Saturday, December 26, 2009

My Favorite Carol

When I was growing up, there was one Christmas album that was a favorite of the entire family: "Tennessee" Ernie Ford's The Star Carol. The production may seem a bit overblown to twenty-first century ears - a full orchestra, large choir and the rich tone of Ford's powerful bass voice - but you can hear the vastness of the soundstage where the music was performed and the thrill of live performance in the recording studio (no overdubs here, baby!).

The record (which is no longer in print as a compact disc - but available for purchase as a download) features three carols composed by Alfred S. Burt and Wilha Hutson. Burt was a little-known jazz musician (and Michgan native, I will note proudly) who died in 1954 at the age of 33; Hutson was the organist at the Burt family's church. My favorite of these has always been Some Children See Him, a carol which speaks of Christ's appeal to people everywhere - and how love can transcend all the things that separate people. [Sure, that's just my interpretation - but I'll stand by it.]

I have combined my love for the song with a long-standing desire to diagram the lyrics of a song (ever since Capt. Dumbass posted this). I have included a couple of snippets from the song in my audio post - so be sure to have a listen. I hope you enjoy it.

[Click on the picture to enlarge.]

Happy Boxing Day!

Take care.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Velveteen Tree

There was once a "velveteen" tree, and in the beginning - though it was a nice tree, with a sturdy trunk of wood, textured to appear like the bark of a real tree, and branches that would fold up if the tree was inverted or laid on its side - it didn't seem like anything special. The man and the woman that bought the tree thought they were being practical. Real trees were getting more and more expensive - and it was such a bother to deal with fallen evergreen needles or worry about the dry branches catching fire some night while the couple was not at home. Besides, it seemed a waste to buy a tree that had, until recently, been a living thing - and then slowly watch it die.

So they bought a "fake" tree; but nearly everyone who saw the tree - its branches draped with lights and garland, hung with ornaments and candy canes, and topped with a beautiful angel - thought that it was real. The couple agreed that it was a fine tree - but it was not real to them. For a while, the "velveteen" tree was only used for those Christmases when the couple would be traveling out of town during the holidays. If they planned to be home for Christmas, they would buy a real tree - and the "velveteen" tree would remain another long year alone in its box, stuck in the basement or the garage. After a few years, the couple stopped buying real trees altogether and the "velveteen" tree was used exclusively. As time passed, those who saw the tree continued to remark about how real it appeared.

The couple had a daughter and then a son. As the years came and went, the children began to hang their expectations on the tree, like so many pieces of glittering tinsel - and often found their wishes fulfilled by the boxes and bags found underneath its branches on Christmas morning. The tree was ever-present in the family's holiday rituals: decorating, photos for the Christmas card, opening gifts. Where once only mother and father could hang ornaments on the highest branches or place the angel on top of the tree, now the boy could reach those spots most easily.

And so, after many years, the "velveteen" tree became real - rooted by the hopes and dreams of the children, watered by the patient care and affection of the mother. The tree was like a part of the family each Christmas - although no one had spoken a word about it. The father didn't seem to notice what had happened. In a way, it was strange that the news would be so tardy in coming to him; for he often spent time alone with the tree, late at night when everyone else was asleep, putting gifts in place, a hymn playing quietly, the only light in the room twinkling from the tiny colored bulbs on its branches.

But on one particular night, as he sat alone and looked at the tree, he realized it was true. There was no longer anything "fake" about the tree. It was a real and faithful friend - a part of Christmas that he could count on, that wouldn't let him down. Each branch was hung with ornaments of memory, not just glass or metal or wood - memories of his in-laws, his goddaughter, his children. Each string of lights or strand of garland was a cord that helped to bind together his family and friends, with a bond of shared experience, expectation and love. He remembered again that everyone, in large measure, decides what is real for themselves - so why not decide that life is really...good.

Christmas comes whether or not we are ready for it.
Get real - and don't let it pass you by.

Take care.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

In support and thanks

While getting ready to have dinner with friends, I saw a news blurb at Yahoo.

Then I sent this email to Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska:

Senator Nelson:

If recent news reports are correct, your decision to support the health care legislation currently before the Senate will clear the way for its passage. While neither of us may view the bill as a perfect piece of legislation, I believe that it will help many Americans and be, on the whole, a step forward in making care available for everyone in this country. I am sure that you will receive much correspondence in the wake of this decision, both positive and negative. I hope that, whatever the reaction, you will remain firm in your decision.

It is often difficult to know what is "the best thing to do" - but I think it is clear that something must be done. Thank you for having the courage to help ensure that something will be done.
Take care.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Blogging Blackmail

So while cleaning up stuff I leave lying around the house recently, my old lady my lovely wife, the Middle-Aged Woman, came across an antique Father's Day card that the Boy (at the time of the card's creation not yet twelve years old) made for me.

Ah, yes! There's nothing quite like the lechery of an eleven-year-old...

I find the old card on my desk the other morning - where she's left it to pique my interest. And when she sees me, the first words out of her mouth are:

"So, did you see that Father's Day card I found? 'Cause if you're not going to blog about it, I AM."

[Don't worry - if you click on the picture, you can see it nice and big.]

Right - like she doesn't have enough time and material to blog about her own stuff without ripping me off!

So I promised myself that I wouldn't do any blogging until all my employees year-end reviews are done (which they are not). But threatened with the treacherous wench's this blackmail, I have relented momentarily.

Let's hope nothing else good blog-worthy happens until my reviews are done.

Take care.

PS: Miller Lite? ICK!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

RTT: Blogus Interruptus

  • Work is really starting to get in the way of my blogging. I have some of my best ideas in the morning, when I've got to prepare myself for gainful employment. Do you realize how difficult it is to type and brush your teeth at the same time? I've thought about using my little digital voice recorder in the car on my way to the office - but it just seems like an unhealthy amount of distraction while operating heavy machinery.

  • Sleep is really starting to get in the way of my blogging. Oh how well I remember those golden days when I would stay up until 1 or 2 (or later) in the morning finishing off a post. With the sun going down so early, it's getting harder and harder to convince my body that 10:30 pm isn't way past my bedtime. And I must confess - I do love to sleep. After sex and eating (they constantly vie for supremacy), sleep is about my favorite thing.

  • Theater is really starting to get in the way of my blogging. I might have been able to hack preparing for just one play - but when the Middle-Aged Woman decided she wanted to participate in the Christmas play, my priorities got thrown out of whack. I thought it would be nice to do some theater together for once. But having rehearsal two days a week really starts to eat away at your leisure time.

  • Reading is really starting to get in the way of my blogging. After getting through a torrid run of He Read/She Read posts in late October & early November, I had to take a reading break to make sure I could devote attention to memorizing my lines for The Odd Couple. But in the last couple weeks, I polished off Cormac McCarthy's The Road and started Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair. All this, when I'm really supposed to be reading Neil Gaiman's Good Omens. I promise I'll try to acquire the book this week, Amy - I swear!

  • 30Rock is really starting to get in the way of my blogging. Not that I'm planning my week around a TV show. Nosiree, it's far more serious than that. With my Roku player's ability to stream films and TV shows from my Netflix account, I can watch the entire first three seasons of 30Rock whenever I want. Of course, that has too frequently been in groups of 4 or 6 or 10 episodes at a time. For those of you who have (like me, until recently) never checked this show out - you owe yourself the chuckles. Just keep in mind that I take no responsibility for any addictive behaviors that may result from following this suggestion. But all the cool kids are doing it.

  • The holidays are really starting to get in the way of my blogging. Who wants to spend a lot of time writing when there is pie to be eaten?

  • Life is really starting to get in the way of my blogging. But I noticed that my number of followers has actually increased over the last couple weeks when I have posted ABSOLUTELY NOTHING - so maybe my whole concept of what attracts people to this blog is wrong.

    I guess, in my little "Field of Dreams", if you ignore them, they will come.
Take care.

PS: Go visit Keely at the Un-Mom willya?!

Don't make me tell you again!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

RTT: The only living boy in New York

Jim, get your plane right on time
It's just your job that's on the line
Fly down to Madiso...o-e-o...o-e-On
(and on and on and on and)
Here I am
The only IT guy in New York...

  • New York City has been a dominant element in my life of late. It seems that when I'm not there, I'm trying to fix something that's gone wrong there. And when I am there, I'm working my @$$ off - until midnight or 1-2 in the morning. And if I'm not doing either of those things, I'm trying to make changes that will prevent Option 1 or Option 2 from happening.

  • People in Manhattan do behave as though they believe the world revolves around them. I know we all struggle with self-centeredness to some extent - but it often seems as though the people on that little island ("off the coast of America" as Spalding Gray once said) have given up the struggle. They live with the permanent delusion that they are more important than everyone else. Maybe it's just the cost of living.

  • The problems seemed to start when we blew the circuit in the server room. That was just before I made a scheduled trip to New York at the end of September - to finish upgrade of their connection to the company network. While I was in NY, we met with an electrical contractor and solicited a proposal for them to install a second circuit in the room. Of course, before the work could be completed, there were more power problems and more downtime. More people p*ssed off at the IT Dept. Finally, by the end of October, those problems were resolved. Or so we thought.

  • Keep in mind: On Wednesday, November 4, the New York Yankees played Game 6 of the World Series in the Bronx. They beat the Phillies that night to win their 27 World Series Title.

  • November came "in like a lion". On Tuesday night, there was another power problem in the server room. Then, overnight, the network connection (which we had just been installed a month before) went down. And Wednesday morning, power went out again to half the server room. By noon, my flight had been booked to LaGuardia. I didn't even argue. A goat needed to be scaped - and I was feeling mighty goaty.

  • You know how when you're really tired and in unfamiliar territory, things can seem quite surreal? How's this for surreal?

    By 11:30 pm Wednesday night, when I left the office I had worked (including travel; I can't sleep on a plane) about 18 hours. My only meal for the day had been Burger King at the airport before my plane left. The hotel that the office had booked me into had no rooms - so they in turn have set me up in another hotel - a $10 cab ride from the office. The desk clerk has warned me that the place doesn't look like a hotel from the outside (truer word were never spoken). The cab drops me off on 58th Street near 9th Avenue.

    There are all these 20-something hipsters milling around on the street as I drag my 40-something self and luggage into the entrance. It doesn't look anything more like a hotel inside either - and the techno is booming from somewhere above me. I get on a long, steep escalator with lime green lighting all the way up to the next floor - and the closer we get to the top, the more sure I am that I have dragged my luggage into a dance club.

    But no! When we reach the top, I see it - across the dim floor - music pounding, people dancing on the opposite side of the room, youngsters everywhere with drinks in hand - the check-in desk!

  • On Thursday, I only worked about 16 hours - but there was no travel involved and I ate lunch at my desk (leftovers from a lunch meeting of some big-shots in the Board room). The only diversion was dinner at a little Brazilian restaurant around the corner from the office - where I read news reports about the Fort Hood shootings on my BlackBerry.

  • When you're paying almost $500 a night for your hotel room, is it wrong to be a little concerned when the door looks like it was last opened with a crowbar?

  • By the time I flew home Friday, the power situation had been resolved - by replacing the ORIGINAL circuit in the server room. So we ended up with two brand new circuits in that room. And the power has been stable there ever since.

  • But the new network connection had problems on Monday and again Wednesday last week. Somebody else can make THAT trip to New York.
Take care.

PS: Go visit Keely at the Un-Mom willya?!

The Un Mom

How many times to do I have to keep saying it?!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Friends in Need

Today would have been Maddie Spohr's second birthday.
My lovely wife, the Middle-Aged Woman, wrote the tribute below.
If you have the means, please consider making a donation to help families with at-risk infants.
I don't think there are too many people reading this who didn't have their heart broken on April 7th of this year. That's the day we learned that Madeline Alice Spohr, whom we all knew as Maddie from The Spohrs Are Multiplying, was suddenly taken from her parents, Heather and Mike, when a respiratory infection coupled with a collapsed lung was more than her 17-month-old body could fight. Thousands of people across the country mourned with Heather and Mike, and thousands came to their support by donating to the March of Dimes in Maddie's memory.

Since then, the Spohrs, along with family and friends, have created Friends of Maddie, a fund dedicated to supporting families of critically ill or prematurely-born infants during their stay in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with supplies, help finding temporary lodging (because the NICU isn't always within commuting distance of home), and by creating a network of support.

Friends of Maddie uses your donation to put together Support Packs for families who find themselves overwhelmed with the care of an at-risk newborn. The packs include items such as reusable water bottles, snack bars, tissues, mints, and most importantly, a tri-fold binder with a note pad and accordion file to keep track of paperwork.

"We're hopeful it will make it at a little easier for parents to keep track of everything," Heather says."You get SO many papers, business cards, etc., every day, and it's hard to keep track of everything."

She should know, she lived the experience. Maddie's sixty-eight-day stay in the NICU is chronicled on Heather's blog and her husband Mike's blog as well. Readers across the country followed every setback and every victory. What message would she like to pass on to parents in the same situation?

"Patience. Take things a day at a time and live in the moment. Don't look down the road or things will get REALLY scary and overwhelming," shared Heather.

The reaction to the packs has been terrific, according to Heather, "We've been getting a FANTASTIC response from everyone! We weren't expecting such a big response so we are really behind in getting back to everyone, but it's a good problem to have!"

  • By now, you are all wondering how you can help, right? I knew it. You people rock. Your options: Donate! I know, the economy is bad right now, but every little bit helps. Or...
  • Let your local NICU know about Friends of Maddie, or...
  • Do you work for a company that might bring a valuable service to NICU parents? Contact FoM! Or...
  • Just spread the word! Write a blog post! Send out a tweet! Y'all know how this works!
Mike and Heather's loss is unimaginable. In spite of their grief, they have found a way to pay forward all the love poured out from thousands of hearts across the Internet. Tell your friends about Friends of Maddie.
Take care.

Friday, November 6, 2009

"Stop everything - I think I hear the President..."*

I am not very politically-minded. I normally vote Democratic. I'm not conservative - because I don't have anything to conserve. I'm not very liberal either really. I'm like a Bill Clinton fiscal conservative/social liberal Democrat crossed with a pre-Palin John McCain Republican. (I don't even know enough about politics to be sure that last statement is even ACCURATE. And all this is far more background information that is necessary for this post.)

Anyway, after Fort Hood yesterday and the Orlando engineer "going postal" today, I think the President needs to get on the tube and try to talk this country off the ledge. I know my idea is a little over the top - but clearly some of us, maybe a lot of us, need a time-out; and the President may just be smart and articulate enough to pull it off.

After eight years of a guy who could barely read the teleprompter telling us the enemies were all "out there" or "over there", we've been reminded again what bullsh*t that all is/was. It was so easy to forget about Oklahoma City or Columbine after the World Trade Center. But we have once again met our worst enemy - "and he is us" as Walt Kelly so aptly put it.

I know it's risky business asking the Commander-in-Chief to become the Psychiatrist-in-Chief or the Preacher-in-Chief. But, after all - who's your Daddy? And clearly some us need Daddy to chill us out, big time. I personally would also suggest prayer, and lots of it. But maybe you're not into that. Then go give somebody a hug or something.

If you can't be happy yourself (and God knows it is plenty difficult sometimes) then at least have the decency not to spread your unhappiness around with bullets. Why can't these gun-toting idiots be seized with the desire to commit suicide instead of teenagers who got dumped by a girl/boyfriend or just had a bad day and can't see beyond it?

C'mon, Mr. President - talk to me.

Take care.

*Apolgies to Joe Jackson

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Well, it wasn't a complete lie.

I didn't say they were nice-looking ones.

[I feel so cheap right now. How will I debase myself next?]

Anyway - the action is all at He Read/She Read.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

RTT: She got me the "Fatty" pants


- My lovely wife (the Middle-Aged Woman) has a pretty open schedule lately, so she took pity on me and went shopping. For me. You see, all but one of the 4 pairs of pants that I wear to work had...problems. The ravages of age and excessive wear had taken their toll, so she went in search of a bargain on some new pants for me (this being an unbudgeted expense and all). And she was wildly successful! I think she found 4 pairs for about $80.

There was just one catch: two of them were "Fatty" pants.

You know, the kind where the waistband of the pants has some "give" to it. But these two pair don't just have an "elas-ticky" waistband - there seem to be different panels of fabric at the waist that will adjust based on just how fat you happen to be. These are pants that will make getting fat easier - by quickly adjusting to any new girth, so there is no warning sign of your trousers getting snug. (The b*stards!) What will these fiends think of next?!

- Little chocolate donuts are just delicious. I think a new food group should be created just for them. I would call it the "So d@mn delicious if you eat the last one I'll kick your @$" food group.

- Do you think I should be concerned that wife is reading a book titled "Marrying George Clooney"?

- I don't know why, but sometime in the last couple weeks, the MAW stopped putting my sandwiches into plastic sandwich bags and started wrapping them in waxed paper. I wonder if she's taken a principled stand against sandwich bags. If so, I probably need to tell her that the wax paper seems to create a larger amount of waste than the sandwich bags.

- Maybe my sandwiches are just too big to fit in the bags. Maybe she thinks I'm eating too much.

- Maybe the whole "Fatty" pants thing is supposed to send me a message: "Hey, Fatso!! Why don't you just stop scarfing down all the little chocolate donuts!!!"

- Do you ever just scare yourself sometimes. Happened to me.

- Just now.

- I have a $200 cell phone bill this month. Why is my cell phone bill $200 this month?

- Do you think these pants make me look...insane?

Take care.

PS: Did I mention that you are supposed to visit Keely at the Un-Mom immediately.

The Un Mom

If not sooner.

PPS: Don't forget to visit He Read/She Read tomorrow and check out the reviews of Yann Martel's Life of Pi by the delightful Pamela (from the dayton time) and Yours Truly (from right herely) . You won't want to miss that!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Death of Curiosity:
Jim Styro's Meaning of Life, Part Fourteen

The thought occurred to me recently - that I am no longer as curious as I used to be.

I could probably come up with a lot of reasons why that has come to pass. I'm older, I know more, so there's less to be curious about. I'm older, so there's more things I don't want to know (like what are my daughter and her fiance doing during their sleepovers? Hell, I know damn well what they're doing! The same thing I was doing with my fiance 30 years ago.) I'm confronted with so much information from modern media that my mind is occupied with absorbing the information already bombarding me - not seeking out more stuff to try to absorb.

These reasons all have varying degrees of validity - but I don't think they tell the real story. (The "I know more" one is particularly weak, since the amount of "What I know" as a percentage of "What there is to be known" hasn't even caused the Knowledge-O-Meter to jiggle during my entire stay on this planet...) The biggest reason why I'm not very curious anymore is:
I'm just too damn busy to be curious.

You've heard of "idle curiosity"? People use the phrase like it's a bad thing - but I'm not so sure. In any case, I'm pretty sure a prerequisite for idle curiosity is...being idle. If your time and your mind are constantly occupied with "what is going on right now", there's little or no room for curiosity to creep in.

Which, in and of itself, wouldn't be a cause of concern - I mean, who cares whether or not Jim Styro is curious. But I think we're ALL getting too busy to be curious. And I think that general phenomenon could be more of a problem.

Consider for a moment the sort of situations in which your mind seems to work best, is the most open and creative. Is it when there is a flood of information, sensation or ideas being thrown at you? Is it when you are bearing down, highly focused, intent on an objective? Is it when you let go, relax your mind and let it wander for a minute or two in a happy place? Ask yourself: When you can't remember something, when something is on the tip of your tongue but you can't quite come up with it - and it's bugging you - what do you do?)

Like most things, I think the mind benefits from some variety - but I fear that our culture and lifestyles don't permit as much as we need. It's not that we don't like to think at all (although that is a problem that deserves a separate examination) - but even when we do, it tends to be reactive, frantic and...directed. This last point, I think, is particularly harmful to the curious nature. Because I think we tend to confuse the "pursuit of knowledge" with curiosity.

"The pursuit of knowledge" is noble and useful - but it is most often done with a particular objective (or worse, a conclusion) in mind. When I worked for the federal government, my friends and I there had a humorous motto that we intended to have printed on T-shirts.

It said:
If you know the answer, you don't have to think
A saying both funny and true - but dangerous to thinkers everywhere. In our haste - to make money, to be first, to not "waste time" - we have dismissed the importance of idle curiosity. And if we do that, if we stop letting our minds wander where they will go, we risk not only missing the inspiration that we may find from the wandering - but our minds may forget how to wander.

I say we need to start exercising our curiosity muscles - before they atrophy.

Take care.

PS: Lest you think that I hadn't noticed, my lovely wife, the Middle-Aged Woman, has partnered up with Captain Dumbass (my hero - or is he now my rival?) to bring you
the Zombie News Network!

Don't miss it - or heads will roll.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

That's why I love mankind (revisited)*

[REMINDER: You must get over to He Read/She Read immediately - to see the special Halloween Horror post by Captain Dumbass and the Middle-Aged Woman.]

Yesterday Kat (from 3 Bedroom Bungalow to Let in Crazytown - which is just a kick-@$$ name for I blog, I might add) left a cool comment about my RTT post, that said:

I think God should send everyone a letter that says.

Dear (insert name here),

I love you, even when you screw up.

I like Kat's idea - but after thinking about it for awhile, I remembered...

God did send a letter like that - it just got hidden in the WRONG VERSION of the Bible.

As I remember it, the letter read something like this...

I do love you - even when you screw up.
You can see that it's true - because when the time came for someone to be punished for the things you messed up, I came myself -
and let a part of me be sacrificed on your behalf.
And not just you - for everyone who ever screwed up.
So if I loved you that much, shouldn't you try to love each other?
Remember: I loved you before you loved me.
[If you object to my free translation/interpretation of Romans 5:8, I John 4:10-11 & I John 4:19, send me an email and I will gladly discuss it further.]

Take care.

Now get over to He Read/She Read! Quickly!!
I hear that the Middle-Aged Woman is even giving away a prize to some lucky winner at Unmitigated.
Why are you even still here reading?!?!

*I was going to say "Apologies to Randy Newman" - but I ain't apologizing. (I love Randy BTW - but not that song particularly.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

RTT: ...all sorts of ideas about religion
and pinup girls


- Saturday night, my lovely wife (the Middle-Aged Woman) and I, The Girl and her Fi-ance, and The Boy, went out to the International House of Pancakes for Ms. Partly Cloudy's 20th Birthday dinner. (Hey, I'm not cheap! IHOP was her choice.) In the midst of our dinner conversation, it was revealed that, as a child, the Fi-ance had mistaken some of the lyrics to the old children's song, Kookaburra - and granted Christ-figure status to the bird. See for yourself:

Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree
Merry merry king of the bush is he
Laugh Kookaburra, laugh Kookaburra
Gave your life for me
It took a long time for the MAW to stop giggling about that one. I, for one, respect a young man who's willing to make this sort of (hilarious) admission in front of his likely future parents-in-law.

- My uncle and I got on the road early Sunday morning and drove 200 miles to visit my Grandma (his mother) for the day. While we were there, the extremely nice neighbor-lady that looks after my Grandma gave me this:

That's right, folks! At the age of 98, my grandmother has become...A PINUP GIRL.

And if the pinup weren't enough, she has also brazenly appeared in a brochure promoting charitable giving for the United Way.

During our visit, I was able to convince the Pinup Girl to go out for lunch (quite an unexpected development - my Grandma has been extremely reticent about eating in public since she had a stroke several years ago) - and it was no surprise that the restaurant quickly filled up with other patrons. The casual observer might have thought it was just the usual influx of business after Sunday church services. But I know better. Though the hordes were clearly being attracted like moths to the Pinup Girl's flame, thankfully, they were all well-mannered enough not to bother her with autograph requests during our meal.

- Yesterday, the MAW posted about some people of an unusually zealous religious persuasion* who apparently burn different translations of the Bible which they believe do not represent the true Word of God. The MAW referred to these as "the WRONG VERSIONS of the bible." I found this "wrong versions" idea so striking, that I began to imagine God herself doing a commercial for "the RIGHT VERSION" of the Bible...

Hi, I'm God.

You know - Jehovah, I-Am-Who-Am. Allah, The Creator, The Big Guy Upstairs...

Well, whatever name you call me, I've got the whole world in my hands. And let me tell you - sometimes I look down at what I've got in my hands and it can be mighty disappointing. People say I don't exist -or that, even if I do, I don't care about what's going on down there. But the truth is: it's not easy to watch the stuff you created get trashed every day. Or hear people misquoting, misinterpreting or downright lying about you. And sometimes the biggest lies come from the ones who make the grandest claims to be representing your interests!

But I've come up with something I hope will clear up all the confusion.

I call it: God's RIGHT VERSION of the Bible. Some of you who are big fans of your current version of the Bible may be a little disappointed in the brevity of this new version - and I admit, it does leave out a lot of the beauty and majesty of the original. But what it lacks in pomp and pageantry, I think it makes up for in clarity and readability.

For those of you who'd like to sneak a peek at the new and improved
God's RIGHT VERSION of the Bible, you should check out any of the following passages in your current Bible:
Matthew 22:37-40; Mark 12:29-31; Luke 10:27; or John 13:34.

So look for God's RIGHT VERSION - and accept no substitutes.
Remember: I've got my eye on you.
- DON'T FORGET: Captain Dumbass and the Middle-Aged Woman review Pride and Prejudice and Zombies at He Read/She Read tomorrow. So get in the Halloween spirit and go there without fail. If you don't...well, have you ever seen the damage a p*ssed-off zombie can do?

Take care.

PS: Did I mention that you are supposed to visit Keely at the Un-Mom immediately.

The Un Mom

If not sooner.

*I try to avoid referring to people with whom I disagree as crazy-@$$ MoFos - no matter how crazy they seem to be

Thursday, October 22, 2009

(Still) My Masterpieces

(Jim Styro's Greatest Hits)

[I am reposting this in honor of The Boy's 18th (this past Sunday) and The Girl's 20th (today) birthdays. I haven't figured out any better way to say it since June - so sue me.]

Yesterday was The Boy's graduation party. I took the day off on Friday to relax and work on party preparation; so my son and I were home together for most of the day. In the early part of the afternoon, we had a conversation (OK, it's true - I did most of the talking) and I told The Boy this:

When I was growing up - a teenager like The Boy is now, and even earlier - I wanted to be rich and famous. I figured that I would be an actor, an author, a singer/songwriter - or at least a disc jockey (I assumed ascending to that low rung of the celebrity ladder would be the worst I could do!). I would make my way in the world with my creativity - and people would know my name.

But I also wanted marriage and a family. I didn't think of these desires for fame and starting a family as being at cross purposes - but, of course, they are. And as I matured, it became an easy decision to set aside my dreams of glory in order to give my best to the reality of my wife and children. I didn't view it as a sacrifice. Just a decision - that what was most important in my life was the people I loved, the people around me - not the opportunity to be loved anonymously by the thousands (or the millions) I would never know.

Out of that decision, of course, many more arose. Some out of practical necessity, others of opportunity, others of convenience or habit. How could I best provide for my family? What sort of work could I do that would suit my personal preferences while being lucrative enough, stable enough to plan for the future. Who would hire me? How could I best ensure a steady stream of income for myself and my family?

And in this process, I began to learn my lines as husband and father, I composed emails rather than songs, wrote project plans instead of story outlines, did my DJ-ing by creating mix tapes rather spinning records during the afternoon drive-time shift. These were not sacrifices - I made decisions based on what was most important to me.

The reward for my decisions is greater, I believe, than any film I might have made, or book that I might have written, or album that I might have released.
My children are my masterpieces.
They are bright and beautiful and loving. They're not perfect - they're still works in progress - but they are good. And even God herself, when She created the world, didn't claim much more than that.

When I compare myself at seventeen to my son, he seems quite young. Much younger than I was at that age. I think my children have been blessed to be able BE KIDS for longer than seems the norm these days. And I'm grateful for that. I told The Boy that he might not appreciate that fact now - but later in life, he may better understand and appreciate it.

I wanted my son (and my daughter) to know all that. The Boy's graduation from high school is like a sign post on The Highway; my children's lives have moved into a new construction zone. Most (if not all) of the basic work is complete. The road has been paved, the cement is nearly dry. There may be occasional lane closures from time to time for repair - but my work on the project is all but over.

Oh, I may be able to offer a suggestion on where to place the street lights - or establishing the speed limit...if I'm asked. But I'll try not to feel badly if I'm not consulted. I know there will be times when my input will not be desired - or needed. If I've done my work well, they won't need me much anyway - and they'll know when they do - and they won't be afraid to ask.

Anyway, that's what I shared with The Boy on Friday. Where the road goes from here is mostly up to him. I told my son that I didn't think he ought to do (or not do) things in his life to make his parents proud of him. Making a parent proud seems to me to be an undue burden to place on a child. I told him he should find out what makes him happy, what will allow him to be self-sufficient, how he can be a responsible member of the community in which he lives - and do those things.

That would be more than enough, I think, to make any parent proud. Don't you?

Take care.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Even more about breasts
and how great they are

I apologize right off the bat for lying in today's post title - but I really wanted to get your attention so that you'd go over to

He Read/She Read!

I promise not to lie

Take care.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

RTT: Quick and dirty


- DON'T FORGET: You can read all about The Powwow Highway at He Read/She Read tomorrow. You must go there without fail. Send all your friends, your enemies and your casual acquaintances.

- The female breast is a near-perfect creation. I can't think of anything bad to say about them.

- I finished reading "Life of Pi" yesterday. For all you Twin Peaks fans out there: "The owls are not what they seem."

- I would rather have sex than eat. Of course, I'm not hungry right now.

- Did I mention how great I think breasts are?

Take care.

PS: Did I mention that you are supposed to visit Keely at the Un-Mom immediately.

The Un Mom

If not sooner.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Breaking news

You can get the full story HERE

But, in the interest of not being a complete tease, here's the abbreviated lowdown on He Read/She Read:

Wed., October 21.....The Powwow Highway.....reviewed by Rebekah (from Waffles Waffles All Day Long) and me

Wed., October 28.....Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.....reviewed by the Middle-Aged Woman from Unmitigated and Captain Dumbass from Us and Them

and, tentatively, on

Wed., November 4.....Life of Pi.....reviewed by Pamela (from the dayton time) and me

It just quicken the pulse, doesn't it?

Take care.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

There are no winners - only survivors

Everybody has certain times at work when you just have to grin and bear it, right? There are certain days (of the week, of the month, each year) when you just know it's going to be rough - and you've got to tough it out.

Today was one of those days.

The annual budget planning meeting started today at 4 pm. And it ran until a little after 9 pm. So (that's right, you guessed it) everybody worked nearly a full day - and then had to sit through a five-hour meeting. Now, a five-hour meeting would be difficult enough if you were fresh - but after working all day, the prospect of sitting in a meeting for five hours is more than most people can bear.

I'd like to say, before going any further, that: I'm not sure there is necessarily a better way to handle the thing. It's easy enough for me to say that they should start the meeting in the morning, meet until we get through the entire agenda, and then have everyone go back to their normal duties for whatever time remains. But the truth is: we'd probably all get pulled in a million different directions during the course of the meeting if it were taking place during "normal business hours" - so it's not clear that starting earlier would be much of an improvement.

At least, by meeting into the night, there's a kind of natural process which eventually brings the meeting to a close. That is, when everyone is too punchy to go on, you know the meeting is over.

In such an undertaking, there are no winners...only survivors. And I survived - for another year. Here's hoping you make it over the next hurdle, wherever it is that you toil.

Take care.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

RTT: "Oh what a tangled web we weave..."


When first we write so randomly.*
Or something.

- I don't get why I'm having what amounts to a writer's block whenever I sit down to write a post here lately. I don't seem to have any problem writing in general - I just seem to have a problem writing what's on my mind.

- Maybe it's time for me to work on that post idea I've had lying around for awhile - tentatively titled "The limitations of transparency" - about the decisions we all make concerning how much we want to reveal of ourselves. Not just on blogs, in life! And do the boundaries we establish make us dishonest in our dealings with other people? When does choosing not reveal something about yourself become dishonesty? (I get a few more good ideas together on that one and I'll have a new "Meaning Of Life" post...)

- This weekend, I edited down about the first half-hour of what I expect to be a great new instructional video on Chi Sao demonstrated by my good friend and teacher, Sibok Rocco Ambrose. If you live in the metropolitan Detroit area and are interested in the finest training in self-defense and martial arts around, for yourself or your children, you need to check out Ambrose Academy.

- Later this month, The Girl and The Boy will celebrate their 20th and 18th birthdays, respectively. Good God, I am old.

- So Pamela (from the dayton time) emails me today. She started reading Life of Pi on Friday - and finished the d*mn book in a day. Who the h*ll has time to read a whole 400-page book in ONE DAY? Doesn't she realize the kind of pressure that puts on me?!?!
(Pamela, it's just a joke, sweetie. I don't want to cause trouble again just because I don't know how to write stuff so that it's funny...)

- I don't feel old.

- Did I mention that it's really cool when your kids get older and they're not home all the time and you don't have to wait until they're asleep to have sex?

- I'm not advocating that anyone has to wait until their kids are asleep to have sex (but that is pretty much how the Middle-Aged Woman rolls, if you know what mean). But when one of the parties whose cooperation is essential in these pursuits generally has difficulty staying up much beyond 9 pm... I'm just sayin' - absence makes the heart grow fonder.

- Other things may grow as well.

- Have you ever noticed how underused the word "engorged" is?

- Since becoming a freelance writer, the Middle-Aged Woman has been making a lunch for me to take to work every day and preparing many fine evening meals. Tonight, she had a little mishap with some pork chops (I'm not a big pork chop fan anyway - she likes them though) - and so I had to leap into the breach and salvage dinner tonight. And, though I don't like to brag, I think it's fair to say - that I buy make a mean Crispy Strip**.

Bon app├ętit!

Take care.

PS: Did I mention that you are supposed to visit Keely at the Un-Mom immediately.

The Un Mom

If not sooner.

* Apologies to Sir Walter Scott.
** "Crispy Strip" is a registered trademark of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's not HERE

Go look over HERE!

That's where the action is...will be...soon.

Take care.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Did you ever...?

Login to your computer with the intention of writing a post - and then spend all your time reading and commenting on other people's blogs. (Happened to me.)

I'm sure it's all for the best.

I suggest reading Pamela, Stacy, Chief, The Middle-Aged Woman, and Ellie.

Take care.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

RTT: The "Not Dead Yet" Edition


So, two weeks ago (you remember - the last time I posted) work really s*cked.

Then last week, work didn't s*ck quite as bad - but it was still pretty bad. I found out the previous Friday that I needed to be in New York on Monday morning. Don't get me wrong - I don't mind traveling and I like Manhattan. But I always end up working long hours and don't get to enjoy the trip; this trip was no exception*. And, to close out the week right, I worked a couple extra hours Friday evening and didn't leave the office until 7:30 at night.

I'm hoping that work s*cks even less this week. Hope springs eternal.

Being called out of town last week resulted in my missing the first "Odd Couple" read-through. Although not the end of the world, it was rather awkward to be cast in a lead role one week - and the following week have to make excuses why I would miss the first rehearsal. Last night, I attended my first rehearsal and had fun, though. But, man-o-man! - I've got a lot of memorizing to do!!

Yesterday was the three-week anniversary of my wisdom teeth removal. And I can't wait till the "traumatized" areas of my mouth stop being so sensitive to hot and cold items placed therein. My teeth have never before been sensitive to temperature - and I can't wait for them to regain their brute indifference. That is going to happen - right, Leslie?

I finished a couple of books since my last post. First was The Powwow Highway (in preparation for a He Read/She Read post - unless Rebekah has dumped me) and, more recently, I completed (at long last) Vincent Bugliosi's massive work (1500+ pages) on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy called Reclaiming History. It took me months to finally reach the finish line of Bugliosi's magnum opus**, not because the book is poorly written or boring - but because the factual information regarding the assassination and, in particular, debunking of many conspiracy myths that have cropped up over the years (including a complete demolition of the Oliver Stone film, JFK) are covered in such great detail and with great authority. If you are like I was - having never read a book on the Kennedy assassination - or believing in a vague way (without knowing quite why) that there must have been a shadowy conspiracy behind Kennedy's death - you owe it to yourself to read at least part of Reclaiming History.

I'm getting sleepy now, so I'd better get this baby posted before I run out of steam. With any luck, I'll spend less time working and more time writing this week.

Hey! Stop laughing at me like that. It's impolite to ridicule the deluded.

Take care.

PS: If you need more randomness in your life (and who doesn't?), I would be remiss not to strongly urge you to visit Keely at the Un-Mom immediately. The Un MomIf not sooner.

* Get this: I took my little voice recorder and microphone with me to NYC thinking I might...{giggle} do a post or two in my...{guffaw} spare time. I wasn't kidding about the whole "deluded" thing.

** I apologize for mispronouncing Mr. Bu-li-o-si's name twice. I never realized the "G" was silent.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


No, not the muppet.


Not the fashion designer either


No, no, no...


That's still not quite right.

That's what I'm talking about!

So - I got the part. First read-through next Tuesday. More news at 11.

Take care.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

RTT: "I'd like to say 'Thank you' on behalf of the group..."

randomtuesday and I hope I passed the audition.

So let me try to get you a little caught up here:

A couple weeks ago, my wife (the Middle-Aged Woman) quit her job...rather precipitously. She notified me with an email. (No sh*t - I'm not making that up.)

Last week, I had some wisdom teeth out. I had that done in-person.

Over the weekend, a good friend of mine let me know that he was going through such marital turmoil that he was expecting separation and divorce from his wife. He dropped this bomb - in an email. (Are you sensing a trend here?)*

This morning, they announced that the company I work for was entering into an agreement to be acquired by another company for almost 4 billion dollars. No warning - we came into work this morning and read an email with the announcement.

All in all - it's been a slow news month.

In other headlines, I got the stitches out of my mouth today - and auditioned for a part in The Odd Couple**. These events are not related (in any way that I'm conscious of) - but they did both happen today - and so are fair game to be mentioned in the same sentence. My good friend, Roger, was there - and I am hopeful that we will be asked to play the leads (Roger as Felix Ungar and me as Oscar Madison***). The auditions were both enjoyable and brief, so I will probably try to go back tomorrow for Day Two, in case they need an extra person to read lines and help out.

OK - what else, what else...?

I finally watched some new movies in the last couple weeks. I saw Appaloosa with Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen (I recommend it) and also W. (the Oliver Stone bio with Josh Brolin, Richard Dreyfuss and a great cast overall) - but I can't really recommend the film. It's hard for me to feel the same about Stone knowing how he scr*wed reality over so badly in JFK.

I also watched Good Night, and Good Luck again on my Roku player (the George Clooney film in which he appears as Fred Friendly [who later became the president of CBS News] with David Strathairn as Edward R. Murrow) - it is an excellent film which I recommend highly****. The music in the movie, performed by Dianne Reeves, is also awesome. And I also streamed from Netflix to my Roku, the first 8 or 9 episodes of Lost, Season 3. I do like that show; I don't always know where they're going (I'm not sure the creators did in Season 3 either) - but I like how the episodes work emotionally.

Last night, the MAW and I worked out a budget that should allow her to stay home and work as a freelance writer for as long as she desires. The process seemed like it was going to be tortuous at first - but once we got to just crunching numbers, it seemed to go better. I would hate to think that we might upset Ms. Partly Cloudy***** again by having a disagreement. The very thought...

OK, I've probably p*ssed off enough people with my (pretty tame, really) snark in this here post.
I'd better git - while the gittin's good.

Take care.

PS: If you need more randomness in your life (and who doesn't?), I would be remiss not to strongly urge you to visit Keely at the Un-Mom immediately. The Un MomIf not sooner.

PPS: Why don't my widget or my YouTube videos work anymore? Have I been bad again? You can get the audio for today's post HERE.

* We got a chance to talk at length over the weekend and - well, who knows what'll happen! But at least I gave him a couple new things to thing about before walking away from twelve years of marriage.

** The MAW auditioned as well; but since she has her own blog - and I've signed a rather strict NDA - you'll have to read Unmitigated to see if there is a further disclosure on that event.

*** Felix was played by Jack Lemmon in the film, Tony Randall on TV. Oscar was played by Walter Matthau (stage & movie) and Jack Klugman (stage & TV).

**** It probably should have won Best Picture in 2006. In my opinion, it was considerably better than Crash.

***** I would give you a link to her blog - but she hasn't posted since March.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Dinner Every Night

My good friend, Paul, enlisted my assistance a few weeks ago in putting together a video for entry in the Food Network's The Next Food Network Star competition.

[Since the code from YouTube doesn't seem to be working (never had a problem before), try clicking here for the video...]

I helped him with the script and worked behind the camera. His lovely wife edited the video (great job trimming it to exactly 3 minutes!). And we all enjoyed the lamb ragu.

I'll let you all know when it's time to vote for Paul as The Next Food Network Star!

Take care.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Maybe I'm doing it wrong

[Note: This post should not be read as a snarky commentary about how other people handle their blogs. The only commentary is about how I am.]

I blew by my 100th post sometime in July. I think I was supposed to make a bigger deal about that. Maybe I should have given away a free microwave oven or something.

My site counter ticked by both 1000 and then 2000 hits at some point. At the moment, it reads 2160. I shudder to think how many of those hits are just me checking to see if anyone is reading.

I feel like I used to do a much better job of participating in Spin Cycles for Sprite's Keeper and Fiction Friday for Jeanne at the Raisin Chronicles and those relationship-building type activities. (OK - I've almost never done memes - but I hate lists!) Lately, I only seem to post if there's a picture of me looking ridiculous that I can include.

Of course, I have been dividing my attention with the He Read/She Read posts - and reading books definitely takes away from my writing time. But I intend to spend a bit more quality time here at Speaking In Caps - before all my loyal readers find better ways to spend their time.

I'll get it right sooner or later.

Take care.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Removal of Wisdom

So this is what I look like today:

The good doctor removed my bottom wisdom teeth today. I really couldn't spare any more wisdom - in fact, it's not clear I could spare any. However, although they were not causing me pain, the wisdom teeth were candidates for causing trouble for the rest of my (very healthy and clean, thank you very much) choppers. I would go into a lot of detail - but not everyone may be interested in covering dental hygiene in such depth so early in the week.

Just remember:

I'm keeping my eye on you!

Take care.

PS: I couldn't have afforded even this simple procedure without my insurance - so contact the people who represent you in the Congress and Senate. Tell them it's time to act on national healthcare!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Glory of "I Don't Know"

Maybe it's just me - but somewhere, sometime, at some point during my life here in these United States, we seem to have become convinced that everybody ought to know everything. No one ever seems to want to admit that they don't know the answer to a question anymore. When people don't know the answer these days, they either:

- Change the subject by pretending you asked a question they DO know the answer to - and answering that question, or

- Tell you that the question you asked isn't relevant - and that what you really want to know is something they would love to tell you instead, or

- They pretend to know the answer but never really answer your question, or

- They lie and make up an answer

While each of these responses indicates a unique talent for subterfuge, none are very helpful or efficient or honest. But it seems that use of the words "I don't know" is now an unforgivable sin - and we are all doom to the Hell of Half-Truths.

When was the last time you heard or participated in a conversation where one party ended a statement with the phrase " know what I mean?" and anyone else involved had the guts to admit "No - I don't have any idea what you're talking about."

And then, just when I was convinced that only the few & the brave would admit to "not knowing", I had a conference call with a software vendor who willing to acknowledge on more than one occasion that she couldn't answer one of our question regarding her product (but would find out). At one point, she even said that she didn't want to try and sell us the software by "over-promising".

Wait a minute! Was that a breath of fresh air I felt coming into my office?

Take care.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The new phone book's here,
the new phone book's here!

Click on the book at left to visit a brand new blog where men and women both get a chance to offer their perspectives on a book of their choosing.

Today's Installment:
The Middle-Aged Woman and I weigh in on
Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove.

Hopefully, today's He Read/She Read resembles a telephone book in length only. I'm hoping that it's a little more compelling and easy-to-read. I know you think I had been loafing around for the last few days (and you're mostly right) - but I hadn't dropped the pen completely.

Tomorrow: I have no idea what I'm going to write about. I sure hope it's something good.

Take care.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

They're Playing Right Into Our Hands

The Middle-Aged Woman passed this along seconds ago...

You can read more Frazz here.

You can read more about Lonesome Dove next Tuesday here.

Take care.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Eternally Random

- Why does the afternoon weather guy on our local news radio station refer to himself as a "meaty urologist"?

- My wife, The Middle-Aged Woman , quit her job recently. Being bound by a rather strict NDA, I can only say that I was informed of this development via email.

- I can't be too random next Tuesday because the next installment of He Read/She Read is planned to be unleashed upon an unsuspecting world that day. Or, perhaps I should say, the world would have been unsuspecting - until just now. Actually, most of the world is STILL unsuspecting, so I hope that you will do everything in your power to make people suspicious.

- I hardly read the comics anymore, now that home delivery of the newspaper is only available three days a week.

- I haven't watched a movie at home in weeks. It seems unthinkable - but maybe I need to cancel my Netflix subscription.

- You know how the general populace views used car salesmen? That's how anyone managing a computer network spanning multiple states (like me, for example) views telecommunications vendors.

- I'm planning to be in The Odd Couple at Motor City Youth Theater*. Auditions are scheduled for Sept. 21 - 22. We're mostly looking for middle-aged men who can memorize dialogue and pretend to play cards. If you are the first thing and you can do those other two things, there really isn't that much acting required.

- I'm really looking forward to when I can stay up too late writing a blog post again. Writing a lunch still s*cks.

Take care.

* Contact me if you need details. There's nothing about the auditions at the MCYT website.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Busy weekend

- Had a meeting at church after work on Friday.
- Martial arts training on Saturday morning. It was Testing Day (although I didn't test) and we had a fine lunch at the New Peking Chinese Restaurant with our Wing Chun Do (WCD) friends.
- Worked the rest of the afternoon on balancing past month checking account statements. I was a little behind - as you can clearly see here.
- Saturday night, the Middle-Aged Woman, Ellie B, Queenmaker and I went to the Magic Bag Theater and saw guitarist extraordinaire Laith Al-Saadi with his trio. We were joined by their son, Beloved, and his paramour later in the evening. The two opening bands were not impressive - but Laith was fantastic. I highly recommend that you rush out and buy his two CDs immediately. If you enjoy the sound of a well-played electric guitar and you like your music with some blues, rock & soul and mixed together and drenched in melody - I've got your ticket, right here!
- After a late night out, I was back at Ambrose Academy Sunday morning to observe and help out some highly-experienced WCD practitioners who were taking their final test to become Black Belt candidates. Congratulations to Beloved and Julie - they did great.
- But I strained my back during the proceedings.
- Sang a new solo during worship for the first time later that morning. It seemed to go OK. I probably won't feel comfortable until I've done it a few times.
- Helped my good friend, Paul Johnny, shoot a brief cooking video at his house. It was fun - and he fed my a great meal of lamb ragu afterward. And nectarine cake a la mode.

That's it. Just a routine weekend.

Take care.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I am not worthy

I'm such an ingrate that it's taken me over a week to get around to proudly displaying my two newest awards:

The Thankful Award from Sunshine at Such life in the tropics

& The Honest Scrap Award from Jess at This Life Is Mine

I want to commend these lovely ladies on their keen insight and discerning taste...oops. I want to thank these lovely ladies for their kindness and for reading/commenting on my blog.

I know I still haven't fulfilled a last requirement of the Honest Scrap Award (passing it on to ten other bloggers) - but I've spent so little time reading other blogs lately, I will have to defer that final step a while longer.

Thanks again, Sunshine and Jess. I really appreciate your support.

Take care.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I didn't think the day could s*ck any worse...

But I was wrong.

I got about 4 hours of sleep Tuesday night (I'd like to blame a late Tigers game on the west coast) which is really n-n-n-no-no-no..........body's fault but mine*. And Wednesday morning at work was fairly uneventful. But, at lunch time, one of our offices lost power - and all the systems in that office went down for a couple hours. And just at the point where they were going to shut that office down for the day, the power came back on (that's good, right?). But it only stayed up long enough for us to get most of the computers up and working again. And then the power went out again. So they sent everyone there home anyway.

When power was restored again, the utility company wouldn't commit to having uninterrupted power for our building until 6 pm. So we fretted over whether or not to bring systems back up - and once the computers in that office were functioning normally, we started to get calls from another office that they couldn't open, edit or save documents properly on their computers. So we tried to figure out what was causing that problem - but over two hours later - when the problem magically disappeared - we still hadn't figured it out.

Eventually, I went home. And had some dinner.
And made someone angry.
And made someone cry.

So now I'm really tired - but pretty upset (you know that state where you feel that you are somehow vibrating?) - and there are several extra people in the house who will probably be here until about 1 am.

I'm just hoping that tomorrow won't s*ck any worse. But I could be-

I can't bring myself to say it.

Take care.

* Thank you, Mr. Plant
(you can skip to 5:15 in the clip - if you prefer cutting to the chase)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood..."

"I'm just a soul whose intentions are good..."
-- B. Benjamin/ G. Caldwell/ S. Marcus

So almost two weeks ago, I wrote a post about The Golden Rule which my friend, Pamela, from The Dayton Time commented upon. Her comment was so much in sync with what I was trying to express, that the next day I posted a follow-up quoting from her comments. The two of us were "of a like mind". We were simpatico. And so everything was cool, right?

It ain't necessarily so. Unbeknownst to me, Pamela was going through some rough times - and so, I think, some of the comments that I made here trying to be humorous might have seemed to be just rude (For example: "Hopefully, you've seen that you inspired today's post. If not, may I respectfully request that you - read the damn post!"). Others that were intended to be statements that might apply to anyone reading the post might have seemed to be directed at Pamela in particular ("Can you say 'hypocrite'? I thought you could!"). And the R.E.M. quote that I used to open one post could certainly have been interpreted as a slam on Christ and Christianity (which was certainly not my intention - although, to be honest, I think Christians are just as likely to violate The Golden Rule as anyone*).

So why write a whole post about this stuff anyway? Isn't it perpetuating a mountain that got created out of a molehill?

Here's why I think it's worth writing about: 'Cause stuff like this happens all the time. Sometimes we get so busy patting ourselves on the back for being clever or snarky or whatever - and we don't bother taking the time to be clear, to help people understand, to sacrifice being a smart-ass long enough to clarify, to reassure, to be a good neighbor in the Blogosphere.

Look, I have no illusions - being misunderstood is something that happens to everyone sooner or later. And relationships formed in the E-niverse (Blogosphere, insert your favorite term for this electronic world in which we trod) are particularly susceptible; I think in large part because our interaction is missing so much of the unspoken content (body language, tone of voice, inflection, facial expressions) that is such a huge part of communication in The Real World.

Even the Middle-Aged Woman just went through an episode where she was misunderstood and publicly flogged (mentioned just in passing on her blog). And she's so sweet, that this incident alone is incontrovertible proof that no one is immune from misunderstanding.

But I think if we make an effort to be honest and clear, if we give each other the benefit of the doubt, and not look for ways to take offense...

It'll make it a lot easier to win friends and influence people. And who couldn't use a few more friends these days? Or any day?

Take care.

* I count myself in that "Christian" group - so I'm talking about me, too.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Random Bucket

- Why is it that donuts are never referred to as "Nature's Perfect Food"?

- Last week (it seems like last year) I started a post with a song lyric from R.E.M. that may have left people wondering about me. I would like to state, for the record, that I do love Jesus - and that is not "a hollow claim".

- If I hit it big in the Mega Millions drawing tonight I'm committed to paying off Captain Dumbass' mortgage. You can check out Us and Them for more information - and to see the carnage left behind by the hostile takeover attempt staged by the Middle-Aged Woman and Ms. Partly Cloudy there today. Would you believe it if I told you that I am not related to these women in any way at all?

- Trying to do a blog entry while you're eating lunch at work kinda s*cks.

- I want to write a blog post about being misunderstood. But last night I had to write up four important emails (i.e. not just forwarding some joke to everybody I knew) and do a script rewrite for a video I'm supposed to shoot Sunday afternoon. And then it was 2 AM.

- Can you say "over committed"? I thought you could.

- But I had a nice time in Petoskey this weekend. And I plan on having a nice time in Greenbush over Labor Day weekend.

- Especially if the Mega Millions thing comes through.

- Did somebody mention donuts?

- Lunch time is over. But randomness? Who can say?

Take care.

Friday, August 21, 2009

And now
for something completely different...

[Editor's note: Click on the file called 20090821_completely_different.mp3 above (in the widget or the link below.]

Today's post is: AUDIO ONLY

Take care.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Thought That Counts

[Editor's Note: I had imagined a better post for today. But basking in the glory of the He Read/She Read premiere has been too much for me. Thanks to all who visited and offered their feedback.]

So the Middle-Aged Woman's combined birthday/anniversary gift showed up yesterday...

I think she likes it.

My birthday/anniversary gift still hasn't arrived...
[Another d*mn clerical error, no doubt.]

But no Cricuts were harmed touched in the taking of these photographs.

Take care.
[You KNOW I'm being careful...]

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

For Your Consideration:
He Read/She Read

Click on the book at left to visit a brand new blog where men and women both get a chance to offer their perspectives on a book of their choosing.

Today's Installment:
Sprite's Keeper and I weigh in on
John Irving's The World According to Garp.

Tomorrow: I plan to get back to basics here at Speaking in CAPS.
In fact, I feel a Meaning Of Life post coming on.
Keep your fingers crossed and...

Take care.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tomorrow - A World Premiere

We've been talking about it for months. Tomorrow, the waiting is over.

Tell your friends! Tell my enemies! Come back tomorrow and get the link!

Take care.