Sunday, January 30, 2005

Whatever, Dude.

First posted in BF - "Intelligent Design" thread - Politics & Religion - 1/30/05

The focus on facts and the Bible is a real laugher to me. We cannot assign the same rules of logic we use for science, history, etc. Spirituality is based upon beliefs so strongly held, they become facts. A non-believer can rail against the inconsistencies of physical evidence that bolster the religion. That will never convince any of the true-believers that what they know in their hearts and souls is not factual.

This basic difference between the secularists and the theocrats sets up the battle that's been waged between both for centuries. And contrary to what I think would be a logical decline in conventional spirituality, the increased scientific proof for evolution has only hardened the believer's resolve and faith in Creationism.

So, I have stopped arguing this with anyone. In the scheme of what's important in my life, deciding which group has the answer is of little consequence to me. I just endeavor to respect everyone's right to believe what they will. In the case of creationism vs. evolution, if you believe it it must be true.

Or to put it more succinctly ----Whatever, Dude.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Average Everyday Angst

Thankless tasks wait. Mundane drudgery is forestalled. I avoid the rut that is my life at the moment. Wanting so very much to say what is in me, all I ever do is dance around the dream. Toiling at being different than I am, I look for something special to hold onto. Never finding the one answer that will bring this maddness that is my life into focus. Some say it is the pursuit that counts. I say they are full of shit. All of us want to know what we are about, but few ever find out. So here I sit on yet another late night excursion. Digging for answers . Exploring for Gold. As usual, I find just another compost heap.

Maybe I should take up drugs or alcohol again.
Numb my brain, bring it all into a fuzzy focus.
I gave that life up. I cannot return.
My body now wasted and my mind a bit burned.
So what I am left with is all I have left.
A whisper of once was, the promises of youth.
Wasted and plundered by the lust to escape.

And why do we do this?
Destroy the potential we once had?
Chasing physical pleasures,
we raced away from Life just as it begins.
30 years pass, settled into a life they call simple.
It's odd they should call it that.
As confusion now runs rampant.
I wonder where I have been
that accounts for where I am.

Donald and the new Mrs. Donald

I was watching the Today show this morning. We keep it on while we go about our morning routines. Katy Couric was interviewing Donald Trump and the new Mrs. Always bubbly and often inane, Katy says, "You two have such a great relationship". Maybe I am way behind the times, but even by Hollywood standards, how can being married less than a week add up to a great relationship? But then I thought I was maybe being too judgemental. In the circles these folks prance around in, 3 or 4 days might be a lifetime here in Normal, Maine.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Unforgivable Blackness

I sit here in front of this screen today while outside, horizontal snow blankets my dooryard. Classic Nor-Easter. As of 10 AM, at least 18" on the ground with no sign of letting up. The TV has a permanent banner on the bottom of the screen telling me all of southern Maine is closed for the day. Everything's canceled. Stay home, stay warm. Tomorrow, we dig out and continue on our way.

A perfect day to be snowed in. It's NFL Conference Sunday. The NFC @ 3:00PM and the AFC @ 6:30PM. While I waited for the games to begin, I watched Ken Burns' PBS documentary, "Jack Johnson- Unforgivable Blackness". No one covers a subject like Ken Burns. I had heard and read about Jack Johnson, the great heavy weight champ from the early 1900's. I knew he had been a colorful character who became a posterboy for the strong racist attitudes of White America at the time. I had seen "The Great White Hope" with James Earl Jones. But what I thought I knew and understood about Jack was way shy of the real story.

No one will argue he was not a great champion. And most will agree he was given a raw deal. But what the documentary points out is that for all his problems and troubles, Jack had himself to blame for much that befell him. His individualism alienated not only White America, but many from within his own race. He was an "in your face" type who seemed to take particular glee at flaunting his celebrity and his race.

Booker T. Washington had no time for his antics. He felt he poorly represented his race by fulfilling the ignorant black male stereotype of the day. Another Black leader did not like him because of his taste for white women. And White America, with it's irrational fear of the black stud, definitely did not like him. What I think was cool, he just did not care. He did what he wanted. I respect that. The man had a talent and used it to live a life of his own choosing.

Whether he helped in the quest for racial equality or hindered it is something the documentary does not directly answer. The viewer, it seems, has to reach their own conclusion. The movie points out the flashpoint for racial hatred Jack became. IMO, he did not help the Negro movement of the time. But so what? His story is worthy in and of itself. Nevermind the cultural upheaval his presence created at the time. He strikes me as someone I would have loved to know. Maybe share a bottle while he gave me a blow by blow of one of the many fights he was in. In the ring or out.

Friday, January 21, 2005

More Blogging Notes

When I went about creating this blog, I figured it for nothing more than a place to display my incredibly average prose and hopefully entertain occaisionally. Certain I would be inundated with hits, I would have to fight off all those clamoring to comment on the witty and insighful twist I put on Life in my neck of the woods.

Reality is the great equalizer. Reality breaks through the fantasy and drops you in the dirt. 2 months into it and now I realize I am one small voice in a din of voices all trying to be heard. An uncontrolled mob of disimilar viewpoints, sending the same message, "Listen to me, I am important too."

In some blogs I can feel the frustration of the bloggers as they attempt to reach out and touch someone. Tyler Hamilton (not the bicycle pro) has commented on this frustration. He has been at this longer than I. Sprinkle just posted a one liner "Hello, the echo in here is really loud." Yet they still continue to post. I am now beginning to understand. For me, just reading the words I have written is somehow comforting and satisfying. That I am sharing myself with others even though they lack interest, means I am trying to stay connected. And at some point, I am bound to connect with someone, somewhere and they will be touched by my words.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Award Shows

Back in the day of ox carts and a 90% agrarian culture, Winter was the perfect season to end one year and begin the next. Forced indoors for several months because of the wheather, people had plenty of time to reflect on the past and plan for the future. As they nibbled on hard biscuits and sucked down tepid water stored in leadened clay jugs, the act of reflecting and planning may have just kept them alive during these yearly exiles. A natural point to start and stop the clock. It also gave them time to remember the best of the previous year.

A predictable outgrowth of all this winter reflection is the abundance of award ceremonies we are inundated with in late winter and early Spring. There are awards for everything under the Sun. Most awards are singular in focus and for a given activity there is one award ceremony and one only. But in regards to our acting and singing population, it seems they cannot get enough of themselves. SAG awards, Golden Globe, Academy Award, People's Choice, MTV, Motown, Grammy,the list is endless. Jeez, their egos aren't big enough they have to be stroked with more accolades than the daily dribble printed in 2000 magazines across the World. And because some genre's feel left out, every year the list of more obscure award shows increases. Wouldn't suprise me if soon we see "The Best of Eastern Pennsylvania Polka" Ceremony with 2 hours of grateful polka stars blowing kisses and squeezing countless polka numbers on their sequined covered accordions.

What especially intrigues me is the growth of obscure awards within each award ceremony. The Oscars started out with what , maybe 20 awards of varying categories. Now it seems there are hundreds. "And now, the best performance in a foreign film by a one-armed dwarf, the nominees are". And then they actually come up with 3 nominees.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Obligatory Sports Comment

After a week that had every bonehead sports commentator wondering how the New England Patriots were going to deal with Peyton Manning's awesome offensive machine, it was a sight for sore ears to hear some choke on their own words. Holding Peyton and the Colts to only a field goal, the Pats controlled the game on both sides of the ball. They flat out beat the Colts. No lucky breaks they did not make for themselves. No calls that went their way. Tom Brady and the boys proved once again, they belong at the top of the heap. They are just flat out a good football team. Emphasis on the word "Team". From the coaching staff right on down through the players, I don't think I have ever seen a better example of a complete team effort than what the Pats have treated me to for the last 4 years.

The Pats just come up with ways to beat you. Not flashy or sporting hot players with hot numbers, they play as one cohesive unit and just overwhelm the other team with solid football. Rodney Harrison pretty much summed it up when he said, "We will hit them, make them pay for every yard".

Now, one more piece of unfinished business. Taking on Pittsburgh in Heinz Stadium next Sunday for the AFC Championship. With Corey Dillion playing, the dynamics are bound to be different this time around. No doubt, the Pats have a tough game, but as they proved today, on any given Sunday, they are definitely capable of beating any team in the NFL.

GO PATS!!!!!

Saturday, January 15, 2005

And then there were blogs

I am closing in on a month of blogging. Apparently, I am smitten. I have all but abandoned my friends and foes on the couple of forums I visited regularly. Instead of clever back and forth barbs, verbal missiles, and misery loves company posts, I now prefer to sit and create on my own.

Blogging is a natural draw for me. I am a frustrated diarist who used to fill spiral notebooks with insight and opinion. Not being fastidious by nature, my scrawl was difficult to read. And forget editing. Write it once. Done. What came out, came out.

The physical part of writing began to wear on me. I started my computer journals. Posted to irregularly and un-dependently saved on the hard disk. These jopurnals were easier to read, edit, and it was kinda cool to change the font, color and size. But this method of archiving my inner workings was still cumbersome and unwieldy. Especially if I wanted to find a particular thought or point to expand or just dwell on. I spent half my time reading through 400 days of prose and poem before I found the point. Oftentimes, by the time I found the point, the reason I was looking for it, lost in the diversions of rehashing old thoughts. And when, a major malfunction occurred in the bowels of my PC, all the effort and thought I had saved, gone. I have lost some shit a couple of times this way.

And then there were blogs. A perfect medium for me. More reliable, because someone more reliable than I set them up. The duty of safe storage, again, in the hands of folks more dependable than I. And like the Internet they exist in, the possiblities of personal expression are endless.

At this point, my relationship with the blog is a sort of "Young Love". A strong infatuation that continues in my thoughts when I am not behind the keyboard. I spend more time considering what to post next time, than I probably should. I am sure the newness will wear off a bit and my daily multi-posts will drop to a few per week or less. As long as I don't feel obligated, this romance can last. I know, I know. Typical male. Afraid to commit.

Considerable Regards & many Considerations Regardless

It was very considerate of you to consider us, regardless of the fact it must have taken an intellect like yours considerable time and effort to send us your regards. However, and please pay attention, we never considered considering your considerations regarding the considerable regards you have for us , regardless of the fact we regard and consider you considerably ignorant. The fact of the matter is we hold you in contempt, and it matters not how much you regard our considerations on this point.

We regard this less than considerable memo a final notice and consider the matter closed, regardless of the potentially considerable consequences. Please send my regards to your considerable other.

Best Regards,


Friday, January 14, 2005

Never do today what you can put off til tomorrow

"Never do today what you can put off til tomorrow". I won't take credit for these sage words of advice, but I have to say, they have become words for me to live by. Well, at least while my wife isn't in view. That's my motto for all the unpleasant chores, the honey do projects, and especially snow removal of any kind. An unpleasant and thankless activity to be avoided and put off as long as possible.

When Mother Nature drops a load of white crap on us, I will spend hours watching the Wheather channel in hopes of an upcoming thaw or change to rain. Not until the Postal Lady threatens to go Postal, or my wife pulls out "the Broom Handle", will I get off my sorry butt and dig out the mail box. It's going to snow for a few months anyway, might as well let it finish, before clearing the drive. Do it once, do it right, or don't do it at all.

Unfortunately, I have never been able to go with the "do it once" idea long enough to test it's merits. The impatience of others always makes me give up on the experiment prematurely. So my pursuit of complete and utter laziness remains unfulfilled, creating an unhealthy turmoil within my lazy ass soul.

But pray long enough and eventually that prayer may be answered. Last night, the wheather guy on channel 6 promised an overnight thaw, followed by serious rain. Yeah right! Like they get it right, what, maybe 5% of the time. Well I guess if you predict the wheather long enough, one forecast is bound to be on target. When I went to bed, there was 18" of white in the dooryard, on the drive, and on the roof. I woke this morning to bare ground, asphalt, and no ice dams. Yes! Mother Nature came through just like the wheather guy said. It must of rained buckets last night. Finally, a woman took pity on me.

And by the way, In your face, Postal Gal!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Dimensional Mania

A lot of things in this world make no sense. Yet, we accept many of Life's incongruities without question. They have always been there, their inconsistent logic, conveniently overlooked.

Of the many illogical bits and pieces in our culture, our handling of dimensional distances, sizes, and space are not set up in anything close to an intuitive system. And of these, none is more glaringly odd, than the way we measure, cut, and sell lumber.I first noticed the disparity and dumb labels of lumber when I was sent to LaValley Lumber as a teen to pick up some 10' 2x4's for my dad 35 years ago.

When my ole man got into a building project, he got into it. Tools laid out and inventoried, sawhorses found , blades sharpened, and 300 sketches and drawings of what the projected outcome was to be. He covered every base possible. Anal to the n-th degree, he more often than not became an insufferable SOB until the current project had finished to his satisfaction. And when I was old enough, I became his bitch.

Anyway, he gives me a list of materials, a measuring tape and sends me off in my uncle's old Ford pick up to score his wood for him. His last words were, "Use that tape. Make sure you get the right stuff. And be damn sure to pick through the pile. They'll unload the twisted ones on if you give em half a chance." I glanced at the list and all it had on it was -16 - 2x4 - 10'. Piece of cake. I could certainly count to 16, measure to 10, and I knew what a 2x4 was. Yeah right.

In the meantime, because he left nothing to chance, my dad had phoned ahead to LaValley Lumber and set up the order. I get there, go inside to the counter and ordered up the wood.

"Oh, your dad called in the order already. It's out on the dock."

"But he told me to pick them out to make sure I got the straightest ones."

"We know what he wants, the 2x4's are out there, ready to go."

Peeved, I went outside to the loading dock and checked the order. Okay, there were indeed 16 of them, but what about the length? Yep, all a tad over 10'. And then I really looked at the boards. They seemed small somehow. So, I asked a guy on the dock, "Are these 2x4's?"

He walks over and hangs over the pile. Scratches and then lights his pipe. "Ah yup, they look like 2x4's to me", he says in between cheek crushing draws on the pipe.

"Look kinda puny to me. My dad told me to make sure I bring back 2x4's. Think I'll measure em."

The guy stops sucking on his pipe and pulls it out of his mouth. He looks at me with a kind of "amazed you're so stupid" look. But I forge ahead and check em again. I pick up each one, eyeball it for straightness, measure each one for width and thickness and then stack them neatly on the dock.

Damn! They only measure 3 1/2" wide by a strong 1 1/2" thick. I know my dad will kill me if I bring these back. He said 2x4's. He wrote down 2x4's. He called ahead for 2x4's. The man wants 2x4's and these ain't them. Just to be sure I repeat my measuring and they still come up 1/2" shy all the way around. "These won't do. They ain't even close to 2x4's. They are 3 1/2x 1 1/2. Where are the 2x4's?"

The yard rat with the pipe looks at me. His amusement is apparent and he says, "Well, I guess we ain't got 2x4's then. We must of figured your dad had a board stretcher, so we gave you these." And he walked back into the warehouse.

Wondering what the Hell a board stretcher was, I decided it wasn't important. These boards were not what he ordered. So there I was, stuck between a rock and a hard place. If I didn't show up with the studs, I wouldn't hear the end of it. If I brought back the wrong stuff, I would have to suffer his disgust for a month, I was sure. What to do? I opted to head home with an empty truck and take my chances.

I pull into our dooryard and the ole man meets me as I get out of the truck. He hangs over the empty truck bed, "Looks like you forgot something. Did I not ask for 16 10foot 2x4's?"

I had been dreading this conversation the whole 20 miles home and I was sure I had my explanation down pat. But all I said was, "Uh, yes sir, I guess I did." And then I quickly added, " That's cuz they didn't have any 2x4's. They tried to pawn off some boards that only measured 3 1/2 x 1 1/2. They told me something about you havin a board stretcher and that they would work. I figured the guy was yanking my chain so I came home without em".

Still hanging over the truck bed, I see my dad's shoulders begin a kinda jumpy gyration like he was gonna have a fit. But I couldn't see his face to see just how pissed he was. " Oh boy", I thought, "shoulda picked them up afterall, I guess. I'm in for it now". I began to sweat.

The two of us stood there. Me, awkward and nervous, waiting for that next shoe to drop. And my dad, back to me, still shaking while he contemplated the lack of lumber he had been primed for. It was an eternity for me, but then he turned around. Oh my God! Were those tears coming down his face? Oh Shit! He is really, really pissed. And then he just lets out with a bellow and wraps me up in a bear hug, still shakin and hootin.

"Son, the look on your face right now is about the funniest thing I have ever seen. Gus down to the yard called and told me what happened, I had plenty of time to get pissed and then get over it. And then it just tickled my funny bone. I guess I never filled you in on the basics of wood, did I?"

I realized then that someone in this fiasco was a fool, and that fool was me. The ole man went on to tell me about how the whole dimension thing worked with lumber. A 2x4 was a nominal designation and that over time, in an effort to get more money out of the logs, the size had settled on something less than it had started. That calling them 2x4's was a whole lot easier than calling them 3 1/2 x 1 1/2's. About the time he started in on finish boards and their less than accurate labeling, I became disgusted, got back in the truck and headed back to pick up the wood. The ribbing I endured on that second trip was tough and established a special pet nick name for me at the yard. "Hey, Mr. 2x4 got your tape with you?"

The Dumb Phone Call

The Dumb phone Call - BF - 11/16/04

The dumb phone call. I just love the dumb phone call.

A month or so ago I got this call at my shop. I answered, "Good Afternoon, CRUM Cycles". Silence. So I said it again. " Good afternoon, CRUM Cycles"

A female voice finally asked, "Is Alice there?'"

I said, "Ma'am, I think you have the wrong number. There is no Alice here. This is a bike shop."

"Are you sure?"

I looked around the store, no one but me and bike stuff. "Uh, No Ma'am, just me."

"Well, she gave me this number. She told me to call. She must be there. Could you please check again."

"Ma'am, I think you have dialed the wrong number. What number did you want to dial?"

And this was the kicker. She said, "Don't you know? You answered the phone."

I had to hang up, I couldn't argue with that logic. She had me. I laughed for twenty minutes. She never called back. She must have finally found Alice.

Wearing Out

A blog I read last week kept popping up in my thoughts recently. Another person's take on the aging process. They felt the years stacking up and they knew they were getting old. From other posts on this blog, I decided they were in their mid thirties, low forties, tops.

And what kept nagging at me was, if they felt that old at, say 38, how the Hell should I feel at 52? I have at least 12 more years of wear and tear on this sad and abused excuse of a body and mind. Should I be making an appointment down to "Heald's Funeral Parlor & Imporium" to pick out a box, a plot and a headstone?

I kind of felt guilty as I read and chewed on this idea of getting old. I never really considered it. Oh sure, I have noticed specific physical changes. The liver spots, as they grow towards each other in an effort to give me a permanent tan. The odd apple shape I seem to have settled into. The shrubbery being cultivated in both ears. All the unpleasant body warps most folks have to deal with. I understood and accepted them. But I never stood back and contemplated the accumulative effect these changes had on my life. You know, that general overview. The big picture. The overall thrust and meaning of becoming an old fart. Lots more thinking about personal issues than I was used to, I'll tell ya.

I can remember when I was 6, all the 3rd and 4th graders seemed so much older and appropriately wiser. After all, they had had several more years to soak up Life's lessons than I had. When I was in the 6th grade, Junior High kids, well, they ruled. They were so cool. Some of them even liked girls. Just shy of grown ups, fer chrissakes. And in High School, I could not wait to get to college, let alone imagine myself there.

At some point in my college years, my perspective began to change. Rather than being impatient to reach that next big transition, I became uneasy about the transitions coming at me. The intense desire to be older had changed to a growing interest in remaining young. At age 23 or so, I knew this was as good as it gets. So, naturally, looking ahead to 30 was not something I looked forward to.

30 passed and I didn't feel any different than I did at 28 or 29. I was keeping up just fine and besides, I was way too busy making my mark and contribution to Society. Marriage, kids, and carreer. Life was serious business and I knew it. It was somewhere shy of 40 before I realized a serious chunk of time had passed.

For some reason, turning 40 was not the mid-life crisis it was painted out to be. By 40, I knew I wasn't going to be Donald Trump, Lance Armstrong, or Brad Pitt. I had resigned myself to simply being the responsible adult. I was no longer intimidated by the twists and turns that we all face. I had learned what to sweat and what not to. A new found wisdom or important clue to the meaning of it all dawned on me. I knew now that Life wasn't a series of chronological events we experience as ticks on some Universal Timeclock. It was more of a micro evolution. Life is an existence that constantly adapts as the enviroment around it changes.

Realizing this definitely took the edge off getting old. Put a new perspective on that trip we take from the cradle to the grave. We don't get old, we just wear out. Felt a whole lot better once I thought it through.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Ayuh, you can't get there from here!

Back in the late 60's I had a summer job pumping gas at 'Clark's Tank and Tummy" in Sanbornville, New Hampsha. Located at the intersection of Rte 109 and Rte 16 about 100 miles north of Boston. Now Sanbornville had no real draw for most folks. Just a convenient stop on the trip to Conway. Refill the tank and drain the unwanted and uncomfortable fluids that had built up for the last 75 miles. At this time, gas cost maybe 25 cents a gallon, and with the price the same pretty much everywhere, the only thing we had to sell was service. So, i was expected to clean the windows, offer to check the oil, water, and air. My days were busy but not very challenging. A high point would be an old 2 cycle Saab pulling in and me having to remember to ask for the oil to put in before the gas. It was a constant battle to stay engaged in the day and not lose my focus. To that end, I often played mind games with the unlucky tourist who happened to ask the right question in the wrong way.

One hot afternoon, a flashy new Caddy with Conn. plates pulled in from the north bound lane off 16. I ran out to their car anticipating a fill at the very least. Instead, the old man driving said, "No gas kid, just some directions".

This kinda put me off, cuz, well, it just did. I was no kid, I was 16 fer chrissakes. The guy was abrupt and I could tell he was not pleased. I said, "Uh, yes sir, where you headed?

He looks at me and he hesitates like he is not sure how to form the words. But he finally mutters, " We seem to have missed the turn off for Boston. "

I could not believe my luck. I had recently been hoping to act out some recently learned Yankee humor on some deserving tourist who was just asking for it. I knd of scrunched down so I could look in and get close. Next to him was an older lady way over done with the latest in suburban hair and pink highlights. Lipstick, Nails, Jeez even her shoes were pink. And she did not look happy. So I said, "Boston Huh?'" In the best yokel speak I could muster. " Hmm, seems you's off track a tad".

He says, "I don't need a lecture, just get me going in the right direction"

Well, this just reinforced my desire to really play this guy hard, so I broke the news to him bluntly. I said, " Well sir, Boston's bout 100 miles from here as the Crow flies"

His wife/girlfriend interrupts, "See, I told you we passed it"

I could hardly keep a straight face, but somehow I managed it and continued like I hadn't heard her. "Heading back the way you came might work, and it might not." He looks at me like I was crazy, but before he has a chance to digest what I said, I looked up rte 16 and said, "Well you could head up 16 bout 10 miles and take a left, uh, no, that won't work."

I stood up straighter and turned towards Rte 109 going towards Maine. I looked intent like I was contemplating this option and started, " Head down 109 , no, no, that will just get you more confused. That way takes you into Maine and the roads in Maine are terrible and go no where anyway."

I then turned the other way, and said, " I have it now, just head out this road here. Bout 2 miles, there's a white barn on the right. Take the next left, the next right and then straight for 20 miles until you get to 25. Damn! That won't work either"

By this time, I could tell the guy was really getting peeved. "Do you have any idea of how to get back to Boston," he asks.

I looked him in the eye and said, "Well sir, it sure seems you are in a pickle I guess. You can't get there from here". And I walked back into the station leaving him and his wife to figure out how they went right by a city of 500,000 and drove another 3 hours before they decided to find out where they were.

He peeled out headed north. About 15 minutes later, I spotted him driving south. That was the last I saw of him.

Monday, January 10, 2005

News of the Day

I was playing with some of the cats tonight during the 11:00 news. More absorbed teasing them with the red laser light than what the newscasters were talking about, I almost missed out on an odd occurence that may be the harbinger of things to come. It seems that a young fellow somewhere, I did not catch where, has offered up on Ebay, advertising space on his forehead. For 30 days he will wear any ad on his forehead. As I watched the piece unfold, I thought this guy really needs to get a life, a job, something. What a nimrod I thought. But as the piece finished with, "And the bidding so far is up to $14,000", I had to reevaluate my quick judgement. Apparently, some serious consideration is being made by businesses looking for that hook that will get their name in front of everyone else's.

I still think the guy's a bit whacky. But whacky like a fox possibly. Where else can your average 20 year old make $14,000 for a month's work? And if it catches on, be assured of future engagements of similar income potential? The kid ought to ride this one as far as he can.

And what of the spin off possibilities? Hiring G-Stringed bimbos down to Miami Beach with "Lipo this" or "Enlarge These" emblazoned on various tasty bits of their anatomies. And then provide a web or phone contact in smaller print to ensure that closer look.


Back about 28 years ago I landed a job. A dream job. A job that possibly defined my life from that point on. Or so I thought.

In early Fall, 1976, I was a recently licensed tractor trailer driver for Advanced Moving and Storage in Baltimore, MD. I was on a move to North Carolina and had stopped at a 76 to refuel me and the truck. As I finished my meal of greasy eggs, bacon and homefries, I heard my name bellowed out from across the room. It was Ron, a fellow I had worked with at Advance in years previous. He had left Advance to become a driver for a sound and light company out of Dallas, Texas. That's about all I knew.

Happy to see each other, we sat and talked. He was impressed I had made the move from helper to driver. He had been one of the drivers who had railed on me to get my license. He told me he was on a Willie Nelson tour. He asked me out to the truck to share some doob and talk about what was what since we last saw each other. When we got to his truck, I was definitely impressed. A brand new White Freightliner with a beautiful drop frame trailer. All white with "SHOWCO" on the door. Underneath, it said, "Not for Hire". At the time I was driving a beat Louisville Ford gas rig and a trailer from the early 60's.

His truck was one of 4 in the tour. He was the lead driver. That is, he ran the trucking end of the tour. We split a joint and just talked. I felt like he was sizing me up. Before I left to go on my way, he handed me his card and told me to call and ask for Robert. I asked why. He said that SHOWCO was looking for new drivers. If I called within the next week , he would make sure I was interviewed. I was astounded. Driving a rock n roll truck. 24 years old, no ties anywhere, Life was looking up for me for sure.

Back in B-more, I told my roomate about the job offer. He did not believe me. I don't think he believed me even when he dropped me off at the airport 3 weeks later to fly to Dallas, TX. Jeez, I don't think I believed me. But there I was, on a plane to the Lone Star State, eating bad airline food, and sucking down drinks from tiny bottles.

Ron met me at DFW airport. He was not impressed that I was shitfaced, but he understood. I had been celebrating. He dropped me off at the Arlinton Days Inn, told me to sober up, get a good night's sleep, and be ready to drive the next day. We were heading out on the Who tour.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Cookie Monster

I am currently dealing with computer glitches of desperate proportions. As posted in previous rants, I feel that a severe manic reaction is just around the corner. My lovely wife is graciously going to attempt to bail me out by re-formatting the Hard Drive. We have never done this before, but we understand and take seriously the dire consequences so many folks have emphasized, as their brows raise when they hear of our "final solution". But I figure at this point I have nothing to lose. The computer is 5 years old and has been sucking in etheral hob goblins from the internet since day one. We have made hallf hearted efforts to protect this machine and it's questionable cargo, but in the end, our efforts were always, too little, too late. An ongoing battle in a campagin of battles and now we realize we are losing. It is time for the doomsday bomb, the re-format.

Which brings me to my update on how's it going so far.

A few days ago as I perused my file manager in hopes of catching one of the nasties hiding out in the open, I happened upon my cookie cache in Windows. There were, and this is embarrassing, thousands of them hangin out. A Festival, a Rock concert, a mob. And an unruly mob, given the increase in locked screens, pop ups from Hell, and the sloth like behavior of the bytes as they struggle through the throng to carry out the business of computing.

Upon viewing these uninvited guests, I decided the party was over. It was time to kick them out. I punched up the useless Help icons and looked for that one hint that would rid me of these ingrates who took up space and whose only function was to report back to some evil busybody who lived to know what I was doing. Being only slightly smarter than the keys I was punching, I found the Help sections, no help. So I did what I always do. I improvised. I first dumped every one of them into the hopper and flushed them. I then floundered around until I found out how to disable them with extreme prejudice. I put the cookie reception feature on manual. Now, every cookie seeking entrance into my home has to have my permission to do so.

This new strategy has been both good and bad. Some of the cookies still punch their way through. And some sites absolutely will not let me on without them. But overall, the satisfaction I get when I punch the "block Cookie" icon is indescribable. One in particular, "-My Web-" is especially satisfying to punch into oblivion.


Originally posted in Dirt Rag Forums - 11/24/04

The following piece released some pent up anger I have been harboring for, oh, I guess my whole life.

Originally Posted by cosg

The hardest part of parenting is setting a good example and behaving yourself!! Especially if your morals are a little questionable to begin with.

My response
Every time I come back to this thread, I read this and something just didn't sit right with me. I just plain disagree with it. The hardest part that is. IMO, the hardest thing a parent can do is be honest with their kids.

I did not find out the circumstances of my birth until I was well into adulthood. Finding out those facts was shocking and left me bitter and full of resentment towards the rest of the family for years. While the facts explained the distance relatives kept me at. Not knowing those facts as a kid made me feel like I was not welcome in my own family and that it was somehow my fault. I have always resented the dishonesty my family displayed. By keeping me in the dark, they punished me for something I had no control over or knowledge of. Ten years ago, I removed myself from their sphere of influence and affections, what little there was. The predictable result is they let me do it without a fight.

Because of my own experience, I have made my life before parenthood an open book to my kid. By filling her in at an early age regarding the poor choices I made as a kid and young adult, we both were able to become closer. My faults revealed, allowed me the freedom to help guide her through some of the madness that every kid faces. I didn't have to rely on shaky logic like it's the law, or God will strike you dead crap. I held myself up as a beacon of what not to do.

It seems to be working. She has made it to college and has the reputation of being a goodie two shoes who thinks getting falling down drunk is for losers. And don't get her started on drugs and how much she detests them. She kicks butt on a bike also. There is no better memory of mine than remembering her first ride and all the rides since. On Friday, we head to Manchester for the "Turkey Burner" ride.

Home Economics

Originally posted in Dirt Rag Forums - 11/26/04
A piece on the silliness of youthful fashion. Every time I see some young punk with his britches at half mast and his designer undies hangin out for all the World to see, I smile and remember my own awkward attempts at being cool by sewing myself there. It'll all make sense in a moment.

Originally Posted by CRUM
Jeez UK, I guess that dry Brit humor kinda went down the wrong way. Frankly, I enjoyed it. I got several chuckles and a few guffaws out before I finished reading it. We should never let Life get so serious we can't laugh at ourselves. Unless of course, you have to sit in Home Economics class in your tighty whiteys while giggling 8th grade girls sew up your britches. That was not in the least funny.

UK's Reply
Do i DARE ask......?

And my reply
Well, since you did.... One of the cool fashions at the time was peg-legged jeans. Jeans so tight, using the pockets was out of the question and you pretty much had to hold your breath the whole time you were wearing them. A friend had talked me into letting him use my mom's Sewing Machine to peg his pants. He talked me into doing a pair. We both vowed we were gonna wear em the next day, nevermind the damn school's rules against them. Well, I show up in the morning at "the bridge", the smoking hangout for all the tough kids. My friend shows up and he is not sporting the pants we agreed on. "My mom caught me and made me take them off"

Well that was just great, I was going to be fed to the wolves alone. I'd be cool for a few minutes anyway. Or so I thought. I stiff-legged it into school and didn't even make it to my seat in homeroom, when the teacher snagged me. This guy was a real funny man. He loved playing with our heads and making us look silly in front of anyone who might be around. He made me do some physical manipulations, like touch my toes, squat down, etc. And all the while, saying if the pants passed I wouldn't have to head down to the office. About the 5th squat thrust, they let go. Split from crotch to tail right in front of the whole homeroom class.

You know it's odd, but I don't remember hearing the laughter. I felt it more than anything. I was so pissed and so embarrassed, I guess I shut down. Anyway, I had to walk to the Vice principals office with all my business hanging out. At least it was easier to get around now. Cooled my heels there while they had a few chuckles at my expense and thought about whether to send me home or not. One of the Home Economics teachers happened into the office and said she could fix me right up.

So again, I had to hoof it down the halls with everything feeling breezy. And the whole time the teacher is going on how her girls will fix my pants like new. I sat in her class with as much of myself stuffed under one of the tables as I could cram while the giggling girls took out the pegging and fixed the busted seam. All the while the teacher is hovering over this job suggesting this type of stitch or telling em to place the pins this way and not that way.

All in all, the ordeal ate up about 2 periods and I didn't have to go home (which would not have gone over well ). That was my one and only flirtation with pegged pants. Never did it again. Some kids started calling me Peg Leg, but it wore off. Too many liked Crum or Crum Bum better. It's tough to break in a new nick name when the one you have is working so well.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Blog surfin

I surfed some blogs tonight. I hit each for a few moments hoping to have something catch my eye that would draw me in. I found the ones with black backgrounds annoying and only dawdled long enough to punch up the next one. Of the few I stopped and checked out, one was a fire breathing neo conservative who is most definitely in Bush's corner. My next stop brought me to a rather confused but egotiscal young gay fellow who hates his smile and was jealous of some boy in the first grade. One blog tried to get me interested in the poster's rookie fumblings as he became aquainted with the various nuances of HTML. A teacher assured me with her title that this was the year of the teacher. I found her site to be the most eye pleasing with post card shots of tropical hideaways in Thailand of all places. Given the current tsunami situation in that part of the world, I found the juxaposition interesting to say the least. But the sight that caught me and held my interest long enough to read a complete post ( and it was quite a long one) was Mandy's blog. Her reflections on her recent pregnancy were excellent. Some talent there, that's for sure. I wish I had book marked it.

One thing about these blogs. There are no rules. None. Nada. Not a one. Another interesting aspect is how completely open and honest the posts are. I never dreamed so many people would be willing to bare their souls in such numbers. It is extraordinary.

After reading the erratic and scattered thoughts of so many, I realize that what I am doing with mine fits right in. I sit down and write what comes to mind. Apparently so do umpteen million others.

I continued my surfing again struck by how creative and unusual the blogs were. Some in computer code were obviously not meant for my eyes, but for folks of a specific group who know the language of computers fluently enough to decipher all the squares,circles and other odd markings. Quite a few sites I felt too much emphasis was put on frills and not enough to content. I was quick to punch up the next site before the site I was on had settled in. Some of the blogs seem to be trying too hard to impress. But when you got past the visual and audio fluff, it was mundane crap like, "I hope Shane asks me to the Prom", or "do you believe so and so got released on waivers". Come on, that's stuff made for forums and instant messaging. I want meat not whipped cream. Give us that unique perspective all of us have inside. Everyone has something worth saying, w just need to let it out.

But then I realized. What I viewed as mundane and unimportant was anything but to the poster and probably some kindred spirits scattered out in the internet ether. Who am I to denigrate and scoff? I mean, look at what I put down. A Plain Jane site set up on a generic template. No Pix, No sound (thank God), and content that probably only soothes my ego and no one else's. I got pretty cocky there for a moment. Glad it passed and I realized I am nothing more and nothing less than those I pretend to judge.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

My first comment. Yee Haw!

I received my first comment today. It was a positive comment. But to just have someone comment on something I wrote means at least two things.

1- People, other than myself, actually read these blogs. The comment reinforces my goal at attempting to keep pounding away.

2- Comments, negative and positive, mean what was written was interesting enough to cause the reader to react to it. All good in my opinion.

Since I am what is called a newbie in this blog culture, I have not figured out the ins and outs yet. I am sure that just pounding away commentary and nonsense is not going to enlighten me unless the commentary and nonsense is extraordinary in some respect. Either John Steinbeck quality or so awful folks cannot resist commenting. And since I have no illusions regarding my ability to strike chords with every word written, I am sure my education here will have to be self induced.

I spotted a link on some message board recently - (NOTE - I am not sure if this site is even real or if I have it typed correctly) I have yet to check it out. But by it's very existence, there appears to be a backlash in progress to all the useless and wasted words being laid down like these. Like the infinite numbers of message boards on every subject under the Sun, I am sure blogs are no different. The only difference being a blog is a chance to unload that which bothers you, intriques you, or puzzles you without the interfering instantaneous comments the message boards are fraught with. A blog allows us to compose at our liesure without worrying about losing the moment that so often happens in the forums world. A blog is not restricted by the arbitrary editing of moderators, some of whom have agendas they meet through deletions, banning, etc. No one can, as far as I know, edit or change my blog to suit their needs. Oh, I am sure there are hackers out there who can, but my blog would seem to be safe. My words of personal struggle and wisdom not worth their time or energy.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

A test

This is a test to see if my recent effort at removing the hyperlink monster has been at all successful. Mountain Biking, Hard Drive, T shirt.

Hmm, it seems to have worked. At least in the short term.

Second Test - Hard drive, Road bike,T shirt, mountain Bike

Apparently, capitalizing any letter in a hyperlink word negates the linking capabilities. I have failed in my attempt to rid my coimputer of these parasites. If nothing else, I have found a way to deal with them on a case by case basis.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Just another sad computer story

I am currently typing on a computer that is but half here. There are numerous hidden beasties and goblins in it. Half of the programs are contaminated with half of what they need and half of what they don't. It used to just lock up every once in awhile. I could live with that. But recently I have developed the hyperlink syndrome, pop ups that are near impossible to remove from the screen and other irritating and drive me crazy glitches that make me want to throw this damn thing in the lake.

I have sought help from strangers as far away as Toronto and British Columbia. I know they are snickering at my computer ineptitude. Oh Well, at some point, humility always finds us. When it does, the smart move is to suck it up and deal with it. I am sucking it up, but so far, I am unable to deal with it. Should this go on much longer , there may be a 2 column story on page 10 in the Portland Press Herald about some guy who went ballistic and threw his computer in the Mousam River and then jumped in behind it. A sad story, a short tale of modern technology winning over the basic frustration of Man. In two days , the World will have moved on and the Man can finally have the peace he sought, but could not get when seated in front of his computer.

And while I sport a fair ego, I am not above admitting my limitations and when I reach them. And it is now time to admit another limit has been reached. I know for those folks who live, sleep, and eat 1's and 0's, my problem is a laugher. But I am not laughing. I am slowly and steadily going bonkers. I might get 20 good minutes out of this POS and then something happens. The cursor locks up like it was hit with Super glue. Or maybe I will accidentally set off one of the parasitic hyperlinks and then it's Show Time. Pop Up Hell.

And all the while, the little green gremlins have decided that my computer is a comfortable and safe place in which to play their evil games. They are all just waiting with bated breath for their chance to perform. Before, when it was the occaisional lock-up, or obnoxious number of e-mails, I am guessing only an exploratory patrol had discovered the inner world of Mike's Computer. But as soon as they could get back to Gremlin Central with the report of a slovenly run and cared for computer just waiting to be raped and pillaged, the big guns started to move in.

The presence of the big boys has finally shaken me out of my computer stupor. I know now this is more than a war of small skirmishes. These guys are serious and will not be satisfied with less than total control. I really do not see what they get out of it. Once they have control, I just won't turn it on. Then we both lose.

But I think they just want to engage me. They want battle, so they don't go for the quick kill. They want to play with me first. String me along. Create just enough havoc to keep me interested in doing battle. Call it the death by 1000 pop ups.

My first attempts at cleaning things up were a disaster. I wiped all the cookies off my drive and guess what, this Blog among other recently important data was flushed down the etheral toilet. Took me 1/2 hour to re-discover this Blog. The other stuff, well, casualties of friendly fire I guess.

And look. No, don't be obvious. Just take a glance up and to the right. It seems they have found me once again. The overpowering Hyper Link has arrived. It follows me everywhere I go. Waiting patiently for that special combination of letters to show up so it can cast it's spell and bring them under their control. An evil and insidious beast who feels that of all the words out there, some belong to them.

An Afterword
As it turns out, I am not able to publish this wonderful post with the Hyper link entrencehed in my words. Apparently Google is smarter than I am. I had to change the words from "Hard Drive" to "drive". It is certainly nice to know there are folks looking out for me when I can't look out for myself. All is not lost afterall.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Tomorrow never arrives

When I was a kid, I would get excited about something that was scheduled to happen in the future. A road trip, a visit to a friend, a movie, etc. And I would pester whoever was around with, "Tomorrow we're gonna......." Like a dog with a bone, I would not let up. My dad dealt with this youthful exuberance for only so long. And then he would say, "Tomorrow never arrives". For some reason this always stopped me in my tracks and created synapse collapse long enough so that I was distracted from my mania.

I would think about this concept of "Tomorrow never arrives" and decide that yes, it does. And I would say so. To that, my dad would say "No Mike, you are wrong. It does not exist. By the time it is tomorrow, it is today". And he had me. Caught. Pinned. I had no retort.

Off and on he would have the chance to hit me with this. And each time, since i was just a bonehead kid, I would get sucked in. And then one day a light bulb went off and I knew I had him. I purposefully baited him and he came up with his standard, "Tomorrow never arrives" line.

Instead of looking my usual confused self, I grinned and said, " Yeah it does Dad." I can remember him looking at me differently that time. I must have placed the right inflection or had the right body language. I continued, " Tomorrow exists. Today is yesterday's tomorrow." And I walked away.

Anyway, just a little silliness from my past as I reflect on this New Year's Day. Happy New Year folks!