Sunday, July 10, 2011

Running out of My_____..

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Running out of My_____..

I only know of one other person who is still on My_____. I am not even sure Tom is anymore. The plans for the Fire Sale got leaked last week, and it made me start to think. I gave up on My______ a long time ago, heading, like everyone else, to the security breach that is Facebook.

But, in its day, My_____ served its own purpose for me. I blogged. Inane rambling, rants, prayers and dreams, about everything from soup to nuts. Friends. Enemies. Work. Politics. Love. Hate. Stupidity. Observations. Foolishness.

Just for the hell of it, and before they pull the plug, I am going to post some of those blogs here. I could care less if you read them. Its for my own purposes. They won't be in any particular order. Or of any particular subject. if I edit them, to match changes for today, you'll know. I'll date them as to the day they were first posted.

Just putting some things away, before they pull the plug. Oh. If you offended. Oh well...

Our finest generation

Our finest Generation - Aug 5, 2010

Current mood:thoughtful
I managed to get in a couple of shows at the VABFB and the RVAFB over the last couple of weeks. Shows I had planned on attending before my retirement. Still have one or two more, but those are not for a couple of weeks.

Saw DL Hughley, a comedian from Portsmouth, who had a TV show for years. Funny guy, who changed his act due to the Mel Gibsom "pack of niggers" line.

I support the comedians who are on Opie and Anthony. DLH has been on the show many times, so I ws not going to miss the chance to say hello, get a WOW sticker signed, and to show my support.

Jim Breuer came to the VABFB store front a week or so ago.

He is just plain exhausting to watch. Frenetic and frantic on stage, he slipped in and out of voices and impression, like one takes breaths of air.

One of his bit was about taking his aged father someplace in the car, and he has an accident in the car. He crapped himself. In passing he mentioned that his pop was a WWII vet who had fought in the pacific.

I won't lie. Those vets are passing out of our lives at an alarming rate. In their 80's time is just catching up to them.

When I met him after the show, I was my usual tongue tied self. Said hello. Thanked him for coming to see us. Signed stickers and a DVD I bought. But no mention of his pop.

After I got home I kicked myself in the ass. How had I done that? I was going to stand up and cheer, but was not sure how the club would react if I stood up, to show my respect for his pop. Iwould have disrupted the show, and not being one that likes to speak in public, it would have been messy had I done so.

I wrote him on Facebook and told him this, and asked him to tell his pop Thank You for his servic to our country. Kids today, as I, do not have any idea what it is like to be a combat vet. especially in those times. Brutality, does not even come close to describe the conditions they went thru. Fighting an enemy that was fanatical in their beliefs.

To my surprize, he wrote me back. I was not expecting that. We exchangted a couple of notes back and forth, and that was that.

Its a crying shame the leadership in this country does not realize what these men and women went thru, so that we could sit here, in relative safety and twitter each other to death.

In a couple of weeks the Pacific set will be released. I watched and I plan on buying it. Though it does not have the character attachemnt of Band of Brothers, it is, as best as I can tell, a reasonably accurate look at the horrors these men of our finest Generation went thru.

Mr Breuer. I salute you. Thank you for your service. You will be remembered. At least by me.


105 - Aug 5 2010

Current mood:amused
Its been a bit since I posted. Been keeping busy with a lot of things. Trying to get retirement issues straightened out. The endless job hunt - which I am not trying hard at, at the moment.

Got a call right after I retired from one of my kids I trained (Trifecta #3) inviting me to come to his station and have dinner. I demured for a bit, so that I could get a ID card. That way I would not have any trouble getting in thru the gate.

M and I went up there and had a decent firehouse meal. Talked of good old times, and bad new ones. The fox is definately running the henhouse now, and if it be known, I got while the getting was good. Its a mess. Kinda like spilled oil on the floor. The mess is spreading, and getting worse and worse, each and every day.

George's wife made me a cake, and its the first time that I can recall getting heartburn from a cake. So says she: her oven went out (they ran out of propane) in the middle of the baking process and she finished it up in a toaster oven. GAWD in heaven, it was awful. But she walked in the door telling me this, so to no ones surprize, it was.

They made me a plaque, commerating my 23 years in the Fire Service. Too bad it is 29 years. I busted George's ass on that, and on another level. He is going to get it remade. [I posted a picture of this plaque in my Fire Department memoroes photo set on facebook].

    Waiting for the women to show up, I started to hand George things to eat. I tsk'd his protest, and he did as he was told. Fed him 3 fiber bars, with a total of 105 per cent of the daily percentage of fiber. It didn't take long after I left, for those to kick in.

Messages from the hapless victims in the station started shortly. What in the hell did you give him? He is killing us here.

Ah, butt for the old days....

Good times being freeze dried

Good times being freeze dried - Aug 5 2010

Good times being freeze dried

Current mood:animated

Guess I am really behind the power curve these days. I was digging thru a cabinet and found my old Sony D6C cassette recorder. Which means nothing to anyone anymore, and in light of modern technology has quickly went the way of the 45. But. There is always a but.

Thats the tape deck I toured with when I went to Grateful Dead shows. I taped many a show, and when the tour veered off from my ability to travel, I passsed it offf to friends, who taped other shows on the tours for me. They copied the tapes and mailed the stuff back to me.

I had thought it was dead. No pun intended. The last time I tried it, it did not work. Turns out it was old batteries that I had left in there. Ahem, I have to clean up some minor battery acid leakage, but the last couple of days I have been in a time warp, listening to 25 plus year old Dead tapes. Some I made. Some by others. Some copies of copies - such is the nature of tape trading in its day.

Surprized that the tapes have held up. I guess I need to get them transfered to audio file before it is too late. I completely missed the then come and now gone DAT revolution. On my meager Fireman's salery, at that time, a DAT recorder, and the tapes, were way out of my I can afford this range. So, I bought what was in its day, the best portable tape recorder available. About the size of a small hardback book, it made, and still might make excellent recordings.

Doubt I can find fresh tape anyway. So,. todays, its JFK stadium in the heat of the day. Listening to a show I did not attend. reliving simplier times in my life.

My Captain and chief at the station thought I was nuts. I would be on the phoine, waiting for a whif of tour dates. I would start putting in carpet bombing runs of leave slips, trying to hit the days of the tour.

Went to Hampton, of course, many times. Greensboro, Pittsbuirg, Atlanta, Washington, and other places I have forgotten. My kit (*deck, cables, boxes of tapes, batteries, cables of everykind, and Rocky and Bullwinkle traveled the length and bredth of the country.

I was easy to find in a sea of mic towers. I ran a camera tripod up with an extension pole about 15 feet into the air. Cross beam and mic holders. A bouiquet of roses and Rocky and Bullwinkle on top. I always told my friends, that if they were looking for me, look for Rocky and Bullwinkle, as they were my way of making my set up findable in a crowd of toght people all trying to get that perfect place, and perfect tape.

So, for the forseeable future, this kid will be sitting and reliving good times. Eyes closed. Dancing as only one can dance at a Dead show.

Iko Iko!!

Mel Gibson and the "H" Bomb

Mel Gibson and the "H" Bomb - July 14, 2010

Current mood:thoughtful

I grew up in the 60's. The tail end of the old era's and the beginnings of the new ones. Where George Wallace still ran the roost. And JFK and LBJ were hated men.
I started out as a flaming liberal. I came into and thru the Summer of Love stuff and fell for it. My dad, being more old school, hated that one of his son's had left the reservation.

As I got older, I withdrew from the liberalism of my youth. Being able to see the destruction it was wrecking on the country, and slipped, ever so slowly into a conservative mindset.

Though I have went the gamit from the young Democrat, to Reagan Republican, my stomach is now turned by the ilk that runs either party now, and I just see myself as uncommitted, or at best a libertarian.

What has not changed much in me is my staunch opposition to hypocricy. of, its now a thing of daily life. I have no voice. Nor do I want one. I am happy in my little piece of the world. I do get aggravated by the ones who cry loud and long about something, say using the word 'nigger'. Yet, their cries are one sided. While dragging some thru the muck and mire of personal attack and destruction, they will sheepishly march past those they have given a pass to.

Though there are millions of examples, lets use my two favorites: Jesse Jackass, and the 'Rev' Al ( ....Reverend? Then I am the frak'n Pope..)

They went after Imus. Michael Richards. Full bore. Guns a blazing. Walking right past the rap musicians who use 'nigger' and 'nappy' on a re-occuring constant basis. Help me out here. if that word is so awful, isn't it awful no matter who says/sings it/uses it in a joke/drunken rant?

Do these jackasses know this isn't Animal Farm? Where all users of a word are equal, just some are more equal than others.

There's a word, that IMHO is far worse than 'nigger'. Its hypocrite. You can't hold people to a language expectation, that you will not hold yourself.

I won't lie. In my younger days, I got plenty of use out of that word. And it has excaped my lips in modern times, on occasion. But, generally speaking, it has no weight to me. I am a satirist, at heart. And if I can shread you with an insult, comment or observation, that comes at you from several directions, or I can just go the easy route and call someone a 'nigger', what do you really think will satisfy me the most?

In the grand scheme of things, I could care, or care less about Mel Gibson's rant. Or Micheal Richards, or even Imus. In the country we live in, they are afforded the right to Free Speech. In theory. On one side, expression of that Free Speech should come with some self-control, and the other, if the speech is Free, then all speech is free. Even if it goes where your goat is parked. In the examples above, its hard to tell if it was errant humor, drugs, alcohol or rage that drove these rants. Whatever the case, until I hear the likes of Jesse Jackass, and 'Rev' Al condemn all uses of that word, instead of a select few, then its of no real concern of mine. And, at best these people are ignorant hypocrites, or worse, fools.

   I can't say it the best. Because it already has been said. By Lenny Bruce. Here is a transcript from the 'Lenny' film. Hopefully, it will do several things in our lifetimes. It'll take that word, and others like it off the table, and secondly, it will put race vampires like Jesse Jackson and 'Rev' Al out of business.

If you can say it better than this, let me know. If you are offended by whats below this, unfollow/defriend me. We're on two different wave lenghts..

From 'Lenny"...

"Are there any niggers here tonight?

Can you turn on the house lights, and could the waiters and waitresses just stop serving for a second?

And turn off the spot.

Now what did he say? ''Are there any niggers here tonight?''

There's one nigger here. l see him back there working.

Let's see. There's two niggers.And between those two niggers sits a kike.

And there's another kike. That's two kikes and three niggers.

And there's a spic, right? Hm?

There's another spic.

Ooh, there's a wop. There's a Polack.

And then, oh, a couple of greaseballs. There's three lace-curtain lrish Micks.

And there's one hip, thick, hunky, funky boogie. boogie, boogie. Mm-mm.

l got three kikes. Do l hear five kikes?

l got five kikes. Do l hear six spics?

Six spics. Do l hear seven niggers?

l got seven niggers. Sold American!

l'll pass with seven niggers, six spics, five Micks, four kikes,
three guineas, and one wop.

You almost punched me out, didn't ya?

l was trying to make a point, that it's the suppression of the word
that gives it the power, the violence, the viciousness.

Dig. lf President Kennedy would just go on television and say ''l'd like to introduce you to all the niggers in my cabinet.''

And if he'd just say ''nigger, nigger'' to every nigger he saw,

''Boogie, boogie, boogie, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger,'' till it didn't mean anything any more!

Then you'd never be able to make a black kid cry because somebody called him
a nigger in school."

'nuff said, Mel. More than nuff said, Al. Jesse.

My fathers son

My Father's Son - Jun 20, 2010

My fathers son

Current mood:contemplative

With each passing day of remembrance I have, it gets harder and harder. Spent the day reading the recollections of others. Some sad. Funny. Acid filled. Reflective. Its hard to sum up the worth of someone in the confines of a day. Thousands of days and who knows how many memories compressed into a family gathering ending in a dinner. A trip to the cemetary. Or a trip into the depths of ones memories.

I have scant pictures of my dad. He, like I am today, didn't like to have his picture taken. I have memories, but with age they will fade. I can't lie.

My dad was a paradox. In his youth, I am told he was a handsome man. A ladies man. A man with a wild streak in him. He told me tales of his youth running the hills of Tennessee. Hot rod cars. Beer joints. Fights. Dust ups with other rowdies and occasionally the police.

He grew up in destitute poverty. He enlisted in the USN during WWII, but was put out for being too young. He joined the Army and served in the Army of Occupation in Japan. I have photos of this rake, hat cocked to one side, with Japanese barmaids at his side.

He left Tennessee and came to Virginia to find work. I know he was in the City Fire Department, and he worked on the C&O. Nor sure where my mom came into this picture. She, living 200 miles away. I know nothing of their courtship or marriage.

I then my brother came along. I secure in the knowledge I was the eldest child. We were raised in a strict household. Dad drank, more than a little when I was a child. I can still remember some of the fights.

One day, I got sat down and told we had a visitor. His name was Danny. At the time I did not know I had a older brother from dad's previous marriage. Apparently mom did not either. He came visited, left, and I have never seen him again. If I needed a drop of his blood to survive, I would not know where to start to find him.

Dad managed to get himself onto the railroad in Civil Service. This resulted in a move, from the apartment we lived in. It was a secure place. We knew everyone and they knew us. Little did I know that my special by myself trips to the market, were watched by many eyes. Each watching that I looked before I crossed the street. Doubtless, my mom followed me, quietly, making sure.

My brother and I shared a room. The house still stands. I drive by it occasionally. The apple tree that we used as a snack pantry in the summer time, is long gone. The neighbors I grew up with moved on, or passed.

We were middle class. Maybe a little higher up in it. Dad had a good job, and he made decent money. We were the first on our block to get a color TV. Which might sound strange in todays world, but for a time, seeing something in color on the TV was a big deal. We tore into the Sears Wish Book each year, and made the trip downtown to Sears to see Santa.

On another day, mom and dad took us aside for another talk. I had a sister coming to live with us. Huh? Now I was number 3 in the pecking order. My half-sister - whom I have always refered to as my sister, showed up from Tennessee. Leaving a brother and sister of hers, that dad would not acknowledge as being his. If you looked back, this was the beginning of the end. Mom apparently did not know about wife 2 of 3. Nor did she know of kids 4 and 5 and 6 of six. Between a butchery of a female operation she endured, and her own feeling of betrayal, she and dad just tollerated each other from that point on. I grew up in a house, where there was little love, and no contact. Happiness and love left. This lesson haunts me to this day.

We outgrew the house, and with one final move, moved into the last house they owned in Virginia. It too still stands, though it has been forgotten and neglected. The den that Dad, Mr Moss and his son Ronnie built is still there. I helped as a kid could. I was never too good with my hands. Never had mechanical or trade abilities.

I guess all in all I was a disapointment to them. Kinda a mommas boy. I was more into books and sciences, instead of sports. Doubtful I was what they had hoped for.

Mom and dad made us do our schoolwork. They insisted that we get an education. I guess there is where we fought the most. Restriction awaited any of us that brought home a failing grade. Failing meaning anything below a C. And the C's brought them to push us to do better.

When college time came around, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I gave the railroad and the Fire Department thought, but was unable at the time to get on either. I drifted. Dad took ill and had to retire. They moved to Tennessee, getting a house in the outskirts of Chattanooga.

We had made many trips there, during my childhood. All I could remember was the poverty, and the people who I could not comprehend. I stayed behind, in VA, when they left, working 2 jobs, and thinking I was going to make it on my own.

When I got ill, and had to move there with them, I saw it as failure, and not a new beginning. I became closer to the family there. Again drifting, I was at a loss at what I wanted to do. I joined the military, basically in a display of waving the white flag.

I was never good with romance. Be it the knowledge that I did not know how to treat others, or some other combination of things. I had my shares of loves of my life. Gail, who I boldly told everyone I was going to marry as a first or second grader. A gal named Karen, who I thought might be the one, till I asked my dad if I could become Catholic - not even knowing what that was. His answer, when given to me, ended that. A couple of others. Nothing ever worked. I was the square peg in the tiny hole when it came to relationships.

I had a long running love, for many years. Thought she was the one. It unraveled in an act of betrayal on her part, and we both died slow painful deaths as things fell apart. She became a Ghost to me. But that was long, long ago.

In the same light as my joining the miltary, I married a gal I met while in the Army. To this day I can't say if I was in love or not. Just thought I needed to do this, and after believing I had lost the person I really wanted to be with, it just happened.

I guess I am my fathers son. I was not very good at marriage either. It ended badly. Divorce is always painful. But a necessity, at times.

I came back home to VA and started my career. Minus the ex-wife, I figured I was done with all of that. I had no idea how to be with someone. Just figured that was that. The one I wanted to be with turned me down when I proposed to her, so that closed that door, as I found out later.

Met another gal, who seemed to be able to put up with me. My emptiness and unability to let anyone come in close to me, seemed to balance out with her ability to sooth and comfort me.

I almost lost her when I thought about that gal from my past again. Things changed here - just retracing my fathers steps - and they will never be the same. But we endure. Not sure if it is just comfort, or what. We exist in this house, with little or no friction.

After the passing of my grandmother, father and mother in a 25 month span, I have spent the time afterwards trying to reconnect with my family in Tennessee. The half-sister, and half-brother that mom and dad denied, are now parts of my life that I am trying to make up for lost time, as fast as I can. I guess if I was to be angry with them over anything it would be this. Denying me a chance to have part of my family. Trying to make up for the damage that my father did to them. And to me.

For me, there is little else. Money, fame and fortune do not motivate me. Self-satisfaction, accomplishment, and family do. My father withheld these things from me. The disapointing kid, who never quite measured up. Like a 10,000 piece puzzle with a bunch of pieces missing.

But I am my fathers son. In many ways he and I are identical. And today, as so many folks spent the day reliving memories of their past, I do as well. Some good. Some bad. But it is all I am. The sum of the total of the parts. I wish I had 10 minutes to thank him, flaws and not, for making me the man I became. He might not say so, but I think he might be proud of what I accomplished.

At the end of the day I can look myself in the mirror. And thats OK with me.

Lights Out

Lights Out - June 12, 2010

Lights Out

Current mood:miserable
The realization that my career as a Fireman is over has been hitting harder these last few days. The how's and the why's as well.

Got my final paycheck yesterday from a life I gave my best to. Pay off for my unused leave. About what I expected. It's the body pain that is in my immediate thoughts now. It's not much of a trade off.

My back is so torn up I can barely get out of bed. I soldiered on as best as I could, for as long as I could, before the reality finally caught up to me. I am paying the price now.

Years upon years of giving the best I had has left me a broken shell of what I used to be. It's frustrating and disheartening to think that for a scant payoff, we're all squared up. We broke your body, and at times, spirit: now go.

But I'll take the blame for some of it. I carried myself as far as I could with just a HS and Jeopardy education. Further than I deserved? Further than I ever imagined.

So today, I sit. My back is on fire in a handful of places. Slowly coming to the conclusion I am going to have to turn myself over to a back surgeon. Once where I would fall into fitfully sleep in a moments notice, I now find myself tossing and turning with my broken back until sheer exhaustion finally overwhelms me.

I loved the Fire Department. It was good to me. I was good to it. It gave me a living. And it retired me as well..


Sideshow - June 9, 2010

I am a complete mark for the State Fair. And the circus. I wish I had been taken, when I was younger, and had the presence of mind to have paid attention. The sights and smells are so different than today.

Of course, being PC has shattered the illusions of long ago. The things that were the highlights of the shows have long since been ran off. My old pal, Schlitzie would never had made it today. But. Back in that day there was the Main areas, and the sideshow area. Its the sideshow that I truely love. To be amazed, mystified, ilusioned, and sleight of handed all at once.

Today little of the old sideshows exist anymore. Some hardy souls are trying, but the bearded ladies, and strongmen of the past, are still there, in the past.

I go to the State Fair each year. I buy the pass that allows me to come and go as I please. I always make several trips up there, taking in those changed sights and sounds. I used to walk past the few remaining holdoputs from the past, that occasionally dotted the landscape. The Lizard Boy. The Worlds Smallest Horse. The Fish Boy. And the 14 inch tall woman.

It only cost a buck, or so to go see them. Its like walking into a fight you know that is going to happen. I know that I am going to be am amazed, illusioned, mystified and slight of handed as I reach into my pocket. Yet, reason would be trumped by memories of a childhood long since in the past.

Balancing amazement, disapointment, and the feeling that I had been 'gotten' again, each and every time.

As I grew older, the lure of the World's Smallest Horse grew less and less. The displays started to peter out and each year or so, another would disappear into the darkness of what used to be.

Now I walk by and smile. Smug in my knowing the secret. Being in on the joke. Standing back and watching the other rubes walk the path I set forth in front of them. Now, there is only one final Sideshow act left. And the Barker is trying to sell me a ticket. With wild promises that this is the one and only! I will be amazed. I will be mystified! I will be shocked! I will be ilusioned. I will be sleight of handed. And I will close my eyes and fall into the bosom of the one that will catch me when I fall.

The desire to have that happen overwhelms me. The latest, and greatest of the Sideshow acts. Stands before me. All I have to do is close my eyes and believe. Nevermind the smoke and mirrors I see off to the corner of my eyesight.

I've only a scant few nickels left. Do I go for what I know is there? Or do I go for what I want to be there? Its getting late, and I am running out of time. How long until the Sideshow packs up and leaves? What State is next for the Fair?

I have the known of a few things. Safe and secure. Things that are at the fair each and every year. Racing pigs. High Wire divers. Clowns and carneys. And I have the unknown of this as promised new and improved, never to disappoint act. Its a Solomon's choice. How to decide the fate of the nickels that clink in my pocket.

I think I have had enough of the Sideshow for a while. I am going to walk in the sunshine. Immerse myself in the sights and sounds of the present. I've looked to the future, and all it offers is more of the same. I will be amazed. I will be mystified. I will be illusioned. And I will be slight of handed. And at the end of the day, I will be disapointed.

Walking in the past comforts me with the calmness of putting all of that behind you. Its a disapointment, but its a safe one. The future holds the unknown and with that its trips and snares. Yet, the Sideshow Barker is trying to sell me a future, that I know is rooted in the worst of the past.

I have to say No. Goodbye to those things. Its a beautiful day outside. And the wind in my hair and the sun in my face never lie. Besides if I look hard enough, I just might find some puddles to jump into.

First of the last

First of the last - Dec 16, 2009

Current mood:quixotic

Well, I survived my first day back at work. Damn. I had been off for over 3 weeks. The hardest thing to do, is to roll over and out of bed, at too damned early in the morning, when the alarm goes off. I did it. It was time to go back, I guess. I can only play vacation bitch and couch potatoe for so long.

As always, the drama queens at work, have things in an uproar. I used to bitch, all of the time, about the kids who were running out of control in the station. I've written about it here many times. Fun is fun. And LORDY knows, I love to laugh. But, there is a time where you need to draw a line in the sand, and stick with it. But, my former bosses, and soon to be former bosses, did not see it that way. Caught up in the moment, they got so snowblinded by the antics in the station, that any voice of reason, was taken as discontent in their eyes.

The end results have been good men. Friends of mine, are, or have been ran out of the place. And the ones that have slithered in behind them, may or may not be.

I eventually just threw up my hands, and tried to ignore the chaos, as well as I could. Some days, they came after me. But most of the time, they fed on their own. When I got transfered to an out station, which someone saw fit to close, I started a planned action of hardly answering the phones - their choice of work, when screwing with people, and concentrated on standing in front of my rookies (and their targets) deflecting their attacks. I told these guys that if they started to get crap, come to me with it. Let it go thru me first. I'd take the heat, and I'd stop it. To everyone's amazement, it worked. And, I helped bring a couple of the brow beaten kids into a place, where they could develop into fine Journeymen Firefighters. Its interesting what a man can do, when they do not have a lap dog nipping at their heels. Like I said, someone smarter than me, closed the station, put all of to the wind, and now, they are on their own. Most left, but a few linger.

So, when I get there yesterday, one of the guys, who, for the most part, helped let this get out of hand, now finds himself, with bigger dogs in the fight, going after him. Its gotten ugly, and has long since been personal. Though I shook my head many times, knowing that if he had just pulled in the reigns, or had drawn that line, little of this would have happened. The end result is I am losing my last Rabbi at work. Now, I find myself in the position of those Rookies that I sheltered. Who is going to look out for me?

Oh well. Retirement is in my near future (a year or so), so unless they drop the entire weight of the useless eaters, upwind, I should be OK. With all of the problems, with money and budgets ect. I think that it will come to this point. Run off the older guys, to cut down costs, and to allow them to keep some of the younger, yet, less capable folks. They get to tell someone that they saved some money, and to artifically congratulate themselves on a job well done. No doubt resulting intheir giving themselves awards and accolades. Yet, it is their problem, of their own making.

Incompetence, is, the hubris of the undeserving. It truely is..

Chex Missed

Chex Missed - Nov 22, 2009

Current mood:busy

I find myself on vacation today. I am not the accidental tourist, by any stretch of the imagination. I, as Fred Cratchett said, am behind my time.

Dodging various doctor appointments, and the like has riddled my calendar with holes, that just cannot be worked around. By this time, I have bag upon bag of my Chex Mix made by now. The recipe changes every year. By this time, under normal circumstances I have mix made, measured, and ready to give out. About 100 frn's of tradition of mine, that I could not stop if I wanted to. And me, I keep one bag of it here, for the house, and give the other dozen or so of them away.

I simplified things:

1/2 box of each of the three chex cereals. (This year I am experimenting with the cinnamon/apple type)
1 bag of pretzels (sticks or minis)
2 box cheez-its
2 jars of dry roasted or honey roasted peanuts
1 bag of pretzel goldfish (optional)
1 bag of mini bagels (optional)
3 lg spoonfuls of seasoning salt (into melted butter)
dash of onion powder, garlic powder, paparica, Mrs Dash Lemon pepper seasoning

2 sticks of butter, cut up and melted. Put dry items in, with 2 cups of french's Worcestershire sauce. mix thoroughly.

Pour dry ingredients into _unscented_ tall kitchen bag, mix. pour in liquid, mix thoroughly.

Pour onto baking sheets (I use those disposable aluminum pans that you can get from Wally-World now), spreading evenly. back for 15 min (x 4) in a 250 oven. Turn with spoon, every 15 min. on last turn, sprinkle, to taste Worcestershire sauce onto the top of the mix, and finish baking.

Place on roll paper towels to cool. Measure into 1 gallon zip lock bags.

That's about a batch. Normally I make 4 batches a year (do the math) but this year, will only be doing 2, to start with. Maybe 2 more later on. I just have to find the time to do it. Which I do not have right now.

Vacation. Did I miss something, or am I supposed to be having fun right about now?


I have a host of friends

I have a host of friends Oct 31, 2009

Current mood:blessed

Understand that I am apprehensive about all of this. In a year of the world's gone mad, tonight I have a chance to see a little sanity in it. Ususally, plans go as they are made. But, I rarely mke them, so it is not that big an issue in my life. I know better. When I send the money each fall and spring for the races the next season, I just know that a rain cloud starts to form and slowly heads this way. Timing itself to arrive the morning of the race.

Little did I know that the cloud was coming in costume, disguised as a piece of asphalt. Nor did I realize that I had broken my own rule, in making plans for tonight.

Earlier this summer I got a hint that Brian Wilson was coming to town, on Halloween, of all days. Icalled a bunch of friends up and we made plans to get tickets. My *plans* got put on hold due to the changes at work, and with that I waited too long to get tickets. Ever know that feeling one gets inside where you are just numb? Thats the way I felt when I came to the realization that the one and only chance I was ever going to have to see him (aside from 25 odd years ago, when he was on tour with the Beach Boys - before they imploded) live. He had came to DC once or twice, but those shows were out of my reach. I resolved myself to having my Halloween party, bought candy, invited everyone, same old thing.

I got a message on Facebook from one of our friends, asking how I was doing with surgery and in general. I wrote back, said this and that, and that i was having a party this year. What? Not going to see Brian? I explained that I was backed into a corner by the morons at work, and with that I did not get tickets. Hit enter, and went about my day.

The phone rang that evening. My dear friends, CQ and Dock were giving me their tickets to see Brian. They know how much it meant to me and they gave of themselves. I was overwhelmed. Friends thought enough of me to give me something they should never have parted with.

I canciled the plans for the party. Returned the candy and started counting the days.

Plans. I forgot about making plans. This past Sunday, M fell and broke her wrist. We have had a time of it. With the surgery being late Thursday, I was not that hopeful that she would be in shape enough to go. And after the night we had Thursday, when we got home, I knew my plans were going to wash away with the tide.

So, here it is Saturday morning. She pronounced she does not feel up to going. She feels pretty good, she tells me. She is getting movement and sensation back, and so far, has only taken motrin for pain. But not good enough to endure a car ride, and the time up on her feet.

I sit here, the tickets within eye sight of me. I called CQ, telling her I was going to drive back to VA Beach an give her the tickets back. She did not want them, and asked if I had oany other options. I did not feel right leaving her at the house, unattended, for 6 hours or so. I'd never forgive myself, and I would never hear the end of it.

She called her mother, who, while going to a short event, has agreed to drop in and spend the time I m away with her, so she is not unattneded (aside for about 2 hours), so, for some reason. For some strange alignment of the planets. For some reason I got a smile, instead of indifference thrown in my direction from GAWD. I am going to get to go.

I called our best friend and he wants to go (Guess the Ghost missed out on this one). My ass will probably burn in the seat the entire time I am there. But, for a couple of hours, the weight of this awful year, will be off of my shoulders. A dream I have had for countless years (since Brian started to tour and perform on his own again - thanks Melinda!!!!!) to get the oppertunity to bask in the sunshine, and be washed over with the memories of summers past. While Brian, and his wonderful band (Brian once said that this band plays the Beach Boys material better than they did) sing right to me. Love and Mercy!

I have a host of friends. Some closer than others. But, it is always a a pleasant surprize when they unexpectedly tap me on the shoulder, and offer me "a mess of help to stand on my own".

Bless you CQ. Bless you Dock. And bless you mom, for giving your time and love to us. I am truely a blessed man. And if I was sitting home tonight on the porch, shooing the trick or treaters away (we have no candy, and no help since the 'haunted house' is not set up on the porch this year - only 3 times in the last 20 or so), while those tickets gather dust on my shelf, I would still say that.

Tonioght, I Sail on, Sail on, Sailor...!

The man in the grey flannel business card

The man in the grey flannel business card

Current mood:tired

I have to admit, it has been a interesting and trying year. For the both of us. Job changes. Huge changes in my personal life. Surgery for me, and with that the complications and marching thru my sick leave, and now with the xyl breaking her wrist, this has to come to an end sometime.

We have been going to Martinsville to the races, twice a year, for ages. Its a chance to get out and enjoy ourselves. I've given up on Nascar on TV because of the commercials. The live events we attend are the only enjoyment we get anymore. At least for me. She will still sit thru the little race coverage we are allowed, that is buried in the avalanche of ads. I tried, but got fed up with the greed of Nascar.

This fall, started out innocent enough. After waiting for the clowns I work for, to figure out my work situation, I found that I would be off for the race, so we made our normal plans. We got a hotel room in South Hill, which is about 3 hours from the track. Close enough of a drive there. Yet, far enough away to make room availability a good bet. Finished up our shopping for the race, when we arrived. Had a nice dinner, and retired. We had stopped at Whitby's, talked with Randy and Rodessa, picked up a box full of hot sauce (trust me, they have the best available). We've known them for years, and it is always good to see them.

That morning started out innocent enough. Headed to the track, parked, and headed for the trailers to do a little walking around and shopping, like we always do. We leave our race stuff (bags and coolers in the truck) do our walk around, and then walk back and pick everything up, drop off our purchases, and head for our seats.

On the way in, I tried to sell a pair of extra tickets we had. The guy offered us a pittance for them, and I declined. We sold them later on, for a little more.

On the walk back, she tripped on some uneven pavement and fell into me. I, walking as I was, stepped thru her attempt to grab onto me, and she collapsed to the pavement, breaking her wrist.

We had a Henry County Sherriff call for the medics, who came over, looked her over and determinded that she needed to go to the hospital.

So the ambulance arrived and she was packaged up for transport. It was then that the little man with the official looking credentials approached me. Turns out he was from Risk Management from Nascar. He expressed his sorrow that she had fallen and told me to call him in about 3 hours and to let him know what was going on. I pocketed his card, and headed out of the track. Our race day was done. I ran into the guy who I had talked to, at first about selling our tickets, and just gave them to him.

I had to drive around town to get to the hospital as traffic in the middle of town was hosed. Got to the ER and found that treatment had started before I got there. X-Rays were ordered, confirming the diagnosis. A ortho guy ws called in, and he told us that surgery was needed, and told us we should go back to NN to have it done.

She was loaded up with demoral, and told we could leave - she could walk out (an incredible breach of protocol), which I vetoed. We got her in the truck and made her as comfortable as the awful roads would let us, and headed back home. stopped to get her a little to eat, so she could take the vicodin that she had been sent out with. She was not tollerating the trip well. I drove as fast as I could, balancing the roads and the police factors, to get back to the house. I figured I had a 4 hour window to get back in, before the vicodin started to wear off.

I had called all of her family, but it being about the time for church, all I got was leaving voicemail. I did talk to one SIL, and she told me that she would start calling herself.

Around South Hill I stopped, gave the xyl 4 motrin, and dug the card out of my pocket. After a couple of calls, I got thru to him, and gave him an update.

Got home and put her to bed, with 2 more vic's, and she slept thru the night.

Got her into our health system, to the ortho docs here, who scheduled surgery for yesterday, The Risk Management guys called again. They were shitless that we were going to sue them. I told him that he had ran into an honest guy and asked for two things. He had offered to put up for out of pocket expences, and our tickets. Being just a simple accident, I declined. I asked him for a letter to be generated from the track, thanking the volunteer department that had treated her, with a copy to me. And I told him that maybe the next time we come, the track and take us on a pit tour, so she could see her drivers pit (Edwards). He said he would see if he could make that happen.

So, yesterday, she had her surgery, and did well. they put in a nerve block, which killed her arm. It was numb, and she could not move or control it. Gave her 2 of the new pain med script, and went to bed.

Well, until 3AM, when she woke up. It had started to hurt. So she woke herself up 3 more times overnight and with that neither of us got much sleep. So, I sit here, with my eyes burning from lack of sleep, trying to write this. She is up and doing OK. It'll be nap time for us in a bit.

Still waiting to get the letter from the track. And not knowing if she will be up to us going to see Brian Wilson tomorrow night. So, our normal trip to the track, turned into an adventure. Just one more piece of a puzzle that has been unfolding in front of us, in a year of other puzzle pieces. I know that GAWD does not give us more than we can handle. But, at this point, a grain of sand would tip the scales over on us.

It costs us money. It cost us a seat in the races. It cost her a trip to surgery. But, in the grand scheme of things, it is not more than we can handle. It is trying. And if it was not that, it would be boring. Life that is.

But, we kept our honor. We did the right thing. I could have lawsuited the track, and would have regretted it for the rest of my life. It was an simple accident. I took the high road. And for that, the both of us are the better for it.

Me, my broken heart and I

Me, my broken heart and I

Current mood:worried

I can't lie. I have a good life. I moan and groan about things, and sound like a pussy at times. But for the most part, I should not be complaining. I have a good job. Roof over my head. Food to eat.

Never had kids. Figured out, a long time ago, that I was not the kid raising kind. Knowing that, I was careful to never put myself in that predicament, ever. If I have any kids, I sure as hell do not know about them.

At times, kids are like other peoples dogs. I like dogs. I just don't like other peoples dogs. Never been one to get comfortable with a dog nosing my crotch, or depositing fleas on me by the hundreds. My patience is not much better when I get around other peoples kids. Yours squalling? and you are doing nothing about it? I'll have my fen meter peg quick on that. Yelling at the kid thats squalling? Faster.

But. The kind side of me that makes an occasional appearance, also knows when something special is there. I have to have an attachement. Since my parents are both gone, I need someone to look out for me. It was my aunt and uncle for years, and with his passing my aunt has been shouldering the load. One of my cousins also helps. That allows me to attach to others as well.

Earlier, I said I had a good life. Not much to complain about. I got a dose of smacked in the face reality yesterday. My sis's daughter who lives in abject poverty (I am amazed at this. They are poor. Know they are poor. But are happier in their lives, in the general terms, than I could ever hope to be. Family trumps stuff, I guess) in Tennessee is living from hand to mouth. Her husband (?) who could have ran off, but did not, is having troubles keeping a job.

Over the past couple of years, the xyl and I have sorta adopted their children. You see them in the pictures here, on the Santa train. Just wide eyed kids, who do not know they are poor. They just have a eyeful of life, that encompasses their own lives. Can't take innocence away from those who deserve it.

The details of why it has taken this long for us to get involved are long and complicated. I will not go into it. But, I am going to spend the rest of my life repairing someone elses wrong doing.

When we go to Tennessee on vacation, we take the kids out with us to places. We make sure they get plenty to eat, and we buy them stuff that they need, and stuff that they want. We buy them clothes, toys, and most anything else they need. Not necessarily want. But need.

We are trying our damnest to be a part of their lives, and with that help them live a better life. I know that when we call or visit we are attacked in hugs. The kids bug their momma and my sis on the days till we get there countdown. Initially our neice was coming but the trip had to be put back a couple of weeks, so it ran into school time, and she was so disapointed that she could not come.

Yesterday, I got news that I did not want to hear. It ate at me all of yesterday and today. The father was not working, or was working sporatically at best, and now the kids were going hungry. Here I am, living, so to speak, off of the fat of the land, in a life too comfortable to complain about, and two kids which mean the world to me, go to bed with growling bellies?

My heart shattered at the news. Some would tell you I do not have one. Others may only speculate. WIth my work life up in the air, and with it my planned time off, it has complicated my ideals greatly. I had planned on going back for a week to visit. Probably the week after Thanksgiving this year. Now, I almost feel I have to. If for nothing lese, to help family that is in need of it, and that need is well within my ability.

I know I cannot fix the world. Cure its illneses and troubles. Grasp sanity out of chaos, and unrest. But, if it can be done, it will be done. I will do the right thing.

Odds and Ends

Odds and Ends

Current mood:pensive

Getting worried. I have a little over a week before I need to go back to work, and I still do not feel up to it. Though I am starting to put some things together, in regards to when and what causes the pain I am having.

Over doing it, has a lot to do with things. The trip to the attic was a time of insanity for me. Had I just stood there and let my friends bust their asses, instead of my trying to get involved, things might be different. Ah, to learn a lesson the hard way.

Tomorrow is the day that another era comes to an end. This time, thru pure incompetence and mismanagement. I must be a carrier though. I keep having stations closed out from underneath me.

Speaking of work, I got a call from the investigator, who was trying to close the barn door well after the cow had wandered out. I got a call a week after I went out for surgery, asking me if I knew where some items that had turned up missing at work, were at. Nope, I explained. I have been home and as I have cleared my stuff out of the station, I have had no reason to come back (and being cut to pieces, I could not suffer myself to make the trip in my truck in the first place).

I had to laugh out loud at this news. The theft I suffered was, lets see if I can get this quote exact, was buried: "there is no interest in this investigation leaving this office'. So, they want me to be concerned about their losses, when they were actively ignoring mine? I've workeded since I was 15 years old. I've been in the job I have now, for almost 30 years, and in all of that time, be it total time working, or time in the FD, I cannot recall ever hearing anything so idiotic as the one made to 3 of us, telling me that the investigation of my loss was being swept under the rug.

Everyone knows who the thief is. GAWD DAMN, he was seen with some of my stuff. Yet, since, from all appearances, being a motor cycle riding buddy of one of the supervisors, it seems that he is being protected. And I just got thrown under the bus.

When I got the call from the investigator some weeks later, I had to laugh. Though I did not mention a name, I was surprized when he told me that 4 other people *had* named his name.

Last week, I went back to the station to have dinner with the guys. The station was closing in a couple of days and it would be the last time we had to get together. Imagine my surprize, when I am told that more stuff had been stolen.

At this point, I must have Stockholm Syndrome. Since my bosses think it is OK to steal from me, I know now, that it is OK to steal from them. Hell, I am rooting for the 'bad guys' here. I hope that they come in one day and find the engine up on blocks, with the rims and wheels gone.

I am embittered. It shows. As I said earlier, I cannot recall anyone ever telling me something so stupid, in my entire work life. It took all respect I had out of me, for 3 of the supervisors at work. I'll never look them in the eyes without knowing that they are incompetent, and culpable in the protection of a thief. And, I never would have guessed that would happen in my life.

Better times: had lunch with Guns the other day. Have not seen her in quite some time. We tried to play catch up in less than an hour, but I think that I turned into Jaws, and never stopped talking.

My sister and BIL are coming in from Tennessee this weekend, and I am looking forward to a week with them. Being out for recovery has one advantage; I'll be free to spend time with them.

I guess I need to count my blessings. All in all, aside from motrin manageable pain, I am healing up nicely. Slower than I expected. But I am healing. My family is doing well. I can't complain, I guess.

Just keeping in practice.

Half-Stepping backwards

Half-Stepping backwards

Current mood:thoughtful

Today my memory failed me. Well, time and contracts technically failed me. But a long time ago, a wide eyed, yet very sleepy kid once traveled these roads. Full of wonder, and no doubt, for once in his life, being a sense of wonder for his father. I returned to the scene of a crime, long since cleaned and painted over. Evidence long gone.

My life is in turmoil. Complete, house in the sky, spinning and pitching on the head of the twister out of control. The jackasses I work for are asking us to to do the impossible. Make Swiss watches out of nothing. We have been told that our station is closing, and now the rumor of two more companies has been tossed into the mix. We have not been given anything but a by this date, date. No idea where we will end up. No shift, engine, position information. Yet, we have been carved in stone tasked with making a life decision based on incomplete, and in most cases wildly comflicting information. You could not have worse mis-management if you specifically ordered it out of a catalog. Yet, that is what I have to deal with.

So, this morning, I steel myself up with a handful of motrin, and drive into the blackness that is a 40 something year old memory. Trying to find landmarks where they are not any. I visit, in no specific order the stations on the far end of the string, each a Fort Sedgwick in its own way. Outposts at the end of the frontier. The tip of the spear.

I shake hands, tell the same old stories, hear the same old gripes and know that the passage of any amount of time, will never change some things. I make my courtesies and leave, no closer to the truth I seek, than when I started.

I see the shadows of those childhood memories. Ribbons of rusted steel that now run to nowhere. Most long since torn up and hauled away. But a skeletial few remain, to remind me that they were once the object of my night of wonder and fulfillment. I look. Hoping that they would lead to what I would be sure of to be, the long closed Roundhouse. The place where my father and his friend brought me one sleepless night. A midnight move. The train crew called in from the comfort of their own lives. And once tag along kid, curled up, sleeping in the seat.

The crew climbed up on the engine, as it coughed to life. Its cold hearted diesels warming up, and belching their smoke. We went somewhere in the dark. I could not tell you where it was. The light of the engine making its own trail in the darkess that was the middle of the night. The night I should have been curled up in my bed. Not that night. I sat straight up on the bench. Wide awake. Taking in the sounds and smells of that cold night. The being in the middle of the unknown, riding in the seat where my dad made his living. He was the Conductor. This was his train.

Sometime in the darkness I missed it. Or it might have been one day at work, while I was at home, that the decision was made. I do not know. But, when the voice called me to the controls and asked me if I wanted to drive the train, there was nothing I could say but yes. I know that there was hands behind me, just out of my line of sight, reading to take over, if mine slipped. If I touched a switch by accident. My wide eyes saw nothing of this. I saw the ribbons of steel leading away in the darkness. The light of the engine making its own trail into that darkness. And the dull throb of the smoking diesel, as it made easy the task it had before it.

I was the Engineer of this train. My Dad, the Conductor. Our friend, the watchman, who looked over me, and made sure that I made the best of things. This went of, for what seemed like forever. In reality it could not have been more than a mile or two, before the adult hands resumed their places on the controls, and I resumed my place on the bench. But, it had already been done. I had lived the life of my father, if only for a fleeting moment. We shared knowing smiles over this, for the rest of my childhood. I never knew if he thought I had just had forgotten this. Maybe thinking that it was a dream I once had. I can't remember if we ever talked about it, past my childhood.

He has been gone for some time. He and our friend. The trains have long since been removed. The tracks, for the most part town up and hauled away. The roundhouse, is just a distant memory. But today, I saw it all again. If for nothing further than the dim memories of childhood, that came back. Not to haunt me. But to remind me, that all things eventually run in circles, if we have the patience to wait long enough.

Who knew it wasn't safe to be a kid?

  • Who knew it wasn't safe to be a kid?
    Current mood:imaginative

  • Each day, I do a check out of my engine. Check the fluid levels. Make sure that the equipment is in place and has not been lost. I reset paperwork. Order parts. Arrange for repairs. Change the batteries. Refill the water jug.

    Its the water jug that apparently is one of those things of great debate. I, for the life of me, do not know why. The oppoeite shift at my station is so triffling, and worthless, that the water jug never gets touched. Since I have been here, taking care of my engine, I can count on the fingers of one hand the times I have came in and it appeared that those clowns changedthe water, and added ice to the jug.

    Yet, apparently, someone used a waterhose to refill the jug some time in the past, and it brought protests - from the g uys who never touch the damned thing. Leaves an after taste, they said. And, to boot one of the genius's came up with some fun fact, that they heard from a friend, who read it on the internet, that drinking water from a water hose is not good for you.


    Waterhoses were god-sends to us, when we were kids. Instant water sourses, as long as you let the hot water run out first (the sun would heat up any standing water in the hose. I drank a river of water from the hose at my parents house. I'm still kicking.

    Fruit is bad for you now. Unless you damn near run it thru a wash cycle. We kids grew up on the local fruit in our neighborhood. Our yard had a sour green apple tree. You could pick up an apple on any givenday off of the ground around the tree. Or you could toss a bat up into the tree, and knock down fresh ones. Belly aches from green apples? Nah. We ate so many of the damned things, we became immune to that. Anothe kid had a peachtree in his yard, and we had a secondary food source, with a plum tree. We never ate junk food at home. Oh, we'd bike up to Grimes or to the 7-11 and buy candy, slurpees, but that was secondary to our steady diet of green apples.

    Playing with guns is the worse thing you can let your kid do, these days. Oh really? We played 'Army' all the time. With pop guns, we'd load up with mud. The occasional cap gun. and with dirt clods for grenades (shot with sling shots, if we were firing artillery). We stormed the beaches of Normandy. Tredged thru the hedgerows. Fought the japs on Iwo. We played sniper in the trees (and tree houses). Sewer culverts were pill boxes (but a well thrown dirt clod would wipe out the squad). Piles of leaves, that we raked before burning in the curb, was the best cammo anyone could ask for.

    Playing daredevil can hurt you. I guess. If you let it. Every kid, to a man, was an expert bike mechanic. Had to be. Or you walked. Some had single speeds. I had a three speed, abit large framed bike with a banana seat, and hippie bars. Others had 20' spider bikes. One guy had a cool looking bike that had a spring in the forks. Heavy to pedel and hard to ride though. We jumped ditches, curbs. Played tag. Had slide contests (though if you slid thru the tire tread and got to the tube, the bike mechanic stuff came in to play) We'd wreck. Occasionally we'd tear something up (bent fork. Broken rim). For a while, we went thru a phase where extra bikes had the front forks sawed off, jammed up on the forks of a second bike, making a chopper out of it. Notice I said nothing about welding/tacking the extra forks. So, if you lifted the front wheel, you ran the very real risk of the entire front end falling apart. We even had a kid turn bike thief one summer which started a neighborhood vs neighborhood war, that went on, until the adults got involved with it.

    No kid sould ever feel ike they won or lost at anything. Everyone tries. What utter bullshit. Home run derby was played in our street. If you did not hit a home run (ball was caught, you swung and missed, or it did not gofar enough) you rotated positions. Street football was between the light poles. 2 hand touch, or if you stepped off of the street at the curb. When it got too hot to play in the middle of theday, we'd sit on the porch and play monopoly. marathon, massive pot on Free Parking monopoly games. We ran thru a couple of games each summer (we'd literally wear the money and cards out). We dug forts in the ditches for us kids, and minature ones for our GI Joe's. Played lawn darts and no one gave a second's thought of getting impailed on one of them. Same stink stuff with chemistry sets. Grew protozoa for my microscope. Built the Sears tower with an erector set. Fort Whatever, with Lincoln logs. Ran scale miles of Hot Wheel track over and under damn near everything. Rain made puddles, which were fun to jump in. Even more fun to slide thru on your bike.

    No kid should go hungry. We never did. A mayo sandwich (or a onion and mustard one)went a long way. Or a handful sized hunk of velveeta was heaven. Mom's handmade lemonaide never tasted better, even though it had enough sugar in it, to light us up for hours each night. Occasionally a kid would come up with chips or other junk food. You hungry? Grab a piece of leftover cornbread. Or bisquits. The occasional cookie. We cooked french fries over the oil heater grate in the center hallway. You had to leave your door open to get heat in the bedrooms. Or the A/C, if dad left it on at night.

    Kids watch way too much TV. I grew up listening to the radio. Started out with a crystal set. Far away ball games, in far away cities. Old country music shows. My dad was one of the first in our neighborhood to get a color TV. Back then, shows were about 50/50. Some in color (like Disney). The majority of the ones we kids were allowed to watch, were not. Sometimes the neighbors wouldcome over and watch Ed Sullivan - everyone watched Ed on Sunday nights. On Saturday afternoon, the Saturday Afternoon Major Leage Baseball Game of the Weekcame on. Mantle, Maris, Berra, or the Dodgers with Kaufax, or the Giants with Mays. Baseball games were special things back then. During the day, mom would not even let us in the house, except to go to the bathroom. We ate our lunches on the porch - interupting the mid day monopoly game. We were just not ever inside, unless it was raining/storming.

    Kids run wild. They have no structure. Really? We knew our boundries. North, south, east and west. Basically it was as far as your parents knew the neighbors well enough. Sometimes it was the length of a long bike ride (if going to the 7-11 or Grimes). But all of the other parents knew you by name, and knew your parents, and their phone numbers. So, if you showed your ass, they'd just pick up the phone. We had one rule. Only one. Be home before the street lights came on. Don't make your parents have to look for you. You'd hear the occasional kids name yelled out in that long, sing-song voice that parents seem to know from birth. And an answer of I am coming. Or else. We did not take anything fron strangers. But strangers in the neighborhood had already registered on the parents watchdog radar - they knew about them before we did. If you were staying over at another kids house for dinner, they already knew, due to the mom's phone mafia.

    I had no idea. I was in danger? Did my parents mistreat me? Was I neglected? Was I one heartbeat from being a social workers statistic?

    No. I drank out of water hoses. Rode a bike like a maniac. Ate green apples all the while balancing what they might do to our bowels. Girls still had cooties. Dogs were cool. Box turtles were cooler. I lived as free as a bird, within the confines of a very structured set of rules. I was self sufficient - as long as I coould keep my bike tubes from leaking, and I could find enough bottles to turn in for the nickel deposit - to keep myself in comics. The soles of our feet were like leather, from walking on the hot tar/graveled roads in my neighborhood. We had dirt everywhere, but nothing that a hated bath would not fix. We burned leaves in the street gutter (a smell that to thisday as an adult, I still love). Halloween was heaven in the fall. No one even thought about putting anything but candy in your bag. Christmas was everything. The Sears Wish Book did not stand a chance.

    Come to think of it, maybe all of that whining about the water jug isn't the most important thing in the world anymore...
  • I guess the ruble isn't worth as much as it used to be..

    I guess the ruble isn't worth as much as it used to be..

    Current mood:confused

    I love russian gals. The way they talk. Their utter incomprehension of the english language. Makes for a lot of fun.

    So, here I am. Wandering around in Potomac Mills, looking for the head. Like a moron, I had already walked past it. I stopped at one of those shove stuff in your face center of the aisle pain in the ass I already have a cell phone and don't need another one, no, I am a man and I do not wear perfune storefront places, and little Miss Vodka looks at me with those doe eyes, and asks in something closer to english than the dothead at my local 7-11, but way past any cab driver, 'can I help you?'

    Sure. Trying to find the restroom, I answer. She says, 'for 5 dollars, I will tell you where it is.'. I reply, 'for 5 dollars, I'll pee right on the floor in front of your (see above) storefront.'

    I guess that did not register in her soon to be a stripper (GD Anthony and his russian stipper impression...'you want me to make the sexy for you?') mind, as she pointed out the bathrooms, without any cash being exchanged. She'll get to the cash being exchanged part of her life, sooner, than later.

    Off I go. Leaving Oxsana Porsche in the dust.

    How did I get myself in this perdicament in the first place? Oh, I promised the MIL that anytime she wanted to go to Potomac Mills, I'd take her (and the XYL). D-Day came, and there we went.

    I managed to sneak in a trip to HRO to pick up something I needed for the new radio I had just bought at Dayton, so, at that point my day was done in my point of view.

    The GAWDS smiled on me, for a change, because as I walked in I ran across a place that rented shopping carts. I weighed the options. Carry dozens of bags, till my hands went numb (not even counting my backpack) or look like a tourist, pushing this dumbass cart. I happily gripped my diet Dew in my non-numb hand, as I pushed the cart from point A to Point B, then back to Point A, then on to Point C....

    I long had lost the use of my freshly adjusted back, with the awful hotel bed, so if I stopped moving, My back tightened up so much, that it took a wing and a prayer, for me to even stand up.

    From one end, to the other, and then back again, we trundled thru the crowds of angry people. Angry? Seemed to me that the majority of folks who walked by me speaking in their jibberish looked and sounded angry. Like, really angry. Unless we start talking like professional wresslers (lets see if anyone gets that goof), I don't get it...

    I now know why the heathens won the elections this fall. Every Mr. and Mrs. I Hate America, came by me with one or two baby carriages, or multiple kids. All jabbering in something other than english. From the shirts and hats I saw, Jesus has been replaced by the new (and improved) Messiah Obama.

    And, IMHO, I saw the dumbest thing - at least in my way of thinking - I had seen in quite sometime. Let me, prep this by saying, if I move to Mexico, I will learn spanish. France? I'll learn french. Compton? Ebonics.

    There at the head of the food court was a Rosetta Stone storefront. Selling kits to learn every imaginable language..but...need I finish the sentence?

    I quietly grinded my teeth and I walked away.

    I figure it'll be in my lifetime. Certainly, in the next, that the heathens offically take America over. For F's sake, we're encouraging it. Oh, we;ll learn some gibberish language of yours. Don't even think of learning the language of the country you Hate..

    So, I'll never be Mr. Diversity. Nor will I be Mr. Multi-cultural. I will not even be I speak something other than english guy. I do need to be Mr get on Wikipedia to see if he can figure out the scarves over the head (around the neck. Covering the head, but not the face. Eyes only thing visable) thing, or the red dot in the middle of the forehead guy.

    That has be completely stumped...

    I hope that Oxsana Porsche takes to her stripper lessons. She looks to have potential..

    Freedom of In-Sanity as we know it....

    Freedom of In-Sanity as we know it....

    Current mood:quixotic

    Been killing the day, playing Domestic Goddess. Clothes. Running the vacumn (funny how a joke about any man worth his salt would have given a woman a vacumn already, went over like a lead baloon. But I digress...). Unpacking. Tooling around on Myspace and Facebook. Listening to the XM radio. Just unwinding..

    I think I have went down this path before. Hundreds of time, with dullard managers at various work places. Idealistic emptyheaded fools who fight Quixotic politically. Camp followers. The trendy. The too hip for the room. The stupid and the plain retarded.

    I've changed so much over the years. As a teenager growing up in the 60's, I started out as a liberal. I bought into all of that flower power crap. It drove my parents to distraction. I eventually came to my senses, and slowly turned to a more conservative slant. And now, I change again, taking on a more libertarian point of view.

    I've also changed into really understanding that every action should have a reaction. In so much, as stupid is, as stupid does, as an example, if one really thinks that one should be allowed to ride a motorcycle without a helmet - so be it. However, if one cracks their head open like a melon, it is reasonable for you to be responsible for that action, and if the life insurance policy you have denies the claim, well, you knew better. That ones gonna be a tough one. Too many generations of people now who have been taught there are no repercussions for their actions. Therefore, no one has to take any responsibility for anything.

    I have to remind myself, that as the theory goes, we have a Constitution, which grants us many rights. It started out as a check and balance to a government, that the framers just knew was going to get out of control. It did, and now we have a real mess on our hands.

    As much as I hate the actions of some - say one of my favorites - flag burners - I have to defend thir right to do this, as freedom of expression/speech. It makes me hate their very lives, and it makes me wish death and destruction upon them and their families. Yet, I stand and take it. The flag that I saluted in the military, is the said same one I have to watch burn. Checks and balances.

    So, when someone comes along, too stupid for words, it puts one in one of those delimma's. Started out with a flurry of e-mail messages (nothing like forwarding the juicy ones to each other) on Facebook: Attack/get this guy. I did not open them up because I always have a in-box full of them every day. As I started reading the news scroll, it made me go back to the mail.

    Some one. I'll just let it go at that. Had named their Mafia Wars player 'Niggah Hater'. And it stirred up a hailstorm of Political Correctness indignancy. I truely believe it started a feeding frenzy. or it started one of those impression stampeded: if I do not show my indignity, then someone may think I support this. No matter. It caused the message to be sent out dozens of times.

    Hmm...are these said, same folks mortified at the rap music I can listen to, 24/7 on XM, where the other spelling of that word (along with [laughing] 'nappy headed' et al) are every 4th or 5th word in the songs there? Are they in a lather, if they walk the 1/4 mile with me, to the tip of the spear, in the Section 8 housing, where they can, at their leisure be given up close and personal lessons on the proper, and improper use of that word?


    I got better things to do. I expend my energy these days at drivers on cell phones. Some dolt with a 'niggah hater' Mafia Wars account, is way below my radar. Besides, he's just Forrest Gumping, at this point. Oh, the less informed. The band wagon riders. The fence sitters. The too cool for the room types. Liberals. Will crawl out of the woodwork, to express their indignity at the ignorance of this guy.

    Isn't it always the case? The very ones whom one would think would support freedom of speech, are the ones trying to control it via Political Correctness? Is it necessarily smart speech? Nah. But, is it 'freedom of speech? You betcha. So, when the PC Police get their dander up, it is so hard for me to take them seriously anymore. There is a word I use for folks like this. 'Niggah' isn't it. Neither is 'Hater'. But, 'Hypoctite' is.

    I doubt there is anyone who can remember the last time I used that word. I have no doubt it has slipped out on occasion at some stupid driver. But I have no need for it. The stupid of this world, are way past that anyway. In some sort of twisted logic, if I called you that, you could almost ignore it. If I call you VI, or stupid, perk up. You have MY attention..

    I have no use for that kind of stuff anymore. The ignorant of the world may. But, as the bumper sticker said, We come from two different worlds. Mine uses soap and toothpaste".

    Be it stupidity. Ignorance. Or Hypocricy. If calling someone/each other that, is your cup of tea. Have at it. Just be ready for the consequences that may or may not come. Me? I just gotta defend your right to speak that way. If you get your ass kicked, in the meanwhile, thats on your shoulders..

    Will the PC Police come after me, if I declare myself a 'Liberal Hater'? Wonder how much sleep I will lose tonight worrying about it...

    One Mothers Day, a long, long time ago...

    One Mothers Day, a long, long time ago...

    Current mood:blessed

    Sometimes, you are so dumbfounded by events, that you can't find the words to make sense of it. Happened to me a year or so ago. We Firemen are social creatures. In as much as we are pretty tightnit group, when it comes to group activities. Things such as dinner tend to be pseudo-family affairs. Shared recipes. Experences. Ass busting.

    Every so often, we come up looking for new things to try out on ourselves. Our OCD guy came up with the idea that his mom had this killer recipe and he got her on the phone to get it out of her. A minute or two of conversation, the OCD kicked in, and the yelling and cursing started.

    I was so taken by this I became speachless. I'd give anything to have the amount of time it would take to tell my mother that I am doing well. Shes been gone for a long time. I lot my gransmother, father and mother in 25 months, and this guy is cursing his mother? Oh, I will not lie and tell anyone that my relationship with my parents was peaches and creame. I will tell you, that as I got older, and past my ETOH problems,that i matured, and grew to appreciate what they were trying to tell me.

    Today is Mother's Day. Stuck at work, as usual, it is just another family gathering that I have missed. The XYL is with her mother and family. I am here with my disfunctional one at the station.

    I will never know why this happened, but for some reason I grew up thinking that my birthday was on the 12th. Somehow the wrong date got put on my SSN paperwork, as a teen ager, and I never knew it until I had a tax problem some years ago, and had to run thru the towel line of civil servants that I had to see, to get it corrected.

    So, in the way back machine, I was born on Mother's Day all those many years ago. Of course, in the reality of things, my mother labored with me, the day before. In all probability, I was probably the best mothers day present that she could ever have had.

    So, today as I read thru the endless Mother's Day messages on Facebook, and the smattering of early birthday wishes, it reminds me of back in the day, they were one and the same.

    Just a couple of minutes. Thats all it will take.

    Shooting Trifecta's in a barrel...

    Shooting Trifecta's in a barrel...

    Current mood:accomplished
    I suppose I could be charged with retard cruelty. Or something like that. Our rookie is broke as a church mouse. And does not have cable TV, so he has taken to coming into the station on the Tuesday's he is off and watching Rescue Me, with the opposing shift.

    Which is the station and shift that one of our Trifecta of Retards works on. And, with his whoever it is complex, he apparently thinks that he can run the kid off. Make him unwelcome in his own station.

    This is not sitting well with me at all. Not at all. he's MY rookie, and if anyone is going to make him uncomfortable, it'll be me. But, moreso, I have been instilling in my kids that the Fire Department is tradition, and it is family, and it is brotherhood. Something that the Trifecta cannot wrap his closed mind around.

    So, tonight me and the XYL, took the Rookie to Busch Gardens. We just walked around, and took in the sights. When we left, we went to 5 Guys - sent off the appropriate pictures to aggravate the guys who could not be there - and then the Research and Development side of me, kicked in.

    I retired from Operations a while back. I no longer do the gags at the Fire Station. I am the guy who thinks them up, and then I send my trainees off to do them for me.

    I turned to the kid and told him to call the station, ask them if they minded if he came in later to watch a movie on HBO. Stop. End of sentence.

    But, that end of sentence, sent the Trifecta into orbit. I knew that the guys on duty would tell the moron of the call. Baiting the hook. He would set it himself. But the bait did have to be dangled in front of him.

    Part two of the goof. I then had the rookie call to another guy, have him call the station and leave word that his phone was acting up and if they would have the rookie call him when he got in. Hook set.

    Calls and text's to the guys at the station confirmed my suspicions, that the Trifecta is on orbit.

    You did catch that no one is coming by the station, correct? That this moron, who has no idea about family and brotherhood, has self winded like a cheap watch?

    Oh, I'll hear about it in the morning. It'll take all I can muster to not laugh out loud, when the story starts to unfold in front of me.

    2 little phone calls.

    And, that's how you shoot Trifecta's in a barrel...

    10 years. Has it been that long?

    10 years. Has it been that long?

    Current mood:quixotic

    It's the ten year anniversary of a lot of things in my life. A little more than 12 since I came to my new station. 10 years since the VOLS did anything (National Championship). And ten years (a little more, I guess) than the road I am on was taken.

    Has it been that long? The easiest way to gauge time, is to look at a movie date. Such and such movie came out X years ago. Was it that that long ago? Then you think back. That movie came out, and I was where, doing what. Time has a funny way of picking up speed, once it passes you. We live in a day to day world. Sometimes hour to hour, or even minute to minute at times. And, when we look back, with that all-seeing crystal ball, it surprizes me, what I see. I guess I am at the 1/3 part of things. Maybe entering into the 1/4th. Not sure what that future brings. I know that I have 5 more working years in me, in the Fire Department, before they give me a photocopy of a picture of a gold watch, a pat on the back, and directions to the gate. Another 4 and my house, well home that I live in, will be paid off.

    Ten years ago, we were under the thumb of the Democrats, with the Rapist-In-Chief, and the ex-First-Yenta, running the country into the ground. I hope and pray that we have only 4 more years of that nightmare before us. I doubt I could stomach 8, and the country will not survive that long.

    Ten years ago, I was not speaking to my brother. And I hardly knew my sister and my other brother. A bunch of my uncles and aunts were still alive. And my mother, Vance, Inez, Flancher, Warner, Ailene, Billy Joe were all still with me. Though I had lost my father and grandmother about a year prior to that. My grandfather was still alive - spry, kicking, and raising hell. The aunts and uncles on my mothers side had not back-stabbed me yet.

    I still have my old 5 speed Ranger, which I miss terribly. Until the clown on his cell phone ran into the car behind me, which hit me and threw me, and the Ranger into Interstate traffic, where I was hit by a 18 wheeler. The 18 wheeler won.

    Ten years ago, Vista was not even a wet spot in Bill Gates pants. My computer ran like a charm. GAWD DAMN Bill Gates to Hell, for Vista.

    Ten years ago, I was in the first stages of finding out that GAWD hears your prayers, and He heres your curses. And He is aware when you shake your fist at the sky. And he can take things away from you. Things that you wish you had back.

    Ten years ago, the birch tree in the front year had not played havoc with the house yet.

    Ten years ago, Beaner was still with us, and I revelled in the 147.400 Beaner 'Repeater'. And Earline still laughed at us, when we whisper talked to Beaner about taking him out to eat stuff he was not allowed to eat according to his doctor. My 3 dozen strong of close radio friends, still held court on a daily basis.

    Ten years ago, I was angry. In the midst of a whirlwind of strife, that I could not comprehend. And about to lose my job over it.

    Ten years ago, I still wore button down, with badge, uniforms at work. Sweating my ass off in the summertime. Ten years ago, I caught my boss in a bald-faced lie, and it has taken me 10+ years, to get past that.

    Ten years ago, I took my second 2 of two major falls off of the Fire Trucks. Sealing my fate, in so much, and destroying my back.

    Ten years ago, Jerry and Jessie ruled my house.

    Ten years ago, Frank and his family were still good friends with me. Before I caught one of their kids stealing from me. It was the end of the BBS days as I knew them.

    Ten years ago, I still had a head full of hair, as I still do today. But the grey in it was a long time coming. Crows feet, wrinkles, and Mean ol Mr. Gravity did not have a solid hold on me yet. Mr. Flab had a decent grip on me though.

    Had it been that long? Has ten years passed so quickly, that in retrospect, it seems like a faded memory?

    I guess it has. I am looking forward to the next ten years. Maybe I can find the piece of mind I am looking for. And the wisdom and the clarity of thought, to put it to good use.

    We will see...

    The Amazing Grace of Christmas Morning

    The Amazing Grace of Christmas Morning

    Current mood:inspired

    [Some years ago, while attending a Bible Camp, I heard this song sung to the tune of 'House of the Rising Sun'. It was amazing. Next time you hear that song on the radio, block out the lyrics, and sing Amazing Grace to yourself. You will never be able to hear that song, without thinking about this one]

    The amazing grace of Christmas morn

    The Christ born in a manger 2,000 years ago lives nonetheless, and continues to change the hearts of sinners and transform the wicked.

    This is the real story of Christmas, and nothing illustrates the redeeming power of the message of Christmas with greater clarity than the story of an English slaver named John Newton:

    Newton was born nearly 300 years ago into a seafaring family in Liverpool. He was a bright child and his mother was a godly woman whose faith was the crucial element of her life. She died when he was only 7, but at the end of his life, he recalled the sweetest remembrance of childhood, the soft and tender voice of a mother at prayer.

    His father married again at once, and John left school four years later to go to sea with his father. He quickly adopted the vulgar life of common seamen, though the memory of his mother's faith remained with him.

    "I saw the necessity of religion as a means of escaping hell," he would recall many years later, "but I loved sin."

    One day on shore leave, he was seized by a press gang and taken aboard a navy ship, HMS Harwich, where life was even coarser. He ran away, only to be captured and taken back to the Harwich to be put in chains, stripped and publicly flogged. "The Lord had by all appearances given me up to judicial hardness," he would recall. "I was capable of anything. I had not the least fear of God, nor the least sensibility of conscience. I was firmly persuaded that after death, I should merely cease to be."
    The captain of the Harwich traded him to the skipper of a slaving ship, bound for West Africa to take aboard a human cargo. "At this period of my life," he later reflected, "I was big with mischief and, like one afflicted with a pestilence, was capable of spreading a taint wherever I went." John's new captain took a liking to him, however, and took him to his plantation on an island off the African coast, where he had taken as his wife a young African princess. The wife was jealous of John's friendship with her husband, and was pleased when it was time for them to sail once more. But John fell ill, and the captain of the slaving ship left John in his wife's care.

    The ship was no sooner over the horizon than she ordered him taken from their house and put in a dank hut, gave him a board for a bed and a log for a pillow, leaving him in delirium to die.

    Miraculously, he did not die. John was kept in chains, in a cage like an animal, and fed swill from the wife's table. Word spread through the district that a black woman was keeping a white male slave, and many came to watch her taunt him. They threw limes and sometimes stones at him, mocking his misery.

    He would have starved if a few of the slaves, brought from the interior to await a ship to take them to the Americas, had not shared their scraps of food with him.

    After five years, the captain returned, and when John told him how he had been treated, he branded John a thief and a liar, and when they sailed again, John was treated harshly. Cold and hungry, his health steadily failed. He was given only the entrails of animals butchered for the crew's mess. "The voyage quite broke my constitution," he would recall, "and the effects would always remain with me as a needful memento of the service of wages and sin."

    Like Job, he became a magnet for adversity. His ship was wrecked in a great storm, and only their cargo of wood and beeswax saved them. He thought of praying, but despaired that God had mercy left for him after his life of indifference to the Gospel. "During the time I was engaged in the slave trade," he would later write, "I never had the least scruple to its lawfulness." The arrogant and unrestrained blasphemer, the mocker of the faith of others, was driven to prayer. "My prayer was like the cry of ravens, which yet the Lord does not disdain to hear."

    He was saved once more, and made his way back to England, where he began to reflect on the mercies God had shown him in his awful life, and he fell under the influence of two great evangelists, George Whitefield and John Wesley. He was born again into a new life in Christ, and began to preach the Gospel he now understood.

    When he died at 82, two days short of Christmas in 1807, he left a dazzling testimony to the power of the Christmas story. "I commit my soul to my gracious God and Savior, who mercifully spared and preserved me, when I was an apostate, a blasphemer and an infidel, and delivered me from that state on the coast of Africa into which my obstinate wickedness had plunged me." This is the testimony that, set to music, would become the favorite hymn of Christendom:

    "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
    that saved a wretch like me;
    I once was lost, but now am found
    was blind, but now I see.
    "'twas grace that taught my heart to fear
    and grace my fears relieved.
    How precious did that grace appear,
    the hour I first believed.
    "Through many dangers, toils and snares
    I have already come
    'tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
    and grace will lead me home."

    Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Times.
    Source: The Washington Times, Internet edition, 12-25-98 /"