Saturday, May 31, 2008

Welcome to Year 46!

I was born on Thursday May 31, 1962 somewhere between 7 and 8 AM.

I looked up my birthday and found some interesting things which also happened on May 31st.

In 1296 BC Rameses II became pharaoh. In 1678 Lady Godiva began her procession. In 1911 the RMS Titanic was launched.

I share birthdays with Walt Whitman, Pope Pius XI, Fred Allen, Norman Vincent Peale, Don Amache, Denholm Elliott, Prince Ranier of Monaco, Clint Eastwood, Johnny Paycheck, Terry Waite, Peter Yarow, Sharon Gless, Joe Namath, Jon Bonham, Tom Berenger, Gregory Harrison, Chris Elliott, Lea Thompson, Colin Farrell and, my favorite, Brooke Sheilds.

The only items I could find for the exact same day were the deaths of two police officers on May 31, 1962. Patrolman H. A. Hight of the NC State Highyway Patrol and Patrolman John Costello of the Omaha Police Department both died in traffic accidents while on duty.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My favorite part of this house has got to be the pool. The weather has finally gotten to a point where I can go in the pool any time of the day or night.

When I can wrestle myself awake even five minutes early the best way to wake up is a quick jump in the pool. The cool water shakes away any lingering sleep and refreshes better than a shower; the total immersion into cool water shocking me into consciousness.

The moment I get home, even before watching the day's "General Hospital" on my DVR, I jump in the pool. The day's stresses wash away as soon as I hit the water. Since we are now in the humid season here in Florida it is a given that even the minimum time of walking from the office to the car and the car to the house would have layered tropical sweat on me which washes away instantly.

The best time in the pool is late at night; I often go in right before bedtime around 1AM. The heat of the day is still lingering slightly in the air and the water is also holding onto its collected radiant heat feeling slightly tepid but still cool enough to refresh as I lower myself in. While a morning or daytime swim starts with a jump and a splash these night time swims are a slow walk down the steps and to the deep end as my feet slowly rais up off the bottom and I floating. The quiet of the night makes any nose seem sacrilige. Only the soft lapping of the ripples in the water and the breeze through the overhanging pine trees are allowed. When the moon is full the reflections on the water look completly different than they do under sunlight. They flash green and blue streaks across the surface of the water and their mirrored movements dance across the bottom of the pool and across my skin. Above my is a clear sky with the stars shimmering as busily as the water around me.

It's only a hole filled with chemically enhanced water but will by far be the hardest part of this house to leave behind.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The clinic at my office came up with a unique way of dealing with a minor injury of mine today.

As I was getting ready for work this morning I was carrying my laptop from my bedroom to its usual spot in the kitchen. Right along this route is the living room; this is a sunken living room with a small 3 inch step down. As I walked by I misjudged where I was and went to step down on what I thought was going to be solid ground instead slamming my foot down further than expected. This threw me off balance and I toppled down in the other direction coming down directly on one knee.

As I started to fall time slowed. I could sense every move I was making and each move I made seemed to break down into the first thought of what was happening, what was potentially going to happen, what I had to do to survive what was happening and all possible ways of saving myself from each outcome. Paramount to all of these thought processes was, "SAVE THE LAPTOP!!!!!"

Luckily, I was able to skid the laptop across the carpet at an easy and soft landing instead of slamming straight down toward the floor as my body was doing. I checked the laptop first and all was OK. Then, I noticed the large bulging and throbbing welt on my knee. But it really didn;t hurt much at all so I continued with my day.

Apparently, when I made the move to skim the laptop across the carpet, I must have turned myself in some sort of combination of moves to which my body was unaccustomed. As the day wore on a stiffness developed in my neck and shoulders to the point that I had to pivot my entire upper body just to turn my head to look in a different direction.

I headed to the clinic for relief. I did all I could to try to talk the nurse practitioner into the importance of hydrotherapy and how much being in my pool would be much more beneficial than returning to my deck. She did not agree. Instead, she gave me some medication. She gave me an anti0inflammatory and a muscle relaxant. It was the muscle relaxant which gave me pause; it was a menstrual cramp reliever.

Kathy, the nurse, pointed out that it was nothing more than a muscle relaxant; not for any specific muscle and should do the work of other prescription medications which would have cost me more. Trusting her as he has always provided good health care, I took the pills and headed back to work.

Damndest thing was that by the end of the day I was craving chocolate and getting into arguments with almost everyone around me.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I am in this new relationship by one day and I have a baptism by fire.

Tomorrow is Julie's daughter Nicole's 6th birthday. Tonight we took all four girls to Golden Corral for dinner. My own son is about to turn 17, so it has been that long since I was in a restaurant with a toddler and here I was with 4 little girls from 7 to 18 months.

It is good to know that, after all these years, I still have my parental reflexes in tact and still have the eyes in the back of my head. To be able to catch a glass of tea before it tumbles over to drench all of the plates on the table while at the same time stop a piece of chicken from being airborne I was still able to keep the girls either at the table and well behaved or following their mother on an almost never ending parade to and from the ladies bathroom and eat my own dinner at the same time.

Golden Corral, for those of you not familiar, is a large, inexpensive buffet restaurant on the lower end of the price scale. It is the place that fills up on Sundays after the Baptist churches get out and serves never ending troughs of all of wonderful comfort foods that put me on the road to gastric bypass.

Speaking of which; while I realize I have slipped back since my surgery I am still able to spot hypocrisy and downright idiocy in other people. While waiting for our table an older man who was easily twice the size I was at my heaviest wheezed his way past us leaning on a most unfortunate cane which strained as it assisted his shuffling steps. His wife whined to the hostess that he needed to sit as soon as possible because he couldn't stand very long and needed to sit as soon as possible.

In my own glass house I thought to myself that possible a few less visits to Golden Corral over the years and he would be able to move around easier than a pachyderm in shackles. And just so you don't think I was a complete hypocrite myself for just being at a buffet restaurant; I usually now only eat what would be considered a normal portion and usually do no more than one pass over the buffet.

The girls were well behaved and, since the place is always crowded and noisy, any of their behavior, which in a smaller restaurant would be distracting, was lost in the din of the surrounding overstuffed masses.

So I have passed my first BIG parental test with flying colors. Actually, all of the girls seems to like me very much. Emily, 7, has Asburgers Syndrome and does not take to people easily welcomed me right from the start. Nicole, 6, and Ashlyn, 3, are always fighting for my attention and Ash is always saying that she is going to marry me. Olivia, the baby, seems to put up with me as much as she does with every other adult; so we'll have to see how that develops as she does.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

This post will more than likely produce ridicule and jokes from some of my best friends, but that is what they do best.

As of tonight, I am officially a boy friend.

Julie and I have been “seeing each other” since September on something of an unofficial and casual basis. Over that time, of course, emotions have changed and we have spent more and more time together. There have been moments, like with the relationship with my son, where periods of no contact would lead to paranoia on my part but the moment we speak it was as if not a moment had gone by.

Last night I threw a question at her which took her a day to ponder. Earlier in the week I was showing a picture of Julie and her kids to some friends when one of them made the joke, “Oh, is that Johnny’s new girlfriend?!”

When I showed the photo to Julie and told her what me friend had said I asked her what answer she was comfortable with me giving. She answered that she was still most comfortable with the “seeing each other” kind of answer. Not wanting to push, I accepted the answer and left things as they were.

The very next day she brought up the question again. Saying that she had time to think things over and that I had made her happier than she had been in a long time and that she wanted me to be able to answer that she was my girlfriend.

While I have dated, and thought I was in this similar situation a few years ago until the girl turned out to be a nutjob, it has been 10 years since I was “in a relationship”. Am I nervous? Frak, yes! I am trying to take as much as I can from the bad history to make things work this time around. Yes, I'd be an idiot not to; I am sure everyone who has started a relationship says the same thing. Do I say the same thing each time I start dating someone?

Well......OK, yes.

It has been said I fall too fast. I'll take the wrap for that but this time I can say that, given certain situations in Julie's life, that I have taken the time with this relationship. I have taken the time to let the emotions grow and become real instead of a flash in the pan. Maybe I have learned something from my past.

Or am I getting ahead of myself?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Anyone who knows me knows I am a Kennedy-phile. I am as big a fan of the Kennedys as I am of Star Trek. Just like Star Trek, I have met and become friendly with Trek actors I have also met and become friendly with Kennedys.

I am bringing this up because of the news of Teddy's brain tumor. The media frenzy is as redicilious as it always is whenever someone from the family makes the headlines. I am hoping that, despite his age, that this can be dealt with and that he'll be around for a while longer.

I have had two experiences with him. The first was back in the 80's; I don't remember the reason other than it was an election year and he was making a speech at the Pawtucket Armory. The evening started off with RI Senator Claiborne Pell and retired Senator John Pastore. This must have been what political rallies were like years ago. The stone walls and exposed beams inside the armory gave the room a cavernous feel which was easily filled with the powerful voice of John Pastore. He spoke in short, powerful bursts of oration which sounded like a trumpet solo.

Then Teddy rose to speak. He stood heads above John O. which made him seem even taller. He smiled like an Osmond and waved as if he were throwing a baseball to the far side of the room. And then he spoke! While Pastore was a trumpet, Teddy was a cannon. His voice boomed from the stage and rattled off the rafters and slammed into the stone walls on the far side of the hall. I can't recall what the hell he said but each word cut through and were filled with strength and conviction. The energy from his voice got into your blood. As the pitch of his voice rose, so did your blood preassure. The pace of his speech rose which only brought up the amount of adrenalin in your system. With his voice alone, Teddy got me excited and had a physical affect on me. When he was done I was exhausted. I felt as if I had finished a 2 hour workout in the span of an 8 minuet speech. I have heard lots of people make lots of speeches but no one ever came close to Teddy Kennedy.

My next experience was on the day that my friend Jim Langevin was sworn in as State Representative. This was also the day the Ted's son, Patrick, was also sworn in. I was working as Jim's driver so I got to go in with him through the legislator's entrance. I was also working for my local police department as a reserve officer. The reson for pointing this out is part of the punch line to the story.

As we made out way in, just in front of us was Partick, his mother, Joan (a gorgeous woman) and THE SENATOR. Along with us were a few hundred other people trying to make their way through a single width doorway; so, it was slow and crowded. As we shuffled along I kept watching Teddy. Those big, white teeth were glaring in the sun. And he was getting closer. Jim also saw he was getting closer and he kept craning up to try to see through the crowd. As I looked from Jim to Teddy, no more than 8 feet away, I saw the opportunity to give Jim a coronary.

"Jim," I said as I leaned down to whisper in his ear for only him to hear. "It suddenly dawned on me that I just joined a special fraternity."

Jim looked up at me and said, "What the hell are you talking about?"

As I reached into my overcoat towards the holster holding my off duty Walther PPK I said, "I'm one of two other men ever to get this close to a Kennedy with a loaded gun!"

I swear this was the closest I had ever seen Jim coming to actually getting out of his wheel chair! His eyes bugged out like a freightened cartoon character and flailing his arms at mine he screamed in a whisper, "GET YOUR HAND OUTTA THERE! HIS GUARDS ARE GONNA KILL YOU!!"

I just smiled, pointed and waved at Teddy as he passed by us unscathed and the blood began to return to Jim's face.

Jim did get even with me a few years later after both he and Patrick were elected to the US Congress and I was exiled to Florida. We were talking one day when he casually told me he had just been to a cookout at Patrick's.

"Oh, no, I'm sorry, Jack; I got that wrong. It wasn't at Patrick's. It was at HIS GRANDMOTHER'S HOUSE IN HYANNISPORT! Sorry you couldn't be there."

It's not often someone one up's me but Jim had definetly trumped me on this one!

Monday, May 12, 2008

I had the most amazing phone call from my son the other day. He called just to talk.

First he gave me a hard time about not answering a text message of his and the conversation just rambled from there. We talked about movies, school, his girlfriend, vacation plans, his next weekend up here, work…just about everything. I didn’t have to pull teeth to keep the conversation going as is sometimes necessary with a teenager. There were moments when we were just silent as one or the other looked something up on the internet that had to do with our conversation.

But we just talked.

I felt as if I were talking with any other of my good friends. I made sure the DVR was set to record and simply settled back and enjoyed the conversation. It rambled from one topic to the next. If you have never tried having a conversation with a teenager you can’t appreciate the significance of this call.

“How’s school?”

“Did you do anything special this weekend?”

“How was the concert?”

“How are you feeling today?”

This was not one of those conversations. It was one old friend calling another just to check in and see what was going on. Usually, in our conversations, there would be a quick run through a topic and then a looooooooong pause. As the oxygen left the room it would be a subtle hint that we were done talking. This time we just kept talking.

Watching my son grow into a man is going to be an amazing journey. As he gets older I am reminded of the words from John Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy”. While the words take on a strong irony given how close to his death these words were written, they still are as meaningful when I think about my 16 year old as when John wrote them about his 6 year old.

Out on the ocean sailing away,
I can hardly wait,
To see you to come of age,
But I guess we'll both,
Just have to be patient,
Yes it's a long way to go,
A hard row to hoe
Yes it's a long way to go,
But in the meantime,

Before you cross the street,
Take my hand,
Life is just what happens to you,
While your busy making other plans,

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I just saw "Speed Racer" and I'm still not sure if I really liked it or not.

You have to understand that Speed Racer is part of my childhood. I would get home after school and WLVI Channel 56 of Cambridge MA would have an afternoon of cartoons for us kids. Uncle Dale Dorman, a Boston radio DJ, was the host. He would take me through the best hour of my day. I know there were other shows as part of the afternoon, but the ones I can recall as if I just watched them yesterday were "Speed Racer" and "Kimba the White Lion".

I could get into a whole post on the "Kimba"/"Lion King" ripoff but I've already ranted about Disney this week.

"Speed Racer" was filled with all the action, adventure and suspense I could cram in my 5th grade mind. As I sped around on my Schwinn bicycle I was actually at the wheel of the Mach 5. More often that not, I was also the mysterious Racer X at the wheel of the Shooting Star. I could never talk my mother into sewing me a full head mask like his to make the experience complete. She kept saying something about impaired vision. Which made no sense to me; I HAD TO be Racer X.

Speaking of which; Lois Lane cannot hold a candle to the entire Racer family when it comes to not seeing through a secret identity. How could they not have seen through his disguise?! All he was wearing was a stupid mask! Rex Racer.....Racer X. Say it a few times fast in a row and you can figure it out! Sheesh!

I can still remember when I first started driving that words of advice from Pops Racer came to mind. "Coast into the turn and down shift as you come out of it!" I actually tired that once. Apparently, it works a lot better in the Mach 5 on a race track than it does on the back streets of Oakland Beach.

As for the movie....

I was not as offended by the Mach 6 as I thought I was going to be. I still don't see the need for it. The Mach 5 is supposed to be the best engineered car on the planet. If you're going to make improvements make them on the Mach 5 and don't go replacing it. There is NO REPLACEMENT for the Mach 5. The enhancements they did make to it in the movie were supposed to be original designs by Pops not some CIA-like police force.

The casting was great. This was as close as human beings could come to recreating the animated characters. Each actor was perfectly matched; from John Goodman as Pops to Benno F├╝rmann as Inspector Detector. The one exception was Kick Gurry as Sparky. Since when was Sparky an Aussie?! YUK!

The whole flashy, colorful world this Speed Racer inhabits reminds the audience that this comes from an animated universe. I liked that. I kept trying to tell myself that very thing as I watched this world's weird version of automobile racing. The drifting, jumping and Kung Fu moves the cars went through seemed alien. While "Speed Racer" was animated, it was still about a car race. These didn't look like car races.

The whole corrupt racing sponsor story got a bit stretched confusing me and boring the kids in the audience to a point where some started running up and down the aisles. The language went over the top at points and I really could have done without Spritle flipping the bird and Chimm Chimm flinging poo.

In the end, I was most happy when I heard the little kids around me reacting to the movie. The rug rats, some whose parents might nit have even been born when Speed was first aired, were now watching, laughing and cheering. Maybe one of them is now riding around their neighborhood on a bicycle turned into a Mach 5. That's cool!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

This whole Miley Cyrus thing makes me want to wretch. I picked up the issue of Vanity Fair. OK, Miley is not the only reason because there is a fantastic cover story about RFK's last campaign. Hopefully, those who do pick up the issue for the Cyrus thing will ready the RFK article, but anyway...

The photo is not that bad. I've seen some footage from Cyrus' recently released concert film and there are many more provocative images there than in the one Annie Lebovitz photo.

The whole thing is that Disney is crying that the photo shoot was done by Vanity Fair was exploiting a child for monetary gain. that again. DISNEY was complaining that a child was exploited for monetary gain. Am I the only person who sees the irony in that statement? Am I also the only one who realizes that Disney just released that concert video and that the free publicity of a "controversy" would not only boost the circulation of Vanity Fair but quiet possibly boost sales of their new video?

Give me a break!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Home again, home again......whooptie-frakkin-do!

The flights home were OK and I would always opt for the red-eye as I got to sleep most of the way. The only thing that sucks is that I lost my MP3 player. I had that danged thing loaded to the limit with a two foot tall pile of my music.

For the trip I had tried to listen to "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole. I have heard about this book since moving to Florida and listening to the Love Doctors, a local radio talk show unlike any other. (If you're not from Florida, give them a listen sometime. You can listen online!) The host, Rich Dickerson, has been touting this book as one of the best ever written but I have never gotten past the 3rd chapter. It is supposed to be loaded with satire and humor but all it has ever done is put me to sleep. I figured that, with all the flying time, I would be able to make a dent in it in the audio version. That put me to sleep even faster.

One story I left out in my earlier posts was one of the funniest. It was on our trip to Bruce Lee's gravesite. The cemetery is smack dab in the middle of a cute residential neighborhood. This is where we had found a playground for the kids to burn off some energy. There was also a drained wading pool waiting for warmer weather and, at the top of the hill, a botanical garden. I'm sure, if we had more time, the white frosted glass of the hothouse was filled with some really beautiful plants and flowers.

First, you have to understand the Berry youngsters obsession with flowers. Both Sarah and Benjamin grab at anything with a colored bud on it. Any flower or plant within reach is their bounty. A dandelion becomes more beautiful than a rose in their hands. Flowering hedges, creeping vines or weeds, as long as there is a colorful flower of some kind, is as beautiful as any $100 bouquet from a florist.

Sarah, apparently, didn't have to go inside to enjoy the flowers. As we continued to walk past the gardens looking for the entrance to the cemetery I felt a tug on my pants leg.

"Here, Jack, this is for you."

In Sarah's hand was the beautiful bud of a full grown, newly blossomed, tulip. I looked from her hand to her big three year old eyes to the bed of tulips right in front of the Botanical Gardens. Standing there.amongst the full bed of gorgeous flowers, were three headless stems wobbling in the breeze.

As Sarah handed one of the other buds to her father I crammed mine in my pocket and tried explaining to her, as I hurried us further away from the scene of the crime, the concept of a public funded garden and how not only the workers in the garden but the local police might be upset that she had picked them.

I did, at least, put the contraband to good use as I left the tulip bud on Bruce's headstone.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

I am sitting in the SeaTac Airport waiting for my re-eye flight back to Florida. The past few days have sped by and each has been filled with time spent with my friends I will always cherish.

OK, it sounds very "Hallmark", but it's true.

Today we slept in a little and then made our way to a restaurant I had seen featured on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive Ins and Dives". It is called Voula's Waterfront Grill. It is set along side the water in the college district of town not far from where we had gone to see "Ironman" the day before. If we had known we were this close before we might have opted to go then as the service is VERY laid back and not really the best for little children. Or, at leas the little balls of energy we had with us. I was disappointed that Voula herself was not there. From what I had seen on TV she is half the fun of going there. The other half is the food...and it is terrific. I had a Greek Hobo; which is an egg scramble with Greek sausage, hash browns, onion and feta cheese. Delicious!!!

After that we took a ferry to Bainbridge across Puget Sound. Jason and the family kept inside where is was warm and not as windy. On the return trip I was on the bow with the icy wind blowing in my face. As we made our way across the Sound, seagulls kept pace with the ferry racing along with us like feathered fighter escorts. It reminded me of the hours I spent on Oakland Beach back home; walking the beaches in the dead of winter.

The one thing I will not miss about Seattle is the hills. Steep inclines are everywhere. There were some of these I did with 2 year old Benjamin on my shoulders. This weekend has been quite the workout!

The city looked better from the water than it does walking the streets. Most of downtown is unremarkable. But, from the water with the mountains as a backdrop the city loks gorgeous. Without having my friends to come visit, I am not sure if I would have ever come here on my own but I'm glad I did.

My goodbyes with them was short and sweet and I didn't get the chance to tell them how much I really apprecate them and all they have done for me. I know, with some friendships you really don't have to but, as I get older, I feel the need to vocalize my emotions more and more.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Today was kind of easy going. Although Jason and I got up early to make it downtown for Free Comic Book Day. We went to one of his favorite stores in the University District. Like most communities near a college this was filled with all of the requisite shops; books, music, speciality foods, tattoo parlors and vintage clothing. I haven't seriously collected comics in years but,'s free. I also grabbed a Trek comic and introduced Jason to Filler Bunny.

Afterwards, we went to the other staple of the college community; the artsy movie house to see "Ironman". This was in a renovated a renovated theater dating back somewhere to the '20's by the looks of it. Old, wooden seats flat on the floor and a ticket booth outside the front door. No stadium seating here but a killer sound system.

As far as the movie: outstanding! Robert Downey Jr. IS Tony Stark. No two ways about it, Downey makes this movie. He brings the smart assed billionaire to life. His believability as that character makes the entire rest of the movie believable. As soon as you believe him as that character the flying suit, the ultra high tech science he surrounds himself with, the flying suit or armor...everything makes sense and works. Even Jeff Bridges over the top performance at the end of the movie, under any other circumstance would be laughable, has weight and believability because you buy Downey as Stark. The story has depth and an emotional weight to it. As always with these super hero movies; they mess with the history of the character. In this instance, it makes sense and adds to the drama. And, if you haven't heard already, stay until after the credits.

The best part of the day was my interaction with my son because of the movie. Just as I was headed to the movie, I text messaged him. He told me he had seen the movie, calling it "awesome". He also gave me the heads up about the final moments of the movie. When I texted to him again saying, "You were FN right! The movie ROCKED" he called me right back and we talked like two geeks for about 5 minuets. It was another of those moments where I had built up my anxiety about not seeing him for so long and worrying that we were drifting apart and he made all those feelings go away with one simple call.

You've seen me talking about this before and I have no idea where this comes from. If it's an abandonment issue or what it's called, I don't know. The moment it happens and a situation like this phone call clears my head I can see it for what it is and I almost slap myself in the head to remind myself to get over it. It may be my growing anxiety as his 18th birthday looms closer. I know he is my son, he always will be my son and we will always have the strong connection that we have. I also know someday I will get over this ridiculous cycle I go through.

Maybe by the time he turns 30.

Speaking of birthdays; Dana gave me my birthday cake early. A delicious chocolate cake; all soft and gooey inside. For years now, she has been making me a Red Velvet cake for my birthday. This woman is a whiz in the kitchen. I don't know how Jason doesn't have my physique with the way she cooks. This year, because we have been running around so much, she wasn't able to get the extra ingredients to make the usual red velvet. But, since they had flown me out here for my birthday...I'll let her slide this year!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Today was another tourist day. We headed into Seattle to the Mecca of all tourists; Pike Place Market. We wandered through the stores and had lunch. For me the ironic touch was I was on the west coast of the US eating a clam chowder that had won at the Chowder Cook Off in Newport, RI.

After that we went to the gravesite of Bruce and Brandon Lee. It is off on one of the suburbs of the city so the ride getting there took a while. Then the grave site is at the top of a hill inside the cemetary. It was impressive and, for a fan, well worth the hike. The added bonus to the day was that in our searching for the entrance to the cemetary we discovered a gorgeous playground. The kids got to spend a good 45 minutes running and playing while I sat and rested my fallen arches.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

A few months ago, my friend Jason called and said, "We'd like to give you a birthday present. We want to fly you out here to Seattle for a weekend!"

So, here I am in the great northwest!

The flight out here wasn't that bad although my wide body and that of most airliners aren't completely compatible. I felt really sorry for this little Spanish speaking older lady with a cane and bad leg who was sandwiched between me and her also bulky son on the 4 hour flight from Houston to here.

No one at work is going to believe me when they find out that all along my way here I had called to check in with my office 4-6 times! We have just started re-vamping the department in which I work and I was responsible for setting my my temporary replacement and getting all the work together for while I was gone. She had some computer issues all morning long and in between flights I would call and check and offer help. I'm on frakking vacation and I'm calling the office! Something is seriously wrong with me!

As as flew in we got a fly by of Mt. Rainier and a wonderful view of the city. The drab little airport here is in serious need of a makeover. As I waited for my luggage I tried for the 3rd time, as I had all morning to reach Julie; but no answer. I then called her father and found out that she had taken her oldest daughter, Emily, to the emergency room. It's so frustrating for me, at times like these to be so far away. Her father made me feel better, though. He said he'd tell he I landed OK in Seattle with three flight attendants in my lap.

What a pal!

Jason had arranged for a car to pick me up and I finally made it to their apartment in Renton by lunchtime. The kids went nuts when I came through the door. Jason, himself, looked good; sporting a new, finely trimmed Mohawk. Ben, his youngest, is now walking and talking and has come out of his shell. When I saw him 8 months ago he was always slightly aloof and not too sure about me. Now we are best buds. He is constantly saying my name and is ready to sit with me or ride on my shoulders.

We took the bus into downtown and then onto the monorail to the city center where we met Dana. We nosed through some gift shops and then had dinner in the restaurant at the Music Experience Project. Then it was off to one of my "must see's" on this trip. The Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. The collection is excellent; the filming model of the Jupiter 2, Robby the Robot, Cylons, the Lost in Space Robot, costumes, weapons and...KIRK'S CHAIR! I must have stood staring at that for 5 minuets.

My other big geek moment when I was looking through the collection of movie and TV robots. I walked past the biggies they had together in this one case where they had Robbie and the Lost in Space robot conversing with each other. As I walked around the display, making a turn past R2D2 I was caught by surprise by something which instantly turned me into a 14 year old.

"Muffett!" I yelled out. There, tucked in the corner, almost out of sight, was the Daggit from the Original "Battlestar Galactica"! Yes, I was a geek in heaven.

We didn't go through the Music Experience as it was getting late. I also passed on the Space Needle as they wanted $16 to go to the top. I might reconsider by the end of the weekend but at least I can say I had been there and seen it.

I can see why the grunge movement started here in Seattle. It is not too remarkable a city and the cloudy skies can easily make for a darker mood. We've still got plenty planned for this trip and I'm here until Sunday. More than anything, it's good to be with my friends again.