Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Happy Holy-days

‘Tis the season to be jolly … Fa, la, la, la, la, la ‘freakin’ la’

I have been accused of being a “crotchety old man” by certain family members. That’s OK. It really doesn’t bother me all that much because I am a bit more conservative than some of the flaming liberals in our clan.

However, in my crotchetiness, I must say that I am not a big fan of the Christmas season. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with family and friends and I love working at a job where we get two weeks off. I love giving gifts to those people I care for.

What I don’t necessarily care for is getting "nickel-and-dimed" to death by every group, class and organization I am affiliated with that suddenly feels like they should do their part to help out the less fortunate. I also don’t like being accosted by bell ringers at every store front and intersection in town who are supposedly raising money for a “good cause.” Where is that money really going, and why do they not need to raise it in June?

Not only that, but you have to bring a Christmas ornament to this gathering or a gag gift to that. Your child is expected to bring a gift for a gift exchange in her ballet class. You have to cook brownies for this group or a cake for that group … and don’t forget the green bean casserole. You buy presents for kids in families you have never seen. You donate to special interest groups who are trying to pass out some Christmas cheer. You do all this and suddenly you realize you haven’t bought your own child a Christmas present.

Don’t get me wrong, my family has been greatly blessed and we are very fortunate to be in the situation we are in. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for all He has given us, be it money, food, family or friends who make our lives easier and more enjoyable. And furthermore, I love helping people out, but I would rather do it when it is least expected, not when everybody is telling me to do it and looking down on me if I don’t. And don't get me started on the over-commercialization of Christmas.

I really don’t know how to end this post. I really don’t have anything else to say. But I suspect there are more people out there who feel the way I do, and I hope they all get to stop at some point, relax and enjoy the people and places around them.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Fun for the whole family ... or not

I am obligated by the laws that govern web logs to post the following comment after participating in other events.

Please post a comment with a COMPLETELY MADE UP AND FICTIONAL MEMORY OF YOU AND ME. It can be anything you want--good or bad--BUT IT HAS TO BE FAKE. When you're finished, post this paragraph on your blog and be surprised (or mortified) about what people DON'T ACTUALLY remember about you.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Rice, Burritos and Dessert

I must hand it to my little 5-year-old teenager, her brain is always working.

Last night was like many other nights in our household; we went out to eat. Like most people we have our favorite haunts for a quick mid-week dinner and on this night we chose a little Mexican food restaurant that we like to frequent.

As is the custom, my wife ordered her quesadillas, “cheese only.” I order from the menu and our child asked for her typical side order of rice and flour tortillas. We ate a few chips and guacamole while waiting for our food. The kid loves guacamole. She has eaten it since a friend of ours decided to feed it to her when she was a baby. She hated baby food, but she loved guacamole.

Our food came out and we enjoyed the dinner. As usual, our child didn’t eat much of her rice an managed only half of a tortilla. This is the same 5-year-old who polished off two homemade bean burritos and three fruit rollups for supper the night before. She has gotten in the habit of not eating much when we eat out, then asking for food as soon as we get home.

“I’m full,” she said as she began flattening out the remainder of her rice to make a pancake.

At this point I gave her my stern fatherly look and told her that I did not want to go home and immediately hear her asking for food to eat … she needed to eat her supper.

“But I’m full,” she said again.

We finished eating then had to run over to the store to pick up some items for one of the seemingly endless list of Christmas parties we have to attend each year.

We spend a few minutes trying to complete the self check-out line because the other line we were in was having trouble with the debit-card machine. Needless to say, checking out took longer than it should have, but we weren’t in the store too long.

We returned home and got comfortable. No sooner had I sat down to watch a little TV than my child saunters into the living room.

“Da-da,” she says looking at me.

I know what is coming. The three grains of rice she ate for supper have worn off and she wants jelly sandwich or macaroni and cheese. Remembering what I told her at supper, I am prepared to tell her no and send her off to bed hungry because she didn’t eat her supper.

She looks at me with her big blue eyes … “I’m ready for dessert.”

A slow grin spreads across her face because she knows she has caught me.

“That’s what you eat after supper, right?” She asks smiling.

What can I do? I have just been out-witted by a pint-sized kindergartener. And she knows it.

My next plan of attack was simple. “Ok.” I thought to myself. “She is going to ask for a brownie or a cookie and I can tell her that she didn’t eat enough supper to warrant a tasty treat for dessert.”

“What do you want for dessert?” I ask, trying to set my trap.

She looks at me, grins and says … “Cheese!”

Game, set, match! I lose.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Place in this World

Last weekend proved to be interesting for me. Our university was hosting a combined basketball tournament that featured both college and high school teams. I usually make plans to attend a number of the games, but this tournament was a little different.

One of the high school teams hailed from my former stomping grounds where I spent five years as the sports editor of the local paper. This particular town was known for high school basketball; not only the astounding success the team has had throughout the years, but the style of basketball which it has made famous in high school circles. This high school team is probably the only team in the Southwest that is allowed to run the score up on its opponents without opposing coaches getting upset. In fact, if the team ever stopped running its full-court press, the coach would be on the next bus out of town.

As I was sitting in my office on Wednesday afternoon I received a phone call from a old college buddy. He was instrumental in bringing me to the paper where we worked together for several years. I moved on, but he stayed there and in a few short years took over as managing editor. Anyway, he said his sports staff was a bit shorthanded and he needed someone to string for him. In laymen’s terms “string” means write stories about the games.

It has only been four years since I left that paper, and the coaches that I had become very familiar with were still in place. I said I would be happy to cover the games, provided he caughed up some cash. After 10 seconds of hard negotiations, we agreed on the terms of my contract labor and I went to work.

I spent the next three days covering the team and talking to people I had known in my previous life. It was nice to see them. We talked about old times and they all told me they wished I was still at the paper.

“The guy they have now is real green …”

“The sports section has really gone down hill since you left …”

“I wish you’d come back and save the paper …”

… were a few of the comments I heard.

The accolades were nice and a definite stroke to the old ego. Let’s face it, we all like to hear that we are better at something than the other guy. But I have to admit, hearing comments like that always makes me wonder … “What did these same people tell the guy that I replaced?”

A Testing We Shall Go

I heard from a lady who works at the university that my sister, the probation officer, attended a Rotary luncheon on campus a few weeks ago. My sister of course, is morally and fundamentally opposed to any and all types of social organizations.

So, it made me wonder what she was doing there. Had she been invited? Was she a guest speaker? Did she just crash the party for the food? Or was she there to administer drug tests to all our civic leaders?

“Excuse me high-powered attorney, would you mind peeing in this cup?”

Merry Crotchmas

So, I haven’t written in awhile. I’ve been a little busy. Just today (well, yesterday actually) I was working on a Christmas card for our admissions office to send out to prospective students. No big deal, right? Well, it is when you are contacted at the last possible minute and have only limited time to dig up some festive photos to use on said card.

Anyway, I can’t really blame the people in the office. The boss just quit to accept a position elsewhere and they have kind of been left in limbo for the time being. And furthermore, it gave me something creative to work on which is always enjoyable.

However, you must be careful in choosing pictures to use on promotional material. For instance, in one of the photos I wanted to use, a student was wearing a Harvard sweatshirt. That’s all well and good, but we ain’t Harvard.

A few quick keystrokes in Photoshop and Harvard suddenly disappeared. Unethical? Maybe, but I’m a PR flack. What does ethics have to do with it? But just for the record, we ended up using a different photo anyway.

However, I was contacted today shortly before the card had to be sent to the printer. Let’s just say the VP in charge wanted to switch out a photo. To avoid going into all the gory Santa details, I will summarize by saying that in my return email I signed off … “Wishing you ‘Happy Holidays’ and may all your Christmas cards be crotch free.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

From the Mind of ...

It would be nice to have the imagination of a 5-year-old. I guess we all did at one time, but too much television and too many bills to pay quickly erode your connection to the land of fantasy. Fortunately, some of us have jobs in which we occasionally get to be somewhat creative and can reconnect with our imaginary friends every once in awhile.

As I was sitting in the living room floor trying desperately to recover from my limited time on the old treadmill (but that’s another story all-together), my 5-year-old teenager strutted into the room.

“Da-da,” she said, “I’m a cowgirl.”

I looked at her. A princess crown lined in pink down-like feathers was nestled snuggly in her golden locks. Her small, slender fingers clung tightly to a “magic wand” shaped like a purple star. On her feet were pink Croc-like, aerated sandals and she wore a hot pink/orangish fleece hoody. In fact the only thing she had on that kind of resembled a modern-day cowgirls’ attire were her jeans. Of course they were emblazoned with beaded flower patterns down outer seam of each leg.

She was quite the picture of a Wild West heroine. Of course, no one in their adult mind would ever guess that she was a cowgirl, but that's OK. No adults were allowed to play.

“I’m pretending this is my hat,” she said as she pointed to the crown. “These are my black cowgirl boots and this is my rope.” She twirled the starry wand as she struck a pose that would make any runway model proud.

“I’m pretending.”

I could only watch as she hopped on her stick horse and road off into the sunset.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

And all the World Wore White

Loaded in the Jeep, the family and I were heading out for a quick supper and trip to Wal-Mart this evening. It was a typical exciting night out in the “big town.”

Now one must keep in mind before asking what we had to eat that I have been working hard on the treadmill and stationary bike, trying to shed a few pounds. I’m not excessively overweight, but would love to drop about 20 lbs. I like to tell people that if I lost 20 pounds, I could be playing free safety somewhere in the NFL (6-3, 200). Of course, with my latest comments on my feelings about the state of football in our fair country, I think I’ll sit safely behind my desk and pound away on the keyboard.

Anyway, I am having little success in the weight loss department. Although I have been exercising, something tells me that eating pizza for the last three days tends to counteract the weight-loss activities.

Tonight was no different … A nice pizza buffet and off to the store. Of course, I ate spinach alfredo pizza, and drank diet Dr. Pepper, so that has to count for something.

We were headed to the store to stock up on snacks and junk for our weekend trip. Our Sunday school class, made up of kids who have been married for less than a year, along with us (the old fogies) and another couple just a few years younger than us, is taking its yearly weekend excursion to the mountains of New Mexico. Each fall, our class heads to Glorietta New Mexico for a weekend of sin and debauchery. We drink, smoke, dance and basically thumb our noses at the rules of the Baptist encampment where we stay.

OK. There is not drinking or smoking, but occasionally we have been known to cut a rug well after midnight which is woefully against the rules. And there are of course the stories of the cabin across the road that each year become increasingly unbelievable.

Anyway, after stocking up on junk that isn’t good for us … ie, there goes the already non-existent diet that I haven’t been following anyway … we piled back in the Jeep for the ride home. This is when my 5-year-old teenager began to dominate the conversation.

She has recently started making up her own songs. This is a trait she undoubtedly inherited from her dear old dad who is famous for his rendition of “Don’t Smell My Fart,” a parody of the classic Billy Ray Cyrus (back when mullets were cool) song. And that Irish women’s group’s song “Breathless,” which I changed to … Oh well, you get the idea.

My child, however, is on a much more ethereal plane when it comes to her compositions. I must admit it was quite cute as she made up songs about creation, encompassing all the colors of the rainbow and then some.

All you Biblical scholars out there might find it interesting to know the world was completely white until Jesus created the colors. And just to set the creation story straight, Jesus created the colors before, creating mankind.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

No football, no problem

2nd grade teacher recently left a comment on one of my posts saying they don’t play football in her neck of the woods. Instead they play soccer and lacrosse. That’s a little hard to swallow for a West Texas boy. Around here, if you don’t play football, you don’t play anything.

Things are different in our neighbor states. Soccer is big in New Mexico and in rural Oklahoma (eastern Oklahoma) baseball is the big thing. They play fall and spring baseball.

Of course, I work at a university that doesn’t have a football team. We used to … the fighting Jackrabbits. But that was a long time ago. We recently tried soccer. We fielded a women’s soccer team for three years before giving it the boot – or should I say giving it the cleat.

Oh well, basketball (scrimmage) starts tonight, so I’m happy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Behold, the power of ...

Like gossamer wings floating gently on the breeze, their indelible image dots the distant horizon. A calling card, crying out to the perpetually young, drawing children of all shapes and sizes in mythical proportions. It’s something we as adults cannot comprehend, but never should we underestimate the power of the Golden Arches.

My 5-year-old teenager lay bleary eyed amid the covers on her bed. It was time to arise and prepare for another taxing day of Kindergarten. This week the youngsters are studying the color gray, the letter “P” and the number 7.

“Dada, close the door,” she grumbles as she pulls her Dora comforter over her head. “It is too bright.”

Quietly I pick my way to her bedside, dodging a wasteland that once was lorded over by the diminutive Polly Pockets. I lean down beside her bed.

“If you get up,” I gently whisper, “we will get McDonald’s for breakfast.”

My words did not go unheeded for I invoked the name of the almighty. My daughter generally falls under the category of “high-maintenance” as she prepares for her day, demanding assistance in choosing her clothes and shoes while being forced to brush her hair and teeth.

But today was different. Today was McDonald’s. For obvious reasons, my daughter chose to be in Mrs. McDonald’s kindergarten class at her school. A wise choice which my wife, who also teaches at the school, agreed with. But the power of the arches far exceeds the question of finding qualified educators.

I had only left my child’s room when she zipped past me holding a pair of jeans and a shirt. As I, still clad in my bath robe, walked into my room in order to prepare for my work day, I glanced over to see that my child was already wearing her shirt and was in the midst of pulling on her favorite pair of jeans.

Before I had the chance to pull my clothes from the closet, she had her socks and shoes in hand and was asking for assistance in brushing her hair. I had no choice. After all, my child was answering to a higher calling.

This story tends to lose its luster as my child finished getting ready then waited patiently for her father to complete his morning routine. But the brilliant shine of the arches was written all over her face. We were going to McDonald’s.

I’m not sure what it is about the joint that intrigues kids so. The food is barely tolerable, the bathrooms are dirty and the playground is eerily reminiscent to feed lot in mid-summer temperatures. But somehow … some way … the marketing genius that is McDonald’s has tapped into the psyche of the American offspring.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Friday night curse

It’s me again … suffering from the doldrums that are a Monday in the early fall. The afternoon consisted of menial tasks at the office while trying to battle the evil forces that are also known laziness and lack of focus.

The reality of my situation was that I had press releases to write and bills to requisition, but I’d rather be taking a nap or playing golf … or playing basketball. Once basketball season rolls around, you will probably tire of reading about the exploits of our teams, but the fact remains that I love basketball season.

Of course, that doesn’t quite fit with the status quo in West Texas where football is god. Last Friday was a big football day around here. The local team, holding onto an undefeated record, was scheduled to play their chief rival which was also undefeated and ranked higher in the state. The two teams are split by roughly 60 miles of highway, not nearly enough to keep rabid fans from flocking to enemy turf when the mighty pigskin is in action.

My brother-in-law went to the game. I thought about going, but decided I didn’t want to mess with the overcrowded high school stadium. The stadium was built to accommodate 7,500 fans. According to reports, there were more than 12,000 people at the game.

I spent nearly 10 years working as a sports reporter for a few small, daily newspapers in the area. I have seen my fare share of Friday night football games. I have dealt with dense coaches and brain dead fans. I have written glowing stories about egotistical athletes whose antics would make me want to puke. I have been there when riots broke out in the stadiums, fights broke out on the field and the rules of sportsmanship and fair play have been scoffed at like a bologna sandwich at a $100 a plate Junior Service League fund raiser.

I have seen and dealt with the basest of human behavior. I have dealt with athletes who needlessly showboat to draw attention to themselves. I have listened to armchair quarterbacks gripe and complain about the ignorance of the current coaching staff, all the while basing their arguments on game situation in which they have no concept of the actual rules. I have listened to parents who complain about coaches not playing their kids. I have taken phone calls early on Sunday morning from parents who gripe because the local sports reporter didn’t herald their baby as the basketball superstar that he so obviously was. (The following week said “superstar” scored only four points and was non-existent in a big game. Guess whose baby was mentioned early in the story for his lack of participation. The little punk and one of his buddies generally took the court either high or drunk, maybe both, so he wasn't very high on my list of favorite people to begin with.)

And according to my brother-in-law, Friday’s big game was no different. Fans and parents booing the opposition as the young men took the field. Dirty players making dirty plays through the contest. Trash talking … cheap shots … and at least one coach who has been known to run up the score whenever he gets a chance.

I’m glad I didn’t go to that game. I’ve seen so much of that garbage that it makes my stomach turn. There have been times in the past that I have actually hoped the local team that I was covering at the time would actually get beat bad just because the kids and coaches were getting too cocky, and forgetting about sportsmanship.

After hearing my brother-in-law tell his story I quickly pointed out to those listening … “that’s why I have become such a big fan of women’s basketball.” Not that women can’t suffer from these same issues, but there are fewer of them who harbor such delusions of grandeur and complete self idolization. Especially locally.

Our women’s basketball team held a gathering at the coach’s house several weeks ago at which time the players could get to know each other and the coaches could hand out team rules for the season. The following day, I asked the assistant coach how the meeting went. She said that of the 15 young women on the team, eight of them gave a brief testimony of how God and their faith played a part in choosing to attend this school. That’s pretty amazing.

They may not be perfect, but that is definitely a step in the right direction.

As my daughter would say, “Go Queens!”

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

What advanced degree is right for me

You Should Get a MFA (Masters of Fine Arts)

You're a blooming artistic talent, even if you aren't quite convinced.
You'd make an incredible artist, photographer, or film maker.

Interesting, huh. I guess I am sort of on the right track.

Friday, October 07, 2005

What Peanuts Character am I

You are Schroeder!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Sissa and the Band

It’s somewhat of a ritual.

On the days I take Rae to kindergarten we always have to listen carefully as we leave the house. You see, the high school band practices just a few blocks away from our house and when more than 300 horn blowers are doing their thing, the sound easily travels the short distance.

As the melodic sounds of the warm-up scale drift our way Rae quickly points out that we have to drive by the band on our way to school.

This particular morning was a chilly one, but we still lower the windows and listen as we drive that way.

“Are they wearing coats?” Rae asks.

“I bet some of them are,” I respond.

“Do you think T--- is wearing her coat?”

“I don’t know. But I bet she is.”

T--- is the younger sister of E---- (see previous posts). Rae adores both of them and I can’t say that I blame her because they are both good kids.

As we slowly drive by the band's practice lot, Rae listens intently. Just before we lose sight of the band Rae sticks are hand out the window and waves.

“What are you doing,” I ask.

Rae grins. “Waving and T---.”

For Whom the Megaphone Cheers

Rae and I were heading to McDonalds to pick up a Happy Meal. She has spent a few hours with me at work and we knew we were on our own for supper.

As we drove, my child, who is 5-years old, continued her cheering, “Go, Queens! Go, E----!” (see previous post)

She suddenly stopped and looked at me.

“Da-Da,” she said, because that’s what she calls me. “When I get older and when E---- is playing baksetball (that’s how she says basketball), and I’m a cheerleader, can I be a big cheerleader for E----?”

It was then that I had to explain to her that E----, who is a junior in college, only has a few years left to play basketball. Rae pondered this for a moment as a sad, thoughtful look crossed her face.

“But,” I said. “E---- might be a coach. Maybe you could be a cheerleader for the team she is coaching.”

“No,” Rae replied. “I want her to be a baksetball player and I will be her cheerleader..."

The Rubber Bracelet

Rae, my child, had a traumatic experience at school a few days ago.

I was in charge of taking the pup to school that fateful day. It was Friday. Not just any Friday, but homecoming Friday for the local school district. The buzz of excitement spread throughout the school system all the way down to the kindergarteners. As students entered their elementary school, they were met by a cornucopia of temptations spread out across a table. The astronomically priced knick-knacks were selling like proverbial hot cakes and children as young as my daughter snatched up pom-poms, buttons, rubber bracelets and temporary tattoos.

My child, with her silken blonde pony tail and big blue eyes looked at me.

“Da-Da,” she said, because that is what she calls me. “I want a bracelet and pom-poms.”

Knowing that all this promotional junk is a cash cow for whoever is selling it, I generally try to stay away from such things. However, it is difficult to say no to the offspring so I walk up to the table and pull out my wallet. I was fortunate, however, in that the ladies working at the table knew my wife, who teaches at the school, and said she had already come by to get some things.

I put my wallet back in my pocket and my child and I headed off down the fourth-grade hall to find mama. Sure enough, Rae was met by a set of pom-poms and a few tattoos. It wasn’t until later that I found out she was supposed to have a rubber bracelet and button as well.

Rae came home that afternoon with a sad look in her eye. I listened as she and my wife told me that my wife had also purchased the other items and had left them at Rae’s spot in her kindergarten class. However, by the time Rae reached her seat, the items were gone. Some sticky fingered kindergartener had absconded with my daughter’s stuff.

As tears welled up in Rae’s eyes I was hit with an idea.

“Rae,” I said, because that is not really what I call her. “What if I get you another bracelet?”

She looked hopeful.

“Only this one,” I continued, “will be a better one because it will be for the Queens, not the Bulldogs.”

One of Rae’s favorite activities is to go to basketball games with her dad, wearing her cheerleader outfit and cheering at the top of her voice … “Go, Queens! Go, E----!” E----, of course, being the young lady who babysits Rae on occasion.

A few days later I called the coach and explained the situation to him. He and his assistant gladly agreed to give my child another bracelet. Rae was so proud of it. I kept her at my office one afternoon and she proudly showed her knew bracelet to everyone in the building. “It’s a Queen one,” she said.

As we left work that day, Rae sat in the Jeep and expressed her gratitude for the new bracelet.

“And Da-Da,” she said. “I will give you one that you can wear. … but you will have to get it for me.”

Oh well, I guess it’s the thought that counts.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Birthdays and Bible Characters

Have you ever had one of those days? You know, the kind of day where you find it difficult or downright impossible to get motivated about much of anything. I showed up at work about half and hour early today and so far haven’t done anything other than write this post. In another 10 minutes I will technically be “on the clock,” and I suppose I will have to accomplish something.

The most interesting thing I have done so far is to flip through a magazine and try to get ideas for a good Halloween costume. I’ve always kind of liked Halloween, it comes along just a few days after my birthday – that’s October 25 for all you family members who have trouble remembering. Growing up, my grandfather and I would always celebrate our birthdays together because his was on October 24. My parents could never remember whose birthday was on which particular day, but it didn’t really matter because we always celebrated them at the same time.

However, since my grandfather died, people have had a little difficulty remembering my birthday. In fact, a few years ago, the only person other than my wife who remembered my birthday was my mother-in-law. Granted, I don’t always remember birthdays, but there is usually someone around to remind me. Someone who will pick up the phone and remind me to call my grandmother or send mom a card. But nooooooo ……. Nobody remembered my birthday. Needless to say, I hold that over the family members.

Anyway, back to Halloween. Our Sunday school class is planning a Halloween party on Oct. 29. The catch is you have to dress up as a Biblical character. Perhaps the thinking behind this is to stay away from costumes depicting something scary or demonic or trashy whores who sell themselves into servitude. I’m thinking, “Yeah! Right. Have you read your Bible lately?” Dementors and Wraiths have nothing on the horsemen of the apocalypse.

Of course, coming up with ideas and being able to pull off the costumes are two totally different things. My best idea yet is to show up dressed as John the Baptist – after he was beheaded. Other than that, I’m thinking of dressing as Captain Jack Sparrow and telling everybody that I’m Noah. I don’t know if that will work, but it would be fun.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A little game of cat and mouse

Cats are interesting creatures, of which we have two.

As cat lovers know and animal “experts” will tell you, the fuzzy little critters will occasionally supply their masters with gifts in order to earn affection or show that they are doing their part around the house. We only have one cat that chooses to display her affection in such a manner. Our cat’s gift of choice is usually crickets that she has caught in our breezeway and shop area and drug into the house through the cat door. Unfortunately, the gifts are seldom dead before delivery.

This was the case a few nights ago in my humble abode. The hour was approaching 11 p.m. as my wife and I lay in bed trying to get some much-needed sleep. However, a bad case of busy mind was keeping me from slumber and my wife had come to bed late after working on the computer throughout the evening.

Needless to say, we were both awake.

It was at this point that Bacall, the female cat, jumped into bed as she often does. While sitting on the bed, Bacall let out a muffled meow/growl, the type of noise she usually makes when she is griping at small creatures mocking her outside of the bedroom window. Generally when this occurs, I simply kick the cat off the bed and don’t think anything about it.

Tonight, however, I decided to turn on the bedside lamp. Man, am I glad I did. Standing at the foot of the bed was our dark, tortoiseshell cat staring at us, bearing gifts. The reason for the muffled mewing was soon evident as I noticed that wiggling in her mouth was not the usual maimed and slightly dismembered cricket, but instead was a small, lightly colored mouse, fighting desperately to escape.

Imagine my surprise.

Now, I said I was glad I turned on the light. I am not one to get freaked out easily, but imagine, if you will, waking up to the feeling of a small furry creature scurrying across your semi-clad body in the middle of the night, only to determine upon awaking that you are staring face-to-face with a diseased rodent. Not my idea of a good night’s sleep. I was potty trained at an early age and have been fairly successful to abide by the laws of nature as applied to human behavior, but I think such a scenario might have resulted in a certain level of incontinence.

However, since I was already awake and aware of the situation, I jumped out of bed, just as the cat dropped the mouse. As the little creature began to scurry away, I quickly wrapped it up in my covers and kept it from escaping.

At this point my wife was up, wondering what was going on.

“Mouse. Go open the door,” I said.

We have a sliding glass door in our bedroom that leads to the back yard. I thought taking the covers outside and shaking loose the intruder would be an appropriate and humane means of disposal.

One should realize, however, that it is a good idea when undertaking such an endeavor to move a significant distance from the open doorway. As I stood on my little porch and began shaking out the covers, the mouse fell to the ground and promptly bolted back into the house.

To make matters worse, Bogey, the male cat who is bigger, faster, stronger and quicker than Bacall just watched. The mouse ducked right inside the corner, just inches from the doorway and stopped, shivering in fear as he peared up at his worst nightmare. Bogey looked at the mouse, looked at me, looked back at the mouse, then calmly walked outside to see if there was anything interesting going on.

“Freedom!” You could almost hear the little critter scream as he watched the dreaded predator walk right past him without so much as feigning interest. Off like a shot, the little fellow zipped into the bathroom and dove under the cabinet, never to be heard from again.

…… After digging some fresh bedclothes out of the closet, my wife and I returned to bed, only to find Bacall, spread out across the sheets with a look of satisfied triumph splashed across her fuzzy feline face.

I don't really know where Bacall found the mouse, or what she had to do to catch it, but one thing was made perfectly clear. Between the dastardly gifter and the great white hunter who stared his prey in the face then walked away, I have determined that my house cats are worthless.

Or perhaps they’re just too well fed …………..

Friday, September 23, 2005

All about Me-Me

My first solicited me-me … I feel so cyber-chic. How’s that for a neologistic “C” word M. Hibou? Did you know spell checker doesn’t even recognize neologistic?

Anyway, back to me … me

Five things I will do before I die:
1. Write a book. Unlike my sister who simply wants to have something published, I get published every day, but quite frankly, it’s not that impressive. However, I know I can write a book worth publishing because I’ve read my fair share of books that weren’t worth publishing. I just need the right idea.
2. Build a castle. To do so, I need to be moderately wealthy. Therefore, I should really get started on my book writing career.
3. Watch the women’s basketball program at the school at which I work win a national title. Preferably within the next few years before the current coach finds a better job and before current players move on. However, I have no control over this, so it falls into more of a “wish” category than a “will do” category. No pressure guys (err ... girls.)
4. See the church move away from its current business structure and become more of a … well … church, dedicated to touching lives one person at a time.
5. Break 90 on the golf course. I’m playing later today, maybe this will be my lucky day.

Five things I say most often:
1. “I apologize”
2. “No” – I have a 5-year-old daughter.
3. “You’d get more work done if you spent less time on the phone.”
4. “You should quit smoking, it’s bad for my health.”
5. “It’s George Bush’s fault.” I’m technically jumping on this band wagon. It seems people are blaming W for everything these days so I thought I would see if it works for me. My washing machine started leaking the other day. I blamed the Pres. I’m still waiting for the FEMA money to repair the damage.

Five things I cannot do:
1. Learn to like onions.
2. Dunk a basketball. (Once upon a glorious past ….. )
3. Keep the ball in bounds on the par-5 12th at the local golf course. I nearly took out the back windshield of a Ford Explorer that was driving by a few weeks ago. I can’t break 90, but I can break windshields.
4. Figure out why guys think it’s cool to wear their pants down around their knees. I would like to meet the first girl who told some guy that was attractive. Then again, maybe I don’t want to meet that girl. Or maybe it wasn’t a girl …
5. Watch CNN longer than 3 minutes without wanting to throw something at the completely incompetent reporters who sensationalize and editorialize everything from head colds to Armageddon.

Five things that attract me to other people:
1. A truly genuine Christian spirit. Not the ones who just give lip-service to Christianity, but the people who live it day-in and day-out in everything they do. I admire and envy those people who are few and far between.
2. A somewhat warped sense of humor.
3. The ability to laugh at oneself.
4. Similar interests
5. The ability to see the bigger picture and accept the fact that other people have different opinions and different ideas, even though they are wrong. :)

Five celebrity crushes: I must say I’m not really one to worship celebrities. It would be easier for me to think of five people I’ve known throughout the years that I have had a crush on. However, in the spirit of the game …
1. Winona Ryder
2. Marisa Tomei
3. Sandra Bullock
4. Christina Ricci
5. Carrie Fisher (those buns – in her hair – were really cool)

Five people I want to see do this me-me:
I honestly don’t know five bloggers who haven’t already done this.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Tim Burton kind of world

Don’t you just love that unsettling feeling you get every time you put on a new pair of glasses? I spent my lunch hour today being fitted for some new specs – sleek black frames that stand out against my reddish hair and reddish complexion.

Huh! I just realized that I am my old high school colors – red and black.

I digress.

As I was saying, the effect of having the prescription change considerably in one eye while not changing at all in the other provides a somewhat surreal experience while getting used to the new glasses. Throw in a rather accomplished astigmatism and you can completely forgo the PCP. I currently feel like I am living on a Tim Burton movie set. Everything I look at is significantly skewed. Currently, my flat screen, square computer monitor is anything but flat or square.

To explain what I am seeing, take a square piece of paper, grasp the upper right-hand corner between you forefinger and thumb. Now pull diagonally as hard as you can. That’s what the world looks like to me. These words are currently trailing upward toward oblivion. At least I feel like I am going places.

My new surreal surroundings make me feel somewhat like the picture my daughter drew of me this weekend. I have included it for your amusement. If you will notice the spiky, orange hair, that is a tale-tale sign that she has drawn a picture of her beloved father.

However, this particular picture shows me in full drag, wearing lipstick, make-up, mascara and earrings. Not to mention the delicately painted finger and toe nails. Please understand that I don’t generally dress this way. So how did my impressionable young child come across such an idea?

What you can’t see in this picture, the area that has been blurred, is that my daughter addressed it to her babysitter. You’ve met her before on this blog. She’s the girl in the picture.

And to think, I entrust the well-being of my only offspring to this person on a regular basis.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

We must be having FISH

Aaaaahhhhhh, freshmen.

You can always tell which students are freshmen. They are the ones who stare at you with a blank look on their face when you ask for their classification while filling out registration information.

They are the ones who try overly hard to either fit in or be different, neither group really succeeding at their goal. They are also the ones who constantly remind you that you have grown and matured (i.e. gotten older) over the years.

This is the case of one such freshman I ran across the other day. The women’s basketball team was filtering through my office on Friday morning to get their pictures made for the media guides and things like that. They generally came through in groups of two or three, but all of them showed up within a certain time span.

I was standing in our make-shift photography studio chatting with the coach and assistant coach while waiting for the next subject to appear in jersey with her freshly applied make-up and perfectly styled hair – you know, just like they look when they are playing.

(Of course, that reminds me of a time I showed up at the end of a high school practice to get a team photo because I specifically wanted the girls to look sweaty and tired … not perfectly manicured. That was fun!)

As we are standing around, waiting, a young girl from Anson joins the conversation.

“Listen!” she says since the three faculty and staff members in the room obviously weren’t paying her due attention.

After myself and the coaches exchange a brief glance, we turn to the youngster who begins her multi-syllabic, yet singular-word spill.

“…there’s-this-guy-in-my-class-and-he’s-from-Anson-and-he-has-like-four-or-five-brothers-and-sisters-and-one-of-his-brothers-names-is-Anson … Isn’t that weird?”

… For some reason this impressionable young child couldn’t figure out why we were laughing so hard. It seems none of us had the heart to tell her she had just epitomized the chatty little girl character in every teen movie ever made.

I’m looking forward to basketball season. It’s going to be interesting, if nothing else.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Revenge of the neon echiladas

Have you ever had a weird dream? You know, the kind that doesn’t even make sense to you while you are dreaming it. A lot of dreams make perfect sense while you’re passed out in bed or on the sofa, but I’m talking about the kind of dream that leaves you wondering, “What the heck?” while you are still asleep.

That’s what I had last night. I’m going to blame it on what I ate for supper. We had our employee dinner last night, the evening before campus is once again covered by students crawling around the grounds and throughout the buildings trying to get set up for a new semester. This dinner, of course, was sponsored by the company that is contracted to provide our cafeteria services – meaning we had cafeteria food.

We had an international flair theme for the dinner to go along with our “passport to success” development days earlier in the week. The food service was to prepare a variety of dishes with a little international flair to them, which in West Texas means we had enchiladas. Of course, the cheese in my enchiladas had a slight neon glow to it and the sauce was like no enchilada sauce I had ever seen. It closely resembled mud. There were some other dishes too, such as something that resembled the beef/broccoli that you can get at the local China buffet and some chicken with a toupee.

For some reason, every time I closed my eyes last night, I was dreaming about death. It was all in a somewhat humorous light, not like a dream I had a few months ago that really freaked me out. The weirdest of these dreams, however, came to me around 4 a.m. I remember because I woke up thinking the aforementioned, “What the …..”

It took place on a harmless city street. A person (me I presume) sitting in a front yard, looking across the street in the neighborhood. Suddenly the area is covered with thousands of dead dogs who all start barking at the same time. I personally own cats because they don’t bark at the moon. We used to have one who would occasionally go into heat in the middle of the night, moaning and wailing at anything that came nearby. That was unpleasant so we had her fixed. Now she is just a little “female dog,” if you know what I mean.

Back to the dream… The dogs continued to bark until someone in the neighborhood decided to tell them to stop. So they did. Then they all disappeared. Althoug I watched as the two front legs of the dog directly across the street fell off while it was disappearing.

Next came the little old dead people who were suddenly walking around the neighborhood. This scene quickly switched to one of the little old ladies' living rooms where I watched her stand up and play the piano … something she had never done before … before falling over dead. The strangest thing was that I knew her name. I can’t remember it now because I failed to see the sense in writing it down when I woke up at 4 a.m.

Then came the weird part. Back in the yard, looking across the street at the same sidewalk where I had just watched thousands of dead dogs disappear, I saw none other than Michael Jackson break dancing with The Cat in the Hat.

“What the …… “

Friday, August 12, 2005

Can't we all just get along

Aaaahhhh, the beginning of yet another semester. New students wandering around campus … old students wandering around campus … last minute renovations being completed on the dorm rooms or in the cafeteria … faculty and staff members counting down the minutes to the dreaded development workshop days, fighting off the terrifying memories of last years FERPA lecture.

Another fall term is about to get underway. And with the beginning of school comes the beginning of athletic season. We don’t play football at our university. I know, you’re shocked that a West Texas school doesn’t have a football team, but the Fighting Jackrabbits bit the dust many moons ago. However, we do play volleyball.

Yesterday it was my *cough, cough* pleasure to spend roughly an hour and a half with the volleyball team taking publicity photos for various publications. I am always amazed at the relationship dynamics when you bring together a group of women/girls. As I observed this group interacting with one another it dawned on me that there were issues that might have to be dealt with somewhere along the way – personalities just waiting to conflict.

Among this group representing our faith-based university there are a couple of girls that I know a little bit who seem to be good, solid, Christian young women. Then there are a few who I really don’t have a read on, but I have some reservations about. Then there are some that, well, frighten me.

There is the loud, opinionated one who comes across as a bit of a spoiled prima donna … several others who follow her lead. Then there are the quiet, strong ones who will speak up only to get shot down by the more opinionated group. Then there is the one who, in all probability will be the best player on the team, but who is quiet and reserved and would rather not get involved in the controversy. And, of course, you have the doe-eyed freshmen who aren’t quite sure what to think and just wander around doing whatever they are told.

Then you have the one who every time she walked over to look at the digital readout on the camera I was using for photographs made sure her endowment brushed up against my arm. Little bit uncomfortable with that, but what do you do. I understand if it was an accident, but after three times, I would think you would know where your breasts are going. But what can a guy say? My arms are tucked into my rib cage as tightly as I can get them. There is no place for me to go. I don’t really want to call attention to it because our university has just relieved a professor of his work-related responsibility due to accusation of harassment, and I feel that me pointing at her and saying, 'Put those things away' could be cause for reprimand. God forbid it shows up on my "permanent record." So … I resign myself to getting boobed. By the way, I know I have commented on the assets (that a-s-s-e-t-s) of the fairer sex before in this blog, but I’m a guy so get used to it.

Quite an eclectic array of personalities among this group of 11 young women. Being a veteran team-watcher of many years, I only had one thing to say to the SID when the photo shoot was over.

“Wow! It’s going to be a long season.”

Friday, July 29, 2005

Sympathy for the fallen

Barbie is dead.

No, really! She’s dead, deceased, checked out, bought the farm, kicked the bucket, swimming with the fishes, oven roasted – gone. I saw it with my own two eyes. She died while I was scarfing tator tots on my lunch hour.

My 5-year-old has recently displayed a fascination with death. A few weeks ago she was quizzing my wife about dying, funerals and heaven. She was very adamant about not wanting to die because she didn’t want to leave her “blue room” or the toys that reside therein. But the conversation soon changed focus.

“When I go to heaven,” she asked, “will Jesus have Polly Pockets there?” For those who don’t know, Polly Pockets are tiny dolls with interchangeable rubber clothes.
“Maybe,” my wife answered.
“Will Jesus have more Polly Pockets than I do?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.”
“Oh …”

The next day my daughter proudly announced that she was ready to go to heaven. We told her she needed to wait awhile. However, the sooner old Barbie kicks off, the better off we will be, so it did my soul good to know that Barbie died.

As I was finishing off my lunch prior to heading back to work, my child began pulling out her vast supply of Barbie dolls. Actually she only has a few that she can call her own, but my wife was an avid Barbie collector and has passed bags full of molded, partially naked plastic down to my child.

I watched as she laid them out neatly in a row, pairing several Ken dolls with matching Barbies.

“Da-da,” she said. “They’re all going to the foo-ral.” My child, who still faithfully sucks her two middle fingers, has a bit of a speech impediment. Actually, I chalk it up to her just being too lazy to make the proper sounds. Offer her a cookie and she can recite the first chapter of Matthew without missing a syllable.

“Whose funeral are they going to,” I asked.

“This one,” she said, holding up an older model in a leopard print skirt with really bad hair. “She died.”

I watched as the little Barbies paid their last respects to their fallen mate. Then, my child carefully picked up the dead doll and carried her to the end table next to my chair.

“What are you doing now?” I asked.

“This is where Jesus is,” she said and carefully laid the Barbie to rest.

As I left to return to work, it did my heart good to know that my daughter at least has her thoughts in the right place. It was also nice to know that the world now has one less Barbie running around.

I only wish G.I. Joe would have shown up to torch the funeral procession.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Pondering cheerleaders

It’s cheerleader camp week at ‘ye olde’ alma mater. Always an interesting time. A week in which 12-15 year old bow-headed, space cadets primp and practice hours upon end to learn how to spell “Go” (G – O) and clap in unison. A week in which hairspray and butt skirts are the norm and the only table left in the gymnasium after two months of basketball camps is decorated in crate paper and balloons.

Of course, I couldn’t help but find the humor when the sewer line at the student center backed up on registration day. I wasn’t sure what smelled worse, the decaying excrement or overpowering stench of a cornucopia of perfumes wafting through the university store.

At this point one might have figured out that I am not a big fan of cheerleaders. Occasionally one might run across a group that is actually skilled in performance and can use their abilities to enhance a sporting event. However, being a former sports reporter and a current sports fan, I have seen my fair share of ineptitude sporting the school colors.

Of course, it pains my soul when my 5-year-old daughter consistently announces that she wants to be a cheerleader. I do everything I can to dissuade her of this preschooler’s ambition. I even use a local athlete who is now playing basketball for our storied university, as a babysitter for my child, hoping that her drive, ambition and athletic prowess, as displayed in the photo, (she especially loves to reminisce about her days as a volleyball player) among other admirable Christian traits, will rub off on my impressionable young child.

With this in mind, I don’t think twice about leaving our child with the sitter while the wife and I go to a movie. However, when I come home and find that the sitter has supplied my child with a set of pom-pons, I feel betrayed … stabbed in the back … et tu Brutus …

I have since informed the sitter, that I am holding her completely responsible for my daughter’s athletic development as she continues to grow and pursue constructive avenues through which to develop her skills.

I suppose, if the child wants to be a cheerleader I will let her. But I’ll be hanged if I will ever let her wear sweats or shorts with words plastered across the posterior. To date, my child has never asked for "buttboard" clothing. But I know one thing, if she ever does, I will do everything I can to nip that practice in the butt … errr bud.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

What a waste

Talk about a waste. I have just seen a half-hour of my life unceremoniously slip through my fingers. I’ve wasted time before, but generally I like to waste time with something that can be construed as somewhat productive such as taking a nap or blowing my nose. But not this time. No Way! I have just spent half an hour reading a Web site designated to denigrating Rachael Ray, the host of several food network shows and obviously, a top 10 contender for the title of Anitchrist, somewhere behind Brussels sprouts and toe fungus.

I really know nothing about Rachael Ray. I will, however, continue to refer to her by her full name since her attackers all referred to her by only her initials and I would like to disassociate myself from such vigilantes of the culinary arts. All I know of the Food Network superstar is that my brother-in-law is contractually allowed to leave his wife for Rachael Ray at any moment, no questions asked, should the opportunity present itself. Of course, my sister is allowed to leave him for Johnny Depp. They’re kinda weird, but that is another therapy session altogether.

The vile, hateful nature with which these people lash out at Rachael Ray is a perfect example of the basest of humanity. To be so abusive to a pseudo-celebrity they do not know … someone they can turn off at any time (Really people, it’s called a remote. That’s r – e – m – o – t – e. Read a freakin’ book) … someone who is simply trying to cook a sloppy joe for crying out loud. I would add a link to the site, but I feel that it is my duty as a socially conscious human being to refrain from leading people down such a path of self destruction. Actually, I ran screaming from that site so fast that I forgot to take down the address and I really don’t want to go back to find it, but it was called “Rachael Ray Sucks” or something like that.

It’s a shame these people can’t channel their passion to a more constructive endeavor. In fact, their behavior has sparked such a passion in me that I suddenly feel the need to follow their lead … to lash out in a destructive and vengeful manner … to try to effect change by abusing something or someone so vile, so disgusting that their mere existence is like an inoperable blemish on the buttcheek of mankind … I think I’ll go beat up an unsuspecting 6-year-old!!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Scared of the dark

Running short on reading material at my humble abode, I had little choice but to turn to other avenues in order to pursue a new literary adventure. I could have gone to the local Hastings and picked up a new paperback, or two, but I am cheap ... and I am saving my allowance in order to grab the new Harry Potter book at some point next week.

Therefore, as I scavanged our bookshelves hoping to find something of interest, my wife told me that my sister had given her a couple of books the other day that I might be interested in. One was "The Client" by John Grisham. I am a Grisham fan and have read many of his books, but I had just finished reading "The Summons" -- not one of his best -- and was looking for something a little different.

The other book fell into the horror genre -- another genre I am acquainted with. Not knowing what to expect I pick up the book and turn to the first few pages. Like several other books -- such as the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy -- this book contained a map on a couple of pages before the story began, showing the area where the tale takes place. This story apparently takes place at a summer camp for boys.

Keep in mind this is a tale of horror. As I look at the map I take special notice of a small sign in the bottom right-hand corner bearing the name of the camp -- camp Friend-Indeed. Below the name is the camp's slogan, "Glad men from happy boys." And the name of said literary masterpiece you might ask, "The Moonbow."

Far be it from me to judge something or someone by their lifestyle choice in spite of my personal beliefs, but ... I'm scared!

Friday, June 24, 2005

feeling old

I feel so old.

I was just in the university bookstore picking up some stamps and a diet Dr. Pepper when I ran into Priscilla. Priscilla is a former track athlete from Barbados who just finished her master’s degree and is working as an Admissions counselor for our university.

She was laughing at one of the cell phones the bookstore had on display. It was an older model -- very large and boxy. The kind that "flipped" open. She called me over to ask if I would ever use something like that. She even offered to buy it for me if I would.

I took the opportunity to explain to her that the phone she was laughing at was quite the rage back in the day when they were referred to as “mobile phones” not “cell phones.”

“Mobile,” she said. “That doesn’t look very mobile to me. It won’t fit in my pocket.”

Then I told her that mobile phones originally came with large battery packs that you had to carry around or leave plugged into your car – at this point she really started laughing.

So, I am now back in my office, sipping my Dr. Pepper, just sitting here … feeling old.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Please dress appropriately for all occasions


And I mean that in every sense of the word.

In a span of about three hours last Saturday morning I got my fill of boobs. From sophomoric freshmen (ha! ha!) trying to act cool and pick up chicks in the college registration line, to … well … boobs, I saw it all.

At our esteemed institution of higher learning we held an early registration event last Saturday for incoming freshmen and transfer students. This event is designed to cut down on the registration marathon that generally takes place two days before classes begin in the fall.

Students complain about the slow, arduous process and how awful it is that they are forced into these situations because obviously they would rather be at home watching reruns of SpongeBob Squarepants than out doing what it takes to ensure a brighter future.

I often explain to them how the registration process worked when I was a student at this same university more than a decade ago. Not that I would ever embellish, but by the time I show them the scars from self-inflicted paper cuts and explain that it was the only way to maintain a certain level of sanity as hoards of university personnel took turns brainwashing and browbeating us into submission, they don’t complain quite as much.

I work a station in the line where we register information about a student’s home town newspapers so we can send press releases home if they have any major accomplishments while in school. We also get them to sign a release saying it is Ok to use their likeness on university publications should the need arise. When we have the necessary information, we sign off on their registration packet and they are approved to move on down the line. All this information can be filled out ahead of time on a card they receive in their registration packets. Students generally like stopping at my station because it takes about 30 seconds and they can get rid of two stops at once because the parking permit people are never there. I basically tell them parking is not important and sign off for the parking personnel as well.

Now, I must tell you that it is hot in Texas in June and students tend to dress according to the weather. This means tanks tops, low cut, spaghetti straps, loose fitting blouses which is all well and good as long as you remain upright. A fact many a young, doe-eyed innocent fails to comprehend. Others are well aware of the fact and simply don’t care, but they usually don’t have their parents standing beside them in the registration line.

It’s always kind of a shock the first time this happens in the registration line. Sitting comfortably behind a table taking cards and information you are never quite prepared for what is about to happen. A young student fails to complete her form ahead of time, waiting to fill out the information when she reaches your spot in line. As said young lady starts to lean over right in front of you, you are suddenly hit with the bug-eyed realization of what is about to spill out across your field of vision.

Now what …

With eyes darting around the room, bouncing from object to object … to object … you try to find anything to grab your attention. After all, the young ladies’ parents are right behind her and you know if this was your daughter you would be glaring at the man behind the table, making sure he wasn’t trying to sneak a peek.

Feeling a little less than comfortable with the situation, you strike up an idle conversation with the next boob in line who just happens to be the aforementioned goofy boy trying so hard to fit in. It’s never a pretty sight.

Oh well, I just wonder what fashions will be like when my daughter is registering for her first semester in college.

Friday, June 10, 2005

I learnt my geometry at high school

It's raining. So with our crack technology, we could lose power at any moment. I just finished sending 70-something emails to various hometowns of little boys and girls who were gifted enough to make our honors lists.

Just as I was about to hit the send button on an email to Odessa, I had a sudden epiphany. I am basically working from a list that gives a student's name, hometown and whether he/she (sometimes its hard to tell from gender ambigous names) made the Dean's list or the President's list. I had just finished typing up my press release concerning Brittany and Sergiy from Odessa. Have you guessed my problem yet? Sure enough Sergiy, whose last name is an extended alphabet soup ain't from around here. I sure am glad they teach't me geometry at my podunk high school cause I figured out all by my self that there might be more than one Odessa on this here spheroid we call home.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Be careful where you clean your guns

So, there I was... Tucked away comfortably in my own little room at a cozy little hunter's lodge in a town of roughly the population of Baskin Robbins at 9 o'clock on a Wednesday morning in mid January in Vermont. When my sister Spookyrach goes on work related trips she gets Houston, Corpus Christi or some other place where the chance of finding a decent bookstore is just a matter of knowing where to look.

Me? When I go on a work-related retreat, I get "Deliverence" country.

There were six of us that made this trip. A chance to get away from the office and brainstorm on ideas to make our division more successful as we seek to compete in the field of Higher Education. My job? Communications. The PR man. Graduated in four years with a BA in BS. If we were looking for a nice quiet place to work, we chose the right location because there were definitely no distractions.

Sitting in my non-smoking room that was operating on a ventilation system that sucked all the cigarette smoke out of the "parlor" and promptly deposited it in the rooms, I chanced to look at the chest of drawers. It was a nice chest. Nothing fancy but decent enough to get the job done in a small lodge that catered to hunters. It was a nice hunter green chest with a faux finish on top. What caught my eye was a sign carefully placed in the center of the chest, under glass that read. "Please do not clean your guns on the towels."

It then dawned on me that I was on the back edge of civilization. Of course, that wasn't the only informative signage strategically positioned in the lodge. As you enter the front door, you are met by a sign that reads "Do not leave beer coolers in your truck."

It doesn't really matter that you leave stereos, jewelry, bags full of money and any other valuables in there, but there had apparently been a rash of beer cooler robberies in town. What else are those wild and crazy kids going to do on a Friday night? Surprisingly, we were told this by a woman at the desk who had a very distinct British accent. Boy did she get lost when they let her off the boat.

And if that isn't enough, the only eating establishment in town, where we dined at breakfast, lunch and dinner for two days, filling up on gravy, chicken fried steak and anything else served with a side order of grease, was named "Crackers." Being of white anglo saxon protestant decent, I'm not sure if I should be offended by that. The food wasn't bad, but we had an interesting group of waiters and waitresses who weren't real sure what we wanted when asking for skim milk.

Our meetings were held in the basement where the proprietor would occasionally wander through, unlock a set of double doors, enter the room, bang around on things for a while, emerge, relock the doors, walk back through our meeting area and return up the stairs as if nothing strange had just occurred. I should mention at this point that the building in question was at one time a funeral home. One of our group members had an aunt who attended many a funeral in said location and always managed to pass out when she came to a certain spot in one of the rooms.

Gee! I wonder where we'll go for our retreat next year?

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Civic responsibility

I've never been one to really think about posting my thoughts for all to see, but with the direction technology is going and the popularity of blogging these days, I thought, 'What the heck!'

Someone asked me the other day if I blogged. I said no. I occasionally scribble down some thoughts, but they are not for public consumption. However, there are some things that just strike me as odd, and I hope I am not the only one.

Case in point ... Today I was filling out a jury questionaire. I have lived in this town for four years and this is the second time I have been summoned for jury duty. I know people who have lived here considerably longer who have never had the pleasure. But that is beside the point. The first couple of questions they ask concern my sex and race. It strikes me as odd that in a climate in which everyone pretends to be concerned about equality the first thing the court wants to know is that I am a white male. They obviously are not overly concerned about important things like my name because that question is a little farther down the page, but "By-St.-Peter's-crew-cut," they want to know that I am a white male.

Of course, like most people I was trying to find a way out, so I closely read the qualifications for serving on a jury. General qualification No. 5 states that the prospective juror must "be able to read and write." What would they say if I circled this reason then signed my name at the bottom of the form and returned it to them?

Oh well. I guess I'm doomed to serve. I'll probably be selected and the trial dates will disrupt my preplanned vacation, but "Hey!" it's my civic duty, so I'll show up with a smile, answer all the questions, collect my $7 and go home happy.