December 31, 2009

Educational Thursday

Last night, I was watching the weather portion of the local news.  The substitute weather guy, having nothing else to report but the cold and snow flurries that plague this section of the midwest during this time of year, made a big deal of how today, December 31, was a blue moon.  One of the anchor persons asked him why it was called a blue moon, and of course, this idiot hadn't done his homework, so he harumphed helplessly for a few seconds before he said "I don't know", ending his segment with awkward dead air, as the anchor person thought that he might have a clue as to what a blue moon was since he had brought it up.  So they both sat there and stared at each other until the floor director threw something at them.

Besides the entertainment value, this started me thinking that I hadn't written any posts in a very long time that could be considered even semi-educational, so I did some research on the blue moon and wanted to present it to you today, in terms even the idiot substitute weather guy could understand.  Plus, you will receive an added value educational tidbit that you can whip out at your New Year's Eve party tonight to delight and amaze your friends and acquaintances.

In a nutshell, the solar and lunar calendars don't line up, because whatever geniuses who thought up calendars back in the 11th or 12th centuries couldn't get their shit together and make them the same.  As a result, one calendar or the other is lagging behind and although the moon is doing it's thing like it always has been, it seems like there's an extra full moon in any particular month every couple of years.  And 2009 is one of those years that it seems like we have 13 full moons instead of 12. The 13th moon is called a blue moon, no matter what month it occurs in.  And this year, it just happened to be in December.

Okay, if you're with me so far, then you're probably saying, "Alright smart ass, that's all well and good, but why is it called a blue moon?"  Well, if you'll give me a fucking second, I'll explain that too.  Astronomers during the same backward ass centuries were always caught with their pants down when the extra full moon showed up because they couldn't remember that it had happened before because it had been a couple of years since the last one and they must have had bad memories due to their not having enough zinc in their diet or some shit like that.  So, pissed off, they started calling it the "betrayal moon".  And through changes in language over the millenniums, "betrayal" turned into "blue".  This would be the same as that party game, where you get twenty or so people together, and one person whispers a phrase like "I feel a bout of explosive diarrhea coming on" into the next persons ear, and by the time it gets to the last person, it's turned into "You suck donkey balls".

The second, more popular explanation, is that after the volcano Krakatoa blew up in 1883, the earth was partially shrouded in dust particles for a couple of years that was thick enough to make it appear that the full moon was a blue color.  Fortunately, all of the dinosaurs had been killed off in the first big dust shroud several million years prior to that, so the worst that happened was people coughed a lot for a while.

Bonus Educational Item:

Did you know that every full moon has a nickname?  Not cool nicknames like "Gus" or "Boomer", but nicknames all the same.  Here they are by month:

January - Old Moon
February - Wolf Moon
March - Lenten Moon
April - Egg Moon
May - Milk Moon
June - Flower Moon
July - Hay Moon
August - Grain Moon
September - Corn Moon
October - Harvest Moon
November - Hunter's Moon
December - Oak Moon

Thus endeth the lesson.  I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year's Eve.  Jan and I will be celebrating here at home by watching "New Year's Rockin' Eve" and  being alternately horrified and fascinated by the still strokey Dick Clark.  Have fun and avoid random gunfire.

December 30, 2009

Holiday Crush

Wow.  Here it is, another night before another 4 day holiday.  It seems like I just had a 4 day holiday.  And do you know why that is?  Because I DID just have a 4 day holiday.  Just last week!  Now I know that this is just fine and dandy with a lot of people, but it really does me no good because I make my living as a contractor.  And when contractors go on a forced holiday, they don't get paid.  But I guess that's my fault for not having a regular job like everyone else, where you actually get paid holidays and paid vacations and dental and medical and all the office supplies you can steal ...  Fucking economy anyway.

Seriously though, there is something totally fucked up about this time of year.  There are too many holidays all crammed together in just over the space of one month. And after all of the joy and the good tidings, and the food, and the booze, and the perpetual hangover, you extrude out the other end of it staring Old Man Winter straight in the eye, with no respite in sight until the last damn day in May.

That is unless you get totally bullshit holidays like Casimir Pulaski Day, or Presidents Day, or Washington's Birthday, or St. Valentines Day off.  And maybe you get Good Friday off if you can dig up your Christian-in-Good-Standing membership card and show it to your boss.  I once worked for a place that would give you Good Friday off if you swore up and down on a stack of Bibles that you were actually going to church.  The guy who held my job before me did so swear, but he went golfing instead.  And when he showed up on Monday with a sunburn (the sun had been out Friday ... Rain Saturday and Sunday), they actually fired his ass!  True story.

Anyway, as I was saying, you get these great holidays all jammed together in a little over one month, and then you go back to work.  It's cold, it's snowing, you're depressed and suicidal.  It's just not a fun time.

Let's look at a year's worth of REAL holidays and see where they hit.  January, May, July, September, November and December.  That leaves SIX FUCKING MONTHS with no holiday time in them!  This has to be fixed and I have the solution.  And no one less than the President of the United States and Congress can make this happen.  They all get their heads together and make sure that there is at least one holiday per month that is important enough so that everyone gets it off.

Here's my proposal, month by month:

January - New Years Day.  There's no way of changing this around unless we want the earth to spin off it's axis and the universe to fly apart like the rotary engine in a 1972 Chevy Vega.

February - Presidents Day.  Why do we honor only two presidents?  There are 44 of them.  That ought to be worth a four day weekend.

March - Christmas.  Let's face it.  No one knows when Jesus was born.  Someone drew a slip of paper out of a hat 2,000 years ago and called it December.  It can just as easily be March.  Another four day weekend.

April - Easter.  The birth and the death of Christ ... back to back.  Neat and tidy, and good for four days.

May - Memorial Day.  Already there.  Cool beans.

June - Not much happened except D-Day in 1944.  But that was a pretty big deal at the time, and when you combine it with Memorial Day in May, and Independence Day in July, you've got a patriots trifecta!  Good for another four days.

July - Independence Day.  And we all know that there are just as many drunken parties and tragic fireworks related accidents on the 3rd as there are on the 4th, so let's have Independence Day Eve AND Independence Day!

August - Shit, this is a hard one.  Nothing historically earth shattering happened.  But it's the month that WOODSTOCK was held in upstate New York in 1968! That's got to be good for at least one holiday!

September - Labor Day.

October - Halloween, of course!  I can't believe this is not a national holiday already, so the sooner it becomes official, the better.

November - Thanksgiving.  "Nuff said.

December - Okay, we moved Christmas, but there are still other religious events to celebrate like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.  Both of these put together ought to be good for at least a month of "feel good" days and at least 4 solid days off from work.

There.  That was so incredibly simple, I can't believe no one has thought of it before.  But there's no time to waste.  If we start writing letters to our congresspeople now and lighting up the switchboard at the White House, we can be sitting here next year at this time ... looking at a simply marvelous 2011 filled with great, well spaced holidays.

And please ... no thank you's are needed.  Your smiling faces are thanks enough!

December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

Although it occurs during my most unfavorite season of the year, this day and evening remains one of the best days for me.  When I was a boy, it was exruciating to sit through, and seemed to never end.  It was the one night that I didn't mind going to bed, because the sooner I did, the quicker my parents would put the presents under the tree and I could enjoy the next day reveling in all of the wonderful things I had received.

Times change and you get older.  That's when the anticipation that is Christmas Eve is better than Christmas itself.  And unless you have small children, Christmas is somewhat of a letdown.

Some people look back on the year that has passed on New Year's Eve, but I do it on this day, and try to put into perspective what has happened to me.

2009 was better than most.  I was able to start and complete projects that I had only thought about for years.  I started a new job that will allow me to use my talents to others benefit.  And I was fortunate enough to go on an extended adventure with my wife, where even after 35 years, we were able to learn more about each other and tighten our bond, as we visited places we had never seen, and may never see again.

I watched an old friend slowly drift away from me, but as often happens in life, I forged a new friendship  with another.  And I watched my son continue to develop into his own person and to find someone that he truly cares about.

So tonight, Jan and I will sit by the fire, safe from the cold outside.  We'll eat pizza and watch movies and banter back and forth like we always do. And I'll wring every last minute from this wonderful day and remember for a while what a lucky person I am to be right here ... right now.

Merry Christmas to all my visitors.  Have a wonderful evening.

December 19, 2009

Stuff You Buy That Makes You Look Uncool

So, I've been constipated the last couple of months.

I've been trying to ignore it, but I hate that stopped up feeling that you get ... like something isn't right.  And, indeed, something isn't right.  I was reading something, somewhere a couple of months ago that stated a normal person moves his/her bowels two to three times a day.  I thought that was kind of hard to believe, but this nugget of information stayed with me, and crept into my thoughts as my stopped uppedness continued unabated. Finally, a few days ago, I stopped at Walgreens and bought some fiber supplements.  I didn't know what to get, so I bought some of the capsules (psyllium husks) and a big bottle of that powder junk that you stir in your drinks, but it's not supposed to make it all gummy or taste funny (corn dextrin).  I wanted to make sure that if one wouldn't work, the other would step up to the plate and get the job done.

Remedies in hand, I stepped up to the checkout counter, where the cashier looked at my two huge bottles of fiber, and then grinned as she averted her eyes to the counter and put the bottles in a bag.

Me:  What?

Cashier:  Nothing.

Me:  I'm plugged up, okay?

Cashier:  Well, this ought to solve it.

Me:  I'll let you know next time I'm here.

Driving home, I thought that at least she had the honesty to come right out and say what other cashiers may only think when you buy things like that.  Some items are just embarrassing to purchase, even if they are right there on the shelves, ready to help you solve what every day dilemmas you may face.  So, I started thinking what other items I purchase that I'd just rather not if I didn't have the need for them.  I've listed them in no particular order of embarrassment ...

Toenail Clippers




Personal Lubricant


Jock Itch Spray


Nose Hair Clippers


Anti-diarrheal capsules

Cock Ring (not available at Walgreeens)

I'm sure there are some that I've missed, but that doesn't mean I haven't bought them.

By the way, the fiber is working beautifully, and I'm living la vita loca once again.

December 18, 2009

The Kotex Kid

When I was a boy of seven or eight, my mother discovered that I was good for something other than a target for taking out her frustrations with life on a daily basis.  It slowly dawned on her that I had developed basic cognitive skills and motor function and could, therefore, be sent to do errands that she either had no time to do or just plain didn't want to do.

So, I was sent off to the local grocery store, an IGA, which sat about a mile from our house on the other side of one of the busiest intersections in our small city.  Not only did I get  lessons in thrifty shopping and money handling, but real life experience on how to avoid death by automobile.

Most of the time, these trips were to gather basics such as eggs or milk.  Sometimes I was given a toughie thrown in the mix, like canning lids or Playtex gloves.  I usually never minded these shopping excursions.  I liked the atmosphere of the grocery store and always stopped to look at things in that one toy aisle that every grocery store has, or at the magazine rack to see if they had any new comic books.

However, there were trips that I did mind.  And those were the once monthly treks for the Big Box 'O Kotex.

I will admit that I was never really sure of this stuff's exact purpose.  I knew it was for women.  I knew it was used somewhere on the body of women.  And I knew that it probably didn't have anything to do with pee or poop. You would have thought that if I was going to have to buy this shit in the economy size carton, that she would have given me a little crash course on it's purpose of being on the grocery shelf.  But that wasn't her style.

It didn't really matter though, because it was for girls. And because of that, I didn't like buying it from the very start.  It just didn't look right for a guy to be plopping this stuff down on the belt all by it's lonesome, and this was usually bore out by the cashiers reaction. Sometimes, they'd try to act like a little boy buying a box of women's rags was nothing unusual at all.  But I saw right through that shit.  Other times they'd smile at me, or worse yet, tell me that I was such a nice young man ... picking up things for my mother when she didn't feel well.  What the fuck?  "Didn't feel well"?  She seemed okay to me ...  a little crabbier than usual, but not sick. But it didn't matter, regardless of what they did or didn't say.  My skin crawled no matter what.

After about a year of this, I'd had it up to my neck with the continued humiliation, real or imagined.  I told my mother that my days aiding and abetting her Kotex jones were over.  She'd just go have to buy them for herself. At first she tried to bribe me with extra money to buy comic books, but even the temptation of a Batman double quarterly special couldn't convince me to whore out anymore.

This was the first time that I had really stood up to my mother.  And to my great relief, she didn't beat me half to death.  She said nothing more about it ... and I was free of that particular humiliation.

Fast forward 15 years.

And there I am again.  In the grocery store.  Placing the single box of "Stayfree Mini-Pads with Wings!" (a.k.a. ... KOTEX) on the conveyor belt.  For my wife.

Just when I thought I was out of it.  They sucked me back in again.

December 13, 2009


December 11, a day that will live in infamy.  At least for me.  That was the day that I received my 1,000th hit on my blog.  Let's see, when did I start this thing?  Oh yes, April 25th of this year.  So that works out to approximately 2 hits per day or 6 hits per post.  Wow, that's kind of pitiful.  Good thing that I didn't opt for the advertising option from Blogger, otherwise I'd have not only a blog that hardly anyone reads, but a cluttered up blog that hardly anyone reads.

This morning, I have been thinking about what devices I could employ to make the second thousand hits easier to obtain than the first thousand.  I could try to write better posts, but that's too much work.  Maybe I could include more topical subjects in the content.  For example, in the last month, if I had just added a simple "Tiger Woods" to the title of each post, or had sprinkled his name liberally in the text, even if it had no bearing to what I was talking about, I'm sure I would have boosted my readership considerably.  Let's see how that looks.  "Yadda, yadda, yadda, TIGER WOODS.  Blah, blah, blah, TIGER WOODS".  But that's not my style.  I'd be more likely to sprinkle Natalee Holloway's name throughout the post (I'll give you a minute to go Google her name you forgetful, heartless bastards).

Perhaps if I held "contests" every once in a while ... then people would read to get free stuff, like five dollars off your next visit to Fred's Family Funland.  But that's pretty localized and probably wouldn't work for a global readership.  But a lot of people do this successfully, like this person.  Of course, it didn't hurt that this particular post was one of the five funniest that I have read this year.  There's always a catch.

For a few seconds, I felt sorry for myself, because I'm a man blogging in a woman's milieu.  But I have to face the facts that women usually are more insightful, have better stories that don't gross everyone out, and are normally better writers than men.  And they have more "cards" to play.  Take this one for example.  Sure, she has a career behind the scenes in local television, and yes, she does possess a very dry sense of humor and conveys that very well on virtual paper, but when she has a bad idea day, she has a new baby girl to fall back on.  And who can resist an infant?  Not me, and apparently, neither can the rest of the world.  Unfair, but I say to her ... "well played".

There are other women who have more readers than a medium size city.  At first I couldn't figure out how this person had pulled in so many people (and I say that in an envious way), but then I read this, which is a damned masterpiece, and I can fully understand why she has such a huge following, which includes me.

But, the three people I've cited above have something unique about them.  And that is, they have their own style.  They write what they know and they don't try to mimic other successful writers.  I can't tell you how many blogs I have read that are blatant wanna-be rip-offs of this very successful blogger, which to me is just sad.

So, I guess I'll just keep plodding along with my blog. Sometimes I'll come up with a good post ... most times I won't.  But I'll continue to have fun with it, which was the whole purpose in the first place.  And maybe, just maybe, the second thousand reads won't be as hard to come by as the first thousand.

Now, let me tell you about this contest I have planned where you can win a 5 dollar Starbucks card and an evening with Tiger Woods ...

Alternative Universe Hitler

People often ask me "Rob, where do you get the ideas for your blog?"  Actually, no one asks me that, but it seemed like a good way to start this particular post.  It's another late night Saturday, and I was sitting up here in my roost, wondering whether to turn in or wait up until "Songs of Love" comes on WFMT at midnight.  While I was waiting, I decided to look for pictures of Adolf Hitler, for no particular reason.  This same "no particular reason" mentality caused my feverish hunt for pictures of Rachael Ray's boobs on a similar Saturday night several months ago.

Well, I found some that I hadn't seen before.  And that's saying something because I was a real Adolf Hitler aficionado in my youth, which just confirms how troubled I was at that age.  Anyway, I was looking at a couple of these pictures, and wondered what would have happened if Adolf had decided to go into advertising or children's book publishing.  Things would have been a whole lot different.

For example, what would have happened if AH had pitched the RCA people his version of what is probably the greatest advertising campaign of the 20th century?

His Master's Voice

Der Fuhrer's Voice

And the National Socialist Party was always fond of reporting about Hitler's love of children and his concerns for their future.  That must have been why he organized "Hitler Youth", Germany's answer to Cub Scouting.  But really, what if Hitler had developed an earlier version of a very popular book series ...

If you loved Where's Waldo
You would have loved ...

Where's Adolf?

Did you find him?  It was a little difficult.  Try to find him in this picture ...

There, that was a little easier.

Well, that would all have been great if it had actually happened, but as many of us are painfully aware, it did not ... and here we are.

Okay, it's midnight, and I have decided to turn in after all, but it's been fun and I hope I've got you all thinking about "Alternative Universes" and the wacky things that could occur in them.

And if you didn't, then maybe it's time for you to turn in too, or at least take a nap.

December 11, 2009

Green Light, Red Light

If there's one thing that I've come to learn about myself, and at the same time know that I'm never going to be able to change, it's my annoyance with all things money. Sure,  there are times where money makes me happy. But more times than not issues that concern money are disconcerting to me.  Most of my annoyance with money comes from my perception as to whether or not things are worth spending money on.

For instance.  I don't mind spending money on food, or electricity, or natural gas.  In return for spending money on those items, I receive something to eat, light to cut through the darkness and heat to stem the cold of winter. To some extent, I don't even mind paying taxes.  Just this week, my tax money paid for a man to take a large truck with a V-shaped blade on the front of it to clear the snow from the road in front of my house.  Conversely, that same tax money paid the same man with the same truck to push a gigantic fucking ridge of snow in front of my driveway that I had to shovel away.

Then there are things that I consider complete wastes of money, and these things vex me to no end.  Take my wife's minor accident in the Spring of 2007, resulting in a two hour visit to the emergency room at  a local hospital. Due to a hateful spat at the time with my insurance company, this particular hospital would not take our insurance and charged us in full for two hours of "emergency" care, resulting in a three thousand dollar bill.  The hospital subsequently went broke and was bought by another entity who had no quarrel at all with my insurance company and promptly became best buddies with them again.  But as for picking up my wife's bill during the brief period of conflict ... tough luck!  Pay up asshole.  So I am ... 200 fucking dollars at a time. Sure, I could pay them in full at any time, but I want to make sure that they have to manually send me that bill every month, and if there is a supreme being in this universe, I hope whoever stuffs that bill in the envelope suffers massive paper cuts that get infected.  So to all of you administrative people at Advocate Condell Hospital ... eat me.

Sorry, I've been wanting to say that for the longest time.

Anyway, tonight I was out doing some Christmas shopping and happened upon an intersection where they had installed one of those fancy array of gadgets designed primarily to waste peoples money and pad the pocketbooks of greedy municipalities everywhere.  The Red Light Camera.  I was turning left and just as I hit the white line, the arrow turned yellow.  Rather than jam on the brakes and risk a rear end hit from the car behind me, I finished the turn just as the light turned red.  Just then I saw a strobe flash through the back windscreen and knew I had been "tagged".

I imagine an envelope will arrive in the mail next week with a pretty picture of the rear of my car and a fine of 100 dollars, which I will have no choice but to pay.  And this will annoy me greatly, because I will see nothing of any value for that one hundred dollars flying out of my bank account.

So, I will go to the bank and get 100 of the newest, crispest dollar bills I can procure.  I'll stuff them in an envelope and hope whoever opens it on the other end gets so many paper cuts from the edges of those clean, crisp bills that they have to go to the emergency room at Advocate Condell Hospital, who will treat them and not take their insurance and send them a bill for three thousand dollars.

Karmic, poetic justice.

December 09, 2009

Good Will Towards ... Somebody

We had our first "significant" snow of the season last night and today.  I had bought a new snow blower several weeks ago, because our present one had seen better days, and insisted on stalling out when confronted with even a handful of snow in front of it.  Rather than ignore it's severe limitations and pretend that all was well, which would eventually result in me throwing it across the yard in a fit of rage, I shelled out a significant amount of money and bought a new one.  All day, while at work, I had looked forward to getting home and firing up the new one to put it through it's paces.

But, when I pulled onto the street this evening, the first thing I noticed was that our driveway was completely clear.  Not only was the driveway free of snow, but the front walk and steps had been shoveled clean and a nice scattering of salt had been spread to keep ice from forming.

I was at once disappointed and relieved.  My snow blower would remain in the garage in pristine condition, but I wanted to see if the damned thing worked the way I expected.  The first thing I wondered was who had done it, but everyones driveway was clear, so I couldn't nail it down to any one person.

Given the fact that everyone in the neighborhood is very "stoic" and not prone to bragging about helping other people without their knowledge, I guess I'll never know for sure.  Which means I'll have to be nice to everybody for a while, flashing my charming smile and waving crazily at all as they drive by.

This is hard for me as I am a sullen bastard by nature.  Just ask any kid in the neighborhood about the "very mean man".  But since this is the season of joy, I think I'll ask Jan to make up a batch of her locally famous "toothbreaker" Christmas cookies so I can leave a tin anonymously on each of our neighbors doorsteps.  This way I'll be sure to repay the person who helped me today.

And then I'll have to clear everyone's driveways after the next snow to make up for the cookies.

December 06, 2009

The Great Orator

I can't speak in public.  Period.  I suppose there are caveats to that statement.  If a terrorist group were holding members of my family or friends hostage, and it came down to either speaking to the regional chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution about the evils of Green Energy or them having their throats cut, I imagine I would feed compelled to speak.  But it would depend on who the family members or friends were and whether they owed me money.  And the resulting speech wouldn't be pretty.

I don't know exactly when my fear of public speaking developed, but I imagine it was in grade school.  Like most kids in that age group, we had to present book reports to the class on occasion.  This involved reading a book, writing a report on that book, and then standing in front of your 30 or so classmates ... all alone and reading that report.  I never could figure out why we had to read the report.  After all, I've written the damn report already, so why couldn't I just make mimeograph copies of it and distribute it to everyone, or better yet, just post it on my facebook page.  This was the disadvantage of growing up in the technologically challenged late '50's and early 60's.  The idea of standing in front of all of those little people and giving them my views on "Call  of the Wild" terrified me.  I mean really, I didn't like this book, why does anyone else want to hear about it?

Seeing as I knew I was going to be a quivering mass of jello in front of the group, I varied my strategies for the inevitable.  Sometimes I would volunteer to go first.  The was meant to be a favor to the class in general.  I would stink up the place so bad that anyone who went after me would look like William Jennings Bryan in comparison. And other times, I would deftly maneuver in order to be dead last, in hope that the class we be so bored out of their minds from the deluge of previous speakers that they wouldn't pay attention to me, and I could stammer and fidget to my hearts content, and no one would even notice.

Even at that young age, I had the ability to tell myself that this was just a phase.  That I would get better at public speaking and would lose this irrational fear.  But I didn't.  In high school, I hated it just as much.  During my junior year, a young lady who I liked very much asked me to join the debate team with her.  Instead of joining and enjoying the very real probability of gaining a steady girlfriend, I declined her invitation.

What was really strange during this period, was that I played a musical instrument, and entered numerous local and state competitions, where I performed in front of judges and rooms full of people with no problem. But when asked to give my name and the title of my piece before hand, I would stammer and shake in my boots.

Once I left school, it didn't get any better.  Who would have thought that I would have to speak before groups of people when I entered the work force?  Well, being pretty fucking stupid, I didn't and soon faced the cold reality of having to speak in public once again.

The first company that I worked for out of college had all of its trainees take "The Dale Carnegie Public Speaking Course", which to me seemed like a weekly meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.  A group of us would gather in a church basement, smoking cigarettes and listening to the moderator.  At some point during the meeting, each one of us would get up and mumble an extemporaneous speech, which was followed by unenthusiastic hand clapping from the other members of the group.  At the end of the course, I was given a certificate, which I half-heartedly pinned to my bulletin board at work until I realized that it made me look like a doofus and threw it away.

And so it went for 30 years.  I would do my best to avoid speaking in public, but would be sucked into it anyway for meetings and conferences.  And the results were always the same.  I would stammer and shake.  My knees would knock and I would melt into a fetid puddle of flop sweat. And afterwards, the sympathetic people in my audience would come up to me and tell me that they could tell I was nervous, but they learned a lot from my talk.


The culmination of my speaking metier came with a course forced upon me offered by my "career company". This was a public speaking boot camp, populated with 15 other public speaking challenged co-workers and held at an undisclosed location where we would be out of touch with the outside world for one week.  We chose our subject, carefully crafted our 15 minute speeches and were drilled on the basics of speaking techniques.  On the final day, we delivered our speech to our fellow participants ... and a video camera.

I gave my speech, received my video tape and a handshake and returned home.  That night, after everyone had gone to bed, I slipped the tape in the VCR and settled back to watch with a stiff drink.  I was totally appalled.  I knew I was bad, but I had no idea I was that bad.  I finished my drink, removed the tape from the machine and threw it in the trash, where it would never harm society.

At that moment, I had an epiphany.  I stunk and would always stink as a public speaker.  So I embraced my stinkiness.  And as so often happens during these times of clarity.  Nothing changed but my mindset. Who the fuck cares if I can't speak in public?  Certainly not me.

Several years after that incident, I found myself in a grueling two day job interview with a company in Ohio. Toward the end of this marathon, I sat before the management group and was asked how I felt about speaking before groups, as the job would entail meeting with present customers and prospective clients.  I could have lied and said that my ability was a thing to behold and that I was the greatest thing since sliced bread.  But I didn't.  I told them that I would talk if I had to, but frankly, I was terrible at it.

I didn't get the job, and I don't know whether it was that comment that turned out to be the deal breaker.  But I think that my non-ability in that one area saved me and my family from a chilling fate.

Spending the rest of our days on earth in Dayton, Ohio.

December 01, 2009

Orphans Of A Photo Album

One of the wonders of living in the world today has to be digital photography. Face it, if you're old enough to remember back 30 years, did you imagine the day when you would be able to take a picture and look at it immediately to see if it was any good or not? And Polaroids don't count. Not only that, you can transfer the pictures out of your camera and on to your computer into a little file and share them with whoever you want, whenever you want.

I look at the pictures in my little gallery all the time, and I've come to realize that some things just don't change about picture storage. Whether you're storing hard copies in a shoe box on the top shelf of your closet, or in a digital file on your computer, you're always a little hesitant to get rid of the stinkers.

And I do have my share of stinkers inhabiting my album. Since these are ones I'd not normally share with friends and family, I thought that I'd put some of them up here for you to enjoy. If you see any that you like, please let me know through the comments section, and I'll be glad to share them with you.

Ready? Okay ...

Monstro Bug

This bastard was clinging to my window one Fall day a couple of years ago. He just clung there for a couple of hours and then he was gone. I don't know if he flew or leaped away. There's a nuclear reactor about 10 miles up the road, so I figured he might have got a dose or two of radiation.

A Friendly Game of Cards

I found this postcard in an antique (read "junk") shop years ago. The date on the back says 1904. People sure had a weird sense of humor back then.

Steam Roller In Garage

The guys who were re-doing my driveway last Spring parked their roller in my garage for a little while. I sent this to a friend and asked her if she liked my new car. I thought it was funny as hell, but I never heard back from her. Maybe she thought my sense of humor was from 1904.

Java Chicken

This gal was at the County Fair last summer. She was only $38 dollars and I was going to buy her for a house pet, but I figured I'd never get her toilet trained, so I just took her picture instead. If I would have bought her, she would have been named "Henrietta".

Old Geezer

At times, I've wondered what I would look like when I was 80 years old. The picture taken in Las Vegas comes as close to a true adaptation as I'll ever get. All I need is my pants pulled up under my armpits and a cane.

Third Wheel

For some reason, I felt the urge to take a picture of our car at least once a day while we were on vacation last summer. On this day, it was enjoying the sights of the Petrified Forest. It was hot that day, so it had it's door open to take advantage of whatever breeze was blowing.

What's That?

Have you ever taken a picture, and when you look at it later, you have no idea what it is or how it even got there? Yeah, this is one of those.

You Looked A Lot Closer In The Viewfinder

I think this is me. But it also could have been George Clooney. People mistake us for each other all the time.

This Is What Happens When Jan Uses The Camera

I think this is the passenger seat arm rest from our car. Either that or a crucial scene from the motion picture "Apollo 13".

And finally ...

Full Bladder?

What photo gallery is complete without a picture of a roadside restroom? I almost had this one blown up to portrait size to hang in our dining room.

I'll probably never delete any of these pictures, but it was nice to give them a public airing. Perhaps one day I'll stage my own one man show at the local art gallery.

But probably not.