Saturday, December 29, 2007

Frankenstein PC, or back to life from the dead

Slowly, the pc is coming back to life. The external hard drive is now all better, and all the files, as far as I know anyway, have been recovered. Next week, we'll take a stab at the old C drive. On the downside though, IE7 seems real quirky, slow to load some pages, and the CD-RW drive looks like it's gone. At first, it would only spin at about half speed, and when I installed the Roxio software, it wouldn't recognize it. After a little tweaking, it was fine, burning cd's at 50x, and then, with no warning, it refused to recognize any disks. So now I suppose I need a cheap replacement, and off to look I go.

On the bright side though, my hat's off to R-Studio, the software that saved my kid pics. You can download the demo for free, run it, and see what it finds and can recover. Then, if you want, buy the license and let it go to work. I did, and so far, it's been flawless, and easily recovered over a quarter million files for me. I am optimistic it will do the same on the old hard drive, and will know in a week or so. Meantime, I have to fix the CD-R so I can back up more data, and not go through this mess again.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Away in a manger

So of course, when the press stories come out today that Brittney's kid sister, a mere 16 years of age, is knocked up, the jokes immediately come to mind. Last name Spears, for one. You look at those girls the wrong way and the get pregnant, for another. But keeping the family name alive is much more than that for many, and a show I caught the end of tonight hit that point home hard. A Canadian couple had a kid who suffered from some sort of extreme dwarfism. I can't remember the specific name, but suffice it to say that at 2 years of age, this girl weighed 8 pounds. 8 pounds. Both my kids weighed more when they came off the assembly line. And I was thinking, what sort of hell did these parents go through, you know? Sure, a lot of people tie one on before they throw it in, and though the news of a confirmed pregnancy is a shock, it's not unexpected. And most people plan somewhat down the unknowable road, their ideas of what having a kid will be like way of course from what it will ultimately be, but at least somewhat in the ballpark. And yeah, you hope for health, hope you don't have a retard or some deformed spinal case. But I'm not sure anyone considers a case like this girl. To see the weird conjugation of a 2 year old that is so small, so lightweight, it was, well, in a word, fucked up. I may complain about material matters, like my hard drive, or the car, or whatever, but I can't imagine walking down that road.

Why the internet can suck

Well, just 2 days after the hard drive went south, I found out my e-mail address had been phished. So if anyone gets a bad e-mail from me, sorry. Part of the problem is I had just renewed the antivirus software from Eset (the best AV on the market), but the renewal info was dead on the old HD. It was this afternoon when I logged onto the internet portal of Frontier to send a message, and noticed every time I tried to create a new message, there was already an identity (not mine), and a message body. Frontier's support is real nice, using a live interface, and it took about 3 minutes to solve the problem. And a quick call to Eset got me my info, although I am still waiting for the scan of the HD to finish before I can instal the AV software. Should be done tomorrow. For now, I'll just change the password daily.

The problem is, well, the internet, and the punks out there who scam and hack and whatever. It reminds me of a time when I was a kid in Grand Central, waiting for a train to go back to Connecticut. Or maybe Rochester. Anyway, this con artist came up and sold me a bill of goods about this hot album that had all these name players on it, like Santana, Clapton, George Harrison, and others. Being a dope, I paid too much for what turned out to be a horrible collection of songs by who knows. In any event, it's that burn, of being had, of not being able to just do something without getting bothered, that is magnified in the internet. A million billion times. Or so. Time to get a job as a pool boy on some island somewhere.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Now the cookies mock me

While the hard drive is in ICU, I took a break to get some Chinese food for lunch. I am apprehensive, as my history with fortune cookies has not been so good as of late. AM I being paranoid? You be the judge. Today's cookie quote is:

"There's no problem that cannot be solved over a green tea ice-cream."

Though I, and perhaps my hard drive, would beg to differ, I can only see this as the cookie mocking my circumstances. I wonder what it is that I have done to offend the cookie gods, and what it is they are looking for in return. I am too freaked out to think normally. Frankly, if you though cookies were after you, you'd be a bit nuts as well.

Monday, December 17, 2007

not so happy holidays

I will be laying low over the next week or so, as the hard drive went south on the pc, and I am trying to recover the data. It looks to be a slow process (should take a few days for the external hd), but so far the results are looking promising. A word to the wise - if you need something you have on your pc, back it up. I should have known better, since I've been telling people to back up for years, but in this case, even the external hd has been affected, so there you go. Although I will live even if everything is gone, it would be nice to keep the 6 or 7 years of kid photos.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Say it ain't so, Joe

So baseball players are taking steroids, or have, or human growth hormone, or whatever. Wow, what a fucking surprise. Who would have guessed that a chance to make millions playing a kid's game would have engendered profiteers. It's no different from, say, Halliburton, or Blackwater, firms that muscled in their way to make money off a war. Provide a path to an easy buck, and someone will find a shortcut. If only the Hall of Fame reflected it's occupants. Imagine - "while not on the field, Babe Ruth was constantly getting his dick sucked for the price of an autograph," or "Ty Cobb loved to keep the negroes in their place, going so far as to . . . " but that's not the American way. Let's gloss over the particulars, and instead, lean heavily on acts that don't matter. Which is sort of a 180 degree turn. Sure, Babe Ruth whored around like crazy, drank to excess, and did all sorts of things outside the diamond. Contrast that with Pete Rose, who played the game, but oops, bet on a few. Seems the extracurricular karma is out of whack. But now, Bud "I've got a small dick" Selig, is all charged up to nail the current batch of drug runners. You know what he should to do hurt the players - make all tickets $2.00. Cut players' salaries. Teach them the hard way. It won't happen, but it'd be nice. Imagine, taking a family of 4 to a major league game, and getting out without spending 300 bucks.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

When Things Go Wrong . . .

they tend to multiply. At least in my case, anyway, or it seems that way. Take this morning, for example. The kids are sleeping in late since they got to sleep too late the night before, and still have homework to do. So the day starts off behind. I go to check the news and weather before they get up, and bam, the satellite is out. Check the switch, it says, and no matter what diagnostic test I run, it's out. Great. Kids get on the bus, I decide to clean bathrooms. Nothing like the smell of bleach in the morning. Since I stink worse now, I figure the treadmill is the next stop. It starts off slipping, like the motor is shot, but after a few restarts, seems okay. I actually jog a whole mile at 4.3 mph. Do another walking a little slower, and then decide, well, while I cool off, I'll toss in some laundry. Come upstairs to check e-mail, the doorbell rings, a friend delivers a holiday card, and after she leaves, I hear this grating sound. Coming from downstairs. The washer apparently couldn't handle the comforter it has done so many times before, and the motor coupling broke. Looks like a somewhat simple fix, but the part price is confusing. You can find one on e-bay for $2.50, but a local store has them for $43.00. On a hunch I go to the Sears site, and type in the part number, and lo and behold, they have them for 16 bucks. So now I have something to do tomorrow. I just hope nothing else breaks. Oh, and one more thing went wrong today - Ike Turner died.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The joy of being heavy

It is no secret I am heavy. I know it, and admit to it, and am working to get rid of all the excess baggage. I am steaming in my own sweat right now, after having huffed and puffed 3 miles on the treadmill. And in my head, I continue to hear voices that say, well how could you have let yourself get like that? I could blame the old food pyramid, which placed an inordinate amount of emphasis on fun stuff like pasta and bread. But that's a cheap out, even if it is valid. The truth is, I just didn't pay enough attention to health. Like saving money, health is often one of those neglected aspects of your life. You go on, day to day, without really noticing anything, and then suddenly, you're stacked with debt, or extra pounds. And losing weight isn't as simple as pulling the steering wheel of a car one way to turn; it's more like trying to turn an oil tanker. Very slow, very ponderous, and the horizon always seems to look the same. So after two weeks or so of banging away on the treadmill, and the spin bike, and lifting weights, this is where I am - everything fucking hurts, my arthritic back, my knee joints (going up stairs is like a fourth of July celebration in each knee), my shoulder sockets simply kill, and I tend to be crankier than usual. The up side? Hey, 2 pounds have disappeared. It should get easier over time, but at the moment, it sucks.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

More Freetime Fun

Following the WCMF song list from Freetime, comes a few other gems. This issue, by the way, is January 5-19, 1983. And on January 9, at Schatzee's, you could see Open Season on Jimmy Freeze. The description reads:

"Best described as tribal rock, ranging from raucous defiance to heartfelt romantic unrest, and featuring former Presstone vocalist Jim Freeze, this band's debut and final performance is definitely the show not to miss."

And it was a hoot. Along with a guitarist and bassist, Freeze used a drum machine, and the highlight of the evening, for me, anyway, was when the drummer took a solo. At a time when drum solos were prevalent, at least as far as most mainline rock bands & corporate rock types, this interlude was hilarious. Just watching the band stand back and admire the drum machine as the solo took off was worth the price of admission. Oh, and in case you're wondering, Schatzee'z became Richmonds.

There's also an ad for Peter's Cellar, with the tag line, "Before the theatre in NYC-- it's Sardi's . . . before a movie on Monroe Ave, it's Peter's Cellar . . .

Funny, I never thought of this before, but I wonder if they were referring to the Lowes theaters, now gone, or the porn theater down Monroe Ave.

Across from an ad promoting Bow Wow Wow at the Masonic Temple Ballroom, is an ad for a club at 2525 West Henrietta Road. Stretch your memory, further, further, yes, it was JB's Club 747.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Way Back Machine

  1. A visit to my mom's house provided me with some archival material. She saves everything, and is slowly tossing out stuff. Anyway, I stopped by, and she gave me a bag of books and junk, like who's who in American high school students (yeah, I was there), and a few old copies of Freetime, the local free publication that lists club dates, events, and the like. So in one of them was a two page spread by WMCF, a local radio station that used to be pretty radical, but over time has settled on playing the same songs relentlessly. So the text at the top of the ad reads:

    "The WCMF Top 96 Songs of 1982 was compiled from votes submitted by WCMF listeners during December, 1982. "

    I don't think there is anything scientific about the poll, and some of the selections I can't remember the station playing, at least not in daily rotation. Uncle Roger would always play better stuff during the overnight, you could call him up to request it, and you could always visit him and party on. But this was during a time when radio still mattered a bit, and there was always an attitude from the younger set, that college radio was the way to go (still is), and I'd guess a few of the votes came in from people trying to skew the results. And if you're feeling nostalgic, below is the list. Read on

    1. Joan Jett ------ I Love Rock n’ Roll
    2. John Cougar ------ Jack & Diane
    3. Survivor ------ Eye of the Tiger
    4. Asia ------ Heat of the Moment
    5. Scorpions ------ No One Like You
    6. J. Geils ------ Centerfold
    7. Men At Work ------ Who Can It Be Now
    8. Fleetwood Mac ------ Gypsy
    9. Genesis ------ Abacab
    10. Duke Jupiter ------ I’ll Drink To You
    11. Sammy Hagar ------ I’ll Fall In Love Again
    12. Loverboy ------ Lucky Ones
    13. Asia ------ Sole Survivor
    14. Aldo Nova ------ Fantasy
    15. .38 Special ------ Caught Up In You
    16. John Cougar ------ Hurts So Good
    17. Billy Squier ------ Everybody Wants You
    18. Genesis ------ You Might Recall
    19. Cars ------ Since You’re Gone
    20. Fleetwood Mac ------ Hold Me
    21. Police ------ Every Little Thing She Does
    22. Saga ------ On The Loose
    23. Toto ------ Rosanna
    24. Asia ------ Only Time Will Tell
    25. Who ------ Athena
    26. Van Halen ------ Pretty Woman
    27. Flock of Seagulls ------ I Ran
    28. Def Leppard ------ Bringing on the Heartbreak
    29. Eddie Money ------ I Think I’m in Love
    30. CSN ------ Southern Cross
    31. Loverboy ------ Workin’ For the Weekend
    32. Genesis ------ Man on the Corner
    33. Stray Cats ------ Rock This Town
    34. Prism ------ Don’t Let Him Know
    35. Human League ------ Don’t You Want Me
    36. Judas Priest ------ You Got Another Thing Comin’
    37. Bryan Adams ------ Lonely Nights
    38. Pete Townshend ------ Slit Skirts
    39. Billy Squier ------ Learn How To Live
    40. Huey Lewis ------ Do You Believe In Love
    41.John Hall Band ------ Crazy
    42. Nazareth ------ Love Leads to Madness
    43. J. Geils ------ Freeze Frame
    44. Genesis ------ Paperlate
    45. Eddie Money ------ Shakin’
    46. Steve Winwood ------ Still in the Game
    47. Tommy Tutone ------ 867-5309
    48. Sammy Hagar ------ There’s Only One Way To Rock
    49. Men At Work ------ Down Under
    50. Roger Daltrey ------ Say it Ain’t So, Joe
    51. .38 Special ------ You Keep Running Away
    52. Kansas ------ Play the Game Tonight
    53. Joe Jackson ------ Steppin’ Out
    54. Loverboy ------ When It’s Over
    55. Soft Cell ------ Tainted Love
    56. Police ------ Spirits in the Material World
    57. Bad Company ------ Electricland
    58. Shooting Star ------ Breakout
    59. Jon Anderson ------ All in a Matter of Time
    60. Rolling Stones ------ Goin’ to a Go Go
    61. Elton John ------ Empty Garden
    62. Clash ------ Rock the Casbah
    63. Van Halen ------ Dancin’ in the Street
    64. 805 ------ Young Boys
    65. Rush ------ New World Man
    66. Joan Jett ------ Crimson and Clover
    67. Steve Winwood ------ Valerie
    68. Frankie & the Knockouts ------ You Never Had it Better
    69. Pat Benatar ------ Shadows of the Night
    70. Le Roux ------ Addicted
    71. Toronto ------ Your Daddy Don’t Know
    72. Sherbs ------ We Ride Tonight
    73. Tom Petty ------ You Got Lucky
    74. Gamma ------ Right the First Time
    75. Steel Breeze ------ You Don’t Want Me Anymore
    76. Loverboy ------ Take Me to the Top
    77. Go Go’s ------ We Got The Beat
    78. Don Henley ------ Dirty Laundry
    79. Uriah Heep ------ That’s The Way That It Is
    80. Cars ------ Shake It Up
    81. Pete Townshend ------ Stardom in Action
    82. Charlie Daniels Band ------ Still in Saigon
    83. Journey ------ Still They Ride
    84. Frank Zappa ------ Valley Girl
    85. David Johansen ------ Animals Medley
    86. Robert Plant ------ Burning Down One Side
    87. Loggins/Perry ------ Don’t Fight it
    88. Scorpions ------ You Give Me All I Need
    89. Billy Joel ------ Pressure
    90. Buxx ------ Can’t Say No
    91. Motels ------ Only the Lonely
    92. April Wine ------ Enough is Enough
    93. Greg Kihn ------ Testify
    94. Steve Miller ------ Abracadabra
    95. Spys ------ Don’t Run My Life
    96. Sammy Hagar ------ Fast Times …

Friday, November 30, 2007

Willow fun

Thanks to global warming, the two willow trees in the back yard are just unloading their leaves.

The shot at left is a stock photo, but that's basically what they look like. All those leaves are like little paper sardines, sardines that avoid rake tines or the 220 mph blast of a leaf blower with ease. And when they drop in the fall, or early winter, they also bring with them branches, long, whip-like strands that don't get past the rake, but do manage to clog it all up. What this means is, essentially, a nightmare. Sure they look good in the summer, if you don't count the small, black, bloodsucking bugs that hides on the leaves, and sure, they drink a ton of water, which saves the back yard from becoming a lake (usually). But cleanup is indeed a bitch, and the only efficient way I've found to rid the yard of leaves is to go over them all with the bagger on the back of the mower. This is a tedious process (believe me, and I've done it twice this week), because you can walk the width of the yard about three times before you need to empty the bag, and that, even for a relatively small yard, is a lot of stop and go. And chances are, I'll have to do it again soon. Ahh well, so it goes.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Cookie madness!!!

I don't have my camera handy, but here's what the latest fortune cookie said -"Your luck is just not there. Attend to practical matters today." So the streak is born, or continues, or whatever. The cookies are out to get me. Why? Because I'm fat? It's not like I'm eating a lot of cookie brethren (although if the pasta and beer armies get together, I'm done). And if you think it's just paranoia, consider this - last Saturday night, the Steve Greene Trio is at the Little Theater. Along with Steve, Dave Arenius on Bass, there's me (Also Tina Albright, a really great vocalist, and a few other players) on guitar. At the end of the night, I go to get the tip jar and tally up what usually amounts to donuts for my kids the next day (at least with my share). As the jar tips sideways, the dollars fall out, the coins bounce on the table, and finally, out drops the remainder of a mostly eaten m&m cookie. Now, counting tips is never the highlight of the evening, since you're bound to be disappointed, but after this new low, I am convinced I have something to offend the cookie gods, and they are out for blood. What have I done? I don't know. I don't eat cookie dough ice cream (dulce de leche is so much better), I don't eat the cookies I put in the kid's school lunches, so what, what is it, what have I done?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sweet! School is out and the kids are home!

If you're a parent like me that stays at home with the kids, you just rolled your eyes in disbelief. And yes, it was sarcastic. Why? Right now, the knuckleheads are watching Gidrah the Three Headed Monster, one is eating chicken nuggets, the other a hot dog. Oh, and they are fighting over something. Like they did earlier over chess. Three days off, then the weekend, enough to toss the sleep schedule out the window, and though they'll eat better, at least at lunchtime, that's a minor plus. The house will get messed up, as any efforts to inculcate them on the benefits of cleaning will go unheard, and with an increase in cartoon viewing, they'll both turn into little ninjas, which puts various and tender parts of my body at risk (sayonara to your sister, boys).

Another plus is the onslaught of xmas, which means more toy advertising, more displays, and good god, probably another local radio station playing christmas tunes 24-7. I am sure the baby jesus will be rolling over in his grave. Ahh, more fights downstairs, time to motor.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Here comes thanksgiving . . .

And sure, everyone is excited. Well, except for me, and perhaps people stuck in airports. As the years go by, I feel less like being in a Norman Rockwell scene and more like my mom, who denies all invites, and spends the time alone at home. No pressure, no worries. And it's the pressure that's getting to me, not a heavy, in your face kind of influence, but a more subtle swelling. Many people in town tend to orchestrate their front lawns and the visage of their homes to resemble a Hallmark scene - you know the type, overwhelming displays of smiley faced disposable items, the influx of those horrid inflatable globe units that shake like Parkinson's as they spew Styrofoam pellets over snowmen or reindeers or ghosts or whatever. And soon there will be a story in the local rag about some homeowner who has lost his noggin, and installed tens of thousands of colored lights around his home for Christmas, and set music to it, and pissed off some neighbors in the process. It makes good copy, and everyone chuckles, but it has gotten to the point, for me, anyway, that it's like the support the troops magnetic ribbon you see on the backs of suv's that get poor gas mileage. It has become a means of branding, and the more extreme the displays, the more extravagant the light show, the more the displayer becomes a substitution for the message (cue Linus on stage for the basics), and how less important the meassge becomes.

But prior to the light show, is thanksgiving, a glutton fest, where people eat turkey for that one time, watch football, and ponder getting up at 4 in the morning to make it to Wal-Mart in time for the opening of the doors. And there is stress to be had, for sure, because it's a meal that's hard to back out of, with people you may or may not want to be with for a long period of time. The most common retort you'll hear when any objection is voiced, is that, sheah, it's only for one day. No argument there, but maybe we could change the menu. Maybe make a Big Mac the centerpiece, or only eat crappy food, loaded in fat and sugar and all the things that aren't good for you. Imagine, "Who wants another piece of Whopper?," or "Can you pass the Snack Wrap?" That would free up turkey for more days during the year for meals, and slowly kill the fast food industry. Maybe people would be more concerned with each other, and not just a once a year cooked bird. Maybe instead of storming the aisles at supermarkets like rabid dogs, people could just relax, and not make, ah, what the hell am I thinking? Nothing will change, and we'll all bemoan how fast the time is going by, that Christmas is just around the corner, and I've only got a little time left to check my strings of lights and get them nailed up to the gutters.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

DIY hell

It's a bitterly cold November day, with the temperature hovering at around 60 degrees. Yes, 60, in upstate New York (upstate as in close to Canada). If the weather stays like this, Santa's sled will cut through rooftops like a hacksaw, and all the Jewish kids can laugh at their neighbors. But the weather is slated to change, and a backyard project of a brick is mostly done. I say mostly, because it's not level, the side supports aren't whacked down, and it's about as level as the ocean. In the spring, it seemed like a good idea. The missus got a screaming deal on lots of bricks, and all that was left was grunt work. So I scoured the web, read books, and it should have been a cakewalk. Maybe it was because I skipped shop in middle school, because the hulking instructor was too intimidating, talked of big guns, and the room not a happy place to be. And maybe I'm just a fuckup, and can't do simple things like measure. In any event, I'll have to fix it in the spring. Part of the problem is the bricks aren't all the same size (length or width, and I'm not talking small differences here, but rather large ones). I am sure there are many other problems, that a man like, oh, Norm Abrams of The New Yankee Workshop could spot in a second, but that I would never see. And so, I understand a DIY project now as not unlike a carnival barker, selling the headless woman exhibit to you, but once inside, you're on your own. And I have this horrid, turn your homework in a month too late, and sloppily done feeling in my gut, and it's not pleasant. As a going away present from the bricks, while lifting the last six over, about a foot from the ground they all came loose, and smashed my 3rd and 4th fingers on my right hand. Take that, neophyte. So the bricks are after me too, as well as the cookies.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Even the cookies have it in for me . . .

So I got some Chinese takeout for lunch the other day, and after it all, there it was, the little fortune cookie. No biggie I thought, just wondered if it was either vanilla flavored or more on the citrus side, or either from Queens or Brooklyn. So as I am watching the Daily Show from the previous night, I eat the cookie, and then check the fortune, which, obivously, is what's above. I'm still trying to think what it is that I have done, but let me tell you, it's kind of unnerving to have your life questioned by a cookie.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Not much of interest is happening here lately. Got to drive at night tonight, and saw the first few random flakes in the headlights. For some perhaps, it's an ominous sight of things to come. For me, it's white rain. And driving through snow at night has always been a star trek moment. People around here itch at the cold weather, but forget that it was way warm into November. Now that the weather has turned colder, it'll be a few months of bitching from everyone. It's too cold, or it's too snowy or whatever. No one talks about the way the moon reflects off the snow, or how quiet it is at night, or how the snow crunches and makes you feel young. They'll bitch about heating bills, about kids getting sick, about crazy drivers. And that's too bad, because winter makes me feel alive, the cold, the snap in the air, the way you pick up the smell of wood burning far off. But hey, that's the way it goes. And now I goes to sleep.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Cell Phone Madness

So today, the cell phone in my pocket rings. This is a big event, since few people know the number. And of course, it's a call from out of state, nothing I recognize. Probably a drug deal, who knows, but I answer it, because I'm bored. Some teenage voice asks if Katie is there, and I say, no man, sorry, wrong number. There a beat of dead air, and then I'm offered, well, since I have you on the line, do you know any good movies to take a girl to, like a good comedy? Poor sucker couldn't have reached a worse candidate to ask. Since I stay home with the kids, that's all I see are kid flicks, big animated adventures and all. So I tell him, sorry man, all I know is kid flicks. And because the technology of cell phones are so great, for a second, I know he thinks he hears chick flicks, and his voice comes alive. But I tell him, no, kid flicks, cartoons and stuff, and I don't know what movies are even playing right now. We part ways. Later, of course, I think to tell him to look at all the movie commercials he sees, and if one looks bogus or gay or whatever to him, that's the one to go to. Because it's not about what he likes, its about what she likes. But it's too late, and hopefully, he's with Katie at some movie, and they're sharing popcorn, and everything, at least for the moment, is okay.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The eyes have it . . .

The doc said the eyes are fine, just aging like a good wine, and making things close up hard to see. So reading glasses, or "cheaters" as he called them, are fine. What wasn't fine was the drive home - blinded by the available light, wearing two pairs of sunglasses, I inadvertantly, and slowly, by the way, went around a school bus at the top of the street. The mom was out talking with the driver, both in the driveway, no kids in sight. So I get hollered at, and when home, the phone call, with an over agitated neighbor saying she'd "blow me in, neighbor or not." I understand her point of view - what I did was wrong. But there's no way I can explain to her the current slew of medical problems, that the effect of penicillin on an empty stomach coupled with the disorientation of dilated pupils and the need to take a whiz in a hurry makes Homer do stupid things. It's too easy to say she's fucking nuts - which she is, given what I know of her, but in the end, she is, and if I really wanted to kill her kid yesterday, I would have driven the car across her driveway, through her garage, and into her family room, because that's where he probably was. Now leave me alone.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Today the tooth, tomorrow the eyes . . .

In the continuing path toward decomposition, I had a wisdom tooth pulled today. Number 17, if you're keeping score. I was disappointed, well, because, it took less time to pull the tooth than it takes to fart. Really. The dental surgeon said something like, "you might feel a little pressure," and then I did, and that was it. One more quick probe for something, some loose flap of skin or something, and game over. It took me considerably longer to get the prescription filled (where the consultation with the pharmacist consisted of her reading the labels to me), or to get home (a road was under construction and closed). So now I'm changing bloody little gauze pads every half-hour, and trying to keep two kids calm. They have the day off from school (Columbus must be the patron saint of superintendents), and hopefully the day will pass quickly. Tomorrow is the eye exam, the second stop on the tour.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sometimes . . .

Sometimes what? Sometimes everything hurts. Not everyone is a fat bastard, and horribly out of shape like me. And it's not something I set out to be, but here I am. With an arthritic back, according to my doctor. Back pain is funny; not in the sense that pain is funny (usually, that's only when someone else takes a football to the nuts), but funny in that it extends so much further than just the back. You see, the lower back is a huge area - supports your whole upper body and all, and if there's a problem, like mine, well, it affects more than just a localized area. Because the pain and reduced movement limits you. And it fucks up your whole attitude. You'd like to be nice to everyone, but imagine your brain running at normal speed, and your body moving in slow motion. Think you'd get frustrated? The answer is yes. And because the pain isn't constant, like, say, a paper cut to a finger, you're not always aware that that is the problem. What a hoot, huh? So sometimes, if I am cranky, don't take it personally.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Did you ever . . .

Sneeze while taking a dump? It's like stomping on a ketchup packet in a Burger King parking lot. What a hoot.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Down to the Wire

School is just a week away, and like most parents who have spent the summer home with the kids, I can't wait. Finally, both knuckleheads will be in school all day, which means a major break for me, although I do have to find a job. But at this point in time, they need structure, and they need it somewhere else than here. It is maddening, to find them at each other's throats one second, and then pals the next, only to return to throttling pirates the next. Ask any parent, who by this time, is so burnt out from trying to be creative and from yelling for months, just what it is like. You'll get that Vietnam vet type response, that cold stare, of horrors unknown, as they try to brush aside the inquiry. But it is a big deal, and even I can't begin to describe the insanity, of the torture of asking someone a multitude of times to do something so simple. And now, there's a light on the horizon, in the shape of a school bus. And that bus is headed this way. This year, I might actually do mimosas at the bus stop.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

What? No New Posts Lately?

Of course not. Time, for parents, is a flexible and elusive thing. And non-parents often bask in the future glow of child rearing, thinking it will be such a sweet existence, an Elysian Fields experience, a real Disney moment, where troubles don't exist. I say, don't count on it. The same way a high school graduate looks toward the unknown of college, as a place to be experienced, where things will be better, life will be better, far from the constraints of home. Most kids find out you don't get laid every day, grades might matter, oh, and you do have to pay those loans back.

But back to time. There are times where, having forgotten a load of laundry in the washer, I find it again days later, only to have to clean it again to rid it of a nasty musk smell it acquired. And yes, having to do it again a few days later for the same reason. Foolish, you say? Of course it is, but parents don't exist on the same level plane as unmarrieds, or those without kids. The only times you are acutely aware of are those that have an immediacy attached - a doctor's appointment at 2:00, say, or a play date at 10:30. Everything else is vague, at least until the spouse gets home. Why? There is no real structure for the short attention span of kids, and get a few together, of different ages, and the clock becomes meaningless. One gets up real early, the other sleeps in. This skewers meal making, and also puts a slant on who gets to watch what ("he's been up watching cartoon network for hours, and I just got up," for example). And you can try to salvage it at lunchtime, but if one of them has an intermediate snack before lunch, again, you're kind of screwed.

Of course, given they both get up at different times, they both go to sleep at different times, and this is not unlike the several levels of Buddhist hells found in Japan. Maybe it's Shinto, I can't remember. "But I'm not tired," says one, and you can argue until you're blue in the face. But you'll be up, unable to watch anything remotely violent or sexy on television yourself, anything that might be a tad stress relieving, something to take the edge of a long, timeless day. And the last thing you think about is posting to a blog that no one reads. So that accounts for the infrequency of posts.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Parenting and Bad Business

When an idea hits, sometimes it feels like a load of bricks. And I know what a load of bricks feels like, because I carted several from the driveway to the backyard, where they sit, awaiting installation into a patio of sorts. But back to the idea thing, because it hit me the other day, that being a parent is like running a really bad business. Think over your job, if you have one, and think how work flows. You show up, roughly on time, do what's asked, and in turn ask others to do things, maybe you go to lunch, and you look forward to the weekend. Not too bad a life. Imagine, for a moment, you had to tell your co-worker to do something simple, say, make copies of a presentation or something. So it'd go something like this: "Hey Frank, can you copy the Henderson presentation? Thanks." Pretty simple stuff, eh? Now imagine a world of kids. The tasks are different, but you basically want them to do something, say, put a few crayons back in a box. That would go more like this: "Hey, Frankie? Can you put those crayons back in the box please?"

Now, if you're not a parent, you might picture a cherubic little face beaming back at you, and the crayons get whisked back into the box. But if that's what you see, you're either not a parent, or a very optimistic person. Because what usually happens is more like this: "Frankie? Did you hear me? Can you please put the crayons back in the box?" And still there's no response from the kid, because whatever he is doing, watching a Japanese cartoon on a Japanese television, playing a Japanese built game, or just picking his nose(which could be Japanese, depending on . . .), is loads more important than answering a question. So again, you go, "Frankie? Frankie! Do you hear me? Can you get those crayons back in the box?!" And if you're lucky, you'll catch his ear a bit and he'll start looking in your direction, but then shift back, unless you pounce on the moment. "Frankie! Hey, did you hear me? Look over hear please." And as a word of warning, your polite phrasing only lasts so long, but you'll see why later. Say he does look, and you think he hears you. Doesn't matter, because he's turning back to the cartoon.

So now some avenues open up for you - You can either pick up the crayons yourself, which would be easiest and painless, but you're sick of always picking up their stuff, and besides, he's old enough and should start learning on his own. It's that instructive instinct, that "I will make my kids turn out better than everyone else's kids" feeling that is both good to have, and a reason to drink. So you decide, nah, I won't pick them up, I'll get the lad to do it. Now you have two options, either keep yelling at him, because talking in a nice polite voice can't compete with robots firing rockets, or stand in front of the television, blocking his treasured cartoon, and getting his attention. If you try the former, you'll find your voice and your stress level slowly rising. There are many reasons, but a big one is because you can't understand why someone a few feet away can't hear you, or respond to you, because you're asking a simple question. And even the thought of a simple question is interesting, because you find yourself gauging the stakes of the task. You get frustrated, because you're not asking him to construct a 30 foot minaret in the back yard, you're not asking him to do invasive surgery in the middle of the rain forest at night with no scalpel, you're not asking him to replace the lifters on a 69 Chevy motor. You, yes you, picture this as a task so simple a child could do it. And therein lies the rub. A child could do it, but he isn't doing it, and your brain, which, in all it's grand experience, is used to people responding to simple tasks that you ask of them. It worked at work, remember? Remember how even that job seemed so shitty, when you asked someone to get you a coffee, or copy something, it happened, even though they didn't like you, or were never on time to work, or whatever?

Yes, now, a task, so simple, so ludicrously easy, something so easy a child could do, is not being done by a child. So without thinking, you raise your voice. You holler. You stand in front of the television, or you turn it over, evoking a violent reaction, and possibly tears. Something so simple that should take, oh, 20, 30 seconds tops, is now a major event, in the 5 to 10 minute range. And you might find a voice coming from deep within, a dark, beastly voice, telling, well, yelling is more like it, yelling that these crayons had better be picked up now, or else. You'll know that voice, the coive oyu thought you never had. But that's another story.

And after this horrible episode, you reflect on parenting, and how no one ever gave you a book of rules, and how you figured kids would be easy, no problem, they're smaller, what harm could they do? You wonder if your parents were the same, endured the same struggles, and the answer has to be yes, and now you understand why parents love grandchildren so much, and why they give you a hard time when they see you raising your kids. They do it, because they have been in the shit before, and they remember when you were a teenager, and were going to save the world, and do all these things that your parents didn't approve of or think was a good idea because you were going to be different than them, do things the right way. They know what will happen, they've been though it. They take care of your kids, happily, because they don't have to live with them. If they want to see a movie in the middle of the day, they can, and you can't. Oh, and if your kids ever do go to your parent's house, and granny asks them to pick up crayons, they do. In a heartbeat. Sucker.

So parenting is like running a bad business, because none of your employees do what they're told when they're asked, they don't show up on time for anything (tell your kids to be at the door at a certain time, and see for yourself), and you find yourself stressed out, yelling yourself hoarse from time to time. Or they do something incredibly stupid, and it drives you nuts. Oh, and these incidents happen all day long. Gotta go now, I hear the kids are hollering.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday fun

Well, the basement got picked up, the boys were rewarded (doubly, since today is fast food Friday - we only eat junk food on Fridays, or are only supposed to), and lo and behold, a weekly newsletter comes through in e-mail with what one aspect of my life is like. Here is the description and the link:

Kung fu child beater The addition of some simple sound effects and abit of trick camera work and it genuinely looks like this guy is beating the crap out of his kids under the guise of teaching them martialarts!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Where was I?

Oh right, so we go outside to play baseball, because the younger just got a new bat and batting helmet (5 bucks each at Wal Mart clearance), and after countless batted balls, including a few 70 mph wiffle balls to the chest, again they're bored, and want to go inside. Fine, I say, now you can get back to cleaning the basement, which, after a quick inspection, hasn't been cleaned at all. "Just put the stuff you keep in the plastic bins, that's all you have to do." In the back of my mind I assume they heard me and understand what I say, but as a parent, such a belief is laughable. Again, utopia exists only in the mind. A perfect world where people hear you and understand you. I may as well be speaking in a Polynesian click tongue dialect. I know, for example, that they aren't cleaning right now as I write. How? Because a few minutes ago, one came up and said the elder wasn't helping to clean. "Fine, so if the basement does get clean, you'll get 2 dollars and he'll get nothing." Off he goes, and after a few minutes, here comes the elder, ready to deal. "What if sometimes we do stuff and get paid, and sometimes we don't" he offers, and I put the screws on - "Listen," I say, "I could yell at you, and tell you how you promised me you would clean the basement because we got the nerf guns. But I too tired to yell. If you can't clean it up, I'll take the guns back to the store." And you can hear the gears turning, and he's looking a way out, but he's a bit stumped. As he heads off to the basement, I tell him I'll call mom and tell her that he didn't do what he promised. This works like a static electricity shock after a 25 foot friction walk across the carpet. He starts getting defensive, and says he'll clean. But I doubt that's happening. Why? Because I can hear them walking around, and I am two floors up. This means they're not in the basement. And sure enough, a few minutes later they both come up, complaining of hunger. Fine, I say, go clean the basement and we'll start dinner. After a brief discussion of options (mac and cheese with hot dogs wins out), they both go off to clean the basement again.

So what's the moral of the story? Well, after 24 hours, of which I slept for 5, there's been a promise to clean the basement. Most of the work so far has been done by me, some by the younger. Their short attention spans have prevented them from cleaning, and when they sought other things to do, they soon tired, and I had to remind them to, uh, what was that? Oh yeah, clean the basement. And what happens when mom comes home? The place is still a mess, the kids are angels, I am still tired, and wait, here come footsteps up the stairs. . . it's the younger, asking if he can have a frog tattoo (little kiddie tattoo) on his arm. I tell him his mom likes putting them on him, can he wait till she gets home? He agrees. I ask if the basement is clean, and like a game show contestant looking up to the heavens in search of an answer, he pauses, and says, "uh, it's a little bit cleaner." So the basement is still not clean, and I'm too tired to think.

When you're tired

If you don't have kids, you don't know what tired is. Oh sure, once in a while you yawn, wish for a day in a hammock, or loafing on a floating raft in a pool. But don't kid yourself; you don't know tired. Take today, for example. The knuckleheads (reference term for the kids) promised they would clean the basement today. I know they promised to do it, because I said they could use their gift cards to Toys R Us and get nerf guns on the condition they pick up their toys. So we got the guns, and they are wicked fun and shoot nerf darts like 35 feet, and have velcro tips and stick to the nerf chest protectors. It's a hoot. Anyway, on my way to bed last night, both knuckleheads were spawled over my bed and the wife, so I went back downstairs to sleep on the floor (back hurts from a patio install, but that's another story). So I didn't sleep well. And I had to move a ton of stone and hammer it down with a compactor in the morning, because all week it's been hot and humid and I sweat more than an hour episode of the Biggest Loser. So I didn't mind being too tired. And who knew the humidty and heat would break late in the day?

So I give them the option of helping me outside, or cleaning the basement. So they choose outside. And I move stone, and compact it, and sweat, and they get a little exercise. And then they get bored. Why? I don't know. It's what kids do during the summer when they have more than ten minutes free. The garage is littered with toys and sporting goods. The basement is a swamp of toys. But they're bored. Fine, you go clean the basement while I take a shower. And I presume that's what they do while I wash the stink off, because Utopia only exists in the mind. In the real world, they're playing Star Wars Lego on the computer. Or spiderman on the old Dreamcast. But not cleaning. So I start going through the big plastic tubs that hold all the stuff that isn't on the floor. "Keep it or toss it?" becomes the line. But now it's like christmas and a 20 year high school reunion rolled into one. Toys they haven't seen for days - "That's my mechanogodzilla!" "Oh look! It's the Power Ranger I was looking for!" and so on. Eventually though, i clear out 4 large plastic bins, have 2 garbage bags filled for some lucky impoverished kids via Salvation Army, and all I ask is they put the stuff they kept in the bins. I take the bags to the car. I decide we all go to the drop off bins now, to get rid of it. Gone, and done. We make a side trip to drop off returnable bottles, and from somewhere the idea comes that they should get paid to clean the basement. Fine, a dollar each if you do a good job.

So back home, I watch part of the Mets game, and am having trouble staying awake. The back is slowly locking up, and getting 5 hours sleep on the floor is paying dividends. One knucklehead tells me I'm falling asleep. I tell him it's because I didn't sleep well, since I was on the floor, and they were in my bed. Shortly after that, the other one is screaming to me that I am falling asleep, and can he watch something on the tv. No, I am watching the Mets game, go down stairs and clean the basement. So they go downstairs. After a while, they come up and want to go outside. Fine. I'll finish this later, I hear screams coming from the basement.

Welcome to the nuthouse . . .

I have been asked to start up a blog, to spew forth humorous observations about the world in general, and so off we go. Nothing earth shattering at the moment, since I'm tired, my back hurts, and the afternoon looks like it's going to be a long one. So there you go.