agent. I need my car washed.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The smell of newsprint still makes me ill...

When I was 18 years old and was in-between colleges (waiting for another semester to start), I got a job as the Sports Editor of a bi-weekly newspaper in Morehead, Kentucky. My job, they told me, was to report on all the local sports, both college and high school. Perfect. Right up my alley.

And then they dropped the bomb.

I had to do a Man on the Street interview for each week. I would take a picture of five local citizens and ask them a question, such as, “Do you plan to vote this year?”

My first few weeks featured mostly people I knew. My boss then made a rule I couldn’t use anyone under 25 years old. Then another rule that I couldn’t be related to them. And then he said that I couldn’t give them $10 or offer to wash their car.

So I hung out at the post office, a solitary figure with a notepad and camera stalking people as they came to get their mail. It was pathetic.

For a while I was IN the Post Office, until people complained. Then I was on the front steps of the Post Office until later I moved (involuntarily) to the sidewalk in front of the Post Office. Then I moved to the Trademore Shopping Center out near Interstate 64.

Normal people didn’t want to talk to me. The people that would, well, their answers weren’t all that newsworthy.

Question: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Answer: Well, unless they move this bench, I’ll be right here. You gonna eat all of that banana?

I tried taking photos of people who were from out of town and then making up quotes. “Excuse me sir (or ma’am),” I’d say, “Are you from around here? Well, then can I take photos of you?"

For some reason, this didn’t work either.

The pictures were due Sunday and the copy on Monday morning. The film went into a dropbox. The slot was about three feet above the floor. So one week after killing myself and getting no results, I had an idea. I took the film out of the camera, put the cap on very loosely and dropped it into the box.

“Bad news, DT,” my editor told me. “The film cap popped off when you dropped it in the slot and the photos were ruined. So we’ll do two questions next week.”

Hmm…I hadn’t thought of that.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

How about a tank of gas?

I used to work at a place where we exchanged gifts at Christmastime.

Well, some of us did.

We would draw numbers. Number one would open a gift. Number two could “steal” number one’s gift or open a new one. A gift could be “stolen” up to three times.

Sadly, most of the people just bought gift certificates for different places. Imagine the joy of opening a $25 gift certificate from Wal-Mart…or the Home Depot. I don’t know if the creative juices weren’t flowing for these people or they were afraid their gift choice would be ridiculed, which did happen every once in a while. But only to me.

This seemed to be an opportunity to have a little fun, to buy something out of the ordinary. The gift would say a lot about the giver. The gift certificate thing to me seemed like giving them a free haircut or a carton of milk.

The first year I thought it was a gag gift exchange. I bought an electric hairbrush. Don’t ask me how it worked, I was afraid to plug it in.

The next year, I had a photo on my wall in the spare bedroom that was a picture of a hole at Pinehurst #2, the famous jewel (kind of like a cubic zirconia) of the Pinehurst, Inc. empire. I don’t know where it came from, but it was there.

Anyway, I wrapped up the photo and took it to the gift exchange. After my unfortunate recipient opened it, I realized that it wasn’t a photo but a page out of a magazine put into a picture frame. You could see the crease in the paper and where the staples were.

Oops. However, it’s still hanging on the wall in his office.

I refused to give in to the gift certificate ground swell, which had engulfed almost the entire office. It was a tough road. I don’t remember what I did for the next few years, except for the year I gave a book in the “Worst Case Scenario” Series and a Leatherman tool. No one saw the irony. Not sure I do anymore either.

Another year, I gave “Magnetic Poetry” for the gift. It’s a bunch of little magnets with words that you can use to string together sentences on your refrigerator. It’s for creative people (who happen to be standing in front of their refrigerator) and I thought I worked with these types. I thought it was a great gift.

However, not so. The blank look on her face after she opened it and the laughter that ensued is still a painful memory.

Unrelated to that, it was my last year with the company. I don’t know what they do now for gift exchange…maybe just trade $20 bills in unmarked envelopes…

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

In this corner...wearing the huggies...

The first gift Gracie opened was a Doctor’s kit. It had a white box and all kinds of stuff, stethoscope, band-aids, etc.

John thought that looked like fun and that is what Christmas Eve became…a brawl between a relentless, determined 10-month old and what eventually became a wailing, defeated 3-year old.

No matter where Grace went with this thing, John followed. He crawled, he scooted along the furniture, he grabbed and he pulled. It was like he had four hands, snatching and throwing. There were too many things in the kit for her to keep track of all at once.

We opened other gifts for John, but he wasn’t interested at all. He wouldn’t event look at them.

Grace tried to open other gifts, only to have to run back and try to collect her stuff back from John. He screamed and cried. She screamed and cried.

After about 15 minutes, Gracie gave up and sobbed uncontrollably in my arms. All was lost. The assault of the 20-pound boy was complete.

Holli got a pair of shoes. I got snot on my sleeve.

It was the best Christmas yet.

Monday, December 24, 2007

How to pick up chicks in the library...

I’m terrified of my wife.

She’s a huge fan of the Blog of Unnecessary Quotation Marks, which pokes fun at people who use quotation marks in inappropriate and incorrect ways.

The problem is I am now afraid to ever use them now. Well, almost. I can use them when recounting dialogue...

Example: “I’ve decided to leave you for a smarter man,” she said with a sneer.

But this is where it ends. Other than this type of usage, I don’t really know what the deal is.

Right now I’m wondering if I should have put the Blog of Unnecessary Quotation Marks in quotation marks in the second paragraph…and also if I should put the Blog of Unnecessary Quotation Marks in this sentence in quotation marks. I just don't know. Are the italics okay?

They never mentioned at Lincoln Elementary School that proper usage of quotation marks is the way to make sure your wife doesn’t think she married a dumbass.

(I'll probably need to edit this post after Holli reads it)

The liberal arts college I went to didn’t cover this either.

She asks me every once in a while if I read the blog today. “No,” I answer, “Didn’t have time.” If I were honest, I’d say, “No, I’m too stupid.”

I'm living a double life.

Friday, December 21, 2007

They weren't any fun in college either...

A few months ago, while searching for possible criminal records of bullies who tormented me when I was a kid, I came across a website called LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a networking website that gets people of the same industry together. It lets you search by job, school or area of residence. What one does is request to be put into people’s inner circle or as a “connection.” I’ve connected with 6-10 people, either at my request or theirs. Old friends that I lost touch with over the last 16 years.

It was a bit disappointing in how serious this thing is. I didn’t find one humorous sentence on the entire website. Everyone was on it to network and move up and get ahead, etc. Except, of course, me. I may get kicked out.

I found a lot of people from the college I graduated, a small liberal arts school in West Virginia mostly attended by the underachieving children of rich Northeastern parents. I didn’t fit in. (exceptions 2 and 3) But, I had a good time clicking on the profiles to see where everyone had landed when the trust fund money ran dry.

One guy, who spent much of his free time out of class pretending (or maybe he wasn't pretending) to be a Werewolf is working in Washington, D.C. in the area of Space and Defense. Oh, good.

Another one summarized his career, starting with this statement: Interdisciplinary generalist in both academic and Internet arenas. I am particularly interested in UX design, arising out of my experience as IA, Content Strategist, and UI designer on integrated teams designing and implementing online applications and interfaces.

I have no idea what any of that means. I hope he’s making more money than I am.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The "Other Careers I Considered" Series: Golf Writer

A few words about the men who write about golf:

Golf Writers never pay for anything. They eat like Ethiopian Refugees. They drink like Arthur Bach. They often have pizza stains on their shirts as they look for Dove Bars in the cooler. They get most of the vegetables in their diet by eating Subway Sandwiches.

Very few have ever actually purchased a golf shirt or golf hat with their own money. They get free balls, tees, gloves and shoes.

They usually have more than 50 putters, given to them by obscure companies hoping to get a kind word from the writer in exchange for free products. However, usually the kind word is PLEASE added on to, “Can I get another one of those? for a son, daughter, wife, or woman at the hotel bar in a tight-fitting dress.

But nobody's perfect.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sign of the Apocalypse...

I’m watching Sportscenter last night. Something about the Eagles-Cowboys game from the past weekend is on. They show a picture of Jessica Simpson and mention that she came to watch Tony Romo play. Well, okay, move on please, I don’t care.

Then…it happens. They mention Tom Brady’s girlfriend. What am I watching, Access Hollywood?

I watch Sportscenter to hear about sports, not this drivel. If I wanted to know who Tom Brady and Tony Romo are shacking up with, I’d buy a copy of People or US Weekly or turn the channel to any of the five or so stations that pander to these second-handers.

Is nothing sacred?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mom was worried the swingset we ordered for the kids might not be safe...

From: me
To: mom
Subject: swingset
Date: Sun, 12 Aug 2007 08:37:13 -0400

Mom, I got this today, it should answer your questions about the Swing Set we’ve ordered.

August 12, 2007

Mr. and Mrs. ________________,

We would like to thank you for your order of the Mazano 3000 Deluxe Swingset and Jungle Jim. The installation will be done by our team of teenagers who will arrive on September 28 at 3:00.

The Mazano 3000 is made from the finest re-conditioned materials we could find. Spare parts from the 2005 recall will be used to supplement any substandard materials that may cause weak linkage of the swing and slide. Any defects should be apparent within three weeks of the first use. Remember, please make a list of problems and forward them to us as soon as you can. Also, please make sure you have any children not in your immediate family (and therefore not covered our signed agreement) sign the waiver form BEFORE playing on the apparatus. The installation crew will bring a stack of 100 waiver forms. For more forms, please go to http://www.mazanoreconditionedchildrenstoys.com/ to download them.

While on our website, you may also want to browse our new line of children's toys that we recently acquired at very low prices through a recently-closed factory on the Chinese mainland.

Again, we thank you for taking a chance on the Mazano 3000.

Sincerely,

Robert Gonzalez
Mazano Enterprises
145 W. 3rd St.
Phoenix, Az 33456

Monday, December 17, 2007

I've often worried I'm paranoid...

Yesterday, after a few hours of work, I took the family to the Marina to walk around. Obviously, being the Marina, there were boats and water and security guards with shotguns. I made sure to steer the stroller nowhere near the water nor near the guards at any time.

During the walk, we saw a lot of people out enjoying the day. I avoided eye contact with all of them.

For lunch, we went to a Chinese/Sushi restaurant. I washed my hands before I ordered. We checked our utensils and glassware for cleanliness. I didn’t order the sushi. Something about months with an “r” in them. Can’t remember if it is never or always.

We strapped John in his booster seat. We crushed up the rice for him to eat so he wouldn’t choke. We watched the waiters closely.

Gracie saw a seagull. I told her about the bird flu.

We finished our meal and paid the bill with cash.

We walked toward our car. Men were working on one of the apartments, using scaffolding. We went around another way. I made sure to keep looking over my shoulder for oncoming cars.

We got to the car. I checked underneath it for explosives. We strapped everyone in their seatbelts. I drove the speed limit. I looked both ways at all intersections. I stopped under a tree so the passing helicopter wouldn’t see us.

When we got home, we got the kids out and locked the car. We went in the house and locked the door behind us.

We had a great time.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Preparing For Fatherhood Series: Anger Management

Nothing makes me seethe more than being accused of having "anger-management" issues. Who are they to decide the proper management of my anger? Do they know how angry I am? How can they know what I'd do if I weren't, at that moment, managing it so well? If someone wants to know how well I'm managing my anger, ask me what I would want to do, don't comment on the fact that I just punched a hole in the wall…

And with anger management, am I not supposed to get angry? Is anger management playing Miss Mary Sunshine all the time and always smiling even when I'm so mad I kick them in the ankle? Is that "management" or it is suppression? Keeping your feeling bottled up inside is "management"!?!?

Sounds like non-management to me.

So what is management? One definition might be taking the days events and getting ones feelings out or heard, without offending anyone beyond what their moronic behavior deserves.

So don't tell me about my anger management. MANAGE your own. And perhaps you should think about your "judiciary of others' feelings and actions management" while you are cleaning up the broken glass from the television set.

All of this makes me mad to even think about it.

Next in the series: "I don't get mad when you DON'T drink at 8:30 in the morning…can't we just call it even?"

Friday, December 14, 2007

Epilogue to the previous post...

This steroid thing just fascinates me.

Some of the best players of the last 20 years are on the list.

But also, you’ve got to figure there are a few, like Jason Grimsley (who was terrible even WITH performance enhancing drugs) who are embarrassed to be there.

And then there are some who didn’t get caught because it never occurred to anyone to ask them. They were terrible (as major league standards go) and stayed terrible. Didn’t improve, nothing. No reason for anyone to believe they’d done anything at all.

In the 70’s and 80’s drugs were bad in sports because they HURT a player’s on-field performance. People were outraged that the game was played at less than a high level because guys were high on the field. Now they ban drugs because they make you GOOD.

Well, I say, make up your mind.

I think drugs in sports are just fine. Performance enhancing drugs are alright in all areas of society now. They fix your cholesterol, your blood pressure, your mood, and your sexual organs. Why should we worry a guy is taking drugs to hit home runs?

What about Gatorade? The commercial (with Keith Jackson) says the Florida Gators IMPROVED when they drank the stuff. Even though we know it is a lie, aren’t they saying they used a performance enhancing substance?

I guess I should be worried about the kids, the ones that will be tempted to take drugs to “make it big.” Well, I’m not. Kids will take drugs, and most of them will do it for no reason at all, at least not to improve their batting average. It’s illegal (without a prescription), and that should be enough. Are we so faithless in law enforcement that we need extra rules?

If only there were performance enhancing drugs to make me a better husband and father (without any extra effort, of course)…which was the inspiration for my previous post.

Actually, my wife refuses to believe I took a performance enhancing substance. I'm not sure if that is a compliement or not...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I've been accused of steroid use...the story is below

La Romana, DR -- Senator George Mitchell’s steroid report sent shock waves through the Casa de Campo community when it was revealed that a local father of two had been taking performance enhancing drugs during the 2006 family season.

“We found phone records, bank receipts, ZERO candy bar wrappers and discarded drug boxes that proved Mr. ___________ was guilty of taking a performance enhancing substance,” Mr. Mitchell said. “There is no doubt of his guilt.”

Mitchell further went on to explain Mr. __________’s performance leap as a father and husband was the starting point of the investigation.

“We noticed that he was changing diapers, telling his wife how beautiful she was even when she had clothes on and doing the dishes regularly,” explained Mitchell. “That’s when we knew to make him the target of an investigation.”

Particularly damaging to Mr. ___________’s case was the testimony of family friend Ed _________. The recently clean-shaven Ed explained to a grand jury that during his wife’s recent pregnancy, Mr. ___________ quit drinking beer in deference to his wife. “We couldn’t believe it. We knew then he must be on the juice.”

Other friends testified that Mr. _______________ was spending more time at home, eating less garlic, reading self-help books and leaving the toilet seat down.

Contemporaries expressed their anger at Mr. ______________ for what they call, “cheating the system.”

“I’m sure I could watch Lifetime TV too, if I were on the stuff,” stated Bill _________.

Once seemingly a lock for the World Husband Hall of Fame, Mr. _________________'s candidacy is now in serious doubt.

Mrs. ________________, reportedly eating grapes while being fanned by Mr. ____________, was unavailable for comment.

Happiness is Venice in your rear view mirror...

A friend of mine recently got back from a European tour that included a few days in Venice. He and I agree that the place sucks.

The city is located on the saltwater lagoon that stretches along the Po and the Piave rivers in the mouth of the Adriatic Sea. When the preferred mode of transportation was by water, Venice was a pretty important place for world commerce. The Fourth Crusade was launched from Venice. Numerous fictional works have Venice as its centerpiece. For the pop culture conscious, Madonna filmed a video there (“Like a Virgin”). A quarter of a million people live there. It’s like New Orleans. A stupid place for a town.

Anyway, the main attraction now is that the streets are water and people take motorized water taxis or gondolas to get around. This is very nice, unless it is:

1. Cold…I’ve never had a more bone piercing chill than my 20 minutes in a water taxi.
2. Hot…the stench from the mixture of oil and garbage emanating from the river.
3. Windy…blowing stench or cold…see above.
4. Raining…self-explanatory, I hope

One thing Venetians seem to think is that everyone should pay 10 times the normal rate for everything. Bread, water, a chair to sit in, it’s all obscenely priced. To sit and eat costs more than take-out. They want you to pay, take your food with you and get out.

Wikipedia says: “In the 14th century, many young Venetian men began wearing tight-fitting multicoloured hose, the designs on which indicated the Compagnie della Calza ("Trouser Club") to which they belonged.” Not that there is anything wrong with that...

For the entire history of the town, they have been plagued with floods, but to their credit, they haven’t yet blamed George W. Bush. It took them until the 20th century to realize the place was sinking. Numerous engineering projects have attempted to keep this from happening. It amazes me that two of the more important landmarks in Italy are products of engineering that have made the news in the past twenty years due to efforts to save them from GRAVITY, for Pete’s sake…"Our City of Bilge Water" and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

It seems to me this city is only there because it WAS there. The best idea, I think, is to just shove it into the water, back up 50 or so miles and start over. But keep making those blinds.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Wisdom...by accident, of course

A friend I have had for years used to remind me that life was not a series of questions that had to be answered. In other words, shut up. He meant well. If I heard a question I knew the answer to, I was right there giving it loud and clear. Often even when I wasn’t asked. It was (is?) a character flaw I might take to the grave…who knows?

I was in a meeting today in which I tested this theory. Not because I’ve wised up or anything, but because the meeting was mostly in Spanish. I could follow, but by the time I caught up, they were on to the next point. My command of the Spanish language is kind of like driving 80 m.p.h. by a billboard with a lot of information on it. I might get most of it, I might get some of it, or I might miss it altogether as it zooms by me.

So I am at the meeting and the billboard analogy is working quite well. The subject of the meeting is something I am considered rather versed in, hence my invitation to the meeting. But I was mostly listening, trying to make sure I didn’t wreck into the car in front of me while getting the gist of each point. It was a little frustrating and I wanted to contribute, but I wasn’t sure EXACTLY what they were talking about most of the time.

Finally, since I hadn’t spoken, they asked my opinion (I suppose they needed to justify feeding me lunch). As I spoke, there were nods of agreement, I had scored. Moreover, I had made my point in a timely fashion, unlike the usually "quickest to the buzzer method wins" that I have employed for years. I got their respect without overpowering them.

However, it wasn’t the first time I have done well without knowing what I was doing. You should meet my wife and kids.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

People Who Need People...Regardless of their Blood Alcohol Content

A friend emailed the other day to ask it I would watch their dog while they went away on vacation. If you are thinking they should have called, I disagree. I liked the chance to take my time to see if I will be able to clear my busy schedule to go to their house and unlock the door for five minutes. After all, they live almost 10 minutes away.

Anyway, she said that she was going to ask the little boy that lives across their courtyard to do it, but they also wanted to ask me. She added that she would keep beer in the fridge. I am assuming for me, of course. The little boy is a more of a vodka drinker.

I guess it’s pretty desperate for her if her choices are whittled down to a little boy and a man that she feels needs to be bribed by beer in order to help. All her older, sober friends must be busy.

And I guess her impression of me is that I am the kind of guy that normally wouldn’t help anyone unless the promise of booze is involved. This should be one of the ten or so questions to see if you have a problem.

1. “Have you ever missed work because of alcohol?”
2. “Have you ever blacked out because of drinking?”
3. “Do you require alcohol in exchange for small personal favors for good friends?”
And so on…

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, or “just get me a beer and leave me alone”, you may be an alcoholic.

After much deliberation and a fifth of Jack Daniels, I emailed her back and told her to get me a key before she leaves but to make sure there is a bottle opener in plain sight.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

"I Need a 7:30 Tee Time, STAT!"

I’ve noticed lately that everyone seems to have an “Out of Office Reply” thing on their email. It always tells me when they will return and what to do if I have an emergency. In my line of work, an emergency is needing a discounted rate or a tee time six months from now. We are not rushing donated organs to the transplant clinic. But you wouldn’t know it.

People keep sending me emails with the “Urgent” exclamation point on it. I don’t know if this means that I need to hurry up or that they wished they had asked sooner. Anyway, depending on my mood, it either makes me chuckle to think we have a “Golf Emergency” or makes me want to throw a brick through the computer screen. Sorry, this is YOUR emergency, not mine. I’ll answer your request in 24-48 hours, just like I do for the polite people and those who planned ahead of time.

With that said, I have come up with an out of office reply I shall begin using with requests that are marked “URGENT”:

“We will be either in or out of the office today. Regardless, we will NOT answer your tee time request today, unless it benefits US to do so. Please untie the noose from the rafters, put down the bottle of Drano, and rest assured your answer will be sent within 24-48 hours, just like we do for people who don’t have delusions of self-importance. If you believe this is an emergency and you think you need immediate assistance, seek professional psychiatric help.”

This should get some results.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Next Week: How to TIVO Something...

This would probably work better on my wife's blog (whatisblue.blogspot.com), but I’ll try anyway…

Tuesday, December 4, 5:45 AM:
“Daddy!” “Daddy!” “Daddy!” Gracie isn’t the most patient person in the world. I don’t know where she gets it, but she needs to stop being impatient really soon, or I am going to snap.

I go into her room to be told that it is time to get up. I tell her it is still dark out and that we need to sleep at bit longer. I don’t have to get up until 7 am this morning and I want to get some more sleep. She seems to agree and lays back down. For about 30 seconds. The air conditioner turns on…and she pokes me in the ribs and says. “It came on. Why?”

I then explain that the air conditioner has a thermostat and that when it gets too hot, it comes on to cool things down. She seems satisfied with that until it cuts off three minutes later. This time it is a poke in the neck. “It turned off. Why?” Again, I explain the thermostat.

We repeat this about every two minutes until about 6:20, when I finally get up turn off the AC and lay back down. However, in getting up, I disturb her and she notices that the sun is beginning to peek through the shutters. She informs me it is time to get up, eat breakfast and watch Pocoyo. (Pocoyo is a wonderful children’s show…UTube it if you don’t believe me)

So out to the living room we go…me dragging and she happy to see a new day, armed with the knowledge of how a thermostat works.

When John is old enough...we'll have her explain it to him.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I Save Another Polar Bear. Baby Seals and Artic Fish Unhappy.

I received an email yesterday with all the details of a weekend getaway for someone coming to my corner of the universe.

At the bottom of the email was a note: “In order to protect the environment, please join us in not printing this email unless absolutely necessary.”

So let me get this straight: You are going to fly 5000 miles back and forth, burning up all that fossil fuel (whatever that is), but you want ME to save the environment by not printing three pages?

My personal opinion is that the environment is fine. But if it isn’t fine, why is it up to me to save it? Save it yourself, pal.

Don't worry, I didn't print it. Now the ice caps won't melt.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Stop me if you think you've heard this one before...

In college, I loved the English group the Smiths. The frontman, Morrissey, is in the news complaining about the immigrant explosion in the UK. In his heyday, he wasn’t known for his cheery attitude. “Girlfriend in a Coma”, “Unhappy Birthday”, and “Death of a Disco Dancer” were a few of his titles.

His mood hasn’t changed. He claims he can’t find an English accent amongst the people at the Knight’s Bridge Tube station anymore. My first reaction was, with all that money he has made, why is he riding the subway? But in the larger sense, it’s just another example of a celebrity (although a minor one) making social commentary.

Also in the news, guess who Barbara Streisand has endorsed for President. (take a wild guess…she’s from Arkansas…)

The idiots in the media world need to go out and hunt some real news instead of asking Brittany Spears her opinion of Iran’s uranium enrichment program (“Ms. Spears, Do you think President Ahmadinejad’s claim that uranium was enriched to 3.5% using over a hundred centrifuges is correct?”) while she shops for shoes.

To the media: Stop asking these questions of these people. I don’t care what Sean Penn thinks is going on in Iraq and that Danny Glover and Hugo Chavez are pals.

To the entertainment types: If you want to be an actor/singer/politician, I suggest running for office. Until then, shut up and act/sing/moan or whatever it is you do.

Unless you happen to have a blog...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What’s on my IPOD

Dust.

For some reason 1000 songs stored on something smaller than a cell phone seemed like a great idea. Still does.

I see all kinds of people using it, jogging, sunbathing at the beach, exercising, etc. However, I don’t do any of those things. This may be the subject of another blog, or perhaps a note at the bottom of my obituary.

Well, I do go to the beach. But you can’t zone out in your own personal audio world while a 3-year old plays in the surf and a 10-month old eats sand. Nor would I want to.

Unless I’m on a plane alone, I never use it. Also, I should note, I’m never on a plane alone anymore.

To be fair, we have used it at parties, we hook it up to computer speakers for a little background music. I’ve heard other people do this with their stereo.

I’ve used it to hit golf balls. I read this book called “Tour Tempo” and it wants you to learn to hit while a guy yells, “Swing, Set, Through” in your ear for the start, change of direction and contact during the golf swing. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Insert your own comment here.

Holli said she wanted to have one, so I gave it to her. She uses it as much as I did.

Monday, November 26, 2007

And of course, brown paper packages tied up with strings...

Recently, a group of golfers from Kentucky were making plans to come to my corner of the universe to play golf. Being that I lived a brief time in Kentucky, I mentioned that I would love to get a bottle or two of Ale81, a regional soft drink that I absolutely loved when I lived there.

The other end of the line was quite interested in making sure my craving was satisfied, so she arranged to mail a case (24 cans) to me as a surprise. And at great expense. I think shipping was $95. It costs 500 pesos at the post office (I had never been there in 4 years) to get it out of customs. The product itself was about 20 bucks. So we are up to about $5 a can. I will enjoy them one at a time and sob softly on the last one.

It reminded me of an import business I joked about with a friend a year or two ago. It would be called “My Favorite Things.”

I would start with (or maybe just hog all for myself) the following things:
JIF Peanut Butter….as I have been reminded many times, I am a Choosy Mother. Crunchy, creamy, I don’t care.
Frank’s Red Hot…the original Buffalo Wing sauce
Welch’s Grape Jelly…for my wife
Brookwood Farms Pork Barbeque…run by a friend of mine, he used to give it to us by the case
Guinness Stout…or any equivalent dark beer. Pilsners rule the day here. It’s a heartless dictatorship. When I go back to the states, I just go to the beer aisle and wander…dreaming of a beer coup and regime change in the land of my employment. So far, it’s just a dream.
David’s Sunflower Seeds…in the shell, of course
Jelly Belly Jelly Beans…Licorice
Cheese Straws…various brands
Ginger Beer…various brands
and of course, Ale81.

I would also open a few restaurants:
Primanti Bros….if you’ve ever been to Pittsburgh, you know
Schlotsky’s…I could eat there every day
Drover’s Inn, West Liberty, WV…the best wings in the world
The Hot Dog Shoppe, East Liverpool, Ohio…I don’t really like hot dogs, but this place…
Skyline Chili…get the 5-way…you won’t be disappointed…
El Vaquero, Southern Pines, NC…the Mexican food here is terrible…who’d have known?

Bon appetite…

Saturday, November 24, 2007

My Parents Got a Letter This Week...

Dear Mr. and Mrs. _______________,

We regret to inform you that your son’s development in the past year was not sufficient to allow him to be promoted to the next age. We feel another year at 40 will allow him to mature and keep him from falling further behind his contemporaries.

This decision is based on key events of the past year and we have included recommendations for the coming year.

1. He should have bought Amazon stock in June, not October.
2. During the Nevin Shootout in May, he should have hit a normal 8-iron instead of trying a knockdown 7-iron on the 16th hole.
3. He should never go “all-in” with three of a kind. We repeatedly cautioned him on this.
4. He should avoid the Miami and San Juan airports at all costs.
5. When a waiter brings him hot sauce with 357,000 Scoville units (as we know, Tabasco has only 5000), scoffing and dumping it all on his Malaysian Chicken is something we hope his ego (and the rest of his body) can avoid in the coming year.
6. He should continue to avoid Tequila. This is something he did very well on in the past year. We hope he will continue.
7. When asked by his wife, “What are you thinking?” Please counsel him to answer either “how wonderful you are” or “how beautiful you are” or even “how lucky I am to have you.” Answers like, “Nothing”, “I don’t know” and “I should have hit a normal 8-iron instead of a knockdown 7-iron” are not considered appropriate responses.

We hope that another 40th year will give him the needed skills to progress toward adulthood, whatever that is.

Sincerely,

William Porter Walden

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Next Post Won't be Political, I promise...

Mr. David Stern
Commissioner, National Basketball Association
New York, NY 00125

Mr. Stern,

Due to a recent order signed Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm prohibiting hiring discrimination based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, height, weight, marital status, politics, disability or genetic information, I am informing you that my client will report to the Detroit Pistons next Tuesday as their starting power forward.

My client is 6 feet tall and weighs 172 pounds. He will turn 41 next May. However, as you read above, height, weight and age are not to be considered in hiring.

To make room for my client on the roster, I ask that you direct the Pistons to cut Rasheed Wallace, whose 15 points and 7 rebounds each game are largely due to the fact that he is nearly seven-feet tall and weighs about 240 pounds. He obviously benefits from the illegal hiring preferences used by Piston management.

In order to keep with the NBA code of conduct, my client will begin to attempt to father children out of wedlock, purchase an IPOD (for walking into and out of arenas) and get some tattoos on his biceps, if he can find them.

We look forward to working with you.

Sincerely,

Bill W. __________, Esq.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Danny Likes Racial Profiling...sometimes

Today’s idiot that you could spot from a Google Earth Satellite is Congressman Danny Davis of Chicago.

The congressman said he was driving three friends home early Monday morning when two white Chicago police officers pulled him over and said he had swerved over the center line before making a left turn from Kedzie onto Douglas Boulevard.

The congressman was nailed with a $75 ticket and a date in traffic court on Dec. 28. He denies doing anything wrong.

"There was just no reason I could conjure up other than the fact that there were four black people in a car," he said.

Chicago police confirmed that a ticket was issued but said nothing about Davis' allegation that he was singled out for what he calls "driving while black."

The 7th Congressional District in Illinois is located in the city of Chicago. The 2000 census figures show the District to be 62% black.

The Congressman had no comment on the fact he may have been “elected to Congress while black”.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hating Hate...it's a vicious circle...

I haven’t mentioned my job yet, and I am not really going to, but a thank you note addressed to “Dear Friend of the Diversity Center”, from the Diversity Center of Northern Ohio came to my email address. Of course, they wished me Happy Holidays.

Now I have no idea who these people are, but my first impression was that if they really want to be diverse they wouldn’t limit themselves to only Northern Ohio.

I wasn’t splitting the atom or anything (it was before lunch) so I clicked on the link to read about their 7th Annual Humanitarian Dinner. I’m sure the food was good, but probably void of any foods that may offend, such as Kosher (or non-Kosher) meat or fish or vegetables picked by underpaid migrant workers, or bread made in the ovens of Republicans. I’m sure no alcohol was allowed nor any caffeine nor any trans-fat. I’m sure it was delicious.

Anyway, I then clicked on “Diversity Partners”. This is a list of people who they partner with although I assume EVERYONE is invited. I’m going to name a few:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio…The same people who think Santa and the Easter Bunny are religious icons.

Anti-Defamation League…this is a great idea. Who is FOR defamation? But isn’t being “Anti” anything a slap in the face of diversity?

Cleveland Council on World Affairs…They were formed in 1923 to promote World Peace. Since Cleveland hasn’t gone to war since then, I guess we know they are doing pretty well with this in Northern Ohio. Now if only we could get everyone else to join. In college, the people that loved to talk about world peace also smoked weed. Same with the “Save the Earth People.” Just an observation.

Anyway, there’s 20 more or so partners but I don’t have time to list them all. They don’t leave anyone out, unless they believe in God. Well, just one God, that is.

Also, for the non-specific, non-denominational winter celebrations that annually occur in November and December, they did want to invite us to:

THE B'NAI JESHURUN ON MONDAY, NOVEMBER 19 AT 7:00 P.M. for an interreligious Thanksgiving celebration sponsored by InterAct Cleveland, B'nai Jeshurun Congregation and The Diversity Center.
THE EVENING WILL FEATURE...* The B'nai Jeshurun Choir * An Interreligious Choral Group * South African Song * Indian Sitar Music * Participation by the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Bahai, and Buddhist communities.

Well, this either will be a spiritually uplifting event completely devoid of real meaning or a complete brawl.

As for me, I love diversity and tolerance. Does that mean I hate intolerance? Am I allowed to hate intolerance? Am I allowed to hate anything?

In fact, just thinking about intolerance people makes me want to punch someone. But (in keeping with diversity) someone different each time, of course.

Get Steven King a cup of decaf…

The horror writer Steven King has had another of his novels made into a movie. Since America has no taste, The Mist will open sometime soon at a theatre near you. Whether you like it or not.

I don't know how you feel about Steven King, but let's face it, Victor Hugo, he isn't. But that doesn't stop this idiot.

“Frank wrote a new ending that I loved. It is the most shocking ending ever and there should be a law passed stating that anybody who reveals the last 5 minutes of this film should be hung from their neck until dead.”

Well, Stevie boy, it’s Frank’s (whoever he is) movie now. It’s his ending. So shut up. If knowing the end ruins the story, it wasn't a very good one to begin with. Great books can be read over and over again without the reader being stricken with amnesia each time.

Before Congress rushes to enact this law, I’m going to give you the ending…the hero lives, the bad guy or thing dies and life will never be the same again. There. Now you don’t have to go.

Tell Steve to sue me if he doesn’t like it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A History of Ireland That Makes You Feel Sorry For Myanmar

Even though St. Patrick’s Day is months away, the deeds of the great man are never far from my mind. His banishment of snakes (although post-glacial Ireland has never had snakes) from the Emerald Isle is an undertaking that is unmatched in public service, even beyond that of my friend Ed, who is credited with attempting to rid the Dominican Republic of Don Armando Rum, one bottle at a time.

The Irish Potato Famine of 1845-1852 reduced the population of Ireland by an estimated 775,000 people, or a little less than 100,000 per year. On the bright side, due to the heroics of our man Paddy, no one died of snakebite.

The people in Asia don’t have it so good. Roughly 50,000 people each year die from snakebite, with about 80% of the deaths occurring in Asia. This is every year, not just for eight years in the 19th century. So since we started keeping score in 1845 or so, it’s Snakes in Asia 6,400,000 – Potato Blight 775,000.

So I really don’t want to hear about the Irish Potato Famine any longer. And if there is a 10-foot Equatorial Cobra in the produce section, just remember, Uncle Ben’s Long Grain White Rice can be found in the Soup Aisle.

Gotta go...

Let me tell you about Potty training. We all know potty training is tough. First, you have to learn when you feel the “urge” to go and then you need to either tell someone or go find the potty. Since the one we are using now is portable, it is sometimes hard to find. (which is why they are put them in the bathroom next to the sink and anchor them, I suppose—not like the remote or the cordless telephone)

After finding the potty, it is a little boring. Eventually, success arrives. We flush it down the toilet and celebrate.

I’m getting pretty good at it. We’re going to start with Gracie any day now.

My mom thinks I'm not eating right...

Holli,

I thought the hot dogs with the cheese and chili were great for lunch. Frying them was a great idea. As good as they were, I can’t believe I only ate four of them. I guess the dozen glazed-chocolate-covered doughnuts for breakfast kind of took my appetite. Thanks for getting them for me. You were right, Pepsi does make them go down a little easier.

I hadn’t really thought about dinner yet…have to let the bag of pork rinds you gave me as I was walking out to go back to work and the chocolate malt settle a bit first. Besides, in thinking about dinner, I’m not sure you can top last nights gizzards wrapped in bacon inside the puff pastry with mashed potatoes and cream gravy that we had. The chocolate cheesecake really was a perfect dessert. I’m sorry I was a little disappointed at first with the fact that you didn’t make the Crème Brule like you did on Saturday, but the cheesecake really hit the spot, especially after you added a side of homemade ice cream and chocolate fudge sauce.

Oh, one last thing. Bill called me about an hour ago and said you left the Fry-Daddy at their house last week when we made the deep-fried Snickers bars. I’ll stop by and get it on my way home.

A thought just occurred to me…let’s skip the nightly walk this evening. I’m pretty tired, and walking from the car to the office this afternoon kind of wore me out.

Why don’t we just order a couple of pizzas?

Live Free or Die, yeah, fine...just leave me alone

Why is it somehow important what people in New Hampshire think about the political candidates? I only know one guy from New Hampshire and he is a total moron, for what I can tell. I’ve never thought to ask him who should be President and if I did, I certainly wouldn’t care what his answer was.

So stop doing a poll every ten minutes and announcing the results like somehow they have merit. I don’t care what anyone in New Hampshire thinks…why do I want people too stupid to get out of the cold to pick a President?

While I’m on the subject of cold, why are most of the people who believe in the myth of global warming from the Northeast? Why wouldn’t they want global warming? Why would they want to stop it from happening? Do they like shoveling the driveway on Memorial Day?

These are the things I think about at 6:30 am.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I Know What They Did Last Century...

The Bush Administration was completely against the congress passing a resolution declaring the Armenian Genocide (I don’t need congress—I have my own opinion) in 1915 to have been genocide. The effort to bring it to a vote seems to have died.

As a descendant of Armenians, I have always felt strongly that something needed to be done or said regarding the atrocities committed by the Ottoman Empire prior to World War I. And many things have been written. Twenty-nine countries have passed resolutions declaring it to have been genocide.

But is that the job of government? To define history? And what if they voted against it? Does it mean it didn’t happen, that it was just the Ottoman Empire responding to a rebellion? No, what happened over 90 years ago will remain a horrible nightmare for 1.5 million Armenians regardless of what the House of Representatives and the Senate say.

And why now, Congress? The timing and the people in favor of this are suspect at best. I have never agreed with Speaker Pelosi on anything and I’m not going to start now. I’m not disagreeing that the genocide happened, of course it did. It is as much a fact as the sun coming up each day. I disagree with making it the business of congress to play historical fact checker.

I really think Ms. Pelosi is using the grief of the Armenian people to try to cause difficulty for the war on terror effort and for the White House. Well, this Armenian isn’t falling for it. I don’t care what you want to say, for political purposes, happened in 1915. Shut up.

Cayenne Lemonade

Here’s how you make it:

2 tablespoons Cayenne Pepper (or more, if you like)
Little Bit of Lemon Juice (or more, if you like)
33.8 Fluid Ounces of Water

Close the top of the bottle and shake. Shake before each drink as the cayenne tends to settle on the bottom. I like it. My stomach hurts almost all the time (mostly cramps), I spend about 45-60 minutes each day in the bathroom but at least it’s always right where I left it in the refrigerator.