Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My Civic Duty

For seven years I've lived in the beautiful state of Oregon and not once have I received a letter summoning me to Jury Duty. . . . until today. Oh yepee skipee!

As I eagerly read each exciting detail about how I would be able to spend my time performing my civic duty, a few things struck me.

Here are the Juror Qualifications as listed:
  1. You must be a citizen of the United States.
  2. You must be a resident of Clackamas County.
  3. You must be 18 years of age or older.
  4. You must not have served on any state or federal jury in the last 2 years.

That's it? These are the only qualifications that are required for a person to determine the fate of a fellow citizen? What I read here was, "Any idiot can serve as a juror."

Surely there have got to be some more qualifications that one should posses. How about:

  1. You must be smarter than a fifth grader.
  2. You must be able to speak and comprehend the English language
  3. You must not be a low life degenerate freak of nature who has no concept of personal hygiene.
  4. You must have enough common sense to realize if OJ Simpson is on the trial you serve at, the bastard is guilty.
  5. You must realize that watching every episode of "Mattlock" does not make you an expert in the judicial system.
  6. "Feel free to add your own here"

I found out that I will of course be compensated for my time. When I saw the dollar amount I seriously considered quitting my job and becoming a professional juror. Yes folks, I could be making the big buck should I be selected. Get this, I could make. . . I can't believe the generosity. . . $10 a day!

Lisa is already looking into 401 K's, IRAs and a host of other plans for our windfall. She was so excited about this news I almost didn't want to tell her if I do get selected to a trial and if goes for more than two days then I could get whopping $25 a day!

Can you believe it? If I am really lucky, I'll get a case that goes for at least two weeks. With that the kids college fund should be pretty well taken care of. Yep, I can see it now Harvard...Yale... the possibilities are endless.

But wait, there's more. "Tell him what he's won."

I can also earn 20 cents a mile for each and every mile I travel to and from the courthouse. Is this getting exciting or what? Let's do a little math shall we? If I drive my truck which gets 13 mpg with the current price of gas at $3.60 per gallon it costs me 27.6 cents per mile. So in other words I get to make twenty cents to spend nearly thirty. Is our government great or what?

I see there is a section that talks about security. Let's see what it says: Prohibited articles such as guns, knives and chemical sprays (mace) will not be allowed in the building. Camera phones are not permitted.

I think I'll show up with a hand grenade and an envelope of anthrax and see if they select me. I don't see these things on their list and remember intelligence was not one of their requirements to be a juror.

OK so what I'm really going to do is defer my service to sometime in November or December when it's not right in the middle of the busy season for work.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Odds and Ends

After what feels like six months of winter, this past weekend was actually quite enjoyable. It was sunny and warm, giving us all a ray of hope that spring may make it onto the scene yet. The sound of lawn mowers and edge trimmers filled the neighborhood, and as the day wore on there was the unmistakeably pleasant aroma of BBQ's wafting from yard to yard.

Everyone it seemed was outside enjoying the day in a variety of ways. The family and I decided to take a short jaunt down to Woodburn (about twenty miles south of where we live) to take in the sights of this year's Tulip Festival.

Here are a couple of shots I captured while we were there.

The third one caught my eye. The red amongst all the yellow ones made me think of "The Black Sheep" in the family.

The boys weren't too excited about going to look at a bunch of flowers until the found out that there was a really cool bungee bounce thingamabob they could do. This was Matthew's reaction.

One of these days he might come out of his shell!

This one's of Anthony shooting through the air.

All in all it was a really fun time for all of us and right on time I might add. Cabin fever had just about made us all stir crazy.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

We'll Have a Gay Old Time

About twenty years ago I used to golf quite a bit. At the time I was still single and it was well before the talk of children had even entered the picture. It was a time when I had both leisure time and money left over at the end of the month. Excuse me for a moment while I reflect on those two things . . . . . ahhh, ok I'm back.

At the time a very good friend of mine and I were working together at a winery in northern California. I was working in the kitchen of the restaurant. My buddy, Tim Hayes (aka "Purple Haze") was the manager of the tasting room. For those that are unfamiliar with what a tasting room is, it's part of a winery where the public can go and sample the various wines offered, and could just as easily be called a gift shop. The idea is, if you sample the wines, you're much more likely to purchase them. It does seem to work pretty well, but then again it might have something to do with the fact that by the end of a day of wine tasting a good number of the tourist are shit faced and will buy a bottle or two or twelve whether they can taste the difference between good and bad anyway.

More stories of some of these antics another time. For now back to the one at hand.

We both worked day shifts and both enjoyed playing golf. There was a nine hole municipal course about five miles away from where we worked that was pretty moderately priced and was also very convenient for us to get to. After playing the course for over a year and spending a reasonable amount of money from month to month, we decided to check out getting a membership, figuring saving a few bucks on our green fees wasn't too bad of an idea. When we inquired about getting this however, we were told we couldn't join together, because that was reserved for married couples. We could each get a single membership if we liked though. Now the price for a couple was significantly less than it was for a single and the whole idea was we wanted to save money right?

This is where the light bulb went on over Tim's head. He looked at the pro and said, "Have you ever had a gay discrimination law suit filed against the course?"

This my friends was absolutely brilliant. The guy behind the counter just looked at him and said, "You wouldn't . . . would you? You're kidding me . . . right?"

"Just try me," was Tim's response.

Tim was joking of course, but I'm still not sure the pro was totally convinced he was. He caved on the spot and said, "Ok, you can join as a couple, but I'll have to sign you up as Mr and Mrs Hayes, and please don't tell anybody I'm doing this for you."

Ha! We didn't care if he put Martha Stewart on the registration, we had just saved about a hundred and fifty bucks apiece. Well for the next month or so we took full advantage of the unlimited golf and enjoyed playing as much as we wanted to without paying any extra. We also played together each time and didn't really think anything of it until one day when I went there by myself.

There was a young guy working behind the counter that I hadn't recalled seeing before. I went to check in and told him I was a member. He asked for the name, so I told him, "Hayes."

Looking it up on the list he found the name and politely said, "Oh hi, Mr Hayes?"

"No," I said, "I'm his wife, Mrs Hayes!" and with that I turned around and walked out of the pro shop and off to the first tee.

The poor guy's jaw darn near dropped to the ground as he watched those words spill off my lips. By the time I'd made it to the tee box I was laughing so stinking hard I could barely hit the ball. I have no idea what score I shot that day, but it was still one of the most memorable days on the course I've ever had.

Funny thing is that guy never looked at me quite the same way again, especially when I'd walk in with Tim and he'd kiss me on the cheek just to freak him out a bit.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Blah Blah Blah

The title of this post pretty well sums up my general attitude the past couple of days. As a result I haven't been inspired to put anything together, in fact I went to a few blogs last night and didn't even feel like leaving a comment. It happens I guess, that life gives us the funkies from time to time. Don't really know why, just does. Anyhoo, I'm feeling better now and looking outside at beautiful sunny day (finally) certainly helps the attitude.

We've got a couple things going today and I'll be back later tonight with something a little more substantial to write about. For now I just thought I'd post this so if you haven't seen any comments from me recently you'd know why.

I updated my blog roll and think I have all of you who are regular visitors listed there. If by chance I missed anyone and you'd like to be included, by all means let me know and I'll be sure to add you.

For now I'll leave you with this shot of spring from the back yard.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Now if you’re suddenly in a panic from reading the title of this post thinking, “I didn’t know it was Mother’s Day already?” relax. There are still eighteen shopping days left until that glorious Sunday in May. If however, you listen to the radio (or TV if you have cable) you would think it’s in the next ten minutes. "Hurry…don’t wait…go spend your money today while the selection is still good." Ah yes, it’s commercialism at its finest once again.

Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against celebrating a day for mothers everywhere, but the feeling the retailers give of having to buy her affection is nothing short of irritating. If you’re blessed to have a mom like mine, you should by all means take time to stop by and visit her, pick up the phone and call, take her a card or buy her some flowers if you can afford to. Your mom probably worked hard raising and caring for you, for that she should be acknowledged, but that should be an act of love from your heart, not because someone guilted you into it.

I just heard an add that said “Flowers and chocolates don’t cut it anymore, get her what she really wants, get her a new cell phone. Yeah, nothing says I love you like a new phone with a two year service contract!

There’s another irritating clod that claims to be my, “Friend in the diamond business.” He would love to sell me (or anyone else for that matter) a ring or pendant with a diamond the size of Rhode Island on it, and as an added bonus finance it for me regardless of my credit. I don’t know about you, but I just want to go up to him and give him a great big hug. What a thoughtful guy!

There was another add I heard that was a bit disturbing from a jewelry guy… go figure. This guy was my, “Friend in the pearl business”. Oh wait a minute…same guy come to think of it, just being extra friendly I guess. Anyway he wants to make me a deal on a necklace. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t giving your mom a pearl necklace, no matter what the occasion, completely wrong on every level? Even if you’re from some three tooth backwards, hillbilly state where your mom and your sister are one in the same person it still can’t be right. Eeeeewwww.

Personally I think I’m going to get mom a kidney this year. Imagine the surprise on her face when she opens the box and looks under the dry ice to find that little gem! I sure hope I get her one in her size.

While we’re on the subject, (Mother’s day that is, not organ harvesting), how about buying a present for a wife on Mother’s Day? If the two of you are parents should you feel obligated to do this? Personally I don’t buy into this one either. I’ll be happy to help my boys make her a card, take them out to pick some flowers or assist them in making a meal for her, but going out and buying a present by myself for her just doesn’t seem like part of the program. Yes she’s helping raise our children, but I’m sorry, she’s still not my mother.

One final word in edgewise on the subject, in June when Father’s day rolls around, all of this same stuff applies with the roles reversed.

Oh by the way, if you would like to read a warm heartfelt poem about me, please go by and visit my brother Gene at “Turning the Pages of Life”. You might want to have a few tissues on hand though as I’m sure you’ll be in tears before you get to the end of it.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Comfort Food

Yesterday with the temperatures at a balmy 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit and a mixture of rain, hail and the occasional snow flake, I thought it would be a good time to make a large pot Gumbo. If you're unfamiliar with this culinary yummy, it's a hearty soup that is very popular in the southern U.S., more specifically, Louisiana. It takes a while to prepare, but boy is it worth it!

It can be made from any number of foods found in the kitchen, but the one I learned to cook has chicken and Andouille sausage as the main ingredients. You start by cutting the chicken breasts into bite sized pieces and sprinkling them with a mixture of salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder. After about thirty minutes of this dry marinade you coat them with flour and brown them in very hot lard. (ya, this isn't exactly health food)

After all the chicken has been cooked and set aside you add flour to the lard and make a roux. This is one of the most crucial parts of the whole recipe and it can not be rushed! Plan on staying at the stove stirring it constantly for about 45 minutes. Low heat and a watchful eye are paramount in this step. If you burn it, throw it out and start over again. I guarantee you will not disguise the flavor of a burnt roux. You'll know it's ready when your arm is about to fall off and it has a nice mahogany color to it. (the photo to the right is at about 30 minutes of cooking)

It's now time to add the onion, bell pepper and celery. These get cooked in the roux for about five minutes or until the onions are translucent. Next comes the chicken stock. Homemade is definitely the way to go here. Store bought (or canned) can be used, but the flavor isn't as good by any means and they also tend to have way too much salt in them.

After the stock comes to a boil,in goes the chicken and sliced sausages. After about 20 minutes another key ingredient is added, okra. Now if your nose just wrinkled up at the thought of eating okra, (like mine did the first time I saw the recipe) rest easy. With all the other flavors in the pot it just blends right in. Now I know it's not the flavor that most people find objectionable, it's the texture, but let me assure you that is not an issue either. In fact it is absolutely necessary for the soup. The physical characteristic of the okra is what thickens the soup perfectly.

From here the Gumbo is ready to enjoy. Put a small scoop of cooked white rice in a bowl, ladle some Gumbo over the top and garnish with a little chopped parsley and green onion.

Mmmmmm. . . . . Good!

The recipe I use is straight out of a cookbook I have titled, "Cajun-Creole Cooking" by Terry Thompson. If you want the actual recipe email me and let me know. I'll be happy to share it with you. I didn't want to post it because of respect for the copyright.

Oh, by the way, we had a green salad and some crab stuffed mushrooms to go with the Gumbo.

Bon Appetite!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ham Anyone?

The following tale was told to me quite some time ago. Thought you might like it too.

A guy is driving down a country road one day when a pig bolts in front of his car and stops right smack in front him. The guy slams on his breaks and comes skidding to a halt just inches away from the pig. As his does this, a large tree falls across the road about fifty feet in front of his car.

As he takes in what's just happened, he realizes had the pig not have run in front of his car, he would have surely been crushed by the falling tree. After a few moments of sitting and collecting his composure, his sees the pig trot off towards a nearby farmhouse, but what really catches his eye is that the pig is missing its left hind leg.

The guy is amazed. Not only did this pig save his life, but it did it by running on only three legs. Still in awe, he sees a man outside of a barn near where the pig is heading. Feeling compelled to share the heroic tale of this life saving pig, the guys pulls his car off to the shoulder of the road and follows his guardian angel to where the man is.

When he gets to within ear shot of the farmer, he hollers out, "Excuse me sir, is that your pig over there?"

"Yep, sure is." the guy replies.

"That's one amazing pig you've got there mister. He just saved my life!"

"He did it again huh?"

Puzzled the guy says, "You mean he's done that before?"

"Yep, happens all the time with that pig."

Now the guy is really intrigued. "What do you mean?" he asks.

The farmer proceeds to tell the stranger, "Well ya see, bout three years ago we had us a twister come thru these parts in the middle of the night. That pig there busted out of its pen and come running over to the house a squealin' and a stompin' its hooves on the front door till it woke me and the misses up. We done got everybody including that pig down into the cellar before that big ole' twister come barrelin right over the top of us. We done lost the house and everything, but that little pig saved us all. That's when we knew there's somethin' special bout that critter."

"Holy cow! That's incredible!" the guy exclaimed. "You said he dose this all the time. You mean there were other times too?"

Again the farmer tells him, "Yep, like I said, he does it all the time. One other time he woke us all up when the back of the house was on fire. Me, the misses and the kids got out in time,but as we was standing on the front lawn we realized our four year old daughter wadn't out there with us. Bout that time that pig come runnin' out of the house with her. He'd grabbed her by the scruff of he PJ's and drug her out just in the nick of time."

The guy was totally floored at this point. He had never heard of such an amazing animal in all of his life. For a farm animal to have saved some one's life once was something in itself, but to do it at least three different times was nothing short of miraculous.

"Sir," he said, "that's the most incredible animal I've ever seen in my life. I am curious though, how come he only has three legs?"

Without missing a beat the farmer replies, "Boy, you don't think we'd eat a pig like that all at once do ya?"

Hope you're having a great weekend!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Ungrateful Little Turd

Short post - Small rant.

Two days ago one of the neighborhood kids came to the door peddling raffle tickets for a sports program he's in. I looked in my pocket and all it had in it was lent, so I told him I'd be happy to help him out if the following day wasn't too late. He said that would be fine, because the fund raiser didn't end until the next day.

Now if this had been an adult coming by to make me a deal I couldn't refuse on some high quality frozen steaks, or an offer to aerate my lawn for twenty bucks, I'd have told them to hit the road. But since this was a kid I would overlook my no soliciting at my door policy. By the way if your kid is in boy or girl scouts and wants to make an easy sale just make sure they are at the store where my mom or I shop. We are both suckers for them.

Anyway, the next day on my way home I made a special trip into the store so I could get some cash to help out Jordan. (the kid selling the raffle tickets) After pulling into the driveway and getting out of my truck, I heard him playing out in front of his house. I figured I'd go over and take care of our transaction.

The following is what our conversation sounded like:

Me- "Do you still have those tickets for sale?"

Jordan- "Yeah, my mom's got 'em in the house."

Me- "How about going in and getting them?"

Jordan- "I don't want to go in right now, but you can go in, my mom has them."

Me- "I thought you were the one selling them"

Jordan- ""

Me- "So, if you want to sell any to me you'll have to do something to earn them, like going in and getting them."

Jordan- "Why can't you just talk to my mom about them?"

Me- "Because the last time I checked, she isn't the one playing baseball you are, and part of that deal means you get to do some of the fund raising."

Jordan- "Whatever."

Me- "Sorry, but I'm not going to do your job for you. If you want to make a sale then you are going to have to make an effort."

Jordan- "I already said I don't want to go in right now"

Me- "I'm out of here. If you change your mind I'll be at my house"

About the time I made it half way across the street, he calls out, "OK, I'll go in and get them."

My response, "Good plan...I'll be at my house, you can bring them over."

Big surprise, he never came over.

I plan on talking to his dad and letting him know about our conversation because I know what a stand-up guy Doug is and he won't be to happy to hear about his son's lack of motivation. I would hope someone would tell me if one of my kids acted this way.

What would you have done?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Picture Fiction Challenge - "All I Need"

One of my blogging buddies, Dana who writes at "Amid Life's Crises" wrote a story last month as part of a group participating in something called Picture Fiction Challange (PFC). It's a great writing exercise put together by R.E.H. of "Ramblings of a Madman". I enjoyed reading both of their stories as well as some others and decided I give it a go this month.

R.E.H. posts five random photographs from different catagories to be used in the authors story. The photos shown below are the ones that were selected for this month's addition. They also list the general peramiters for how they are to be used. For the complete rules on posting click here

Please enjoy.

"All I Need"

The lights went dark save for the dim red glow in the background. A few moments later the slow steady rhythm of a base drum pulsed from the stage.


The crowd, some fifteen thousand of them, began clapping their hands, while keeping time with the drummer as he increased the tempo with each succeeding beat.


It was the third and final New York performance for the band “Gypsy Heart” and the feeling in the arena was positively electric.


This was the band’s signature opening and the audience was going absolutely ballistic with anticipation. Everyone was waiting for the lead singer to make her patented grand entrance. The fog machines filled the stage area with a cool dense mist, adding to the overall ambience as the drummer continued his feverish pace.


The entire arena floor was shaking and pounding from the frenzied spectators stomping feet. And then, starting with the unmistakable rattle of the snare drum the percussionist rolled from one side of the drum kit to the other finishing with a CRASH of the cymbals. At that instant, the brilliant white lights from the front of the stage flashed on like lightning as Debbie Gamble leaped from one of the speaker towers to within feet of the ecstatic onlookers standing in the front row.

Wielding her Fender Flying V guitar and stroking a purposely distorted G-chord she kicked off the show with the song everyone had come to hear, “Generational Divide”. It was a raw, cutting edge number with lyrics that seemed to resonate with the under thirty crowd everywhere they went. The fast energetic music had come to the bass player and her one evening while they were hammering out some riffs at a late night jam session. The lyrics however, were purely Gamble’s emotions spilling out onto the stack of nearby cocktail napkins it was originally penned on.

A little over a year had passed since the band had recorded their first CD by the same name, and ever since its initial release into the mainstream, it had been an instant hit. Nearly every progressive radio station in the country was playing tracks off of it and they were all lining up to get on air interviews or in studio appearances with the now famous “Gypsy Heart” band, but more specifically, with Debbie Gamble.

The same success that was bringing her fame across the airwaves was also fueling sellouts in ninety-eight percent of the cities on this U.S. tour, but this portion of the whirlwind was rapidly approaching the end. After eight months of almost continuous nightly gigs, the tour was finally coming to a close here in New York City, only about an hour and a half away from her hometown. It was in this small town coincidently, where most of the inspiration for her music had come from.

Right now was a different story though, and that previous life was the furthest thing from her mind, because after a brief two week vacation from the hectic schedule of going from city to city, night after night, she and the rest of the band would be heading across the Atlantic to kick off their European tour. This engagement however, would be a much more relaxed pace for them, with the promise of no more than three shows per any given week and a couple of two week breaks during the four month run.

She was already envisioning zipping across snow-covered landscapes while driving the car from the “wrong side” of the road. (As most Americans like her would say) Taking in all the sights she’d either heard about or had seen in the movies was something she’d dreamed about ever since the dates had been announced a few months earlier.

The first stop would be in Munich, Germany and she could already taste the combination of sweet malted barley and the bitterness of roasted hops in one of their finely crafted beers. From there she and the band would be off to Italy, more specifically, Rome. They would have several days to explore the city and surrounding countryside before continuing on their journey.

That would all happen in good time, but first they had a show to close. The Band had played most of the crowd’s favorites such as “Bible Man Blues”, a stirring song that told of Gamble’s rebellion against her father and the religion he tried to steer her towards both at home and from the pulpit. They had also performed “Lonely Streets” another powerful tune that chronicled her two years of living on the streets of Hollywood and her dire circumstances during that dark period of her life.

There were others, but what the audience was now waiting for was the one they closed with every night, “All I Need”. This was a ballad that had it have been sung during the eighties would have been met with a sea of Bic lighters waving throughout the crowd. In present times, much to the liking of numerous fire marshals, they would be replaced with the illuminating glow of cell phone screens instead.

Piercing the air, she would cry out, “Like a bird taking flight, all I need is to be free.” and then the band would join in, playing every note as if it was pouring directly out of their souls. The song would go on to talk about the need to be accepted for who she was, and equally as important, who she wasn’t. One particular line, “All I need is a stuffed animal to squeeze.” Had become something of a phenomenon in itself. It was a silly line perhaps for a Rock N Roll song, but it portrayed a longing for the simple pleasures of her childhood. Times she remembered like mock tea parties with her mother on the back lawn during a hot summer afternoon, or being pulled on a sled by her father on a snowy New York winter’s day.

During the very first live performance of this song at a concert in Seattle, WA, and purely unrehearsed, a young teenage girl near the front row who had connected deeply with the message it revealed, threw a simple little stuffed animal onto the stage at Gamble’s feet.

The small fuzzy yellow bird that lay in front of the lead singer was originally intended to be a simple gesture of thanks for an artist’s ability to relate to a teenager’s plight. As it turned out though, it became much, much more extraordinary than that. After the song had finished, Gamble picked it up and announced, “Thank you. I’ll make sure a little one gets this!”

From that point on that one small act of kindness became an overnight trademark for the closing song. The next night the word got out and about a dozen stuffed animals of all types hit the stage during the finale. Within weeks the numbers of these “love offerings” was in the hundreds. Each time they would be collected by the stage crew and later distributed to troubled or needy kids throughout the city in which they were performing. By the second month of the tour the band had to hire a full time liaison to co-ordinate all of these donations with local non-profit groups.

The media ate it up too. Here was this hard, rough rocker chick that sang about living on the streets, addictions, religious rebellion and a host of other of life’s challenges, handing out thousands of cute and cuddly plush toys each week. There were of course the skeptics out there, but what some of the doubters labeled as a marketing ploy, Gamble and her loyal supporters saw as a real life portrayal of her song’s message.

As the band played the final notes of the last song, the stage lights faded to black except for a single spot that shown down on Debbie Gamble. Just as she did every other night, while the last of the gifts came to a rest on the front of the stage, she reached down into the assortment of animals and picked one up saying, “Thank you, I’ll make sure a little one gets this!”

Generally, she didn’t pay specific attention to any one particular critter she was holding, and any other night she’d have put it back down in the pile to be gathered up later, along with the amps, speakers and other related paraphernalia scattered about the stage, but tonight this one caught not only her eye, but her feel as well. It was decidedly different from the countless others she had been given over the past several months. She ran her long slender fingers over the rough, somewhat scratchy texture and then did a double take zooming in for a closer look.

The last light went dark and the audience erupted in a thunderous applause. As the other band members made there way to the backstage area on their way to what was sure to be an enormous blow out party, Gamble stopped and stood on the now completely darkened stage, straining to get a better glimpse of the seemingly familiar object.

“Go ahead,” she said to the group, “I’ll catch up with you in a minute.”

There she was standing in the middle of the post concert goings on, not seeing or hearing anything around her. Instead she was fixated on this small homemade creature in her hands.

“This just isn’t possible,” she thought, “it can’t be.”

But it could, and it was. The little coconut shaped animal she was holding was the very one she had cherished as a young girl; at least, “It has to be,” she thought. She quickly flipped it over to verify and sure enough, there on the bottom of his right foot was stitched in black thread “D G” which stood for Debra Gardner, her actual name.

Suddenly everything around her seemed to be narrowing in with the only thing remaining in focus, the precious little creature her mother had made for her nearly twenty-six years earlier.

Her legs felt rubbery both from the physical exhaustion of the concert she had just put on and from the emotional surge she was feeling from holding her favorite childhood toy again. Feeling the need to sit, she folded her legs and sat on the stage. It was still warm from the heat of all the intense lights that had be shining on it earlier in the evening and somehow this warmth, along with her “Wuzzle” (as she called him) brought back a thousand memories all washing over her in an instant.

“How can this be?” she whispered to herself, “What if…”

She wondered how this treasure from her childhood had come to be in her possession once again. Had her parents placed it in a box destined for Goodwill, only to be picked up by one of her adoring fans, and then thrown onto the stage at one of her concerts?

She quickly realized how absurd that sounded, but the only other explanation she could think of was as equally unlikely. For some reason her parents who she had not seen or spoken to in over a ten years had come to one of her shows and managed to “will her” to pick up this one little creature out of such a vast sea of stuffed animals. Either way there was no logical explanation and she knew it.

“Deb…Deb!” she heard as one of the roadies walked up to her, “I just got a page, security is looking for you.”

Still in a daze, she replied, “What? Oh ya, ok…tell them I’ll be right there.”

“You got it babe. Hey, by the way, kick ass show tonight!”

“Thanks.” She responded more by impulse than sincerity.

She got up and made her way to the back stage area where she was greeted by the last thing she could have imagined seeing. Standing next to a rather large guy in a bright yellow shirt that said, “S E C U R I T Y” were Ester and John Gardner. Debbie Gamble…that is, Debra Gardner’s parents.


She realized a new chapter in her life was about to unfold.

The End

Character- The name Debbie Gamble immediately came to mind. Don't know why, but it seemed to fit her look to me. Creating a story around her character didn't take too much imagination.

Objective- I may have stretched this one just a bit. By the position of the steering wheel I knew this had to be somewhere in Europe, hence the European tour. This may not have been the entire focus of the story, but hopefully it was used well enough.

Setting- I'm sure this isn't New York City, but I wanted a large city for the setting and figured it went against where her parents would likely turn up.

Item- My first thought was, "What am I supposed to do with this freaky little thing?" I actually started writing the story before I had figured out how to incorporate "Wuzzle" into it. He ended up being her childhood treasure.

Random- This one too didn't seem to fit in with the other pictures. The yellow color is what caught my eye, so I used it as a yellow stuffed bird, which kicked off the whole donation angle in the story.

Be sure to go by and visit R.E.H by clicking here. Besides finding another quality blog, you will be able to see a link to the other Autors of this month's PFC

Monday, April 14, 2008

What a Crappy Job

A buddy of mine told me about a guy who truly understood the fine art of getting even. Thought you might enjoy it.

It seems that there was a gentleman by the name of Vladamir who was a drywall installer by trade. He (Val) was hired by a rather well to do businessman to hang several sheets of drywall in his home. After hanging the rock he would mud and tape all the joints and then spray the walls and ceiling with the appropriate texture.

Having been in the business for many years, this was a pretty straight forward job for Val and he would typically complete a job of this size in about a week. As it would turn out, there was nothing typical about this particular job though.

From the minute Val showed up with the materials on day one, the owner decided to make his life a living hell. This pompous ass lived in a ritzy part of Portland and wanted everyone around him to know just how "Important" he was. Apparently he had made a ton of money during the Dot-Com craze and was one of those stereotypical "New money" types.

Nothing Val or his helpers did would please this guy. They didn't unload the materials from the correct spot. They got drywall dust on his driveway. They didn't listen to the right kind of music. They didn't put an exorbitant amount of screws in the drywall...etc. No matter what they did, this guy would find something to complain about.

It really started getting bad when it came time for Val to collect part of the money. The original agreement was that Val would be paid half of the money when all the drywall had been hung, (This is a common practice on larger jobs) Through a long series of arguments the owner finally paid 1/3, not the 1/2 that was agreed to. Words like "I don't trust you" and "I think you're overcharging me" were his excuse. As you can imagine Val was outraged. He hadn't changed the price that was agreed to prior to beginning the job and as far as trust was concerned, that just didn't make sense. The job was going according to schedule and outside of the jerk owner's ridiculous demands Val was performing as he had promised.

Everything seemed to be going south on the project now, but Val was in to far to just walk away. What he had been paid would only cover the materials and part of his crew's labor. He decided to stick it out and continue with the job. After completing the mud and tape portion of the job, Val went to the owner and requested the remaining money that was owed to him. Again he got some but not all of what it should have been.

The next day, Mr Jerkwad told Val that he expected the job to be completed by the end of the day and he would be holding an additional amount out of the final payment until he had a friend of his come over and inspect the work, sometime the following week. I won't repeat what Val said, but you can probably guess it wasn't pretty. This latest stall tactic was never part of the original agreement and it was now being sprung on him on the last day.

Val had had enough. He wasn't sure if he'd ever see the rest of his money from this unreasonable deadbeat, and he wasn't interested in taking anymore crap from him either. I'm pretty sure this is where the light bulb went on over Val's head.

He told the guy the job would be finished when he returned from work that afternoon and what he did after that could only be described as brilliant. Remember when I said Val wasn't going to take any more crap? Well...he decided is was time to give some instead.

After mixing the texture to the correct consistency he unzipped his jeans and let them drop on the living room floor. He then proceeded to use the bucket as his own five gallon commode. I can only imagine that this was one of the most satisfying dumps he had ever taken in his life. Upon completion of his bowel unloading, he put his pants back on, grabbed the mixer and blended in the previous night's dinner into the texture. He then took great care to spray the feces laden texture all over the walls and ceiling of the guys million dollar home!

He obviously got a call from a very distressed customer that evening, wondering what the hell had happened in his living room and why it smelled so rank. Val said, "We were wondering about that too. Maybe you have a dead animal in the crawl space?" Apparently the guy never figured it out and eventually Val did get most of the money that was due to him.

So if you think you've had some crappy work done by a contractor, maybe you hired Val and didn't know it.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

COWs and Characters

I can now say, "The COWS have come home!" My good friend, more like a brother from another mother, Matt at Bagwine Ruminations honored me with my second COW (comment of the week). If you constitution is strong and there aren't any impressionable young ones in the room, go by a pay him a visit. He is very quick with the wit and if you look beneath the surface you'll see a very intelligent guy who blends truth and sarcasm seamlessly.

Thanks Matt-Man

I thought it might be fun to introduce you to one of the many characters I shared the kitchen with back in the restaurant days. Today's choice comes from the home of SweetRiver Saloon in Santa Rosa, CA.

"The River" as many of us that worked there would call it, was a mix of a family style restaurant in the dining room and social area in the bar. Being attached to a shopping mall, so it was always busy and it wasn't uncommon to serve 150-200 lunches and as many dinners during any given day.

I remember starting work at 6:00am some mornings and when they were short handed for the night shift I would work a double finishing up at 6:00-10:00pm. Generally this would be done with only a couple of hours in between for a break. Ah yes, to be young again. Nineteen years old as a matter of fact.

Now when your shift was over The River had an interesting policy. It seems you could go the the bar area and have a cocktail, (or two, or three) at 50% off the regular price. Not wanting to pass up a good deal most of my fellow employees and myself felt it was our civic duty to oblige the management with their more than generous offer. Think about this for a moment. Offering half priced alcohol to restaurant employees was like waving a cheeseburger in front of a man who had been marooned on an island for several years. I still to this day don't know why they ever thought this was a good idea. Funny thing is, not to long after I stopped working there this policy was rescinded. I like to think my friends and I had something to do with that.

One other part of the "Let you employees get hammered at the workplace arrangement", was that you could also charge your bar tab towards your paycheck. So every two weeks when payday would roll around they would calculate your tab and subtract it from your earnings. Yes this company was truly run by rocket scientists.

At the beginning of this story I told you I was going to introduce you to one of the characters I worked with. Now is that time. The picture below is of Larry SaintClair, or Lawrence as some called him. The picture is from Halloween one year, but believe it or not, this is actually a pretty good shot of him. In fact I do recall on more than one occasion he looked much worse than this at 6:00 am.

You know his given name and one of his nicknames, but the one most of us would refer to him was "Harry Scary Larry". To fully appreciate this name you would have had to know him, although from the photograph, I think you get a pretty good idea.

One particular HSL memory was on a payday. Randy, Mo and I had finished up for the day and were sitting in the lounge, (sounds so much more civilized than bar don't you think?) when Larry comes walking up looking quite glum. One of us, I don't recall who, said, "Hey Larry, gonna have a beer with us?"

This would have actually meant a shot of house brandy and a Budweiser. These would have been Larry's signature choices, but this day he surprised all of us and said, "I can't"

As far as any of us could remember this was the first time he had turned down a libation in front of us. Naturally we sere amazed and asked why. The response just about made us horse laugh ourselves silly. He went on to tell us that his bar privileges had been temporarily revoked and then threw his paycheck stub down on the table for us to look at.

I can still see the number as plain as if were yesterday. There in the lower right hand corner in bold type read, "NET EARNINGS - $16.38"

That was his total remaining earnings for two weeks work after the bar tab had been subtracted. "What are you going to do Larry?" Randy asked. "I'm going to go home, have a glass of milk and read a book!" was all he said.

Stories of this man's antics could fill up several pages and I'll be sure to include some more of them in the future.

For the record: Alcoholism is a serious affliction that grips hundreds of thousands of us each year. I make light of a time in my youth only because the circumstances surrounding it were quite comical at the time. I came to the realization a little over five years ago that I too had a problem with controlling my drinking. I made a choice to stop and haven't touched it in 5+ years. Alcohol isn't a problem for many and I hope I don't sound self righteous about it, but for me stopping was the right choice.

Friday, April 11, 2008

That's My Boy!

So I'm a bit lean on words tonight. Lots of ideas for things to talk about, but for whatever reason I'm not feeling inspired to put anything together this evening. No big crises or anything, just a bit tired.

Rather than do a blah post from forced words I thought I'd share one of my favorite pictures of my youngest boy. To me this photo captures his personality to a tee.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Airplane '08

On a recent walk through the local video store I saw the movie "Airplane" sitting on the shelf. It's been a while since I last watched that one, so I'll have to pick it up one of these days soon. As my mind immediately flashed on some the hilarious scenes I'd recalled seeing in it, a blog idea popped into the frontal lobe.

I thought about a few things that you wouldn't want to hear coming from the cockpit of a commercial airline while you are on board:

1* Any of you guys know what this blinking light means?

2* I sure hope that crack holds till we land!

3* Did I tell you my doctor finally took me off Prozac about a week ago?

4* Tell me you're kidding about the fuel gauge saying "Empty".

5* That's a great avionics school . . . Me? Oh, I learned landings on an X-Box 360

6* I can't believe it either. My first time behind the controls . . . How cool it that?

7* Is it just me or does anybody else smell smoke?

8* Oh, thaaaat's what the tower was trying to warn us about!

9* Damn, we're gonna wish we had those when it comes time to land!

10* Why thanks for asking flight attendant Franny, I'll have a Corona and the captain will have another Scotch N' Water.

Feel free to add to the list.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

How Sweet!

This is a photo post that I'm sure will make your mouth water. But first...

Most of you know I am a contractor. Painting houses, installing drywall, and applying specialty concrete coatings is what I do for a living. Yada, yada, yada.

What you may not know is that prior to this I spent several years in the restaurant biz, fifteen to be exact. I started this journey as a dishwasher and I knew from the very first day that scrubbing pots and pans was not my life's ambition. Working harder and faster than any of my amigos proved to be well worth the extra effort as I was promoted to a prep cook within a very short amount of time. From there I worked in every aspect of the restaurant, bus boy, line cook, waiter and so forth until at the ripe old age of eighteen I had earned the privilege of becoming the assistant manager of a very popular eatery in northern California, Jeremiah's Steak House.

Having to be in charge of employees who sometimes had more years in the business than I had on the planet was extremely challenging at times. It required that I be the boss and the student of the trade all at the same time. As it turned out I ended up leaving that job much more educated than I had ever dreamed of in two short years, but ready for something a bit less stressful.

Over the next several years I would work in a variety of restaurants, settling in on the kitchen as my area of comfort. It was at a winery/restaurant Chateau Souvereign that I was introduced to the world of desserts and pastry. The chef was a flaming nut job by the name of Gary Danko. He was the biggest pain in the backside I've ever worked for, but also one of the most brilliant chef's too.

Several years later I would have the chance to go to the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. This is the world famous cooking school's west coast extension. The owner of the winery that I worked for at the time, Ken DeBaun, picked up the tab for my formal education at the school. Can you say, "Cha-Ching!"

The following year, my beautiful wife Lisa was also able to take some classes there. The one class we both took was "Plated Desserts" taught by an incredible pastry chef by the name of Bo Friberg. This man lived and breathed pastry, and he was an absolute genius in a white coat.

The pictures below are all desserts Lisa made. I of course, neglected to take a camera with me to school. I wish I would have had a blog back then, because I know I'd of had a camera. Oh well.

Lisa with Chef Bo

Gingered Pineapple

Frozen Yogurt

Baklava with
Mascarpone Bavarian
and Cherry Sauce

Creme Caramel


Wine Foam and
Blackberry Bavarian

Valentine's Day Heart

Red Current Bavarian

Cappucino Mousse
with Sambuca Cream
in a Chocolate Cup

Everything you see on the plates is 100% edible and 100% Delicious.

Can my baby cook or what?

Monday, April 7, 2008

A Basketball Post???

Hold on ladies, don't leave yet. This is really a post about a movie about basketball.

Well I guess that isn't completely true either. There certainly is basketball throughout the movie, but the message behind the game is so much more than that. It's the story of one man's determination to give hope and a fighting chance for success to a group of young men, boys really, that otherwise might never of been so fortunate.

The movie originally came out in 2005 and it stars Samuel L Jackson as the Richmond High School basketball coach who in 1999 made history.

The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia's site about Ken Carter:

Carter gained notoriety in 1999 when coaching the Richmond High School Oilers. He canceled all of his undefeated basketball team's games and practices for eight days -- forfeiting two games (one non-conference game and one alumni game) -- because fifteen team members had unacceptably poor academic performance. This event was known as "the lockout", and his actions were criticized by the school, players' parents, the community, the schools where his team was scheduled to play, and media commentators. Carter maintained that his athletes must take their studies seriously as good academic performance would give them access to college and other opportunities in life. Public opinion eventually changed, and he was praised for his determined emphasis on encouraging proper life priorities for his team.

Personally I think this is Jackson's best performance to date. The movie does have a fair amount of four letter language in it, so if that doesn't sit well with you you may want to skip it. Otherwise I highly recommend checking it out.

Well there you go, I actually did a post about basketball...kind of

If you follow college hoops and are fully engulfed in March Madness go by Travis's site for all the action. He does a great recap of all the games.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Two Please

“Have you completely lost your mind?”

“Oh come on, it’s gonna be a blast.”

“There is no way on earth I’m getting into that death trap.”

“Come on Clair,” begged her boyfriend, “You only live once.”

Un-wavered in her decision, the petite brunette fired back at Rick, “Ya and you only die once too, but today is not going to be that day for me!”

As a young boy, Rick had always been the daredevil type. If the other boys went off the diving board while swimming in the pool, Rick “Danger Boy” Meyers would insist on being the first one to brave the high dive. When it came to bicycles, he would gladly try new tricks or jumps, especially if the possibility of losing some skin was involved.

One particular summer afternoon when he was about ten years old, his buddies decided to climb the backyard fence and see who could balance while standing on the top rail. Not wanting to be outdone, Rick scaled the large oak tree nearby and didn’t stop until he was about sixteen feet off the ground. Looking down at his friends below and then motioning towards the limb in front of him, he called out, “Do ya dare me?”

Two of the three boys started chanting, “Rick, Rick, Rick!” while the third one shouted, “I double dog dare ya!”

With that Danger Boy started his circus like performance inching his way out onto the limb. It was reminiscent of the high wire act he’d seen under the big top a few weeks before.

After making his way out about three feet from the main trunk he stopped and announced triumphantly, “Ta Da…!”

Egging him on, one of the boys asked, “Is that all you’ve got?”

This was all the encouragement the young Evil Knievel protégé needed to hear.

With a twinkle in his eyes he said, “You want to see something else?”

“Come on, what-do-ya got?” another hollered up.

“Watch this!” Rick confidently proclaimed.

With steadfast determination he extended both his arms as far as he could to achieve maximum balance and then slowly started lifting his right foot off the sturdy moss covered limb. The next thing he knew, his arms were flailing wildly and he was free falling, picking up momentum as he sped toward the hard earth below. Miraculously he managed to miss all the other limbs on his descent to the ground and with a THUD he hit…hard!

The other boys came rushing over to see their injured friend who now lay in a crumpled heap at the bottom of the mighty oak, but instead of crying or screaming out in pain as most kids his age would have, Rick slowly got up laughing. As he regained his footing he took a couple of steps while cradling his left wrist and chuckled saying, “I think I broke my arm.”

Sure enough, that’s exactly what he’d done, but true to form it barely slowed him down as it healed over the following weeks.


Rick looked at Clair and said, “I’ll tell you what. You go on this with me and I’ll go on anything you want to later.”

“Anything…?” she said.

“You wouldn’t dare!”

As much as she dreaded the thought of getting on the ride in front of her, she knew Rick was right where she wanted him…completely at her mercy.

Half asking, half demanding, she quizzed, “Pinky promise?”

“Oh all right,” but he insisted, “We ride this first. I don’t want you chickening out later.”

Getting into this contraption that to her looked like it was held together with bubble gum and bailing wire, would be way out of her comfort zone, not to mention totally out of character. For as every bit of an adventurer Rick was, Clair was as equally opposite and reserved.

The biggest risk she could remember taking during her sixteen years on the planet was to make a couple of prank phone calls from the house of one of her girlfriends during a slumber party. Living on the edge or even taking small chances was simply not a part of her growing up.

Even while standing at the entrance to the ride with all the loud music in the background, the flashing lights and the ever present yammering of the greasy haired carnies, all she could think about was her fathers voice in the back of her head.

He was a safety inspector for the state who coincidentally just happened to be the one in charge of overseeing safety protocol of the county fair she and Rick were attending that evening.

Every year he would come home with horror stories about how one of the ride operators would forget to assemble something properly creating the opportunity for disaster to strike an unsuspecting rider. If that weren’t bad enough, he would also tell his wife and daughter about any major accidents that had happened at other fairs during the course of the year.

“You’re not going to believe what happened at such and such a place,” he would lecture.

Every year she had heard nothing but the dangers of these traveling carnivals so needless to say Clair’s exposure to this type of venue was considerably more skewed than the average attendee. In fact, the only other time she had set foot inside the fair grounds was during the annual Forth of July fireworks celebration, and then it was only because her father would never dream of lighting those “dangerous fireballs” (as he called them) off in their front yard.

“Do you know how many people get injured each year because of those things?” he would always say.

It was no wonder the young girl stood there in a daze contemplating what she was about to do.


“Clair…yoo-hoo…Claaair…” Rick said as he waved his hand in front of her face, “We’re next.”

“Hold on, I think this is the one my dad was talking about.”

“You mean Mr. Safety”

With a raspy growl the ride operator grumbled, “You two going or what?”

Clair continued her stall tactics, “Are you sure it’s ok?”

Rick knew if he didn’t get her on the ride this time around it would be all over. She would dig in her heels and wuss out for sure. He decided to take charge. He grabbed her hand, gave the man twelve tickets and pulled his girlfriend up onto the platform.

“We’re going!” he said.

The red metallic car, more like a cage, they were getting into was a tattered looking one that auspiciously had the number 13 in a black on white circle just above the door.

“Perfect!” she thought.

As the attendant closed and secured the door he gave the top of the car a little shove causing it to pivot back and forth on its central axis. This in turn caused Clair to let out a shriek.

Rick managed an evil laugh and said, “We haven’t even got started yet.”

No sooner had he said that and the car shot backwards and up the track so the attendant could load the next one in line. Clair’s heart was pounding so hard and fast she thought it was going to explode at any second. The Zipper was typically a ride one worked up to, but for Clair Daniels this would be her very first carnival ride.

“So help me Rick, if you make this thing spin upside down I will throw up all over you!” she exclaimed.

With a devilish grin he said, “Who me?”

Even with his “caution to the wind” personality, Rick was thoroughly convinced tumbling the car would be his final act of bravado on this earth. Still, he did feel compelled to test the waters by causing it to rock just a little bit, each time receiving a glare or a threat to his longevity.

Every time they bolted backwards to allow the next couple of people to climb into an unoccupied car, Clair would let go another squeal. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of stopping and starting all the passengers were loaded and the ride officially got under way.

The cars, aka cages, began their backwards travel along the track while the entire group of them started rotating forward in a motion similar to a Ferris Wheel. If this weren’t unnerving enough for the queasy stomached Clair, each individual car had its own pivot point too.

After the first twenty or thirty seconds of the ride, Rick was sure he'd be deaf in his right ear by the end of it. It seemed Clair was able to reach an octave with her screams that was sure to make a few canines three counties away perk up their ears.

Surprisingly though, after the initial panic had loosened its grip on Clair, she actually started smiling…a lot! The exhilaration she felt surging through her body was almost euphoric. It was the perfect combination of fear and excitement. Something she had never experienced before.

The next words that she shouted shocked Rick as much as they did her own ears.

“One spin…all the way around!” she yelled.

“Seriously?” Rick asked.

“If you make me think about it I might not do it.” She told him.

“Ok, lean back and when we get to the top of the circle push forward with all you’ve got!”

Rick was thinking to himself, “Is this the same quite and demure girl that he had to drag onto the ride just a couple of minutes earlier?”

“Wait…not yet, wait…NOW!”

They both threw their weight forward at that precise moment causing the car to go into a series of summersaults. When lucky number thirteen finally righted itself the two of them turned to look at each other and burst out into laughter.

About a half a minute later they came staggering and slightly disoriented, out of the red metallic cage that had brought them so much amusement. As they made their way down the platform to the steady ground below, they continued to laugh and carry on about how Clair had conquered the Zipper.

Walking down the midway they barely noticed the carnies trying to entice them to try their luck at the various games. They were too busy enjoying each other’s company to give any of them a second look.

“All right,” Rick said, “Time to hold up my end of the bargain. What ride do you want to go on?”

Looking at her boyfriend for his reaction, she said, “Well, I was really wanting to go on the carousel.”

Without skipping a beat, Rick said, “The carousel it is then.”

After her willingness to let her hair down on the last ride he wouldn’t have cared if she’d had said the choo-choo ride in Kiddy-Land.

“But…” Clair continued, “Now I’m thinking about the Scrambler instead.”

“Cool, I love that one,” he said, “but first we ride the carousel.”

He may have been one of the most reckless boys she knew, but he had just shown her a softer, more compassionate side of himself that very few others knew about.

With her arm around his waist and her head on his shoulder they continued their way to the ornately decorated Merry Go Round. Rick reached into his pocket then handed the operator the tickets and said, “Two please.”


The End

Friday, April 4, 2008


I really didn't think I as going to fool anyone with my picture of the "pyramids" yesterday. I know you're much too clever for that, but what I did want to do was to portray an image that went beyond the standard sunrise photo.

I know some of you read a blog from a brilliant photographer and journalist by the name of David McMahon of Authorblog. In fact, through his recurring "Post of the Day" article a few of us have become acquainted.

It's through his photography and informative (and generally witty) commentary that made me compose that sunrise picture a little different. David would be the first to tell you to look beyond the obvious image and find something that is out of the ordinary, or that captures the subject in an unfamiliar way.

Such was my intent yesterday. At first, I looked at the magnificent colors as the sun shown through the clouds and trees. My natural reaction was to frame the shot so the roof tops were not visible at all, but then I looked at it again and saw the silhouette, that to me, looked like the great pyramids. "Aha, that's a more interesting view," I thought.

The point to all this is I've come to have a better (or at least different) appreciation for subject matter in my photographs. Thanks for the pointers David!

If you haven't had the opportunity to check out his site, by all means go by and have a look. Click here. Like Bill Cosby would say in the Fat Albert show, "If you're not careful you might just learn something."

Here's the first picture

Here it is again in the afternoon

Oh, and what's this?

Well look at that. It's the Sphinx in front of the pyramids!

I just about have another short story ready to post. Maybe by tomorrow.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Pyramids

Take a look at the picture below. It has not been edited in any way. No super imposing or Photoshop type of effects were used.

My question is this:

How was I able to get a shot of these pyramids with a real maple tree in the foreground?

FYI, maples do not grow in Egypt

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Exact Change Please

**Mini-rant warning**

At what point in modern history were retail cashiers no longer able to calculate change without the aid of register to do it for them?

Case in point: I went into my local grocery store the other day to purchase a couple of things. The total came up to $6.58 so I handed the girl a ten and two ones. She stood there with a blank look on her face that might just have well of said,"What planet are you from mister?"

I broke the silence and waved my hand in front of her glazed over face and said, "Is that a problem?"

She replied, "You just gave me twelve dollars, why the extra money?"

"That's so I will get a five dollar bill and forty two cents back, otherwise if I would have given you a ten you would have given me three ones plus the change," I said.

I could tell she still either didn't get it or just didn't believe me. None the less she typed in 1...2...0...0... and low and behold the register told her my change would be $5.42. Yes that's right, the register, not common sense told her this.

This my friends is a person who exchanges money all day long with people! Now I'll be the first person to admit I'm an analytical numbers oriented guy, but come on, how hard is it to make simple change?

While I'm on the subject, have you ever handed one of these rocket scientists a few coins after they have punched in the dollars you've given them? You know, the total is something like $55.26 and you hand them sixty bucks, so they type this in, but you find the twenty-six cents in your pocket and give that to them. Smoke starts pouring out of their ears as you see the gears turning inside while they try to figure out how on earth to calculate change now that they have to do it in their mind.

This is when they usually come up with something highly intelligent to say like, "Aaaaa, ummmm." At this point I generally have to tell them how much change to give me...again.

Is this important in the big scope of the world? Maybe not, but it still irritates the crap out of me.

How about you? Any episodes with the monetarily challenged that come to mind?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The List

Before anything else is said, Lisa and I want to say thank you for all of your thoughtful comments and words of encouragement from the last post. Things are great on the home front!

Now I know you have been wondering what the other things were on Lisa's list are so here we go...

1) He leaves his socks on the floor in the room where he takes them off.

Hello! Where else am I supposed to put them? And to think, all these years I was under the impression that the sock fairy picked them up in the middle of the night and whisked them off to the laundry room. Who'd a thunk it?

2) He loves to cook, but uses every pan in the house.

Guilty as charged! I believe this stems from my years of working in restaurants. I guess I got used to having a dishwasher available to clean up whatever I put in front of him. After I get done cooking a meal it generally looks like an explosion in a pillow factory.

3) Passes gas - should try "Beano".

Isn't it obvious a lady wrote this one down. Had a guy of written it, it'd say something like, "Farts like a trooper". I really don't see why this one is a problem, I mean my two boys think this is a God given talent that should be exercised as often as possible. I think she's still upset because I made the dog leave the room one day.

4) He doesn't clean the counters when he's finished in the kitchen.

This one simply is not true. Whenever I'm finished making a sandwich I make sure to brush the crumbs onto the floor.

5) He bugs you when he wants you to come up with this list!

You would think I would be smart enough to leave her alone if she only started out with about four things, but nooo. I had to go and say, "Is that all you can come up with?" What the hell was I thinking?

6) Gets into moods to get rid of everything we aren't using at the moment without thinking. Then a month later we need to re-purchase.

This is definitely an area where Lisa and I are worlds apart. I have what is commonly known as the three year rule. If something sits on a shelf or in a box untouched for more than three years, chances are pretty good we don't need it. It's next destination is either on a table at a yard sale or in a box heading for Goodwill. Case in point: We had a food dehydrator that was given to us as a wedding gift. Twelve years later it still sat in the box receiving only one sad attempt at sucking the life out of some poor unsuspecting fruit. When I put it in a yard sale you would have though I was getting rid of a priceless family heirloom. Ya, this is a tough one to find middle ground on.

7) He drinks out of containers in the fridge, i.e. juice, milk...etc.

Please see numbers 2 and 4. I am simple being proactive in my attempt to not leave a mess in the kitchen or a dirty glass on the counter. (You believe me don't you?)

8) He picks at his toenails - Yuk!

I have no defense for this one. Yes I do it and yes it's gross. It's a subconscious, nervous habit.

9) He leaves his clothes from the night before on the floor. They rarely make it to the laundry room.

OK, this is the second annoyance for her regarding my placement of clothing. I am making a mental note right now to walk my lazy butt the extra fifteen feet to the laundry room with the clothes. Either that or the sock fairy needs to get another helper late at night.

10) He sleeps in the buff and sheds all over the sheets.

This may well qualify for the "more information than we needed" category, but remember, you wanted to see the list. Yes I sleep with my bare nothings on. I can not stand to have any type of clothing on when I sleep, besides, what else would I be able to decorate the floor with. As for the shedding part, I am a fuzzy guy. Kind of like a cross between Robin Williams and Grizzly Adams. I really, really, really wish I wasn't, but I am. If there was one thing I could change about my physical appearance this would be it.

11) He torments the cats by making loud noises at them.

Now before you go calling the SPCA on me know that I am generally very loving and kind to my cats and dog, but once in a while when one of the cats comes sauntering by looking quite regal, I love to give them a big PISSSST!!! There is something about seeing a three foot vertical leap from a ten inch tall animal that hits my funny bone just right! Here kitty, kitty, kitty.

12) He mumbles when he is upset.

What! I do not mumble when I'm angry. I don't have any idea what she is talking about with this one. Give me a break, I've never mumbled a day in my life. I'm going to have to get some clarification on this. I'll show her mumbling dog gone it.

Well, there you have it. The big bad list in it's entirety. Now I'm sure one of you might leave a comment asking me to write a list of my irritations and annoyances about Lisa. Let me just say this to you, "There is not a snowball's chance in hell that I am going to do that!" I may be silly enough to ask my wife for a list of these things about myself, but I am wise enough to know that I typically go to bed before her and there are entirely too many ways for her to snuff me out as I peacefully lay in bed.