Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Make Your iPhone Play Nice With Your Blog

OK, I'm not trying to rub it in that I got an iPod Touch for Christmas... I'm shamelessly attempting to drive traffic to my blog by tapping buzzwords. So there. But seriously, Most of the reason I wanted this thing was so I could read and write blogs from anywhere. (I'm writing this post on it right now.). The only problem is that Blogger Dashboard and Google Reader are kind of ungainly on this thing.

Google to the rescue! I set up a third tab on iGoogle and loaded in a couple Google Gadgets. Google Reader and Blogger. The former gives me the skinny on the blogs I follow in a nice, iPod sized window because The Googles are like Santa and they know when I'm on my iPod. The latter gives me a nice clean interface to jot down a quick post. The formatting tools aren't available but if you really need to you can use a little HTML.

Of course Google has a gadget for their own blogging service but there is also one for Wordpress. I didn't test it but hey... Whaddaya want? Anyway, if you've been frustrated with having a broadband mobile device and not having an easy way to play blogs... there you go.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Holiday Spending

I already wrote this post once but lost it when I tried to set it up on a schedule. So here's the shorter, reconstructed version.

In the little bit that I listen to or watch the news I've caught an awful lot of one thing in the last few weeks. Holiday spending is down, retailers are nervous. Well, I'm here to offer up a resounding "GOOD ON YA!" to everyone who spent sensibly this Christmas. While the media furrows its collective brow and says, "Shame on you, consumer" for not helping stores that sell useless crap move their useless crap." I'm handing out a big pat on the back to anyone who saved their money for frivolous things like bills.

It's not our fault as consumers that the business model is unsustainable. I for one would much rather be able to support myself unaided in retirement than rely on my offspring to support me through Social Security (and five or six of my friends) because I was more interested in big vehicles and big TVs than in being fiscally responsible.

If it's going to take the collapse of the luxury goods market to get the economy fixed around here then so be it. At least we'll be ahead of the Soviets in that we're pretty good at keeping everyone fed around here. To them it's a miracle that we can get the food from the field to the table. Having a PS3 and a sofa sized TV to boot is a fairy tale to most of the world. Even with the advent of cell phones there are still three BILLION people in the world who have never made a phone call.

I grew up in the echo of the Great Depression. My grandparents made do and scrimped and saved. As a result they were quite well off in their later years and were able to help put half a dozen grandkids through college as a result. My parents grew up in that ethos and passed it on to me. Now, don't make me out to be all crunchy granola because I'm not. I like my internet and my iPod. However, my family eats like kings (food that's not killing us) on money that wouldn't feed a trucker at McDonalds.

So if a few people loose their jobs because you didn't up for that new plasma screen or three ton SUV this Christmas, that's really too bad for them. When you rest your head on the pillow of luxury items, you live with the fact that in one swoop the feathers can all fly out and you're left holding the pillowcase. What's really going to fix things in this country is people handling their money sensibly. So, one last round of applause to everyone who bought a house they could afford, who didn't melt their credit cards in the mall, and who are putting away a few bucks for a rainy day.



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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday Blogging

I was really looking forward to having some time off this Christmas. It had crept up on me what an important part of my day checking in on the blogs I read has become. Unfortunately, the closer you get to a holiday the less time people have to spend on their blogs. I was picturing lazy afternoons at home, blissfully combing the interweb for the good writing of my friends. Not so much.

I can't say that I spent a lot of time posting myself though. Between the numerous family dinners and not actually having that much time off from work I've been less than prolific. Ah well, the days were at least lazy and this shouldn't be taken to mean that I don't enjoy time with my family. Despite bouts of getting kicked in the face at bed time it's pretty frickin sweet.

I guess that the hour or so that I spend reading blogs every day is just about the right amount of time though. Too much of a good thing and all. I will tell you one thing I stumbled on that's worth a read. Bossy's Family Photos. No sneak peaks, just go read it.



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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Helluva Way To Post


OK, so it's a little tricky writing a post on a keyboard that's just pixels... but at this point pretty much any excuse to hold my new iPod Touch will do. More on that later over at The Mister.



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Sunday, December 21, 2008

More Humbug

More and more we've been taking a break from the outside world. Once again, we wind up looking like a bunch of crunchy granola heads, but really it's not like that. Yeah, I get all my news second hand, but the benefit is that I only hear about the really big stuff and don't have to deal with all the minutiae that clogs the airwaves.

I know who the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus are, but I don't know what their music sounds like and I couldn't pick them out of a lineup. What are you? Some kind of hermit? you ask. But give a moment's thought and I bet you're a little bit jealous.

The really great thing about my lack of media input is that I'm not totally sick of Christmas advertisements. The only TV I catch is with the Short People for a couple hours on Saturday morning. They, of course, want every item from every commercial and I simply say, "I'll put it on your list." For once I'm not ready to gag on the constant barrage of tag lines for sixty dollar toys that only do one thing. Instead of a plastic doll that makes faux pee and poop on a plastic toilet, the kids have a wooden train set that they all love and share. The Missus and I have forty bucks left in the bank thanks to that manouver.

The thing that I'm really grateful for this holiday season is my near complete ignorance of the Trans Siberian Orchestra's date in Buffalo. Usually it's about nine days after Christmas and the commercials have me ready to shoot my radio. People think it's odd that a sound guy wouldn't want to go see a laser light Christmas rock show. I'd rather commit hari kari with a microphone stand. I'm still looking forward to singing Silent Night by candle light on Christmas Eve.

Anyway, it still seems a little strange to me how far from the beaten holiday path my family has wandered in the last few years. It's a pretty good place to be though. I'm constantly confronted with wide eyed stares when people find out that we've been done shopping for ages, aren't stressing about decorations and travel plans and are basically just having a time of it despite what the world around us is doing.

So Merry Christmas to you. Hopefully you're not overwhelmed by the season, and if you are I hope our foray off the beaten path encourages you to divert a little from the hysteria of it all and just have yourself a nice time.



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Friday, December 19, 2008

Simple Pleasures

I was totally starving this morning at coffee break. I don't make a habit of hitting the snack shop at the hospital, which is actually more of a diner. Usually I just get a cup of coffee from the cafeteria and get on with things. Today the special was eggs benedict though and I'm a sucker for some eggs benny.

As I rose to pay with my last three dollars the girl at the register took my ticket, and my money, then looked to her right and handed the money back. There was a woman at the first table looking at us. I tried to pay again and got waved off again. The woman was still looking at us. I thought maybe it was some hospital administrator doling out some holiday cheer. They do that I'm told.

But on closer inspection I finally realized that it was my dear friend V. The two of us used to practically live together in production meetings back in the heady days of concert promoting. Now we're both happily domesticated and we see each other in two minute bursts a couple times a year. She told me she was trying to remain incognito and just let me go about my business. Except for her new glasses throwing me off a little there was no chance of that.

I sat down for my happy two minute visit, got all caught up and went about my day buoyed up on a wave of friendly feelings and a belly full of eggs benny. Can I get a halleluja for Christmas spirit? Somebody in the back say amen!



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Blessed Sleep

I went in to be tested at a sleep center last night. I'm not sure if I have sleep apnea or what but it's time to see what the frickin deal is. I'm guessing that it's probably just that I'm not nineteen anymore and I need more than the five or six hours that I'm getting every night. But it's going to take doctor's orders to get me to do that so I may as well see if there's anything else wrong first.

The whole setup is pretty sweet. I drove to a nondescript building that housed the sleep center and the office of a construction company. The tech there checked me in around nine and got me started. I filled out some paperwork and got ready for bed. It was kind of like being on vacation. The room was set up more like a hotel than a hospital and there were no cats or short people.

The last stage was a little weird. I sat in a chair in my drawers and a t-shirt and the tech strapped me up with all manner of equipment. Bands around my check to monitor my breathing, electrodes on my head for my brain waves, more electrodes on my face neck and legs and then an oxygen monitor that went on my finger. After all that stuff was in place I had to get into bed and make sure it all worked. Blink, breathe, wiggle. It stopped just short of the Hokey Pokey.

Then I read for ten minutes and couldn't keep em open any more. It took a little while to get to sleep though. The equipment wasn't all that cumbersome, but the camera had a pair of lights that kept blinking. I could see them through my eyelids. It wasn't all that distracting but knowing that I was on camera kept tripping my brain up.

Two extra hours of sleep with no cats on me was just the ticket. When the tech woke me up at five I came swimming up out of a dream and actually felt like getting up. I had to do all the little tricks again to make sure everything was still working all right and then I went off to work. The only down side to the whole thing was having tape stickum all over my neck and spots of conductive gel in my hair. Those got plastered with ceiling tile dust pretty quick at work but that was about it.

So that's it. Not particularly exciting but a novel experience nonetheless. If you were ever wondering about getting your sleep habits checked out that's what it's like.



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Monday, December 15, 2008

I (Don't) Suck

Lately I've been wrestling with feelings of inadequacy and by lately I mean since first grade. I overcame being the geeky runt. Actually it just became somewhat cool to be a nerd. I amassed a host of skills in a variety of fields and I still feel like a faker who has suckered everyone into believing that I'm competent.

Most of the time being a jack of all trades is pretty handy. My rudimentary, self taught knowledge of everything I can get my hands on is often enough to get out of a jam. But every time I find myself working with professionals who have a single field I just can't get away from the feeling that I'm just a poser.

I've drywalled a few dozen houses but when I mud with guys who've done nothing else for twenty years, I'm not up to snuff. I've been wiring houses since I was twelve but working side by side with a union electrician just makes me look like some country bumpkin who kind of knows what wires do. And even sound work, which is apparently what I was put on this Earth by God to do, is just another example of something I taught myself to do and my knowledge base is sorely lacking when I get next to the big dogs.

I shouldn't complain, but for a guy who's never really been sure of himself it's a real mind fuck to have to try and eke out some semblance of psychological balance when the input I get is so widely differing. One week I'm hearing, "Man! You're the best sound guy I ever met!" and the next I'm getting machine gunned with criticism from a real engineer. "Our house looks so great." gets followed by "The room looks like shit". What's worse is getting the you-don't-matter brush off. The why-don't-you-go-sweep-or-something.

The thing that is really, actually bothering me is the project at work. It's about a 1500 square foot remodel that we had two months to do. The house crew is comprised almost entirely of guys that used to be in business for themselves in their respective trades. Brought in to speed things along are half a dozen union guys. The brass keep making changes and moving up the deadline while nobody's actually in charge up on the floor. Everybody's in everybody else's way, we're constantly backing up and re-doing. The union guys think their shit doesn't stink and that we're a bunch of hayseeds that should really be off plunging toilets and changing light bulbs.

The mad house I've been working in for six weeks is such a far cry from the well ordered method that I usually go about doing things that there's nothing to do but laugh at the impossible situations that we keep working ourselves into. The slogan the house guys keep telling the frustrated union guys is, "Hey... it is what it is." There's nothing for it but to just hack into the mess and try and get it done on time. The more grim they get the sillier we get, under the motto: Just laughin' to keep from cryin'.

Well, I think I may be feeling the tiniest bit better for having vented my spleen, thanks for sticking with me. Whatever it is you're doing this week, do it well... the first time. Somebody should.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Words

I just watched "Good Night and Good Luck". It's a movie about Edward R. Murrow, a journalist at CBS in the fifties. The plot deals with the way in which he took on Senator McCarthy about the hearings on communists. That is a subject so far removed from the world I know today that I can barely wrap my head around it.

From what I know about the era, gleaned from conversations with my grandparents, my love for media of all types from back then, and the minuscule offerings of my high school courses, I can only form the barest outline of what life was like then. The political and media landscape and the way in which people related to it is just beyond me.

In a time when the common man was so insulated from the wider world the media had a heavy responsibility. Information flowed through a funnel with a tiny neck and what information eventually reached the public had to be good.

In a time when I could easily fit every episode of "See It Now" on my cell phone with room to spare for some hit songs and pictures of my kids things are different. The sheer volume of information that is available to nearly everyone has caused a severe devaluation of that same information. Real news is placed on the same table as entertainment industry gossip and news outlets must take what in decades past would have been a five minute piece and ramble on endlessly as the twenty-four hour cycles churn on.
"Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar." ---Edward R. Murrow
The thing that really struck me about the way the news was presented by Mr. Murrrow was the absolute precision and elegance with which he spoke. A number of times he said, "...so that we are sure that we say exactly what we intend to say." He did not waste a single syllable. Such a far cry from the endless prattling that can be seen on any news network today. One anchor after another pumping sources for any tiny shred of information or, more likely, speculation on the subject du jure.

In my work I have come to so value a succinct statement that I have spent considerable time training myself to give that sort of statement. As a lover of language I revel in vernacular and slang. I never tire of the peculiarities of casual language. But from my politicians and news people I crave the apparently dead practice of putting forth a well thought out statement.

When access to information has never been so open I cringe at the quality of the content that is put forth. When a person can broadcast to the far corners of the Earth from a computer or even a cell phone, that person should have a deep respect for the value of their words. Should have. My heart breaks when I open a novel by a famous author and find a typo. I cringe and leave the room when I see journalists so misuse language and so misunderstand some of the phrases they use as to send an English teacher into convulsions.

I have this left to say with no desire to detract from the value of a casual statement about a frivolous topic. I beseech those who put pen to paper, or fingers to keys, or lips to microphones to perfect their craft. If you seek to inform those who will pay attention to your media, have the common courtesy to refine your statements and the respect for your audience to speak intelligently.

And to the people who are out there paying attention, I ask you to go the extra mile and confirm what you ingest, seek out the information that completes the picture. I am the person that I am because I paid attention to things that were over my head and chewed them over until they no longer were. I, for one, do not require a dumbed down version of anything.

Good night, and good luck...

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My iPod Speaks

I know, I know... lame to do another meme. This one is soooooo much effort but so very funy when you get it all done:

1. Put your music player on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS!


1) IF SOMEONE SAYS “IS THIS OKAY” YOU SAY…
“Berserk” - Suicidal Tendencies


2) WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY?
“Cathy's Clown” - The Everly Brothers


3) WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
“Burn It Down” - Altar Bridge


4) HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY?
“Down To The River To Pray” - Alison Krauss


5) WHAT IS YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE?
“The Lord Has Given” - Veggie Tales


6) WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
“A Secret Place” - Megadeth


7) WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
“Good Lovin Gone Bad” - Diamond Head


8 ) WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
“Making Friends” - The Roosevelts


9) WHAT IS 2+2?
“Movin' On” - Bob James & Earl Klugh


10) WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
“My Last Words” - Megadeth


11) WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
“The Song Of The Cebu” - Veggie Tales


12) WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
“Fame” - Infectious Grooves (David Bowie cover)


13) WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
“Drunken Lullabyes” - Flogging Molly


14) WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
“I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow” - The Soggy Bottom Boys


15) WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
“Love Potion Number 9” - The Searchers


16) WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
“Too Late, Too Late” - Motörhead


17) WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
“Waves (The Rock)” - Falling Into Place (Can I get a HELL YEAH for that one?!)


18) WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
“Another Intervention” - Down To Earth Approach


19) WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
“Do The Sinister” - Infectious Grooves


20) WHAT’S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN?
“Sugar” - System of a Down


21) HOW WILL YOU DIE?
“When You Call My Name” - Christopher Hopper


22) WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU REGRET?
“Spiritual Void” - Overkill


23) WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
“I Can't Explain” - Scorpions


24) WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
“Duke Of Earl” - Gene Chandler


25) WILL YOU EVER GET MARRIED?
“Let Me Clear My Throat” - DJ Kool


26) WHAT SCARES YOU THE MOST?
“Tear Ya Down” - Motörhead


27) DOES ANYONE LIKE YOU?
“Good Mourning, Black Friday” - Megadeth


28) AFTER YOU ARE DEAD, WHAT WILL YOU BE REMEMBERED FOR?
“Who Hah” - Busta Rhymes


29) WHAT HURTS RIGHT NOW?
“Feeding The Addiction” - Suicidal Tendencies


30) WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS?
“The End Of Heartache” - Killswitch Engage

I don't know why this was so heavy on the Megadeth and the Mike Muir projects (Suicidal and Infectious) there's plenty of other tasty metal on my iPod. And Veggie Tales... myeah. It's impossible to retain all your cool when you've got short people.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Latest Thing

86 words

Speed test

Actually, I can type 96 consistently, but I always get eight words wrong at that pace.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Optional Meme

I saw this one on a friend's blog and decided to toss it up here quick. Everyone is welcome to do this one, no tapping or anything like that. If you do it, post a comment back here and let me know how many you got. I've done 60 of these things. Enjoy...

1. Started your own blog

2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneywor
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo's David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone's life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby (well... not me but)
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Seen Mount Rushmore in person
101. Learned to play an instrument

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Not Finished Line

The month of November draws to a close and here I am with my thirtieth post. Actually, I posted more than that. I got eight up over at The Mister so I don't feel bad about the two lame cell phone posts that I stuck in.

Actually, I feel like a lot of the posting I did this month was pretty lame. November is a pretty busy month for me and I feel like a lot of days all I did was tap out what I did at work or how much there was still to be done.

Still, it was a good exercise. A few days ago I was totally out of ideas and totally fed up with the sub-par content I had been posting so I turned to fiction. My pretend cousin Jill (of Daniels 5 fame) keeps writing rave reviews and my brother-in-law That alone is enough reason to continue the pursuit. If I can crank out enough short stories I may even get a few of them bound at the copy shop and give them away for Christmas.

So, all in all, many lame posts lead to a new outlet for creativity that I actually have time to pursue. Unlike ham radio, graphic art, or any number of other things I like to do in my (airquotes) spare time, writing fiction doesn't cost anything and if it's not a success the worst outcome will be booing from the peanut gallery. (Not that my dear cuz or my BIL would ever be so rude.) Pretty sweet.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Take It Easy

While I was out mixing a gig tonight I got a text message from The Missus. She said she was tired and going to bed. She said some other things too that lead me to believe that she is feeling less than good about herself.

The thing is, she takes care of three wiley, often obnoxious children full time and also keeps our house relatively clean and also still volunteers to do tons of things. All this while half way through cookin' up a new youngun.

I can understand how the repetitiveness of the daily tasks she's faced with can wear down someone of her intelligence. I also understand why she has stuff planned so much of the time when I'm not at work. While I'm dying just to be at home, she's dying just to get out of it.

I just wish she could reach way down deep inside herself and harness some of her nearly endless drive and use it to force herself to chill out. I have a hard time doing that myself, but there comes a time when I just have to waste an evening or a Saturday afternoon not accomplishing anything. You have to take that time and count it as productive because you're using it to replenish your store of energy. If we need to have mental health time listed as an official activity on the family calendar then I think we should go ahead and do that.

Take a rest Babe. I'll talk you through the feelings of guilt. I'll try and get more rest myself so I can pick up more of the slack and spend more energy diverting the kids. But you have to get to a place where you can just kill some time on the couch and not beat yourself up over it. Love you, Babe... let's take a nap.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Smile For The Birdie

LinkTwo of the comments on my last post were: The Missus reminding me that she is not loud (one more reason why we're married) and our friend V wanted to know if the new baby has a "bird" or a "koochie". Well, dear V, at the ultrasound appointment on Wednesday...

We got flipped the bird.

And how.

There was absolutely do doubt about it. So much so that even the non-ultrasound-technician type people in the room could spot it without help.

So yeah, two girls and four boys in our house, effective in April. Except for Miss O being royally ticked that it's not a girl we're in pretty good shape I think. All our offspring tend to be on the high strung side to some extent, but the Y chromosome crowd is a lot more easily distracted than the ladies are, so at least I'm good in the strategy department.

As for the rest of it. We're good at feeding em, free clothes show up by the bagful periodically, and the big ones like to help out with the littler ones. The only real problem is how to get another bedroom on the house by next summer. Looks like overtime is in order. Forward my mail to the hospital (where I do the overtime, not where I expect to recuperate from the overtime)

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Silence

My life is so loud. My truck is loud. Work is loud enough that I should probably be wearing hearing protection. Gigs are loud. The kids are loud. I'm loud. I don't often remember this, but the quietest place that I know of is right here in my house. It's the kitchen closet.

When the house belonged to my grandparents I used to love going in there to fetch out the chess set. The light comes on when you open the door and you can close it almost all the way and it will stay on. It's full of shelves and coats and there's just enough room for a person to stand in the middle. As long as none of the other people in the house are yelling you don't know they're there. You can't hear the fridge running or traffic. It's a little room full of quiet.

There's a lot left to do tonight. Thanksgiving dinner to finish cleaning up and the ever present laundry situation. But when I'm done I'm going in there. I might even take a chair and just spend some time in there soaking up the quiet.

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Fiction - The Swimmer

Randy stood behind the starting block, flipping one foot and then the other. He adjusted his goggles again and again. The team might have been ahead, or maybe the other team was ahead. He didn't know. He never knew. It didn't matter or help to know. All he needed to know was that he was warmed up, stretched out and ready.

He didn't really like water that much, or being cold. Not being cold at all. Just get in, swim hard and get dried off as fast as possible. He was far from the model athlete. He didn't pay any attention to the meet. He spent all his time screwing around and flirting, with the other team if at all possible. (Co-ed swim teams were a really good idea in his opinion.) But when he got in the water he was fast, not the fastest, but usually fast enough to score some good points for the team.

Swimmers up.

Step, step. Up on to the block. Gritty, wet surface under his bare feet. Adjust goggles. Flip left foot, flip right foot. There were people in the room. They were making noise, last minute encouragements. Randy didn't get that at all. He didn't cheer unless it was really close, because that was the only time it was helpful.

Swimmers... take your marks.

Twelve hands gripped the fronts of the blocks. They all hit within the same half of a second, sounding like applause that was suddenly aborted. The pool was quiet. Pumps. Drips. Murmurs. It was in this moment that Randy understood what authors meant when they wrote about time ceasing to exist. It just wasn't there anymore.

Slip, SPLASH! The starter had held back just a few hundredths of a second and lane two jumped the gun. Lane three baubled on his block but hung on. The other team was grumbling, nobody saying, "That's alright". That told Randy that the score was close, but it still didn't matter. Lane two hauled himself up out of the pool and slapped back to the visitors bench, goggles dangling from his right ring finger.

Adjust goggles. Flip left foot, flip right foot, shake left leg, shake right leg.

Lane two, false start. Swimmers.... take your marks.

Only people who thought about time false started. So stupid to psyche yourself out on the block like tha-

BWAAAAAAP!

SNAP! Before the starter let off his button Randy was in the air. He felt his legs lock and the muscles jiggle as he planed toward the water. The familiar mental image of an old fashioned carpenter's ruler slid into his mind as it always did for the brief period that he was airborne.

SPLASH! (silencewithbubblesinit) kick, kick, kick, SURFACE! Three powerful dolphin kicks were all he had to go on to get started. Butterfly was his weak stroke. Despite having the torpedo shape, big hands and feet, and over six feet of wingspan, Randy just didn't have the strength in his shoulders to make much time in that stroke. It messed with his breathing too. He never felt like he could get his head in the right position to get a good breath in.

As he walloped down the lane he could easily see the other swimmers from lane five. Three and four were both half a body length ahead of him as he approached the turn. He was holding out against the poor slobs in one and six who may as well have just been practicing. It wouldn't have been any consolation to know that the freshman and sophomore in those lanes had trembled a little bit inside when they saw him standing at the block, all arms and concentration.

At the turn his chest was already on fire. It was just a matter of damage control at this point. Despite being in terrific shape, the second length of the fly was always hell. All he had to do was make it back to the blocks and he could get a rest in. Nobody understood what he meant when he spoke about it that way. It's a RACE! You've got to PUSH! Nope.

SLAP! LAUNCH!! He hit the gutter with both hands, brought his feet up and kicked back. An image of a lawn chair was in his mind as he flung his arms back and hit the water coasting. The first length he didn't even worry about his stroke, it was all about air. He still made decent time, but it drove the coaches nuts. That was fine with him. As he passed under the flags and started counting strokes to the turn he was briefly aware of the crowd noise... two, three, breath, FLIP!

Backstroke turns were a real son of a bitch, but after he worked on his a little he had started picking up over a second on his time. The thought snapped Randy back to the race and he began to pour it on. Three and four were still nearly a full body length ahead and he knew he had to make most of that up. As he pushed off the wall he slid out of the mental lawn chair and put his long arms to work. The ceiling picked up its pace as it slid by him. Flags... two, three, breath, FLIP! TWIST!

He was right side up again and kicked off three hard dolphins, then opened up and began his breast stoke before he surfaced. He almost grinned. For some reason, a back turn into a right-side-up stroke was no problem and he had actually passed three and four with that little maneuver. Breast stroke was another weak spot. No matter what he did, he couldn't get his right leg to frog kick properly. He was pretty sure his right foot was at least partly responsible for some of the coaches' grey hair. Whatever, it was just part of the drama.

At the turn it was the fly all over again. Three and four were half a length ahead. Three didn't matter so much. It was his teammate, a textbook example of how to do the breast stroke. It didn't matter which of them won, as long as the other took second. Big points if it went down that way, and a shutout for the other team. With two out of the race, that made it a little easier, but four wasn't going to just roll over for them, he was leading in fact.

Randy became aware of the crowd again when he was three pulls away from the turn. They were going nuts. They probably had good reason, (three) with the lead changing hands and himself falling back and making it up, (two) there was a lot of drama in the water right then, (duck).

TURN! If Randy had been an egotist he would have mouthed the word, "SHOWTIME!" as he double tapped the gutter and flung himself sideways. He wasn't though, it was his stroke and it was time to go to work. It wasn't that he was all that good at the freestyle, it was just that he saved it all for the last lap. He was a distance man and his muscles were only just warmed up from his previous exertions.

He pounded out of the turn for three strokes then settled down into his resting rhythm. He was taking two strokes every three seconds while all the rest were pulling nearly twice that fast. But not moving twice as fast. Breathing every third stroke he kept an eye on the others until he was even with his teammate but still more than half a length behind four. The crowd was out of their minds but he still wasn't really aware. He had pulled completely into himself for the last three pulls into the turn.

SNAP! And he was back off the wall in an instant. Flipturns... he could do. Now was the moment where the secret strategy came into play. Lane three was a distance man too. While most swimmers could give it all they had in the last ten yards while their bodies were screaming for oxygen, Randy and his teammate could push the whole length and then kick it up a notch at the end.

He started pounding out his cadence for the home stretch. Four strokes to three seconds, lane three was doing the same. Randy was now fully aware of the crowd yelling their heads off. Now, was the time that it was helpful. At the half he was even with lane four. He couldn't see it in the kid's face, but read the panic in his stroke. He went into his push with twenty yards to go and effectively ran himself out of gas.

Randy pounded three more strokes and was half a length ahead of him. Lane three had caught him up too. Three more strokes and he was under the flags, a full body length ahead of four and still pulling away. The last three strokes he didn't breathe and pounded all the way to the gutter. He popped up in time to see lane three take his last two strokes and they both hauled themselves out of the water and spun around, arms in twin V's, as lane four flopped his last, spent strokes into the wall.

He gaped up at them, fish mouth gasping for air. Panting in disbelief. The home team was positively loosing their heads. The visitors continued to cheer in the slowpokes in the outside lanes. Among the dejected faces was the face of the cute diver. She was looking right at Randy. Yeah buddy.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How To Be A Good Teacher

At the hospital we're renovating the labor and delivery section of the fourth floor. I got assigned to the electrical contractor (and the framer, but that's another story) and it's been quite the learning experience. I've been wiring houses for almost twenty years and while I'm pretty good at that I'm a little out of the loop for commercial work. I'm not saying that working with the contractor has been a bad experience, but it's opened my eyes as to what it's like working with me.

It's been a while since I've been the novice in training. When I'm out on a gig I'm the boss and people are looking to me for answers. I'm also a perfectionist when it comes to setting up my rig, and nobody knows the methods like I do. I know I'm a perfectionist and a lot of the things I do are for good reasons, however opaque they may be at the time. I've tried to do a lot of things to make my nitpicking bearable to the people who are working with me.

To the poor schlub wading into things for the first time, "Whup, hold on a sec, that goes like this." goes down a lot easier than, "HEY! What are you doing?!" Maybe I'm just particularly sensitive to it because I mostly get volunteers for assistants and you just can't be the least bit nasty to volunteers... ev-er. It just won't do. The other thing I do is to put the irritation on myself, "Yeah, I know... I'm really picky about it. Just take your time, anything you do right is a big help and I'll get the rest." That's the only paycheck those people are going to get, and it doesn't cost me anything.

I also went through another bout of wanting to tie somebody in a knot and stuff them in a hole. But really, it was just because I was fed up with the things in them that I find most annoying about myself. It's always such a pain in the ass to point the finger at yourself, but it's such good medicine.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fiction - The Priest

My first attempt at fiction was met with rave review (yeah, just one, but I'll take it where I can get it. P.S. Thanks Cuz it's good to have a fan). So here's another little one I dreamed up in the truck on the way home from work today.

The old priest stood silent and still by the communion rail. His gaze passed slowly over the pews and rested on the candles flickering by the door. He would check them later to make sure there were enough fresh ones and empty the few coins from the box.

The church would have seemed silent to the average person but not to him. Quiet, certainly, but the building spoke to him like an old friend relating the news of the day. The radiators made an occasional bump and tick, the almost inaudible hiss of the steam like a reassuring whisper of comfort and warmth. He could hear snow skirling on the stained glass window at the back, it only did that when the wind was over ten miles an hour and under twenty. Above all the faint sounds of an old stone building bracing itself against winter was the rush hour traffic, steadily building outside the massive, iron bound timbers of the front doors.

The whoosh of tires was suddenly inside with him. Someone had opened a side door. Likely it was a student or two from the Catholic school next door, cutting through the church to save a few frigid footsteps on the journey home. He didn't mind. All were welcome. He greeted them all the same way, the elderly faithful, the rowdy school boys, the homeless, with whatever expression could most convey God's' love. He told people of it every day, on Sundays he used words. Every person that had ever crossed those thresholds was met with a silent greeting, but a greeting nonetheless. The worn creases of his face could speak many things, welcome, joy, concern, once in a while even anger, but above all, love.

He kept quite still as the boys, three of them, made their way along the first pew. As they passed by his left shoulder, turned slightly away from them they slowed but continued their noisy exchange. A quarter turn of his white head accomplished that, God's house is to be respected. He smiled though, remembering his own days in a school uniform, he could still remember youthful exuberance and was not irked in the slightest.

As he watched the boys make their way up the aisle he noticed the two in the lead were doing all the talking, arms waving. The third followed along, keeping up the quick pace but was silent. There was something about his walk that suggested a certain heaviness, a slump in the shoulders, a slight down turn of the head. Likely nothing more than the result of a scolding from one of the Sisters, a slight inner grin as his mind strayed back to playing tricks on Sister Mary Dolores nearly seventy years past.

The front door swung open and closed, letting in a brief swish of tires. The priest's gaze came back into focus a moment later when the curl of cold air reached the altar. He turned then to see who was there. He knew he was not alone yet, something he could sense in the not quite stillness of the air. Someone must have slipped in when the boys went out. His eyebrows raised just a tick in surprise at seeing the third, silent boy standing in the center of the aisle.

The boy stood looking at the crucifix with something that was somehow both anger and wonder, almost longing. The boy's gaze fell on him then and changed slightly. He had it now, loss. In front of him stood a young man who had lost someone dear, perhaps even a parent. His poor heart strained not to break as he questioned the reality of Heaven and a God who could let this happen. They locked eyes. The old priest barely moved a muscle, but the boy somehow saw the change. In the old man's face was his message.

"You have lost, my son. I know. I have lost too. I don't know how God let this happen but I still find my comfort in Him."

The boy's eyes went wide though he didn't realize it. In his face the priest read the words of his boiling heart and troubled mind. He had expected merely cold comfort, if anything from the wizened figure in the robes. He had received no empty words, he wasn't sure what he had received. The priest let just the glimmer of a smile spread to one side of his face. The boy's face mirrored his. Inside he was digesting one tiny drop of healing elixir. He was feeling better. How long would it last? Who could say. The priest merely loved everyone who passed through his door, as often and as much as they needed.

The boy turned slowly and padded to the front door. The hinges whispered their familiar words into the silent sanctuary, like the last line of a favorite poem. Bummm. The sound of their closing. Tick, tick, tick, curl... the cold air reached him. He would check the candles in a moment. He stood. Still. And bowed his head in prayer.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fiction - The Hunt

Three boys crouched in the trees at the edge of Gerard Beckwith's yard. The last few leaves of autumn drifted fitfully across the grass. They had been watching for what they had thought to be long enough, roughly two minutes actual time.

"Come on!" Jamie was agitated. He wanted to get on with the plan. It was so frickin simple a second grader could do it, and the two pansies crouching in front of him were acting like a couple old ladies. "We're just takin' a walk you girls. We're gonna grab some of the old bastards stuff, and walk home. It's not like it's Mission Impossible."

Jamie had talked George and Greg into it. Utterly bored with life in a small town in the hills of Pennsylvania, he was craving excitement. More importantly, he was craving a better game console to while away the hours with. A robbery was going to get some attention, but if it was the only one and they waited before they did anything with the loot it was foolproof. It had sounded just like a movie to the two other boys. Until of course, they were faced with the actual task.

With a grunt and a shove, Jamie got things moving. His two suddenly reluctant partners spilled out into the open lawn, looked at Jamie and started walking to the house, crouched over. A truck came down the road and spilled its headlights on the trees out by the mail box. The three boys made a run for it. Crouched behind the house they panted, wide eyed and looked at each other. "We better wait." "Hell naw Greg! Whoever that was is either driving home stuffed full of fish fry or headin' out to get plastered." Jamie had a point, who on a Friday night could care less what was going on in Old Gerry's yard.

----

"Oh what the..." Gerrard spat the driver's side window. He had just happened to glance at his house on the way in to town from a job. Gerry ran the heating and cooling business in town and had been working a bunch of extra hours lately, getting everybody ready for the coming winter. One too many nights of tuna sandwiches had pushed him to head in to town after the last tune up to grab a fish fry at the Hotel. Gerry wasn't rich but after forty years in the business, with the kids grown and his dear Mary gone on from breast cancer he wasn't going to live out the rest of his days in a dump feeling sorry for himself. The house was fixed up pretty nice, he had a big TV, some pretty nice hunting rifles and a bass boat that was the envy of every man in three townships. Damned if he was going to spend his Saturday morning cleaning up toilet paper because some ignorant redneck runts didn't realize Halloween was last month. He pitched his cigarette out the window and pulled in to a driveway to turn ground. Hell.

----

The boys had waited, crouched on cramped legs behind the old man's bass boat, tarped and awaiting winter behind his house. Jamie caught his breath first. Rising, he grabbed a brick from under the boat trailer's tire. "Time to rock" The other boys held their breath as Jamie walked up on the back deck and pitched the brick through the sliding door as casually as if he was throwing his dog a stick.

At the sound George and Greg scrambled under the boat. "C'mon ladies, let's frickin GO!" They looked at each other with saucer eyes and somehow found the balls to crawl back out and join Jamie on the deck. He stepped into the house through the gaping hole in the slider. "If you're gonna puss out at least let me hand you the old fart's DVD player before you run back home." The boys shared one more nervous look, George swallowed had stepped in. He froze and Greg had to shove him to follow.

Jamie was already in the next room rattling around. C'mere and grab this. Greg found his courage now that he was sure there were no dogs or alarms and padded into the living room. Jamie already had the DVD player unhooked, it was sitting on the coffee table. He had a piece of the stereo between his knees and was unhooking another as Greg picked it up. "Hey George! If you're done wettin' yer pants why doncha go see where he keeps his guns."

Greg marveled at how cool Jamie was under the circumstances. He had really thought this out. Everybody had guns. Even the poorest of the trailer trash at least had some old .22 handed down over the years. Old George had to have some beauties in his gun cabinet, he was about as close to rich as you could get around here. Rich.

"Hey Jame, you think he's got any money in here?" Jamie stopped what he was doing and put on his proud pappa face. "Weeeeell, turns out you got a brain in there after all. George! Come grab this shit, Greggie's got a hot idea. Go check his office." George edged into the room like he thought something might explode if he touched it. Greg, brimming with new confidence, slapped him on the shoulder on the way by. "C'mon dude, we'll be sittin' in your basement in twenty minutes." George managed a grunt and looked at the growing pile of electronics on the coffee table.

----

Gerrard drove past the house again, still at full speed so he didn't scare the little pukes off. Nobody in the yard where he could see, either gone or out back messin' with Proud Mary. The back of his neck burned at the thought of some teenage weenie desecrating his wife's namesake. He rounded the corner and pulled into the lane by the first corn field.

Shutting the truck off his hand went behind him and then stopped. There was a shotgun jammed between the seat and the bulkhead of his work truck. Better left behind. If anybody was taking a ride with the cops tonight it was going to be those kids for trespassing, not him for assault with a deadly. He grabbed the 4D Mag-Lite from the console instead and jumped out.

He didn't bother with sneaking. Figuring they'd be out behind the house still he walked right down the shoulder a quarter mile, turned at the mailbox and strutted right up the driveway. At the edge of the house he slowed his step until he was just around the corner from where the boys had crouched a few moments before.

His nerves were steadier now. No sense charging around the corner and scaring them off. Better get a good look at 'em at least before he called the cops. He waited another moment and was surprised to hear nothing at all. Shit. All worked up over nothing. Probably just some kids scrambling to get home so they didn't get whalloped by their fathers. His eyes were good and used to the dark now. With a chuckle he rounded the corner to check on Proud Mary just in case, flashlight jammed in the pocket of his Carhartt.

She was fine. No toilet paper, no eggs and, thank God, no damned paint balls. He stepped around the hitch on the trailer and walked along her port side, absently trailing his fingers over his wife's name on the fiberglass hull. He brushed a few stray leaves off the tarp and with another chuckle headed for the back step. He froze.

"Oh shit...." he breathed. This was a fucking situation. Without a sound he ducked down next to the deck. At sixty-six he was a little worse for wear, but he was still a hundred and eighty pounds of stringy muscle. Forty hears of humping furnaces and water heaters in and out of basements had kept him tough. Shotgun still in the truck though. Hell.

All thoughts of the police gone he crept toward the outside door to the basement. It would open silently, he knew. Not two weeks ago he had oiled the hinges after he had dragged the lawn furniture down there. Just get inside and three quick steps would have him in front of the bench where he reloaded shells. A Winchester twelve gauge lay on that bench, freshly cleaned and oiled for the first day of deer season next week. As long as they weren't in the basement he could slide around down there and listen for footsteps upstairs. And if they were in the basement... Hell.

In the space of three seconds all that had run through his mind and his hand was on the slope of the basement doors. He pulled out his house key and turned the cylinder, with a smile he swung the door up without a sound. Four, five, six steps down and he was at the inner door. Not a sound. He stepped inside and made for the bench. Not in my house.

----

Greg had walked through the kitchen and down the long hall of the little ranch house. The first door was the bathroom, the next was the office. He peeked in and saw what he was hoping to see. A glass fronted gun cabinet, three feet wide and crammed with enough wood and blue steel to buy out the game section at Wal-Mart. Except, he thought, who the hell is going to buy twenty guns from three kids who weren't even old enough to drive yet? Good thinking. He was just as cool as Jamie. With a few more good ideas they could hit three or four houses next year and forget about getting jobs. Who the hell wants to stock shelves at Wal-Mart anyway?

He walked to the desk and started shuffling the papers. The first drawer on the right had a check book on top. He picked it up and tossed it aside, writing bad checks would be a sure way to get busted. "I'm a frickin professional!" Greg mumbled to himself. Three envelopes down the stack he found it. A thick one with no writing on it. He took a quick look inside. The top bill was a twenty. He looked at the back of the stack, there were hundreds in there! "Hey Jamie!" he shouted as he ran down the hall, "forget that shit! We're frickin' rich!"

Two steps into the kitchen there was a huge boom behind him. He hunched his shoulders and squinched his eyes shut. "NOBODY MOVE!" came a shout from behind him. He didn't hear the sound of the Winchester being racked as he scrambled for the back door. He bumped smack into George doing the same thing. George slid sideways and pushed off the refrigerator. Greg knocked over a chair and raked his shin but somehow didn't fall. The two boys nearly flew out the back, sending shards of glass all the way into the living room behind them

----

Gerrard thought of five places he could fire a warning shot without wrecking anything more than drywall as he crept up the stairs. Silently, he turned the knob. Awright Gerry. He gave the door a hard shove and a big grin spread across his face at the sound it made when it smacked the wall. With a shout he hopped up the last step. He was already in the hall, racking the gun when the door swung back and hit him in the rump.

Holy shit! One of 'em was right there! Before he could do anything else though another one came thumping out of the living room and he drew a bead on them as they tore his kitchen apart trying to get out. Chest heaving, he swung the gun around toward the living room door. He heard the chain drop and a second later the screen door pound open. He lowered the gun and bumped the door behind him.

He spun around to cover the hall behind him. Oh boy, how the hell do cops do this? They think is what they do. Damn good thing he hadn't popped out a second earlier or there would have been one behind him. He was shaking like a leaf but he hustled down the hall to make sure there was nobody else in the house.

Half a minute later he was standing at his ruined back door. They hadn't touched his guns, the desk was a mess though. Bedroom, empty. The living room was fine except that his entertainment system was sitting on the coffee table. Two of 'em went that way, into his woods. Still shaking he propped the gun up against the counter. He was still breathing hard but he had collected his thoughts. No need for anybody to get hurt, but damned if they were going to get away with this.

----

Greg and George cleared the back yard in what felt like about four steps. They both plowed into the woods, not caring that the first six feet of it was raspberry bushes. The scratches didn't even penetrate the terror. Greg was following George now, his heavy frame was plowing right over saplings and his boots were pounding on the ground, despite the blanket of leaves. Greg looked over his shoulder and the world was upside down. He slid down the bank of a stream and landed on his knees in an inch of water, right against George who was laying sideways in it.

"SHIT!" hissed Greg. "What the hell happened to Jamie?!" George was up and cursing loudly. "Shut the hell up stupid! The guy had a gun! I heard it!" George stopped for a moment, stomped across the stream and was already scrambling up the other bank before Greg could say anything. "Dude! Go down the frickin' creek! There won't be any footprints!" Even a little kid knew that. Shit, how many movies did you have to watch to know that. "Whatever dude." George was pissed but he lead the way downstream.

----

"They're gonna freeze their nuts off." Gerard said out loud as he listened from his deck. Chuckling again he loped down the steps and walked to where the raspberry bushes had been trampled down. "Scratched all to shit too." He turned and walked twenty feet to the edge of the patch. He stepped into the woods at the head of the trail that lead to his tree stand. He could stroll up past his hunting spot, walk down the edge of a corn field and sight 'em where the stream went under the road. They'd be twenty minutes, splashing their way down there. He could walk it in five. With a broad grin he shoved his hands in his pockets and padded down the trail. Like shootin' fish in a barrel.

----

Greg was freezing. It felt like he had been walking forever. The water was low but it had cut pretty deep and they couldn't keep to dry land the whole time. He was wet to his pockets, shivering from cold and cursing from fright. George was soaked up to his wallet in back and completely drenched in front from his first spill down the bank. A steady stream of four letter words had been the only thing to leave his mouth. The adrenaline had worn off, this sucked.

"Dude. Dude! George! What the hell happened to Jamie?" There hadn't been anything in the plan about getting split up, or even about getting caught for that matter. "He got us into this he can damn well get his own ass out of it!" Geore Spat. He wasn't the brightest but he was right. George went on, "If we're lucky that old fart didn't see shit. I'm gonna walk my ass home, hide my clothes and stay in the basement till frickin Christmas! Jamie musta gone out the front. He's not gonna walk down the road and get picked up by the cops. He's probably freezin' his nuts off just like we are, sneakin' back home. You can ask him tomorrow."

"For once you're right stupid!" The boys jumped as Jamie came sliding down the bank. "I'm not as cold as you assholes. Geez, what the hell are you two thinking? I've been walking through the woods for ten minutes watchin' you stooges splash around."

"What the hell dude? You scared the shit out of us!" George poked Jamie in the chest. "Shut up stupid! You're gonna get us caught!" "You are too, leaving footprints like that. At least we were makin' a smart getaway." Greg found his voice. "Whatever dude. Even if there was a cop right in the neighborhood he's gonna be half an hour talking to that old fart. We can get on the road at the bridge and cut down behind school. We'll be back in the basement before we got anything to worry about." Jamie thought a moment, "OK brains." and turned to walk down the stream, apparently worried about foot prints after all.

----

"Oh you've got plenty to worry about." Said Gerrard as he slid down the opposite bank. The boys jumped for a second time. Jamie cursed. "Cops haven't been called yet. I'd like to invite you back to my place to get warmed up while we wait for 'em." He stood, feet apart, glaring at them in the moonlight.

He stood there silent, with his hands in his jacket pockets. He was surprised when the littlest one sighed and started toward him. The big one did the same a second later. Shit. He had expected them to bolt. He was just looking for the satisfaction of watching them crap their pants and go splashing off in the night. He had a good look at 'em, enough to give the cops, but this was even better!

"What the hell are you guys doing!?" Said the one farthest away. The other two had stopped in front off Gerard and turned to look, sheepish resignation all they could muster. Hiding his mirth, he called out, "You come along with ol' Gerry if you know what's good for ya. I seen yer face and this town's not big enough for you to hide long. Besides, your buddies'll probably give you up to the cops as soon as they get here."

With another loud curse the last one kicked a rock into the stream and made his way to follow. "You go up where I came down. Turn left and head down the edge of the field. I'll tell ya when to turn." One by one the boys scrambled up the bank and made their miserable way off to the field.

Three minutes later Gerard turned them down the trail and followed them past his stand. In two more minutes they were picking their way across the broken glass for the second time that night. Gerard flipped the kitchen light on and the boys stood blinking in the glare of the four flourescent tubes. It was possible that those boys were going to pop their eyes right out on his kitchen floor. Just a little too soon to let the pressure off though.

"Welp, I see you didn't make off with my TV or any of that junk. Guns are all still there too. So... just what exactly is it that you would like to tell me about your little adventure tonight." He had paced over to the end of the counter and stood by where the shotgun stood propped. Without a word, the skinny one reached in his back pocket and slapped the envelope on the table. His hands were visibly trembling.

"Anything else?" Silence.

He went to the phone and dialed the State Police. He knew the dispatcher, serviced his Lennox every October like clockwork. He explained the situation with a chuckle and hung up. Gerard went to the fridge and grabbed a Coke. He pulled the top and took a sip with his back to the boys. Bunch of scared little pups. Must've filled their britches three times over. Tracking them through the woods he had heard every splash and curse. He turned for a good look at his catch in the light. This was even better than nailing that twelve pointer last year. "You boys make yourselves comfortable. I'm starved, been chasin' you all over the North Country when I shoulda been eatin' a fish fry. I'm gonna make a sandwich." No response. Let 'em sweat. Hell.

----

Twenty minutes later the police cruiser pulled into Gerard's driveway. "Hey Ger" said the officer as he came through the door, "Heard you got some varmint trouble." "Yep" said the old fart, "Busted the hell outa by back door. Hey, how's that new A.O. Smith workin' for ya?" "Oh just great. I still got water for a hot shower even if both the girls go first." "Good, good. Welp, they're right here in the kitchen, at least they are if they didn't decide to go for another dip."

Jamie had found some courage by this point. Sitting there scared as shit for God knows how long was bad enough. No way was he going to let the old fart get away with this just cause he was buddies with the cop. "Hey! He's holding us hostage! He had a gun!"

Unmoved by the outburst the trooper turned to Gerard. "You pulled a gun on 'em Ger?" "Yeah, I thought it was just some kids gonna toilet paper the joint. I went out back to check on the boat and saw they'd broke in. I snuck downstairs and came up with the twelve. Unloaded it and left it here when I went after 'em though." He picked up the Winchester and racked it twice. Nothing came out of the breach, it was empty.

"That's bullshit!" Shouted Jamie "He chased us through the woods and made us come back here! How did we know he didn't have a pistol on him?!"

The trooper raised his eyebrows and turned back to Gerard without saying anything. "I didn't force you to do shit son!" Gerard barked "I had your asses cold in that creek, heh." He couldn't help but chuckle, "Then I IN-vited you back here and you pansies trotted off like Mary's little lamb!"

"Well now, I don't see anything wrong with that. Boys, this man could have shot each of you dead in this room and been within his rights. What the hell is the matter with you?! They get anything that you know of Ger?"

"Nope" said Gerard, rocking back on his heels, "Got my little stash of emergency cash but they were polite enough to give it back." Jamie slumped in his chair, miserable. The other two boys hadn't even looked up.

In a few more minutes the trooper had filled out his report and cuffed the boys. As he was herding them toward the front door he turned and said goodnight to Gerard. "Shit! I tell ya, best hunt I've ever had." the old man said "Is that wrong?" The trooper laughed out loud. "Naw Ger, a little screwed up maybe but you handled it fine."

Gerard chuckled one last time as he shut the door and turned to go clean up the glass. In another week there'd be three more trophies on his living room wall. Mug shots from the police blotter. Hell.

©2008 Jonathan Dayton - All Rights Reserved

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thinking About Fiction

Having a few more days this month where I'm required to post once a day I'm looking in a new direction. Fiction. I've decided that the details of my day to day life are just not cutting it as blog fodder and I'm just not finding the time to come up with good, well thought out posts every day.

So, I was going to write a short story, spur of the moment tonight. But then my old best bud The Phat Marshmellow called up and we got to jawin' so I'm out of time to write a story. But tomorrow, I'm going to sit down, with nothing in particular in mind and crank out a five paragraph short story just to see what happens.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Blessed Sleep

Today... I slept. Man, did I sleep. I got back from the gig at 3 AM instead of 5 AM and was just ascending the stairs to the comfort of the Royal Bed when... the phone rang. It was work. Snow removal. So I went back in and plowed till six and then finally, collapsed.

Two and a half hours later, H-Bomb woke me up. I spent a groggy couple hours feeding the short people various forms of breakfast and regulating their TV viewing experience. Just after noon, H-Bomb had a breakdown and I asked him if he just wanted to sit in his crib for a bit with his favorite stuffed guy and a bink. He did, and that is where he stayed for the rest of the afternoon. Poor little fella was spent.

I remember sitting down on the couch, but then nothing until I heard The Missus bellowing encouraging the kids to help get the place cleaned up. I haven't napped with such forcefulness since college. We used to have spontaneous, violent napping sessions back then. NAP! And everyone else would smile wistfully and keep an eye on you to make sure nobody disturbed your blessed slumber.

Now... the house is sort of clean and so are the short people. The Missus is tucking the last one into bed right at this moment. I will be ordering some Chinese food and stopping by the liquor store. That's right true believers... it's Grownup Time! (!) Somebody TESTIFY! People in the back shout AMEN! Can I get a HALLELUJAH! Or maybe just some General Tso's and a nice Riesling?

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Mobile Post

Forgot to bring the laptop to the gig so I'm slipping in another cell phone post. Lame I know... But it counts!

Big shout out to my pretend cousing at The Daniels 5 for being too busy to comment lately but being the only one to make my lame cell phone post feel special.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Madness Draws To A Close

OK, last post about my marathon work situation. I mostly wanted to put it all down here so I can read it in a few years when I've figured out how to cram even more stuff into my schedule and think, "What a wimp!"

But really, it wasn't that bad. I could have easily crammed in a few other things. I just like to see my darling wife and my short people. Things go better for everyone.

Here are the stats as they will stand at 5 AM on Saturday when I finally get home from my gig.

Last day off: November 1
Days without a day off: 20
Days when I worked a double: 6
Shows during time span: 2 theatre, 2 rock, 2 rentals
Checks deposited: Over $5k
Debt status: Still Fupped Duck
Average sleep per night: Less than 6 hours

And that's the end of it, for now. After this week is finally over maybe my brain will be in good enough shape to put up a decent post over here and get back to writing about "How I Got To Be The Mister" over there.


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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nice To Meet You

Please pardon the interruption for a spot of bitching...

Last post I mentioned how I go to more meetings than a guy who wears a tool belt should reasonably be expected to go to. So, today the Royal Slumber was interrupted by a phone call.

Mister: ...'lo

Phone: It's Bryant from work. Snow Removal.

Mister: I'll be right there.

Time warp past several hours of time and a half and we find The Mister in a Post Snow Removal Wrap Up Meeting. Ya know... talk about what went well, what didn't go well, what broke, who's pecker froze and fell off, and so on. Without rising from his chair The Mister found himself sitting in the Weekly Shop Meeting and also talking about himself in the third person, like Bossy. After the second full hour of meetings The Mister had to hustle to get seated for four more hours of Customer Service Training. A brief leg stretch and the lunch hour had arrived. And that is how The Mister made it from 3 AM until noon, spending a total of five (frickin) hours in meetings.

But... when I got home tonight, it was time to pack the short people off to church for the community dinner. The entre was my very own dearly departed Grandma's meatloaf! I haven't had the pleasure since I was living at home. My revelry increased when The Missus informed me that the recipe had been published in the church cookbook and she'd be happy to make it for me. Joy!

That's about all the sauce I got for right now. Tune in tomorrow for my 20th straight post and 19th straight day of work. I'm comin after the record Super Jew, am I even close?

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Agony of Meetings

My job as a maintenance mechanic has me going to a lot more meetings than a guy who wears a tool belt to work should reasonably have to attend. At least they're mostly productive. When there's one blow-hard from administration in the room and a dozen guys who've got shit to do, it had better be a productive meeting.

Not so, for the meeting at church tonight. I've been blessed to be called upon to help out a neighboring church by preaching every so often. There's a dozen or so people from my church that help out at two other churches in the neighborhood. Tonight there was a meeting so that the District Superintendant (hereafter referred to as DS) could get a feel for what we're doing.

The first twenty minutes we just went around the table, introducing ourselves and giving our thoughts on how things were working out. The consensus seemed to be that everyone was happy and any glitches were getting worked out in the aisle on Sunday or with a quick phone call. Then we spent the rest of the first hour beating that horse until it was abundantly obvious that it was good and fricking dead.

The last half hour (actually, the last half hour that I was there for) was just abysmal. The topic wasn't really appropriate to bring it up at the meeting so I won't bring it up here. But the DS droned on about it until all of the people I could see from where I was sitting looked slightly queasy. When she finally got ready to move on I got up to go to the bathroom. I realized on the way that I was just going to decide to go home so I went back for my coat and left. Turns out that most of the rest of the folks would have left too, but my sense of propriety and decorum is distinctly underdeveloped (I'm rude). I did manage not to say, "This sucks! I got stuff I gotta do."

I went home and got ready to take a shower, not just because I was pretty funky from work, but because, as always... (sigh) dealing with church administrators makes me feel like I need to wash! I'm pretty blessed to go to a church where people just love each other and act like they love each other and the preacher says things that are worth remembering. The only way I'm going to any more meetings to facilitate that is if the DS is present so that I can have the pleasure of walking out.

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