Thursday, January 31, 2008

With all the time I'd save...I could have a blog

Holli and I saw the General the other night after dinner. Great guy. He was getting into his SUV driven by his bodyguard. When we left, the bodyguard beeped his horn at us, no doubt at the General’s behest.

This seems useful. Someone driving for me could do lots of things so I would have the freedom to talk on the phone, eat drive thru food and work the radio.

-Friendly beeps of the horn to say hello.
-Speed up, pass and cut off people who just cut me off.
-Give the finger. And receive any fingers that may come back.
-Tap the brakes when someone is following too closely.
-Yell loudly and gesture with his right arm while looking in the rear view mirror at the idiot behind me.
-Slow down to infuriate impatient drivers behind me.
-Speed up the make sure someone doesn’t enter the road in front of me.
-Wave hello.
-Ignore hitchhikers.
-Honk at people who don’t go at the exact moment the light turns green.
-Slowly drift to the right or left to impede the progress of people who want to pass.

And finally, go to traffic court and/or pay traffic fines for me.

This might happen often.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What I learned from childbirth...not mine...that would take too long...

Pregnancy and childbirth is tough.

The nausea is terrible. It almost seems unfair that someone has to go through all this just to get a baby born. Food tastes different, you can’t drink, finding a comfortable position to sleep in is almost impossible and the changes the body goes through are almost unfathomable.

The last month it gets worse. The mood swings, the back pain, and the difficulty in doing even the simplest of tasks.

As the day approaches, the dread of what you are about to go through is mentally exhausting. You want to go get it over with, but you aren’t looking forward to the experience.

The day arrives and the baby is born. You are thrilled to have the child (and a healthy one) but the fatigue is overwhelming.

Recovery and getting back to normal seems like a mountain you have to climb everyday.

From what I understand, it was tough on Holli also.


My son is a Head-banger.

This doesn’t mean he likes Motley Crue, but that he likes hitting his head against things. He has varying results. Couches and pillows, fine…other people, sometimes fine and hard objects like chair legs and floors never fine.

He cries...and then he’s back at it. He won’t stop. He’s like Angus Young.

We are considering a helmet.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


For Thanksgiving in 2003, we invited friends. We had Billy, Nick, Bill and Lee Ann (Billy’s parents) and Macy (a girl Holli was trying to set Billy up with).

Nick and Macy, it turned out, knew each other. Small world.

We had Armenian Food instead of Turkey. I don’t think we watched football.

After dinner, we played poker on the porch. Bill won most of the money, Billy, Nick and I lit up cigars.

Lee Ann got rather livid at seeing her son smoke a cigar and they left soon afterward. I had been encouraging Billy to be himself and not worry about what his parents thought or said. If anything, I encouraged him to smoke in front of her, to get it out in the open.

After it was all over, I told Billy I kind of blamed myself. He said he did too.

That evening, a childhood friend of Holli’s came over. We drank brandy and smoked cigars on the back porch. Every once in a while we laughed at Billy for his trouble.

Today, more than four years later, Billy is married and lives in Scotland, attending Seminary. I don’t know if he smokes. And if he does, I don’t think he’d tell me.

Bill and Lee Ann still live in North Carolina. We had lunch with them on our last visit. We didn’t talk about the Thanksgiving we spent together.

Holli’s friends still live in Atlanta.

We have no idea where Macy is.

Nick pled guilty to a lesser charge (than vehicular homicide) in order to avoid a possible 99-year prison term and is spending the next eight years in prison. He is a great guy and a great friend who made a mistake. He almost died in the crash. The occupants of the other car weren’t so lucky. No one knows what happened (who crossed the center line) and no one ever will. Nick has no memory of it, and everyone else at the scene died.

It would be nice if we can someday all get together again.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Mostly, I just hate being behind them when I'm trying to go somewhere...

Whenever I hear the word PUBLIC associated with anything, I think second-rate.

Public Transportation: Graffiti infested buses and subways with a lurking criminal element.

Public Restrooms: Only if you have to and try not to sit.

Public Education: Where Johnny learned to fire a pistol.

The government shouldn’t be in the business of educating people.

They do a terrible job of it anyway. Everyone knows private education is superior to public. Why else would people PAY for it?

The biggest problem with public education is that teachers aren’t paid enough. So the talented move on to other pursuits.

Now, I don’t mean we should take the slackers currently teaching in the United States and give them more money. I think we should fire them all, jack up the salaries and hire the best we can get in an open competition.

We pay for this salary increase by doing away with the biggest unnecessary drain on a school’s budget: The School Bus. This would increase the quality of education overnight.

Without the buses, there would be more money for books and teaching aids. The emphasis would be educating the kids, not just getting them there and back.

Without the school bus, parents would have to get their kids to school, by themselves or by car pool or whatever. This might lead to parents taking an interest as to what is going on there.

This, by the way, will never happen.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

After a large order of cheese fries and four cokes, I've decided...

I’m a skeptic on the subject of cholesterol medicine. I’ve gotten cholesterol readings that would be a good three game bowling series. I still don’t take the stuff.

HDL, LDL, I don’t know the difference. I don’t care either. It’s all just a scam. I’ve been saying it for years. I’ll keep saying it.

We recently heard the advice of a doctor as relayed to someone who frequents our resort.

“He just told me to buy bigger clothes and remember to take my pills,” he explained.

I should have gone to medical school. Or maybe I didn’t need to, if this is on the cutting edge of medical science. This is as good as the psychiatrist telling you that it is just all in your head.

Maybe the doctor figured worrying about your cholesterol takes years off your life. Maybe it does. But the person who relayed this to us won’t be buying bigger clothes unless the XXXXL Size makes a comeback at Sears. The advice this guy needed was to quit eating until he could see his shoes without the aid of a full length mirror.

But he seemed to think that was sound medical advice.

Here’s what I think:

Don’t eat if you are not hungry. Have a diet balanced with fruits, vegetables and fiber. Try to move around occasionally (known as exercise if you don’t already move around on a regular basis). Laugh. Cry. Be normal. Enjoy things in moderation.

And stop thinking medical science is the answer.

Friday, January 25, 2008

7 things I won't talk about at length...

Last night at poker I asked the Englishmen at the table what Margaret Thatcher was like.

“Right wing, conservative, b****h” came the quick reply.

Well, two out of three is pretty good.
I have a dear friend who can’t understand why the tobacco companies don’t make a safe, healthy and non-addictive cigarette.

This seems like a pretty good idea, even better than non-alcoholic beer.
A lady at the resort complained to me that the dance contest was rigged. How do you rig a dance contest and who would go to the trouble to do it?
The bird flu is in the country. But have no fear, apparently you can only get it where chickens run around and at cock fights. This rules out 1% of the country, maybe. I saw five chickens this morning and I didn’t leave the resort. None of them had a box of Kleenex, so I think I’m safe.
A local bar is for sale. The “owner” doesn’t own the property. He has a computer, some speakers for music, a big screen TV, a little TV, glasses and some booze. The buyer would have to continue to rent the building and lease or buy the coolers and refrigerators. He wants to sell the rights to call it “Mi Bar” to someone else for $40,000.
A guy in Canada wants to set up a reciprocal agreement with us so he can play golf here while he is on his honeymoon. So if we get this worked out, I’ll have a place to play golf in Calgary.
And finally, you can spot a person that just got off a cruise ship from a mile away.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Romantic Plagarism

People send gifts to us.

About three hours ago, a longtime customer sent flowers, wine and candy. One of the girls wanted the wine, so I offered her a trade: my two bottles of wine for her Orchid. I had a plan.

Immediately, I took the orchid to the house. Triumphantly, I placed it on the dining room table. Holli saw it and asked, “Who’s that from?”

I felt outed. “ME!” I said. Technically, that was true.

She was very impressed and pleased. After a few minutes, I left to go back to work. I got about three houses down the road when my phone rang.

“Did you know they were fake?” she asked.

“S-s-sure,” I said, “I know you like the color and I thought you’d like to keep them for a while. Is that okay?” I was speaking a little quickly.

“No, I love them. I just wanted to make sure you didn’t think they were real when you bought them,” she said.

“Not a chance,” I replied.

I’m going to take her the candy tomorrow. This time, I'll try a few pieces to make sure it's really chocolate before I give it to her.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

In between, I caught a barracuda…

Big Game Fisherman Norm Isaacs came by the office last week.

He’s been on ESPN for 16 or so years, fishing the world’s greatest spots. I’d never met him before, but he’s a great guy. He was here doing a piece on fishing in the Dominican Republic. See your local listings for show times.

He asked me about my fishing interest and I explained that I really enjoyed coming back from successful day on the high seas and brushing my teeth. Vomiting all day can give you a bad taste in your mouth.

I went with my Father-in-Law once. We went about 45 miles off of the Wilmington, North Carolina coast. Getting there was fine. Going around in circles was not.

He offered to go back to shore immediately, but I toughed it out for eight hours. We caught a ton of fish, mostly grouper. He told me it was a good-eating fish. He was right.

He told me the next time we went I could take some medicine to avoid the nausea…but I had a plan of my own. I told him the next time he wanted to go, let me know, I’d be happy to mow his lawn or paint his house.

My friend Jean-Pierre took me a few months ago on his boat. Same results. After a while, I was hungry, so I made a sandwich and threw it in the ocean. Why use the middle man when you can go direct?

On the way back, one of the guys asked me why I went if I knew I would get sick. I told them I enjoyed their company. He said it wasn’t really mutual, since I spent the day leaning over the boat throwing up.

He had a point.

For more on Norm, go to

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I have an eye problem...

For about the last 10 years, I have had an aversion to all things eye-related.

I tried to get contacts back in 1998. But I had an adrenaline rush and passed out when the Doctor tried to put them in.

(pause for laughter…)

After I came to, Dr. Kavanaugh told me it was fairly common and had nothing to do with my manhood or anything. He suggested a new pair of glasses and that I play from the red tees the next time I went to the golf course. I think he was joking.

Here in the Caribbean, my eyes hurt on a regular basis. I’ve been told it is allergies.

So I use Visine, but I have trouble getting the drops in because I can’t keep my eyes open to put them in. It’s an involuntary reflex. Like yelling "Liar!" at the TV when Hillary Clinton is speaking.

I think it is interesting that convenience stores often display the Visine right next to the cigarette rolling papers.

I was curious, so I went to the Visine website and looked up the directions for use:

  • do not touch the tip of the applicator to any surface
  • put down the bag of Doritos
  • put 1 or 2 drops in the affected eye(s) up to 4 times daily
  • if you live in Portland, Oregon, please do your best to try to remember to go to the polling place and vote “yes” on Measure 8 this coming November

See ya…

Monday, January 21, 2008

International Commerce, Part II

In this country, change is hard.

You can’t ever get any. It is very common to go into a store and try to buy something and the cashier doesn’t have enough change to complete the transaction. You can buy more stuff, not buy anything, or leave a huge tip.

You often see employees digging for change in their purses and wallets to help customers.

One thing that is common here is when they run out of pesos for change (about 3 cents right now) they will give you candy or Hall’s Cough Drops in lieu of money.

For a while I thought this was just them being nice…until I realized they were short-changing me equal to the amount of Chicklets I got.

One time recently, they didn’t have change or candy, so the cashier just closed the register and smiled at me.

Buyer beware, I guess.

Epilogue: A friend of mine took her received Hall’s Cough Drop and sales receipt and presented it the next time she went to that store, attempting to pass it off as hard (candy) currency. It worked.

Friday, January 18, 2008

I was in a traveling puppet troop also...

I was a Boy Scout for about a month.

Don’t remember any meetings. My Dad and I won the Father-Son Bowling tournament. I earned my “Picked up the 6-10 split” merit badge.

One night, while on a hayride, one of my fellow scouts mentioned a future activity with the troop to me. Before I could answer, the girl I was “going with” ridiculed him for being a Boy Scout. Thinking quickly, I kept my mouth shut. It may have been the last time (for either one).

As soon as I could, I turned in my brown shirt, red scarf and my official Scout Handbook. Or maybe I just didn’t go back. Can’t remember.

Looking back, scouting was probably a pretty good thing. You went camping and learned all sorts of things. I’ve been woefully unprepared for life in the great outdoors, maybe this would have helped. I don’t own a pocketknife. I never built a car for the Pinewood Derby. I never helped an old lady cross the street.

I could have been an Eagle Scout. Instead, I listened to a girl on a hayride.

The relationship was doomed from that point. It ended when I told her I was the President of my 4-H Club.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A tribute to Willy Loman...

There are a lot of salesmen in the world.

The success of the salesman depends largely on his product, I think.

Note: Someone IS making a killing selling ice to the Eskimos. And he’s no genius, the people in Alaska want to ice down their beer just like the rest of us.

Some products need salesmen, that one guy with the leisure suit that looks you in the eye and asks, “What’s it going to take to put you in this Ford Eurostar today?”

Ironically, the most personal things need the impersonal touch. A billboard works sometimes, but not some guy in your grill asking, “What’s it going to take for you to get off your fat ass and come down to Gold’s Gym?”

Same with marriage counseling. No one tells you, “Hey, Amy and I were talking and we think your marriage sucks. Call this guy. He’ll set you straight.”

That’s why Deodorant and Midol aren’t sold door-to-door.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

International Commerce...

On the drive into the town of La Romana (between the bridge and Jumbo Grocery store if you have Google Earth) there are street vendors. They sell phone cards, newspapers, and of course, super glue.

That’s right, super glue. They don’t seem to try to sell it to the locals, just the gringos that drive by.

I must look like I just broke a lamp.

Today when I drove in, a guy was selling razors. I’m working on a two or three-day goatee right now (just decided Sunday to let it go for a while) and my vendor was pretty sure of a sale as he ran full tilt toward my car.

He had the biggest grin on his face. He HAD a sale. He just knew it. This guy needs a shave, he thought. I could see him calculating his price. He was going to really stick it to me.

When he arrived, I assured him I looked pretty good like this and wasn’t going to decide at a red light to give it up. He looked at me incredulously, like I was a complete moron. Just then, a different guy appeared from nowhere and cleaned my windshield. It needed it. I gave him six pesos. This made my windshield guy very happy but in turn angered the super glue guy who was approaching rapidly. How dare I get a clean windshield when I could glue my fingers together?

I waved him off, told the guy with the newspaper I couldn’t read and when the light turned I beat it out of there.

When I got home Gracie asked me why I hadn’t washed my face. I told her it was hair. She told me to go wash my face.

I just love that little girl.

Detour...for just one day...

A friend of mine once got directions that included taking a left where, I quote, “the peach stand used to be.”

My friend, not being from there, was no better off than he was in the first place, since there was no “Peach Stand Used to Be Here” marker on the side of the road. He didn’t have a map, so it took a little longer for him to get there.

Directions are important in life. We all want to get to the same place, I think. We all want contentment, the cool of the evening, and for all to be right where we want it.

Some want the future to be perfect, others just want right now to be good. This helps them choose their path. Sometimes choosing now over later makes later impossible.

There are a lot of ways to go. But most of them are diversions, or things to fill up the time. The poem, “The Wasteland” by TS Eliot comes to mind.

I have two friends who don’t have kids but they would make wonderful fathers. I know people who shouldn't be allowed to procreate, but they have kids.

In finding your way, others can help, but usually you get their story and it doesn’t fit perfectly with your own.

It’s better to have a roadmap. Choose the map wisely, I say.

Find a road worth taking and never divert.

Monday, January 14, 2008

...and some pants that go up to my armpits

The bad neighbor contest has a new entry. Yesterday, the people from behind our house started the music at 1:00 pm and didn’t quit until about 7:00 pm or so. But that isn’t the worst part.

Our nanny investigated and found out that two houses were sharing a birthday party. Everyone was invited, some actually to come to the party and some to just listen to the music. Everyone within four blocks, that is. We couldn’t sit in our own living room and talk to one another.

Their music choice was an endless, monotonous bass guitar and drums. I didn’t know the Time-Life Series had “Perpetual Pounding” in a 20 CD set. I thought I was inside a human heart.

I can’t image how they communicated over there. Sign language, I guess. What’s the sign for happy birthday, here’s your hearing aid?

If the CIA ever needs info from me, I suggest this music. I’d spill my guts in 20 seconds. As it was, the six hours of it just drove me insane. But that isn’t the worst part.

We coped by telling ourselves we were better neighbors (more considerate) than they were and by calling the cops every half-hour. But again, that isn’t the worst part.

The worst part is that we are now one of the people on the other side…the people that just want quiet…the people that want soft music and conversation at a party.

We’re like the old lady that wouldn’t let us play ball in her yard.

My youth is officially gone. All I need now is hair plugs and a Convertible.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A letter the King of England should have sent…

March 12, 1726

From his majesty King George I of England, Windsor Castle, England SR4 to his majesty Louis XV of France, The Palace @ Versailles

Cher Louis Cans,

Comment ca va mon frere? Ca va bien ici.

If I didn’t tell you before, congrats on your marriage to Marie. She’s a great girl. I hope the polish jokes have stopped around court.

I have big news. Sophie and I were talking the other night and we’ve decided to move the English Monarchy to the New World. We’ve got all this land over in America and I think it’s time we built something over there before we get too old (or the Jacobites behead us) to enjoy it.

So next week we are loading up and sailing for Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. No more crappy weather 10½ months a year, no more fish and chips for every meal. We’ll send our new address after we get settled.

It doesn’t make any sense to us to hold on to this pathetic rock in the middle of the North Atlantic when we’ve got all this land over there.

Also, it’s possible the people over there may decide to try to revolt and make their own country if we aren’t there to repress them. Where would we be then? If they did go independent, eventually we might need THEM to pull our fat out of the fire in a war or something. They’d probably get arrogant and hold it over our heads for years. And we don’t need that.

We’ll make some changes when we get there, like “New England” and “New York” will go back to just “England” and “York.”

I’m sure it will be tough on the kids, but they’ll make new friends.

As far as the land here goes, you can have it. We’ve been fighting over it for years. C’est la vie. It’s yours. Maybe you can go there during the summer when it is nice (early July to mid July would be our recommendation) or just keep it for when you need refuge during a Revolution. Believe me, living here beats being beheaded. Not by much, but it’s worth consideration.

Anyway, good luck with everything.

A la prochaine fois,


P.S….I heard you recently moved out to the Palace at Versailles from the place in town. Did you give any more consideration to that Museum idea? You could display a bunch of worthless junk there for people to look at, like armless statues and paintings of Leonardo DiVinci in drag. You might even be able to sell tickets, if you marketed the whole thing properly….

Friday, January 11, 2008

Who daur writ thees drivel?

During the poker game last night I asked what the difference was between Irish Whiskey and Scotch Whiskey. I expected an explanation that would enlighten me in the ways of international boozing. I was wrong.

“Nothing,” they told me.

“Spelling,” one offered.

It gave me a moment to consider the perceived differences between the Scots and the Irish.

Whiskey: While there is no difference, it seems so much better coming from Ireland. Scotch Whiskey is consumed by dirty old men. Irish Whiskey seems more cheerful. We put it in our coffee. There is no “Scotch Coffee.”

Beer: Guinness versus, well… nothing. Even John Martin's Scotch Ales are brewed in Belgium.

Holiday: St. Patrick’s Day versus….uh, nothing.

National Mascot: Who would you rather hang out with…St. Patrick or a guy wearing a plaid dress without underwear?

Unwarranted cheap shot: The Irish are friends with everyone…the Scots befriend sheep and goats.

Office Products: Well, there is Scotch tape, but use of the term "Scotch" in the name is an insult.

We consult Wikipedia: To cut costs 3M applied the adhesive only to the edges of the tape. A remark was made by a St. Paul, Minnesota automobile detailer that the stingy Scotch bosses needed to put more adhesive on it, and the name has stuck ever since.

So one of the things they are most famous for is so named because they were cheap.

The Scots national slogan is: "Wha daur meddle wi me?" I think they just say this because no one ever fights with them. Why would anyone fight with them? What do you get if you conquer Scotland, their recipe for Haggis?

They can’t even decide on a national anthem. The have numerous unofficial ones.

I asked and was told by citizens of the British Isles that the only problem with Scotland was that it is inhabited by Scots.

That seemed cruel.

Clearly, the Scots have an image problem.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful…

Track and field's ruling body is expected to declare Saturday that double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius is ineligible to compete in the Beijing Olympics because his prosthetic legs give him an unfair advantage.

Now, this is news because we don’t expect anyone to do BETTER without real legs.

To me, it isn’t so surprising. Fake over real is a part of our lives. The entire plastic surgery industry is built on it.

For me personally, I see better with my glasses. I put Tabasco sauce on everything. Clothes prevent people from laughing when I approach. Beer makes me better looking.

I could go on and on, but my sleeping pill is about to kick in…

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Dame Duke y los puntos...

At ESPN Deportes, se habla espaƱol, sure. But not always and they don’t seem to know when…

They are a little confused about language. They show English Premier Football in Spanish and Spanish League Football in English.

They show NCAA college football and basketball in Spanish. This makes no sense.

If you care about watching a basketball game between Mississippi State and Kansas State, wouldn’t you probably speak English? How about Kent State versus Western Michigan?

Sometimes they list a college basketball game as being shown, but when the time comes, they show guys pulling Volkswagen buses with their teeth. You never know until the time arrives what is going to be on or in what language.

It’s not killing me…but it isn’t helping.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I'd rather drink poison...

I heard a story yesterday about a man who accidentally drank shoe cleaner (and his subsequent problems) thinking it was water. Why he was keeping it in the refrigerator, I’m not sure. But anyway, he had finished some yard work and was quite thirsty.

This is what you get for mowing your lawn.

Some of my earliest memories involve hearing the lawn mower running on Saturday mornings. It was like the executioner’s song. My Dad and I had a deal (although I wasn’t present for the negotiation nor was I consulted) that he would mow the hills and I would mow the flat parts.

The highest point in Monticello, Illinois is the Interstate overpass. So I did most of it.

We moved to Texas. This didn’t improve things. It was flat as a pancake.

About age 15, I remember making a promise to myself that I would never mow a lawn again if it didn’t kill me (I often had visions of falling down and running myself over) before I left home for college.

The next 20 years saw me mow the lawn an average of twice a year, usually at great expense to my relationship with my landlord or my wife. The landlords would yell, the wife wouldn’t say a word. I preferred yelling.

Once, I hired some guys to do it, but when they did a terrible job, I complained. They refused to come back. This is one of the stupidest things I have ever done.

In North Carolina, we had centipede grass. It is a vine. It doesn’t grow much. Also, we made sure pine straw covered as much as possible, preventing growth. I bought extra pine straw to cover the areas with no pine trees. One of the first fights I had with Holli was when I caught her raking the pine straw and putting it around the trees. She hasn’t been out in the yard since.

Currently, due to some great fortune and complete lack or irony, we have a gardener. Often, he sleeps instead of working. But the lawn gets mowed.

Works for me.

Monday, January 7, 2008

I don't exercise because I don't own any Lycra Spandex...

On my way to work each morning I see people out walking. You can always tell the difference between people walking to go somewhere and people walking for exercise (besides the fact that when you offer the exercisers a ride, they swear at you).

Speed is one factor. The exercisers walk like someone hoping to someday be a candidate for hip replacement surgery.

People walking for exercise usually have an Ipod (or equivalent) device strapped to their body.

While walking, they don’t look around, they don’t wave hello. I worry about them tripping over a small dog or walking into a tree.

Some people walking for exercise stuff themselves into ill-fitting attire. I guess they are saying, “Hey! Soon I’ll be able to wear this AND exhale!”

(maybe they bought the outfit back when they didn’t need to exercise)

I once joined a health club. It was about $100 initiation and $70 a month. It was about a three minute car ride from the house with no lights or stop signs on the route. It had a pool, some workout machines and a few TV’s to watch while you worked out. No one was ever there.

Even with all that, after a year, I dropped out. I didn’t lose any weight. All I lost was $70 a month.

With the money I saved, I bought bigger clothes, a deep-fryer and some Prozac.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Well, back to the cornfields...

I heard a political commentator on TV say last night that the results of the Iowa Caucuses don’t really matter.

Well, if that is true (and I don’t doubt it is) why did the media just spend six months there covering it like it was the moon landing?

Every single citizen of Iowa was interviewed. People who knew people who passed through Iowa were interviewed. And now they say it didn’t really matter?

I'm not watching this anymore. Let me know who wins.

Friday, January 4, 2008

I guess 5% of all customers get this letter...

Dear Confirmed Customer,

Thanks for deciding to spend your vacation with us.

In planning your trip, please pay no attention to any possible issues that may arise while traveling to a foreign land. Don’t attempt to learn anything before you come. It will be just like home, we promise you.

When calling, please remember to tell us you are calling from the United States. This is very helpful.

For making tee times, include as little information as possible. Name, number of players and courses you wish to play are unnecessary. Just tell us you want to play golf.

When you receive your tee time confirmation from us, immediately delete it. Then after three weeks, email our office and accuse us of never responding.

Remember: If you ask for a 9:00 tee time and don’t get it, it is because we didn’t want you to have it (not because it wasn’t available). Ask again for the 9:00. Threaten to cancel if you don’t get it.

After you have confirmed everything, ask for everything to be confirmed again. Then, two days prior to arrival, change everything. Pitch a fit if your new plans aren’t confirmed immediately over the phone.

When you arrive at the hotel, pretend to search for a few dollars to tip the taxi driver. This will help them understand that you just don’t happen to have any money on you right now and that you aren’t a cheapskate. After all, you just arrived on vacation. Who has money?

In checking into the hotel, try to keep in mind that you are the only person in the universe. If the hotel clerk fails to understand you, please speak louder and faster. Feel free to abuse them for no reason. And whatever you do, don’t smile. It shows weakness.

If you have any problems anywhere, always keep four items on the tip of your tongue:

1. Who you are…it’s helps in asking, “Do you know who I am?”
2. How many years you have been coming here
3. How much money you spent on this trip (try to exaggerate by at least 40%)
4. How things are done where you come from

Always ask to speak to someone else if you don’t get the answer you want. Maybe the supervisor CAN make the sun go down an hour later.

Upon checking out, threaten to not pay based on some trivial item.

We hope you have a great vacation and make plans to come back next year.


Thursday, January 3, 2008

For her, it was like going "all-in" with a pair of fours...

My wife isn’t crazy about the fact that I play poker (Texas Hold’em) every Thursday.

Gambling is not her thing, except in deciding to marry me.

I don’t gamble on spectator sports, but I do like to play cards.

The first couple of years I was here, a friend and I used to go to the casino at a nearby resort about once a month and play blackjack. It was low-rent at best. Guests of the resort would be there mingled in with locals and taxi drivers. The taxi drivers would take customers to the casino, then plop down next to them and scream at them for not-hitting on 15 when the dealer had an eight showing. Fistfights were common. Nice place to take the family.

It was about a 30-minute car ride at night, which in this country is like traversing I-95 on a skateboard. Anything can happen. We once saw a cement mixer crash into a truck full of chickens. Both of them went over the bridge into the river.

We stopped going soon after that.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

After a couple of thousand of them, I’ve decided…

The beer here sucks.

I’m tired of drinking this thin, nasty smelling concoction that they put in bottles and call beer. The best of a horrifying lot is the Presidente brand. It’s a pilsner. I can enjoy it if the mug is freezing, the beer is almost frozen and I have just finished crossing the Sahara Desert eating saltine crackers while wearing a snowmobile suit.

But only if there is nothing else available, like antifreeze or seawater.

Presidente does come in a “Light” version, but to me that is just the same sewer water with fewer calories. And if my standards are so low that I’m drinking this crap, what do I care about my waistline?

There are other beers here in the Dominican Republic, but it’s all the same recipe. Open bottle, pour in water from the fish tank, carbonate (a bit) and serve.

Presidente really is the best you can get here. Somewhere, someone wishes they could get a cold Presidente, I’m sure. Like the Hanoi Hilton.

And yes, I know…I don’t have to drink beer. But what else am I going to do with it?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Turning the other cheek...

The guy who lives next door is a self-centered moron and a bad neighbor. I’ve seen him five or six times, out in his yard with a beer in his hand. I have no proof he owns a shirt.

He and his friends (and hookers) partied until all hours last night, playing the stereo so loud we couldn’t watch TV in our own living room. They shot bottle rockets into our yard. They spoke aloud (on their back deck) things you can’t say on television, even HBO. They didn’t stop until early in the AM.

They had the audacity to get mad (and eventually take the phone off the hook) when we repeatedly called them on the phone the next morning about 7 AM and hung up. Who do they think they are?

They got mad when we set their car alarms off at 7:30 AM. They got mad when we poured sugar on their deck so the ants would gather. They really seethed when we sent a taxi to their door at 8 AM.

They hated it when we threw a brick through the window of their house at 8:30 AM and tossed their stereo into the swimming pool at 9 AM.

At 9:30 AM, they were in a snit when the local pizza place showed up with 75 large anchovy pizzas.

And when the police showed up (on an anonymous tip) and arrested them for drug trafficking, they really were hot.

When they get back, I’m sure it will make them mad that someone egged their house, papered their trees, slashed their tires, poured dry concrete into their pool, and burned down their house.