Friday, March 30, 2007

I'm still a little groggy from lack of sleep but last night was a whirlwind.

I went to Orlando to the graduation presentation for the latest class from the DAVE School. This is the school for which I had done voice work in "Runners" more than a year ago. I was looking forward to this because, for some reason, my pal, George Takei was coming in to town. I made the arrangements to get in the door and I was able to bring along my friends Jim and Lisa, who just happened to be visiting from New York and wanted to get some face time with George for a charity event she was promoting. This would also give me the opportunity to meet Ron Thornton; he had been the special effects honcho on "Babylon 5" and "Roughnecks" and had the possibility of some more work for me with the DAVE School. So, on the surface it seemed like a fun evening with friends. I had no idea why George was going to be at this graduation.

....until I got to the DAVE School.

I got to town early and had time to kill so I stopped in at the school. As I was walking around I noticed all kinds of Trek material along one wall. Blueprints, renderings, and a poster.....for the new episode of "STAR TREK: New Voyages - World Enough and Time" starring George Takei!!!!!!! This was going to be great!

I got to Universal and met up with Jim. As we waited for the ceremony to begin, my other friend Lisa was delayed by the public transit system. George came in and was quickly swarmed by people. I made my way through and surprised him with my being there. We hugged and I pulled back to show him my weight loss.

"What have you done", he asked. I told him about my surgery and he gave me a sideways grin, "I would have know you anyway!" With that he was pulled away for the ceremony.

While my friend, Jim, is more into these fan produced films than I am; I will say that this was a fantastic show. It WAS a Star Trek episode. The effects that the students did was on par with anything produced in Hollywood. I got to speak with James Cawley, the man behind these films and told him, "I hope Rick Berman sees this and chokes!" With a minuscule budget he did was Berman was never able to do...produce a real episode of Star Trek.

After the graduation there was a big party at a local restaurant. Lisa had finally made it there and we had fun catching up as it had been years since i had seen her face to face. At the party I finally pulled Mr. Thornton aside to talk business. "So, Ron," I said simply, "I'm really glad to meet you."

He looked me square in the eyes and said, "OK, you can do it."

I think I heard my ears pop.

"I can hear it in your voice. You can easily do this part." I was ecstatic! I tried keeping my cool on the outside; talking story and character basics, while on the inside I was doing back flips.

When I could see the conversation was drawing to a close I could not pass up the opportunity, "Before you go, Ron, I just have to be a gook for a moment." I took his hand, shook it and said, "Thank you for Babylon 5! It was fantastic. I'm a big fan and am so glad to be able to work with you!"

He talked for a few minuets on how he wished he had the technology he had worked on to do "New Voyages" back when he did "B5". We ended with plans to touch base soon on when and where the recording will happen.

To say I am excited about this would be an understatement. This will be working with an actual Hollywood producer. I will take advantage of this and take some time to pick his brain about the business. Of course, he is not always going to be working at the DAVE school and I want to make sure he has my name in the back of his mind if he finds himself casting a project in Hollywood.

Oh! The part?! I will be playing an African American marine sergeant! I guess my deep voice did it!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sometimes I do feel that signs are placed in front of me at just the right moment. There was the time in December of 1980 when I was grabbing music for the college radio station Christmas party and I put "Double Fantasy" back in the rack because it didn't seem right for party music. That right around 10PM on December the 8th when that happened. Then there was the moment I got off the phone with a girl I was dying to tell how I felt about her; I turned on the radio and Elvis started singing, as if on cue, "It's Now or Never".

It happened again today.

As I sat at work; loating my job and dreading the next phone call, when I looked down and had a message glaring at me. On the desk in front of me was a pen I had at home for more than 18 months. I was in a rush this morning and needed a pen with me for a stop at the bank and blindly grabbed at the first one I could find not even looking. This pen had been a freebie handout at work during an office safety promotion. Printed in garish green ink was an insipid safety slogan which I had ignored along with the free pen. Now was my 9th hour on the job bore down on me I looked at this slogan and it took on newer and deeper meaning.


It was if the Dali Lama had just walked up behind me and slapped me upside the head with a simple, universal truth. I have a number of irons in the fire right now to rescue me from my current little corner of Dante's playground and I have some details to work out before I reveal more. Some of these I have already discussed in this blog and one more which remains under wraps but to only a few close friends. Any of these involves a major change in my life and a risk; some more than others.

But as I looked at these three simple words, the risk meant nothing. What I did know is that there is an exit to where I am now, I know where that exit is, I know how to get to the exit, I know how to open the door and, most importantly, I know this is the time to use that exit.

Or, to paraphrase Freud; is a banana sometimes just a banana? We'll see. But I know I'm keeping this pen for good luck.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

My pal, Howard, made mention of the book "1,000 Places to See Before You Die" in his blog and it inspired me. (OK, it was a cheap way of coming up with a topic!)

Here is my short list.

1. California - specifically LA and San Francisco

2. Las Vegas

3. Venice - I was there for one day 25 years ago and it wasn't enough.

4. Graceland

5. The Pyramids of Giza

6. Chicago

7. Moscow

8. Mount Rushmore

9. Liverpool - It's the Beatles fan in me!

10. Auschwitz - Because I think it's important to learn from our mistakes

Thursday, March 22, 2007

When a good friend of mine recently left my company she said that the job had changed the person she was and that she didn't like who she had become. I finally understand what she meant.

I have lost patience with my customers. I feel dirty when I push these people into orders which are done the company way but I do it anyway because I need the next sale. This is not what the company mentality was when I first joined the company and it certainly is not the person I was when I answered my first phone call. We used to have a VP who said that, "Yes, we are here to make a buck; but we are also here to help these people." Now, it is all about nothing more than the next dollar. I've fallen into it and I don't like myself for it.

While I am trying to get into a non-sales position within the company I am also looking outside. This includes one really cool self-employment possibility which is still in the planning stages; more on that in the future....I hope.

I wake up ready and raring to go each morning. However, the moment I pull into the parking lot all energy leaves my body and all I want to do is to turn around and climb back into bed. I sit there for a moment calculating how much sick time I have available. I look around and figure that if I turned the car around now that I could leave and no one would have seen me. Just two years ago I would stay almost every night until 7PM without a second thought.

Will a department change make me feel better? Will a different job turn things around? Will turning a dream job into a reality actually work or am I just putting together another pipe dream?

Almost anything has got to be an improvement.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

OK, I have finally gotten the hint. I am determined to reattack my weight re-gain.

First my friend Dave went in for the same surgery I had three years ago. Talking with him about it reminded me of all I went through. Then I started having problems with my feet. Granted, its a common problem but the weight definitely is a factor and if I hadn't gained back some weight, it probably wouldn't have happened. Then I saw some recent photos of myself and I started having flashbacks.

Two years ago, when I was at my lowest post surgery weight loss, I took pride on the fact that I kept on adding holes to my belt as it shrunk. I am now back from that point by 8 inches. I have gained back 80 pounds. Granted, I am still hundreds below where I was but my own words, "I can't understand how someone could go through all of this and backslide" are coming back to haunt me.

I am now determined. I have a goal of getting back to where I was within a year; less if I try hard. It became easier, as my stomach healed, to add back into my diet those foods which put my on that operating table in the first place; bread, pasta, pizza.... I have just thrown out the two boxes of pasta in my pantry and am sharing my last half loaf of bread with the seagulls. I am dusting off my old post-surgery workbook and will dive back into the same foods, diets and exercise that had me dropping pounds each week. My own surgeon had said that if this ever happens that the fastest way of getting back on track is to go back to basics. My stomach and body have proved that they can adapt to it and the results are already proven.

By my trip to the Starfleet International Conference in August I plan on wearing a new uniform, be close to halfway to my goal and have no one in Denver greet me as "Hey, Big Guy!"

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Just how comfortable is the back seat of a convertible? After a 10 hour road trip....I'm not the one to ask if you're looking for a favorable answer!

This past weekend was the annual Region 2 Summit in Columbus, GA. My friends Jim, Cheryl and I piled in his car and drove up there. This was my first Summit as Regional Coordinator and I'm not sure if I'll ever catch up on the sleep I missed over the weekend!

The ride up was nice and, as always, spending it with friend makes it worth while. We all have the same twisted senses of humor, so each mile was joke after joke after joke. I got a kick out of noticing that we were driving along "Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway" somewhere in Georgia. Apparently, someone forgot to tell some people exactly how that little skirmish 140 years ago ended up.

The Summit is technically the Regional "working weekend", but once that small part of the weekend is over we have fun! There were Texas Hold 'Em games, a Dalmuti Tournament, panel discussions on fandom, online gaming and even Klingon self defense. It is the chance of the chapters in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi to get together and it is a great reunion each time. Sunday night is our awards banquet where we get to recognize members and chapters who stand out. We also raised $500 for a local animal rescue league.

This was my first Summit as Regional coordinator and the six words I heard most all weekend were, "Jack, do you have a few minuets?" I was pulled aside to discuss chapter issues, personal conflict problems, teaching people hos to use the Starfleet database, getting one piece of paperwork or another pushed through and political twists of one kind or another. There were three former RC's there this weekend who would only look at me and laugh all weekend long knowing that every moment of the weekend was theirs for a change.

The hotel staff was out of this world! I have been in scores of hotels all around the world and this was the first time I have ever felt so welcomed by a staff; and I mean ALL the staff. There was not one member of the housekeeping staff that didn't greet me with a warm and friendly "hello" of one kind or another. When most time you either get a grunted hello or they don't even look you in the eye, it was refreshing to be treated as if each member of the staff was genuinely happy to have me there as a guest in the hotel. The banquet staff took care of a problem quickly and quietly. The desk staff remembered names and then there was Anna.

Anna was this little ole German lady who is a server in the restaurant. She has worked at the hotel longer than anyone and looks to be somewhere between 70 and 240 years old. At 4 foot nothing she scurries around the dining room filling glasses and bringing clean silverwear with a smile and her soft, gentle grandmotherly voice, "Sure, honey. I'll get that for you right away" in her clipped accent. She looked down at my bear feet slippers and said that "they look sexy!" How can you not love a woman like that!

After a Dead Dog Party at a nearby Chinese Buffet we headed out around 2PM which didn't get me home until almost midnight. Of course, I HAD TO watch the current Battlestar Galactica episode and got myself up for work the next morning. That lasted until about 11:30 when the fatigue turned my voice into a deep growl and my eyes threatened to permanently stay shut. I went home and slept for another 6 hours.

I can hardly wait for next year!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I finally gave up on "24" this week. This season's storyline just kept going from dumb to dumber. It has been a gigantic fall from the fantastic job they did last season. And this season had so much going for it. Peter MacNichol, Chad Lowe, Alexander Siddig, Powers Boothe and James Cromwell joined the cast. It looked as if it was going to be another great season with THE MAN, Manny Coto, still on the job as one of the Executive Producers.

I can forgive alot with "24". I mean, heck, I'm a Bond fan, so suspension of disbelief is a given with these stories. But, c'mon!

An assassination attempt on the President in the bunker beneath the White House?! Jack breaking into his second foreign embassy in a row and then cutting off the finger of the ambassador?!!!!!!! White House staff members in fist fights in a steam closet?!

Dumb...dumb...dumb. There are plenty of other good shows on Monday night. "Heroes", "2 and 1/2 Men" and now, "The Black Donelley's".

Good bye, Jack Bauer; it was fun while it lasted.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

I am going through some major parental withdrawal. As John gets older he has more to do; school, ROTC and now a job. I understand the importance of these and how it is building his independence and maturity. If I were a "full time parent" I could probably deal with this a little better. However, it has now been almost a month since John and I had even a day together.

We were supposed to spend the day together, a compromise to his work schedule, when yet another obligation came along. I have been trying my best to give him his space but am always chomping back the words that I should be on his list of obligations as well. I grew up in a family where I lived at home until I was 26, I don't know how this separated parent thing is supposed to work at this point. I want him to be his own person but I also want him to spend as much time with me as possible. Being separated is bad enough but the 90 mile distance makes it tougher.

The ironic side to this is, back when we were a family, when Jim went to his first day of school we went as a group to see him off on his first bus ride. My ex was holding Johnny in her arms as Jim climbed on to the bus; his little legs lifting up high and hard to make that first step. We stood there is the cool September wind for a moment and I turned to head back to the house but my ex just stood there...crying.

"In 18 years you'll be crying to get him out of the house!"

Now, as John approaches that age, the tables have turned and I am the one missing him before he's gone. I seems to be going through empty nest syndrome and I already have the empty nest.