Friday, October 31, 2008

Some said I could not top my Halloween appearance last year as Jackie-Oh!

Well.....guess again!

What you can't see in this photograph is the punchline to the whole thing; I am wearing a name badge which says, "Management Trainee"!

I have no real idea what I wanted to do. I had the concept of a full-fledged clown outfit but, as I looked around, it was way too far outside of my budget. In a last minute effort I went to the local party store on Thursday night and wandered the aisles amongst the discarded costumes and the lonely ones still hanging on the wall with no one wanting to wear them. I still wanted to go as a clown but the price tag on the loud and colorful jacket was about the same as a weeks worth of food.

But wait!

Inspiration hit. I'm the sarcastic SOB who gets away with this kind of thing at work. If it's done in the spirit of the day and with a wink and a smile I wouldn't end up in the midst of another HR investigation.

Probably not...

Every one loved it. My AVP looked up from his keyboad for only a moment to let it sink in and simply turned back to his work shaking his head, "Only you, Jack!" While most people weren't really surprised to see me in clown makeup, as soon as they saw the name tag their eyes would either roll or the would break out in guilty, church laughter; the kind you want to make loudly but can't for fear of breaking the composure of the room.

I have such a reputation I had two female co-workers say to me, "I woke up thinking about you this morning, Jack". My answer, of course...

"I love it when a woman says that!"

I was a good employee throughout the day working hard on the phones. If only those people knew who was on the other end!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The list of stupid things that happen in Florida is a long one. At the top of that list shows up every election season; the street corner campaigners.

I may have blogged about them in the past but this constant display of idiocy cries out to be ridiculed again and again. These political zealots stand for hours on end at major intersections waving at passing traffic while holding signs for their favorite candidate.

Oh YES! If I had been an undecided voter....THIS is going to make me choose!

What do these people think they are accomplishing? I'm not talking one or two people but dozens. This pool of volunteer manpower could be used more effectively making phone calls, stuffing envelopes, going door to door or talking to their friends about their candidate. I have been involved in numerous campaigns and managed one State Senate campaign; I know how important volunteerism is to a campaign. The only thing I could think of that would be a worse waste of manpower would be to host a beef jerky taste test booth at a vegan convention.

If you have ever done looked like an idiot out there.
If you are the campaign manager who suggested doing this you should be fired.
If you are a candidate who allows their dedicated volunteers to make fools of themselves like this you should apologize to each and every one of them, pull out of the race and lay a wreath at Tip O'Neil's grave.

Phew! I feel least until the next election.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I did my civic duty yesterday by voting. As amazing as it may seem, Florida is one of the forward thinking states which allows early voting. That of course balances with the redicilous way they do it here in St. Lucie County.

There was only a 30 minute wait but they were only letting in a dozen people at a time. All of us in line were asking each other why they didn't let let the line flow normally; one person at a time. When you got inside you first had to wait in another line to verify your identity with one clerk, then wait in a third line to get your printed ballot before you could go to these individual mini-cubicles to do your voting on these paper ballots which, after waiting in fourth line, would be fed into a scanner.


Someone has got to let Florida know that it's the 21st century.

Either way, I did do my civic duty. While my voting record is nowhere near as perfect when I lived in Rhode Island, I have voted in all of the major primaries and elections. Yes, I voted for Obama. In addition to the differences on the economy, health care, choice of running mate and the war, the mean spirited campaign of McCain made this an easy choice.

So much of this election year has reminded me of 1968. We are in the midst of an unpopular war which has divided the country and there is a candidate calling for change and embodying a sense of hope. Let's just hope that this election turns out better than that one did!

Friday, October 24, 2008

It seems that, just in time for Halloween, my body has decided that I should be a hunchback! Somehow, sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning, I did something to my back which caused a major muscle spasm in my lower back. This is, sadly enough, nothing new and has been happening on and off for the past few years. I have learned to deal with it and know some of the steps to make it better.

This, however, was not one of those easy fix times. I left work, in a fair amount of pain, Monday afternoon and have barely moved from the house since. I limp and scream my way from room to room as the muscles twist and turn their way around the nerves sending bolts of pain down my leg and racing up my back.

If I had actually done something to cause this I don't think I would have minded so much. But to simply wake up in pain because of maybe having turned the wrong way in my sleep is aggravating. If I have been lifting a car off a child or bracing a falling building so orphans could get out alive; that would have balanced with the constant pain I have lived with all week. No! I was sleeping! How could I have damaged a muscle when I was at my MOST relaxed?!

I finally got in to see my doctor today and thanks to a better life through chemicals, namely vicodin, naproxen and flexeril, I am ready for a rousing set of Caber Toss at Highland Games.

Since I've got an ample supply of medication I will be ready for the next time someone needs a refrigerator lifted by hand.

Monday, October 20, 2008

If you are a Florida driver then you'll appreciate this post. If not, please bear with me while a rant.

What you are looking at is a Sandhill Crane. These little lovelies resemble shrunken ostriches and live close to the ocean. Unfortunate thing is, so do a lot of people. These birds are a protected species and there is a hefty fine for killing one. They usually meander along roadways and through parking lots in family groups. It is kinda cute when the babies come out for their first walkabout.

The annoying thing is that I think someone tipped off the birds that they are protected. While most birds would fly away from oncoming vehicles in an instinct driven reaction at even the slightest approach of a car, the Sandhill Crane adopts a snooty and self-righteous attitude if your car dares cross their path.

They seemingly slow down to a crawl. Each step slow and meticulous. Some of them even stop in mid stride, look you dead in the eye and just stare you down as if to say, "Yeah, that's right, asshole, I'm protected! Just go ahead and run me over; see where you end up!" And then, with the air of superiority, they continue step by agonizing step, taking their sweet time moving by the front of your vehicle like Superman at the Winchester testing range.

Another snooty bird in these parts is the Snowy Egret. Also protected and also possessing an attitude bigger than it's head, I had one of these little squabs first cross my path in the drive thru at a local burger joint. Not only did it slow me down from getting my grease on a bun while still hot the little bastard was able to make it across the parking lot in record time so it could block my way to the exit.

It just stood there, staring me down. I could see in its beady little eyes, "Stupid homo sapien!" I stared right back at him, reached into my bag o' lunch, pulled out a chicken nugget and bit into it tearing it in half.

He continued to stare at me, indifferent and cold, still saying "Endangered" and "Protected" with each deliberate step. But, damn, did that nugget taste better than usual!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I don’t know how the hell Julie has been able to do this but each time, in the year’s-plus time we have known each other, at the exact moment when I stop thinking about her…is the exact moment when she contacts me.

A few days ago she had left a message on my voice mail, “Hi, it’s been a while; can you guess whose voice this is?” Cute, huh?

I just sort of stared at the phone in amazement. Amazed that she had actually called and also amazed that I had trouble remembering all of the things I had wanted to say to her three months ago.

A few days later, I left a message on her phone; not really surprised that I didn’t get to talk with her immediately. All of my friends who I have told about this call have all had the same reaction.

“Stay the hell away from her!”

What do I expect out of talking with her again?

Part of me wants the vindication that comes with telling her all of the things I wanted to months ago. While I could go the really nasty route a few friends have suggested, “So…you need more money?”....”Finally found the phone number?”…”Looking for more DVD’s?”

I guess I am also looking for that elusive that all kinds of psychotherapy says we are need; closure. I can remember only one relationship that ever ended with something close to closure. It was back in high school when the girl I was dating and I looked at each other at the same moment and could see it in each others’ eyes that it was over. I don’t know who said it first, but we almost instantly and mutually agreed that we didn’t feel the same for each other any more and wanted to move on. It seemed the most adult and easy decision I had ever made. Added to that, the fact that we both were completely clear with each other on why and there were no lingering emotions; either good or bad.

I know life isn’t that clean and that answers never come that easy. You’ve got to almost feel sorry for Julie if we ever do talk because she’s going to get the brunt of 46 years of unrequited closure.

My first wife, the one I almost moved back to Rhode Island to marry, a few other recent girl friends, some old flames from high school and college….heck, even my father.

What do I plan on saying? Lots of what I had planned on saying months ago before she moved. I think its best summed up by the opener, “I want to be noble and say that I hope you’re happy; I just don’t think I can do that. I can say that I hope you’re happy with the choices you’ve made.”

Hey! I said you could almost feel sorry for her. Just remember…she left with my copy of “Shawshank”!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I am surviving without TV!


For a few months now, I have been without satellite or cable TV service. In other times this would have been the source of panic and dread in my couch potato world. First, I survived by going through almost EVERY DVD I own. Some movies I had not watched in a while and some of my old favorites were as perfect as always. Give me "Mr. Roberts" or the "Godfather" any day of the week.

Then, the new TV season approached. I fought panic and started to investigate the wonderful "deals" my MEGA-supplier of an internet/TV/phone company could offer me. The...I found HULU!

For a while ABC has offered some of their programming online. The phenomenon of "Lost" led the way and now the offer almost all of their prime time shows within 24 hours of its original airing.

The website Hulu has been around for almost a year and has grown by leaps and bounds. At first, it was the haven for all kinds of retro programming where I could re-live my 70's TV fixes. Then, this TV season the site exploded with now 9 of my favorite shows. Sure, I have to wait a day to watch them but with such variety it really doesn't matter and, just as with my TIVO, I get to watch these shows when I choose. Hulu has even been streaming the presidential and veep debates live so I don't miss out those.

I do miss some of my guilty pleasures like Mike Rowe and Rachel Ray (on mute....HEY, she's much more fun to watch then listen to!) and there is a website which gives a daily, detailed synopsis of the one soap I have been watching since the 5th grade, "General Hospital". Hulu also has a plethora of old TV; right now I'm have a grand time going through "Alfred Hitchcock Presents". With Netflix I get all the movie I want and some old TV stuff as well.

I am missing the final season of "Smallville". The only time I will really be Jones-ing for "live" TV will be when the concluding episodes of "Battlestar Galactica" finally air in January; but things should be more settled for me by then and I can catch up on "Smallville as well".

As for this season...let me go through some of my favorites and some of the new stuff.

It is probably one season too many for "Smallville"; although I hear that it has survived well without Lex.

While I am heartbroken that "Boston Legal" is in it's final season I am sure their finale will be one for the books. Christian Clemenson deserves an Emmy for his portrayal of Jerry Espenson.

"Heroes" is kicking ass this season even if all the twists are giving me a's a good kind of headache.

"Chuck" is back for it's second season and has gone and added depth to its characters. What a concept for television!

"House" has taken an interesting turn with the semi=departure of a major character. It will interesting watching this play out.

I was relieved to see "Pushing Daisies" renewed and even more relieved to see the writing keeping par.

I was intrigued to see that "Life on Mars" is a David E. Kelley adaptation of a BBC series of the same name. In the first episode it seems a thin twist on the show I was most sad to see go from last season, "Journeyman". I will give this a few more viewings to see if it gets any better. While I'm glad Michael Imperioli has a job...he's done better.

Christian Slater comes to TV with "My Own Worst Enemy". Question; why does every show on TV now have to have a "wild twist"? Don't get me wrong; this show is very strong right out of the gate. Slate is in no way diminished by being on TV and the premise is very well executed.


(heavy sigh)

Does JJ Abrams have to remake everything he like watching on TV when he was younger? I have high hopes for "Trek XI" and "Fringe" has grown on me. But, I still have my lingering first impression of this show; "X-Files" meets "Monk". That must have been what Abrams said on the pitch meeting. I'll probably keep watching just for Anna Torv and end up liking it by the end of the season.

I'll let you know.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Alcohol and I have a long and twisted history.

As part of the clean up of the house Dana came upon a cache of booze which had sat, untouched, behind a lock all year. I called dibs on an old friend, gin.

Gin was my first "legal" drink. My parents were great social drinkers. In the corner of our dining room was a fold out liquor cabinet which was the center of gatherings of friends. I can only really remember one time when I saw my folks something close to drunk. Actually, all they were was a little louder and boisterous than usual but I could tell what had fueled the noise.

So, alcohol was a part of my life and nothing I was shunned from or told was "evil". When I got into High School I was introduced to beer. Well, re-introduced, actually. There was a moment on a trip to Michigan when I was asked to take out the trash including a just finished bottle of beer with just a dribble left sloshing at the bottom. As I walked away from the house I looked back to be sure I was away from prying eyes and lifted the bottle to my lips. The moment the room temprature ale hit my tongue it was sprayed back out in classic spit-take style.

Five years later, however, it was good ole Miller High Life coursing through my system as I stood in front of my parents, swaying in an unseen breeze, asking for permission to stay out later with the cast of our Letterman's Follies. It was also during High School that my friend Mike introduced me to my first mixed drink of Midori and Sprite. I can still see us plopped down in from of the school administration building emptying the bottles and staggering our way back along Warwick Avenue. I can picture it, I just have no idea of how we got there or back.

I really liked that Midori and Sprite!

But still, I really didn't know much about the art of the drink. I had heard all these exotic names as I was growing up; Sloe Gin Fizz, martini, Highball, Manhattan and so on. However, I had no idea what they tasted like or what was in them.

I was out to dinner one night with my mother and sister Joan and her family at this restaurant along the water in East Greenwich. I was 17 and still under the leagal age to drink. However, since my mother was the one ordering she was allowed to let me drink it under her supervision. So, for the first time as an "adult" my mother turned to me and asked if I wanted a drink.

My mind froze.

I couldn't think of a single drink. All those years of hearing my dad ask friends what they were having and he threw them together like a master and I couldn't come up with a one. I had no idea what drink went with the food I had ordered. I didn't have a clue if I was going to be ordering a heavy drink or some frilly after dinner minty thing.

The only thing that went through my mind were the words to "Piano Man".

"I'll have a tonic and gin", I said confidently.

"He'll have a gin and tonic," my mother sighed as she corrected me and rolled her eyes in the direction of the waitress.

So here I sit 29 years later with a glass of "tonic and gin" before me. I'm sure I didn't mix it right as it doesn't have that same tangy taste I remember. Well, maybe that could be nostalgia creeping in on the memory.

I've drank lots. I've been drunk lots. I've been in two drunk driving accident one each as intoxicant and as victim of an impaired driver. I was dry for 7 years. I have been fall-down drunk, laughing loud drunk, blacked out drunk and depressed and lonely drunk. I enjoy drinking and it seems to enjoy me.

So I'll finish this glass and raise it to all those I've ever had a drink with. I'll raise it to my father with whom I never had a drink. I'll also raise it to my son with whom I will have a drink someday.

Suddenly.......I'm having a craving for Midori and Sprite!

Friday, October 10, 2008

"I'm just a soul whose intentions are good,
Please, Lord, don't let me be misunderstood"
The Animals

I have had a whopping slap of karma hit me in recent days.

If you remember back to the online disagreement I had with my son in which he was VERY pissed off at me over some VERY personal information I posted as part of my blog. I saw it as part of telling the story and he saw it as an invasion of privacy.

Last weekend after Dana's visit she blogged about the cleaning out of the house and her impressions of me and how I had kept the house.

I now know how my son felt.

While written very well and, in spots, humorously, I did take offense to the post. The major difference I had with the post is some of the conclusions to which she had jumped without the simply courtesy of asking a question or two. I have since ironed out these issues thru Jason and, being such good friends, this will soon be water under the bridge.

The major issue is how these blogs are seen on the other side of the PC. I sat down here 5 years ago and decided to spew my most personal thoughts as if I were writing only to myself. That has made for some very deep and thoughtful posts along the way. Yes, I have, at times, edited myself and NOT posted on certain issues; mostly work related. But, for the most part, it is still no holds barred.

But how does that play on your side of the screen? I walk away from posting feeling cathartic and sated that I have gotten a thought, issue, or problem off my chest; but what if it went off my chest and smack-dab on the top of your head?

Before confronting my friend with how I felt about his wife's blog I discussed it with a couple of friends. One of them asked, "Just how important is it, really? How many people read her blog?" My answer was "And how many people read my bog? Just as many, and it was important because of how John felt about what I had written".

Karma is a lovely thing.

Will I change how I write? I hope not. I have had comments and reactions from people I would never have imagined would be reading my blog. I set out to be honest here. When I sat down 5 years ago I decided to write the same way I did when I sat down with a composition book and wrote my "journal" when I was 14; just me and my thoughts. If I think of myself as a writer because of this blog, then I have succeeded because my writing evokes a reaction in the person who reads it. Even if I piss you off, I hope you like how I do it.

I will, however, be apologizing like nothing else the next time I see my son.