Sunday, December 26, 2004

My weekend of rest and relaxation was a success. I was lured out of the house of Saturday to see "The Aviator" and "Fat Albert". OK, "The Aviator" was the primary reason I went to the theater.

Martin Scorcese had done a wonderful job with this picture. Leo DiCaprio channels Hughes. Cate Beckinsale did a great job as Hepburn; although I keep wanting to have seen Kate Mulgrew in the part. "Fat Albert" was good for what it was. I kept reminding myself that there were 10 year olds in the audience laughing at the movie, so it did what it was supposed to. It also delivered a message just like the old show used to.

I talked to John on Christmas morning and got inventory on his presents so I know what to put on my shopping list. True to my luck, the van has really been running badly and will have to have a tune up almost immediately. This of course, cuts into Christmas money which sucks. With my plans for Santa calls next year blows like that to the budget should not happen.

The only pang of emotion; mostly regret, that I had this Christmas was over my sister, Elaine. She and I have not talked in years. The last contact I had with her was an email from her warning me not to contact any of her children. It's a sad and long story about what caused the rift between us, but at this point everyone in the family seems to agree that the continued rift is all her fault. Those reasons are also varied and deep. I was the closest to Elaine out of all my sisters. We were friends on top of being siblings. I miss her terribly. I almost sent her an email. For years I'd sent her cards on her birthday and Christmas but haven't for quite a while. I have tried and can look myself in the mirror over the issues that separated us and attempts at reconciliation since. A few years before our mothers death I had sent her a letter saying I didn't want us to meet as strangers over her coffin; that just about happened. The thought that kept running through my mind this weekend was what was going to happen if we ended up the last two surviving siblings. Maybe I will still drop her a note. I want to know I still kept on trying. Maybe it's all part of the way we always review the past twelve months this time of year.

All in all '04 hasn't ended up that bad. Before the ball drops next weekend I'll do some reading myself and see what this blog can tell me about exactly how good a year it really was.

Last thought, this website come with a spellchecker. I find it silly that a spellchecker on a blogging website does not recognize the word "blog". DUH!

Friday, December 24, 2004

Today is a paid day off from work. I'm not as pampered as I used to be when I worked for the City of Warwick and had tons of vacation and holiday time so you learn to savor the days off that you do get.


You'd think my brain and my body would be working in tandem, understanding that the opportunity presented itself for unabated sleep time. Not to have to be ajrred awake before the rise of the sun. You'd think my body clock would anjoy the day off; not having to worry about keeping on an ungodly overtime schedule and catching naps during ten minute breaks during the course of a work schedule.

But no-noooooooo! Something in my body's makeup just has to see the smiling faces of the CBS Early Show in order to face the remainder of the day. My eyes apparently cannot fully without a dialy dose of the Bob and Tom Show.

Speaking of which, let me advertise for the probaby the best morning radio show out there, Bob and Tom. OK, I Love Imus, but even sometimes his dour attitude can grate. Syndicated from Indiana, I think, Bob, Tom, Chick and Christy Lee are the hosts of this show which features skits, banter and visits from some of the best in standup talent from around the country. has a list of radio station affiliates. If you don't have the show in your area spend a few bucks and join their VIP section so you can hear them on the internet. You'll be addicted like I am.

Well, I'll see if I can't re-train my brain over the next few days. I don't have Johnny here until New Years so this weekend is turned into a relaxation break. I'm celebrating Christmas with my own good food, four DVD's from Netflix and a score of recorded movies and shows on TiVo.

Of course, knowing my luck, I'll be right in the swing of sleeping late by Sunday and then be all pissed off at trying to pry my eyes open at 7AM again!

Have I mentioned how much I hate my sister Kathleen for retiring at 57?

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

What is with Caroline Schlossberg these days?

Oh, wait! That’s Caroline KENNEDY. After being married for years and traditionally taking her husband’s name, Caroline has suddenly decided to use her maiden name publicly in case we’ve forgotten who she is.

She has been in the spotlight since she was in diapers. Does she really think we wouldn’t recognize it’s her because her name is different? I’m sure the world was thrown in a tizzy and just couldn’t recall where they’d seen her mother before when she changed her name to Onassis.

On the off chance that Caroline reads this blog;

Caroline, honey, get a reality check! You’re one of those few on this planet who don’t really need to carry a photo ID. If they still had those American Express commercials where the celebrity says, “You may not know me…”, as if the AMEX is the only way they prove who they are, you’d be a perfect choice. OK, so some of the Lawfords and Smith can go through life with anonymity, but not you. If you changed your name to Rosanne we’d still know it’s you. If someone at the publisher of your last book told you the name “Kennedy” would sell more books,; that person is an idiot. If you came out selling a dumpster diving cookbook and put your “real/married” name on it, the damned thing would sell just as much simply because of who you are. I’m sure this was something your mother might have mentioned somewhere along the line.

OK, so I know she probably doesn’t read my blog. A boy can dream can’t he? I’ve had a thing for Caroline since I was a kid. She is on the same list as Olivia Hussey and Haley Mills; those famous girls I had the hots for and then as I grew up found out the were older and very unattainable.

Well, in my mind, they aren’t unattainable….they simply don’t know I’ve been divorced. That’s the ONLY reason my phone isn’t ringing off the hook!

Another famous heartthrob of mine showing less that rocket science brain power lately is Lisa Marie Presley. What the hell was she thinking? OK, she keeps Graceland, but the name “Elvis” is going to keep on making money when my grandchildren are old.

All of these women; Lisa Marie, Caroline, Princess Stephanie, Brooke Sheilds….just to name a few, have had some minor problems in their careers and all that could be ended with one simple phone call to Florida.

Ah, well; their loss!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

When I was younger I used to go around to friends and family with little kids dressed up as Santa. None of those visits compares with the simple phone call I placed the other night.

My friend Jason has a 4 year old daughter, Grace. She is the sweetest little thing and all a little princess. She plays it to the hilt. Her room looks as if Barbi exploded inside; pastel pink and purple with a large plastic lettering spelling out her name over her bed. The perfect child who deserves a call from the big guy.

I called up and she answers the phone, "Hello."

"Hello, is this Grace?"


"Do you know who this is?"


"If I said, 'Ho, ho, ho', would you know who it is?"


Jason tells me at this point Grace began dancing around in circles throughout the house in utter joy as the conversation continued.

"Well, Grace, I just wanted to call and make sure you were feeling good. I remember when I saw you at the mall the other day you weren't feeling good and I wanted to make sure you were feeling better for Christmas."

"Yes, Santa."

in the background on her end of the phone "Who is it, Grace?"

Pulling the phone away for a moment to answer but still dancing in circles, "It's Santa!"

"Now let's see, Grace, you told me you wanted a three wheeled scooter for Christmas. Let me make sure I have the rest of your list right, what else did you want?"

"The Btraz dolls."

"How about your little sister, Sarah? She's a little baby and can't talk yet, what can I get her for Christmas?"

Still dancing in circles she pulls the phone away again to ask Daddy, "What does Sarah want for Christmas?..........silence........I don't know, Santa"

"Well I'll find something nice for her. You know, by the time I get to your house I'm a little hungry; are you going to leave me a little snack?"

"Yes, Santa. Milk and cookies."

"Oh, my favorite! So, are you going to be a good girl between now and Christmas?"

"Yes, Santa."

"And you'll go to bed good and early Christmas Eve?"

"Yes, Santa."

"Well, you do and I'll see that you get some good gifts for Christmas."

"Thank you, Santa."

"I'll see you Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas, Grace. Bye-bye."

"Bye-bye, Santa."

I think she continued to dance around in circles for at least a half and hour after that.

Ho, ho, ho, indeed!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

I've been punk'd!

It doesn't happen very often so when it does it's gotta be a good one. And this was a classic.

First, some background for those of you who don't know the players. I have done a stand up routine in the past three yearly talent shows at my job. This year they had me do a repeat performance at the Christmas party. One of the hottest jokes this year was about one of our VP's. His name is Peter. I have known his since he started with the company 3 years ago or so. He is a sweet guy and has always been open and friendly with me. Peter is a shorter than average guy with short, very curly hair. This has left him open, from me at least, for a leprechaun joke or two over the years. No fear, right to his face. He has got a great sense of humor which he proved in spades today.

The joke in question spoke of how out company is identified by people outside the company by our spokesperson, Wilford Brimley. There was one point in time when Lauren Bacall was considered but didn't work out. I made jokes about Rush Limbaugh and Michael Jackson being turned down as spokespersons for obvious drug related jokes. I then said that the Keebler Elf had been considered...but that Peter already had a job with the company!

And the crowd goes wild!

Peter is such a good sport that he has been referring to himself as the Keebler Elf around the office! Well, now it's bee almost a week since the party and Peter is the last thing on my mind today when one of my supervisors taps me on the shoulder and says that I have to meet with Human Resources in 15 minutes.

This is the call of death in my company. My mind used those 15 minutes to think of every possible scenario of investigation, trouble or even termination of employment which could have been the reason for the meeting. My hear was racing, my palms sweat and my bladder cried to empty.

As I entered the HR office Abby (our department's HR person and grand illusionist in all this setup) led me in with her assistant and the head of security. My head was pounding so much I barely heard Abby say, "Jack, I have some bad news!" Immediately the dollar amount for my rent, John's Christmas wish list and my yearly travel plans zipped through my mind. We got to the desk and there was a large piece of pink paper lying there. Since this office had been damaged in the hurricanes I assumed it was there to protect the desktop. Next to it was a clearly typed, official looking "Termination List" with my name blazing at the top. I plunked down in the seat and waited for the hammer to fall.

"There are some things which we take very seriously here at work," Abby said as she turned over the large pink piece of paper to reveal the world's largest "pink slip"!

Three sheet of paper wide by three which it covered the top of the desk. It read as an Employee Action Report. I was being cited for "Making inappropriate and derogatory stayements about management, specificity Peter, during a company sponsored event in front of other employees". I was further "banned from speaking at all public company events" and would "receive zip at retirement"!!!

I could feel blood vessels popping in my skull as I realized what had happened. Photos were taken; apparently the look on my face was priceless. Abby, while she did go along with it was beside herself that I wasn't going to take it well. As someone who lives to pull of perfect practical jokes, I absolutely loved it. For someone to pull one over on me takes considerable effort and talent.

Of course, I WILL get even!

Saturday, December 11, 2004

I just had one of the most amazing nights with my son. It was my company's annual Christmas party. They had done the usual wonderful job, this time using large tents set up in our parking lot. Once you got inside you were in another world. It was wonderfully decorated, a stage, and in the smoking tent they had large couches and lounging beds set up. It was wonderful.

Because I had been asked by management to repeat my stand up performance from the talent show, I had to stick close to the stage. There was also some difficulty in locating many of my friends in the sea of 800 people so John and I ended up at a hightop by ourselves.

And we just started talking.

It was one of the scenes I never had with my father. I sat and sipped my bourbon and we talked, jokes and checked out women. He was supposed to have gone on his first date last night but plans fell through so he ended up coming for his weekend anyway. I was asking all kinds of questions about her and tried feeling him out for his taste in girls by comparing notes on women/girls at the party. It was two guys hanging out being guys.

With pride I took him around and showed him off to my coworkers. He dutifully shook hands and smiled. He said he wasn't all that bored but to save him we did leave a little early. The other thrill was getting to have him see me perform on stage. He said he liked it and seemed impressed with the audience reaction. Of course, he may also be convinced his father is a lunatic. Either was it was a night of complete sharing and bonding between us.

While it may not have mattered that much to him tonight, I did tell him how I felt about the night; how I never had moments like that with my father. Like any teenager he just grunted an acknowledgement he had heard what I said. I trust tonight will come back to him in 30 or 40 years and he'll understand.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Get my AARP card ready!

I took advantage of my company's new vision insurance coverage and went to the eye doctor for the first time since I decided I no longer wanted to wear my geeky glasses as I prepared to enter junior high school. Well, my vanity caught up with me after almost 30 years.

I have to wear bifocals!

Since a very young age I had to wear glasses. Because of either financial situations at the time or just that eyewear fashion was an unknown term in the 60's all I had to wear were the classic Clark Kent style. Add to that I was asthmatic and into science fiction and I was the stereotype of what a geek was supposed to be. Or as the tormentors of my youth used to call me......."Faggot!"

Puberty was rearing its ugly head on me when I entered Gorton Junior High School in the fall of 1975. I knew this was when girls started noticing guys and I wanted in on it. Clark Kent had to go so I simply decided not to wear them any more.

I can vividly recall the moment I took them off. I was riding my bicycle around my neighborhood and as the thought brewed in my mind I stopped, took off the horrendous spectacles of my youth and was ready to ride home as a young man. I marveled at the feeling on the wind blowing against my naked eyes. My eyebrows rustled unfettered by plastic frames. I was my own man!

Looking back, now as a parent myself, I have no idea how my parents didn't simply staple the damned things to my head and tell me to wear then no matter what. According to my older sisters, there was a lot I got away with that they never would have even tried.

Jealous is an ugly thing.

In the past few years I have grown more and more annoyed as having to wait until highway signs were within an eighth of a mile to read them. It was when the telephone book became completely illedgible that I decided to look into the insurance coverage. Since we're so close to the holidays I had to opt for the least expensive possible; no flexible frames or magnetic sunglasses. I did, however, go for the closest to the Lennon style granny glasses as I could find.

My oldest sister laughed outloud when I told her.

Jealousy is a very ugly thing.

Mom's been gone five years today and I still hear her laughing.

Today it's probably about the glasses.

Monday, December 06, 2004

TiVo has now changed my life! I finally caught DirecTV with a special on the recorder and I can certainly swing the $5 per month fee. This little box is fantastic. I won't bore you with all the technical details in case you've already got it or know the basics but the flexibility this now gives me makes it a couch potato's best dream. Between that and this new PC; if I could get a job where I could work out of the house I'd never go outside again. I'd end up looking like Howard Hughes near the end of his life. OK, so except for the long finger nails and Kleenex boxes for shoes I may already look like get an analogy!

One thing I was able to watch thanks to TiVo was "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" which was on last night at the same time I was busy chatting online. I was a fine production but it brought to mind how my feelings about religion have changed in the past few years.

I was raised in a Methodist Church and was a summer camp counselor. When I switched to the Presbyterian Church I became more involved; youth group, choir, Sunday school teacher. The more I think about it and the further I get from organized religion the more I find myself hovering between agnostic and atheist. Words from Junior High School social studies keep echoing in my mind. Greek mythology was described as "primitive man's was of explaining the natural world". Are we so arrogant to believe that just because we are 3000 years more advanced that we still aren't the same ignorant primitives using religion and the belief in a higher being as a way to explain the natural world. There is so much mysticism in all of the varied religions. They all have so many similarities as well. Could it not simple be man's way of putting a bigger meaning to things happening around him he can't figure out.

John Lennon said, "God is a concept by which we measure our pain". Makes perfect sense to me. "How could God let that happen?" When something so shocking and devastating along the line of a natural disaster happens, people moan and wail to God. Could it simply have been the result of whatever natural events took place and man just happened to be in the way?

Believe me. I want to be wrong. I want to, at the end of my life, go through that tunnel of white light and be greeted by long dead family and friends. I want God to slap me in the back of the head and say, "See, I told you so, dumbass!" We'll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, I'll enjoy sleeping late on Sundays.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

I should finally be able to keep up with this blog as I am now the proud owner of a brand, spanking new PC. I went out and plopped down for a Compaq Presario SR1200NX. You computer geeks out there can look up the details of the processor on their web site. I know it's not top of the line but it fit my budget. I am kicking myself for missing a sweet deal Dell had on their 2400 but I had the Thanksgiving vacation to pay for first. This purchase has been long overdue and, with my election to Chief of Operations for Starfleet, it became necessary before the first of the year. I already miss sittign in my recliner or lying on the couch surfing on the laptop. Maybe I'll add a replacement laptop to my "Reasons to Work Overtime" list.

I should be signing up with DSL at the beginging of the week. This PC already runs programs like lightening so surfing on DSL should be fantastic. A constipated carrier pigeon would be an improvement over what I've been doing off the laptop recently.

Another toy was delivered today, TiVo. I haven't had much chance to use it much outside of installing and testing but I think I'm going to love it. With all the overtime I'll be working to afford all this I'll need it to keep up on my TV favorites. Oh, the life of a couch potato!

This weekend will not be spent completly infront of the TV and PC, though. Since the humidity has finally broken, I plan on starting up my Sunday morning 5 mile hikes. In the past few months my weight has leveled off. Mostly due to less walking and eating lots of MRE's during the hurricanes. Also, who wants to walk five miles in 90m degree weather on purpose?!

Another casuality of the hurricanes has been the cleanliness of my trailer. Between having the benches from the van sitting inside the tralier and going throug stuff from storage it's been tough to keep up with all the cleaning I usually do. Also, there has been that post-hurricane slump. Now that the weather has improved the mood follows right behind. It's the reverse of back home on New England when there were the winter doldrums. Down here we're all hunkered down inside during the summer hugging our air conditioners and only venturing outside when absolutly necessary.

Well, I have to get back to loading programs onto my new obsession.

Friday, December 03, 2004

My oldest sister Joan just went through "routine" surgery on an arthritic shoulder. Two days after the surgery her blood pressure dropped dramatically and some to her internal complications. She ended up staying in the hospital two extra days while they worked to stabilize her and to figure out what happened. She is going home today and has follow up appointments with two specialists because they still weren't able to determine whether it was simply a reaction to the surgery or something more.

It wasn't until after I hung up the phone with her when I started to shake. I suddenly got hit with the fear of losing another member of my family. If you've read my blog with any regularity you know how well I do with death. Aunts, uncles and even parents can be dealt with. Somehow trying to wrap my mind around the actual eventuality of losing a sibling really hit me.

If my weight loss surgery really helps me as much as they say it will, I may end up outliving my sisters. I may end up one of the last of my circle of friends. I envision myself like Belushi on "Don't Look Back in Anger"; gray-haired and lamenting on those who passed before me. It's odd to think on myself in those terms. Last week as I looked Red Barrows in his eighties and tried to picture myself in the same light. Watching him and Harry walking side by side and then later looking into the bright and youthful eyes of my son trying to imagine the same for us forty years from now.

While I usually have a problem with death I will admit some of the things I am looking forward to. No surprise that they have to do with my son. My father died when I was fifteen so there was a lot I missed out on with him. I daydream sometimes about going to a bar with my grown son. Going on road trips and having him drive. I am anticipating the day when I am called "Grampa".

No preassure on him though!