December 31, 2007


Note to self: On March 1st, re-read this post and LAUGH, LAUGH, LAUGH!

I really don't make any grandiose resolutions. I am not saying I have nothing to improve upon. Just content with myself. And with that said, here we go!

1. Exercise more. (Vague enough to argue that by mid-February this will be accomplished.)
2. Eat healthier. (Again vague enough.)
3. Enjoy more wines. (Sipping on a glass of Veuve Clicquot right now.)
4. Write 500 words a day. (This will be the toughest one.)
5. Post one photo a day on my other blog.
6. Post at least 6 times a month on this blog.

And the one resolve I make each year. And so far, I have kept it.
Enjoy each day as the gift from God that it is. And thank Him daily for the gift.

December 28, 2007

Technorati Surprises

I know that this is really silly. But it's all John's fault. He added the Technorati button to his site. (Hopefully that will help raise you to a "3").
Now I have no clue how this site works. (No, really.) I have no idea why this site is out there. Hopefully someone will take pity on me and give me a succinct explanation as to why it matters. *cough* Lisa *cough*

Now, to add to my general ignorance of this, when I clicked on the widget I found that John's blog was ranked around 3,000,000. That is out of some 113 million blogs! And while playing around the technorati site, I found that this blog was ranked at about 2,100,000! I was floored. How can this even be possible? How are these sites rated? Then there's Kelley's site, which was ranked around 873,000. This makes sense because she has connections. :)

But the big shock came when I searched for my other site - Orlando Daily Photo. This site is ranked around 32,700! !?!!?! I am at a loss. Is there a way to make this work for me? Yes, I mean monetary-wise. Yes, I am greedy.

Seriously, I have had a great time with both sites. They have rewarded me in ways I cannot begin to express. I just wanted to blog about what I found.

December 27, 2007

My New Tagline

And really the motto for my life:

Sometimes you just have to hit the screw harder. Where is that little trademark symbol when you need it?

I love juxtaposition. I like when two incongruous images crash into each other and become symbolic of something larger.

This, my friends, is the system by which I have lived my life thus far, and will continue to do so as long as I have breath. At least until I win the lottery.

December 11, 2007

Everything You Know is Wrong

First, please read this post and then this post.
Very simply put, in this age of information, the unwashed masses are fed a steady diet of pablum. The bane of our existence is the media. Both print and television continue to take stories and bastardize them. This is especially true of anything relating to science. They take away any big words so that a five year-old can understand them. They add a touch of sensationalism to keep people's interest. And the worst part, they know that their audience will not go out and independently validate the so-called facts.
On the local news a few days back, there was a story concerning the high amounts of sodium in processed foods. Foods like frozen dinners will have 30% to 50% of the recommended daily allowance of sodium in one serving. The FDA was looking at ways to crack down on this. But the twist was how the news outlet presented the facts. They stated that one should consume about one teaspoon of sodium a day. But most people are getting 4000 milligrams a day instead. This was a graphic on the screen with the 4000 in a larger font. The voice over then said that this was about twice what one should consume. This confusing graphic is exactly what I am talking about. Yes, too much sodium will lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. But, there was no need to sensationalize the point in such a confusing way.
In Scott Adams' post about fossils and evolution, and in John's post about global warming, the science part of the stories are glossed over. Assuredly, the media outlets feel that the average person (the aforementioned five year-old) would not understand the science involved. And they have achieved the self-fulfilling prophecy.

The good news is that there is intelligent life still on this planet. We must be vigilant in our efforts to educate ourselves and our children. You cannot take any bit of information as fact. You must validate and decide for yourself. Nothing from the media can be taken at face value. Except for maybe sports scores.
It was 82 degrees yesterday. Today we may tie the record of 84. Not blogging about the weather. I just wanted to gloat. If say you live in Dallas or St. Louis, I cannot even lie and say I feel your pain. I'll be out (maybe to a theme park) enjoying the blue skies and warm sun. I'll be wearing a tee shirt, shorts and a smile.

There is a cold front coming this weekend. We will only get up to the "average" temperatures for this time of year: 74.


December 07, 2007

And A Good Time Was Had By One

I won't lie. Nothing beats WDW. NOTHING! There must be some additive in the water that makes people spend their money here like there's no tomorrow. And I've had so much my eyes are floating. But I have a plan. Chase's baby teeth look straight, so I am quite sure he won't need braces. And it's stylish for your jeans to have holes. Why not your dockers and polos? Yeah. Annual passes going up again? No problem. I only need one kidney.

Seriously, if you've been to WDW during the summer or any other time when it's packed, in December it is like a ghost town. The longest wait time was Soarin at 25 minutes. Last summer, if you didn't get a fast pass by 10a.m. (one hour after the park opened) you would have to wait at least 2 hours in line!

I was king of all I surveyed. It truly was magical!

December 06, 2007

It's My Birthday!

And how do I intend on celebrating this wondrous occasion? I'M GOING TO DISNEYWORLD! Laugh all you want; it has been my desire to spend my birthday here for quite some time. And since my annual pass will expire on Christmas day, this will be the year. (I haven't decided if I'm ready to shell out the money for another year. And both SeaWorld and Universal give you the option of a monthly payout, so I may stick with either or both of those for now.)

The shameless part is that I will head there all by myself. Kat is working and has rehearsals after school. I have a meeting at work around Noon, so Chase will already be in "school". (And in truth, I don't think Kat minds. She isn't as enthusiastic about WDW as I am.)

So, yeah. I can't sleep. I'm too excited! I'm going to Disney World! For the 30th time (roughly) this year!

November 24, 2007

Say Hello to My Little Friend!

No pictures! No pictures! Damn Paparazzi!
This is Gestalt. I picked him up at Ikea. I had a similar one (more articulate and more expensive) when I was in college. Somehow, he moved on.
I think the bottom pose may become the image attached to my profile. What do you think?

November 18, 2007

Lessons Learned as a Child - Part Two

A continuation of lessons found here:

1. The two best flavors of ice cream are vanilla and whatever flavor Daddy is eating.
2. The ground hurts your head, no matter how close you are to the ground when you fall.
3. Do not honk the horn when Daddy is working on the car.
4. Cats are mean. Especially when you pull on their tails.
5. Fish really like baths. They never seem to get clean, though.
6. Daddy is ALWAYS grumpy at 4:30 a.m.
7. Mommy must be afraid of the monsters, too. She never checks all of the hiding places like Daddy does.
8. Mommy has a three "why?" limit. I don't know why.
9. Cookies always taste better when Grandma makes them.
10. Grandpa buys me the best toys, like drums and horns. But I can only play them when I go home.
11. No matter how bad I hurt, mommy's kiss makes it all better.
12. I have it too easy. Daddy reminds me of this every day.

November 17, 2007

Ikea is a Four-Letter Word

So Thursday last, I ventured into Ikea for the very first time. It just opened the day before, so the excitement and buzz about it was still strong. My wife, no stranger to Ikea (she's visited others), was making her second trip in as many days. Many people had told me it was not a store, but an experience. Now I understand. For the three other people in the entire world who haven't been in one, and to get this out of my head, let me share my thoughts.
My wife, bless her heart, wanted so much to prepare me for this. I did not wish to have my visit tainted with any fore-knowledge. I wanted to jump in blindly and immerse myself without a clue. She allowed me this to start. Within 15 seconds upon entering, I turned to my knowing partner (smiling like the Cheshire Cat) and said, "What the hell!?!" She knows I am really a big-picture guy and this was not going to be any fun if she did not give me the lay of the land. And even with her apt description, I was still befuddled. She told me it was like a maze. First you see how the products look in the top floor showrooms, write down what you want, then the bottom floor you pick it up. This was helpful to a point. But here is how I describe it.
You are one of the Israelites freed from the slavery of Egypt. You and the hundreds (thousands, even) of others are on your trek through the wilderness to the promised land. At first, you are not sure you want to go. Then the Red Sea parts (doors open) and you feel like this will be a great journey! You then begin your 40-year trek of meandering through the wilderness. Some complain that they really didn't want to leave their homes (mostly guys). Some complain they are tired and must rest a spell (mostly kids). But almost all complain they are hungry. Never fear; God has provided manna. Halfway through your visit is a restaurant. Still more meandering. Then there is more meandering. Still more complaining, but no more places to rest. Then finally you spy the promised land (checkout). But first, all the items you wrote down must be found. After some recon work (the Israelites sent out spies, too.), all items are aquired and you have finally made it through.
Now if all that stuff will fit on the camel, you are good to go!

November 14, 2007


It seems anymore that the news has really moved towards emphasizing the bad news. Like today, the angle for one local radio news story was how the record number of tourists to the area had brought with it a spike in the amount of flu cases here this year. It seems that Universal and SeaWorld are announcing their best summers since 9/11. Walt Disney World will not give out figures, but are saying they exceeded their expected turnout. Yet, somehow, this was a bad thing for the area. *long sigh*
I noticed a long time ago that here and in New Orleans that news focused on the sensational. This was in stark contrast to Dallas. Big D police had requested very early on that news outlets not talk about gangs in Dallas. This actually helped in that gangs did not do crimes in order to publicize their existence. Even now, if you check out the Dallas Morning News versus the Orlando Sentinel or the Times-Picayune, you will find more negative stories in Orlando and New Orleans. Is it really that bad? Is it really that great in Dallas?
It permeates into our lives. When I ask people who they would vote for and why, the why is all about what they do not like about the other candidate. We seem to be moving to voting against someone instead of voting for someone.
Is there a way to reverse this? I realize the irony of being negative about negativity, but the first step is admitting there is a problem. I want to start now and focus my energy on what is going right:

No devastating hurricanes this year.
Streetcars are running on St. Charles Avenue once again.
The Cowboys have a solid shot at the Super Bowl.
Ikea opened in Orlando.
The economy is running strong.
Health-wise, my whole family is great.
I donate blood on a regular basis because I can.
Right now, I am content.

October 31, 2007

This Old House

I knew there had been a few previous owners, as this is an older home. I liked it for its character; something that those before us had blended and infused into its very structure. But I did not expect to find that it had a famous owner. It is clear to me now that this was once the home of Alfred Hitchcock.
The undeniable evidence appeared in the bathroom. Underneath the vent was an area where mold insisted to grow. It became a struggle, man versus mold, and it had to be wiped away daily.
Then, coming back from a week long vacation, I found what the mold was trying to convey. There on the wall was the unmistakable silhouette of Alfred Hitchcock. Just like the image that began his television show, you could plainly make out his rounded head and torso. His spirit was telling us, Alfred had been here.
There had been other signs before this , but I had not put the pieces together. First, there are a lot of birds around here. More than what you would expect to find. They congregate in the trees and on the playground set in the backyard. There are several turkey vultures and ravens mixed in with the gulls, sparrows and egrets. I did not think too much about it as the property butts up to a bird sanctuary. And the two large feeders probably attract them. Yet, the sight and sound does conjure up the images he so deftly captured on film. This would be a great inspiration for the movie. I mean, how else could he have come up with the idea?
The next sign was not as obvious. I did not realize what I was seeing until after finding the other signs. In this small area are several beautiful blondes living here. Really, an inordinate amount. There are three families of blonde women who have lived here for generations. And not just blonde and beautiful, but smart, strong in character, and still demure. Alfred would have had no choice but to base his female leads on these ladies. You write what you know.
There is also the well known fact that Brit's love Florida, especially Central Florida. There are several realtors here that specialize in finding houses for Brit's. And there are several pubs and restaurants here that serve British fare. This definitely would have been an attractive area for Mr. Hitchcock.
While I cannot prove in a court of law that this was once his residence, I do know that one previous owner was Frederick Bates. A pseudonym if ever I heard one. And the old man a few houses down does remember an Englishman living here. He recalls he would be gone for long periods of time "on holiday". Probably when he went off to direct a movie.
If you wanted to come to a safe haven to get away from the Hollywood crowd, this is certainly the place. Even Walt Disney saw the value of Central Florida.
So now the mold has become a welcome sight. I do not so flippantly wipe it away as I did before. I sometimes wonder what other signs would show up if we did not clean so often. My wife, the skeptic, does not agree with this. She just thinks I am lazy and wanting to get out of taking care of the house. Silly, silly woman.
But now I must be off. I must go mow the lawn and trim the hedges. I keep all that equipment in my shed out back. It was once owned by Vincent Price. How do I know? Oh, I know.

October 16, 2007

In My Corner of the World

Really short post, as this has been a really busy month. I won't get 6 postings this time. Alas.

Chase had his 18-month checkup and shots recently. (ouch) He seems small to me, and the doc said he is below average size. But he assured me that this is a normal thing and a growth spurt would fix this. The fun part was finding out his vocabulary and talking skills were on par with a 24 month level. It is good to know that he can converse with 2 year-olds if he is in their social environment. Also, he is multi-lingual. He could speak with a cat, cow, horse, sheep, dog, duck and a few other animals. It has saved me from those awkward silent moments I used to have with the cows in the field next door.

Other than that, it has been work and sleep. And that will continue for another couple of weeks.

Edit: Yikes! I didn't publish this; just saved it! I guess I should read my blog every so often...

September 30, 2007

New Beginnings All Around

This has really been a month of change for all of us. First, Chase "graduates" to Big Toddlers. There was no ceremony. He didn't complain. They move these guys into classes based on development more than by age. So far he's tracking perfectly with the age range as well.
Still, there are those moments that freak me out. He will sit there and have a conversation with me. He will talk in perfect syntax and inflection, but it is all gibberish to me. Then all of a sudden, he looks around and says, "Momma, where are you?" Every word perfect. I think he is messing with me.

My work took a turn when the District Manager asked me to move to the new store opening in the area. I must say I was excited to do so. I have been at this location for three years and was feeling a little bored/burned out/apathetic. This will really shake up the old location and hopefully give it a shot of newness, too. Plus I will most likely bonus here (No, the real question is how big a bonus.), where I would not have done so there.

And we are moving; something that has been in the works for a while. More about that in a different post after the move. (No, haven't moved yet. Yes, this week!)

Not to be outdone by the boys, my wife decided she was fed up with property management and followed her heart into teaching. She has always wanted to teach. And the main reason for not has come down to money.
But God always has a plan. And he always provides.
Kat's background is Theatre. She has her degree in it. She went to graduate school in order to be able to teach at the college level. That took us to New Orleans. When that fell apart, (I won't go into details) she went into property management. My job got us to Orlando. That was something I had wanted to do and was part of our plan. So she did the p.m. stuff here, but was never happy about it.
The final straw came as she was written up by her boss for being rude to a customer. This was concerning a phone call that she took with a person who had already leased a unit, but spoke little English. She kept her answers short and simple so as to not have any issues later. Since only her part of the conversation was heard, she was PERCEIVED to be rude. And her "corrective action" even said that if she were to be rude or PERCEIVED to be rude, further action would be taken.
Needless to say, this motivated her to find something else. That is when she found the opening for a teacher in Theatre and English. They were looking for someone with a costuming background. Kat had that, plus her year of grad school included an internship in the costuming department. This is a high school in Seminole County that is rated as being in the top 1% of high schools nationwide. This would be an unbelievable opportunity.
She sent in her resume, and was contacted the next day. Two days later, she goes to the interview at 8:00 a.m. She calls me at 8:30 to tell me the interview was already over. Shocked, I went into console mode, telling her that this is the first job she interviewed for and there will be other ones soon.
As we are talking, they call her. Not only do they offer her the job, they ask if she could go to orientation that day! Needless to say, she accepted. And starting tomorrow, she is officially on her own, teaching both Theatre and English.
All because she was "rude." God always has a plan, even when we don't see or understand it.

September 28, 2007

Less Packing and More Pondering

I am at that dreaded packing point. It is still a few days before we move, but I am down to those items deemed "essential for everyday existence." The bathroom and kitchen look like they were looted the day after Katrina hit. So I am taking a break to get a little internet fix before heading to bed.

Did Great Britain have some pandemic that wiped out the comedy part of their brains? (Stay with me for a second.) It seems that sometime, maybe early 80's or so, that some heinous event occurred and the entire country lost its sense of humor. That is the only thing I can think of that would cause PBS to continue to run the britcoms from the 60's and 70's. No more appear to exist past this era.
Okay, so that is sort of grumpy. I simply cannot fathom why people continue to support PBS in the age of cable. You want children's programming? Three to five other channels do that. Science and technology? History? At least 10 channels. British comedy? BBCAmerica. Hello! Some of them are from the 90's!
I guess the one thing PBS has over the other ones are cool t-shirts and mugs. Er, no. Not that either. (PBS is quickly becoming Pathetically Bad Station.)

I dream in color. I know that science poo-poos this, but really how do they know? Hook you up to some high-tech device that displays your dreams? Maybe they didn't adjust the picture correctly. Anyway, I know I dream in color because sometimes I dream I am a Smurf. And my light sabre usually is a wicked yellow. Lately it's been green.

My guilty pleasure is watching "Cheaters". That show cracks me up. Especially when the cheater gets all righteous and insulted that the cheated didn't trust them. And when there is a hidden camera at the house that captures some salacious act, but they use that huge pixelation so you can't tell what is going on. I think sometimes the cheater and co. are probably just eating fried chicken, but they needed to pad the show for ratings.
The thing that I still don't understand is how these people find time to have a double life. And what is gained by staying in a relationship that obviously isn't cutting it for them anymore. I guess they aren't thinking. And deserve to get caught like this.

And finally, after noticing a trend of bad TV watching in these last 2 posts, I need to get to bed. But first, Two and Half Men reruns are about to come on. Maybe more fodder for another inane post!

September 25, 2007

Packing and Pondering

Long month.
We are moving, so pretty much all spare time is taken for packing up all our stuff. And throwing out all the stuff we don't use. George Carlin talked about the difference between stuff and s***. Stuff is what you have; what you own. S*** is what someone else has. Right now, I feel like I have a bunch of s***.

Random ponderings:
Live Free or Die Hard is THE BEST TITLE EVER. I haven't seen the movie yet. Don't really need to. It has Bruce in it and is in the Die Hard series. I will own it soon enough. And wear out my DVD player watching it over and over.
Runner-up title: God May Have Forgiven You, But I Won't. I think this is both a movie (Western, of course) and the title of a song (Country, of course).

It is cheaper now to buy a new printer than to buy the replacement inks. How messed up is that? Soon, someone will come out with disposable printers. Worked with razors and cameras.

I love Mythbusters. But I want them to tackle the similes. You know, are foxes really crazy? Are tacks sharp? In truth, I think the show may have run its course. Some of the things they test anymore don't grab me like they used to.

Okay, enough. Be back soon!

September 14, 2007

Why America Is The Way It Is

Just so we are all starting at the same point, here is the underlying assumption made: I (and you) already know this little gem of wisdom. This is simply to help vent and rant.

At the "nationally branded" department store tonight - Not that one, the other one. Yes, bulls eye. - I witnessed that well known struggle of mother and child where said child goes ballistic because said mother tells child "No". This child wanted a toy. Mother said she already had a similar toy. Child counters with "But this one does 'Y', and mine only does 'X'!" Then mother says the immortal words, "You think money grows on trees? Do you know how hard I work just to put food on the table and clothes on your back? You don't even say 'Thank you' to me!"

Well, of course not! This child has been given no reason to be thankful! You have made her feel like she is the center of the universe! You have given to her at every other turn, you have taken her to wherever she has needed to go, and you have never taken the time to explain to her what her limits are!

And mainly this is due to the fact YOUR PARENTS treated you as the center of the universe. You have only perpetuated the myth.

My parents taught us the value of money very early on. We were not "given" an allowance. We had chores to do. If we did the chores, we received compensation. They explained this is why people must work. If you did not work, you did not get money. If you have no money, you did not get to buy things. And we were taught what tithing was, and we had to give 10% each week.

Unfortunately, too many Americans feel that they are "entitled" to a certain standard of living. Far too many people do not know that what "VALUE" is. Far too many are given things, money, food, shelter, etc., when they haven't earned it. Far too many do not comprehend that these things have no VALUE to them. They do not understand that these items will not bring them satisfaction. They have lost the VALUE of their humanity.

Before anyone goes off about "widows and orphans", I am all for giving a helping hand to get people back on their feet. We all need that from time to time. Unfortunately, we have created an entire industry based on the down-trodden. Instead of bringing people up, we keep people down. We give and give without thinking of the consequence it has on the recipient.
Even FDR recognized that during the Great Depression, people would work in order to get help from the government. The creation of the Public Works Administration did more than give people jobs. It helped revive America's economy.

My ranting aside, I fear for the America my child will grow up to find. We have to do something now to break this cycle of entitlement. We have to show our children that path may be harder, but earning what you have is far more fulfilling. We have to teach them what VALUE truly is.

September 03, 2007

Avenging My Brother

It was already dark when I arrived in Casper, Wyoming. I burst into the Flaming Mongol restaurant, pushed the Maitre D' against the wall, and snorted, "Where is he?" Stunned, he acted like he didn't know what I was talking about. That's when I raised him off the floor and pressed my elbow into his Adam's apple. He pointed a shaky finger towards the back of the restaurant to the door marked "Private."
I kicked the door in and surprised the three Asian men. They were gathered around a desk covered with drugs, guns and money. The two younger men went for the guns. But before either could pull a trigger, I emptied my clip into their torsos. Stepping over their bleeding bodies, I walked towards the older man. He cowered behind the desk. I changed the clip in my pistol as I stared menacingly at him. I reached over and pulled the old man up by his shirt until we were eye to eye.
"You remember this man?", I asked. I shoved a picture of my brother in his face. Trembling, he muttered, "No."
"Take a closer look. Last night. He ate here." That's when I saw the look of recognition come over his face. I punched him in the nose. The blow knocked him into the wall and he slid down. Fearfully, he held his nose, blood covering his hands and shirt. I caressed my pistol and stared down at him. I turned and started walking out.
"The next time he asks for duck sauce and you give him sweet and sour instead, I won't be so nice."

August 26, 2007

God Has a Wonderful Sense of Humor

By now, you have probably seen the article about how astronomers have found a "hole" in the Universe. If not, go here to read about it. Don't worry, we'll wait.

Okay, so my first question is: How is there a "hole" in a void. I mean even with the dark matter theory to help "fill in" some of the gaps, still this strikes me as hilarious.
But more importantly: Is it in the center of everything? If so, are we then just a sprinkle on the donut that is the cosmos?

Apparently, I have to quit posting when I'm hungry.

August 25, 2007

Word as Art

Starting with the 20th Century, visual arts moved away from representational depiction to abstraction. Images were reduced to show action, movement, feeling, or to reflect inner qualities instead of appearance. Both two and three dimensional arts moved from a direct form of communication to more thoughtful expression of the subject. (See, I do get to my BFA every once in a while!)
But this leads me to literary arts. For the most part the same form of storytelling has been used for centuries. Very simply stories are broken into 5 parts; exposition, conflict, climax, resolution, and denouement.
I think it is time to change that. After looking at all the various movements in the visual arts, I am spearheading the surrealist movement. When history looks back, and you know they will, you can say that you witnessed the beginnings. With that I give you this:

Apple wings touching purple. Seven penguins eat the stain-glass hamburgers. The pale wind searches for the vapid trees for cinnamon. Remember the brick insects, traipsing along the glistening few.

Of course, as with all new movements, the first attempts are simpler, often carrying one theme. Here I was hungry as I wrote that. I think the image of the diner called Camellia Grill in New Orleans probably comes across a little too obvious. The sacrifices we make for art.

Edit: Okay, some might say that poetry has already embraced this genre. Some might also say that hunger got the best of me. I say some people talk too much.

August 24, 2007

Time Keeps On Slipping

It has been one hectic month. I really haven't been online much; maybe 30 minutes a day, and most of that spent on my other blog. The rest has been spent on utilitarian usage, like paying bills or googling a celebrity's name with the word "nude". A word of advice - don't do that with Keifer Sutherland. I needed to take a cheese grater to my brain to get rid of that image...

Seriously, this month has been spent in reading. More specifically three books. And yes, one of those was Harry Potter. I will admit, I think the series is a good read. The first two were formulaic, and virtually identical plot-wise. My favorite was the third. She broke out of the rut and really added several layers. Sirius Black was a character with great potential. I really thought she would have used him more. I hated the fifth book. It is the longest as well as most useless in moving the story along. If you haven't read it, I won't spoil it. To me, the plot was more about building Harry's strength of character and leadership, but was mired in several sub-plots. And the denouement was completely unsatisfying.
The sixth and seventh books should have come out as one, HUUGE volume. I started Deathly Hallows, but after about 100 pages I stopped and re-read Half-Blood Prince. In truth I had only read the sixth book once, and that was two years ago. Together they are a seamless read.
Deathly Hallows is really irritating. You know where the story is ultimately supposed to go. But, and this is a problem I have with any book that uses time as a factor in how the story is told, she has forced herself to tell the tale over the course of Harry's "Year 7". Too often in the first two-thirds of the story, the plot goes something like this: they try to figure out a course of action, argue about it and fight about it for a while, finally act on the plan, mayhem ensues, regroup and discuss/argue about the action, then try to figure out a new course of action. This happens at least three times. The problem with it is the time factor. They argue and discuss and fight for days or weeks at a time.
The last third is the opposite of what goes on before. Literally 500 pages and several months later, the pace picks up. The next 250 pages detail the events of one night. And a lot of stuff happens. Most are predictable if you have read the first six and follow the style of the writer. Too often a character is not what they appear to be, or not as they are portrayed to be. You know that there will be deaths, so you brace yourself for those to occur. You also know the overriding theme to the book, so you really should know what the outcome will be. I am not spoiling the ending. There are still a few twists as the story winds down that tie up some loose threads nicely. Even a few things that go back several books.

I know I'm rambling. But this is a unique accomplishment. The writer in me that longs for the one good story idea is blown away. Seven novels about a kid growing up with all the pressures a kid has to face, plus he can do magic. O, and the most evil wizard ever was not able to kill him, and will probably come back to finish the deed. And written so that the first couple seem purposely simple, just like a ten year old should be. Style-wise, she tells the tales from Harry's point of view. Very restrictive. You are only in Harry's head. You only experience the world as Harry sees it and thinks about it. (True, the beginnings of the later books start from outside of this perspective, but barely a hundred pages of several thousand fall into that.) And only one major theme to the whole story. Simple story telling, fleshed out characters, built on a solid "history". Brilliant.

August 01, 2007

Expect the Unexpected

There is a logic paradox called the Unexpected Hanging. If you are not aware of story it goes something like this:
A man commits a heinous crime and is being sentenced by the judge. The judge, known to be a man who kept his word, told the prisoner, "Because your crime is so heinous, this is worst thing I can do you. You will be hanged at dawn one day next week. To make your last days on this Earth troubled, you will not know what day it will be."
The prisoner is shaken and white as a sheet. He sees his lawyer has a smile on his face. The prisoner asks, "How can you possibly find this amusing?" The lawyer says, "Don't you see? The sentence cannot be carried out."
Puzzled, the prisoner says, "What do you mean?" The lawyer says, "Look at it this way. The judge said you will not know which day you will be hanged. But you cannot possibly be hanged on Saturday. On Friday, you would know without a doubt that you will be hanged on Saturday. The judge said you would not know the day. So you cannot possibly be hanged, as this would go against the judge's orders."
The prisoner rubs his chin and says, "I see." The lawyer then says, "You cannot be hanged on Friday, either. On Thursday, you would know that you could not be hanged on Saturday. That only leaves Friday as the day to hang you. But again, you would know this. And that violates the judge's sentence."
The prisoner says, "You are right. Thursday is also out, because I know I cannot be hanged on Friday or Saturday. It's the same for Wednesday, Tuesday, Monday and Sunday!" The lawyer says, "Exactly! You cannot be hanged without violating the judge's sentence!"
August 1st, 2005, was an eventful day. It started out as normal. I got up and went in to work as usual. We were resetting the sales floor that day because had new furniture. Most of it back-to-school related. There was also a new dining table; very ornate and very heavy. We put the legs on and went to flip it over. That is when I felt something searing hot in my back.
It felt like someone was trying to brand me, just from the inside out. Then, as if on some hellish cue, pain shot up and then down my spine. Dazed, I sat down in the chair that was waiting to match up with the table. That's when I thought, "Okay. Don't move.", followed by, "Idiot, if you didn't move, how did you end up in the chair?"
This twisted banter lasted a few moments as I began moving extremities. Toes first. Check. Feet. Check. Legs. Ouch!
As I moved my right leg, I could feel a tearing sensation in my lower right back. I told another manager that something was wrong. After my story, she echoed the thought in my head. "Idiot."
Since I knew nothing was broken. I asked her to help me into the office. There, I laid down on the floor. The hard, cold floor. I had hoped that this would let my spine and muscles relax while keeping everything straight. After 15 minutes, several people checking on me (so they could call me idiot, too), and no change, the realization hit me hard. In 20 years of working, I was a worker's comp claim.
I called my wife and had her come and take me to the clinic. Still in excruciating pain, I suffered through waiting for the doctor. I knew what he would say. "You strained a muscle. Idiot." In truth, I would not have even gone, except I knew this would get me out of work for at least a couple of days as well as something that would MAKE THE PAIN GO AWAY!
We go to the first Walgreen's we can find, and Kat goes in while I try to figure out how I would exist in the uncomfortable car seat waiting for the prescription to be filled. I also realized it was after 1 pm and was hungry. When she got back, we headed for my favorite Chinese restaurant. It happened to be in the same area.
We sat down in a booth, ordered, and I took some medicine. Kat went to the restroom and I tried willing the medicine to burst out of my stomach and directly to back. I had just settled into the least painful position I could find, when Kat came back. She wanted to sit beside me. I wanted her to go to the other side. She got her way, and sat close and held me. I could only think that she must really like seeing me in pain, and wanted a close-up view. I looked at her and she met my eyes. Then she said, "I'm pregnant."
On Tuesday morning at dawn, the prisoner was awakened from a restful slumber, led to the gallows and hanged. And the prisoner never expected it.
Yes, I know that this is a strange parallel. But bear with me. You see, we had tried having a child earlier. There were issues, including an ectopic pregnancy as well as the loss of one ovary. The embryo had formed outside the womb, even outside of the fallopian tube. The doctor had to go inside and remove the embryo. While there, she noted one of the ovaries was not normal. I had to make the decision while Kat was under whether or not to remove the ovary. Toughest. Decision. I. Ever. Made.
Babies went on the back burner after that. Kat decided to finish college and try graduate school. This led us to New Orleans, then Orlando. That's where the subject of babies came up again.
So here we go, with worse-case scenarios running through my head. Does this one ovary produce eggs? Does it fire one each month, or is it every other month? If it's been every month, has it depleted its supply? Will this little baby call me an idiot?
Even then, knowing that we were just beginning this adventure, I did not expect results so quickly!
It seems that Kat had a feeling that very morning. She was certain, but when she went in to Walgreen's she bought a pregnancy test. Then, while at the restaurant, she took the test in the restroom. She knew she could not wait to tell me, so she came directly to me right then.
But she got an unexpected reaction. I was so focused on my pain and hunger, I was sitting there in stunned silence. Then I said, "You couldn't wait until I was in a better state of mind?"
Looks like everyone was right. I was an idiot that day. And I never expected any of it.

July 26, 2007

It was a dark and stormy night.

I love reading. I consume books like a beggar invited to a buffet. Non-fiction or fiction, it does not matter. As long as it is something that interests me and makes me want to turn the page. Half-Price Books in Dallas was my favorite spot to play, especially during the long, hot summers. Not having anything like that here, I find myself scouring the libraries of Orlando to satiate my habit.
Now, as I am aspiring to be found on the shelf next to these works, the writer in me always notes the style, structure, language use, etc. One can study how to write, but the best way to learn is by example. And there are plenty of those in this world.
My favorite part of any work of fiction has to be the first sentence. This almost always tells me how much I will enjoy the rest of the story. Admittedly, there are many best-selling authors whose first lines will not grab you. Either it is because they know people will read them anyway. Or they prolong this "hook" for the first paragraph. But all in all, those stories that hook you with the first sentence have become stories I will read again.
These are some of my favorites:
"Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing." Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." 1984 by George Orwell

"He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad." Scaramouche by Raphael Sabatini

"Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person." Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins." Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Did you know, the title of this post is actually from a novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton called Paul Clifford? He's also the author of the line "The pen is mightier than the sword."

July 25, 2007

My Blog, My Topic

This is from the comic strip "Pearls Before Swine" by Stephan Pastis. He fills the void left by "Far Side" and "Calvin and Hobbes" quite fittingly. And this seemed utterly appropriate.
(Also, check out the strip from 7/20. I think he's reading these blogs!)

July 24, 2007

Be Careful What You Ask For

Okay, John. Just out of pure snarkiness, I present to you this:
This is Ming Court, located in the attractions area on International Drive. In truth, I have eaten there once, and it was a few years ago. I had Mongolian Beef. I was more impressed with the atmosphere than the food, however. The entrance winds its way across a koi pond and the transition from Florida to somewhere in China is well done.

And even as I post this, I realize that NO ONE CARES WHAT YOU HAD FOR LUNCH! OR IF YOU HAD LUNCH FOR BREAKFAST! OR WHAT YOU HAD FOR DINNER! Hell, I don't even care what I had, and I ate it!

For anyone thoroughly confused, or simply bored, it all started right here. Then continued here.

July 21, 2007


Today's post on my other site is the seed for this post. Please read it first. Some of my ramblings may not make sense.

I am constantly amazed at how interconnected this world has become. My parents get to watch their grandson play at "school", because they have cameras in each room hooked up to the internet. In less than a four-hour plane trip, we can be in Dallas. I can rant and rave and have a word wars with my oldest and best friend as well as a new friend I have not met in person. And because of City Photo Blogs, I get to share my home with others as well as see the places they call home.

With all that said, I don't feel as connected to Orlando as everywhere else. I am sure I have said this before, but when we lived in New Orleans I did not allow myself to get close to anyone or get involved in any groups or such. I knew it was a temporary stop and was not going to invest the time or energy into futile endeavors. But now, those are habits for me that I cannot seem to break. And with a 16 month old, it has been even more difficult to search out good friends or groups.

I am not trying to complain. I was hoping that writing this down in such a public-type forum, may help spur me to break the habits. First step is admitting you have a problem. The second step?

July 17, 2007

Check This Out

Sorry, I haven't felt inspired lately. Plus things have been hectic, with something new popping up each day. I have only had a few moments to even get on the web.

What I have been doing is playing with my new blog. I found these City Daily Blogs, and got inspired. Please check out my small contribution and tell me what you think! Orlando Daily Photo is mine, of course.

I'll be inspired soon, I promise!

July 10, 2007

Lessons Learned as a Child - Part One

1. Glass is something you can see through. But you cannot go through it, no matter how fast you run.
2. Bed covers are impenetrable to any and all monster attacks.
3. When Mom is mad at Dad, do not let her brush your hair.
4. Dogs like green beans, but they don't like brussel sprouts, either.
5. If I want to see Daddy run real fast, I only have to say, "Uh, oh."
6. If I want to see Mommy run real fast, I just have to be very quiet.
7. When Mommy was little, they only had one song, so they changed the words. That way they could sing about a star, sheep, and the alphabet.
8. Daddy will tell you when you get there, so please do not ask him several times.
9. Putting food in your napkin is not cleaing your plate.
10. Water tastes better when someone brings it to you in the middle of the night, and you don't have to get out of bed.
11. Daddy is messy. That is why he has to cook outside.
12. Mommy's spit has many uses.

July 07, 2007

Seven Famous Sevens

Just for the hell of it, in honor of 07-07-07.

1. Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
2. Seven Deadly Sins
3. The Magnificent Seven
3. Seven Continents
4. Seven Days of the Week
5. The Seven Seas
6. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
7. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Honorable mentions include: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 007 James Bond, Seven Card Stud, 7-11 and 7-up.

Seven is an enigmatic number. There are mathematical properties that are inherent with seven. One example, take any number not evenly divisible by seven. On a calculator (or on paper if you so choose) divide it by seven. Pretty amazing. Take another number, three digits this time, and do the same. Freaky, isn't it?
Seven also figures into many religions. But nowhere more so than in Judaism and Christianity. Seven is God's perfect number. In occasion after occasion, seven comes into play. Seven days of creation. Jericho is circled seven times and the walls fell. When Peter asked how many times he should forgive someone, he pointedly asked if seven times was enough. Jesus responded with 70 times 7. Revelation is filled with several instances using seven.

I wanted to post this at 7:07, but that isn't possible. Instead, I settled for 7 minutes into the day. And I used 217 words to write all this...

July 06, 2007

This I Believe - The Site

NPR has never been something that I could listen to for very long. Being a visual person, I always had a hard time with the concept of a painter or sculptor talking about their work and experience, but not actually seeing their work. And don't even get me started on when chefs discuss their creations.

But one thing I do like is a segment called "This I Believe". These are essays by people, both famous and unknown, in all walks of life, who express what it is that they believe. (Thus the name...) This is a revival of Edward R. Murrow's format from the 1950's. The idea is for people to voice what drives them. But the important part is that others hear them out. During the 50's, there were very few outlets where people could opine, especially to more than just their neighbors and family. This format must have been very liberating.

Now, anyone with internet access and time can have their opinions, rants, and ramblings read by people all over the world. In mere seconds. But is anyone really listening?

That is one of the main reasons for reading the essays. I admit, there are many I do not agree with. But I read them all the way through. Mostly because I respect the fact that the person has taken the time to put their belief out there for all the world to see and hear. If you were to do this, wouldn't you want others to listen to you? Check it out. To be continued.

June 29, 2007

Shuttle Musings

This is from the June 8th Atlantis launch. The remarkable thing about this rather unremarkable shot is the fact that we are on the 528 at the time. The 528 is the toll road that runs straight towards the Kennedy Space Center and Cocoa Beach. We are sitting in bumper to bumper traffic as so many have come out to watch the launch. Yes, we got in the car at the spur of the moment and headed that way to see if we could get a closer view. This is as close as we could get. That remarkable part I was talking about? We are still in Orlando, directly north of Orlando International Airport. Some 40 to 45 miles away!
The shuttle and all things NASA are major news stories here in Central Florida, of course. Almost anytime there is a launch, shuttle or simply another satellite, there is plenty of media coverage. It is definitely gets as much attention as the theme parks get. Now, shuttle launches seem to be news everywhere. There was a time when that was not true.
Back in college, shuttle launches were so routine that no one stopped to watch. But then one day in 1986, that all changed. I had just sat down in Calculus, or as I called it Math as a Second Language, beside John (yeah, "Dubber") when another guy comes in and says did you hear the shuttle blew up? The image on our calculus book coincidentally was that of the shuttle on the launch pad at night. No one really took him seriously. Not until others came in with the same story. After class it was a bee line to any television to find out what had happened.

(Side note: 1986 - Cable still a toddler so the majority of people were watching network news. No internet, so zero information from that source. No cell phones. Some "car phones", those monsters that were just this side of portable, but those were mostly used by law enforcement. Our kids will think we lived in the dark ages...)

My point is that by then there had been some two dozen shuttle launches, and, with all the hundreds of other rocket launches since the sixties, it was no longer "news-worthy". We had conquered space.

(Side note 2: Moonraker came out in 1979, two years before we actually launched the first shuttle. This was 007 meets Star Wars. Worst. Bond. Movie. Ever. But it shows just how much hoopla went into the shuttle program. It is amazing how some 6 years later, we wouldn't care anymore.)

So here we are; 26 years and 2 disasters later. The shuttle is news-worthy, but not in a good way. The shuttles are being shunted. They are old and out-dated. NASA is talking about life after shuttles. So why is everyone watching?
To put it simply, too many cable news networks need to fill airtime and the very inkling of another disaster makes them drool like Pavlov's dog near a fire alarm's bell. Several minutes were spent showing the super slo-mo of the launch and how foam may have hit the shuttle. Several more minutes spent on the "blanket" and how it would affect re-entry. Showing (with scale models) what the crew would have to do to fix it. Then several minutes detailing how far away a storm could be to where the shuttle would land. (34 miles in most cases, 32 miles in others. Seems to me to be cautionary, just go with 35...)
Anyway for better or worse, the shuttles primarily and NASA peripherally, are news. At least it's better than another blurb about Paris Hilton...

June 26, 2007

Me and The Blues

It seems that a pall of negativity has taken up residence around here recently. No matter where I turn, someone is telling me how "horrible" their life has become. It seems to be stronger at work, thankfully, but even friends and family are focusing on the negative.
Now, as I've said before, I'm a big picture sort of guy. I don't fret about things I cannot control. But what do you say to people, especially co-workers, when they start up?

One guy's ex-wife is moving out of state, and taking their son with her. They had no real stipulations about this. He could have fought it, but the kid seems okay with it. So he is doing what he thinks is right for his son. But every day he works, he brings this up. Usually 2 or 3 times each day. And usually, I swing the conversation back to whatever task we have to do. In truth, I really do not care.
And that is I guess what is really bothering me. I find that I am really apathetic towards all my co-workers. Ironically, I am the one they come to first. Probably due in part to my position. Partly because I have never turned a deaf ear to anyone. Ever. And yet, I find my mind drifting away from the conversation and onto what tasks I can give them. And the longer I listen, the longer their task list becomes.

With family and friends, it's different. Maybe because I am more invested in the relationship. Maybe because I actually care what happens to them, since I am involved in some way? Maybe because I can give comfort and care to them.

Most of the time, co-workers are looking for a place to vent. At least that's what I tell myself. If someone asks for advice, I give it. But it's still sterile. Maybe clinical is a better choice of word. No matter how you slice it, I keep them at a distance.

Is this bad? Or evil? How do you handle work relationships? There are only two that I would even consider hanging out with. But my position could make things complicated in that they are subordinate at work, but not socially. It's lonely at the top.

Anyway, enough complaining. Right now it's midnight. Me and the blues.

June 24, 2007

June is bustin' out all over

This has been a month to forget. The "job" to which I must go - it is the one paying the bills - has had me running ragged since right after Memorial Day. First it was a reset of one-third of the store. This required a week and a half of overnights. Actually this was the best part of the month, in that I did not have to put up with customers during this time. And I am a night owl, so I truly was in my element.
Next, came inventory. We knew it was coming; it just means making sure that everyone stays organized. And that the *ahem* counters they bring in stay accurate. But with my system thinking that dawn means bedtime, I was glad I was not the one who had to be there at 4 AM!
Next came the surprise part of the month. DURING INVENTORY, we were to rework the front displays to accommodate the Semi-Annual Clearance Event. Cue dramatic music. Needless to say, I was coasting into this weekend.

All this is a long-winded excuse for not posting. Also, for not doing any writing - the "job" that does not pay the bills, yet. And while I haven't put pen to paper, still I have taken this weekend to decompress. I did go to Star Wars Weekends at WDW! Another day about that.

The thing is I committed myself to at least six entries here a month. The goal is to get to eight a month. I do not understand why this is so hard. I did not commit to a specific topic. I could easily post four entries today!
But they would end up rushed and unpolished. Genuinely they would be gibberish and drivel. The title of my blog was meant only to serve as a place holder until something pithy and thought-provoking came around. Plus, as John can attest, my first email address, and still my junk email address, begins with e_gibberish. Yeah, it's hot! It's always funny when I put that down at a store, etc. and the clerk smirks. Actually, now I have that in a different site also. Yippee! The second one was actually an oops! I set it up for receiving job responses. It seemed weird that I didn't get but a couple of responses... (If you think you've figured out one or both of the two places, drop me a note!)

Anyway, I will try to do better. This is supposed to be a creative outlet for me. A place where I can put myself out "there", but with much more control. At least on my end.

And those four posts I threatened? Before I started a blog I pulled out my old journals. I made sure that I had a list of at least 50 topics to use. Some are fiction. Some corny. Some are actually good! I was supremely proud of my sci-fi post in honor of Star Wars 30th. But somebody did not seem to get some of the references...
Anywho, I will bring a couple of these out soon. If you do actually email me, I will tell you the titles of the four posts!

June 11, 2007


I have found there is something more precious than gold. More precious than diamonds or rubies. Even more precious than a barrel of gasoline.
They have no physical presence. They exist simply in the ether. And yet, they must be carefully tended. They must be protected from the evils that wait in the big, bad world.
They are passwords.
How far we have come in the advancement of society and technology that we keep our personal information secure or limit access to secure points on the internet, at work, and even at home with a "magic word".
The hard part now has become password management. In my case, I have seven email accounts between personal and work. To log into work is another, while logging onto another system within my logon, I have a second, different password. Several online payment systems, ebay, paypal, blogger,, the local library website, discussion boards, and a few newspapers equal an astounding 24 more passwords. That brings my total to 33. There are probably more that I'm overlooking.
Passwords used to be fun. My first email password was sesame. As in open sesame. Yeah, I know, that was cornball. I know people who would use their middle name or a pet's name. Or what their pornstar name would be.
For awhile, since I was not really that concerned of someone pilfering information, I used Poe's cypher. He felt that the most pure way to create an unbreakable cryptogram was to substitute the same letter each time. So "password" becomes "iiiiiiii". Yes, one of my emails still uses that one. That would be the one to where all the junk and spam get sent.
Now those simple days are behind us. These days there are so many rules for creating a password. Some require both numbers and letters. Some prohibit double letters (ie "letters" would not be allowed because of the double t's). Most all password must be seven characters or more. All in the name of protecting our identities.
It is sad that we have to live in this manner. Yet, I cannot see how to get around this. We are stuck with this. At least until it takes DNA to unlock our websites.
I have streamlined most of my passwords. There are really only about three of four different ones that I use. It still is irritating to figure out what combination of characters will again allow me access. But at least I remember them. I once created an excel document listing all the sites and passwords. I even password protected it. And then, I forgot that password.

June 07, 2007

Take my bird, please

Okay. This is a completely random post. This is my all-time favorite joke.

A man walks into a pet shop and sees a beautiful red macaw. It is bobbing up and down and laughing inside his cage. The man then notices that the sign on the cage says, "$50. All Sales Final. No Refunds. Period." The man cannot believe it. He runs up to the counter and tells the clerk he'll take it.
The clerk says, "Really, sir, it's kind of a joke. You see, that parrot is absolutely the meanest bird on the face of the planet. He cusses. He bites and scratches. I've sold him twice before, but he keeps getting returned in a couple of days. You seem like a nice guy. I couldn't sell it to you."
The man thinks about it for a second. He says, "You know, I am a very patient man. I am sure that I can retrain him. I'll take him!"
The clerk says, "You have no idea what you are getting into. I'm serious about no refunds. If you take him, I NEVER want to see him again!"
The man agrees, hands over $50, and takes the parrot home. He puts him and his cage in the living room. And the man starts talking sweetly and nicely to the parrot.
In no time, the parrot wreaks havoc throughout the house. The parrot has bit and scratched the man several times. By the second day, the cat goes missing. The dog will not even go near the living room. She stays in the kitchen and howls. The wife and son have also been bit or scratched. She gives her husband an ultimatum. They won't be back until the parrot is out of this house!
The man is shocked at how vile this parrot is. But he vows not to give up. He knows he can retrain this bird. He keeps trying to be sweet. He offers a cracker and says, "Polly want a cracker?" The parrot nearly bites his finger off, and says, "No! Jack wants real food, dumb ass!
This was the last straw. The man snaps. Angrily, he opens the cage and grabs the parrot around the neck. He screams, "You will be good!" The parrot bites and scratches and answers back, "Screw you, buddy!" They start rolling and wrestling on the floor.
Their battle takes them through the house. Finally, bleeding and dazed, the man finds himself in the kitchen. In desperation, he opens the freezer door and throws the parrot in.
The refrigerator starts bouncing up and down. The parrot is screaming. He's cussing. The refrigerator moves away from the wall. This goes on for about 5 minutes. Then suddenly it stops.
The man starts to open it, but thinks maybe it's a trick. He waits another 5 minutes. Still nothing. The man wonders if the parrot is dead. Slowly he cracks the door open and peeks inside. The parrot is sitting there, head down. Still slowly, he opens the door more. The parrot sits there. When the door is fully open, the parrot says, "I want to apologize to you and your family. I promise from this day forward, I will not cuss, bite or scratch you or anyone else. Now, if it is alright with you, could you please take me back to my cage?"
The man is dumbfounded. He puts his arm out and the parrot, still head down, steps gently onto it. The man walks the parrot over to the cage, puts the parrot in, and closes the door.
The man stands there for a minute looking at the sullen and contrite parrot, then turns to go clean up. The parrot then says, "By the way, what did the turkey do?"

June 01, 2007

An Open Letter To Tourists

Now that the summer season has begun and many of you look to enjoy time with your family and friends, I feel compelled to offer some advice. I know many of you think that you are top-notch travellers, and this really isn't directed at you. You would be incorrect. I've seen you. And your family. 54 million people visit the Orlando area each year. And 50 million of that seems to come during the summer. I can spot you from a mile away. I can even tell what stage of your trip you are at. If you are all smiling like the Cheshire cat, you just got here. If you are slightly burned, you've been here three days max. If you look like you need a nap and a vacation, you're probably leaving tomorrow. So trust me; I know what I am talking about.

First of all, have a plan. I'm talking about right after deciding where you are going and before you step out the door. What exactly do you plan to do when you get there? I'm not saying plan every minute, but have some idea of what you are going to do each day. Buy a book and study up. Do your homework. No, there are no CliffsNotes. Be prepared to be tested when you get there. Otherwise, it will be your and your family's patience that is tested.

Dress appropriately. It goes back to having a plan. Find out what the weather is like. If you are coming to Florida in the summer, know that it is hot. And humid. To some this is a lethal combination. And don't go around repeating, "Man, it's hot and humid!" Everyone else has already figured this out.
Get sunscreen. If you tend to burn, get SPF 45 or higher. If you are trying to tan, get SPF 40. (okay, SPF 30.)
Also, you will be walking. Quite a bit. A WHOLE BUNCH. Wear comfortable shoes. This is not the time to break in a new pair. The only thing worse than sunburn blisters are feet blisters. You still have to walk to get on the plane.

Strollers. If you are pushing one, please be careful and not run into the person walking in front you. If you are near one being pushed, please do not stop abruptly in the middle of a walkway. You will get clipped, and it's your own fault. Quit looking so wounded.

Theme Parks. Okay, this is common sense stuff. Sadly, many tourists forget to bring that with them.

  • Yes, it is crowded. Did you really think you were the only ones who thought to come to a theme park in the summer, when your kids are out of school?
  • Yes, there are a lot of kids running around. See above.
  • When you are walking to the next attraction, please do not stop in the middle of the walkway. Or at the intersections of walkways. There are several people (read: hordes) that you are now in the way of. Yes, you will get ran into. And by strollers.
  • Do not complain about the prices. You should have been prepared. (See Have a plan above.)
  • Do not complain that the line to the attraction is too long. It's crowded.
  • No, costumed characters CANNOT hold your child. It's called liability.
  • Please do not feed the birds or other animals. Seriously. They become too dependent on handouts. And then they get aggressive.
  • Do not complain that it's raining. Unless it's a hurricane, it is usually a brief event. In 15 minutes, it will feel very nice to be outside.
  • You are supposed to be here to relax and enjoy. Everyone else is here for the same goal. So above all else, do not complain.

Driving. Again, common sense is the key. Do not abruptly stop in the middle of the road. If you miss your exit, relax. There is another coming up soon. And if you ask for directions, but the person doesn't know where you are trying to go, simply thank them and ask someone else. You probably are asking another tourist in the first place.

There is certainly so much more I could go into, but I think you get the idea. Keep a cool head, no matter how hot it gets. And have fun! That's the whole idea for going on vacation in the first place!

May 25, 2007

I've Seen The Future, And It Will Be

I was watching a special about how after the shuttle program is finally scuttled (yes, I was also watching Pirates of the Caribbean.) that we will again begin our journey back to the moon. Part of me is happy that finally, we will once again take that baby step towards exploring the planets and their satellites. Then we can form alliances with the multitudes of races we encounter. And if need be, rebel against the imperial forces. Maybe get into a few spaceship dogfights, using lasers. (Yes, I was also watching Star Wars. 30th anniversary and all.)

Another part of me wonders why it has taken us thirty years to get back there, or to even want to go back. Our technology today is so far ahead of where we were in the fifties and sixties. Yet those scientists and pioneers of the time dreamed of not only getting to the moon, but to Jupiter and Pluto and Beyond! They theorized about all the alien lifeforms we would encounter. They even gave us glimpses as to what the future would hold. And what devices we would need in these brave new worlds.

I guess a big part of me is disappointed. And mad. Actually furious. I mean, why were we not able to devise and build any of these technological marvels? Why are we not living in the "space age"? What has happened, or not happened, that we do not have any of the following:

1. Where is my pet monkey? They told us all about how there would come a horrific disease that would wipe out cats and dogs. I'm looking around, and I still see cats and dogs! Sure they are great companions and all, but monkeys would be way cooler. They could do tasks for us. Ask your dog or cat to do the dishes. Nothing. If you were to ask the pet monkey you should have right now, I know he would do them! I think if given enough training, monkeys could become advanced enough to be almost human! Maybe even learn to talk! Alas, it is still a dream. If I did have a pet monkey, I'd call him Cornelius. Or maybe Caesar.

2. I want a flying car. With escalating gas prices, we should be looking at alternatives to the internal combustion engine. Clearly, this is the fault of car makers and gas companies. They are sitting on these plans. Anti-gravity devices were always talked about until the seventies. Then we had our first oil crisis. And no one has talked about them since. Conspiracy I tell you.

3. Lightsabers. I want a blue one. Enough said.

4. Time machines. How will we ever know what color dinosaurs were if we cannot go back and see them. And we need to fix things in our past. Like embarrassing moments. Like when I asked Michelle Walker to marry me. And she laughed at me. Loudly. And then told all her friends. And they all laughed at me. Loudly. That was tough on a seven year-old's ego. Worst week of my life.

5. Space Age Clothing. This should have been the easy one. We kept coming out with all these synthetic fabrics. Even came out with some futuristic designs. Will men ever embrace the one-piece silver jumpsuit? And how nice would it be to see ladies in outfits like those worn in Barbarella?

I could go on, but I'm sure you get it. It's getting close to dinner time. Before I eat, I wanted to look over this book some tall, weird-looking guy handed me. It must be some kind of religious thing. It's called "To Serve Man". Plus, my wife is cooking up my favorite, a nice hot bowl of soylent blue. I do think it's much more tastier than soylent green was.

May 18, 2007

Ten Foot Tall and Bulletproof

I am sitting at home, watching Chase today. His school said he has pink eye. His eye has been watering the past two days, but the doctor said he's actually fighting an ear infection. And the eye drainage is an early indicator of that. Whatever.

I've always tried to be there for Chase. I don't need a lot of sleep. Or at least not in large hour blocks. I know that I can always nap when he naps. When he has been sick in the past, I've been there for him. I've done this because at first Kat had really bad post-partum depression. I knew that I could always be the strong one. As I tell her, I am Ten Foot Tall and Bulletproof.

Until today. Today, I am fighting a bug. I am running a fever. A high fever. It's 85 degrees today, and I have the chills. I ache all over. And my throat feels about the size of a pencil. I want to crawl under the covers and sleep the world away. I want ice cream. Cookies and cream, or maybe chocolate caramel ribbon. And I want a pony.

But I am taking care of Chase. He acts/feels fine. He's playing. He's singing. (E-I-E-I. Then when I sing E-I-E-I-O, he sings it that way.) He wants to take his little push-car, the one he can hang onto and walk around, all through the house. He wants to clean off the bookshelves and sit in the newly empty space. He's having a blast. He doesn't want ice cream. He shook his head "no" vigorously when I asked him. He does want a pony.

Anyway, he's taking a nap right now. And I stopped to check my email before I join him in the land of dream. I'm still ten foot tall right now. I'll just have to dodge the bullets today.

One other thing; my kryptonite is poopy diapers.

May 15, 2007

Reinventing Me

Maybe it's a mid-life crisis. Of sorts. Maybe it's because I want more of a 9 to 5 type schedule. Maybe it's because I want to get paid for walking on the beach. The time has come to reinvent me.

I pretend that I am a good writer. Hell, great blog so far! My creativity is the only thing bigger than my ego. I did receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. (Don't tell me they only gave it to me to get rid of me.) And I did nothing with it. But the problem here is, it doesn't pay the bills. So far, I've lost money in this racket.

I have been trying to come up with a "cool career". One that satisfies my brain and still satisfies my stomach. I don't want to spend the next ten years getting a degree, even though I might actually use that one.
So far the best that I have come up with is appraisals. With everyone thinking they have a treasure trove stashed in the closet, there seems to be a fair amount of work to keep me busy. Plus, as an "info-career", I can do this until senility kicks in.

But before I jump blindly and boldly into anything, I thought I would ask the world (at least the two that have commented here. I appreciate you, John and Kelley!) what other types of careers are there that I might be overlooking?

Some careers I wouldn't do:
Teacher - at least not in a public school setting. In this day and age, a male teacher seems to have a target on his chest.
Anything involving heavy lifting, lots of physical exertion, etc. I want something I can do even when I'm 70.
Cooking. No one would eat it.
Prostitution or Phone sex. That would be like selling my soul.
Lawyer. (see prostitution reason) :p (I'm gonna get at least one response now!)

May 14, 2007

Poor Unfortunate Souls

There are three types of people in the world:
1. Those that see the glass as half full.
2. Those that see the glass as half empty.
3. Those that see the glass and say "Who the hell's been drinking out of my glass!?!"

I fall into the last group. Somehow, someway, it seems life always throws me a curve ball. And I swing at it like I've a chance to hit it. Like when Kat was accepted to the University of New Orleans masters program in drama. I didn't think that finding a job would be difficult. In actuality, it was over 10 months before I was gainfully employed. We spent 8 months living in two cities before I finally moved from Dallas to be with her. After 2 months, and not even able to land a simple retail job, I was delivering pizzas just to keep some money coming in.
Now I am not complaining. I ended up with a job that got me to where I wanted to move. It simply was not the way I envisioned getting to Florida. I still do not see living in NOLA as a positive or negative experience. It did have some great moments. The Mardi Gras that is portrayed in pop culture and the media is the exact opposite of the actual celebrations. It is a time for families, with kids coming out the winners. But all in all, I could have dealt with getting to Florida without the 3 year pit stop.

What started these ruminations was going out for Chinese food. I love Chinese food. I can see why it is eaten everyday in China. And I am never hungry later. I don't know how that got started. The only thing that I could do without is the fortune cookie. I cannot stand them. To me they taste like sugar coated cardboard. My wife looks forward to it. I don't know why. She has these little rituals to go with it, too. First, you do not take the closest one to you. I don't know why. Next, you break it in half and eat the half that does not have the fortune still in it, but you do not read the fortune yet. I know why you eat the half - you do not want to eat the paper. I do not know why you cannot read the fortune yet. Then and only then, you can take the fortune out and read it. Again, I don't know why. Really, why am I reading it? These fortunes almost always are inane. They range from the duh - "You will obtain your goal if you maintain your course.", to the huh? - "It is better to lose a lover that to love a loser."
Now the trouble always starts when you get one that seems to give you a glimmer of hope. Sort of the glass half full kind of hope. Like once I had a fortune that said, "You will soon come into a sum of money." This is always good news. Who doesn't want to come into money. Then, about a day and a half later it happened. I found 38 cents. A quarter, a dime and three pennies. Yeah. It didn't say a large sum of money. Big whoop. I couldn't even buy a stamp with it.

That has all changed. I have found the glass half empty type of fortunes. No more do I put up with the "Your ability to juggle many tasks will take you far." load of crap. Now after a plate of spicy General Tso's Chicken or flavorful Mongolian Beef, I stomp on my fortune cookie. Then I go to Bad Cookie. There I find the kind of life-repudiating saying I need. Now I take glee in "Simplicity and boredom are your themes in dress." or "Save now for future calamity."
Still the best fortune I have received - "You will have difficulty finding new outlets for you own minor creative abilities." How can this be a good thing? It confirms that I have more than one creative ability! Life is good.

May 10, 2007

Top 6 - 80's Songs I Sing With When in the Car Alone

1. You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) - Dead or Alive, 1985
2. Walk Like an Egyptian - The Bangles, 1986
3. Tainted Love - Soft Cell, 1981
4. You Give Love a Bad Name - Bon Jovi, 1986
5. Land of Confusion - Genesis, 1986
6. An Innocent Man - Billy Joel, 1983

It helped that Tainted Love and You Spin Me were used in Coneheads and Wedding Singer, respectively. This gave them more airtime.
Land of Confusion still has one of my favorite vidoes. It is fascinating to see that the anti-Republican playbook remains the same today: show the opposition as being incompetent, ignorant or an imbicile.

Why a Top 6? Because it's one better that 5, and not as cumbersome as 10.

May 04, 2007

Toe Crackers Anonymous Meeting - Friday, May 4th

Hi. My Name is Scott. I am a Toe Cracker.

Chorus: "Hi, Scott."

This is my first visit. I guess it all started about the same as the rest of you. I started popping my finger knuckles back in my teen years. Could have been earlier. Suffice to say, it's been a good long while. Other kids showed me how. One day, after school, some boys were hanging out by the 7-11. They were older than me. In hushed tones and with a couple of them as lookouts they practiced their habit. One of them called me over, "Have you tried this?" Then he cracked both of his index fingers. Shocked, I turned to go. One of the biggest said, "What's a matter? You afraid?" In my head I could hear my Mom's voice: "You'll get arthritis if you do that!" and "Your knuckles will swell up to the size of golf balls!" They circled me. I had nowhere to go. Another taunted, "I bet you can't even pop one. Go ahead. I dare you!" And with that I succumbed. I succumbed to the pressure of my so-called peers. I raised both hands, put my thumbs on the sides of my index fingers, and pressed with gentle even pressure. Pop! Both rang out! The right one just a fraction of a second behind my left. It was almost like an echo; like they were conversing.
I cannot tell you how good it felt. It was such sweet release. I knew I was hooked. Hooked for life. But it never quite felt as good as it did that first time. Even when I began crack other knuckles, it wasn't the same. I knew I needed more. And bigger pops! Soon it was my neck, then it was my back. But it never measured up.
And of course, I had to do this in private. I almost got caught a couple of times. My Dad would ask, "What was that sound?" I would either pretend I didn't hear anything or shrug in such a way to try and pop my neck. I knew if my Mom ever found out, it would break her heart.

As I grew older, I did find other addicts. We would crack fingers, necks and backs until we got the munchies or hurt too much. The bad part of it was getting my girlfriend hooked. Her thing was letting me pop her neck. Once, her Mom caught us. Aghast, she yelled and screamed at us. Then her father chased me out of the house with a shotgun. I never saw her again. I did hear she got help, though. I'm glad. I wouldn't want that on my conscience.

Then one day in my early twenties, I stumbled onto the hard stuff. All popped and cracked, I sat there staring at my feet. I thought, "Toes are a lot like fingers. Maybe I could pop them. I put my right foot sideways with my big toe on the carpet. With that same gentle constant pressure, I pushed my toe into the carpet. The pop was so loud I thought maybe the people in the next apartment heard it! The release was incredible! It was exactly like that first time cracking my index finger! I turned my left foot to a mirror image of the right and pressed down. POP! I was in ecstasy!
Now I craved more! This time in quantity. I was cracking my toes all the time. I would even make excuses, like going to the restroom, just so I could take off my shoes and start popping. Friends and coworkers thought I might have a prostate problem. Or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Or maybe colon cancer. I used this to my advantage. Bosses excused me whenever I asked. But truthfully, what I had was more disgusting. Sometimes sitting in the stall, how I wished I had IBS instead.
If I wasn't able to get away I found that I could subdue my craving by popping my ankles. A simple twisting movement would diminish the need, if only for a short time. I could even get away with it in a group setting. Like turning to walk somewhere, and it "accidentally" would happen. Still, I know I would turn red faced.

Now, at middle age, I realize that this cannot continue. I have a child. He'll soon be asking questions about knuckle cracking. How can I tell him it's wrong, but still enjoy my habit. Do I tell him how his knuckles will swell up? Mine haven't. Looking around the room, I don't see any deformed hands and feet. And arthritis? Anyone here suffering? ...No? ...Could... Could my Mom have been wrong? ...Did she lie to me? ...

Is the restroom nearby? I think my IBS is flaring up.

April 30, 2007

Perfect Parenting

By now, most everyone has heard Alec Baldwin's message left on his daughter's phone, or at least knows the gist of it. I found the furor over it quite eye-opening, in the fact that so many people indignantly said that they would not do something so horrible and mean to their child. Yes, there were those with opposing political views that spoke out against him, but I'm not going down that path. Yes, what he said was heinous. It was sort of funny that he could not remember her age. And yes, Alec Baldwin has shown in the past that he lets his anger get the best of him. No, I am not defending him. But what I want to know is this: How is it possible that there are so many "perfect parents" out there, but no "perfect kids"?

I listened to or read transcripts of several talk shows (mostly radio), where far too often the caller said they had never, nor would ever, do something like this to their child. They would go on about how they never argue in front of their kids. Even those that had gone through ugly divorces said they didn't lose it with or in front of their kids. Can this really be possible? Sure, there will be some instances of this. But they really are the exception, not the rule. There was only one mother who at least admitted she argued with her husband in front of her kids.

I am married and have a 13 month old son. Most of the time, I have the longest fuse of anyone I know when it comes to anger and frustration. But my wife can push my buttons. And I can push hers. This usually ends up with us arguing. And sometimes it is in front of him. No, it has never reached Baldwin level. I can only hope and pray it never does.
Kat worries that we shouldn't argue in front of Chase. I am not that concerned, in that I think it is more likely that he will see the big picture. 90% to 95% of the time, we do not argue. We are quite happy and share that joy with him. I just know that conflict is a part of life. What is most important is that he sees how to resolve the conflicts. That sometimes "heated debate" is but only one way to get to the resolution.

This came back to me last night when I read about how a man stuffed a washcloth in a 10 week old baby's mouth and taped it to the baby so it could not remove it. Then he put the child in a carrier and in a closet. Just because he was frustrated over the baby's incessant crying. His girlfriend, who knew he was doing this, finally checked on the baby after a length of time. Yes, the baby was dead. If you can stomach it, you can get the details here.

I know that this and the Baldwin story are the extremes. I know that on the opposite end, there are a few "perfect parents". But where do the rest of us reside when it comes to this middle ground? What measures do you take so that your kid/kids do not have to deal with your frustrations?

Last night I went to bed at 1:30am. I was playing on the internet and knew that since I was off today, Kat could take Chase to "school" and I would get to sleep in. I could then get up and run errands. At 2:30am, Chase starts crying. He has a couple of molars breaking through. I go in to give him Liquid Nap (baby Tylenol) and I am greeted by a smiling, standing, very awake little boy. I tried rocking him for a while. Nothing, he's up. So we go into the living room, spread out the toys and play. He's up for TWO HOURS! Finally, I pick him up. Thirty more minutes of rocking and holding him, I finally get him back to sleep. AND NOT ONCE DID I GET ANGRY OR FRUSTRATED. I am being honest with you. I sat there and watched poker on ESPN2. We practiced our walking and enjoyed the time. No, really!

But to be completely honest, for those 2.5 hours, I did think about all the chores he will have to do when he's older. You see, I'm a "big picture" kind of guy.