Thursday, November 30, 2006

Down-right Ugly

This recent Richards ( Kramer) dust up over his racist outburst at some comedy club has certainly been blown out of proportion. He got out of control and used some racist language aimed at some folks of another race. Ok fine. He later attempted a piss poor apology on the David Letterman show. Not good enough. So the Rev Jesse Jackson, who is never one to turn away from any spotlight, corrals him for some sit time so Kramer can apologize to every Black in America, the World, and probably the Universe.

Okay, again fine. His comedy career is most likely toast now, but he still groveled and felt bad. Whatever. He deserved it. What a bonehead. The world of comedy will not miss him. He was not and I assume is still not very funny.

What gets me is all the behind the scenes activity to turn this racist outing into a money maker for folks. One interview with a teary-eyed black lady was quite the heart wrenching segment. Apparently this woman was so distressed about hearing the word "nigger", she does not know if she can go on. What really tops it off is she actively sought the uncut video replay on the internet. She has contacted lawyers. Seems she wants to be rewarded for having thin skin. As far as I am concerned she deserved to hear what she was obviously looking for.

Why is it Americans are so quick to seek monetary answers to every little slight or perceived wrong in their lives? Or even ever so ready to take advantage of a situation they were not even involved in? I love this country, but I have to say this particular wart on the character of America is down-right ugly.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tuesday Morning

Tuesday morning. Grey and raw outside. Bob, our big tom, is winding his way in and out of my legs and whining about being stuck inside. Nothing unusual going on. Seems to be panning out like most Tuesdays do.

Something is different though. Some unknown has invaded my space this AM. I cannot pin it down exactly, but I know today is not right. I do not have a feeling of foreboding or optimistic fervor. Just that something is out of sync, out of order, or not going as planned.

I have gone through my mental check list such as it is. For once, I seem to be on top of things. Nothing on the horizon looms as that next fire to put out. Hmm. Maybe that's where my feeling of unease comes from. I actually have most things under control for a change and am very uncomfortable with that idea. Not having a number of things left undone is undoing my Tuesday.

There has to be something that needs my immediate attention that can be fretted over while I pass it by to pursue whatever else it is that I pursue when I duck the jobs at hand. Let me think. Repairs at the shop? No, nothing serious, everyone is caught up. Home projects? Nothing pending I can do anything about now......Wait! Yeah that's it! The storm glass in the doors. I have not replaced the screens with glass yet. Whew! I feel better now. Finally one of the many little chores I traditionally duck until my arm is twisted. Tuesday is back on track now.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Wish Me Luck

I have often wondered why good habits are so hard to establish, and so difficult to maintain once up and running. Bad habits seem to find me ever willing to pick them up and not often willing to throw them out. It isn't as if it's tough to tell the difference between a good habit and a bad one. There are glaring differences. Guilty negative waves from one and often non-manic self-satisfaction with the other.

I grew up in an alcoholic family. I saw the damage alcohol could create and I still let it get it's hooks into me. Wasted time, money, and many good graces to the evil drink. Now that I don't drink, I am not sure why I became dependent so many years ago. The buzz? The chemically induced invincibility? Or the numbed and blunted emotions? It certainly was not the many hangovers that kept me coming back to that bottle of Jack. It certainly was not those blackouts that ended up alienating friends and relatives. Damn! It's been at least 10 years since I last got drunk and now I cannot for the life of me think of a reason why I drank in the first place. Not even a bad reason.

The odd thing though is I quit drinking for the health of my liver. I also figured a side benny would be a happier me. I am neither happier nor am I healthier. Everything's about the same I guess. But I have saved a boatload of money.

I absolutely do not miss the demon rum. Occaisionally I will lust for a beer. A tall frosty cold one after a hot summer day of yardwork. I have cracked one open, but always leave it before I have consumed half. I just do not like alcohol anymore. Well, maybe a good whiskey, scotch or sourmash might turn my head. But not so much that I have had to throw out the bottle in the cupboard. It has been there for over 10 years.

But this is not about bad habits. I am concerned more now with turning over some good ones. This winter I want fight the cabin fever blues, keep my weight down, and come out on the other side in March like a Phoenix rising from the ashes. Every Fall I tell myself this. Every Fall I insist I will not fail this time. And every March, I realize I did indeed fall short again.

I have had the same problem for so long that I no longer need to look for the solution. The solution is right there and so very simple any bonehead ought to be able to follow through. I guess I am not just any bonehead. But even special cases such as myself can catch on eventually.

All I have to do is stay engaged. That is, don't worry about being pinned up inside, or the fact that the shop is dead. There is always something else to do. Chores and projects that need attention. Good books that need reading. And good habits to seek out and make my own. Staying busy is the key.

Okay. I have now identified the solution and for the first time put it in writing. I will revisit this post in March to fill everyone in, including myself, on how it went. Wish me luck.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

As if the World even Cares

I seem to be in a sort of post election funk. In the month run up to the election, I was quite into the grassroot politicking that has become a tradtion on internet forums around the World. With both feet firmly planted on each side of the middle, I lamblasted the worst of either side and loudly declared my independence from both. No issue was spared my opinion. No idiotic response excused without comment. All in an effort to see my wishes come true on election night.

Hmm. Election night seems to have been a tad anti-climatic. The build up has been let down by the reality. The Democrats won. A message was sent to the Republicans. And Bush was spanked good. I ought to be ecstatic. But instead, 3 weeks later, all I am is drained. A new party is in charge, but Life still moves on as predictable and consistent as ever. Nothing changes, just the actors in the scene. New faces spouting the same old rhetoric. Promising change they will most likely not deliver.

So I have taken my leave of the political forums for a moment. Giving the juices a chance to re-hydrate. Hoping a vacation will allow my righteous indignation a chance to build up some steam again. And besides I should really be here emptying my soul in front of the World. A blog being so cathartic and offering another soul out there the chance to identify.

Riiiight. As if the World even cares.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Big Thank You Goes .......

I just read a short piece by a fellow named Burroughs. I am unfamilar with this guy, but apparently the hipper more up to date aficionado of things cool and with it think he is the cat's meow. His bit was a thank you to John Dillinger ( or more accurately America) that gave thanks for all the nastier things we did on the way to becoming what we became. A sort of thanks for being such self serving jerks routine. Clever, but predictable of those who have nothing but disdain for the America we live in today.

Now I am no one to throw stones. I have certainly vented my fair share of criticism about the culture and rampant apathy I find throughout this great land. But I figure if there is one day I ought to give it a rest, today, Thanksgiving, might just be a good choice. Take a breather from casting that jaundiced eye and maybe consider some positives about America. There has to be some.

In no particular order-

I would like to thank most of America for settling in the South and the West. By doing this, you have relieved my fear of urban sprawl here in Maine.

I would like to thank our founders for their efforts to give us a guidebook to follow these last 225 years or so. While what we have now may not be what they envisioned, at least I live in confidence that I may speak my mind without reprisal.

I would like to thank GW Bush the second for proving that Ronald Reagan was not the worst president in my lifetime.

I would thank the inventors of the internet thing and the PC thing, but sometimes I wonder if we should thank them or curse them. Call it a wash.

I would like to thank my parents for the early lessons regarding responsibility. Knowing I am responsible for my actions makes it easy to demand that others do the same.

I would love to thank God for all that we have. But seeing as how what we have at the moment is massive world wide hate and discontent, I'll hold my thanks for the moment. In other words, thanks, but no thanks. Of course that is assuming there is a God. If there is not, then the stupidity unfolding makes more sense.

I would like to thank my daughter Lis for being, well, just being. You are the one thing in my life I feel I did not screw up. And if I did, you are way too nice to tell me so. Thank you.

That Kind of Day I Guess

I have been trying all day to come up with an appropriate Thanksgiving entry into this blog. I began musing over the possibilities almost at first light this morning. Everything that came to mind was either not worthy or the thought just a fleeting scrap that blew away quickly as my shortened attention span exercised it's right to exist. Half formed considerations and poorly conceived subjects never got off the ground.

So about 9:30 AM I decided to head to the shop, grab my bike and go for a short off road ride. I figured if I couldn't come up with wit or insight, I might as well try to clear the cobwebs and break a sweat. So I did. Spent 20 minutes getting on my bike duds, checkin out the bike, and then I headed out. With Hunting season still in full swing, I knew I had to keep the loop relatively close to the houses near the in town woods. Even in full blaze orange, a moving target can be a hard target for any hunter to resist. So I headed over to the woods by the Y.

I rode well. No dabs, crashes or unforseen dismounts. Cleaned everything. My fear of quickly becoming winded and ready to puke did not happen. I guess the last 2 weeks of dormancy did not affect me as I had figured. Felt good and still do.

I finished my ride and actually made an effort to improve a couple of minor details at the shop. Took care of a few things I usually ignore until they become unbearable. Then I headed home about noon and feasted on BLT's.

With a full belly and mildy drained body I relaxed in front of the Miami/Detroit game. Settled in for that once a year treat of Pro Football on a week day, Thanksgiving. I promptly passed out and woke up with a jolt in the 3rd quarter to my wife telling me my brother was on the phone.

Seems he and his wife Eileen were out for a walk while Erica, my neice toiled away at home rustling up grub for the Turkey Day repast. I was still groggy when I got on the phone and just coming out of my mid day siesta haze when he said good bye. I assume everything is going well but cannot attest to that fact now. His conversation sits as a lump in my memory banks.

I now sit here attempting to bring some clarity to my day. I wrote down the events and have sat back to consider them. And it seems I never really woke up today. Everything just clumps together. Nothing stands out. It's that kind of day I guess. Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Enjoying my daily visit to a forum somewhere out there in the ozone, I happened upon a discussion regarding the Netherlands and their recent banishment of the muslim burqa as acceptable public attire. Apparently the Dutch like to know who they are speaking to and need that face to face encouragement to make it happen. The typical flurry of strong opinion quickly filled two pages. Some folks were sensitive to the women and this hateful disregard for Allah and his harem of Earth women. And quite a few sided with the fascist dope smokin Dutch. An occaisional voice like mine would pipe in with off topic silliness. That was how I felt. Wear a shroud. Don't wear a shroud. Much ado about not much in this infidel's mind.

Anyway, Treespeed shared this:

If they ban Burqas then I want to also see them banning white guys dressing as rappers, overweight East Germans in Speedos, socks and birkenstocks, and make the neo nazis grow out their hair and turn in their Docs.

And I replied

While they are at it, a ban on fat chicks in tube tops with those silly barbells implanted in their navals would be appreciated here. Oh yeah, with regards to the rapper thing. Make wearing a hat sideways a crime. I always want to ask them if they just ran into a pole or something.

And then of course we would need to abolish the practice of old folks exposing any part of their bodies at the beach. Nothing scarier than an old white guy in bermuda shorts with his belt cinched up just under his tits, wearing sandals and support socks up to his blue veined pasty white knees.

As he squints at the sun through huge Foster Grants and dips that pork pie hat or a golf hat to block the beach glare, his blue haired other half purses her lips, creating the perfect imitation of a white prune with red lips. She adjusts her winged shades and tugs at the side of her bra with white claws that began Life as hands. Both of them seem lost as they awkwardly stumble in the sand looking for a place that rents chairs and one of those big Umbrellas that say "Miami Beach" in big block letters.

Against the backdrop of younger folks, more pleasing to the eye folks, the old fogies are an eyesore and should be blacklisted and scorned when spotted about to invade this bastion of healthy youthdom. Wait a minute. I just described my not quite immediate future. Nevermind.


First of all I hate the word charity. To me a smidgen of pity always seems to be attached to that word charity. I have worked hard all my life to not pity anyone. I often fail, but still the act of engaging in it always makes me feel like I am doing a disservice to the one I aimed my pity at. It's as if pity denotes some kind of judgement or something. And I definitely work hard to rein in that wild beast. Another battle I lose with alarming regularity.

The second thing about charity is the fallacy that good intentions only are the driving force. Remove the tax deductions and I would guess that a serious percentage of all charitable donations would dry up. The cynic in me questions the kindness of strangers when it comes to prying money out of their pocket for "good causes".

My wife and I give money to causes we believe in. I do not have a clue how much and actually to who. She donates to some I don't know about. She knows who both of us donate to. She is the tax accountant after all. Giving money is a cop out if that is all someone feels they need to do to make a difference. I have a higher regard for the folks who give of their time and physical labor than the ones who just write a check.

To that end, I do not do as much as I should, but I do try. I have an old lady who obviously lives on the edge. She is a bottle collecter. Martha rides by on her beater 60's Huffy with huge plastic bags tied to it filled with the harvest she finds on the roads, behind walls and various businesses like mine. She is a proud woman. At least 60 years old and not a tooth in her head. Her bike is always in need. I supply her the work at below cost, but always charge something. She is too proud to take it for free.

Jason, my special needs friend who lives on assistance is always in need of bike work. He cannot drive so he rides. Again, he is too proud to take free, but I find ways to help and not denigrate his pride. He always asks me how much he owes. I come up with a figure that he can live with, but in no way is close to actual retail.

I often get trapped fixing some poor kid's beater for an hour and then charging them what they have in their pocket. Or if they are broke, tell em to buy me a coffee sometime.

I always insist that what I am doing is not free. In my mind, giving should be a two way street. That way both folks can feel ok with the transaction. Coming out on top is beside the point. It's about making them feel okay about receiving the help.

Bottom Line- All the hoopla over who is more giving by the amount of money they drop in the box at church or wherever is Bullsh!t. Giving money is easy. Giving of yourself is what really counts.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Blank Page

There is nothing more intimidating than a blank piece of paper when I can't come up with something clever to fill it with. The blank page creates the blank stare. Or is it the blank stare creates the blank page? A mental breakdown of the machinery that turns a good phrase.

When all else fails, just start typing. Pump those words out. No rhyme. No Reason. Just keep moving. At some point exhaustion or some sense will usually result. Regardless, the need, the Jones will be satisfied. That unresistable urge to verbalize satiated and I will step away feeling full but maybe not fulfilled.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - v

Someone on a forum I visit posed a question. "Would you run for Congress?" A simple question. Sincere consideration would point to weighing many complexities and variables in order to make a reasoned answer.

So of course I first came up with what came to mind in that moment. No real thought. Just what popped up first in that void I jokingly refer to as my mind. I figured my checkered past and ill-spent youth would work against me when full disclosure came up. I assumed the chip on my shoulder would at some point create physical demands of me to punch someone out. I concluded I did not have the temperment.

Never once did I even consider whether I even had the talent necessary to lead. Nevermind being elected in the first place. Being the arm chair poli/sci expert that I am, I took it granted I had what it takes. Any moron could do it. And for sure and no doubt, I was no moron. No thoughts passed through about having the necessary personality traits that would even make me a decent politician.

Now that several hours have passed and I have had time to reflect on the idea more, I have determined that my first knee-jerk from the gut response was probably right on. I nailed it with my first salvo of negativity. I'm too scatter brained, too much of a loose dog. But honest to a fault my mom used to say. And in your face maybe a tad too much to win a majority. I would definitely end up punching some bonehead out. Or end up getting punched out.

And then this came to mind

Ayup, I pulled the ole John Deere out of the barn yesterday and what do you think I noticed hangin there collectin dust up in the rafters? That John Deere bike they threw in with that new manuah spreadah I bought 20 years ago. I guess it was to soften the blow when I saw how much the spreadah was gonna cost. Dazzle me with some fancy useless gee gaw while they picked my pockets clean. But I needed the spreadah so I took the bike to keep em happy.

So's anyway, I decided to pull that bike down and give her a look. A little dusty and the tires was flat, but all in all looked like new. Dusted her off and threw some air in the tires and wheeled her out into the dooryard.

Now I had noticed these last few years while spreadin manuah with that new spreadah, funny lookin folks ridin bikes back and forth on the hard top road to town. This always puzzled me cuz there weren't nothing but the Jenkins place the one way and town the other. Why anyone would want to visit that contrary ole fart Jenkins was beyond me. And town was just a place to pick up essentials and then skedaddle. But they still rode by all the time. Waved at me too. Must be nice to have time to ride bikes and wave at folks.

Anyways, I hollered at Martha to come and see the bike. She looks at the bike and then looks at me. "Gonna sell it?"

"Why no deah, I thought I'd take it out for a spin and see what all the fuss is about. I told you about all those smilin bike folks I see when I's out on the Deere spreadin manuah with the new spreadah. Figured I'd try it myself. Smilin seems like it might be fun. But one thing, do you think I oughta get one of those helmets they all seem to wear first?"

Martha looks at the bike, then looks at me. "Well deah, I'd say just wear a hat, your head's hard enough". And she went back into the house.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Legally Stupid

The White Death. Cancer Sticks. Coffin Nails. Yeah nicotine is some powerful. And what's truly odd is most regular smokers don't even get a real buzz for all the trouble and cost. Tobacco is responsible for killing more people than anything else I can think of. No illegal drug can even come close. It certainly had a hand in the death of both of my parents. Although with the ole man, I guess it's a toss up between nicotine and alcohol. He was a dedicated abuser of both and so mean and cantankerous, it took the combined efforts of both 75 years before they finally brought him down. Damn, he was a tough ole bird.

The legal status of this evil substance has always perplexed me. The obvious cost to society versus the much lesser cost of illegal drugs is the perfect example of the hypocritical and arbitrary nature of our legal system.

But there you have it. There you go. That's the way it is. There are certain state sanctioned avenues to stupidity and there are those that are not. Get caught doing some and you could go to jail. Get caught smoking cigarettes and all you do is get caught being stupid. What a great country.

One of My Last Transfers

I was wondering. Contemplating things in general. Reviewing the overall status quo. It dawned on me that yes, it is same shit different day. But somewhere for someone else it isn't. Somebody is catching shit, losing out, or winning the lottery. Life today is an about turn from yesterday. Their comfort zone invaded by events beyond their control or consideration.

Just who decides, hands out these detours anyway? We all take turns I guess. Go to the front of the line. And it doesn't really matter if it's God, your neighbor or by lucky chance. At some point something will drag us out of our SSDD day into nightmares or fantasies. The trick is to remain sane in between.

I have taken different approaches over the years to remaining sane. I cannot count my time as a child. As a child I spent all my time finding out what sane meant. As a teen and young adult I determined nothing was sane. No sense to any of it. Self medicating myself to an uneasy equilibrium, I spent too many years in disconnect. I snapped out of it in time to settle down and perform my survival of the species schtick. Marriage, mortgage, and a kid forcing sanity down my throat.

Now the home and hearth stand quiet. The rush to make it this far is over. I am noticing fewer loose ends. Challenges have been met or denied. I realize that what I might have wanted to become is not even close to what I became. Intentions have turned into consequences. I am facing a tighter range of choices now. My timeframe is shrinking. A deadline is on a horizon that creeps closer every day. I now realize my sunset is not just possible but certified for sure gonning to happen. The irrational overwhelming fear of it I felt as a child learning what that meant has been replaced with grudging acceptance.

But you know what? I have no regrets. Even though I could have done some things differently, smarter, kinder or not been so very serious. It is a waste of my time dwelling on the woulda coulda shoulda. Anquishing over spilt milk, not hearing opportunity knock. Especially now that I know for certain where there was once a beginning, there must also be an end. All that seems less important now. All that seems so over with, fruitess to cry about.

My nest is empty and my mate grows old next to me. I will embark on the time that is left with all the gumption I have. This bus trip is not over , but I have cashed in one of my last transfers.