Monday, January 26, 2009

The Ol' Pot Roast Tree

In these cold winter months I sure do miss the sight of our pot roast tree in its full glory. Perhaps I should back up a little. Everyone knows that you're not supposed to put meat in your compost pile. Well, years back when my grandfather still owned the place he must have missed a little tidbit of pot roast when he was taking out the scraps. The soil in his garden is well known throughout the area for being some of the most fertile around, and that little bit of pot roast just couldn't help itself but to push up a tender shoot that spring.

My Grampa was a classic naturalist, fascinated by the living world around him. He filled his shelves with volumes on flora and fauna, and his garden with as many varieties as it could hold. Many a Saturday I joined him at his table for some vegetable soup that would usually contain at least a dozen veggies, all grown not fifty feet from the table. His curiosity was piqued by the shoot which he couldn't identify and he nurtured it to see what it would become. Now, on that spot in the corner of the garden there stands a lovely pot roast tree.

His friends in education, science and biology teachers, professors from universities, they all scoffed when he told them of the new variety he had discovered. But as much as they derided him, none could argue the existence of the tree once they saw it. Another specimen has never been found and no fruit from the tree has ever produced another shoot. We don't question it, we just enjoy it and preserve it for future generations.

Through droughts and floods, the Blizzard of '77, pests, lightening strikes and countless perrils the tree has stood. It needs precious little in the way of care. Just the occasional pruning of damaged branches.

It's a big night at the Dayton house when we pull a roast out of the freezer. Usually we save them for special occasions when the whole family is together. The uncles swap stories about harvests of years past. When he was still with us Grampa would often tell the tales of chasing off sneaky neighborhood boys.

Now our own children are growing up in the shade of it's boughs. All spring and summer it looks almost like an apple tree from a ways off. Up close though you can see that the leaves are shaped like little hooves, and the faint odor of manure is always a give away. Not entirely unpleasant, it reminds me of the small family farms that didn't have free stall barns and liquid slurry ponds.

Toward the beginning of August the tree starts to set fruit. Tiny tufts of white and black start to appear. In the dog days of summer the miniature cow tails mature into plump, juicy pot roasts, as fine looking as any you'll ever see in a butcher's case. Most people complain about the dog days of summer, but not us. On those simmering nights we sit in our lawn chairs and enjoy the pleasant smell of roast drifting in. Some swear you can hear something like a gentle lowing when the breeze blows through the branches just so.

Just before school starts the roasts are usually ready. You have to watch them closely. Once picked you can freeze them, but while still on the branch they are susceptible to frost. One year we had spent a Sunday out and came home too tired to check them. That night we had a frost and lost the whole crop to freezer burn. We tried to salvage some of them but they were as tough as shoe leather. That only happened once.

When they're getting close we'll check them every hour. Sometimes I'll even take a day off from work. When the verdict is finally in we call the kids and they come barreling around the side of the house, Radio Flyer in tow. The Missus and I grab big white squares of butcher paper and carefully take down each roast. We wrap them up and gently pass them to the kids who stack them in the wagon.

When it's full we pull it carefully up to the back door and pass them in, bucket brigade style and usually fill up the bottom two shelves of the big freezer. We always save out a large-ish one though, to savor right away. We call my folks and any other relatives within easy driving distance. The Missus trims the fat and I hustle out to the garden for some fresh taters, carrots and onions to roast with it.

After a few giddy hours we pull that finely marbled slab out and view it in all its splendor. It's usually all we can do to keep the kids in check as they bounce around the kitchen singing the family Pot Roast Tree song.

Pot Roast Tree,
The Pot Roast Tree,
Oh I love it and it loves me.


It's not much of a song, we know. But there's not really much floating around in the collective body of folk song to commemorate such a thing, so we make do.

Hours later with full bellies we push back from the table, utterly satisfied. As the sun sets we head out to the back yard to watch the last leaves fall. Right after the harvest the tree sheds all its leaves, the first sign of coming fall. The maples and oaks won't be showing a hint of color for a few more weeks yet, but our beloved pot roast tree is spent, and ready for a much deserved winter's slumber.

We just tucked in to a splendid piece of pot roast tonight and I thought I'd share that little slice of family history. If you're ever in the neighborhood on pot roast night, stop on in. There's always plenty and it's always tender and juicy. Mmmmmm mmmmmm... pot roast.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

What If?

Our good friend Danae over at Beauty In Distress just tagged The Missus and me. It's a little more complicated than the usual meme so I thought I'd tackle it. The task is to think of a choice you made and more or less knead it to death and see what's stuck to the rolling pin.

I'm going to lead off by saying that there aren't many decisions that I've made that I really regret. I got good at hindsight pretty early on. There's no sense beating yourself up over past choices so if you insist on picking them over you may as well be looking for the good.

One choice that sticks in my mind as being pretty low on the list is working for my former boss. After a lifetime of working for myself having a boss didn't take a whole lot of getting used to. Making clients happy, making the boss happy, easy. Being unemployed for two months didn't leave me with many options and I had pretty much exhausted what few I had, so I went to work for the guy that makes everyone cringe.

Coming from a small crew that knew how to get things done without wasting time, energy and resources and honing those skills working on my own has made me pretty set in my ways. Joining a crew full of semi-skilled grunts was a bit of a paradigm shift. The foreman was a carpentry genius but all he ever did was figure out how to straighten out what the crew messed up. That is, when the boss didn't show up and meddle. Danae wrote about the way she felt her school experience made her feel about life, I was getting a similar vibe.

Goal. Work for that goal. Achieve that goal. New Goal. Work for that goal. Achieve it. I think you get my drift. That's how we're taught, how our minds are molded from a young age, particularly with school. The goal is to go to Kindergarten and pass. To study, do decent on the test, and pass. Then the next grade and the next test. Goal after goal after goal.

That's a decent summary of life on that crew, except graduation to first grade never happened because every three weeks some guys quit and more chuckle heads took their place. It was a never-ending orientation.

Somehow I managed to escape having that philosophy impressed upon myself in my school days. Maybe it was all the staring out the window that allowed what I was learning to percolate in my skull and form abstract connections. It did feel like a series of hurdles but the increasing height of the hurdles lead me to believe that there was a purpose. Eventually I was applying what I could and bookmarking the rest for future use.

I firmly believe in the biblical concept that God doesn't put us through anything we can't handle (with a little help from Him). By that reasoning I've been conditioned by all my past experiences for what I'm doing right now. There was a lot to be miserable about on that job, but I learned a good deal too. How not to run a crew for instance, and how to deal with the unreasonable expectations of upper management and still accomplish something. In the face of loosing our house I could have done worse. As the Rastafarians are fond of saying, "Jah provide, soon come."

And He did provide. When my family was hanging on the very last fibers of the proverbial rope, a job came along. Despite being a grinding experience I still managed to find good in it. And again, just in the nick of time, something else came along. I prayed in desperation one night in August to be free from that job and working somewhere else by the middle of September. My hire date at my current (awesome) job was September 16. Somebody in the back say amen!

I guess I'm having a hard time really finding anything that I actually regret about the experience at all. It sucked but it toughened me up and kept the family going. I'm thinking now of the thousands of times I've said, "wish I hadn't done that" and even in those moments I was still concentrating more on the solution to the problem I had created than anything else.

Sorry to totally not do the assignment but that's what I've got for ya. Take a tip from the shaggy carpenter, don't worry about it. Focus on the lessons to be learned and consider what might be added to your arsenal for future situations, no matter what caused them. If life seems like a never ending series of goals then just work toward achievement. My Sunday School teacher told me that all things work together for good for them that love the Lord.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Technical Jargon

The very basic thing that most people don't understand is that getting music from Point A to Point B is more than just plugging a mic or CD player into a speaker. Having done that, all you've accomplished is coupling a signal source to the air.

This is where shit starts to get hectic. Just putting the sound out there isn't the half of it. The pleasurable experience begins when the source is properly coupled to the room. Once it's out there it's acting on the reverberant space and interacting with the standing waves inherent in that volume.

The true art is taking place when someone who understands those interactions, either intellectually or instinctively, puts them to advantageous use. This message has been brought to you by your friendly neighborhood sound guy, presenting what you present for over fifteen years.

I have no idea why I felt the need to write that but I feel better now... haven't had a gig in weeks.



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Thursday, January 22, 2009

In The Driver's Seat

If you're thinking that the title of this post sound suspiciously like the title of this post, you're right. A little while back I was planning to unofficially take charge of the remodeling project at the hospital. Not a big deal, just help keep all the details straight and everyone motivated.

Well, today my boss took me aside and officially put me in charge. Not that this is a huge deal since it just means doing what I was already doing. It does mean an extra fifty cents an hour though, so that's like an extra four hundred bucks over the next month. Pretty frickin sweet!

Except that after my big plans to grease the wheels and a pep talk from the boss, all the project guys got caught pettin' the puppy at coffee break this morning. That's our inside term for doing nothing. Yeah, busted on the forty five minute coffee break on the very first day of official leadership. Not a huge deal but now we've got to be even more on our game. At least until the boss has a day where he takes a forty five minute break.

The other super sweet news is that in the midst of the whole hospital bitching about the project being twenty-five thousand dollars over budget, our big boss re-crunched the numbers and had some really cool stuff to tell us. Our bid to do most of the work in-house saved the hospital something like a quarter million dollars. They wouldn't have even done the project if they had to hire all outside contractors. And as for being over budget, we actually came in twenty-five thousand under budget for the original scope. It was the fifty grand worth of add-ons and changes that pushed us over. So HA! The 'tato-head architechts (Sorry Gumbo) cost us thirteen thou just on stuff that they messed up. (I've always been of the opinion that architects should have to work on a crew for a year before they can get their stamp. Keep them grounded just a little.)

And that's the end of the tale I have to tell for today. I'm finally going to cuddle up with The Missus and watch the last hour of the first half of Pride and Prejudice tonight. Boo-Yah!



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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More About Metal

I was feeling a little sluggish when it was time to do the dishes tonight. The obvious solution was to whip out the iPod, grab the cans (headphones) and slap on some Pantera. As the cups and saucers flew into the dishwasher to the heady strains of "Revolution Is My Name" my mind started drifting to why I like metal so much and why I'm so nonplussed by most of the Christian variety.

As the song came crashing over the bridge into a that discordant section where the melody is defined by pairs of notes that would normally eye each other suspiciously from across the room that are crammed together and twisted up out of tune... it hit me. More than just being an adrenaline rush, the music is an expression of the discord in my life.

As "I'm Broken" started grinding and Phil was screaming it at the top of his lungs I felt my self scraping the dried on crust of the world off the bottom of my soul. Silently screaming along so as not to wake the Short People I cleared up some of my grudge against the world.

How could I get along with this stuff? Forget the world at large let's just talk about the stuff that's right here, sucking at my pant legs like sewage. I live in a world where one of my schoolmates was whored out so her mom could buy coke. I can't swing a dead cat without hitting a friend who was abused as a child. My contemporaries continue the cycle with their own broken families. My brother and I all but killed ourselves with drugs.

Having dredged up heaping fistfuls of this sludge that had accumulated in the recesses of my soul I retreated to the shop where I could scream along and hurl it away unhindered. I flung it away where it can seep into the frozen ground and cease to torment me, for a while. The way I'm built and what I've been through it just has to be on the agenda to occasionally let rip with a roaring

Cause yesterday dont mean shit
Whats over is over and nothing between
Yesterday dont mean shit
Because tomorrows the day you have to face
Theres no rewinding time

I guess in a screwed up kind of way I was sort of praying. If God can tolerate Pantera lyrics he heard me admit to being utterly broken by the world, seeking His cleansing and vowing to move on anew. I know the songs aren't exactly about all that but when they roll for me, that's how I'm using them.

And this concludes our tour of The Cranium of the Christian From Hell, mind the sludge as you exit.



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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fiction - The Show - #2

J stood at the mix in an upstairs ballroom. Having carried twenty-eight hundred pounds of PA gear up twenty-two steps he was feeling like the end of the night before he even got started. Thirteen bands on the bill, thirteen! Whatever, people came to battles of the bands in droves so the payoff was going to be sweet.

The first band on stage had the look of hardcore skate punks about them. The guitar player on the right appeared to be in need of getting his meds checked. Either that or he was selling his Addies instead of taking them. It was all he could do to find all his stuff and plug it in he was so twitchy, a steady stream of profanity projecting at anyone who cared to hear.

"Awright, kick drum" J said into the talkback mic.

pa... pa... pah... du... duh... Duh... DUH... DUH!... DUH!!! KAH!!!! KAH!!! He tweaked the EQ absent mindedly, getting that metal sound in place. The guitar player was still noodling around aimlessly, chugging, squealing. It was like a sweat bee circling his head.

"Hang on a minute dude, you're up in a minute. Dude. DUDE! Stop playing!"

The bass player smacked the kid on the shoulder and said something that got him to stop. J called for snare, called for the first rack tom. Mr. ADHD was at it again. He stepped up to the mic, "You can turn this guitar up in the monitors now!"

Minga this is gonna be a long-

"AAAAY!!! DON'T PISS OFF THE SOUND GUY!!!!"

J spun around and saw the security gorilla standing behind him, a wall of beef in a Danzig t-shirt. He was wearing a grin that should have been on the box of a product called Black Tooth Grin. "I use-ta mix. Ya gotta keep these punks in line!" He chuckled and stood there with his arms crossed over his barrel chest. While he was trying to get his brain back in gear he felt a tap on his shoulder.

"J-dude, you got any aspirin in your box?"

"Yeah, lemme jus-" J ducked in to the ever present yellow tool box under the mix. Bringing up the bottle he asked, "You hung over already?" of the guitar player standing in front of him. The kid was about sixteen, part of a glam revival act that was tearing up the local scene.

"No dude, we were just in a wreck!" he said enthusiastically. "We got t-boned at an intersection! Will's grandma's mini van is all pushed in! We refused medical coverage! Will almost got in a fist fight with the ambulance driver!"

This is how my night's starting? Not usually one to drink and mix J's eyes roamed over to the bar to see if by some miracle there was Guinness on tap. The kid handed the pill bottle back and jammed a handful in his mouth. No black tap. Dang.

"Hey, you can pay me back by going over there and telling that man the sound guy needs a Jack and Coke." The kid grinned at the implications. "And no you may not get anything for yourself." J added, "Big Brother's watching." He jerked his thumb at the mountain standing behind him. He glanced around and saw the grin again.

"Sure" still grinning and holding out his hand.

"I said tell him it's for the Sound Guy." J pulled out a single "Just leave him a tip." He turned back to the desk, the right hand man was back at it again. He heard knuckles crack and Black Tooth start to shuffle our of the mix.



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Monday, January 19, 2009

Fiction - The Show - #1

I was just about to put blogging on hold because I HAVE TO WORK EVERY DAY UNTIL A QUARTER PAST VALENTINE'S DAY! (huff, huff, huff) But then I got to thinking about November when I was doing a post a day. When you're really busy you mostly just post about being really busy. Not a lot of fun for the viewing audience. But the last few posts I started writing fiction. It was a blast and folks seemed do like it.

I've got all these stories from doing shows, mostly mine but a few from others. I've been thinking about a way to string them all together. My favorite part about Tom Clancy novels is all the inner workings type stuff that he surrounds the plot with. I'm short a plot at present but maybe you can help out with some ideas for my protagonist. In the mean time I'm going to just sketch out some scenes and see what develops.

The Show - #1

Jason rubbed his eyes and left the mixer. Plunging into the crowd he threaded his way to the stage for the changeover. Two more acts before his guys. Gawdawful gymnasium. Hell of a place to try and do a show in and make it sound like anything. Colleges have deep pockets though and the checks don't bounce... even if it sounds like crap.

By the time he got to the stage the first local support act had disappeared with his acoustic guitar. Too bad that lousy whiner was likely to be the best it got for the night. At least he had a chance in this echo chamber. From here on out it was going to be ever louder whiny crap. What ever happened to musicians that wrote about something other than awful relationships. Oh well, not everybody can work for Van Halen, and even a bad day at a rock show was better than a good day hanging drywall.

The new crop of whiners was shoving their gear into place. Of the three guitar players (three guitar players, Lord in Heaven) two looked at him like he had just run over their cat. I need a shirt that says "Don't Piss Off The Sound Guy". The drummer looked like he might not be able to read and the bass player didn't look much better off. Par for the course.

J could look over a band loading in and tell at a glance if they were going to be trouble or not. Stumbling idiots usually weren't too much of a pain in the ass but they sounded like crap. Smarty pants bands were usually a total pain in the ass, non-stop demands and at the end of the set they still sounded like crap. He could smell them out like checking to see if that Chinese food in the fridge was still good. The only good band was one that could slam their shit on stage and start bangin'. Like his guys. Months on the road had their skills sharpened. He proudly bragged to the local sound techs that he could get them on and line checked in under five minutes. No bull.

Slithering by the back line to place drum mics he felt a tug at his leg. Clip, clip, twist, clip.

"Hey! HEY!" J twisted his torso around "You just tumbled my wireless DOOD!"

Maybe if you had something better than that piece of crap from Banjo Center and put it in a rack like a big boy I wouldn't have knocked your little toy on the floor.

"S'matter with it?"

"It won't fuckin' turn on!"

J looked at the tiny black box in the kid's hand. The insulation was pulled back from the plug a good six inches. Yeah, keeping it in a duffel bag with your crap and being built by Chinese orphans didn't have anything to do with why that broke. My pant leg is totally at fault here. Might as well solder it for him. It's not like pushing the faders is going to make what they do sound any good. "Lemme see it. Huh. Get a cable, I'll go fix this. It'll be done before your set's over." Why don't I ever say that shit out loud?

J threaded his way back to the mix, performed a cursory line check, noted that all four string players were offensively out of tune and got out his soldering iron. The band ground away at their set. He kept himself blissfully occupied stripping the wires back while fifteen hundred college kids stood around and failed to be impressed by their classmates' attempt at emo.

He flowed solder into the splices with the deft moves of a surgeon, found some electrical tape in his box and finished up. Standing up and stretching he looked over at the lighting guy. "Five more." he said in the relative silence between caterwauling. The band started in again. J jerked his thumb over his shoulder and the lighting guy nodded. He'd mind the store. He was well aware that J hadn't touched a thing since the band had started and remaining untouched wan't likely to help or hinder the situation.

J stepped out from behind the mix and headed for an exit to grab a smoke. Two down, one to go... then we'll show these punks how you make music. Gawdawful gym. Gawdawful whiners. Beats swingin' a hammer though.


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Friday, January 16, 2009

Electric Light

I've been re-reading a book about the pioneers of electric light in America. This time on my iPod. Last time it was on my Palm Phone. Because I am a geek, that's why. I finally reached an age where history became fascinating to me a few years back and started digesting the occasional volume.

The second time through this book I had Google Maps at my finger tips and when the addresses of the original Edison, Tesla, and Westinghouse operations came up I immediately flipped over to see where whey were. Now, super-geek that I am, I'm planning to go visit the two that are in New York next time I'm there. Edison and Tesla both set up shop on lower Manhattan when they were starting to roll out DC electric lights. There's even a location in Buffalo, about an hour from here where Westinghouse rolled out the first AC incandescent system in a department store.

Now I'm beginning to see why Civil War buffs go out to fields in the middle of nowhere to revel in historic battles. I'm getting why museums that set up rustic townships draw thousands. I finally found my own historic niche. I'm likely to be the only wierdo dragging his wife and children from Wall Street to The Battery so he can soak up the aura of buildings that have long since been demolished, but in a way it makes sense.

I pulled my first wires on a construction site at the tender age of twelve. I had an electronics kit years before that. I've studied theatrical stage lighting. I've paid my mortgage and fed my family wiring houses. I even fill the off hours messing about with electricity. Add audio to the equation and it should come as no surprise that I dream about wiring. There's been a time or two when I've solved a routing problem literally in my sleep.

I can't think of any particular reason for writing this. Just a little peek into what makes me tick I guess. Don't leave without dropping a comment. What is it that fascinates you? Where would you travel to see the places where your interests evolved in generations past?



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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dress Like J Day

I was just about to give the ol' facial moss a trim when The Missus said I should quick throw on a tie and make like the dashing husband of one Church Punk Mom. Her husband, you see, rocks the chin whiskers old school and wears his Time Bomb getup to work. (Black coat, white shoes, black hat, Cadillac! For those of you who don't listen to Rancid) I couldn't manage the pork pie hat on short notice, but whatever. This concludes your dose of random nonsense for today. Enclosed please find one picture of said J for comparison.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

One Year Blog-i-versary

Yup. I've been at it for a full year. One hundred and fifty-six posts later I'm pretty pleased with what blogging is doing for me. Not only do people read my stuff, but people I've never met read it and some of them are becoming the kind of friends that I hope to meet in person some day.

Thanks to all who stop in here and thanks to all the great writers who's work has helped me sharpen my craft. Now instead of looking forward to flopping in front of the TV, I look forward to my readin' and writin'. I was always jealous of people in the olden days who spent an hour a day looking after their correspondence, like Ben Franklin. Now I'm proud to say I've formed the habit.

My Missus is the real writer in the family, at least blog-wise. I'm not sure I'll ever be crafty enough to write the kinds of things that hundreds of people want to read every day. I've been pleasantly surprised to see my list of followers growing steadily this year though. I never would have guessed a year ago that blogging would be this good.


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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fiction - Starter's Pistol

Michael sat on the beach. In his mind he was completing the equation between his life and the vast emptiness of the Atlantic Ocean. He was cross multiplying the endless breakers with the endless futility of his efforts. College, job, girls, getting up in the morning.

x = Ø

In September the beach was still empty at this hour of the morning. Students were back in school, tourists were back at work. Nobody else was there to see the .22 automatic in his lap. He thought briefly about how he had acquired it. The guy he got his stuff from brought it to him when the pot stopped being enough. He had offered other drugs. Worried about losing a good customer Michael thought without a hint of emotion.

Typical of his current situation he sat there. Having gone to such effort to rise, dress and catch the bus he now sat in damp sand, lacking the slightest motivation to get on with his chosen task. Didn't matter. A few minutes or a few hours before he found the energy to raise his hand didn't matter at all.

"Hey thar mister, d'you know whar I kin take mah girl out fer sum lobster? I gotta fly back ta Texas tuh-naht 'n I wanna treat the little lady tuh- hey watcha got thar?"

Michael spun to see who it was, his hand going to his lap to cover the gun. He stammered at the tall man in the tight jeans, cowboy boots and hat, completely out of place in New England.

"Lemme see that thang" drawled the Texan as he casually reached into Michael's lap. Michael made no move to stop him, feeling like he had been busted with a toy at his desk in the third grade. He sat with his chin on his chest and waited for what would come next. The Texan was fiddling with the gun. He heard pieces sliding and clicking back into place.

CRACK!

Michael jumped and flailed back in the sand, winding up spread eagle with his feet facing back up the beach. The Texan stood over him with the gun pointed into the air out over the surf. His left thumb was hooked casually in his pocket. Behind him twenty paces was a woman looking amused and shaking her head at her left foot.

"Mah Daddy shot himself when he lost his herd in a flood. After that I had tuh get movin. That shot was like a starter's pistol tuh me."

Michael continued to stare as he tried to calm himself and comprehend what the hell was happening to him. His heart was racing even though the shot hadn't even been as loud as a door slammning.

"That shot right thur was yours. Yuh better git movin." He switched the gun to his left hand and dropped the clip deftly into his right. As casually as if he was throwing away a match stick he flipped it into the breakers. "Only one shot in thur, no big loss." He said and dropped the gun between Michael's knees. "Sorry if I scared yuh, think yuh needed it though. Now about that lobster."

Michael shook his head, now suddenly clear, "Seafood Sammy's" he croaked. Clearing his throat he stuttered, "I c-can take you there."

"Well that's raht kind of yuh. You yankees ain't as bad as they say." He offered his hand and pulled Michael effortlessly to his feet.

"Thanks" Michael mumbled, not knowing what else to say with the adrenaline still making his heart pound and guardian angels swirl around in his head.

"Aw hell. I couldn't let sum city kid go an' hurt hisself playin' with a gun now. I 'spect yuh got all manner uh brainy stuff yuh better be after anyway. I'm Mike and this here's Jean." He said, heading toward the woman.

"Michael. Sammy's is a couple blocks this way." Starter's pistol. Damn.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Driver's Seat

The last sixty days have been pretty harrowing. We're remodeling the labor and delivery section of the maternity ward at work. This is more than just your basic patch and paint job. We gutted half the wing and started from scratch. The new section includes an operating room which had its own special set of challenges. Management, to save money, let the house crew in on a lot of it. It's not that much of a stretch, but most people need to be reminded that we're not janitors we're mechanics and most of us used to run our own contracting businesses. That didn't stop the hospital from hiring in a bunch of outside contractors which was in some cases a blessing and a curse in others. But I digress.

One nice thing that came out of it all was that the house crew is a lot more cohesive now. We even have a catch phrase, a rallying cry when faced with the seemingly impossible. Our supervisor is constantly saying, "It is what it is". We had stickers made up to put on our hard hats. Some people thought it was a negative thing but when ever we hit a snag that seemed insurmountable, eventually somebody would say it and we'd find a way around it.

As of today, half the project is done and they'll be using the O.R. next week. We've still got all the rooms on the other side of the hall to finish and with considerably less outside help. I'm thinking now is the time to really make ourselves look good. If we can really kick some ass on what's left, they're going to think twice about hiring outside the next time a project comes along.

One of the things that was really lacking on the first half was a foreman. We have a project coordinator who would show up occasionally, add more requirements and shorten the deadline and go back to his office. What we really needed was a guy on the scene to keep all the separate aspects in his head and massage the details.

When it comes to shows I've been that guy for a long time. When I consider all the duties that I perform on a big show it seems like it ought to be daunting, but with enough experience you can tackle anything. I feel like I'm finally at a point where I'm familiar enough with hospital procedure to jump in the driver's seat. I didn't make a specific bid to be the "guy in charge" but I'm just going to start filling that position the best way I know how. We just need somebody to grease the wheels and if I do it properly, no one will even know I'm at it.

I know this seems like just an ordinary "This Is What's Happening At Work" kind of post, but what I really want to do is encourage you to jump in the driver's seat. You're good, you know you are, it's time to make yourself that much more valuable. I'm not even sure why I'm saying this because this blog is typically anything but a motivational speech. I guess someone out there must need to hear it, so there you go. Get going!




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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Fishy Thoughts

Cousin Jill had a post about something cute her short people said about their fish and it got me to reminiscing about our good ol' thirty gal, now long since departed. We got the thing shortly before getting married. The Missus was a fish person and I was getting into it based on her enthusiasm.

Many a happy hour (and dollar) was wasted on that thing. Feeding, medicating, changing water, changing filters, buying fish, buying fish, buying fish. As an electrician I even spent a good deal of time searching for just the right fluorescent tube to accentuate the coloring of our freshwater beauties. It was quite a spectacle to behold when it was in full swing. The impossibly blue background, the lush live plants, turbo snails scouring the walls, and a couple dozen tranquil fish zipping around for my pleasure. I actually would sit in a rocking chair in front of the tank instead of the TV.

After a few years though the constant maintenance had worn me down. The short people needed a fair amount of maintenance themselves and I was losing interest. I'm not sure when exactly, but at some point I ran out of time for them and just stopped paying attention to them at all. I didn't feed them for most of a year and was surprised to find that fewer fish had died in that year than in any other year. Turns out freshwater fish are all algae eaters and they just chomped away at whatever was sprouting in there. ("Hey guys! Check out the salad on top of the castle! Om-nom-nom-nom!")

Miss O was a big fish fan too for a while. We used to have Daddy-Daughter-Dates on Saturdays. She loved to ride in my truck so I'd strap her car seat in and we'd hit all the pet stores to look at fish. Eventually we got her a little ten gallon tank for her room. We decided to make it a chichlid (pronounced SICK-lid) tank because the colors on those guys are amazing.

I thought I was spending money on fish before. HA! Not only are those guys more expensive but they're also super freekin aggressive! It wasn't long beore one had grown to immense size on the virtue of having consumed nearly $100 worth of his tank mates. So we decided to just have the one fish in there and see how that went. Miss O called him Fat Poisson because her grandmother had taught her the French word for fish. Eventually he became Gros Poisson and the whole thing was in French.

Well, one day I came home for lunch and found my darling daughter perched on a chair in her room, feeding the little fella. She had, pinch by pinch, emptied most of the fish food into that tiny little tank. It had formed a pyramid that reached more than half way to the surface of the water! GP was out of his little fishy mind in there. I set her down and proceeded to clean things up. But I didn't have a lot of time and there was no way I was going to move him to the other tank so he could snack on those guys. By the time I got home from work he had kicked the bucket.

And that is all the stories I have about fish. Good night.



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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Survey Results

THE RESULTS ARE IN!!! No really, there are real, actual results of a scientifically conducted survey that you may have taken part in in this post so you better not scroll past me in your reader.

First, if you haven't read the original post... you should.
Which One Are You?

And now on to the results. Twenty-four people chimed in on what member of the band they would date based on a rudimentary classification system designed by my friends and I in college.

Drummer 3 (12%)
Bass Player 6 (25%)
Rhythm Player 1 (4%)
Lead Guitar 4 (16%)
Lead Singer 2 (8%)
Keyboard Player 1 (4%)
Roadie 0
Lighting Guy 0
Sound Guy 7 (29%)

Many left comments as they voted. A lot of you were torn, having dated a drummer but being married to a singer now and so forth. Whatever, this is hardly scientific. It would seem that the vast majority were split between wanting to be the bass player's main squeeze and going steady with the sound guy. The supporting reasons for this are as follows:

The outline of the bass player's date is your basic cool-as-hell music scene type that everybody looks at to copy. The rest of you are all just kiss-asses because your host is a sound guy! HA!

Just kidding. This blog tends to be read by people who are smart and creative so of course they would want to be seen on the arm of the person who is the nexus of science and creativity (and who generally gets paid the most at the end of the night, I might add)... the sound engineer. And the rest of you voted according to your past histories which is totally fine too. Go with your bad selves.

So now that my little bit of slightly offensive fun with stereotypes has come to an end, I can free up some valuable real estate in the right hand column of my blog. I'm torn between throwing up another survey and joining Twitter. Not really, both of those seem a waste of time. I can give you a sample of what my twits would be like and be done with it:

I'm tired - 6 hours ago
I'm tired and hungry - 4 hours ago
I'm tired and hungry and cranky - 1 hour ago
I'm tired and hungry and tired of getting kicked in the face at bed time - 23 minutes ago
I'm tired and it's cold in the shop where I'm writing this post - 4 minutes ago

There, just saved myself another name and password to remember. Actually I was thinking about doing something to put the spotlight on my readers a little bit. Maybe a little box that contains the best lines from the comments section or just a "Featured Reader". Anyway, look for a little dose of you in the following posts.

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy (hic) New Year

I'm doing things a little big backwards this year. For more than a decade I've been out on New Year's Eve doing sound. This year I didn't have a gig so things were a little bit lame. We put the kids to bed and I fell asleep on the couch. The Missus did wake me up around midnight, but just to go to bed. Here's where things get different.

Around 2:45 the phone rang and I had to go in to plow snow. A few hours later I was happily watching the sun come up over a pristine parking lot. (It's hard to be grumpy when you get to drive a front end loader.) In all my years I've never seen the sun rise on January first, pretty cool.

So now I'm home. Everybody is full of home made waffles. The Missus is making French bread for tonight's dinner. I'm schnockered on Maker's Mark and listening to Anthrax while finishing up the dishes. The parade is set to start in five minutes and all is right with the world.

Happy (hic) New Year.

P.S. Big love to Irish Gumbo who just signed up as my latest follower. I think I've met a kindred spirit. Have a pint of the Black Stuff for me today I.G. The New Year is lookin great!



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