Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas - the aftermath (aka. Lazy Tuesday)

First of all, I hope everybody had a great Christmas, or birthday, or is in the middle of a wonderful Hannuka or Kwaanza or generic winter holiday. Ours was. I got some clothes and a wonderful book by Larry the Cable Guy, which I've only read a few chapters of, but that guy cracks me up. The youngster got (I know this comes as a surprise) an i-pod.

Speaking of cracking up, apparently the "Lazy Sunday" video from Saturday Night Live is getting to the point of having a cult following. When we finally got the youngster's i-pod up and running and went to the i-tunes store online, "Lazy Sunday" was a Christmas freebie for download. In the "It's all about the Hamiltons, baby!", department, you can even buy t-shirts now. No, this isn't a paid advertisement, but I may need a "Mr. Pibb + Red Vines = Crazy Delicious" t-shirt.

I did get a new flat panel monitor for Christmas. Don't ask why. I think it was because the wife wanted a flat panel monitor for our computer. The old one was working just fine, and has been since 1996. Orange was still being rendered as orange and red, blue and green were still displayed in all their vivid glory. The new one is the same size as the old, but admittedly takes up less space. I assume that makes the online shopping experience easier. I was worried about the old monitor being kicked to the curb...literally. I wasn't sure if those things were considered hazardous waste, because I think there's something in them the garbage folks don't like. Today being trash day, I decided to test the waters, put it out there and see what happens. The findings are inconclusive though, as the trash divers have apparently arrived before the official garbage men. The monitor disappeared while the rest of the garbage remains.

Yesterday was golf day. After 9 holes, I was convinced the day I break 90 had arrived. I was playing outa my mind. Then my mind, and game returned in ugly fashion for the back 9. Oh well, tomorrow's another day. On the good side, I think I can recycle last year's New Year's resolution.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas y'all

I hope all of you out there in cyberspace have a blessed and wonderful Christmas, and that for you, 2006 just plain rocks!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Elvis is leaving the building

Just so y'all know...I won't be here much next week. I'll be golfing, and goofing off with the wife and youngster, and whatever...but it won't involve much with a computer. I won't say I'll be away from here completely, but I won't be here daily for sure.

I wonder what kind of Mercedes Benz Santa drives?

I heard a commercial on the radio last night as I drove home from work that started with that line. A woman went on to muse about the pros (but of course no cons) of each particular class of Benz and how it would suit the Kringle lifestyle. I couldn't repeat them here because frankly, I don't know the Mercedes line well enough to know a 'C' class from a 'D' class from an 'E' class.

I just wanted to gag.

I know Christmas is over commercialized, but come on. The guy lives at the North Pole and drives a sleigh. It's powered by eight tiny reindeer and not 300 horses, dammit!

I have nothing against someone giving someone else a Benz for Christmas. In fact, if you're contemplating this move, e-mail me and I'll help you add a name to your list. Just don't be messin' with Santa, or baby Jesus for that matter.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Chronic WHAT? cles of Narnia

I got this link from Ellen (of "The Reign of.." fame). The youngster and I watched it over and over last night and just howled! I wuz actin' like I never seen a ten befo'! If any of you haven't seen this yet, it's worth a few minutes of your time.

"Google Maps is the best! True dat. Double True!"

Johnny Damon a Yankee?

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. In this world where sports are only sports to the fans and the people actually involoved keep telling us it's a business, this shouldn't be an big deal. It certainly isn't any worse than when bigger names (Rocket, Ruth) made the same move, but doesn't this just suck the 'Joy to the World' right outa your sails? I'm neither a Red Sox or Yankees fan, but when it comes to this rivalry, I'm far more of a Yankees hater than anything else, and this is one of the reasons. OK, it's the reason. It's the "if you can't beat 'em, buy 'em" attitude. In the days before Christmas, all I really needed was a reminder that, in the end, all that matters is the faces of presidents.

I guess what strikes me is, I have friends on both sides of this Yankee/Red Sox fence. Far more than I realized for living in, of all places, Florida, but they have come out of the woodwork, especially in the last two years. The Yankee fans have been anything but complimentary to Mr. Damon and his locks. "The girlie-man" is one of their favorite terms for him. With other players (like the Rocket) there was hatred, but there was also respect. It wasn't that way, at least not outwardly, for Johnny Damon. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out now.

Other semi-Red Sox news. Jonathan Papelbon, the rookie pitcher and former Bishop Kenny High School (in J'ville) standout is giving a free pitchers clinic to kids here next week. If the youngster was a pitcher, I'd consider getting him there, but it would be wasted on him. Nice to see the kid giving back to the homies though.

In other semi-New England news. The no-respect card is playing heavily in J'ville where the rest of the world is already handing the Patriots a first round playoff victory (which as of now would be against the Jaguars) and a game with the Colts. To those playing the card, all I can say is, "You're making a huge assumption that the Jaguars will win their last two to play the Patriots. The way we've been playing lately, the Texans and Titans could play that same card. Let's win the last two and then worry about where we play and who says what about us."

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

the egg nog latte

There are two ways to get from my house to where I work. Actually, for the most part, there is only one, but for the final third of the trip, you have a choice. You can go the straight line route, which involves more traffic and a school, or you can cut out to A1A and go north up the beach. Longer, but more often than not, quicker. You have to make a choice at the traffic circle. Either you head for the beach or you pass the school. On the beach route, there is a Starbucks. I like the idea of great coffee. I just don't like the idea of great coffee for $5 a cup. I have never been in the Starbucks, until this morning.

I thought, hey, it's the week before Christmas. I'm in a Nat King Cole kinda mood. I deserve a treat. Why not? So I walked into the local Starbucks, and they have a holiday menu. The stars are aligned. They knew I was coming, and why! They have an egg nog latte! Oh how cool! That's just perfect! I could hear a bell ring as Clarence was getting his wings and in the background, Charlie Brown, Linus and Lucy were singing "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing". My Red Ryder BB gun was waiting under a tree.


Some things are far better in theory than in practice.

It wasn't bad. In fact, it tasted quite a bit like pretty good egg nog, just not at all like coffee. I don't know what I was expecting. All I know is that wasn't it. Maybe it started early this morning, because the youngster asked me last night to wake him up when I got up for work, so he could wrap the wife's present before she got up (yes, now you can know why he was up so early), so we did that before I left. Maybe I was just so much into the whole Christmas spirit and the feel good thing, that I walked in there expecting something almost magical, and no matter what, the cup of egg nog latte wasn't going to measure up. That, or it was really hot egg nog (sans rum) that someone waived a coffee bean over.

Monday, December 19, 2005

and the fat just keeps on coming

The parade of Christmas goodies just keeps on coming, and I wouldn't mention any more of it (because I already have) except some are just downright creative.

If any of you are hackers like me, you know what the standard metal range ball bucket looks like. If you frequent a driving range, you've bought many, full of balls that you rent, for all of one practice swing each.

One of today's arrivals was one of those buckets, filled with chocolate golf balls. Help me Mr. Wizard!

you're going to suffer, but you're going to be happy about it

I hate feeling like this.

The Jaguars won yesterday! They are one win away from going to the playoffs. I sat in miserable wet cold, and watched my team take their record to 10-4 and I'm hoarse. That's not what I'm not happy about. I wanted to be there. Still, I'm not happy. I'm supposed to be happy dammit! The Jaguars played the lowly San Francisco 49ers yesterday....the bottom of the barrel, clear favorite in the Reggie Bush sweepstakes, and won, 10 to 9. One freakin' point in a game that was incredibly hard to watch in a season loaded with much of the same. To top it off, I had to watch Reggie Williams dance like it's already Christmas every time he did anything right. I'm not getting a good feeling about our chances, or hopes, or whatever.

The defense, which is supposed to be pretty good, made rookie running back Frank Gore, making his first start, mind you, look like he's going to the pro bowl. The offense was just plain inept. I'll grant you we've suffered a bunch of injuries on the offensive side of the ball, but this team still has expectations of going places. I see us going one. I believe we can pull the last two games of the season out. The teams left to play will give us a good game, if yesterday was any indication, but still...we should finish 12-4, and find ourselves most likely in New England for our first playoff game, where the Patriots will be one humongous wake up call. End of story. Time to start on that "What I did on my offseason vacation" essay.

Friday, December 16, 2005

remake this!

King Kong opened in theaters and you'll have to excuse me while I yawn.

I don't get it. I've been to the movies more than usual lately, hitting Harry Potter and Narnia, and before each, Kong was heavily hyped. There were trailers and then little feature things that I wasn't sure what to make of, but basically at both films, Kong was heavily pushed in the minutes before whatever it was I was there to see. I will grant you that my film choices have a certain youngster bent (and have for the last 8 or so years), which would lead you to wonder what good my opinion is in the first place, but I don't get the attraction. The original was good enough, but the 70's remake was a sad imitation that no amount of Jessica Lange could save. There's a lesson to be learned there. This version looks to have more special effects, but so what? Maybe I'm answering my own question. Maybe that's why the hard sell. If I want to see King Kong, I'll watch the original. Sell this thing to someone else.

and a close second

Referring to the last post, Ellen lost her bid for a Web Log award to Mr. Garfield Ridge in a squeaker. I realize my endorsement wasn't going to put her over the top. This place gets less hits a day than the youngster in an average baseball game (but it's still mine), but I felt the urge to at least try.

The whole process did what it's supposed to do I guess though. It made me want to go visit Garfield Ridge, just to see what makes him so special, and I'll admit, it's pretty humorous. I'll visit more often.

Last night was the Christmas program at the youngster's school. It was supposed to be a grand outdoor affair in the courtyard of the school, until it rained. I heard the decorations in the courtyard were lovely. I, along with most of the parents, never saw them. They crammed us into the church, because it was the only nearby building close to big enough, and the kids sang the songs of the program. They were all cute and stuff, but the rain put a disappointing damper on it all. There was no mistaking the theme of the program though. It was all about Christmas, and not some generic winter holiday, and that's a good thing.

Oh, and because I don't want to be the cause of your insomnia tonight, today, Santa's putting in the snow.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Down to the wire

I guess I assume that most people who visit here know Ellen's blog, but just in case...

The Reign of Ellen is up for a Web Log award for best of the top 3501-5000 Blogs. I don't know what that category really means but when it comes right down to it, does it really matter? If you haven't visited her world before, I would encourage you to do that, and to vote for it, no matter what the category means. She's got a very cool blog (or I think so anyway) and a great sense of humor, not to mention good stuff for young mothers to worry about that takes me down memory lane more often than not.

In any case, it's the last day of voting, and I would strongly encourage you to go here and lend her your support. She was winning at the beginning of the day, but some guy named Dave with a blog called Garfield's Ridge has been pulling out all the stops and is now pulling away. Ellen needs YOU! Don't let her lose to some guy who puts a lazy lasagne eating cat on a pedestal, or ridge, or whatever! Besides, I'm an Odie guy, myself.

Babe a Day

and just because I can say it...

Kudos to Babe a Day! After a fairly lame week, the last two days have been exceptional. I'm not normally that much of an ass guy, but today and yesterday have been cheeks above the norm.

Happy Kwaanza

Is it just me, or is the thought of Nat King Cole singing "Merry Generic Winter Holiday" just not getting it?

The people of this country have gotten to the point where we are so afraid to say something that might offend someone, that we don't say much of anything...at least anything of substance. We're getting so vanilla that vanilla is starting to look spicy.

I've seen TV stations in the past say, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannuka and Happy Kwaanza, in an effort to include everyone who's celebrating some sort of holiday. Now, they don't even do that. I guess it's because someone might be celebrating some solstice or other that they forgot to mention.

Where did we get the idea that just because I'm not celebrating something, I'd be offended if I heard you say "Happy 12th of Never!" or whatever it is? Why would I be offended if there are 12th of Never gifts at Walmart? If anything, I can be thankful that I'm saving money by not participating. I hear "Happy Kwaanza", and to be honest, I have no earthly idea what that holiday is all about, but I don't mind people celebrating it. I don't mind seeing Kwaanza cards at the Hallmark store. If there was a convenient Kwaanza festival near my home in the middle of nowhere, I might attend if nobody minded, for educational purposes if no other. It's OK if I'm not included in every celebration that comes down the pike.

I really want to hear from someone who's offended by "Merry Christmas", and offended enough that they think the phrase should be replaced by "Happy Holidays". I want to know why. I want to know why, just because you don't celebrate something, you think the rest of the world should follow lockstep with you...or whisper their celebration behind closed doors, so you can live in a Christmas-free world. Help me understand why I should be offended by, "Happy Kwaanza!"

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

"Would you like to tie me up with some of your ties, Ty?"

In our office, ties are the norm. I ranted about our so-called casual dress policy that comes into effect in the summer, which amounts to wearing the same clothes as the rest of the year sans tie, but for most of the year, ties come with the territory.

I have three ties I can wear at no other time of the year, except now. As of last week, I only had two. I had one Dr. Seuss tie sporting the Grinch Who Stole Christmas (which is today's choice, by the way), and a tie featuring Santa playing golf, Rudolph caddying and an elf chauffering the golf cart in a variety of scenes. I bought neither of these ties. I came upon them the same way I came upon the latest addition, which the wife and youngster proudly bestowed upon me only days ago. They go shopping and find some tacky Christmas tie, and feel the need to see me in it. The new one again features Santa in a golf motif, as Santa is putting in the snow, again with a reindeer caddy. Apparently reindeer make excellent caddies. Who knew? Why they thought I needed two that follow the exact same theme is beyond me, but yes...this week and next, I will wear all three as much as humanly possible, because it's the only time I can.

Well, that's not the real reason. While it's true, it's the only time I can, it's also one of those dad things you have to do, because you are one. Your kid buys this stuff, because in their heart of hearts, they think it's cool. Not the tie, necessarily. The tie is not cool. What is cool, is dressing your dad in a tie that isn't cool, and sending him off to work, to be seen by his co-workers and do whatever it is he does there....and yeah, I think I can handle that, because I'm a dad.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

tale of the backward technology geek

For a geek, there are suprisingly pieces of technology I'm not fond of. I'm not big on cell phones, and wouldn't have one if work didn't 'equip' me with one. They did it several years ago, when I walked into a meeting. It was with some muckity mucks and one of my compatriots (the liberal whiner from the other side of the cubicle wall) was late. It was 10:00, and he hadn't showed up at his desk, or at the meeting. Nobody answered at his house and the Vice President who called the meeting asked if he had a cell phone. Nobody knew, so he told his assistant to see to it that he did. Then he turned his attention to me. "John, do you have a cell phone?"

"Why no, I don't"

"Get John a cell phone too."

Damn. Got by that long without one, and now I was handed the electronic leash, all because someone couldn't be responsible enough to be at a meeting on time. Mr. Liberal was all pleased. "Oh cool, they'll pay for a cell phone? For me?" Yes buddy, they will, but it comes with a 24/7 string attached, thank you very much.

But that's not what I want to talk about.

Christmas cometh, and with it, the youngster's wish list. Number one on the hit parade is an iPod. My theory on this, as with computers...when you buy one, get the biggest, baddest, fastest, smallest, whatever-est one you can, so that a year later you aren't buying a new one because yours is obsolete. Make it last longer than it took you standing in line to buy it. My current computer is four years old, and still kickin'. I'm hoping to get at least one more year out of it. It was with this attitude that I went researching iPods. I found the biggest baddest one, the 60 gb video thing, so I started checking the sale papers and behold, found one.

So one Saturday, the youngster was out playing with his buddies and I went shopping. I found the object of his desire. It happened to be the very last one at the local Comp USA, so I bought it and headed to my next destination, all proud of myself. I called home to tell the wife of my success, using the electronic leash supplied by my employer, and could barely hear the word, "Hello?" because the signal was pretty poor.

I proceeded to tell her about getting the very last iPod, and heard, "AWESOME!!!"

Awesome? The wife doesn't say "Awesome!" Who the.......Oh shit!

So as I pulled in the driveway, the youngster is standing at the garage with a huge grin. "What's it look like? Which color is it, black or white? Can I see it?"


Then I walked in. The wife gave me that really evil look. You all know the one. Even if you aren't married, you saw your mom use it. Wives learn it at those pre-marriage classes or their moms teach it to them face to face (literally), and husbands see it as the signal that says, "The honeymoon ended today!" That's just the first time they see it. It isn't the last.

"Why did you have to tell him you got it?"

"I didn't mean to. I thought it was you. When I left he was out with his friends. I'm sorry."

Damn, I hate cell phones.

movin' on up

OK, it had to happen. The number 1 team in the country plays number 2. Somebody has to lose, and slide a few notches in the College Basketball polls. Texas fell to Duke to create a vacuum and that little school from Philly moves up to number 3. Go Wildcats!

Yes, I know it's still way early, and we get to play the likes of UConn and Louisville, so our chance to slide is coming, but it's fun for now.

Monday, December 12, 2005

ah, ah, eee, eee, Tookie, Tookie!

I don't know what the furor over Stanley Williams is all about. Despite what hizzonor Snoop Dogg, or his pastor, Jessie Jackson, or his doctor, Mike Farrell (OK, he's not a doctor, but he played one on TV) may think, if you do the crime, you have to be ready for what comes next.

I can't say I'm a huge advocate of the death penalty (for the same reason I don't like abortion, but if someone has to meet his or her maker, I'd pick Stan over an innocent baby any day). I go back and forth on that issue, but that isn't the argument here. The issue is taking responsibility for what you do, and from what I've read, Stan doesn't seem ready to do that. I'll grant you that he's done a lot of work to lessen gang violence, but if you grant him clemency, you're sending the exact opposite message to those same gangs. Murder, rape and pillage all you like and if you get caught, well....just do a little community service while you're behind bars and everything's all better. Try selling that line to those whose lives you ended, or ruined. I'm sorry, but when you commit a crime, you don't set the punishment and decide when you've done enough, and neither does your buddy the rap artist. People get upset when one guy is the judge, jury and executioner. How much worse is it when you get to be perp, judge, jury and executioner, or non-executioner in this case?

I'm willing to listen to arguments to the contrary, but come with something strong enough that you'd feel good about looking the families of those he killed in the eye and selling it to them.

the weekend in review

First the Colts game..

Needed the defense to carry the offense - they didn't
Needed an amazing game out of David Garrard - he didn't
Needed the offense to play pretty much mistake free - they didn't
Needed to not lose three fumbles - they did
Needed Fred taylor to come back strong - he didn't

Therefore the Colts romped.

Yeah I had high hopes, but they were pinned on things I thought could happen. Obviously I was wrong...this time. Here's hoping there's a next time this season.

Baseball is finally done for the year. Mr. look-a-me is now a fading memory as the tournament came to a close Sunday morning. Our guys played two on Saturday, and went into Sunday 1-1 in a double elimination tournament. They lost their first game Sunday morning and were done by 10:00. I can't say I'll miss advanced ball. It's just too much for the youngster with everything else he likes doing and school. If his entire world was school and baseball, he might be able to handle it, but even then I'm not sure, and that's a moot point because his life isn't just school and baseball. Done till Spring Ball tryouts, January 7th. The advanced ball coach in the spring is someone different who's done it before and is very good (Mr. Little League from past posts), but still the youngster won't be going there. He needs to work on school first.

The youngster and I went to see the Chronicles of Narnia Saturday night. The wife was a good sport about going to The Goblet of Fire with us, but I wasn't going to push it with Narnia. These aren't her kind of movies, but I enjoy them. The more I hear about the movie, the more I hear the religious angle brought up, which surprises me a little, but whatever. I thought the movie was great, with or without all that. It may be a bit much for little kids, hence the PG rating. Even the youngster was waiting for the scene when they kill Aslan to end, whispering to me, "I'm not liking this part." I don't want to give anything away though, to those of you who might see the movie without reading the book, so I'll be quiet about the rest. It's true to the book though, and the lumberyard gives it two thumbs up.

I am so far behind on Christmas it's getting ridiculous. Maybe I'm using the baseball thing as an excuse, but let's face it...it's been a pretty good one. I need to get way busy though.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Colts/Jaguars game

yeah, so much for that.

Friday, December 09, 2005

chocolate covered biscotti day

You know it's the holidays when....

Baskets and tins and all manner of snacks seem to come waltzing in the door. I keep trying to dodge them but they're everywhere.

Today I was in meetings virtually all day, and I guess some vendor or contractor or someone inundated the place with chocolate covered biscotti. Every door I walked through, someone was offering me more chocolate covered biscotti. One good ol' boy from Georgia handed me some and said, "I don't know what this shit is, but it goes good with coffee." It got to the point where they were begging, "Please, take the chocolate covered biscotti!" And it's not like it's awful stuff or anything. It's damn good, which makes it all the harder to avoid. There are days I wish I was one of those people who hates chocolate. I need to get back to working out, and quick.

game on

The hype continues

People are excited. The sports talk guys are calling this the biggest game in Jacksonville since the 1999 AFC Playoff game, which we lost to the Titans. I hope that doesn't mean we're starting a trend. The folks in Indy are humoring us with the "Absolutely we take the Jaguars very seriously. This is probably the biggest game of our season and we have to play our best game to beat you guys and can I wipe your ass when I'm done kissing it." line. I'm not buying that for a second.

Sure I believe the Jaguars can beat Peyton and the Colts, but we'll need a break or two. We'll need an off day from Peyton Manning, but our defense has a way of getting those from him, much like the Patriots used to. We'll absolutely need that to happen to win. If the defense doesn't come through, we're lost. We need a career day from David Garrard, and if we get it, we win on several fronts. It give him all the confidence in the world getting through the rest of the season and into the playoffs, and maybe bigger, brings teams weak at quarterback to the Jaguars doorstep in the off season, offering draft choices for him. I don't want to see the guy go anywhere, but who knows where that could lead? Still, I know few outside the realm of Northeast Florida think the Jaguars have a chance. The betting population doesn't. We're 8 point underdogs which is a huge spread for an NFL game. When ESPN did it's poll a few weeks ago of which team had the best chance of stopping the Colts' undefeated season, the Jaguars were on the ballot, but finished dead last in every state other than Florida. The strange thing is, the game has no playoff implications whatsoever. No matter who wins, the Colts will still win the division (because the Jaguars can't catch 'em), and the Jaguars will almost certainly make it in as a wild card team (because the last three games are fairly win-able). All that's really on the line is pride, and somebody's undefeated season. We'll see come Sunday.

In a twisted way, I'd like to see us lose this game, and let the mystique continue. In my perfect world, we lose this game and go into the playoffs as a wild card team, end up having to play the Colts in Indy for the AFC Championship, and beat them there. Don't hate us because we beat you. Hate us because we beat you in your place to end your unbeaten streak and take your spot in the Super Bowl. That shit only happens in Hollywood though...well, Hollywood, and a small lumberyard on the web.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

I was born a poor black child...

WARNING - Conservative opinion to follow. I know that because when I voiced this opinion to an aquantence of a more liberal ilk, she said, "My, how Republican of you!", like it's a bad thing.

As I mentioned a mere two days ago, we weren't well off when I was growing up. My dad was an enlisted guy in the Air Force and we moved every 4 years. I spent kindergarten in Germany, 3rd through 6th grade in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, 7th and part of 8th grade in Pennsylvania, the second half of 8th grade in the San Juaquin Valley of California before he retired and we moved for the last time, back to Pennsylvania, and I got to stay put for high school. There he got a government job, and things got a little better. Growing up, we made due a lot, but we were happy. There were many times I wanted things I couldn't have, but I survived. We always had a roof over our heads, but I remember not having enough clean school clothes in high school to make it through a week without washing.

It wasn't long into high school that I realized if I was going to college, it wasn't going to be on daddy's back, unless my ambition stopped at the community college level. It was going to be on something I figured out on my own. I will grant you that this realization required a bit of intelligence and ambition on my part, and God gave me the gift of having enough of those to get there. Still, I know other people can come to the same conclusion. Therefore I agreed to trade several years of my life for the education I wanted. I got a ROTC scholarship in return for agreeing to serve my country for four years. Then I had a lapse of really bad judgement when asked which branch of the service I'd like to join. I wanted to fly, and I thought, how cool, and how much more challenging would it be to learn to land on a moving boat. Anybody can put a plane down on a huge fixed landing strip, but how many guys can do it when the landing strip pitches and rolls? Unfortunately that's where the thought process ended, and I didn't figure out, until it was too late, that once you land something on a boat, chances are you'll be expected to live there for a while. I came to hate that part.

I did learn to fly though, and I taught others how to fly, and I spent some tense days in and around Beruit International Airport in the early 80s among other things. In 1990 I listened to buddies who told me I should get out of the Navy and be an airline pilot, so I got out and got all my license stuff, only to watch Pan Am and Eastern go under, and my world flood with unemployed airline pilots looking for jobs, and no matter how many resumes and letters I wrote or who I talked to, I couldn't get so much as an interview. So I had to do something. My wife had a good job and I stayed in the reserves for an income, while I went back to school to learn about software, and how to make it. We got by and paid the school bills and I started working as a software geek, and have ever since. I'm not wealthy by any means, but I'm not selling pencils, or crack, on a street corner either.

The point of the story is, people tell me that low income kids are trapped and can't get a leg up and out of their world, and the government needs to step in and do more. No they aren't and for the most part, no they don't. They make choices and sacrifices and need the support of their families, but if I can do it, so can most people. I'm certainly not special in that regard. Sure there are exceptions, but I don't need Hillary Clinton telling me it takes a village. I don't need anyone telling me I can't get where I want to be without their help. Personally, I like my chances without Hillary in tow. Don't underestimate me, or overestimate you. Left to their own resources, most people can make the right choices to achieve their goals if the government gets out of their way and gives them the chance, instead of a bunch of ready made excuses why they can't do it on their own and need a bunch of help.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

getting reel smart

I've already voiced my displeasure on the subject of spam, but this just made me laugh.

I didn't open the e-mail to see what was being advertised, but the subject alone was enough of a goof:

look inteligent

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Oops, there goes gravity

First background.

My dad was an enlisted guy in the Air Force. Growing up we made due, but we didn't have a lot and we were definitely not well off. I always wanted the really cool stuff, but also always made due with the "not quite" cool stuff. When Schwinn came out with the Apple Crate and Orange Crate bikes in the 60's with the banana seats, I was riding my uncle's hand-me-down three speed with a frame like a touring bike - about as far from cool as you could possibly get, but it did get me around. My little brothers got Schwinn look-a-likes (and I was envious), but they weren't the real thing. If Levis jeans were cool, I had jeans, but they weren't Levis. I could sometimes get close to having the cool stuff, but I never got there.

So now, back to today. At work we're trying to help some under-priveleged kids have a Christmas, and some of them have asked for skateboards. Some specifically have asked for long skateboards or 'gravity' boards. A friend of the wife's sister's boyfriend has a skate shop in St. Augustine where he makes long boards, so I thought...cool, I'll slide the guy a little business and help a kid in the process. I had no idea what a gravity board was, but I own one of this guy's skate boards, and yes sports fans, I ride it occasionally. Before you go looking, I'm pretty sure there are no pictures of that floating around on the net.

In an effort to make sure I was going in the right direction, I decided to Google 'gravity boards', and was in for a rude awakening. 'Gravity' is a brand name. Apparently its a very cool brand of long board, and also very expensive (which may be why it's cool). $150 for a skateboard? Immediately I was thrown back to my childhood, and how I never got the cool stuff, and I can see these kids, pretty much saying the same thing. Still, the $150 skateboard is a bit outa my league. We already did a few charity things for Christmas (or the generic Winter Holiday, in some circles) and this is going over the top as it is, and...to order the Gravity Board from their website, there's a two week delay because they're swamped for Christmas (or the generic Winter Holiday) and the stuff has to be gathered and ready to go to the kids by Friday. So long story kinda short, whoever this kid is, like me when I was his age, won't be getting the very cool long board. He'll get a nice long board though, hand made by a guy in Saint Augustine who does a great job. In my opinion, it's probably a better product, but I'm saying that without ever actually holding a Gravity Board. I'm sure the one I get will even have a little bit of cool thrown in for good measure.

The rest of the story - the hand made board ain't any cheaper (but dang, these things are 4 feet long!), but I'm going for it anyway. In the words of Miles from Risky Business, "Sometimes you gotta say "What the Fuck", make your move. Joel, every now and then, saying "What the Fuck", brings freedom. Freedom brings opportunity, opportunity brings freedom." I know Miles is sorta stuck in a logical loop, but it works for me about now. After all, it's the Chrisss..generic Winter Holiday season.

Monday, December 05, 2005

let the hype begin

David and Goliath weekend is on the way. The currently way overrated Jaguars, with 9 wins and 3 losses, have the unbeaten Indianapolis Colts coming to town. All three of the Jaguar team captains (Donovan Darius on defense, Nick Sorensen on special teams, and Byron Leftwich on offense) are done for the season, with only Byron having any hope of being back if we get to the postseason. David Garrard, backup quarterback, playing his second game in over a year, and it gets to be under the microscope of the national media. As the obnoxious Steeler fan car pool kids told me this morning as I was being equally obnoxious asking them how their team fared yesterday, "Good luck with that."

The thing is, I'm thinking with a little of that good luck and my homer cautious optimism intact, it's not out of the realm of possiblity. The Jaguars stand a decent chance of pulling this game out. People will laugh at me for saying it, but it will hardly be the first time for that. It can happen, folks. You heard it here. I would say you heard it here first, but I doubt there's much competition for the "first" part.

Now for the really fun part of all that. The youngster's only foray into the world of advanced baseball (for now, and the forseeable future) ends in a tournament this weekend. We don't have a schedule or a place yet. All I have been told is we think it's being played at the beach somewhere, and the tournament runs Friday through Sunday. Seeing as how it goes through Sunday, I'm thinking my only observation of the events at Alltel will be via the headphone radio. We'll see how it all shakes out. Yesterday, the coach encouraged him to try out for advanced ball in the spring, but it's just too much of a time commitment. We need to be spending more time in books and less time with a bat and glove. I was a decent sport about it for the fall, but I've had my fill and the youngster can't afford to keep spending entire weekends immersed in baseball. That, and the coach hinted that he might continue coaching advanced ball in the spring, and I don't know if I can handle another season of look-a-me's.

Christmas is coming up way too fast. I'm sure I'm not alone in that perception, but that doesn't mean it isn't true. I usually put together a newsletter updating my known world (most of which I keep in touch with once a year, and this is my shot) with our comings and goings. Usually I take great care in making sure it's entertaining, so it's not just me bragging on whatever accomplishments the family may have achieved. Usually I start it before Thanksgiving. Not even a word yet. The tree went up last night but the outside of the house...nada yet. With the tournament thing happening this weekend, who knows when it'll all get there, but somehow I'm sure it will.

Oh and before I forget, in college hoops, some small insignificant university outside Philly romped on #5 Oklahoma. Go Wildcats!

Friday, December 02, 2005

the weekend cometh

and with it the dilemma....to baseball or not to baseball in the spring. Here's the issue. As it has been well documented here in the past, the youngster's grades this year leave something to be desired, and I've been holding the threat of no Spring Ball over his head. His report card doesn't get here 'till January, but tomorrow is the day to sign up for spring ball. Sign-ups start then and there are a few times/dates over the next week, but once that ends, you're done. You can sign up late, but then your name goes on a waiting list, and you essentially won't be on a diamond come February. (Yes, folks in points north, I really said February. The tryouts are late January.) We have been working hard, and now his one 'F' from his progress report is a 'C', and the other ugly grades are moving up, so I guess I'm willing to concede Spring Ball. The question of advanced ball is another matter. I think he's getting good enough, but we won't go there in the spring. If he really is good enough, we'll catch All Stars at the end of Spring Ball. That runs into summer...after school's out. That I'll deal with. So tomorrow, bright and early (before the unbearable line forms) I'll be registering for the spring.

The Jaguars head north to Cleveland this weekend, where I think we stand a relatively good chance, despite losing Mr. Leftwich. The Browns, too, are not without difficulties at the quarterback position and it'll give Garrard a chance to get his feet wet, or frozen as the case may be before Peyton and the Colts come to town. Sure I'm a homer, but I'm still thinking we have a shot in that game as well. The big question is if we manage to win Sunday, and push the record to 9 and 3, will Tom Jackson at ESPN finally move us into his little top 10 club, or will we still remain under the radar. As much as I'd like to see a little recognition for the team, it wouldn't bother me if we're ignored for another week...or two. Of course, if we do manage to beat the Colts in a little over a week, the radar would light us up.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

coming of age - the Santa myth

Every year at work on one of the Saturdays before Christmas, there is a party for the kids. It's a pretty cool thing. You send in a list of your kids and their ages and they throw a party with a buffet style lunch with chicken fingers, hot dogs and other kid friendly foods, and a huge dessert bar thing to pump up the sugar ratio. Santa shows up with age appropriate presents. Nothing huge, mind you but something, and to be honest, the age appropriate part is subject to interpretation. The last year we took the youngster, he looked at whatever he got like....yeah, right. But you get some cute pictures and go home.

When he was 9, the youngster was pretty sure there was no Santa, but wanted to believe, bad. He wanted to believe because he wanted a dog, and he had asked for a dog, and his nasty father said, absolutely no way! I've had puppies before and I don't need the carpets stained and baseboards subjected to teething. NO! With a capital NO! So if dad's Santa, there will not be a dog....so please God, let there be a Santa. We managed, with the help of neighbors, to hide a puppy until Christmas eve and on Christmas morning that year, there was a puppy under the tree. That story will wait for another day, but the point is, the belief in Santa got a major boost. There had to be a Santa because dad wasn't going to allow a dog. He even held it up to my face Christmas morning and begged me to let him keep it, and worried that I might say, "No!" It was pretty cute.

So we got to last year when we came clean. The dog thing got us through one more Christmas when he was 10, but by 11, his friends pretty much had him convinced Santa was dad, so he just came out and asked one morning and I admitted defeat.

Where I'm getting is the invitation just came out for this year's Christmas party with instructions to let people know what your kid's ages are and so on. I think I've gotten to the first year when I don't even have to broach the subject at home. There's no way the yongster is going to want to go, even if they do have free chicken fingers. The boy is growing up.