Wednesday, February 28, 2007

the road to Daytona is paved with good intentions

MS150 update: It may be harder to convince other people they want to ride 150 miles with me than I originally anticipated, but stepping back and looking at it, that makes sense.

Just because I decided this is my year to do this doesn't make it everyone elses. It's not exactly a chore you pick up on a whim. Even if I do make progress, I have to know some folks talk a bigger game than they are really willing to play. I've seen this with the driving range. Several people know I go to the driving range almost every weekend, and when we talk about it, they want me to call when I go, so they can join me. When the time comes though, even with a few hours' notice, they're always busy doing something else. Not once has anyone actually gone with...and that's just an hour on a driving range. This is a summer getting ready and two days of bike riding. I just need to remember that I made the decision to do this for me. I can try to sway them, but it's not up to me to make it for other people. It's no small commitment, and it's up to them to take it on...or not.

If I remember to measure out a course before Saturday, I may get up early and see what 15 miles feels like as a starter, and how I feel after that. If it's not too bad, I may go farther. If it seems like time to stop, at least it's a start.

On the financial end, the parents stepped up, so we're getting closer to the goal. By September, I'm sure I'll get there, but that just gives me more reasons why I have to do this ride.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

nobody's fault but...well...yours

I love how people try to duck and diffuse the blame when they do something stupid, and when they get lawyers involved, it gets even stupider (and yes, I know it's not a word, but here it just fits).

I was watching a piece on the evening news last night about high speed chases and how there are lawyers trying to make some maneuvers the police use illegal, because sometimes people get injured.

One guy was speeding, and when the cops tried to pull him over he stepped on the gas and started a high speed chase. The cop behind him tried to spin him out but rear ended him, sending him into a tree or a pole or something and leaving him paralyzed. He's suing the police department. The lawyer says all the guy was doing was speeding. He doesn't deserve to be paralyzed when his offense was speeding.

That's just absurd. I don't give a damn what you were being pulled over for. I don't care if you're a serial killer, have 50 kilos of cocaine in the trunk or threw the wrapper of your McGriddle out the window, as soon as you see the flashing lights in the rear view mirror and decide to step on the gas, whatever happens from that point on is on YOU! It's not the cops' fault. It's not anybody else on the road's fault. You made the decision to endanger yourself and everyone else on the road. Nobody else did that for you or to you. If you die, it's on you. If you spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair, that's on you too. God forbid someone else gets injured as part of your decision to step on that pedal, but if they do, whether you hit them or not, that's on you too. If you did what you were supposed to do and pulled over, none of it happens. Everything bad that happens as a result of your decision rests squarely on you.

Then on a lighter note, there's Dick Vitale, who was holding two conversations at once yesterday, one happened to be live on a radio show, talking college basketball. He got confused or whatever and didn't realize he was on the air when he said he had talked with Billy Donovan, the University of Florida basketball coach. Apparently Billy told him in confidence the pro scouts were making a big mistake and they should be picking Al Horford over Joakim Noah (two Gator players), although he'd never come out and say that in public, but Dickey V did baybeeeeee.

Now he's backpedaling, saying it was all a joke and blaming the guys who interviewed him. I will concede they knew they had something hot and didn't go out of their way to stop Dick from spilling something juicy on their show, but if you're Dick Vitale, you have to know who you're talking to. That mistake is all on you...not the guys on the other end of the phone.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

the weekend in review, and the recruiting hat is passed to me

First, a big shout out to the folks north of Harrisburg, and you know who you are. The little ticker for my MS150 goal is rising, thanks to you. An unexpected thing happened when I started letting my friends, relatives, neighbors and anyone else who'll listen that I'm doing this thing. Not the husbands who would actually ride in it, but their wives started talking to me...saying "You should get Joe to ride with you." I talked to two of those guys yesterday. One is psyched and might do it. He's having to check his calendar because he may be out of the country the weekend of the ride. Either way, he wants to train with me even if he can't do the ride, which is cool. I could use a training buddy. The other used to do a lot of things like this when he was younger, and at first, the voice of experience flatly refused.

He asked, "Have you ever done anything like this before?"


"Well, I have. The first 10 miles are fun. The last 10 miles the first day...suck. The whole second I don't think so."

Granted, it lended a touch of gritty reality to the whole thing.

A few hours later, I asked again, and he wavered, so I more told than asked him, "You really want to do this thing, don't you?"

"Yeah, I kinda do."

Ahhhh...weakness! So now I'm like a shark smelling blood in the water, or a pit bull sensing fear. I'll be doggin' this guy until he relents. We'll see how it shakes out. In the end though, I'm thinking he'll be pedalling at the end of September.

The occasion that I had to try to talk him into it was the annual golf tournament to benefit the youngster's I usually help out with and then play in. As usual, I ran the putting contest, but this year I brought the youngster, because he needs some service hours for school. He helped out getting set up and measured the distance putts finished from the hole for me. I used to not enter this contest, because I figured it was an obvious conflict of interest. How does it look in the unlikely event that I win, and if I can't win, why enter? Well, last year I got chastised by the guys running the tournament who said, "Of course you can enter, and if your happen to hit the closest putt, of course you can win." I figured it was just a ploy to get more money out of me, because there is an additional contribution to play in the putting contest, but whatever, I shelled out the extra 5 bucks's for the school. Well, this year, I got extremely lucky and hit the putt (about 60 feet from the cup) 5 inches from the hole. Last year we had two guys actually sink the putt, so I didn't think that would win, but it was very respectable. As more luck would have it and the day wore on, nobody got closer. I got a $75 gift certificate to Outback out of the deal. The rest of the day went even better. No, we didn't win. Someone in our foursome figured out we finished 8th out of 20-something groups...again, respectable. The forcast, however, was calling for thunderstorms and I didn't think we'd get in all 18 holes. The rain held off and we finished...dry.

Last night the youngster had his mandatory screening of The Passion of the Christ. It had a profound influence on him. I picked him up after it was over. He looke at me and just said, "Wow!" Whe I asked what he meant by that, he said, "That!" It also scared the hell out of him (literally..the whole Satan thing). It was a rough sleeping night for the little man. Again, hindsight...maybe I should have protested a bit. Other parents did, and their kids watched Jesus of Nazereth instead. The youngster said he was happy he saw The Passion, but wide-eyed at 2 a.m., I think he was reconsidering. I know I was, even if it was too late.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

bit of this and that

Just a few quick hits on a Friday...

The MS150 web page got it's first contribution...whoooo hoooooo! Ten dollars down, nine hundred and ninety to go.

Did the gym thing again last night, in preparation for that MS150 bike ride. Again I had the pleasure (?) of enduring American Idol. Maybe I need to find out when that show is on and avoid that place for that hour. That show really grates on my much manufactured drama. After the first group of six contestants were brought up with one to be eliminated, you figure out the last one they talk to is the loser so they can be all suspenseful as long as possible. sang Rubber Duckie. Simon thought you sucked, Paula wants the booty call she'll deny later. Randy thought you were OK. America says.....drum roll and pause for more get to come back next week. Huge Sigh. So, how does the first person in the next group, and the next group act like they don't know they're in as soon as their name's called? Until they get down to the last two people, if they talk to you, you're in.

The youngster talked to his teachers and the assistant principal yesterday about joining the softball team. Together they came up with a plan to get his grades up and have him play. Last night he seemed genuinely motivated. I hope we can keep that going this time. I've seen him look genuinely motivated for a day many times. Sustaining that motivation more than 24 hours...there's the challenge.

In Bizarro World, I guess they figured out where to plant Anna Nicole. Now the only question is whether or not anything comes of the judge's audition to be a TV celebrity. She goes to the Bahamas. He goes to...Hollywood? There's just too much weirdness going on there.

Michelle Wie says she doesn't care what the critics say about her playing in PGA Tour tournaments and not making the cut...ever. Absolutely not. Doesn't bother her a bit. You can tell, because of the way it occasionally looks like she could make a cut, and then unexplicably chokes it away...every time. It's not in her head at all. I don't doubt she has the talent to play at that level, but it needs to be developed.

Have a great weekend....

Thursday, February 22, 2007

the MS150 update

Last week I said I'd let people know when my web page (where I beg for donations) was up and running withn the MS Society's website. It's all that now, so if anyone is interested in contributing to the MS Society, and using me as their vehicle to do that, e-mail me (address in my profile) and I will send you the link. The ride isn't until September, but I'm working my way toward that day.


the youngster, grades, sports, and there never seems to be a right answer

It's softball season at the youngster's school, and he tried out...and he made the team. Unfortunately he doesn't have the grades to play, so he's suspended.

We went through this last year. If you are a frequent lumberyard reader, you know we deal with ADD, and his seeming inability to come home knowing what he has for homework...and therefore never getting it all done. We've tried numerous solutions, but this never seems to get solved for any length of time. Last year he made the team, and didn't get to play a single game until the last two, but since he was also unable to practice with the team all that time, made token appearances. I didn't want to go through that this year. We discussed whether or not he should even try out. He's having a hard enough time in school without throwing softball in the mix. He decided to forgo softball, and I thought the matter was settled...until the actual day of tryouts.

Tryouts came, and he called from school, begging to go, so we relented, still throwing in the grade issue. "I'll bring them up!" he said, and we hoped. To be honest, there has been some progress, but not enough to make me or his teachers happy.

So we got a call from the coach, who is also a family friend. The gist was, the youngster made the team, but his grades will keep him from playing. Do you want him to play or should I give the spot to someone else?

My first inclination was, give the spot to someone else. He has enough going on and can't handle what he has...let alone this. The coach countered with the fact being on the team gives him incentive to bring his grades up, and that's true. If he brings them up, he gets to play softball for the school. If I tell him he can't play, it just makes him feel worse.

So we're leaning toward letting him "be" on the team, but I still don't know if that's the right thing to do. I would love for him to bring his grades up and have a great softball season, but that kind of ending never seems to come our way. I think we're too far away from Hollywood for that. Still, I feel like I should give him the opportunity for that to happen, but that makes me feel like a selfish bastard. Some other boy won't make the team, because I want to give my son an incentive, but if I don't, we keep making matters worse. Sometimes, there just is no right answer.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Chief Illiniwek forced into retirement

The University of Illinois has been stripped of its mascot by overzealous politically correct activits and university academics, because he's an Indian. This is a perfect example of why I take just about anything said by someone with PhD after their name with a grain of salt. You spend that much time in a sterile academic environment and something has to your brain. Florida State University faces the same issue, despite the fact that the Seminole Nation is proud of their representation by the university, and has officially stated as much many times. There's nothing racist about it. Some people just need to look for a reason to be insulted, or a reason why some group they know of should feel insulted. It's a bunch of bull hockey. It's getting to the point where it would not shock me to hear that the President of PETA went to Chicago and said, "You know, bears are having a real problem with the name of your football team, and their depiction as fierce flesh eating animals that kill without discrimination."

Personally, if some school wants to use the lumberyard as a mascot, and had a slightly overweight but thinning, and not bald but thinning, incredibly handsome grad student go out to center court or midfield, depending on the sport, and hit a golf ball badly at the beginning of each game, I'd be honored.


been there, done that, someone threw up on my t-shirt

As Fat Tuesday ends and ushers in Ash Wednesday and another lenten season, I'd like to reflect back on Mardi Gras. (Yes, for those that didn't know, Mardi Gras is a faith based holiday, being the last big fling before Ash Wednesday and Lent in preperation for Easter. "Show us your tits" is actually French for "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." It's a rough translation.).

I went when I was a flight student. I had just finished college and was learning to fly in Pensacola, Florida, and a bunch of us road tripped to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. We had a fabulous time, or the parts I remember were fabulous. We ate street food, watched parades, caught beads, got flashed by women very proud of their breasts, listened to jazz in several bars, and ended up in a small bar off Bourbon Street, making friends with people from Ohio and getting fairly smashed. I left thinking...damn, I want to do that again..and again...and again. That was a blast!

I then came back to Pensacola several years later to teach flight school, and wanted to relive the Mardi Gras experience, so again I road tripped with friends. I should have left well enough alone, or possibly changed my itinerary to reflect a slightly older me. It's amazing what perspective comes with a little maturity. I walked down Bourbon Street, and it all came back. It was all the same and all pretty cool for a while. We spent more time focusing on food this time around, making sure we got something cajun and very tasty. We actually knew the parade schedule and tried to hit as many as possible. In the end though, it all funnels down to Bourbon Street, and I think I was a tad more sober the second time around. The first time I never saw anyone trudging down the middle of the street carrying a cross and purple robes over his shoulder, while people handed out leaflets saying we were all going to hell. I always loved those kinds of generalizations. I considered the source and didn't let that bother me much. I just shook my head and had another beer. It was later that the uglier part reared its uglier head. You realize that there are hundreds of street vendors selling beer, and no porta-potties, and there are long lines to get in and two drink minimums at every bar. Then that stench in the gutters of Bourbon Street lets you know what many are doing about that lack of facilities. You notice the people puking up their sixth hurricane in the bushes down the alleys....those that actually make it to the alleys. You have to watch your step after 10:00 on Bourbon Street, if you like your shoes. By midnight, there's a thickening layer of gross covering most of the street.

Now, if you ask, would I go back, I think I'd still say yes, and I'd still spend some time on Bourbon Street, but it'd be earlier. Then I'd hit the parades and make sure I duck into a side street, and plant myself in a nice restaurant for the evening before the gutters start to smell. Still, I'd tell you I'd rather go back to New Orleans some other time of the year, even more.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

the Passion, the Ten Commandments and the budding theocracy in America

The youngster is thirteen and this is the time as deemed by the Catholic church for him to be Confirmed. The gist is that he's old enough to decide for himself that he wants to be Catholic. At Baptism, he really wasn't given much choice. Now he has a mind of his own. I might debate that point, but nonetheless, it's happening come April.

To that end, I got a permission slip from school Friday which I was supposed to sign. Basically it said, we're showing The Passion of the Christ, the Mel Gibson film. It's 'R' rated for violence, so your child needs your permission to see it. It is a requirement for confirmation. Now, I'm not going to jump on too high a horse, because the youngster has seen at least one 'R' rated movie before. I bought the Eddie Murphy/Dan Akroyd movie Trading Places, a hilarious flick, and he sat down and watched it with me. I didn't remember that it was 'R' rated until there were tits bouncing across the screen, and then decided to grab the DVD case and confirm what I already knew. Yeah, just gave your kid his first exposure to tits. Nice move, lumberdude! Then there was The Exorcist , with Linda Blair masturbating with a crucifix yelling "Let Jesus fuck you!" I didn't remember that one either until it was on the screen. He has been begging and begging to watch it for a while and I finally relented. I thought it was 'R' rated just because it was scary as hell. He didn't get a good night's sleep for days, and we only got halfway through it before he turned it off, looked at me and said, "You could have just said no." In hindsight, saying no would have been the better option, probably for both movies, but that was water under the bridge.

Here though, was the church, basically saying, we're going to show an 'R' rated movie to 13 year old kids, and if your child is going to go forward with his development in the church, he has no choice but to see what someone deemed inappropriate for kids his age. I realize that it's OK if the child is accompanied by an adult, but something about that whole deal just bothers me a little on a philosophical level.

On the other side of the coin, I was off yesterday, which offered me a luxury I rarely get to indulge in...reading all of the morning paper. I usually get to scan it quickly on my way out the door, but this was my chance to sit down and relax with some coffee and read. I got to the opinion page and letters to the editor, and some bozo is ranting because some county in Florida is planning to put the Ten Commandments outside their courthouse. This guy called it a move by the "let's turn America into a theocracy" crowd. Now, I've gone off about this before, but this guy got under my skin, so I wrote my own letter to the editor. We'll see if it actually gets published. The gist of it though, is, America isn't ever going to be a theocracy, and this idiot can stop being such a drama queen. I still don't see what's wrong with planting the Ten Commandments on public ground, in front of a courthouse, in a judge's chambers, or anywhere else. Where some lawyer convinced some judge that this act constitutes government establishing a religion is completely lost on me. We all know why that piece was written into the constitution. The people didn't want the religious persecution they had in England, where there was one church mandated by the government, and you had to be a part of it. It didn't stop the president from declaring a national day of prayer when the British were knocking on the door of the nation's capital in the War of 1812. Many of the guys who wrote the constitution were still alive and kicking. None of them jumped up and down and said "You can't do that." Even then, nobody was forced into a state sponsored religion. If they were, that fact sorta missed the evening news. This isn't new ground. The Ten Commandments have been there before, making appearances in many public buildings. Yet I haven't heard of the government rounding up anyone and forcing them to belong to any particular religion, even if you broadly catagorize Christianity as one. The only religion we've been forced into is the godless one headed by congress, which cares for the needly by making it law that we tithe every April. Freedom of religion doesn't mean a guarantee that you will never have to see anything with a religious theme on public property, or at least it shouldn't. Just because the Ten Commandments are in a courthouse doesn't mean you have to believe all or any of them. If you want to be a Godless heathen (and no, I didn't say that like it's a bad thing), that's your right. You're free to believe and do as you choose, as long as you don't infringe on other people's right to the same. Believing rape and murder are perfectly normal, however, might get you in a bit of trouble here.

This guy seemed to think that decision is over and done with, and we who didn't like it should just lay down and accept it. I don't agree, either with the original premise or him.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

it's starting to look more real

Two weeks ago I blogged about my decision to ride in the MS150, a bicycle ride from Saint Augustine to Daytona on a Saturday in September, and back to Saint Augustine the next day, 75 miles each way. At the time it was all pretty esoteric. I went to a meeting, signed a form, and walked I could wake up and think it was all a dream.

It wasn't, and I know that, and I'm starting to get myself prepared, because right now I'm so unprepared it isn't funny. Come September, I'll be ready though. I assure you all of that.

In the meantime, little pieces of reality hitting have appeared. There's a place in cyberspace that designated me as part of a team, and I have my own page, which apparently I'm allowed to edit. I haven't figured out how yet, but I will. That page gives anyone the ability to pledge in my name. Once it looks like I want it to, I'll give interested parties the address. I've also made a reservation in Daytona in the host hotel for the 29th of September for me, the wife and youngster, expecting that they will drive down to meet me there, so there's an actual credit card commitment involved. The ball is now rolling.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

grade school math; greater than or less than word problems

the number of men who claim to have slept with Anna Nicole Smith (greater than/less than) the number of politicians who have announced their candidacy for President of the United States

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I don't care how they do it up north

It's cold, OK?

It's 38º outside and you can easily see your breath. That's cold. No, it isn't as cold as it is in Pennsylvania or Ohio. We aren't digging our way out of snow drifts like they are in New York. I realize it's a wimpier cold than what you folks north of the Mason-Dixon line are dealing with, but that doesn't make it balmy. 38 degrees still isn't short sleeves and shorts weather. I don't care who you are.

Still, it's pretty much stereotypical. People from up north have to play the "it's not cold" card, and stubbornly wear as little as possible. They laugh at those of us who have lived here a long time and are all bundled up, as they stand there in a tank top and running shorts, shivering with their lips turning blue.

So we pull in to pick up the Steeler fan kids this morning. The two boys are wearing short sleeve shirts and no jacket. The little girl is in shorts. Mom and dad sent them out like that and they're all proud of themselves.

I asked them, "Where are your jackets?"

"It's not cold. Up in Ohio, in an ice storm, it was 10º below and we lost power. It was 2º in the house. That was cold. Our Christmas Eve dinner was Pizza Hut and subs."

Well, maybe so, but you can't tell me that was a pleasant situation. I realize that was colder, but just because you weathered that doesn't mean you walk out in shorts when it's 38º outside and say it's not cold. It still is, no matter how stubbornly you deny it, but whatever.

Next week, when you're sick in bed with a cold, tell me again how it's not cold outside now.

Tomorrow morning it's supposed to be in the twenties. I wonder if the short sleeves and shorts will do an encore.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

feeling a bit left out on Valentine's Day

OK, so now there's Zsa Zsa's husband, some immigration minister in the Bahamas, and God knows who else. I have to ask....

Am I the only guy in the Northern Hemisphere that Anna Nicole didn't do?

At work, we call the boss's office "the black hole", because people get sucked in there and disappear for hours. Sometimes we wonder if they'll ever be heard from again. (He likes to talk...a lot.) I'm thinking of renaming that place "Anna Nicole Smith".


the utility of alarms

Let me start with this. Our house has a plethora of alarms. There's a smoke alarm in each of the four bedrooms, two in the upstairs hall and two more downstairs, and one upstairs plugged into the alarm system. On top of that we have natural gas, so we have carbon monoxide upstairs and one downstairs, and a third plugged into the alarm system. Keeping up with batteries alone is a pain in the ass, and that's where this post begins.

I went to the gym last night, got through a half hour on a stationary bike and started with the treadmill, when my cell phone I got off and answered it.

It's the wife, sounding very annoyed. The carbon monoxide alarms are going off..both upstairs and downstairs. I'm thinking...well, it's been a while...change the batteries. She is battery changing challenged, however, and wanted to know how soon I'd be done. I'm smart enough to know that I was done then, and it was time to go home.

I got home and sure enough, both of them are going off, and it's obnoxious, so I go about taking them apart and putting in new batteries and hitting reset buttons. This went on for a while, because those puppies are somehow interconnected and I had to drain the capacitors on both of them to get the reset thing to actually take, and about half an hour later we had peace and quiet again.

After all that, it hit me though. The freakin' carbon monoxide alarms went off. Nobody thought, "Oh shit, we have a carbon monoxide problem!" Nobody headed immediately outside, like it says to do on the alarm. Nobody called 911. Nobody even opened a window, and it wasn't all that cold outside. Everyone, me included, assumed there was a problem with the alarm and we needed to find out what it takes to shut the damn thing up. Kinda makes me wonder why we have the things in the first place.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

shave and a haircut; two ti...errrr..bits

A long time ago in a Navy town far away, I was a young and foolish man. On occasion, I, with other young and foolish men like me, would band together for a night out on the town. On some of these occasions, the outings involved a strip club. Yes, we're talkin' one of those bars with a conspicuous pole on a stage, where sometimes young, sometimes attractive women would cavort with said pole, making sexually suggestive moves in the name of dancing. Granted, some of it was dancing, and a lot of it was a workout, but all of it was in the name of making me one severely sexually frustrated young and foolish man, and separating me from as much of my money as possible.

On some occasions, these outings would include a lap dance. "Lap Dance" is strip club slang for "single you out to be separated from even more of your money". It involved one of these women getting up close and personal with you and some of her privates, making you feel like a hundred bucks before relieving you of at least that much. It usually involved a shower of compliments, suggestion and innuendo, and when you left, she made you feel like she wanted you to come back and never leave...and you did feel that way...for at least a half hour after you left. Sometimes it was the next morning before sanity kicked in and you realized that it wasn't about your baby blues or quick wit or strong hands or whatever. It was all about the Washingtons. Yes, back then it was still Washingtons. I have heard that inflation has hit that industry too and Washingtons have gone by the wayside for higher denominations, so in a way I guess I got off to speak.

It is with that background that we get to this past weekend and my trip to the barber shop. Once again, the hair that I do have was getting a bit long and it was time to cut it back into shape, so I went to the barber shop. It's one of those places that takes everyone. By that I mean it's not an old fashioned barber shop with the striped rotating red, white and blue pole outside, where women are rarely seen, and the ashtrays are the same ones they had during the great depression. Most of the hair cutting people in this one are women. It's a chain place in a strip mall, right next to the grocery store. Since I do the grocery shopping, it's convenient. I've been going there since it opened....about a year ago. This is a bit different from the place I used to go, which was a traditional barber shop. It's close to where we used to live before we moved to the middle of nowhere 5 years ago, and just became too much of a drive since the move. At some point I had to give in to convenience and the fact I was wasting gas. There though, some 80 year old guy named Eddie cut my hair, most of the clientele fit into a military or police uniform, and plastic models of military aircraft hung from the ceiling. Eddie was a retired Navy barber who still called me "Commander" a decade after I left the military.

So I'm sitting there, waiting my turn, and this woman walks in. She's attractive, slender and has...lets just say ample...breasts. Yes, I noticed. I'm a guy. She's probably 30-something. I got as far as thinking "Damn, what a rack." and went back to my magazine, thinking she's probably here to get her hair cut. Next think I know, she's calling my name, and leading me to a chair. OK, so she works here.

She asks me how I want it cut, which for me is a fairly simple thing. I don't have a lot of options when it comes to hair. Cut it shorter where I have some to cut. End of story. She's making conversation, asking me what I do for a living, how long I lived here, and so on, complimenting the hell out of me, and how smart I must be to do what I do, and I have such pretty eyes and where did I get that smile and...while she's not hitting on me, she's definitely brushing those tits across my cheek occasionally, while cutting my hair. Somewhere in that experience, I started getting that whole hundred dollar strip club feeling. I paid for the haircut and tipped her, more than I would have the gay guy across from her, had he cut my hair. It wasn't until she said, "Come back and see me again, soon" that it hit me. It really was the strip club thing all over again. A little more subtle maybe, but it was the same game. Get the guy to come back and tip huge. I mean, let's get the reality check. I'm pushing 50, my hair is thinning and I'm trying to get back in shape, which pretty much tells you I'm not in shape now. "Hottie" isn't exactly the word that comes to mind. Yes, it was an ego trip, but it was bought and paid for...granted, on a far smaller scale and less obvious setting than the strip club trip, but still.

Maybe I'm being a bit cynical, but how else to I explain the strange feeling I had when I walked in the grocery store? It was a sexual tension thing, but was it real or imagined, or was I in the Twilight Zone, and in that arena, aren't they all the same? Just didn't expect that in a haircut.


Monday, February 12, 2007

it's hard to argue with "free"

I got this e-mail last week. It went something like...

Free Golf Clinic. This weekend at a course very close to stately lumberyard manor. Long Game, Short Game, Putting and Bunker Shots. Beginners 12:00 to 3:00. Intermediate/Advanced 3:00 to 6:00. Call for reservations. 555-1212.

So I thought....what the hell. It's free. Hard to argue with the price. So I called and inquired, and the person on the other end of the line was close to clueless. My first couple questions went off without a hitch.

Will there indeed be a free clinic this weekend?

What do I have to do to register?
Give me a name and phone number.
OK, John of Lumberyard fame at 555-2121.

Now it got complicated, because you never know how they define "Beginner". Does "Beginner" mean you never picked up a club before or does it mean "bad golfer"? Does "Intermediate/Advanced" mean "bad golfer needing help" or does it mean "good golfer", and if it means "good golfer", why would they need your clinic? So I tried the most objective thing I had at my disposal.

So, I'm about a 24 handicap. What group do I belong in?
I have no idea.

So, when should I show up?

If I show up some time around noon, would that be OK?
(Sounding like I just gave this person an out, which was the intention) I'm sure that'd be fine.

Their turn with the question?
Which would you like to sign up for?
Long Game, Short Game, Putting or Bunker Shots.
Well, I didn't realize it'd be that focused, but OK....Long game.

You're all set Mr. Lumberyard.

Someone once told me how to spot good or bad golf instructors. One of the tips was, if the instructor hits more balls than you do, find another instructor. This person isn't interested in teaching you anything. They're interested in impressing a captive audience with their prowess. That was the first half hour of this free clinic. There were maybe 10 of us. Not one of the 10 hit a single ball, but we watched one of the instructors hit drive after drive, drawing and fading them on command. Very nice for him. Far beyond the ability of anyone in this audience. I was bored. If I wanted to watch someone do that, I could watch the PGA Tour telecast. Then he did the same with a 7 iron. He hit high and low shots with it. He hit a high fade...then a low draw. Then he attempted several low fades, because he kept fucking it up. The instructional part, where he hit the ball low if it was farther back in his stance, was helpful, but that was about it. Even that part I knew before, but I could understand seeing it taught in this clinic. The rest was fluff, especially considering the ability of this audience.

We finally got to hit balls, and being honest, they did give me some helpful tips...or at least I think they were helpful. You never really know until you try to put them into practice on a real golf course, so we'll see when the time comes. The question about which part I would focus on was irrelevant. The whole group hit a few balls on the range (I may have hit 20), a few bunker shots ( I hit all of 4, but being honest, this is where I think I learned something. They were the 4 best I've ever strung together.) and a few putts (maybe 6). The thing is, this clinic lasted two hours. Two hours, and I hit....maybe 30 golf balls. It's hard to argue with "free", but "free" doesn't just get measured in money. It gets measured in time too. Overall, I think they helped my game, so I won't complain too loudly, but that thing could have been easily done within one hour if we skipped the "oooooohs" and "aahhhhhhhhhhs" over some club pro booming 300 yard draws on command.

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the Pro Bowl

The Pro Bowl was played Saturday night. I know this because I read about it in the sports pages of our local paper Sunday. I didn't watch it. I didn't watch it last year, or the year before, and I'm a football fan. I'm a football kinda guy who takes a significant chunk of his annual budget and sinks that into season tickets for his favorite team. Yet I don't pay any attention to the Pro Bowl. The most attention I pay to it is to see who gets to go from various teams, acknowledging great performances or the travesty of popularity, but I don't watch them actually play the game. And that's my point, or question.

Has the Pro Bowl become irrelevant? Has it been irrelevant for a long time? Was it ever relevant? Does anyone give a damn about the game? Is the Super Bowl not the grand finale of the NFL season? Once it's played, it's like you just finished this amazing meal and can't eat another bite, and someone offers you an Oreo for dessert. You can't eat it. You don't want it. You don't care if they throw it in the garbage.

It wasn't even on our radar screen. We discussed what to do on Saturday night and came up with Blockbuster and The Legend of Ricky Bobby. Nobody even mentioned the Pro Bowl. Talladaga Nights, however, gets my nod as one of the better Will Farrell movies I've seen.

I don't think we need to get rid of the whole idea of the Pro Bowl. I think the recognition part is a pretty good thing. Let them all go to Hawaii and have a nice awards dinner and do some skills challenge stuff if ESPN insists on something showing athletic prowess, but don't play a football game. There are only two things that can come out of that game, and neither are good. The first is bad TV ratings and nobody in television likes those. Yet, every year for this game, they happen. The second is injury for players. These guys just finished a long season. They performed well in that season, hence the trip to the Pro Bowl. The last thing we really need to do to reward them is let them spend their offseason in rehab for a needless Pro Bowl injury, like it appears Drew Brees will.

Pat the guys on the back. Tell them they did a great job because for the most part, they did. Just don't make 'em play yet another football game.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Hanoi Jane

I know this is last month's news, but something reminded me about it today and it raised my blood pressure a bit, so I'm throwing out my two cents.

Hanoi Jane speaks at an anti-war rally in Washington. Oh boy, there's some credibility. There is nobody who epitomizes the Hollywood left and all that's wrong with it for me, like Jane Fonda. Just like we as a country have selective memory about what the world was like when Saddam was the ruling voice in Iraq and how he enjoyed being a perceived threat to just about everybody, we also have forgotten about the deeds of this bimbo in her last antiwar splash. She really should have been locked up for treason 30-some years ago, or just banished. I know. I have talked with men who witnessed her crimes.

This is a woman who toured a POW camp in North Viet Nam and visited our young men. One, when she shook his hand, slipped her a note that he hoped would make it back home. The note just identified him and said he was alive, small details he knew weren't common knowledge for his family. She handed the note to the camp commander. She went on to her next photo op beside an North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun. He got tortured. There's a patriot for you. If you're a Jane apologist, the best thing you can say about her is she was probably ignorant. I would agree. Not knowing what she was doing didn't stop her from loudly voicing her opinion though. Some things never change.

I've said before, I don't like this war. I don't know anyone who does. I don't think even Bush likes this war. But sometimes you have to do what's right and what keeps us free, and I still think this had to be done. I don't doubt it could have been done better. I know hindsight magnifies our errors. I still don't think it was completely avoidable. I also think Jane Fonda and Susan Sarandon (she was great in Rocky Horror) are pretty good artists, but horrible foreign policy advisors. I don't want to deny them their freedom of speech. I'd just like everyone else to exercise their right to consider the source.

Long ago parody quote in the National Lampoon letters column....
"I do so know the difference. My ass is deep, and dark and warm, and a hole in the ground is deep and....heeeeyyyyyy....wait a minute. Just....hang on. I know this one. I swear I do." Jane Fonda


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith dies

In news that will reduce the incomes of a few dozen lawyers, Anna Nicole Smith died today at the age of 39. She was found by her nurse, unresponsive in her hotel. They tried CPR to no avail. I don't know what to make of that. I mean, I travel occasionally, but I have yet to do it with a personal nurse, and I'm a year or two older than Anna. Her mom hints that drugs may be involved. Well, DUH! I don't want to condemn the woman without any proof, but I'll admit, I wouldn't be surprised. Everything surrounding her has been off the wall for a very long time, but I feel sorry for the baby she left behind.

Black XXX-L thongs for all my friends.

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National Signing Day

For those of you in the rest of the country, or world for that matter, yesterday was just another Wednesday. For us in the Southeast, it's pretty close to a regional holiday, otherwise known as National Signing Day. Schools and banks close, local news broadcasts cover it, parties are dedicated to it, the whole nine yards.

It's the first day high school football players can officially commit to an institution of higher learning at which they will get an college ball. It's the day they actually sign their name to a piece of paper saying they will go to a school. Once that happens, the analysis begins. It's pretty amazing if you're from elsewhere and haven't seen the craze before. People actually put grades on recruiting classes, much like they do the day after the NFL draft, and they have as much meaning, if not less. I mean really, I understand that it's all you have to go on, but you're grading the future ability of a pack of 18 year old boys based on what happened on a handful of Friday nights. That's almost as predictable as the lottery.

That's not what really amazed me though. What really got me was this morning, when on sports talk radio, they were discussing the fortunes of the University of Florida, which apparently had an amazing recruiting class, but was low at the wide receiver position. The guy who actually makes a living tracking all this recruiting stuff said something like, it's not that big a deal, because this year's recruiting class wasn't all that strong at wide reciever where next year's class is amazing. Excuse me. Next years class? We're talking analyzing the ability of 17 year old kids now. You have to be kidding.


Valerie Plame

I'm not saying what Scooter Libby or Dick Cheney did was right when they allegedly "outed" this woman as a secret agent for the CIA. I don't know who did what. That's why there's an investigation and in the end, that's for the courts to decide.

What I will take issue with is the media calling her a secret agent, or CIA operative, undercover operations officer or whatever. The woman is and was a desk jockey in Washinton D.C. The only reason her husband was sent to Niger by the CIA was because she lobbied to get him there. He was "between jobs", having recently been "let go" by the State department. It was her way of getting the guy out of his pajamas, out of the house, stem his All My Children addiction, and bring in a little income (apparently because he found the job as the fry machine operator at Burger King too demeaning for him). The closest she ever got to being undercover was in bed on a cold night. Anybody could have "exposed" her. All you had to do was follow her home from the office and look the address up on the internet to see who lived there. She wasn't "recruited". She took a civil service exam and scored high enough to be a government paperweight. She's as close to being 007 as I am to being Tiger Woods. No wait. That's a lie. I'm far closer to being Tiger Woods.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

sometimes it's all about how good we feel about ourselves...

...even if we really could use a dose of reality. It can be a cruel world out there, but you have to recognize that if you want to get anywhere in it.

I blogged about this last week, but it appears the issue just won't go away.

The Nationwide Insurance commercial where K-Fed flips burgers has some honcho (or honchos) in the burger flippin' world bunchin' his (or their collective) panties. Personally, I'm having a hard time believing anyone is taking him/them seriously.

Yeah, Kevin Federline did a commercial about his status spiral from celebrity rap icon and Spears' stud muffin to fry machine operator. Is there some debate about the concept that this is indeed a demotion in any way you'd like to measure it? Even in the lumberyard, where rap star falls slightly below Walmart greeter in the success ladder of life, fry machine operator is a less desirable career move. It is. That's why burger flippers are on the dollar menu. That's why the job is perceived that way. Get over it. You want something more desirable in the career field, learn to hold the SLOW/STOP traffic flag at construction sites.

If I worked for Nationwide and had the power to do it (and I realize the execs at Nationwide are now pleading, John, please don't help us now, because they are avid lumberyard fans), there'd be a new series of commercials, just like Geico Caveman commercials, where it's a career burger flippin' K-Fed talking to the psychiatrist. You could have burger flippers watching the K-Fed commercial, shaking their heads. Just blow it right back in their collective whiney faces. I don't know what world these people live in, but it could use a dose of face slap, ass kickin' reality.

In other Super Bowl commercial news, Snickers has pulled it's add where two auto mechanics start eating the same candy bar from opposite ends and accidentally kiss in the middle, causing an awkwad "guy" moment. Apparently some gay folks are offended, thinking it says something bad about their gay-ness. For the love of roasted peanuts, caramel and milk chocolate, grow a sense of humor people. I don't care who you are, that commercial was pretty funny. Here's some news for you. I'm offended that you're offended. Does that get the commercial reinstated?

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WARNING: Weightless orgasm can be hazardous to your mental health

I think it was Tom Clancy who said the difference between the real world and fiction is that fiction has to make sense. Here we have yet another case where the real world can just take a turn into bizarro land.

Apparently some married female astronaut drove from Houston to Orlando wearing adult diapers (because you know those pee stops are real time killers) in an attempt to kidnap (or kill???) another female astronaut because she considered the second a rival for the affections of some male astronaut (who isn't her husband). Yet she claims her relationship with said male astronaut is less than romantic. So...what? No emotions involved. They're just friends with benefits? Yet you're willing to road trip from Houston to Orlando in a diaper, risk everything you now have, and commit a felony to remove the threat of competition. Ooookaaaaaay then. I wonder if this is one of the side effects of joining the bazillion mile high club.


Monday, February 05, 2007

BCS Championship deja vu

OK, team runs the opening kick back for a touchdown and loses the game. Where have I seen that before?

The rain kept the score closer than I thought, but other than that, no surprises really. It did mean the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince had to sing Purple Rain in the rain at halftime, but he really didn't seem to mind, and there was an All Along the Watchtower reference thrown in there, so I was entertained.

I watched the game at a neighbor's house with several families and all our kids in tow. It was still easy to follow the game, but the commercials got lost in a haze of "Daddy can I..." and "Mommy can you get me..." so I missed most of them..OK, really all of them. I don't think I saw one all the way through, but it was still fun. From today's informal office opinion poll though, I didn't miss anything. The general consensus is this was an off year for Super Bowl commercialism.

We did the obligatory betting squares for score at the end of each quarter and as usual...well, always, I lost. When it comes to gambling for money, I never win and this is one shining example, because it's about the only form of betting I'm still stupid enough to participate in. In more years than I can remember of playing the little square game, I have never won a dime. Still, it's a social thing. Every time someone scores, the person organizing the matrix of numbers figures out who will win if the quarter ends without another score. It's one more subject for conversation. Somehow though, the name on that square come payout time is never mine. Lady luck couldn't pick me out of a lineup.

Still, we begin another year after football, filling the void with other stuff, and that's not so bad. I'll be jonesin' by July though.


Friday, February 02, 2007

more than a scoop of ice cream

There is a bike tour here in town. They do it every September. It's a bicycle trip from Saint Augustine to Daytona on Saturday and back on Sunday. It's 150 miles round trip and benefits the MS society. Ever since we moved here, I've been telling myself I'm going to do this thing. I never have. When we moved here, I biked a lot and was in far better shape to do it than I am now, but it's not then anymore, and I have to deal with who I am now. If you told me then I was going to wait until I'm 50 to do it, I'd have told you you were crazy, and that if I did wait 'til I was 50, I'd have to be crazy too. I'm not 50, but I am crazy. I will be 50 before September, and I'll still be crazy.

In any case, we have a corporate team that rides in said bike tour. They raised x amount of dollars which entitled them to an ice cream social provided by the MS society, which they invited everyone to. I went, more to ask about the ride than for the ice cream, but I did have a scoop...chocolate chip with sprinkles. One of my friends is a co-captain of the team, and I got heavily recruited while I was asking about it. The company said they would raffle off 5 registration fees to new riders at the social, but only 3 new "prospects" (people who said they'd be willing to try it) showed up, and I was one of them. The three of us won by default, which is really about the only way I ever win anything. So, I'm now registered, and I guess I'll be riding in it. I have until September to get ready, but my current newfound gym regimen should help some. It gives me something to work toward as well. I now have a do something I've always wanted to do, even if I did wait 'til I'm 50 to do it.


havin' fun with the youngster's tunes, part deux

because Mickey D's came out with this product and it rhymes, I can have more fun with this song...

I'm listening to music, some Nellie Furtado
just mindin' my own business eatin' some gelato
but then my i-pod breaks, I'm incommunicato
Mick D's?...

Snack Wrap
Snack Wrap

gimme some mo

Snack Wrap
Snack Wrap

down at the sto

Snack Wrap
Snack Wrap


Happy Groundhog Day!

I know Phil would be seeing his shadow here this morning, but I have no idea what the weather's like in Punxsutawney. We're coming off a night of torrential rain, which was a good thing. We need it. Now, the sky's cleared up and it's nice out...a prelude to the chill to come. We're supposed to be seeing lows in the 30's all next week, which for us, is cold.

Last night I hit the first gym obstacle...what happens when the youngster doesn't want to go? Where's my push? Still, I went anyway. The wife said, "But, you'll miss Earl." I know, some support there, trying to keep me on the couch for My Name is Earl. I still went though, telling her I had 3 TVs in the gym and I could catch it there.

So I get there, and there are two women in the room. That's all, just them, and they have all the TVs set to the Lifetime network. I suppose I could have been assertive, or rude, or whatever, and started changing channels, but I just dealt with it. Missing an episode of Earl isn't that big a deal, and I'm there to exercise. Still I learned something. Apparently Reba MacIntyre has (or had, I don't know) a sitcom. I don't know if it was a network thing that got canned or if she's doing it for Lifetime, but it's out there, and it's trying really had to be something it isn't....funny.

Every time I come out with a corny joke (and yeah, it happens on occasion), The wife looks at the youngster and says, "He's your father." The youngster immediately shoots back, "You married him."

When I came in from the gym last night, in time to catch most of The Office, which was pretty funny, I told them..."You know how you think I'm not all that funny? Well, I got nuthin' on Reba. That woman is definitely not funny."

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

I can honestly say I knew very little of this. Most of my answers were guesses, so I don't know where the percentages come from.

Your Slanguage Profile

New England Slang: 75%

Canadian Slang: 50%

Aussie Slang: 25%

British Slang: 25%

Prison Slang: 25%

Southern Slang: 25%


the new Blogger....way to launch that thing

Today I'm hating Blogger. For months now I have resisted moving to the new Blogger because it required you to have a Google account, and I really didn't want yet another account out there junking up cyberspace...but they forced the issue, and pretty much made you do it yesterday. Now, I can't get to my blog. I can publish stuff (or at least I think I can) this post, but I can't see it. I get some error message, and from what I'm seeing on their help page and FAQ stuff, I'm not alone. Way to go, people. Force everyone to use your new product, but don't be equipped for the consequences when you do.


The Super Bowl

I've been listening to people overanalyze this game for days now, and I want to help overanalyze it just a little bit more.

I think it's all way too simple. Sunday could very well prove me wrong, but I see it this way, and it even pains me greatly to say it. I dislike the Indianapolis Colts, and that's about the nicest way I can put that. Other words come to mind, but "dislike" is nicer and still gets the point across. It's not easy for me to admit, but the Colts are far and away the better team, and by halftime, this show will be all over except the commercials. The Colts one weakness most of the year was run defense. The Jaguars exploited the hell out of it. They've managed to toughen that up in the playoffs though, and what they showed against the Chiefs and Patriots impressed the hell out of me.

The Bears supposedly have a great defense, but you'll have to excuse my AFC bias. That great defense has some gaudy numbers supported by playing the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers..twice. I'm not saying they aren't good, but I am saying they're overrated. I've seen more of Peyton Manning the Colts offense than I'd like to, and they aren't the Lions.

Then there is my AFC bias. Dispute it all you like, but the top teams in the AFC are clearly better than the top teams ion the NFC. I didn't much care which team came out of the playoffs in the AFC. Any of them would beat any of the teams coming from the NFC. About the only matchup where I gave the NFC team a chance would have been New Orleans against Kansas City, and even then Kansas City would be favored. New Orleans would have a better chance thsan any other scenario though.

Now, I know, any given Sunday and all that and yeah...something really strange could happen that allows the Bears to win this game. Barring a total eclipse every time Manning drops back to pass though, this game is decided before the third quarter starts, and we stay tuned to see if Bud or Bud Light wins this years competition...and to see if we won football pool money.