Passage Home

A quick glance to the right will tell you that its been a while since I posted anything to this blog.

Much has occurred in the nearly 5 years since I ended the game being IT. Very much. And in some ways, I am not sure I have the same grasp, or even a similar grasp on the context of my life that I had then.

I've had similar customer service horror stories, as yet unshared. More songs have entered and exited my life, along with other things. Joys and sorrows common to every life, struggles, pain, and . . . more of the same. But the only constant in any of our lives, change, in turn changes us.

I take these very first tentative steps back because, at the core of it all, THIS makes me feel good about something. THIS makes me see that I was called to do something, back, way back in the early days of my adulthood.

I am, in answer to the long hanging question offered by my first college professor, a writer.

I remember when I first was married, and my wife got her first job as a writer at the University of Pennsylvania, we discussed how there is a thrill answering in small talk at some party;

"What do you do?"
"Why . . . I'm a writer."

A writer! I did not ever really get the chance to say that, but my wife does. She is one, and a good one. But our styles are different. She is technically far superior to me. She can rely on a strong understanding of structure and punctuation, and . . . well, all things English. I on the other hand rely on a little voice inside me, THE voice. I believe that any writer that reads this knows what I mean. THE voice. The voice in your head that sounds right to you, that creates your style. Its the voice every reader hears too, hopefully.

And now, 5 years into the gulf I left when I stopped here, the family has two more writers, Ben and his daughter, Elizabeth. The really interesting thing is, neither of them know this about me, that 35 years ago I started on the path they have all taken after me. That I embraced a similar vision. And while they have all surpassed me in accomplishments, I still have them all beat for longevity.

So, I return, slowly, haltingly, to what is a long dormant part of me. I hope it entertains, but there is a truth here, a reality first explained to me by that first professor, as he probed whether or not I truly was what I said. He asked me a follow up question, meant to make me consider the veracity of those words.

He said; "Are you really?"

What he went on to explain was that writing is not easy, nor is it neat and clean. To truly be a writer is cannot be a choice, it must be a compulsion, a passion. Because a true writer, at the very critical moments, whether it be the height of joy, or the very darkest point imaginable, will hear a question somewhere deep in the back of their mind, detached and unemotional.

"Can I use this?"

A writer must write. Just as birds must fly, and fish must swim. The scorpion must plunge its stinger into the back of the frog as they cross the river. Its the nature of the beast. Those moments come to us all. Hopefully, mine are the foundation for this next journey.


I always end the game being it!

3 Things that scare me: Walking in front of cars, Falling from great heights, My wife when I've F'd up, oh . . . and drowning (shiver)
3 People who make me laugh: Chris Rock, Tommy (I swear to god he's human), myself mostly
3 Things I love: My wife, My Family, My home
3 Things I hate: Liver, Driving in traffic, Neo-conseveratism and Facists and Extermists
3 Things I don't understand: Mean people, Speeding up when you're being passed, Dead languages
3 Things on my desk: Easier to name three things that aren't
3 Things I’m doing right now: wondering why I am actually doing this tag, perusing, differentiating
3 Things I want to do before I die: Win the Tour de France, see democracy defeat theocracy, experience the Eagles winning the Super Bowl
3 Things I can do: make potato salad; remove, repair and reinstall the engine of a 1968 VW Beetle; Drive from Cape May, NJ to Philadelphia, PA with my eyes closed
3 Things I can't do: Make sense of the Christian Right agenda, wait patiently, stand on my tippy toes
3 Things I think you should listen to: Someone elses point of view when you disagree with them, Dylan's Modern Times, reason
3 Things you should never listen to: People that tell you your ideas are stupid, The O'Reilly Factor, well mostly that first one
3 Things I'd like to learn: Gaelic, 5 string banjo, the reason why
3 Favorite foods: A great burger, Black Diamond Cheddar, Poached salmon
3 Beverages I drink regularly: Water, Beer, Red Wine
3 Shows I watched as a kid: Rowan & Martin's Laugh In, Anything with WARNER BROS. cartoons, The Sally Starr Show
3 People I’m tagging:No one, no where, no how


I'm evil, I know . . . but I couldn't resist

I saw this story while cruising the web a few weeks ago. Okay, I was working, yes . . . but my job requires visual stimulus in order to keep me on my creative edge. I KNEW it would freak out Chris (son in law) and to my considerable credit, I did not post this blog THEN.

. . . so, yeah . . . I've really just been too busy to do it, but at least I didn't freak out Chris, alright? Well, that was until today. And then I read his blog about the Atlanta Aquarium. I know Chris better than to say he bragged about NOT freaking out, but needless to say, I believe he was proud of himself for standing there and photographing the large whale sharks that inhabit the 6 million gallon tank.

But let's get serious . . . When we talk about sharks, we're really talking about A SINGLE SPECIES of shark. An we're not talking some lame 80's hair band whose only real contribution in the last 15 years were greatest hit albums covering the previous 8 years . . . we're talking about the Great White.

Sometime in September, a small great white was caught in a fishing net off the coast of California, and has now spent about two months in captivity. This is the longest by far of any great white, besting the previous record of a mere 16 days. So far, she hasn't begun to nibble on any of the other fish in her tank . . .

Okay . . . this picture will give you a good idea of the actual size of this beast, about 4 feet long.

Now I have taken great care to arrange this page so that you'll have to scroll down to see the rest of the pictures.

Chris . . . slide your chair back from the computer.

Here she is taking food from one of the staff. Since Great Whites are "lungers" the food needs to be placed on a pole to be presented to her. And, she's just as likely to take a piece of the pole as the food . . .

After spending a few weeks at a "halfway house" enclosure in open seas, she was moved to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. Here she is in a mobile holding tank during the move.

Finally, she was set loose in the million gallon tank at the aquarium. A a female, she could grow to over 20 feet in length, and is is unclear how long she will be able to remain in captivity.

As Steve would say "Isn't she a little beauty. Just a magnificent animal."


Home Sweet . . .

Wow . . .

Have you ever driven for 15 straight hours to find yourself in the middle of some giant toaster oven?

A few weeks ago, that's exactly what we did, driving from Cape May, NJ to the great state of Indiana, home to the Evansville Otters. Although the temperature when we arrived was reasonable. It quickly turned on the afterburners to that I'd break into a profuse sweat simply by . . . oh . . . rolling out of bed.

The heat was really something. I used to think it was only the coast that got so humid, but after a couple of days in the heartland of Hell, I've decided to rethink all that.

But one thing I do have to say, this is a beautiful country, it really is. We drove out through Maryland, West Virginia and Kentucky to get there. While I have always loved the ocean, I still have some of the Pennsylvania farmland blood in me and I always feel like I am home when I see rolling hills. And can there be a prettier spot than the mountains of West Virginia? And just watching the horses run through the pastures near Lexington, Kentucky is soothing and peaceful.

This kind of brings me a small point. Travel is very cool. By my calculations, I have driven through 32 of the 50 states in this country . . . and I know that of the 18 left, I am missing some of the most spectacular areas this country has to offer. And of the 32 I've actually seen, I feel like I've only scraped the surface.

This got me to thinking though, of the value of travel. As we move around this planet, we are exposed to other peoples and other cultures in a way that we cannot experience them on the internet or on TV. And we gain an appreciation for the value of diversity. I fear that so many of us, so many Americans, have no real appreciation of the wonders that surround us. I mean look at how many people go to Florida, and almost no place else. As I walked around the square in a little town in southwestern Indiana, I got a sense of how previous generations of Americans went about their lives, and yet how close we are to losing those things that made us who we are. Nearly every area I travel through nowadays is experiencing some type of development. I think they used to call it the stripmauling of America (my spelling, and yes it was intentional). Now we could call it Wal-Martation. There are some really cool places in this country that are dying, because everyone hops in their car and drives to the outskirts of places where all the big box stores are hunched down onto asphalt deserts.

I mean, have you walked across those parking lots in the middle of a 100+ degree-day? No wonder people get so bent out of shape over parking spots. I mean that stuff can kill you!

Meanwhile, back in the town center, cool old architecture sits empty, or in threat of the wrecking ball because there is no reason to go "downtown".

Listen to the old man. Go downtown once in a while instead of driving to Walmart or Target. Look around you. This is your heritage and it is disappearing. A time will come when you will wish you had paid closer attention to the look and feel of your past. Take tons of pictures of old houses and old buildings, heck take pictures of everything and put them away. In about thirty years you will be amazed at how much the world has changed.

I mean, take gas stations. Who can remember when they were really "service" stations? These buildings used to be designed individually for their location. Nowadays, they are little more than concrete block boxes with soda machines outside. But a time will come when even they will disappear.

Personally, I have rich memories of the sounds and smells of gas stations, and believe me, they are only memories because those things don't exist anymore. And the truth is, I never understood how much I'd miss them when they were gone.


30 days

I just made it.

I started looking at all the regular blogs today, and realized it had been a month since my last. So this blog is almost entirely about making it under the wire before the Blog Police come and shut down the doors.

It has been a busy little while. I had full responsibility for the household for a little while, and discovered that I CAN do it myself, though A) Not as well as when I have the lovely Diana to pull the greatest load, B) Its just a whole lot nicer to have her companionship and voice and physical manifestation around. All of us feel that way (I mean the animals and I). Poor Tommy has been stressing sooo much that hair was just dropping off his body.

Other than the medical drama that is still playing out its course in western PA . . . I had my own little technology drama. I am blogging this morning on my new Mac G4 Powerbook, which I bought on Ebay for an astonishing $925.00. This is not your ordinary Powerbook. It's a 15inch 1.67ghz Dual Layer Superdrive with 2 gigs of RAM and a 1440 x 960 res screen. What does that mean to mere mortals? It means it is the last true Powerbook made by Apple before they went over to the dark side. It probably sold for nearly 3000.00 as late as April, before the new Macbook Pro models were introduced. I got a DEAL.

Though it came at some expense . . . this was the worst Ebay experience I ever had. But you'll need to wait for the blog to fully appreciate. Stay tuned.

Is it just me, or did anyone else look at the Queen's comments about Oscar as, well . . . let me quote them here . . .

"And on the home front, I have final caved and have Oscar sleeping in the bed with me. I haven't had a good night sleep for the past month because he is always waking me up in the middle of the night. He kills me. So, lastnight I let him sleep w/ me and so it begins. I feel as though I have just made a huge commitment. I am committing to sleeping with that little terror for what I assume will be like the next 10 years. But I woke up yesterday morning @ 4:45 to him jumping against the bed and thought. Whatever. Maybe I will sleep better. All I know is, it didn't seem to be that big of a deal when I was 10 and had just gotten Crackers. Again, whatever. he is lucky he is so cute. And he makes me laugh allot. And it helps that he loves me."

Okay, I know he's a dog and YOU know he's a dog . . . but if you didn't know that . . .

I keep imaging some diminutive, dark, Latin lover throwing himself against her bed in a failed attempt to initiate some passionate romantic congress only to have her awake and send him to the corner once again. Until finally, that magic moment when she smiles and winks, throws back the covers and pats the bed along side her . . . and now for the next ten years she'll have a Mariachi festival going on between the sheets.

Okay . . . maybe I am projecting just a bit, but even so . . .


Soundtracks - My First "Our Song"

I don't know whether this is still "a thing" or not.

Back when I was coming up, every couple had "a song." And when you were, oh say 13 or 14, it was some syrupy sappy "I'll love you forever and ever and ever and . . . ), well you get the idea.

I mentioned Beth Fuller in a previous blog, my first "official" girl friend. Wait, a couple of thoughts here. I say "official" because I had actually had earlier girl friends. Yes, the story in my family is that my FIRST girl friend was Janice Gazilla at age (I'm guessing here) 4, maybe 5. I WAS sweet on Janice, but we never, uh consummated, the relationship (i.e., I never kissed her). Actually, I don't believe I ever spoke to her until her brother and I played baseball together when I was 16. At that point, I was double dating with him and some girl I don't remember, and Vicky Kennerly. Oh yeah, much later . . . After Janice, I'd say my first reciprocal crush was Carol Smith in 5th grade. Now, that was a major coup, because EVERY boy liked Carol. But somehow, inexplicably, when asked which boy she liked back, she picked me. I was so excited, I went to school the next day in a coat and tie, only to be picked up by my rivals in the playground and taunted in front of Carol.

To her credit, she berated the bullying behavior and cemented her position in my heart for the rest of my life. She was cute, and though she moved at the end of the year (she was an Army brat) she held a special place in my social development at that young age. You see, I couldn't believe she liked me back, and always thought that she REALLY liked my friend Bud Croker, and just didn't want to tell anyone. But in the strange way these things work in our youth, being named by Carol as THE ONE, raised my stock with all my peers.

Anyway . . . back to Beth.

My first official date was a class field trip, where Beth and I sat on the bus together and talked. That was the location of the infamous "Incense and Peppermints" conversation. What I discovered on that first date was that holding up my end of the conversation for a full day was a lot harder than I thought. I suppose this is one factor contributing to the"foot in mouth" syndrome. But I muddled through, and even endured the sometimes-oafish behavior of still another group of spurned rivals. (What is UP with little boys and their reactions to being shot down in favor of ME, anyway?)

Well, love was in the air apparently, and soon 8th Grade was just teeming with young romance. Soon, Beth and I were invited (separately, in line with social mores of the time) to a party. And at that party, I got my first taste of . . . "Spin The Bottle".

Okay . . . not really. In the lame way 8th graders might "arrange" to get to kiss another 8th grader, being selected by the bottle simply meant you got to kiss your main squeeze.

I swear to God, the first time I kissed Beth (or any girl for that matter) I missed her mouth. I sort of smooched her on the little space below her lips and above her chin. Being the trooper she was, Beth never mentioned it, and I soon got another chance to improve my technique, though this time with the lights out, huddled on the floor with four other couples.

I don't know about you, but as goofy as that all was, I knew right then that kissing was WAY better than trying to think up clever chit-chat. And in those early hormone infused moments of my puberty, it was a joy unto itself. No groaning, no mislocated hands, no naughtiness at all. Just the exhilaration of being close to someone who smelled really nice. Years later when I saw Beth at a high school reunion, she looked at me and gave me a big hug and marveled at how good I looked. It was an incredible, since I was in the midst of one of the most emotionally difficult periods of my life. She then introduced me to her husband as her first boyfriend. It was sweet and sincere and nice . . . the way it always had been.

I often regret how quickly I moved on from those early feelings. The sweet innocence of being close to another person (a GIRL person) soon dissipated into wanting to be even a little “closer”. How fast we all want to grow up, to move on. But I have found, all these years later, that as my relationship grows with my wife, that many of those feelings return to me. In some ways it is the routine moments of our lives, the simple touches of my hand, the feel of the weight in bed next to me that bring me the most comfort. It is those quiet moments of my life that give my life meaning.

So here, nearly 40 years since it became my first “Our Song”, I will name it, or at least it’s sentiment, as the way I feel today about my wife. It’s by those wild things, The Troggs.



Okay, okay . . .

Since I'm being HOUNDED, by literally no people to start blogging again, I guess I will.

Actually, one or two of the busiest months I've ever had with freelance are now behind me (at least for now) and I wanted to get a post in before I get on with some new projects.

First . . . Am I an American? Dunno . . . let me take this test and find out!!

You Are 50% American

America: You don't love it (That is NOT true) or want to leave it.
But you wouldn't mind giving it an extreme make over.(This is true)
On the 4th of July, you'll fly a freak flag instead...
And give Uncle Sam a sucker punch! (Man . . . I'm a lover not a sucker)

I've got a funny feeling that if I could have altered the answers to faithfully reflect my thoughts and beliefs, I might have been less of an American. Funny thing about that is that those are the things I think make me more of an American. Oh, these quizzes are . . . skewed up.

Now if I had actually answered the military question, banned flag burning, and not actually paid attention to Iran-Contra and how well low and middle class families benefitted from supply side economics in the 80's, I'd be ranked as a FAR BETTER American.

And what should I major in? This . . . is no surprise.

Your Scholastic Strength Is Innovating

You are the master of new ideas, techniques, and ways of looking at things.

You are talented at structuring thoughts, decision making, clarifying, and making deadlines.

You should major in:

Cognitive Science

And I'm detail oriented . . . so much so that I had to fix their spelling of Design.

And be afraid . . . be VERY afraid!!

You Are 68% Evil

You are evil. Evil lurks in your heart, but you hide it well.

In some ways, you are the most dangerous kind of evil.
And you're too evil to care

And as for what kind of Muppet I am, I'll take your guesses.

And just for your info;

I could pass Eighth Grade Science
My Pimp name is Professor Shagswell
My Irish name ia Alistair Daly

I act 32
I am calm and rational, though my stress level is 55%
I should be a musician.

My Porn star name would be Jack in the Box.
I should weigh 195

I am Super Spicy.
I am Beef.
So not surprisingly I am also Mexican Food,
though I am also a Peach Jelly Bean.

My candy heart says "Cutie Pie"

I am a little scary.
I am 40% weird.
I am Mystique.
It is somewhat likely that I have no soul.
My hair color should be red.

I am 90% Irish.
And I am a "Found in a diaper gold" rejected crayon color.