Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Welcome to Year 44!

Today was my birthday and it had got to be one of my best yet. Yes, there have been good ones in the past. There have been some I probably wished I didn't even exist of them pale to today because of one person.


Stephany and I have been seeing each other and talking for two weeks now. Our relationship has yet to be defined as "boyfriend/girlfriend" but is directly on track to being such. She is beautiful, smart, funny and has a smile that makes me weak in the knees.

I had seen her around the office and asked questions of mutual friends. She was always friendly; saying "Hello" and smiling. I finally got up the nerve to say something and gave her my number. Two hours later SHE CALLED ME. This I took as a good sign. We were then on the phone for almost three hours. Again, something I took as a good sign.

The past two weeks have been filled with countless hours on the phone, lunch and break time together at work and emails back and forth during the day. However, we have yet to have a date with it being just the two of us. She has some family concerns and a roommate problem which have either landed us with a third wheel or completely unable to time things just right.

That has been aggravating at times but those times have been balanced with some of the most open and honest conversations I have ever had. In a recent conversation I innocently asked if there was any question she wanted to ask me; anything she wanted to know about me. It took her a day to come up with just how to word what she wanted to say but when she did I could have done backflips. SHE asked ME where I saw things headed between us. All I was expecting was a question about something in my life she wanted to know and she hits me with the one question I have been asking myself for days.

I have been waiting to post anything about her until I knew things were on the right track. Oh, yeah....the other reason I haven't posted.....fear. I know some of you, my friends, so well that I knew there would be an onslaught of jokes. Why?

Stephany is 24 years old.

Almost from the moment I handed her my number I have been hearing the jokes from those who know. Most have been very funny and I have made as few as well. Steph laughs at them as well. Between us, the age difference makes no difference at all. And I love a good joke and encourage some of them. I also figure; hell, joke all you want....I'M DATING A 24 YEAR OLD!!!!!!

Even my son could not resist getting in on the abuse. We had lunch together over the weekend. After she had left I asked John what he thought. He said he thought she was pretty and fun to be around. Then he stopped and raised his eyebrows at me and said, "But gee, old is she?" I asked again, "C'mon, do we make a good looking couple or does it look like visiting day at the home?" He never answered but laughed with a big grin on his face.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Today I had the second portion of my interview process trying to transfer to the corporate training department where I work. Last week I had the actual interview. At the close of that interview I was given a video tape with the instructions to make a 30 minuet presentation, or class, on the topic of the tape.

For the most part it went pretty well. Any mistakes or missteps I felt I had made along the way went off like fireworks in my head; I felt like a deer in the headlights each time the "screwed up" alarm went off in my head. I did my best to keep the ball in the air and kept the lecture going. I am sure the mistakes were exaggerated in my mind and some of them may have gone completely unnoticed my those in the "class".

I did come away with one positive impression of the presentation upon which I am pinning my hopes. Right at the end of the class there was an actual discussion,debate and sharing of ideas on the major concept I was putting forward. It had turned from a mock lecture to an actual classroom for a moment. They had actually heard what I was saying and I was getting my point across.

There are some others interviewing for the position and I might not know for a while. In some ways this waiting is the more nerve wracking part of the process.

Monday, May 15, 2006

As if my episode with the fuel gauge wasn't enough....

Part of the delay in getting my van fixed, while tied to the repairs themsevles with finances, is simply getting the van to the salvage yard who is supposed to work on getting it running again. This place is about 15 miles north of here. I am using this place thanks to a connection with a police officer friend of mine; I get to use his "Blue Discount".

Since my AAA had expired in February I was stuck in trying to find an alternate method of towing. At the times when my budget allowed for both a two and the repairs, I first tried "borrowing" a AAA from a friend. However; all of hers were used up. I got one offer to tow the van for $50. Seeing this as expensive, I planned on getting a car carrier from U-Haul; my only hurdle with that was finding someone with a ball joint hitch.

Just when I was about to ask a neighbor I started doing the math. In the last year I burned through all four of my AAA tows. For $25 more than I was offered to actually tow the van I could have the peace of mind of renewing my own AAA membership. Seemed a rational conclusion, I thought.

So, this morning I called AAA to renew. This confused the representative on the other end of the phone, "Sir, you have auto-pay. Your membership doesn't expire until February 2007. Your membership hasn't lapsed."


I thanked her and turned to tell my co-worker who had been giving me numerous rides to work over the past few months and offered to let her use my own gun if she wanted to shoot me.

Tomorrow the van heads to the mechanic.

I am going to the pharmacy to get some Ginko Biloba.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Just some ramblings about TV.......

It sucks the "Commander in Chief" was pulled off the TV schedule. OK, it was no "West Wing" but it was really getting good. Speaking of "West Wing", the episode dealing with Leo McGarry's funeral was a bit of a let down. I was anticipating this being Martin Sheen's Emmy consideration episode. It was quite something to see him carrying the casket but I was waiting for something of a tribute episode and the funeral turned out being the secondary storyline. The finale should be a kicker!

I only watched "What About Brian" because JJ Abrhams' name was attached. It turned out being pretty good; OK, something of a "thirtysomething" update but still good. But I am perplexed how they can have a season finale after only little more than a half dozen episodes!

It was disappointing the "Thief" didn't end up hooking viewers. By the time they pulled off the heist at the end I had turned into a regular viewer but, according to ratings, more than half of the audience that watched the pilot dropped off on the 2nd episode. They missed a pretty decent show.

I also read where "Over There" also suffered in the ratings and may not return. Too bad...good show.

"The Unit" is getting better and better. While I miss Dennis Haysbert on "24" this is a perfect show for him.

Why doesn't Paramount take all it's Trek and put it on one channel? Start an all Trek channel! There is plenty of episodic programming. Then add in the movies; maybe even feature some of the good internet stuff being produced. Maybe some original programming, interview shows....

Oh, wait! That's what the Sci-Fi channel used to be!

Monday, May 08, 2006

As I sat in the movie theatre yesterday watching "Mission Impossible III" I first thought I was hearing sound bleeding in from the theatre next door. It continued for five minutes or so with a voice somehow muffled and indistinguishable.

It continued for more than fifteen minutes and seemed somehow closer to me, but still completely unintelligible. Then I looked over to the end of the row where I sat. There was a woman with two little children. (Don't even get me started about the kids!) She was talking on her cell phone and this little chat of hers was closing in on twenty minutes. That she was talking wasn't bad enough but it was in Creole. That is not a racist comment, simply that the conversation itself was distracting but being in another language made it more of a distraction.

I finally had enough. Just like I will return food to the kitchen of a restaurant I also have no patience for ignorant people in the movie theatre. "Is the movie interrupting your phone call?" I asked.

"No," she said and went right back to talking on the phone.

I stood in shock that this simple confrontation didn't result in an immediate apology and shutting down of her phone. "You are distracting all these people around you."


I headed for the lobby and one of the duly deputized teenagers wearing the crisp and snappy Regal Theatres uniform. Of course, by the time we returned, she had turned the phone off and was sitting there thoroughly entranced in the movie. As I sat back in my seat I could see the usher speaking with her. I don't know what was said but did see him make another round walking by her later in the movie.

The loudmouth never did confront me after the movie but two people came up to me an congratulated me for doing what I had done. I didn't have the heart to tell them that I had been thrown out of a Jerry Lewis Movie Theatre thirty years ago for throwing candy at Godzilla.

Hmmmm...did my last post mention something about becoming an old fart?!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Home Sickness Tour 2006

I spent this weekend on a quick trip through New England. I had gone first to attend the Region 15 Summit in Saybrook, New Hampshire. This is the annual gathering of Starfleet chapters in the area. Since our Fleet admiral had just given birth I was invited as a member of the Executive Committee. I will admit going on someone else’s dime is fun!

Jet Blue is now my preferred airline. Leather seats, lots of legroom and the little TV’s for every seat make the trip easy, comfortable and quick. I found it interesting how a few months make a difference. On my last trip to Birmingham I was concerned about Homeland Security and terrorists; this flight was proof that I've been watching "Lost" too much. As I watched each person taking their seat on this flight I kept imagining how they all might fit into the plan of surviving on a deserted island, the different alliances that would sprout up

On the flight up there the pangs of homesickness began as we flew over Manhattan. I could easily pick out some of my favorite landmarks and just to see the city after almost 8 years was thrill enough. It got worse as we got closer to Boston. I craned my neck to try to see Warwick but was happy enough to get a bird’s eye view of Providence.

The summit was great. I met a bunch of great people, all of which seem to share the same sense of humor as most of my friends. I made some good new friends on this trip. It was the usual sort of gathering, although there was not the usual level of alcohol intake as most of my sci-fi weekends. That did not, however, take away from how much fun I had.

Sunday was the busiest day. The summit wrapped up around noon, I was dropped off at South Station in Boston for a bus ride to Providence. Two of nieces picked me up to head to a retirement party for the friend of mine who has been director of Camp Aldersgate; the summer camp where I used to be a counselor. This was a last minuet change but since I was so close I just had to be there for Jeffrey. He had no idea that either I or my niece Cheryl, who flew in from Las Vegas, were going to be there. The shocked look on his face when he spotted us was worth the extra cost of changing my flight at the last minuet.

Being in camp again was very emotional. I had spent 10 years as a counselor. My first wedding reception was held in the Great Hall. It was my refuge during various rough times in my life. After I got the chance to talk with Jeffrey and his family I walked down to the edge of the lake and took it all in. Memories were everywhere; good and bad and I savored each one. While I didn't have time to walk as far into the camp as I wanted I did go through the Retreat Center itself. Each room held ghosts of my past. I touched walls, chairs and bunks. Each one connecting me with different part of my life. Each moment as vivid and as real as if they happened that day.

My memory failed me though moments later. As I walked through the crowd back in the Great Hall a young man in his twenties walked up to me with a big smile and said, "Hi, Jack! How are you?!" He could see I had no clue who he was. "I was one of your campers years ago." I could hear my arteries hardening. He did say that his best summer at camp was the year I was his counselor. That sentiment added to everything I was feeling being there.

I went back to my sister's after that while I waited for my friend Maria to pick me up to bring me back to Boston for the night. Before we left I asked Maria to indulge me with a ride around the city. We tried getting Narragansett beer but got to the liquor store minutes after it closed. 'Gansett has only recently been returned to being brewed after a twenty year absence. Not the best beer in the world, but I had to have some. Maybe next trip. I took a photo of the Sci-Fi Channel's "Ghost Hunters" headquarters which is a store front right next door to Warwick City Hall. Then we drove through Oakland Beach. My cousin Mark pointed out years ago the genetically designed reaction to anyone who was brought up in that neighborhood. "You're never really home until you drive through the beach," he would always say; and it's true.

It was a good thing that Maria was driving or I would have been arrested for trespassing. We drove by my old house. The adrenalin rush of going by there was the mixed with nausea and anger as I saw the neglect of the current owner. In the front of MY house were four neatly trimmed hedges; now two of them can only be described as TREES reaching well past the second story. If I had been driving I probably would have stopped, jumped the fence (another abomination added by the person my mother sold the house to) and trimmed them with my own teeth! And still, 16 years after my mother sold the house, there is the monogram letter "E" on the front storm door. And my father thought I was lazy!

All through this trip I took in every inch of my surroundings; comparing how things had changed and how much had remained the same. One odd reaction I had felt similar to returning to your elementary school when you're an adult; it all looks the same but somehow smaller.

My friends Bismo, Maria and Howard all got together at Stone's Public House for a night of food, beer and blues. What a cool place. It is always good being with these old friends, but I didn’t realize just how old we were until I noticed that Howard and Bill were trading health stories back and forth. Illness, aches, pains, surgeries, tests and doctors visits were being traded back and forth faster than a Joyner sister tennis ball. I raised my glass and toasted, "We are now officially old farts!"

You've heard of karma, right?

The next morning, a mere four hours before my flight was scheduled to return me to Florida, I was in Bill bathroom when I turned and pulled a muscle in my back. So, here I am; wet, naked and bent over in pain. The universe has a perverse sense of humor.

With the help of many ibuprofen and a cane I was able to limp my way from Bill’s to the car and through Logan airport to my plane. Not entirely comfortable, but I was able to get around. Was this another sign that I should really be in New England? Was my body telling me not to go back to Florida?

No, my body was telling me that I was, in fact, an old fart.