Monday, January 31, 2011

I Don't Like Mondays

On this particular Monday:
  • We are bracing ourselves for another blast of snow, perhaps up to two feet more.
  • I find myself trying to figure out how to properly parent a little situation with my daughter and faltering grades/focus on schoolwork.
  • I find myself in the tedious portion of teacher duty.
  • I offer up this clever video using the great Boomtown Rats song and clips from the brilliant "House, M.D."

I think you are all swell to come by...thanks :)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Great Roof Rake Race

How many of you folks out there in bloggerville even know what a roof rake is? The demand for them here in my neck of the woods is great...Lowe's and Ome Depot can't keep them in stock. in fact, today i stopped in Home Depot at around 12:30 and asked for one, guys says, "we're out, there's a shipment coming in at 2 this afternoon though."

After kiling time spoiling my daughter a little at Target and confirming Lowe's was out of stock on roof rakes, I made it back to Home Depot around 2:05 and was amazed ar what I saw. There was a crew of guys with a hand truck full of roof rakes and a lineup of people grabbing for them. They sold out all of them almost as fast as Bruce Springsteen sells out football stadiums.

It was almost surreal seeing a flock of people carring these very large metallic blue poles through the store. If I had my flipcam, I think I couold have easily produced a viral gem with little effort. Rardless, $40 bucks later, I now own a roof rake...bring it on Mo'naitch.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Karaoke Night

I am here at church, just finished setting up for the Karaoke fundraiser - I also realized I left my Flip cam at home :(, I was hoping to get some video here to show you my cornball ways :)

Hopefully someone will snap a few photos but regardless, I'll be back later with something of an update/overview of the event.

Karaoke Night III is now in the past and what a time it was. The turnout was relatively low but the spirits were very high which made for a fun evening. I kicked off the night with my rendition of "Ten Rounds with Jose Cuervo'. I later was nominated to sing "New York, New York," which I started off Frank-ish and finished more on the Liza-ish side. I fulfilled a 25+ year dream of performing (part of) an original song and we closed the night with "Love Shack", which I was nominated to sing but had a great backup group that made it super fun.

I don't have the count but there were dozens of performances, hundreds of dollars raised, and oodles of fun and fellowship had by all. If someone sends me pics or videos, I'll be sure to post them. I should talk about some of the standout performances but I am literally falling asleep at the keyboard here - goodnight!

Friday, January 28, 2011

No Rest for the Weekend

I am writing this at just after 11pm after getting caught up in my day and blowing off some other ideas I had for a post (I really need to write ideas down somewhere).

Tomorrow, we are having our third Karaoke Night Fundraiser and I will once again be the emcee. I don't feel good about this one because of the nasty weather and poor(er) promotion - there seems to not be as much buzz and I fear that turnout will be low but I shall hold out hope.

What will make emcee duties a tad more challenging that in the past is I have a class to teach in the morning beforehand and I will be lecturing for somewhere around four hours - that will make singing and hosting for three more hours later in the day interesting.

Some other things in bullet form:
  • The president of the college I work at has accepted a new job elsewhere
  • Today was the 112th consecutive day in which I have exercised
  • While I think the prospect of my Toronto trip might be off, the potential for a Vegas trip this summer seems possible (oh those conferences)
  • There are icicle that are 5 feet and longer hanging from my roof (this is both cool looking and a cause for worry)
  • There's a pile of snow at the entrance to my driveway that is about 7 feet tall

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Clearing a Path

I am exhausted. Of late, moving snow has become so commonplace that there is little time for doing anything else. In fact, when I finish typing this (I am actually using speech recognition because my arms and fingers are too tired to type) I need to contact the post office and have my mail held because currently, my mailbox is completely buried in snow.

I woke up at 5:00 this morning, as I normally would on a workday, and saw that the school system in my local town was closed but the school that I work at had not yet made an announcement. I made the rare decision to say fuck it and go back to sleep. I awoke again at about 7:30 and this time saw that my school had announced a delayed opening for 11:00 AM.

I got myself dressed and prepared to face the snow. I opened the garage doors, fired up the snow thrower and went to town. I began by clearing out the snow in the width of the driveway from the garage doors across. The point where the pavement ends and the grass begins is usually where I stop and because we've had so much snow of late, the pile of snow at that point is between four and five feet tall. At one point, the edge of that snow barrier came down in an avalanche fashion and I was both amused and annoyed.

Once that beginning segment was clear it was time to work my way down the length of the driveway which is usually pretty easy until I got closer to the street. By this time the street plows have created a thigh high barrier of hard packed icy hell that will have my snow thrower screaming in agony as I sadistically force it to carve its way through.

At one point I was standing out in the street, snow thrower pointed in toward the driveway and I noticed a plow coming up the street - I decided to just stand there flipping the bird to the driver and forcing him to go around me. Of course where there is one plow, there is usually another close behind so while I had the chance I once again coaxed the snow thrower through the hellish entrance to the driveway and I could almost hear the machine gasp sighs of relief as it soon found softer snow.

When the job was finally complete I proceeded to get myself ready for my workday which was waiting for me on the other end of this already exhausting morning. When I got to work I was filled with anger so much so that I wished an awful lot of hateful crap on the bone heads who made the decision that employees and students should report to school. I guess there's not much more I can really say. I try not to complain too much about the snow because I do make a choice to live in New England and I know it comes with the territory. Right now however I am really sore, achy and a bit cranky…

Tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What Kind of Morons Live in Arkansas?

I look at the magazine cover to the left and I see something beautiful; two adults who love each other and a beautiful baby boy who is probably going to be spoiled rotten by two loving parents. When I look at the picture, I see a family, nothing more and nothing less.

Apparently, some morons in Arkansas, at a supermarket whose name I will not mention (fuck them, they don't deserve any additional publicity) were so offended, that the supermarket decided that they would hide the cover with something that I find so offensive I hate the idea of even posting a picture of it - but I will just so you can see how ridiculous these particular Arkansans are:
"Family Shield. To Protect young shoppers". WTF? What is it about that cover that anyone might need protection from? What is is that a "young shopper", or anyone for that matter, could possibly see in that picture that might cause harm? what an incredibly fucked up society not only to take such action, but to allow it.

I feel like perhaps we should cover up Arkansas on all maps of the United States because clearly there is something there that is harmful to humanity - people that are clearly clueless.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A New Year, a New Look, and The Often Misunderstood Rhombus

Here we are 25 days into the new year, 25 posts into the new year and already surpassed more than half my output from last year, a very lame year for me here in bloggerville. While my goal won't be to blog just for the sake of it, I have found a new peace in writing here again and it feels pretty darn good.

over the past few weeks, I've dabbled around in Bloggers interface and new features. I was particularly unhappy with how narrow the columns were and how much wasted screen space surrounded those narrow columns. Turns out that in order to use the easy slider controls to change the column widths, I had to change my template which I had resisted on a few tries and finally, last night, realized a new look isn't a bad thing. How do you feel about it?

I intentionally used the word "Rhombus" in conversation today. I walked into the Math Learning Center on campus, which was constructed a year or two ago, and said to one of the math teachers, "they should have built this room in the shape of a rhombus (or rhomboid)!" Her response, "that would've been cool, really neat angled corners...:" I still know how to start a great conversation :)

Tonight is the "State of the Union" address or as I like to refer to it, the TV schedule will be all fucked up! Hey all, later for now, ya hear?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Writing Prompt #159

In the spirit of Fiction Friday, the Monday edition, I nosed around for a writing prompt so that I can attempt to get some creative juices flowing. I came across this:

Weave a mini-story (200-250 words) using the following words in order: shell, comic book, discarded soap box, rubber soles, post card. Here's what I came up with, that clocks in at 313 words after editing as much as I was willing.

As a young man, I was a recluse, I constantly felt trapped in a shell. I knew there was a world out there to explore but I was afraid. Rather than face reality, I’d grab a comic book and lose myself in the colorful world of superheroes.

I especially liked reading in the family room because of the fireplace and cozy recliner. On one side of the room was a spare bathroom which also served as the laundry room. While standing before the toilet one day, I noticed a discarded soap box blocking the top of the trash bin that lived between the toilet and vanity; this disturbed me only because I wanted to attempt to spit my gum, long out of flavor, into the trash in hopes of scoring two more meaningless points. The soap box grabbed my attention as it had a colorful illustration on its side that I couldn’t quite make out from my vantage point.

After my business was complete, I retrieved the box only to realize the illustration was a cartoon depicting a matronly woman using this particular brand of detergent overwhelmed with joy at its efficacy. I realized I had spent far too much time all caught up in nothing. Upon leaving the wash room, the rubber soles on my sneakers were making a screeching sound so unpleasant that even my cat, who was standing guard outside the bathroom door, ran for cover faster than when the door bell chimes.

I really didn’t have time to deal with the cat or the reason my shoes were wet, a leak from behind the clothes washer, I needed to get a postcard in the mail before the close of business or my entry would’ve been invalid. I needed to focus on writing, in 25 words or less, why I would be a perfect cast member on “The Real World”.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fill-in the Blank Sunday

I snatched this froma blog that referred to it as "Fill-in the Blank Friday" - same idea, different day :)
  1. I wish... the current burden of "getting by" didn't overwhelm me to the point where it is so much harder to truly enjoy life. There is something very wrong in a world where one must put so much effort into just getting by.   I like how Bill Maher said that "middle class" is just a nicer way of expressing what the middle class has really become, the "working poor".
  2. Yesterday... I had a brief visit with my friend Andrea, that made me happy. The class I am teaching over the next 8 (7 to go) Saturdays - seems like a good (and nimble) group. Also, I visited the new BJs store in Hudson (and saved $46 with couppons) because doing lame things is sometimes how I roll on a Saturday night.
  3. Today... I am sad that the Patriots aren't playing football. I'll be rooting for the Jets in the AFC game and the Bears in the NFC game but the passion isn't going to be there the same way it would were my Pats involved.
  4. Tomorrow... is another day and anything can happen; here's to something wonderful and exciting for me and for you.
  5. Maybe... we'll have at least one day warm enough to get some of these mountains of snow to melt a bit before the next snow fall. I know I am just about out of space to move any more now.
  6. Someday... I hope things turn around in this ugly and horrible world we live in. I don't suspect it will happen in my generations life time but for our kids and their kids, and future generations.
  7. I love... the people who get me. My real friends who let me be me, even when I am a ass sometimes and say stupid shit without really putting all the thought into expressing what I really mean. I also love that they call me on that shit and put me in my place but do so because they care. I also love firepits, a nice glass of wine, unexpected joyful moments...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Going Viral:The Tipping Point

I know conceptually how something "goes viral". But I still often wonder, how it really happens; what is the tipping point of a few people sharing a "cute video" that triggers a million plus views?

the video below is something of a "Greatest Hits" showing a small bit from 100 of the most popular viral video in a span of under 4 minutes. As I viewed it, I was reminded of what some of the elements of a video that may go viral are (think America's Funnies Home Videos) - it's still an amazing thing to think how it spreads so rapidly.

How many of the scenes from this did you recognize? I was more surprised by how many I did not recognize.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Movies I Watched in 2010 - The rest of them

Paul Blart:Mall Cop3.0
Inglorious Basterds3.5
The Men Who Stare at Goats2.5

Christoph Waltz was easily the best part of Inglorious Basterds and I suspect it would be unwatchable without his performance. Paul Blart was mindless entertainment that served its purpose while with the exception of a moment here and there, The Men Who Stare at Goats failed.

August was a bust - no movies watched.

Away We Go5.0
Broken Flowers3.0

Both of these films are worth watching. Away We Go is a rom-com done right with standout performances by Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski. Broken Flowers is a Jim Jarmusch film featuring Bill Murray.

Legend of the Guardians: The
Owls of Ga'Hoole (Imax 3D)

I took my daughter to see this and normally, I enjoy these things but this was a boring story.

Baby on Board2.0
The Rolling Stones:Stones in
American Swing3.0
Who's Harry Nilsson4.0
Please Give3.0
Where the Wild Things Are3.5
Megamind (Imax 3D)4.5
The Runaways2.5
Platoon of the Dead1.5
The Expendables3.5
Thank You for Smoking2.5
The Blind Side5.0

I watched quite a few here in November (December as well). The big standout here was "The Blind Side", a must see film filled with everything you want in a good film (and the stunning Sandra Bullock). "Megamind" was very fun as "Where the Wild Things Are" had a mystical quality. Some big failures are "Platoon of the Dead", a zombie film that really was so poorly scripted and acted it was worse than amateur. The Runaways was a film I had high hopes on being a Joan Jett fan but it was just really boring and poorly made. "Stones in Exile" and "Who's Harry Nilsson" are great feature length documentaries that are must see films for fans of the subjects.

It's Complicated3.5
The Proposal3.5
Saw V3.0
Gran Torino4.0
Grown Ups3.0
Crazy Heart4.0
Finder's Fee4.0
The Wackness3.0
Running Scared3.5
Date Night3.5

With the exception of "Pathology", a ridiculously bad movie, I recommend all of my December views. Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep are flawless in "It's Complicated" while the delicious Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds carry "The Proposal". "Saw V" was a good execution for that franchise - not a genius piece of film making but it does its job. I thought "Gran Torino" was going to suck right up into the first 20 or 30 minutes but by the time it ended, I was sold big time. "Grown Ups" was funny. "Crazy Heart" was excellent and features my favorite actor (Jeff Bridges) and one of my crushes (Maggie Gyllenhaal). "Finder's Fee" was a very pleasant surprise; this was written and directed by Jeff Probst (of Survivor fame) and was a really good film. Every time I see Ben Kingsley, as I did in "The Wackness", I grow more fond of what he is capable of on the big screen. "Running Scared" was another pleasant surprise and a well made action film. "Date Night" - Steve Carrell and Tina Fey, need I say more?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Podcast: A Little Snow and a Gender Bender

If you don't subscribe to my podcast in iTunes, you can link to the podcast site for a listen by clicking here,

Or, you can listen right here:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Yet Another Gadget

Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, Graphite, 6" Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology I met with a sales rep for a networking products manufacturer last week on the premise that if I were willing to take a meeting, they would gift me with a Kindle. I always like to feel these things out but it was a legitimate company, one that I know a little something about - plus, I would probably not purchase a Kindle but for free, sure!

So I spent an hour with the guy, good chat, nice fellow and learned about what seem like terrific products. the guy puts on his coat and says, "oh, I've got a Kindle for you but I've left it in the car; I'll be back in a moment with it."

I kind of thought he was leaving, I wouldn't see the Kindle, at it was going to be one of those hard to get scenarios with the company but sure enough, in just the amount of time I needed to be convinced he was gone for good, he emerged from the stairwell with a Kindle in  his hand.

So I take the thing home, sealed in its box, and I left if for a few days wondering if I really wanted to keep it or maybe sell it or donate it for a church fundraiser and after a few days of staring at the box, realizing there is enough free stuff (all those classics I never read and a few I have, but want to read again) to keep me busy...

I've started reading a collection of Scottish folk lore (I love folk lore) and have downloaded some Jane Austen and Thoreau. [abrupt end to post here]

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Movies I Watched in 2010

I usually make this a year end post, so sue me - I am a few weeks late :)

Role Models3.5
How to Lose Friends and Alienate
Young Frankenstein5.0
I'm Not There2.0
The Story of Anvil5.0
Cinderella Man5.0

"Young Frankenstein" was about my 30th viewing, this time introducing it to my daughter. The Story of Anvil" is a documentary about a rock band and had an unexpected charm about it. I can't believe it took me this long to get to "Cinderella Man", yet again a brilliant acting performance by the man I seem to want to hate but can't bring myself to do so.

He's Just Not That Into You3.0
Cloudy With a Chance of

Only two films watched in February.

Winged Migration4.0
Star Trek4.5

Another two movie month. "Winged Migration" was a long form documentary. "Star Trek" was surprisingly wonderful (this is the remake) and lots of fun to watch.

(500) Days of Summer3.0
Julie & Julia4.0
Meet Bill3.0
How to Train Your Dragon (Imax
It Might Get Loud4.0

"(500) Days..." featured Joseph Gordon Leavitt and one of my big crushes, Zooey Deschannel. "Julie & Julia" was yet another vehicle for Meryl Streep to dazzle us with her brilliance and she does not disappoint. "It Might Get Loud" is a great Rock and Roll documentary featuring an eclectic mix of guitarists such as Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White.

Believe it or not, I didn't watch any movies in May :)

The Time Traveler's Wife2.5
Dirty Work3.0
Oliver Twist (2004-Disney)4.0
The Ugly Truth3.0
Toy Story 3 (Imax 3-D)5.0

Even with the inclusion of another of my crushes, Rachel McAdam's, "The Time Traveler's Wife" just did not work for me. "Dirty Work" is a guilty pleasure silly comedy - it was time to watch it again. I watched "Oliver Twist" only because it was on and my daughter was watching it and it lured me in and entertained me.

Rest of the year to come later.

Monday, January 17, 2011

And So It Begins...Again

Tomorrow marks the start of the Spring semester; one of many semester starts I've now been a part of and while there are always a handful of surprises and unique quirks, it's fairly predictable that it will be absolute mayhem and so much that is wrong with the education system in this country will be revealed yet again.

This is not a knock against the school where I work but rather the education system in general, the one that was supposed to educate the young minds that find their way into our hallowed halls. You would think that people prepare themselves in some way for the start of a college semester, and while the career track students and the "older" population often have a head on their shoulder, the "kids" coming from high school almost all seem to be in a heap of trouble.

It would amaze you to know how many people come to school on day one and request a copy of their schedule. This always baffles me because it was they who signed up for the classes in the first place, in many cases, specific sections chosen because of the particular date/time it is offered.

I would surprise you to know how many of these "traditional" college age students have no clue what their social security number is.

It might perplex you to think how many people wait in line for service any any of the areas a student may require service (registrar, bursar, help desk, etc.) and get to the front of the line with no form of identification on their person.

Worse yet, even if you might show lenience here on what will be day one of the semester, you might (or might not) be mystified as to how many people can't keep track of their passwords.

All of this never gets any less frightening to me. It seems the USA is content to barely educate our children. Even communist Russia had a significantly more sophisticated system of education, that worked. We need reform desperately and sadly, the laziness of the American people, particularly the unionized teachers across this country who would never give in to reform as a whole, that spells continued doom.

Before closing, I should give credit the the handful of school districts in this country that have stepped outside of the box and are experimenting with the school day and academic year in the hope there is a better way than the archaic, broken systems currently in place.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Disappointing End

Watching the Patriots "play" football today was depressing. I had spent most of the season watching in awe of a team that had the fire in the belly and an uncanny ability to overcome almost anything, including their own mishaps. However, today, the Jets defense came to play and the Pats offense simply was not there and as such, we must put the season aside and congratulate the Jets on their victory.

I will not however extend my well wishes to Jets head coach Rex Ryan who is not only a sub-par coach but a disgrace to sportsmanship and humanity.

I do have many friends who are Jet fans and at least if I must hang my head in shame, I am glad that people I know, respect, and like can celebrate.

Time to pay some bills...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Last Minute Musical Adventure

A couple of days ago, I was invited to a surprise 40th Birthday party for a friend. I accepted the invite and let life take over since. Today, the day of the party (which starts at 6pm), I get an idea around noonish to create a collection of music - all the number 1 songs on her birthday form the day she was born through today (inspired by my music of my years segments from the podcast).

I quickly get to google to construct the song list then go through my iTunes and then my CD collection to see what I already have. I think it was 23 or 24 of them and then I though, hmmm, how do I get the rest? I went to the Minuteman Library website, this is the local library cooperative and limit my search to four libraries across three towns that are within reasonable distance.

I ended up coming up with all but six songs to which I used the balance of my iTunes account to purchase and then went about producing the CD's - a set of three. I titled it 40 ones - 40th birthday, all are #1 songs, there are a total of 41 songs...clever (if I do say so myself).

I just finished the whole deal minutes ago. It is now 5:25 as I type this and I gotta get going. I set this post to publish at 6:30 just in the off chance that Sarah stumbles across this blog. See y'all tomorrow and Happy Birthday to you Sarah Larson DiPalma :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Coming Soon....

Joke: What does a new job and an old marriage have in common? The amount of time you get off with the company. Is this thing on? Hello? No, but seriously folks. The title of this post may or may not have relevance with the content because that is how I roll.

Have you every tried to make a crowd full of strangers laugh? Not just once, but repeatedly over a period of time? The "Stand Up Comedian", a job that many might have thoughts about, but only until you've stood on a stage in front of a crowd can you be certain just how daunting a task the job of a stand up comedian can be.

Many years ago, there were four separate occasion on which I made the trek on stage. I'm still affected by those experiences and try to remind myself of the lessons I learned and apply them in my daily life. I know, hard to imagine, for some of you at least, how that could be.

Countless times over the last 10 or 15 years I'd consciously start to write what I hoped might be comedy material I could try out on a real stage and in every instance, I gave up and backed down from the challenge. I even had this insane idea to go up almost completely unprepared and improvise and riff off the crowd - as if I was some kind of seasoned professional who spent years honing their craft to be able to pull off something like that.

The thing is, there is something really special about laughter. I love to laugh but the satisfaction of bringing the joy of laughter to another is amazing and addictive - but so very difficult to achieve sometimes. I know that I need to do it at least once more. Somewhere, someday, I feel like I have to get up on that stage and make an attempt to do it at least once more - even at the (very high) risk of failing.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snow Woes

There was a substantial snow blast overnight from Tuesday and well into Wednesday. I don't much like it but I know it comes with the territory. I am fortunate to have a snow thrower, which makes a major difference in cleanup but still requires significant effort, especially with a blast such as this. Regardless, I know what I am in for and while I never once have enjoyed clearing the snow, it gets done without to many complaints...

...that is, until I get closer to the street and then I get really frustrated and don't know if there is even a solution. The first issue relates to the street plows. I know the roads need to get plowed but the plows move the snow onto the sidewalk and in front of the driveway. Not only does it move it there en masse, but for a variety of scientific reasons, the snow gets super mushy and when snow get mushy, it gets slushy and heavy. So, by the time you carve your way out the the end of the driveway, you have a much higher mound of snow all compacted with the mushy, slushy, very heavy stuff packing it down and it becomes a chore - even for a 9HP snow thrower.

The next problem happens when the town decides to clear the sidewalk. I guess I should be grateful that they do this but they use this tractor with a v-shaped plow that clears a center path by moving the snow to the left and right. This of course, means that snow that is being moved, now creates new hard mounds of packed snow in not one, but two locations that block the path of your driveway. Worse, this process usually takes place after one has made their way out of the driveway the next day to go to work and prevents getting back into the driveway upon arriving home. Problem get worse because only solution is to illegally park on the street, run to get a shovel from the garage and clear the path as quickly as possible all hoping that some asshole isn't driving way to fast around the blind curve to notice your car is there. Then of course once the path is clear, you need to get back into the car, a dangerous task and maneuver into the driveway hoping again that cars coming around the bend are able to see you.

WTF is the solution?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Splicings and Fragments

I have a collection of bits of papers, splicings and fragments of partial thoughts, ideas, verses and the sort. I was going through some of them tonight and thought I would share some of them with you. There are times when one strikes me and I finally get back to thinking about the words and try to find context and at times, they become the seed for a new thing or I can develop them into something such as a poem or song lyric. There are other times when I look at them, reflect on them and then just put them right back.

Here are some that stopped me and got me thinking:

I. My past is nothing to talk about
   the present is just the same
   But who knows what the future holds
   another roll of the dice in this life-less game

I don't recall specifically but I suspect I was feeling a bit down. I do very distinctly recall writing lifeless as life-less, kind of a take on feeling like I had no life.

II. Defining moments in our lives
    though they're far and few
    the memories we leave behind
    the scars that _____________

Clearly I was at a point where I couldn't come up with a solid fitting rhyme here. I wish I can recall whether or not I was trying to relate to a specific defining moment in my life. I have a guess based on the end of the verse that it may have been around 1990 and the particular relationship I was in which began to disintegrate the moment it peaked. Certain things became evident that I was blinded, by my own doing, to and it was pretty painful for a while.

III. It's been called the lonely hunter
      as it lies there on your sleeve
     yet with every passing beat
     you search for reasons to believe

This whole verse is a play on the line "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter". I was trying to develop that into something longer form but it seems I stalled after one verse.

IV. It seems like only yesterday
      but six years since have past
      and seeing you reminded me
      time slips away so fast

This verse brings up so many different things related to the passage of time. After a conversation with my brother some years ago, I became obsessed with the perception of the passing of time.

V. Never in a million years
    would I have ever guessed
    that deep down in the worst of times
    I can be my very best

This is about drawing strength at a time where you aren't sure where to draw that strength from - being totally uncertain of your ability to get through a situation yet somehow, you find that something deep inside and perhaps draw strength from the good that surrounds you and find a way to move forward.

That was fun. perhaps someday one of these bits will work its way into something bigger. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Recently Rejected Blog Post Titles and Your Questions Answered

Here are some recently rejected blog post titles:
  1. The road to Murgatroid
  2. Flaunting my non-existent Peruvian Heritage
  3. Missile Command revisited
  4. The blithering idiots guide to people named Celeste
  5. Minutia for the absent minded
  6. The definitive guide to Richard Crenna
  7. I put my brains in a food processor last night and felt much better in the morning
  8. "Go Fuck Yourself" A Memoir by the Dalai Lama
And now for answers to your questions:
Kenny A. wants to know, "Do farts have lumps?". Kenny, farts in and of themselves are lump free but a shart, by definition, must have lumps.

Kenny A, also asks, "What's the fastest animal in the world?" To that, I ask a question of my own, "What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?"

Gene A. wants to know, "Why is the world round?" There are two conflicting theories and I shall present to you both. The first is that the world is one of God's testicles; the second, that Jeremiah was a bulldog and if so, how else can one with testicles survive (keeping in mind that bulldogs often have breathing issues).

Gene then asks, "Why can't men breast feed if they have nipples?" Gene, how can you be so certain? Have you ever tries to latch an iguana, monitor lizard, or kimodo dragon to either of your nipples? (Don't knowck it until you try it though be up to date on your innoculations and be sure and have your last will and testament in order if you go with the kimodo dragon).

More with your questions at some other randon time but one last thing. If you haven't read the funny little story I wrote and posted last Friday, check it out...I think you might laugh and I'd love some feedback - good, bad, or indifferent. You can link to it by clicking here.

Peace out!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Post Season Problems

After watching the Seattle Seahawks rise up to the challenge and sadly defeat the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, I find myself somewhat torn. While it was a terrific football game filled with excitement, I don't believe the Seahawks should have had the opportunity to participate in the post season with an overall losing record in the regular season; especially since there were a few teams with better records no longer in contention for the ultimate prize.

The biggest problem with all sports post seasons is that league rules ultimately favor the potential for revenues and not necessarily fair play and sportsmanship. Take baseball as an example, a decade or so ago, they added another level of playoffs (ALDS & NLDS)and in developing the wild card system, devalued the significance of coming in first place. At the very least, the teams with the best record in the AL and NL should be rewarded with a bye.

Sadder yet, the players are so wrapped up in their unionization and big contracts (that's for another post), they don't seem to care either, it really is about the business over the sport - to me, this is a tragedy.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Herky Jerky Jive Turkey from Albequerque

Note to reader: Please do not expect that the post that follows is in any way a reflection of the title of the post and if somehow it does seem to fit, it is/was purely coincidental. -Chris

I'll start off with some good news:
I had a 3 month follow-up visit with my doctor this past Friday and apparently the torture I've subjected myself to over the last 3 months has not been for naught. I've lost nearly 20 pounds and my blood pressure was better than it has been the entire time I've been on medication. Blood test results should be up soon but I am hopeful my triglycerides have moved down.

I desperately needed some validation. I've exercised every single day for the last 3 months and while I knew I lost a significant amount of weight, I needed to hear what I heard today to make tomorrow and the next four months until my complete physical an easier burden to bear.

Here's a realy cool youtube video. It would be awesom if the religious propoganda at the end of it were edited out but the mathematics portion is worth watching (especially if you like numbers).

I listen to a fair number of them. I get most of my NPR fill in the form of podcasts - overall, I almost never listen to music in the car anymore, just podcasts. So what am I listening to? You ask, I shall tell (or at least list the ones I am most dedicated to):
  1. TBTL (Too Beautiful to Live). This was once a Seattle based radio show but they got cancelled and took it to a podcast. It's fun - Luke Burbank hosts and the beautiful and smart Jen Andrews chimes in and serves as the show's "long time" producer. King of the mixed tape (and host of the mixed tape pocast) serves as Japan's #1 mixer as well as the third member of the TBTL family.
  2. WTF (Which does stand for what you probably think it does). Hosted my comedian Marc Maron this is a combination of manic brilliance and quirky insanity that is often intelligent and always entertaining.
  3. NPR: All Songs Consdered. Hosted by Bob Boilen, a true music nerd and I mean that in a good way. I've been turned on to so much new music from this podcast - very excellent!
  4. The Onion Radio News - a guaranteed one minute or so laugh every day.
  5. Real Time with Bill Maher - The same as the TV show but I don't have HBO and even if I did, I don't in my car.
There are a few others - but these are ones I hate to miss, they are all so good.

Okay then, it's Sunday and I must proceed with some Sunday stuff like church and breakfast pizza. "Did he just say breakfast pizza?" "Why yes, I think he did."

More on breakfast pizza in the next day or two. And finally, in case you were wondering (I know I was):
LogoThere are
people with my name in the U.S.A.
How many have your name?

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Looking Back at 2010: A Meme-ish

I saw this on Ria's blog and copied it not knowing it would be as difficult as it was:

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
Officiate a wedding. In fact, I did that on the very last day of the year – it was an honor and a great experience.

2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don’t really do resolutions – there’s rarely a big payoff and the disappointment can be overwhelming.

3. What countries did you visit?
Orlando, Florida (LOL)

4. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
Wow! A raise would be nice, haven’t had one of those in like 3 years. Happiness was lacking, not completely missing but I had way less of it than I would like.

5. What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory?
The last day of the year was pretty special – getting to officiate a wedding and for friends was very special. Not sure if the specific date of my divorce will be embedded in memory but it was a pivotal change in my life. There were a few other reasonably memorable days that come to mind, where I shall keep them.

6. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I gave a pretty kick ass presentation on adjunct professional day but that pales in comparison to being an attentive and supportive dad during two major transitions in my daughter’s life.

7. What was your biggest failure?
To look back on the whole year from this point, there were so many tough times. I think I failed at communicating in general. My blog sat idle for most of the year and I should have had more to say than ever. However, it was just too difficult to express myself in that medium so I just kind of embraced the trendier social networking mediums and spoke most of my thoughts in 140 characters or less.

8. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Another year of trying to keep my blood pressure and cholesterol in check. Doctor told me is am “Pre-Diabetic” so I got super depressed and began exercising every day and watching my sugar intake (I’ve lost around 15 pounds and hope for good news soon).

9. What was the best thing you bought?
This was a light year for “non-essential” purchases and I can’t think of anything I got in 2010 that I loved. A new food item that was a terrific find was “Honey Chipotle Salmon” marketed by Sea Cuisine. Oh wait, I have to give a plug for one awesome item I purchased – Oxi Clean, this stuff is amazing! Oh yeah, I also bought eyeglasses online – it was scary but worked out great.

10. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Easy, my friend Tori. To have had to endure the challenges she’s had to face over the last 5+ years, this past one included and to do so with such courage and grace and still being the best mother to her four kids…this woman is one of the most inspiring people I have ever known.

11. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Pick a republican.

12. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
As much as I hate Florida, because it was a business trip, I was able to get some form of travel/get-away in 2010. Also, the last “friend’s reunion” was particularly important to me.

13. What song will always remind you of 2010?
I’ll expand this to music in general…normally, I don’t listen to much top 40, because most of it is just crap. I listened to more of it that usual in 2010 while driving my daughter to school and such and while most of it was indeed crap, there were a few songs I really liked and would never have explored in other circumstances.

14. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?
Sadder but with more hope.

15. What do you wish you’d done more of?

16. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Social networking.

17. How did you spend Christmas?
Fabulous! Eve at Sherry’s house – a totally kick-ass party and Day at LJ’s, again, lots of good food, good people and good times.

18. Did you fall in love in 2010?
I got divorced in 2010, I will leave it at that.

19. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I suspect there are some republicans I now hate that I didn’t know last year.

20. What was the best book you read?
Chely Wright’s autobiography was # 1 but Paul Shaffer’s memoir was definitely #2.

21. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Alexi Murdoch, Of Montreal and Jason Derulo were all good finds.

22. What did you want and get?
The Bruce Springsteen Darkness on the Edge of Town box set

23. What did you want and not get?
That must remain secret.

24. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Absolutely nothing and 46.

25. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Figuring out how to organize and clean my house and keep it that way. It’s not a hoarder house, not even close, but it needs improvement.

26. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
Non existent.

27. What kept you sane?
Friends and family.

28. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Lady Gaga

29. Who was the best new person you met?
I can‘t recall if I met any new people in 2010 so I’ll use this space to say how proud I am of the youth at St. Andrew’s church for supporting a performance of “The Laramie Project” and hosting an open mike night to raise funds for The Trevor Project.

30. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010?
When you are not sure you can get through the tough times, you’ll learn who your real friends are – count on them.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Fiction Friday

I'm taking this blogging again thing one day at a time so I don't want to get anyone's hopes up to high. I do love this blogging thing though and have met some great people through this medium. Today, I present to you "Fiction Friday" and offer an original piece of fiction for your entertainment. It all started from coming across this writing exercise...

This is a “writer’s prompt” from Writer’s Digest: You wake up in a darkened circus tent, wearing a bright blue and yellow clown costume and a fluffy red wig. There is a dwarf standing over you with bucket of water. "You okay?" he asks. Write this scene. Here’s my take on it:

My pal Donny G. had convinced me to attend a Halloween party. This was a reunion of a legendary party that we had both attended more than twenty years earlier; that first party was a riot, Donny was Groucho Marx and I was Harpo. At this point in my life, I wasn’t too hyped up about doing the costume thing, it just wasn’t – isn’t my cup of tea. However, I figured once for old time’s sake, what the heck. I took a trip to the costume store and bought a super cheesy prisoner outfit that consisted of a black and white striped pair of pants, a shirt, a prison hat and even a ball and chain; it was right out of a bad cartoon but it was only twenty bucks.

We got to the party about nine and I began to mingle almost immediately; I did make a stop for a beer first and to admire the impressive display of jack-o-lantern candles and the bizarre circus tents at the back of the venue, a ball room at a midtown Manhattan hotel (I guess a perk on the part of one of the guys hosting the party for working for the place for 25 years). I worked my way through the tight fitting crowd holding my red plastic cup of keg juice while scanning the creativity of all of the costumes when she came into view, and I knew right then if I didn’t make some kind of contact with her, it would haunt me forever (little did I know the opposite would prove to be true). I approached this fiery vision not sure of what I was going to say. Recently divorced, I’ve been out of the game for nearly a decade and even when I was in the game, I was no player. I introduced myself as “The Unknown Prisoner”. I know, a total dork! She told me she was “Pele – the Hawaiian Fire Goddess.”

The “Fire Goddess” and I got to talking which soon after, led to a little drinking. She introduced me to a drink called a “Flame Thrower”. At some point in the night, I remember having to find a place where we could sit because standing up was getting to be difficult. We found a spot off in a corner where the ambient noise was a bit muted; this made talking easier, though by this time, we were starting to slur some of our words. Regardless, we were chatting away in one moment and in the next, she started to kiss me so I did the natural thing, reciprocate. We kind of got heavy into it pretty quick and thanks to several flame throwers, it wasn’t a chore to tune out the rest of the crowd. Besides, this girl was super hot and the first time I had been with someone different in a decade – I needed this! She pulled me up to a standing position and suddenly slipped her hands down the front of my pants. I seem to recall in that moment just how long her fingernails were but in that moment of unexpected ecstasy while under the influence of what I would assume is way over the legal limit of flame throwers for a small town, the last sensation other than ecstasy that I recall was falling backward in what seemed to be slow motion.

Nearly six months after the party, I received a DVD from the guys who threw the party with a note that read, “We suspect you may not recall all of what happened that night and thought you might want to see it for yourself.” Yikes! I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to see it. In fact, just the simple reminder of that party, which I had tried to put out of my head, brought on something of a flashback induced hangover. I knew that as much as I had resisted, the best way to really get this all behind me was to watch it. I went over and slipped the unlabeled disc, clearly burned on a home computer, into the DVD player and stood watching – that is, until I had to sit down to see how I ended up in someone else’s costume and on fire…until of course the midget, sorry, little person (dressed as a leprechaun I might add) extinguished me with a bucket of water.

As it turns out, the fire goddess, whom I haven’t had any contact with since that night was part of a very elaborate scheme. While I was drinking actual flame throwers, a seriously potent drink, she was drinking virgin flame throwers and each of her moves on me were calculated. You see, when she was “putting her hand down my pants” I was drunk enough to think “hand job” but she was coherent enough to see I was seconds from blacking out and she was about to make good on a dare, and score herself a c-note in the process by swapping my costume with some dude name Mickey, who happened to be dressed as a pathetic (and seemingly color blind) clown. What she didn’t expect to happen was right after she had removed two people’s clothing and redressed them, that would be Mickey and I, she would trip on the ball and chain from my cheesy prison getup leading to a succession of events often found in bad fiction. If I were to draw out a sketch of the course of events after Trina, that was her actual name, tripped on my ball and chain, the diagram would look like the craziest football play ever conceived. I am pretty certain that these words can’t really do it justice either and since I destroyed the DVD after watching it three times, all I have to offer is this written account of what I saw on the video.

The ballroom wasn’t all that wide; I’d say about 30 feet but was a good 100 or 120 feet long. At the far end, were four small circus tents – you know, the red and white striped ones. I recall an episode of Popeye the Sailor where he went into one of these small red and white circus tents and inside was somehow magically cavernous. These tents were pretty small and were there for effect and I think perhaps served as something-something shelters for hookups. Along the length of each wall, was a mantle about six feet high or so and atop the mantle across both walls were these very large candles that looked like a jack-o-lantern each bursting with a healthy flame providing a good portion of the light in the ballroom.

At my last point of consciousness, Trina and I were near a ledge in between the two tents on the left side of the room. After I went down, Trina went about her quick change act between Mickey and I and then in walking away, tripped on the ball and chain, fell into the side of the tent nearest the front of the room which then cause a few innocent bystanders on the other side to get lashed by the opposite side of the tent, which had given way. The innocent bystanders fell in such a way causing a domino effect and what seemed to be a hundred folks were soon falling on their ass. Meanwhile, the top of the tent has triggered a similar domino effect causing every one of the candles on the left side of the room to topple over creating a number of small fires to be dealt with by the toppling crowd, one of the flames caught the side of the tent which began to burn - take this as a lesson, party rental circus tents are sometimes flammable! Worse yet, the burning tent was right next to where I was passed out now adorning a powder blue and lemon yellow clown costume with a fluffy red wig that looked like it was designed by Don King. Noticing that I was both unconscious and aflame, Rodrigo, the leprechaun…sidebar: he wasn’t an actual leprechaun but rather dressed up as one for the party. I mention this not to insult your intelligence but as you can see, many odd things occurred at this event and it would be easy to take something for granted. Anyway, Rodrigo, who also worked at the hotel, knew where the janitor’s closets were and went a grabbed a bucket, filled it with water from the janitor’s sink in the closet and proceeded in my direction with the intent of putting out the fire that was working its way up my right leg. Half the bucket extinguished the flame and then little Rodrigo decided to pour the rest of the bucket on my head hoping it would bring me back to a conscious, or at least semi-conscious state. Once again, I only know of this from seeing the video, I don’t recall regaining consciousness until the hospital (stay tuned, you’ll read that seconds from now). I came too and looked up to see a leprechaun in an emerald green bedazzled tuxedo with tails and a handlebar moustache that Salvador Dali would be jealous of. Rodrigo looked down at me and asked, “You Okay?” That’s when I lost consciousness again; I only know this from the video because next thing I actually remember is waking up in a hospital room. It sure is a bitch getting old.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Doctor Doctor

Back in October, my doctor called me in for a checkup before refilling my prescriptions. After some blood work and a routine exam, he told be my blood pressure was higher than it should be considering the meds I was taking for it and that my sugar is indicative of being pre-diabetic.

YIKES! This was my first thought as well as panic. Blood pressure is bad enough (along with my cholesterol issue. the cholesterol was okay but the triglycerides were high). The doctor told me that while we could talk about increasing meds, the sugar was a concern because of family history (diabetes took my mothers entire life from her and then killed her). The positive is that pre-diabetes doesn't necessarily mean the diabetes in a guarantee, it can be thwarted through proper diet and exercise.

After a bit of talk, I agreed to put a real effort into diet and exercise and that perhaps if I had three months to see what effect that would have, we could revisit this situation then. Well, here we are, three months later. I have exercised no less than 30 minutes every single day since my last doctor visit, I've been more cautious of what I eat (cutting sugars by at least 75% or more), and lost about 15 pounds and tomorrow, I am seeing my doctor for the follow up.

I hope there is some evidence of positive change because if not, I am going to be hella depressed!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Optical Illusion

I was at a BJ's Wholesale club a few days ago and grabbed a bottle of eyeglass cleaner, along with a few other items. Upon checkout, I was informed that I could not purchase the eyeglass cleaner at any register other than the optical department. I went over to the optical department and after nosing around, was told by a floor manager that optical was closed and that I would not be able to purchase the $2.99 bottle of solution. WHAT!!! I recognize that the Optical Department is housed in BJ's but but run by them, but to have such a  simple and inexpensive, yet commonly purchase item just sitting there, so ready to grab with no way to purchase it seems to make no sense.

Fast forward three days later, Monday afternoon to be precise, around lunchtime. I stop at a different BJ's, the local one, pretty close to work, to make the same purchase. This time, there is someone there so I grab the bottle, place three one dollar bills and a shiny new quarter on the counter when he guy tells me, "I can't help you right at this moment, there are a few folks ahead of you and my computer is tied up." WHAT!!! I'm not looking to jump any lines of for preferential treatment but the "few folks" ahead of me were waiting for eyeglass fittings - a solid 5-10 minutes per customer. All I wanted was a 10 second ring up of a $2.99 cent bottle of cleaner for which I has the cash all ready and waiting on the counter. However, I was actually denied service. I left yelling at the guy....

Never mind customer service, is there such a thing a common sense and practicality anymore? Sheesh!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

If Heaven Were a Liquid, I Sipped it For Lunch Yesterday

I was running errands, a common occurrence, at lunchtime yesterday and made a stop at Whole Foods for a bite to eat. After my usual "samples" trek about the store (it was slim pickings yesterday), I was short on time and just grabbed a box of sushi.

I've had the sushi at Whole Foods many times, not gourmet, but edible - that is, until yesterday. Three or four pieces in, I realized there was something off about it - not sure if it was bad avocado or, I don't even want to think about, bad fish. The though of the latter had my stomach grumbling so I went to the customer service desk, made my plea, and received an apology and a refund.

Wanting to get the bad food thoughts from my head (and my belly), and still hungry-ish, I decided a serving of soup would be perfect and that is when I found heaven - in the form of a Curried Apple Pumpkin soup. Truly, if heaven were a liquid, that's what ended up having for lunch that day (despite a short jaunt through hell to get there) was worth it.

Monday, January 03, 2011

The Promise

As I mentioned yesterday, I received an amazing gift fromn the bride and groom that I married - the new Bruce Springsteen Darkness on the Edge of town Box Set. I've wanted this gem since its release but I couldn't fit it into my budget. If you can fit it into yours and plan on buying it, use the link below (yeah, I get a small piece of the action but you still pay the same price - that's a win-win).

In other news, I had a great holiday season (all things considered). Thanksgiving over at the LJ household was super fun. Christmas eve at Sherry's and Christmas Day back at LJ's and then New Year's Eve was pretty special being a wedding officiant for the first time, and for a friend.

My biggest challenge for the new year will be to finally organize my house, get rid of anything that doesn't need to be here and to figure out how to clean the place and keep it clean....yikes!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

By the Power Vested in Me...

About 5 or 6 weeks ago, a friend of mine told me that she was planning to get married on New Year's eve and then asked me what I was doing on that night. My assumption was that I was about to be invited as a guest and I had no plans so I said, "I don't have any plans." "Mr. X (name changed to provide anonymity) and I would like for you to marry us."

Months earlier, I had told friend of my interest to become a justice of the peace. I had applied for a commission to be one but they are based on town of residence and population and as of current, there are no available commissions in my town. In time... However, in the state of Massachusetts, any resident can apply for a one-day licence to solemnize a marriage in the state. So, I went ahead and applied and was issued a license to solemnize the marriage of friend and Mr. X.

Fast forward to New Year's Eve, this past Friday night. I had spent weeks researching wedding ceremonies and trying to put together a simple ceremony that would be special for the bride and groom and have a meaningful theme that fit's in with who they are and where they are in their lives. After a few edits, I had it all set to go and I showed up around 6pm - set up the unity candles that were part of the ceremony and mingled for a while before the 7pm start.

In a nutshell, it went very well. I received alot of wonderful praise but most importantly, the bride and groom were very happy with what I came up with for the ceremony and we all partied well into the new year. Also, I got a great gift from bride and groom - I'll talk more about that tomorrow-ish.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year - 2011

Today was the 85th consecutive day in which I have exercised and paid closer attention to what I eat, in particular, sugar intake. Back in October, my doctor told me I was "pre-diabetic" and there was a question as to whether it was time to increase my blood pressure medication. None of this news made me feel any better about me so I asked him for some advice and he told be if I began to exercise and watch my diet, it may make enough of a difference to keep everything in check and avoid diabetes.

Well, I was scared adequately and decided to make some changes. exercise sucks but I am kind of used to it now so I manage. Not eating sugar, or rather - keeping a real close eye on how much sugar comes into my body has been way harder but I have forced myself; I have lost 15 pounds - that's a good thing.

Next Friday I return to the doctor to see if it was all worth while...I hope so.

I wish you all a great 2011 - here's to onward and upward.