Monday, March 24, 2008

My company is sending me to a two day class this week. The goal of the class is to show that, as humans, we tend to make common mistakes that cost the company money and decrease the quality of our product......sorry, I nodded off.

The class does have some positive aspects: I get to sleep until 6:15, I get to spend the day in a quiet and comfortable environment and I get to wear something other than my uniform. I have glanced around the room and am pretty sure that I know who the ones are that make all the mistakes; I never understand why they don't just go to the culprits, why do the rest of us have to feel like there's a chance that the class may be about us?

We are all on break at the same time, so there's an inevitable backup in the men's room. When it's my turn I step up to the urinal, making sure to honor the vertical line rule. For those unfamiliar with the men's urinal, the vertical line is the comfort zone directly in front of you. It's perfectly acceptable to check out the tile work above you, the craftsmanship involved with the urinal installation, and even down to check the quality of your stream.

After verifying that flomax won't be a part of my immediate future, I noticed my shoes. I was wearing my rather wide utilitarian shoes that I call bowling shoes. I'm not sure how this style became popular; these shoes have a squared off toe, smooth leather panels that are connected with exposed stitching of a contrasting color, and a wide flat sole. I was thinking that I could water ski in these shoes; I could see myself skiing along with one hand held high making circles in the air above my head, which is the universal sign for "take me by the dock." I would probably try to drop a shoe, see if I could slalom for a bit.

Back in class we assembled Lego tractors in teams of four. I was the wheel and power drive installer, as well as the inspector for quality control. I was able to name my desk mate, who was late getting back from break, as our supervisor. We finished first and had a few small errors that quality control had to answer for. I explained the undue pressure our supervisor placed on us in his desire to be done first, and the focus quickly shifted to what is commonly accepted as the main human factor involved in failure...the boss.

All in all a good day. It's off to basketball tonight. I went out over the weekend and, after purchasing a basketball, practiced my layups. When the breakaway happens tonight, I just may score.

.Hasta la vista.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Oatmeal and donuts

After enduring three terrible weeks of coffee withdrawals, I smelled a fresh espresso at the Starbucks which was conveniently placed near the entrance to my grocery store. The fresh coffee smelled so good, and that's when I figured out why I stopped drinking it; I had stopped enjoying it, and really just needed it. I went over and bought a small Cafe Estima blend, and my gosh was it good. I now drink a 12 oz cup of coffee once a day, and I am still enjoying it tremendously... I think I need to get new coffee cups at home though, the smaller amount of coffee is like a puddle in the bottom of some of my cups...I think I could stretch leather over some of my cups and create a trendy set of kettle drums. Maybe I could move to Santa Fe, NM and sell my creations, or I could buy an old store there and help dead people cross over to the light, I wonder what that pays?

So, what does this all have to do with global warming? Absolutely nothing. Now, the fire flies that were out in our yard last night, in March, that may have something to do with it. If we could only figure out a way to seasonally upset the design of the universe; I really like spring, summer and fall the way they are, but if we could develop some intelligent cfcs or pvcs that would float up and do a little seasonal damage to our atmosphere to make winter more palatable, I would vote for that. I have yet to hear the candidate that supports seasonal global warming, in fact, I have yet to hear the candidate that has even acknowledged that we are doing anything wrong here on planet earth. I wonder if lots of bombs going off could add to the warming effects? Wouldn't that be funny, if we spent one trillion dollars blowing things up in Iraq, and they spent what ever they could afford blowing us up, and the side effect was the increase of global warming? The short answer is NO, it's not funny at all, the only shorter answer is N, and that just doesn't make any sense.

All of this brings us around to oatmeal and donuts, a double stack cheese burger and a diet coke, salad with bacon on it, "fat free" potato chips with olestra, and the list goes on; oxymorons that illustrate our desire to do what ever we want to, and have no consequences. The guy who has the desk next to me at work is trying to trim some weight by eating better foods. Yesterday he tried oatmeal and donuts; not gonna work. What we need are super donuts; these lumps of deep fried goodness would be enriched with things like crestor, fiber, laxatives, and antioxidants to counteract the harm they do.

Well, the sun is coming up and it's already 50 degrees; there's not a cloud in the sky and I think 40 degrees would be a more normal temp on a March morning, but it is so beautiful out and the day promises to be gorgeous so I can't really complain; just send me an economic stimulus bribe and I'll keep my mouth shut.

Peace out.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I Am Alive

The fog settled in over the barren, dimly lit field. The sky was dark, the threat of tornadoes ominous. We gathered silently, apprehensive about what was ahead of us, unsure of what to expect.

Okay, that's not really an accurate description. It had been a beautiful, sunny day, and had transitioned into a beautiful, starlit night. The fields covering the 10 acre sports complex were illuminated in the artificial daylight of the intense floodlights, and games of soccer and softball were in full swing. We were apprehensive though.

Our group was gathering in the public gym to play some basketball, a little B-ball, throwin' around the rock. Our apprehension was due mainly to the fact that we were old, and feared injury. One youngster, who was certainly less than 30, was given one rule: Don't be too good.
None of us actually threw out the "O" word, but, as we stretched our stiff muscles and rickety joints, it hung palpably over us all, except the youngster, he had a rainbow over him.

My first trip down the court was a breakaway. I sped to the basket and leaped too early, I was on my way back to earth, and still too far away for a decent layup. I improvised, and just prior to touchdown released a finger-roll that hit the front of the rim and went straight to the nearest member of the other team. I turned to run back on defense with a huge grin on my face, and I didn't feel a day over 30.

It was just sports, no stats or refs, just guys trying hard and playing fair; man did I feel alive.
Plus, it was my speed work for the week; it was win-win. I like win-win, because it means I have one less thing to do this week.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

What's the point?

I was asked an interesting question about blogging yesterday, "What's the point?"
Actually, it was not an offensive question, and has prompted me to think about it all quite a bit.
The rest of the question is somewhat of a blur because my mind had already left in search of the answer to the first part, but it was something like, "Do bloggers want to be writers? If it doesn't have a purpose, like explaining how to do something, then what's the point?"
The chances of the person who asked the question actually reading this are small, but if you are reading it, it was a good question and I'm not trying to make you look bad in any way.

When I began this, it was something that I felt like I had to do. I have always written in my spare time, as an adult, and when I look back over things I have written I usually enjoy them a lot. I would like to understand all the rules of writing better, but I do enjoy the things my mind comes up with. And, this was the first time I've allowed anyone to read the things that I've written. I have since gone back and let my wife read things I wrote years ago. My poetry skills are weak, and she usually tries to politely let me know this, but if it's particularly bad I may hear a sweet, "I don't get it." She does a good job of making me think it's not that it doesn't make sense, but some deficiency in her that makes it unclear.

We laughed for an hour one night as we read an "anger journal" that I started in my last two years of working midnight shift. It was a place to write things that I would never say to anyone, and it helped relieve the stress in my life at the time. I used to say that the bus I rode from the parking lot to the office was delivering me to the gates of hell; on this bus was where I usually wrote in the anger journal. (If you have read this far, you may as well finish this post. Sorry it's so long) Here is an excerpt from the "Anger journal, inspired by factors beyond my control," from 2004.

Just when I think I have some of life's mysteries figured out, another clue reveals itself that reaffirms that I don't know crap(in lieu of the "s" word). Actually crap is one of my specialties, that and wool. For so long I have been full of crap, with the wool securely over my own eyes. How can you fool yourself? The deception is indeed complete when you have fooled yourself. It's like a mosaic of foolery; lots of disconnected pieces that rely on each other not to question their presence. The end result is, from afar, a nice picture. The closer one gets, the clearer it becomes that these carefully placed pieces of, oh...let's say crap, really don't mesh, and the picture makes less sense. The messy job is to remove each piece of crap and see what's under it, and find where it truly belongs. The bus has once again dropped me at the gates of hell. I bid you adieu.

So, the point is that I have written small pieces about my life for a long time now, long before I allowed anyone to read them. I guess, like I said in the beginning, this is the nonsense that absolutely fills my head, all of the time, and I wanted to take the risk of letting people see it. As far as I know, one person reads it, and she is very positive and encouraging...thank you D. My next step is to take some classes and see what happens there. I can't afford a convertible sports car, and I'm almost 44; I had to do something.

Holy crap, I just did spell check and I only had one error...I am getting better!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pine Straw

When I lived in Portland, we used to spread bark mulch over the bare areas of our yard, mostly around bushes and flowers. In Georgia they do the same thing with pine straw, which is actually pine needles that are bailed like hay. I'm not sure why they call it pine straw, but they have a knack for finding unlikely ways to describe many things here in Georgia, which they also like to check and make sure you heard.

Here are a few examples:

Instead of turning on the lights, you cut them on.
"Cut them lights on, hear me?"

Instead of being a New Yorker, you become a Yankee bastard.
"Damn know it all Yankee bastard, hear me?"

Instead of heavily fried foods being a concern for the heart conscious, they're good eatin'.
"Mmmmmmmm, now that's good eatin', hear me?"

Instead of contemplating an action, you decide if you might could do it.
"I might could outghta do that."

Anyway, the pine straw is starting to show up in yards and public areas as people prepare for spring. As I ran this morning I noticed the pine straw spread all around Pig Rock church. Even Pig Rock itself was surrounded by pine straw. It looks like it's curled up in a nice bed; I was happy for it.

Take care all, hear me?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Annie demystified

The coming spring is so close that you can feel it everywhere. The trees are starting to flower, the days are getting warmer, and it's almost time for March madness. The positive feel to everything brings good things to mind, like puppies, babies, and Annie singing the song about the sun coming up tomorrow.

"The sun will come up tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar..." wait just a minute there. What exactly does that mean? Are we saying that if you bet your bottom dollar, that it was the bottom dollar in what was formerly a stack, which was squandered? Or, is it simply saying, bet everything you have because this is a sure thing? Is our ultra positive, redheaded, young girl actually promoting gambling?

This is a kids movie for crying out loud, perhaps it needed some disclaimers:

Betting your bottom dollar is for entertainment purposes only, and should not be treated as an investment.

Betting your bottom dollar is not recommended for those who are pregnant or may become pregnant.

You should not operate machinery or motor vehicles while betting your bottom dollar.

If you were born on February 29th, you should think four times as hard before betting your bottom dollar.

Three out of four doctors surveyed recommended betting your bottom dollar for their patients who had a bottom.

If you bet your bottom dollar, you may lose your ass.

So, there it is, the myth of Annie dispelled. She was just a degenerate gambler, probably running numbers and maybe even experimenting with illegal substances. She can't dampen the joy of the coming spring though; the moral high ground will be enjoyed in full sun tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Hershey knows best

In the peaceful, rainy darkness I awoke. Before moving I opened my eyes slightly and surveyed the room; everything was in it's place, there had been no intruders in the night, at least none that left signs of their invasion. It was 4:30 AM, and very dark out still. It was still nighttime, why the hell was I awake? Oh yes, work. The body next to me snored softly, at least she had stopped that incessant licking.

"Hey," I said, "are you awake?"
Hershey wagged her tail and rolled into me, taking even more of the bed than she already had.
"Can I get you anything?" I asked her, "maybe some grapes?"
Her body wagged at the thought of grapes, or maybe at just being spoken to kindly.
"Want to go to the vet today?" I asked her cheerfully, "get a painful procedure done?"
Her body wagged even more.
"I still love you," I told her, "even though you're daft."
Hershey pushed over and took even more of the bed, as if to say:
"Go shower and get ready for your drudgery, I'm going to lay here for a while longer."
"By the way," she continued, "who's the daft one here?"

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The coffee chronicles II

On the third day they said,
"Let there be depression," and there was, and it was good. I was just saying the other day,
"Isn't there something I can do to bring a little depression into my life?" And then it hit me, take away one of my only vices, one that I've enjoyed for decades!

The first law of vices states that you can neither create nor destroy vice, you can only reallocate it. I don't want to smoke or drink (that's not entirely true, but I choose not to), I suppose I could eat more chocolate; who am I kidding, I'll probably just run more miles.

If I make it through the day without Excedrin, I'll feel much better about the whole thing and move on to acceptance tomorrow. I'll start the day with a nice run, and then move on to acceptance.

I saw pig rock this morning and it looked very sad, almost forlorn. I have been neglecting it, and as we know, it must be acknowledged. Hang in there my little pig buddy, I'll see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The coffee chronicles

Day 2 and my outlook is improving. I am encouraged by the level of alertness I felt this morning; maybe I didn't get as much from coffee as I thought. I needed Excedrin twice yesterday, but only once today; I am comforted by the reduced withdrawal symptoms today.

There are other unforeseen consequences involved with quitting coffee. I am basically going through the five stages of loss, and I've already expressed my dislike for loss in general. I was angry at coffee yesterday, as I endured a throbbing headache. Today I am making a deal with my higher power to postpone the complete reality of my loss. I expect some depression tomorrow, and I should be good to go by Friday.

There is an interesting side note to this whole experience. I dreamed that my son was robbing an espresso/ice cream shop. I walked into the store and said "son, what are you doing?"
"It's no big deal Dad," he seemed irritated that I was there.
Before I said anything else, I saw some coffee and said, "Oh, I think I'll get some coffee."
"Okay," he said as he dipped a soft serve ice cream into some chocolate sprinkles.
Basically, I was willing to sidestep my parental duties for a cup of coffee...that's bad.

Somehow Hillary stole Texas after I went to bed last night, I knew I should have stayed awake. Maybe I could have phoned someone as I saw the obviously erroneous numbers roll across the screen, as it is there was no one watching that cares about the future of our country. That was just a joke, I'm sure there are some Hillary supporters out there that still care about the country on some level. Probably a good stopping point.

Auf wiedersehen.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A fond farewell to coffee

I woke up this morning and the world was still turning; it was a good start to my first full day post-coffee.

The flu that I had last week made it so I couldn't taste my coffee, and the hot fluid really hurt the sores on my tonsils anyway. I'm over the flu, and coffee still didn't taste good to me. Maybe the fever damaged my taste buds, maybe now that the coffee cycle was broken it would take some getting used to again, or maybe it was just a good time to stop.

I have been drinking coffee for a long time. I started drinking it when I started working graveyard shift when I was 24. I quit working graveyards last year, so maybe I'm just done with coffee too.

One of the first questions they always ask me at the doctors office is, "How much caffeine do you drink?" I guess the way that conversation will go from now on is:
"No, I don't drink alcohol or caffeine, I don't smoke, I eat low fat, I eat very little meat, I run a lot, and am not over weight. And, yes, my cholesterol is through the roof.

I actually get tested again next week to see if my liver enzymes are still elevated from the cholesterol treatment. If the cholesterol numbers are down, and my liver is okay, then I will share my regimen of supplements. If not, I will probably be smoking and drinking be next Wednesday and becoming reacquainted with coffee by Thursday.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sticking it to big oil

It's 75 degrees out this afternoon, and it was difficult to tear myself away from the deck, but this is important.

Gas prices are on the rise again, with the price of groceries and every other commodity sure to follow. (Except airline tickets, they will continue to cost what we paid in 1980, but that rant is for another day.) This is about Big Oil (B.O.), and how we bring them to their knees. The thing about B.O. is that once it takes over it's hard to get rid of.

While filling up my car this morning, I overheard some people laying out a plan for sticking it to B.O.. It seems that all we need to do is to not buy gas for one day. Simple enough. This ruse will somehow lead B.O. to think that people will no longer need their gas, and not to the conclusion that the following day would produce record sales as we all refueled on the same day. I think that this plan slightly underestimates their intellect, or as President Bush puts it, misunderestimates it.

Now, if the plan was to actually abstain from using gas for a day or two, then that may have an impact. If we all road a bike for a change, or joined a carpool, or quit our jobs and sat in the sun instead of driving, then B.O. would have something to think about. As it is, they know they have us over a barrel, as does OPEC. We're the only ones that don't get it yet. Our jobs are going overseas to the cheapest bidder, so we can continue to pay walmart prices, and pretend for a little while longer that things aren't so bad.

The collapse of the housing market is the tip of the iceberg; soon we may be forced to make the changes that we are unwilling to make voluntarily. Once B.O. is so overwhelming that we can't take it anymore, there is no choice but to change ourselves and make a fresh start without B.O.
Who doesn't want to live without B.O.? Make it so number one.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Missing mystery

Sitting here alone this morning, I sip my coffee and watch Oreos sprint around the house. I'm not sure what inspires her to gallop from one end of the house to the other, maybe she's happy that I'm home, or maybe she's just missing some key cat components and is actually in fear for her life as she flees from some imagined danger. She has just arrived on my lap, and is rubbing her jawline on my hands, and arching her back into my keyboard. It's difficult to type, but nice having her here too. Her head twitches from side to side as she marvels at things in the room that don't even catch my attention anymore. Sometimes it would be nice to have everything be so mysterious again, to have life's simpler joys like birds and plants always catching your eye and ear; like being a kid again.

I remember a cold New Hampshire day when my daughter was two. We went for a walk, and were sitting under a tree out of the rain. She saw a house, across a field, that had a candle burning in the window. "Don't touch it," she said, "it's hot." That perspective made me smile, and appreciate her thought process. All I could think was that my dog would probably knock the candle over while we were sleeping, but her perspective was limited to what she knew about fire.
This inexperienced innocence allows kids to fully enjoy life's mysteries, and to gallop around, all smiles and hair flying in the breeze.

Sometimes I wish I were earnestly compelled to gallop around the house and take joy in all the simple things. I would smile and point, and my receding hairline would fly in the breeze, and it would be okay, not weird or disturbing. Maybe I'll lose my mind while I'm still young enough to take advantage of my fitness, and do some galloping.

I think that as adults, we've seen most everything, and been exposed to a side of life that we could have done without ever knowing about. Funny though, that even with our experience, we can't seem to stay away from the things that we know are "hot," which is why we know so much about diets and recovery.

Well, Oreos paws smell as though she may have been unsuccessful at burying her poop again. I guess I need to wash her up and fix the mess: and this is how we become so seasoned and lose our innocence, always cleaning up someones crap. It's a crap shoot. I guess my parents lost their youth by cleaning up my poop, and now I've lost mine in the poop of my kids and pets. It's all part of the poop cycle.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A career change?

I think I'll become a rapper...I'll name myself BIGSTAR, aka B.S.

When people hear me on the radio:
"Have you heard this B.S. before?"
At the Grammys:
"Once again, the grammys were dominated by B.S.."
When I'm over-played on the radio:
"I'm so tired of this B.S., is it too much to ask for less B.S. on the radio?"
When my fans see me on the street:
"Oh man, that's B.S."
Me alone backstage:
"My life is full of B.S., I've lost myself in the B.S."
In my revitalized career, at the grammys:
"The artist formerly known as B.S."
In an interview:
"My life was full of B.S., now I've taken the B.S. out of me."
An uninformed fan hears me on the radio:
"Whatever, it still sounds like B.S. to me."
During my new identity crisis I'm photographed walking down the beach, hungover and wearing a turquoise thong and dark sunglasses. The picture makes the cover of a celebrity magazine:
"B.S. or not, is he beyond rescue?"
After an intervention by friends and family, and the decision to once again make my life about B.S., my triumphant return to the grammys:
"B.S. comes full circle."
As a wise old man, in my final interview:
"Taking the B.S. out of my life left me empty inside. I missed being full of B.S."