Monday, September 29, 2008

It Was That Kind of Day

The ringing bells of the Congo Church sounded strained and muted as they worked their way up the hill in the Sunday morning rain. The damp and lifeless clang seemed to suggest the flock might want to stay home and take the day off from paying God his weekly due.

Her leaves full of water and her trails turned sponges saturated to overflowing, Mary's Park across the road fell in step with the bells this day. "You might not want to Hike, Bike, or Crawl here", she coldly suggested. "Any celebrating might be more fulfilling at home today." It was that kind of day.

Outside chores get back burnered. Some chores died with a sigh of relief as the fathers of the Northeast realize they could catch a game this afternoon. Other chores, the more pressing and must do chores created an edge to a day that really should be dealt with in the slow lane. Shaking off the edge, dads all over New England make plans that include Doritos, beer and their favorite salsa dip. Or they go to Home Depot.

Lis, my "on her own" daughter, had mentioned last week she wanted to get her very own power drill. She had pictures to hang and shelves to dangle from molly bolts in her new efficiency up near Portland. I told her she could always borrow mine whenever she needed it. After all, she grew up with tools, worked with tools in my bike shop for years, she knew how to treat tools. There was never any question about how she would treat mine. But no, she wanted her own power drill. I understood this. Owning your own tool is so much more satisfying and stress reducing than borrowing someone else's. Owning our own tools brings with it a sense of empowerment that only we tool lovers can appreciate but may not be able to articulate.

I knew Tropical Loser Kyle was headed in our direction. If Kyle hit as expected, any riding in the woods or on the road would most likely be exercises in insanity. A plan began to hatch.

Lis was coming down to the house anyway to do her weekly washing and grab the free meal my wife has begun to make a weekly tradition. It's odd, but having my daughter out of the house may have just brought us closer together as a family. Sundays are no longer just ride days and the occasional family meal. They are evolving into more. I like that.

There are traditional rites of passage families and individuals all over the World experience. That first tooth. the first date, graduating from anything, marriage, and owning that first power tool. Special moments every Father wants to be part of. Some he cannot participate in and some he can. As much as I wanted to be there for Lis' first date, I knew my presence would cramp her style. So I just shot evil looks at the loser she was going out with and grouched on the couch the rest of the evening. But there are rites of passage a father should be part of. Buying that first power tool is definitely one of them. Passing the knowledge and skills over to our children is more important than leaving them a large check to cash when we croak.

Lis dropped her first load of clothes in the washer. We had brunch. She dumped her second load of clothes in the washer. Then we headed down to the new Lowes in Rochester, New Hampster.

I have already expounded upon the horror and the pleasure of walking into such a Handy Man Shangri La in several of my previous posts. At some point you would think I would not be impressed anymore. But dammit, I walked into Loews and once again suffered a mild panic and a slightly satisfying buzz. The contrasting feelings settled in my stomach and I belched.

Lis was all business. Get in and get out. She was not overwhelmed by all the shiny objects trying to seduce her into parting with cash she did not have. She wanted a power drill, period. She did not want to fondle the riding mowers that were on sale. She did not lust after a new tool box. Nor was her head turned by all those hammers they had hanging on the rack.

"Keep your eye on the ball Dad. Power drill Dad. Let's do it and screw outta here."

Lis went into sticker shock when she saw the prices of the cordless drills. I had not prepared her for it. Maybe I should have, but well, some shocks need to be experienced without warnings from others. I paid no attention to the prices and made her pick up one and then another. A good cordless drill should be comfortable in your hand I explained. Grip and balance were as important as power ratings and voltage peaks. Her only comment was all she wanted one for was drilling holes in walls and occasionally screwing something down without using a hand tool. But I insisted.

After a few minutes of handling the cordless drills, she settled on a nice little Hitachi unit that seemed to have good balance and also enough power to handle her light duty needs. It was only $100. The low price and the brand concerned me at first. But then I realized she was not going to depend on this drill to make her living. She liked the way it felt in her hand, and apparently she liked the color. It was green.

Her concern was paying for it. Her monthly paycheck would not be in her account until Wednesday. How was she going to pay for it? I picked up the box and handed it to her and said, "This is your house warming present. I was trying to come up with something that was not cycling related. But you have to buy a drill index and a level."

I pulled one of those new fangled quick release drill indexes off the wall and found her a decent torpedo level. She would need the level to make shelves level and the snap in drills were the cat's meow. I will not use a regular bit now unless I am using a drill press and stupid preciseness is needed.

I have read what I just wrote. I hoped to have something worthwhile to take away from this rainy Sunday visit to Loews with my daughter. And I do, but finding the words is difficult. Let's just say, doing anything with my kid fills me with joy.

Friday, September 26, 2008

My Other Life

The other part of my existence commonly known as "My Life" is such a damn nuisance. It just won't leave me alone. I whisper to myself, "Ignore it, it'll get tired and go home." But no, everywhere I turn, there it is in my face.

Nagging me, yanking on my pants leg and in a whiny voice, "Mister.....mister? MISTER?........The roof needs fixin ya know." Or Life might simply tell me to find that g-d'ed list this morning and this time put a dent in it.

The saying goes, "Celebrate Life". As a rule, I do not consider mowing the lawn, painting the barn, or slopping the hogs as any type of celebration. And I definitely do not feel that doing Roof Work of any type could be considered close to Celebrating Life. Roof Work is the antithesis of celebrating. On a scale of jobs I hate the most, Roof Work just barely nips out Septic Work in my personal guide of chores to avoid. Both are absolutely necessary when one backs up or the other one leaks in. Like hemorrhoids, both are a pain in the ass and will not be ignored.

So I have two choices here. I can hope to win Power Ball in the next week or so so I can afford to hire a crew of guys to take care of the roof for me. So far that hope has been dashed. Week after week of hoping Power Ball will set me free. You would think at some point the odds would tilt in my favor. Jeezum.

With empty pockets and a lack of will, it was easy to avoid the inevitable for quite some time. No longer. The roof has pushed any and all other handyman responsibilities to the back burner. There will be no leaks this winter. Well, that's the goal anyway.

To make sure this is the last roof I put on my house by myself, I am pulling out all the stops. I will strip the metal roof I put on 25 years ago. I will strip off the wooden runners. I will then strip off the two layers of shingles under the wooden runners and the metal roof. I will replace any sheathing deemed not up to the task of another 30 years duty. Then I will put foam insulation down. Followed quickly by some plywood sheathing. And then I am going to cover it all in Ice Shield. Not just the first 6 feet, but the whole G'd'ed mess. Every square foot right up to the ridge. And finally some 30 year architectural shingles as my finishing touch.

As I wrote the previous paragraph, I began a mental tally of the hours needed for one man to accomplish it. Not sure why I punished myself that way, but I did. My calculating brain almost overloaded and blew a fuse when I got to 120 man hours and I had not even added in the final shingle laying. Better to avoid this part. It might just make me roll over and go back to sleep instead of pulling out a ladder.

It has to be a solo operation. Two reasons. Money would be one. But the more important one is I want to do it by myself. I don't argue with myself as much as I do when someone else is on the roof. I don't have to explain my madness to myself. I am already kinda on the same page there. Of course, at some point, this pre-emptive bravado will most likely degenerate into hopeless self pity and some of my friends will get a phone call.

Anyway, this post is a heads up that I may be missing in action from the Blog world for awhile. I will be around and post when I can, but the next month is going to be focused on celebrating "My Other Life". The one I step out into everyday.

But then maybe not. Maybe I will be able to post and roof at the same time. There have been rare occaisions in my life that I was able to handle two things at once.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I am guessing anyone who has been a regular, or for that matter, an erratic visitor here to the Bozone, you might notice some remodeling and furniture rearranged. I have been busy with hammer and saw to make this insane asylum look as good as I can. I dusted the knick knacks on the knick knack shelf, washed the doilies, and swept the dirt under the rug. I even made CRUM put on a new orange tee shirt. That ole grey Tee had pit stains. With all this fussin and carrying on, you might think I have taken on airs. Have no fear, I am still the same bumbling, stumbling low rent white boy I was yesterday.

Okay the truth - You might be able to handle it. I am not sure about me.


This "new look" is an accident. An accident caused by thinking I was some sort of blogging wizard guru who knew which button did what and what that prompt meant. What you see before you is the obvious truth. I am not a blogging wizard guru and I do not have a clue. I punched the wrong button in the "layout blog" section and Poof! My blog became some mished mashed jumbled up mess of images wrapped around text with ..........It was an awful and sad scene. The carnage made my stomach flip. All my tweaking and fiddling had disappeared. A tornado had touched down.

Instead of falling into some corner in the fetal position with my thumb in my mouth. Instead of mumbling while I scrutinized that spider web that some how managed to find its way into what was supposed to be a sealed window unit, I hitched up my whitey tighties, sat down in front of this computer and began the arduous and thankless task of doing it all over from scratch.

Sweat beaded on my brow as I searched for that new title image. My forehead ached as I tweaked colors. I anquished over where to set a chair or a picture. I tried a left justified set up. Then a right justified setting. I even threw all caution to the wind and tried a no justified set up. That one was interesting to say the least. Many misfires and mistakes later, I have a new blog. Well a new look anyway. Putting lipstick on this pig does nothing to change the species.

Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Twins With the Same Name

A younger man is caught waking up 30 years ago. He hasn't had his first cup of coffee or finished his first cigarette. A younger man awakes three decades ago with none of the burdens, the weights that will drag him down in the years to come.

Thirty years later an older man, slightly worn, slightly shorter, stands on legs that have pulled their weight. An older man considers where he's been, not where he is going. It often crosses his mind the luck it took to make it this far. He says he has no regrets. He lies.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Manic Comfort Zone

I just returned from a relaxing trip to one of my favorite forums of the past. When the real world seems to have taken on the tone and image of Bizzaroville, the comfort of a forum with clearly marked and civilized for most part lines can be a breath of fresh air.

Did I just type what I think I now read above this? Did those words just pass my......lips? I went to a previous haven of hate and discontent and returned as if I had just spent three days on a sea cruise watching babes with not much on jiggle and bounce up and down the decks as I reclined in a comfortable deck chair caressing a cool drink with an umbrella in it. And of course I had my best Hawaiian shirt unbuttoned just enough to make them giggle and flash me that, "I'd throw you the key to my stateroom, but my boyfriend is on board" smile. A kind of rueful smile that told me they wished they were with me and not stuck with silly boys. I have that affect on women when I wear that shirt.

How can this be true? My world has definitely flipped upside down. I remember not long ago detailing and almost wanting to include pictures with arrows and explanations of why I had fled the knock down drag out trolling jungle of the political forum. Yet here I am flip flopping like John McCain and reversing the chaos in my mind to fit the insanity I see before me.

Is it that the new insanity of now is somehow less preferable than the idyllic lunacy of then? Or is it that I have finally realized that there is safety in becoming one of the mob and not the self-perceived target of the mob? Have I entered a new phase of my Life long pursuit of madness and will eventually see the light and it will be fluorescent? Leaving me devoid of the beneficial rays that should have shined in while overdosing me with beams that bend my will to the whims of another?

Important questions for sure. Questions that lay bare the essence of what it is all about. Unfortunately these questions cannot , no, should not be answered. To answer them would defeat their purpose. To satisfy unreasonable fears might bring peace to a troubled soul. And we cannot at any price delight ourselves with even considering it an option. To do so would throw the brain into unseemly fits of bliss and contentment. And we all know God is a vengeful God and would make us pay dearly if we even hinted at happiness.

We can pursue Happiness. It's covered by some law somewhere I have heard. But I think that if we find Happiness, we must give it back. That's usually covered on Sundays or Saturdays or maybe twice a day kneeling on mats. But go ahead and pursue it. Just don't get caught catching it. Someone will slap your little....Dude, they will smack you down.

Well alright! Mike is back. The mental junk, flotsam and jetsam has settled back into that comfortable place once again. I have re-located my Manic Comfort Zone. Damn, I missed it. Reality just does not live up to the hype. Nurturing a small bit of Mania is so much more fun. Though I do have to remember to blink once in awhile. Folks get nervous when I don't blink.

Hmm, I wondered what I would write once that dream I cannot remember woke me up.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Optho-neuro-rectitus - The Battle Rages On

First, The Good News

I actually had a wrong number call up today and when informed "Keith" was not in nor had he ever been in, instead of the usual slam the phone down or impersonal click action, the caller said, "Oh I am sorry", and we parted friends.

Okay, that wasn't great news, but it was not bad news either. With the election season and negative financial picture driving almost all of my good intentions underground for the duration, it has been a struggle to even look for upbeat things to think about. Never mind write about them. So I sat and thought of the first positive thing that happened to me besides waking up breathing, and the phone call for some reason stuck out.

So in the spirit of remaining on the high ground -

I successfully completed part two of my mission to safely and on time deliver and then pick up my wife at the Manchester Airport. While I was late by 5 minutes or so, at least I had my damn cell phone turned on and within reach. I could take that call from her as she took her first steps off the plane. With communication established and my location relayed, an approximate time frame for pick up was established. Fifteen minutes later I found my wife happily waiting curbside. A short but pleasant stay on the comfortable benches next to the Sky Caps at NW Airlines had left her in good spirits. It helped immensely that her connections had gone as planned and had not loaded her grenade into the launcher. We even exchanged pleasantries and shared a meal on the way home. What a difference a silly phone call and flights leaving when they are supposed to can make sometimes.

I did a quick read through of my posts of the past month or so. I will be honest. I am not liking myself right at the moment. Well, not so much not liking myself, as not being fond of where my head's been at. With the news chock full of Hurricanes in the Gulf, Political Tornadoes tearing up the Heartland, and Financial Tsunamis giving the Financial stewards of the World Economy heart palpitations, it is understandable I guess to have developed a slight case of Optho-neuro-rectitus. For those of you who do not know of this particular but widespread disease, Optho-neuro-rectitus is a malady that strikes those people who start taking Life or themselves too seriously. Too much immersion into the negatives of every day life can create a swelling, an inflammation of the nerve that runs from the brain to the asshole. It manifests itself by giving the afflicted a shitty outlook on Life. I seem to have come down with a touch of it. Hopefully I will be able to beat it back here shortly. Let's say today was managed at semi shitty and safely out of the shitty range.

And Now The Bad News

I ain't playing this game. Not today. You want bad news, the Internet is full of it. Find your own. I will not help out today. I will not buy into the idea that it's all over but the shouting. I won't relay my misgivings about what might happen if so and so is elected or not elected. Sure Armageddon is about to happen. It's been on our doorstep for what, 2000 years at least. In geological time, that is but an instant. Not even an instant. More of a Milli-instant. A Ga-zillionth of an instant maybe. I have a feeling that no matter what, I will either be here tomorrow or I won't be. Anguishing over the possibility is sure to just re-inflame that nerve I am trying to heal.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stop with the Blame Already, Look in the Mirror

We have everyone all fired up now. Some financial giants have been struck down while others have been offered a helping hand. And just like the Oil Crisis, too many people act surprised this is happening. I'm just a dumass and I saw trouble and inconsistencies in our financial world back many years with the junk bond debacle and the S&L stupidity. There is something fundamentally wrong with a system that has allowed greedy people to topple it so easily and send the rest of us into a panic.

All this is happening way above my pay grade and brain grade. People supposedly smarter than I have allowed this stupidity to unfold. And now they ask for help. As much as I would like to tell them to pound sand, we have to step in to some degree to try and keep this from snow balling into something worse than it already is. AIG allowed to go belly up would have possibly made the situation worse. The fact that the "bail out" is a loan and not a giveaway indicates that no money will come out of my pocket in the long run. The pay back history of these type loans is good.

What I do not want to see happen as a result of this is knee jerk responses from our law makers. Stop gap measures maybe, but no changes should be made in the regulatory system without considering an overhaul of the whole system.

I read an interesting opinion from one Tyler Cowen. A kind of libertarian but not really, he contends that what we have now is not because of not enough regulation nor because of too much regulation, but more of a matter of not the right kind of regulation. He feels that over the years financial institutions have been regulated by a hodge podge group of rules coming from a hodge podge group of regulatory agencies. He goes on to say that some of the blame can be laid to the very regulations we have right now.

And then I read a comment by El Cerdo Ignatius while he visited another blog. It is very apparent this man has a better handle on all this than I do. So instead of reworking his words of how we could have avoided our recent stupidity, I will poach them and post them here -

"1) Loose or missing regulations in the financial industry. A few rules about how high a loan-to-value ratio can be when writing mortgages, related limits on mortgage insurance from Freddie and Fannie, and a prohibition on the resale of uninsured or sub prime loans to third parties (like AIG, Lehman Bros., etc.) would have avoided this entire bloody mess.

2) A culture that values consumption above all else. When the hell did it become the overriding goal to buy as much as possible, carry as much debt as you can handle, and forget about the goal of owning your home free and clear?"

I can't see anything wrong here. He places the blame where it belongs. In my lap. In your lap. In our lap. That these regulations were not in place makes his comments hindsight. But important hindsight for the future. Until we change our habits, we can expect no different from those who lead us or handle our money.

But what about the politics of all this? Seems to me both parties have much blame to eat here. Rather than focus on a financial system everyone knew had huge loopholes and dark pits in the future, these two sit on each side of the aisle tossing spitballs at each other these last 25 years. But that is what they do best. Sit on their hands until situations get to the point they have to do something. And as is most often the case, they over react and come up with badly designed solutions. And those decisions often favor a specific platform over the general welfare of the nation.

And to those who would continue to place all the blame in one party's lap or the other, get a fucking clue. It took all of us to reach this point. It will take all of us to truly correct it. Or you can continue to blame the "Obama-ites (aka the leftist liberal Democrats)" or the McCainicans and watch as more ineffectual and partisan leaning regulations come down. You can continue wasting more time venting your spleen in the direction of the guys on the other side. And in the meantime, our leaders will do the same as they figure out what to do that will position themselves the best for that next election.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Two on Tuesday

Mission Accomplished
I had the truck out front and ready to rock at precisely 5:32 AM yesterday morning. Two minutes behind my wife's rigid schedule. According to CRUM time, I was thirteen minutes early. I was sure I would feel her awesome wrath though when I mentioned we would have to stop for fuel before we hit the airport. But thank you Jesus, the station I chose was giving gas away at $3.52/gallon. My wife was so distracted over that small pleasure, my salvation and reprieve was had at the bargain price of twenty cents a gallon. Forget any harsh words I may have uttered in recent days about Big Oil and their greedy ways. They came through this morning. I promise to not say anything disrespectful about them for at least the next 4 hours.

I deposited my darling wife at the Manchester Airport at 7:45 AM. We were on time, leaving her plenty of time to stress and fret while she had her bags and shoes checked for dangerous materials. I was grateful that for once I was not the target of her opportunistic temper that finds it's way to the surface when she feels under the gun.

I figured I would label this "Mission Accomplished" in honor of GW Bush as he stood on that carrier wearing the flight duds. Just like W, I sit here now bragging about getting part of it right. I still have to successfully pick my sweet significant other up at the Manchester Airport on Friday. The last time did not go down as smoothly as I wanted. It certainly did not go down smoothly enough to suit her.

The Fundamentals are Sound
Senator McCain just keeps reinforcing my decision to take my vote elsewhere. Yesterday as several Wall Street giants collapsed under the weight of their own greed, John's first comment in the morning was "The fundamentals are still sound". Later that day and only after Obama slammed him hard about his statement, John decided to amend his previous statement by saying the economy was indeed sick and needed some help.

So today Senator McCain on the Today show backtracked once again. He is back feeling the "fundamentals are sound" again. Only now he says the fundamentals he meant are the American workers. Oh I see Senator. We were supposed to know that yesterday. Sorry I misunderstood you. Every thing's okay now.

I do not remember ever watching a pol who was this bad at flip flopping or did it so many times in twenty four hours. The issues being flip flopped around are one thing. We expect and seem to almost look forward to this tendency in our leaders. It is McCain's inept handling of this, the lies even Karl Rove found over the top,his irresponsible pick of a VP running mate, and his born again Republicanism that make me not trust him to be a President for the people. He has lost any good will I had for him. Ten years ago I would have voted him in. I am wondering if he might not even become a worse president than W. I was sure that we had reached the bottom of the barrel with W. Apparently, there is another one down there looking to show us how low they can go.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Atta Boy Rob

This past Wednesday Senator John McCain was interviewed by Rob Caldwell of Channel Six News in Portland, Maine. This "for locals only" interview might have gone unnoticed at the national level if not for Rob's tenacious style. A local newscaster and another short 8 minute interview that must be one of many McCain handles at least weekly. Then it turned up on YouTube. Overnight responses came from around the Globe. Rob hit a home run. Hundreds of thousands of hits and/or views of the interview. "Meet the Press" has mentioned wanting to play part of the interview. Rob Caldwell did not let John side step the issues easily. Excellent interview. No matter which side you are on.

The Interview

I won't load this up with my own twist. Suffice it to say, I think Senator McCain was surprised at the insistence of Rob Caldwell. I am really pleased to have the folks at Channel Six get some real National exposure. This interview has certainly done it.

And here are some of the comments of folks who saw the interview

In other news......

Feel The Love

In a spontaneous outpouring of feel good for some slob who most days does not deserve it, Missy and soon after Old Dude both bestowed upon me a couple of fancy souvenirs to gussy up the space around here. I thank you guys and will hang one of them proudly. Hanging both might be over the top, dontcha think? But which one and where?

I know - The Blue one (because I want no questions about my masculinity. I have enough questions myself) and right over there---------->

The I hate to go to bed mad part - but sometimes sleeping slightly pissed off is all I have.

~Cell phones and brain dead humans who use them while also attempting to do something else way more important.

When approaching a 4-way stop coming off of a seriously steep down hill, it might be a good idea to park the phone and stop the car at the stop sign. You know, that 8 sided red thing that says STOP in fairly easy to read letters. Thanks lady, you almost took me out you stupid (*&^)*&^)*(^)(*^&_)((&*. And further more, you can take that cell phone and *^%(*&^)(*&^_(*. But not too deep. If it does find itself impaled too far, hopefully you were aware and sharp enough to have tied a string to it first. Having trouble with insertion? Please contact me. I would be more than happy to help.

Friday, September 12, 2008

And I Thought Meme was French for Grandma

Well, maybe it never meant mom or grandma. I needed a title okay? Years of living next to and among Mainers of French Canadian rootage had me sure they were saying "Meme" when they were really saying "maman" or "mere". Just cuz that is how it came out of their mouths. Or that is how my ears translated it after it filtered through the hedges growing in said ears. Why folks can't speak like Muricans is beyond me. But hey, I go with the flow before I go against it. What with all the odd dashes and x's that don't make it into the actual utterance, I just smile and nod my head and do my best imitation of a language challenged dumass American with no rootage other than some guys and gals came here from over there and did some stuff here while fornicating here and now I am here.

So another Meme. Another game of tag. Another human is relying on me to come through in the clutch. This is important in the scheme of how the World turns. I know this. Bloggers everywhere are hanging on every word I write. Their daily lives would be sad and empty if I refused this request. A call to duty so to speak. To reach for lofty goals and smite mighty enemies down with word and keypad. To be silly and crazed if I want. As a blogger I take my silliness and definitely my craziness very seriously. So just because you called me a sucker Mr. Randall Graves , this meme's for you.

1. Where was I ten years ago?
Not sure. Well kinda sure. Yeah, almost sure I was right here. You see, I toked up my short term memory back 35 years or so ago. Ask me where I was on Oct 1, 1970 and I might have a shot of getting it in the ballpark. As to ten years ago, well, I am sure I was as you see me now. A timeless entity, a noble soul, watching the rest of the World Rock n Roll.

2. What was on my To Do list today?
As if I pay attention to lists. Especially to do lists. "To Do List" infers action on my part. Action that would require motion and thought. As this falls outside the parameters of my "To Do Nothing List", I cannot in good conscience satisfy the whim of one without contradicting the other. So I have to pick one. To do nothing seems the safer and saner choice. An idea many in Congress would be well advised to consider when the urge to jerk a knee visits.

3. What would I do if I were a billionaire?
Well duh. Spend it. What the Hell do you think I would do with it? I'm an American ferchrisakes.

Oh, I get it now. You want to know what I would do, if I were a billionaire. Hmm. Most likely work on becoming a Millionaire as fast as possible. I hear they get all the chicks.

4. Five places I've lived:
My early years were spent as a camp follower trudging through muck and mire while my dad slayed the dragons the US Air Force created for him. It might be easier to list 5 places I haven't lived. You should be grateful I have not lived in your house. My wife regrets my presence at least once a week.

But for those who might care - Colorado, Japan, Hawaii, Maryland, and Florida. And that was by age 8. It got even whackier after that.

5. Bad habits:
There are no bad habits. Just some good ones you shouldn't do. I'm still working on determining which ones those are.

It is now my turn to drop the ax on 5 other poor souls. While I would love to avoid the responsibility by asking for volunteers, it is not part of the equation. I understand there are rules about this. Rules taken seriously by folks much more blog savvy than I. If tagged, one must tag others. So no volunteers. Unless of course you choose to, then the rule there is I cannot stop you. I regret to inform the following they have been chosen to fall on their sword:

Gary - or "Old Dude" - It is time I got my nose back into joint and paid him back. A kind of kiss and make up with a kick in the ass. Also to remind Old Dude that I more often than not just write what's on my mind with reckless abandon, but do sink to using spellcheck before sending it out there. Besides, he loves this stuff.

El Cerdo Ignatius - a man's man. But don't tell him I said that. I have enough stalkers, thank you very much. Consider this nomination or assignment as pay back for being a reasonable voice from the other dark side. I am still looking for a way to piss him off. Because his words always make sense and that pisses me off. I really like him. So why am I doing this to him? I'm an evil person. Some folks consider me a liberal. Does not get much more evil than that I guess.

Demeur - Self proclaimed "remover of nasty things". If I let my imagination go, I see him as a bouncer at the RNC removing fake feminists because their lipstick is smudged and they left their Maidenforms back at the hotel. But something tells me his real job is way less fun than that.

Missy - Just because we need a kinder gentler touch only a nice woman like Missy would bring to the table. Her blog reminds me everytime about what we should be really concerned about. Family. I often do not get it. And I should. Besides, she has issued me a blog thing/award to put up. Which I haven't because, well, I just don't know why.

dawn from MDI - another cantankerous Mainer who says what's on her mind and you better take it or leave it. I like that. I like Dawn. I have learned much from her.

There they are. Some from the right, some from the left. And at least one from God know's where.

Keep it 'tween the ditches.............

Blasts From the Past

Anyone who has either been blogging for some years or has posted everyday for a year has a sizable number of words deposited behind them. My question is do any of you ever go back and re-read previous musings? I did this morning. Not because I was looking for a prompt. But because Mary Ellen over to Bad Habit had caught my wandering eye. I'm a sucker for a Nun with a butt hangin out her mouth. Ooh La La. Her blog is filled with images of nuns and well written posts. Anyway, the images of Nuns being naughty and nice reminded me of a post I wrote a couple of years back, "The Deaf Jesuits". So I looked it up and re-read what was on my mind on Friday, November 25, 2006. It is an attempt at humor. It made me laugh to write it. It made me laugh to re-read it. Maybe it will make you laugh also.

But then I noticed the post above it had a short piece at the end of the post. I am not sure why, but I liked it enough to re-post it here.

Random Stream
Instantly the trailer is upside down and we have to pull Aunt Myrtle out of the oaks out back. The dog's nowhere nearby and our cats haven't come down yet. Still I look for something familiar, untouched and still around. But everywhere I look is different. Changed forever. The barn's gone and the tractor too. Hated that tractor. Good riddance. The pick up is flipped up with someones tub holding it down. Devastation and destruction as far as the eye can see.

What is that? That, right there. I focus and it appears prominent. Undisturbed as if no storm had passed. The red birdhouse I built in 8th grade shop class had survived unscathed. As I begin to appreciate the luck of this miracle, a bird pops out, chirps and takes off. Disappearing into the tattered trees off to the east, I can still hear the defiance as that bird exulted in it's own survival.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

50 Words

Grief Beginning

I remember deep sadness on the heels of jaw dropping shock. Numbness too as I sat in that waiting room watching the Today Show on TV. Then Katie said, "It appears that this is not, no,…… this is a live feed. Another plane has just hit the World Trade Center."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Drool Hung Stubbonly - Part Two

Sunday's post started with just an image I was trying to capture with words. I had no inclination to take it any further. Writing it was my effort to compose something out of nothing. I also needed a break from the heel nippers, the liars and the fools that have overrun our airwaves lately in their bid to put their man in the White House. Writing about something completely unrelated seemed a step in the right direction.

I feel this writing thing is improved in baby steps. So being happy that I even came close to what I had envisioned was fine. But Middle Ditch, a friendly stranger from over the pond stopped by to comment. Middle Ditch is an audio blog of more than a few participants. The format reminds me of the old days of serial radio plays. Or rather the reel to reel tapes my father had copies of and the few Nick Danger and Fire Sign Theater records I have now lost. Check it out. I liked it very much. British twists on their "Heartland" concerns starts the saga and it quickly gets ugly soon after. I recommend starting with episode one.

Anyway Middle Ditch suggested I continue the story or idea. I did.

First there was this with a slight edit -

Drool clung stubbornly to the corners of his blackened curled lips, its gooey consistency fighting gravity's will. Yellow teeth, cracked or missing fell in step with those lips as they twisted into what he considered a smile. A strand of spittle finally touched down on his chin. Breathing faster, he leaned in close. His one good eye sparkled while his other socket sat vacant. Plugged with scar tissue behind a 1936 Liberty Head Dime.

And I now follow it with this -

In the beginning he had been a great tool, a fine weapon that struck from afar. Now he had to be close to his game, as close as close could be. The years, the scars and wounds of past battles had left his senses blunted, stunted and worn. Sneaking in like a thief was all he had now for intimate contact to be made.

Once the hunt had seemed so noble, his quarry, easy to find. But years, no really decades had passed and now he gazed upon barren lands. Time had become dreary existence. He remembered once wanting to quit. Faded and dim, his memories of self had been destroyed as he fell into another’s service, serving another’s whim. He became The Recruiter. He shanghaied weaker minds.

Recruiter got right to it. Shook off his self loathing, his angst and all his self doubt. “Regrets were for losers”, he figured. "Owning this soul is what it's all about"

His breath came quicker, slicker and abrupt. He sucked the air in, yet no air came back out. Lungs furiously pumping, Recruiter began robbing, stealing this space of its oxygen. Saving it, mutating it through guts maladjusted in Hell.

He stopped........ Moments passed as he twisted his head this way and that. Dropping even closer over his innocent prey, Recruiter opened his great jaws. What had once been fine air burst forth in toxic stinking grunts.

The figure under feather quilts in unconscious tranquil repose stirred ever so slightly. A soft moan, or was it more a tentative groan that disturbed the silence? Recruiter blinked the good eye once, and blinked it then again. When his target breathed in, he raised a crooked finger. With a harsh whisper Recruiter began this odd chant.

“Wither thou kindness
Futile to decline
All that was in you
Is now, all of it mine”

“Harry! Harry, wake up! You fell asleep again with the TV on. The Republicans will be at it again tomorrow. Come to bed.”


PS - Thanks to Middle Ditch for her goosing me here. This was tough to write and get it close to what I think was what I wanted. I noticed I seemed to have fallen in some kind of rhythm here. Almost like I should have made the whole thing a poem or something. But I ain't no poet or rather, I ain't no good poet. So I kept it the way you see it.

Another note on this - I had no clue or plan of where the initial image would take me. I just started writing. Damn it was fun. The editing time sucked though.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Archive De-fragmentation

It's time to clean up the mess that is inside my post archive. Entirely too many posts started in recent weeks and not followed through to climax. So tonight, or will it be tomorrow morning, I will offer up a series of short views on topics that probably deserve more attention than I will be giving them here. Or they deserve to be dying the slow death of the unpublished draft and should never have been pulled out for even the short considerations that follow.

In no particular order:

~Corporal Punishment
-The Fusion 100 word post found me waxing nostalgic about my days at Charlotte Hall Military Academy. I mentioned having experienced the flat side of a very large wooden paddle as payment for escapades I was involved in. I grew up when smacking a kid was no big deal. Well not to those who were doing the smacking. I endured it in public and private schools. It was part of my life and I accepted it. Besides, it was easier to take than say marching around a track for hours on end with a 9.1 pound rifle on my shoulder. Easier to take than being restricted to quarters by parent or school officials. All in all, I am glad we don't embrace it anymore. It had little effect on me. I just can't see any positives outweighing all the negatives. Inflicting pain only has a slight chance of instilling obedience. More often than not it has the opposite effect.

~The Duties of Citizenship - A rant I began about how I was raised to believe the least I could do as a responsible citizen was to vote. To at least go through the motions. If nothing else, it allowed me to gripe and complain guilt free. I had paid the price of admission with my vote. Anyone who doesn't vote should not get their panties in a bunch when a righteously indignant bozo like me discounts their opinion to zero when I find out they are not even putting out this token effort to let someone know how they feel. Then I remembered I have said this so many times before, repeating it like I am now is worse than redundant. It is almost criminal. So you can skip this one.

~Bloggers are Oddballs - A forum friend from my past emailed me. They were concerned that I may have done the unspeakable and gone completely over to the odd world of blogs. He had not seen me at this one forum for several months and then he checked my blog. He was absolutely astounded I would be part of such a stupid use of the Internet. His email was actually an attempt to humor, but it made me think. Yeah bloggers may be oddballs, but bud, anyone who hangs out in a political forum arguing the inarguable with folks who will never change their minds needs to look in a mirror when he calls bloggers oddballs. At least I control my message and do not have to suffer fools if I do not want to. Yet I can continue to post my madness uninterrupted and un-moderated if I want to. Blogging feels more free than the forum format. You want to throw down with someone, there is always the comment section. Besides, there seems to be more civility and respect for someone when visiting their space. A forum is like a public arena, civility is quickly lost to whoever can shout the loudest.

~Comments - This deserves more than the token brush through I have shown the other dead weight in the archive. Maybe a real post later. Besides, I need some seed prompts saved somewhere. Can't shoot the whole wad at once.

~Another "I can't sleep" post - If I am getting tired of these posts, I am guessing they are not what I should be concentrating my efforts on. It's okay to write them. Just going through the motions of writing down my thoughts is practice in composition. But these need to be carefully considered and not just posted because I feel some kind of obligation to put something out there. I have trouble sleeping. Yeah, so what. So does a sizable chunk of the World. Do they really want or care to hear about some flounder in Maine who suffers as they do?

~Grammar - an attempt to get on my high horse about how others mangle the English language. After a few sentences, I realized that I was no one to preach and besides what you do on your blog is your business. But I will not read a blog that specializes in using Aolese or texting to communicate. Just too old a dog to even think of learning those mongrel versions of our language. Just like I am too crusty and rigid to consider 90% of hip hop as music. But if P-Diddy Snoopy Dog Effervescent G and their 200 gillion dollar empire are any indication, it must be music to at least their ears. See, once the post really went off subject, I bailed on it quick like.

Okay, there it is. A de-fragging post that will free up more bytes for me to waste in the future. Please note that in my effort to really make this attempt a "Green Friendly" effort, I have posted "Image Free". SAVE THE BANDWIDTH!

Keep it 'tween the ditches

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Drool Hung Stubbornly

Drool hung stubbornly from the corners of his blackened curled lips, it's gooey consistency fighting gravity's will. Yellow teeth, cracked or missing fell in step with those lips as they twisted into what he considered a smile. A strand of spittle finally touched down on his chin. Breathing faster, he leaned in close. His one good eye sparkled while his other socket sat vacant. Plugged with scar tissue and a dime.

Okay. I always seem to think about what to write about when I have neither the implements to record the ideas, nor the ability at the moment to physically follow through. I am driving, riding my bike, or involved in an infrequent moment of industrious and fruitful endeavor. Clever and witty notions amble in, then usually hurry out of my mental void. Fearful of being mugged, they move along with quickened step while glancing over their shoulders and mumbling, "Who the Hell was that?"

So yesterday on the way to the bike shop, a variation of the pleasant image to the left stopped in to say Hi. Just some random words I strung together to describe a face. The words couldn't have been something upbeat or profound. Naturally nothing insightful or leading one to some kind of meaningful conclusion. No, it was my conception of a face from someones nightmare. And it did not leave. Proof being that 18 hours later, it woke me up and now I sit here retracing it's steps.

I did not wake up in a cold sweat. There was no panic or sharp intake of breath as my eyes flew open. I simply opened my eyes with this image on my mind. Damn odd.

The image poached from Photobucket did not put the image in my mind. After the fact, I sifted through another insane number of thumbnails to come up with one that kinda, sorta, reminded me of the vision that woke me up. It is close, but well, it is only a hint of the sharply evil face that hung over me as I slept.

The fact that I was able to remember a potential writing prompt from yesterday is why I even bother writing about it today. The image was so distnct, I figured I would try to put it into words. For what started yesterday as just a string of words in my mind became my dream of last night. I felt compelled to put it down on paper so to speak. Resistance was futile.

And now I get to the "analyze this" part of the post. Does having this dark profile kicking around inside me indicate some over the top fascination with evil, horror or other dark places in human character?.............Nah. This kind of thing is occasional for me at best. I assume I am still safely within the parameters of normal. Did this image come to mind after seeing too many pols posing for kodak moments with forced and insincere smiles? Hmm........ Maybe. I have immersed myself lately in the heated politics of the day. But again, I do not think so. They are not evil so much as they are just idiots and liars. Certainly evil can result from their idiocy and their lies. I don't think they start out with evil in mind.

In the end, just some words I thought sounded cool in my brain and now have found an outlet.


Saturday, September 06, 2008

100 Words on Fusion

“No Sympathy”

“Fusion, Mr. Stiles. Not fission. Not fussing, and certainly not FISHING! Which is obviously what you are doing and tells me you are once again unprepared for class."

“But Cap, I…….”

“Mr Stiles, please sit down. The glow of your intellect is blinding the rest of us.”

Stinky Stiles sat. Red faced, sweat staining his drab khaki collar. He hung his head and stared at his desk until 0955 when class let out.

The bell rang. Cadets filled the halls. But Stinky still sat.

“Cap, someone put super glue on my seat.”

“Congratulations Mr. Stiles. You have finally discovered fusion.”


The above is my entry in the weekly Velvet Verbosity 100 word contest. It is fiction loosely based on truth and real life people. We actually called Stinky "Anteater". And contrary to the story he was really a brainiac. But he was a jerk. We punished that poor kid mercilessly. In Chem class, I once dripped acid on his overseas cap while he had it folded in his back pocket. The rules were very specific. When indoors, overseas caps were to be folded neatly in half and placed in right rear pocket. The acid worked it's wonders during the hour class. When Anteater put it on to go outside he did not notice the holes in his hat. He received 10 demerits for breaking the uniform code. I never owned up to it. I guess I should feel guilty now. But did I mention he was a jerk? It could not have happened to a more deserving live by the rules tight ass. I think those were the only demerits Anteater received the entire 4 years he attended Charlotte Hall.

To put it in perspective, while I graduated as a 2nd Lieutenant, I also had the dubious honor of graduating with what was called unlimited demerits. Too many to count. Or they stopped counting once I hit 200 or so. I can't remember. I got caught being stupid quite a bit. The only thing that saved me I guess was I was 4th or 5th in my class, I played sports well, and I marched well. I could fling around that M-1 rifle with the best of them.

I do remember the day before I graduated, the Skin (commandant) told me if I wanted to graduate with my rank, I would have to take some whacks. Whacking a senior was almost unheard of. But since I had become very familiar with his evil paddle my previous 3 years, I figured it would be worth it to not have to explain to friends and family why I was graduating as a buck private. Skin discounted the demerit to whack ratio tremendously. I only received 10. But he lifted me hard each time he laid into me. I deserved every one.

The picture at the top right is of some of my school mates marching to class back in 1969/70. I am not in that picture. But I am in this next one. I'm the bonehead flashing the peace sign on the right. Notice the spit shine on my shoes. Damn, I was a punk. BTW, this is a picture of the varsity soccer team.

Remember the times though. Vietnam was going full bore and I had discovered my affinity for the protest. Earlier that year I was beaten almost senseless by a DC cop during a protest while in full uniform. He thought I was in the Army and showing disrespect to the uniform by being one of the protesters screaming around the Capitol. In actuality I was there with my English teacher as part of a tour of the Library of Congress. Cap gave us a couple of hours free time before we headed back to school 50 miles away. Naturally being curious dumass boys, we gravitated to the protest just to see what was up. It got ugly a few moments after we arrived. That unwarranted beating was a turning point in my life. I attended every protest I could after that. And I protested.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Transparency Denied?

I had heard about how the Internet is being manipulated by people who back McCain. The official Palin for Governor website disappearing the day they came to seek her Highness' presence in DC. Other information and pictures suddenly were not available. "So what", I thought, "There are enough dogs on her trail, if there is anything of real importance, it will find the light of day." But I wonder.

Last night John McCain's wonderfully scripted walk down memory lane while a POW reminded me of a post on demeur's blog. Do not get me wrong here, John McCain went through Hell and back. There is no denying that. I had an uncle who suffered as a POW during WWll in the Philippines. I would not wish that kind of existence on anyone. But John decided long ago to use his POW experience to help advance his political career. So it is open for discussion.

The post demeur had put up was actually just a link to an open letter written by Dr. Phillip Butler. Dr Butler had been at the Naval Academy with McCain. He lived across the hall. As fate would have it, Dr. Butler also shared time and space with John at the Hanoi Hilton as a fellow POW some years later. If anyone knew the John McCain of that period, it was Dr. Butler. Anyway, his open letter or op/ed was Titled "Why I cannot vote for John McCain." In a very respectful and low key manner, Dr Butler outlined his experiences with Senator McCain during their time at the Academy and their time as POWs. I came away from reading the letter feeling that Dr. Butler could not vote for John because of some flaw in his character he did not like. If memory serves it might have been a temper issue.

Okay fine, just more anti-McCain rhetoric. But it does not end there. This morning, when I sought to find the letter written and posted at http:military dot com it had been pulled. I looked hard for it and had no luck. It had disappeared as if it never existed.

Which brings me to my point here. With the McCain crew tying their wagon to the idea of shaking up things in DC and transparency in government, it seems odd they are doing everything they can to control the transparency before they even get into office. Whether these timely disappearances of information and opinions from the Internet is part of their strategy or not, it is wrong. If they are so Hell bent on proving they will shake things up In DC then they should walk the walk before they get there. I find this attempt to control what we read and hear about both McCain and Palin to be a disturbing juxtaposition to the image they are putting forth in public. They want to run their campaign on the idea of change, then it should start with their campaign. Continuing to block attempts to ferret out information they feel may be embarrassing is not the way to do it. Aren't the voters supposed to decide?

Now here is my disclaimer and attempt to be fair

If for some reason, this letter was not written by Dr. Butler and is a fake, I will be the first one to offer my apologies about this specific situation. But, the trend of controlling the message goes deeper than this one letter. So my discomfort over the whole transparency thing they seem to have embraced still stands.

If anyone who might read this can link me to a copy of it, I would be most appreciative. I think it is of some importance in the overall decision any of us make about a potential Presidential candidate.

Post Script - Apparently I was indeed wrong about the letter having been yanked. It is still available. I stand corrected. The original site was gone, as the letter apparently was archived but is still available here. Thanks to Snave, 1130 and demeur for straightening me out. It is obvious they are sharper than I at ferreting out information from the web.

A video by Dr Butler can be seen here

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


I guess I just need to go with the flow. The forthcoming election has my mind all flummoxed. I try to come up with something to write that does not center on the political battle heating up and I find nothing. Just more bile and discontent over the system I find sadly lacking.

I know. I know. As bad as it may be, our system is one of the best. There are rights and privileges we have others would and do leave their country to come here and enjoy. What others see as a lack of appreciation, I prefer to think of as keeping the system as honest as I can.

If we want to continue to be a land others desire to be part of, we need to be ever watchful of the efforts of some to manipulate what we have to the engines that drive their personal agendas. To that end, I stand in the middle shouting at both sides to get together instead of concentrating on staying apart. Shelve the issues that separate us until we resolve the ones we agree on.

I find deaf ears everywhere as I rail against the machines. Everyone intent on their own path without regard for the ones others travel. The lack of respect I find in every interaction between the two only makes me lose respect for both and I fall into the same trap. And I can taste the bile.

The differences that separate us into cliques and interest groups are nothing but manufactured differences in not the goal, but how to get there. Stupidity rises to the top and creates walls that should not be there. Disrespect replaces Civility as both sides go toe to toe over non-issues conjured up in the smoky back rooms of the different camps. The deciders of both sides toss out emotional issues for us to fight over, ensuring them free rein to own everything else.

The idea that we are manipulated so easily is what really bothers me. As individuals most or at least many of us seem to have a clue. But round us up into a group in any manner and our individual IQ's seem to dissipate and devolve into a mob mentality without the High School degree. Reason and logic are lost as the group begins to run on emotion.

So I sit here unable to focus on anything but how much damage we are doing to ourselves. Our stupid bickering. Our stupid values that often are but nice ideas rarely supported by our actions. And our stupid habit of keeping a chip on our shoulder the size of Delaware ever ready to throw down and go at the throats of anyone who would dare to disagree with us. So screw it people. Whatever happens in November and beyond, you will have deserved the outcome.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Pledge of Allegiance

Thanks to Dawn over to Weldable Cookies for the inspiration for this one.

I know we cannot expect our leaders to know everything about everything. But when they wrap themselves up in the flag and spout off about how sacred our symbols are I expect at least some knowledge of those words and symbols to accompany the adulation. The mindless patriotism many in this country throw in my face gets to me. Many if not most do not have a clue about the historical precedence or background that created the patriotism in the first place.

Dawn found such an example in Sarah Palin. This God fearing, gun toting, flag waving Governor of Alaska did not know her history when asked about what are obviously some words she holds dear to her family values heart. She insists that if the Pledge of Allegiance was good enough for our founding fathers, it is good enough for her. The Pledge did not even come into existence until the late 1800s. The Founding Fathers were long term residents in coffin row by that time.

It is her type of mindset that would have us passing legislation to protect and enforce public respect of the symbols of our country. A country created and based on freedom of expression is now being assaulted by people who pretend to love the freedoms they have. Yet they would limit the freedoms the rest of us have in their single minded and narrow definition of what freedom is. That somehow the meaning of the flag and the words are made stronger by punishing those who refuse to recognize them. I am sorry, but protecting them with legislative manipulations would have the opposite effect. Patriotism is not something you can force down people's throats. Oh you can make them say it, fly it, and appear in public waving it. But you cannot make them believe it. Unless belief in the symbol accompanies the public display, then the symbol is worthless to any but those wielding the power. And when that happens, there is no freedom just subservience.