Whether The Storm or Weather The Storm

Here is another shot at some Johnny and June fiction. It is late, so we'll see if I manage to come up with anything good. If it stinks I'll just nuke it and try again. If you're curious here are links to some prior attempts.
Notes For June- Fragments of Fiction
More about Johnny
June
Johnny and June- A Rough Draft
Some Notes for Fragments of Fiction May 2008
It had been clear for a long time that Johnny and June had stumbled onto something special. They had the sort of relationship that they had always wished for, more or less. It wasn't flawless. They had their ups and downs and moments of doubt. There were times when they would shake their heads and wonder why they had ever gotten involved with each other.

But those moments always passed. Just when they thought that they couldn't be more upset they'd find that the anger had passed and was quickly replaced by a longing for the other. Because in spite of the hard times they knew that when things were right with each other there was nothing better.

There was an intensity and depth to the love they shared that just wouldn't die. At times the flames would seem to fizzle and the shine would wear off of the diamond, but that too didn't last.

Sometimes those moments created more doubt. The intensity and depth was a tricky thing to deal with. June was far more tactile than Johnny. Any time it wavered she began to wonder if maybe she had fooled herself. She'd list all the things that she didn't like about him, but the truth was that it was a relatively short list.

That was a bit frightening for her. It made her wonder if the problem wasn't really him, but her. She'd get lost in thoughts of whether she just couldn't carry a relationship beyond a certain length of time.

Sometimes during these moments she'd find herself doing things to push her Johnny away. It wasn't conscious and if you asked her she'd swear that she wasn't doing it, but Johnny felt differently. He was positive that these moments were an intentional act on her part.

It wasn't always easy to easygoing about it. He had his share of moments when he wanted to pick a fight and let her have it. The thing was that Johnny had long since learned that the worst thing he could do was allow himself to just react and that was what the anger was, a reaction.

So he'd take a deep breath and consider whether it merited a response. More often than not it didn't. Not only that, but he enjoyed disarming her by telling her that he loved her far too much to fight. She'd do something and he'd tell her that if she wanted to end things he wasn't going to make it easy.

And so the moments would pass and they'd go about their business.

At times it seemed a bit screwy, but every love story has its quirks and theirs was no different.

Over time Johnny learned that when things were rough with June the best way to make things better was to arrange some quiet time for the two of them. It didn't have to be a romantic getaway or a weekend away. All they needed were a few hours of quiet time together.

They'd head out to somewhere private and spend a few hours just enjoying each other's company. It never ceased to amaze the two of them how these moments were never awkward. They were comfortable together. They didn't have to talk or be physical to make it work.

It was all a big contradiction. For a person like June who loved order the contradictions were tough. It made it that much harder to be decisive. Johnny was far more used to living on the edge than she was. He had spent years just going off his gut, so in some ways he found the ups and downs to be easier.

But it'd be a lie to say that life on a merry-go-round was easy for him. He had more than his share of moments of doubt. Sometimes he found himself questioning whether he was being selfish by sticking around and that maybe the best thing he could do is just walk away.

Part of him believed that he wasn't entitled to happiness, at least not the sort of happiness that June represented. So he'd try and convince himself that it was almost noble to give her a sign of his love by letting her go. And then he'd laugh and call himself a fool and an idiot because who would really let that sort of love go.

He was determined to see it through to the end. It wasn't always going to be easy. There were many reasons why things be tough, but he believed that if they were steadfast and held onto each other they could weather the storm. That was the goal, weathering the storm.

It wasn't whether the storm would be too hard to deal with, just how to best sail through it. So when times were tough he'd remind himself that it wasn't a question of if they'd survive or how, they just would.

One day the clouds would pass and they'd find themselves richly rewarded for their devotion or something along those lines.

Blog Features & A Few Notes

I have three other blogs besides the Shack that I more or less run, but I don't really spend much time on any of them. They kind of exist in a sort of limbo in which I tend to them upon the odd occasion.

It is a bit frustrating because they started with such potential. I took much of what I had learned from this blog and tried to apply it there. The goal was to do more, improve and grow, create a bionic blog.

Can't really say that I have succeeded or failed and for the moment I am ok with that. Ok, I lied, I don't really feel good about it, but I have more important issues occupying my time. That is part of the joy of being a responsible adult, making decisions about priorities and then acting upon them.

So for now I have made the choice to try and focus somewhat upon this little corner of cyberspace. As I enter my fifth year I have the same goals and objectives as always. It is time to improve the writing and layout and be discovered as the next great writer so that I can make one gazillion dollars.

Hell, I don't need a gazillion or a bazillion, I'd settle for a million

Played ball today. I needed it. When I got to the gym I was in a foul mood. Fire was coming from my nose and laser beams were shooting from my eyes. I punished the opposition on the boards. I threw myself into the breach over and over. Every loose ball that I could get to was something that I wanted.

The goal was to completely exhaust myself and I did it. My team played five games. We won the first four, but couldn't quite get over the hump to win the fifth. It was a bit disappointing, but I just ran out of gas and literally stumbled into the locker room.

I tore off my clothes and dragged my lazy ass to the sauna. I sat down and leaned against a wall and just listened to the conversation. After about 15 minutes I had sufficiently recovered enough energy to stagger to the jacuzzi. Soaked my aching body and then stumbled into a chair and fell asleep.

Apparently the fellas were less than pleased with the loud snoring emanating from me so they dropped a bag of ice on my belly and were surprised to find that I didn't spring from my chair. Instead I opened my eyes and used my heat vision to scorch the hell out of the jackasses who were foolish enough to disturb my rest.

Ok, that is an exaggeration, I don't really have heat vision. But if I did I might have some splaining to do to a few people.

Eventually I managed to shower, get dress, drive home and eat dinner. Don't remember all that much from after dinner because I fell asleep again. Can't say how long I slept for except that I woke up with enough energy to do a few things around the house and then made my way here.

Almost midnight and I can't decide whether to crawl back between the sheets or just write. May try to bang out some more Johnny and June or may do something else. Stick around and you might found out what happens.

LBJ, Jews and Israel

Meryl tipped me off to this post. Here is an excerpt:
"The Texas congressman’s district had only 400 Jews, but clearly the Johnson family’s Christian teachings had given him a strong affinity for Jews and their return to the Holy Land.

Five days after taking office in 1937, LBJ broke with the “Dixiecrats” and supported an immigration bill that would naturalize illegal aliens, mostly Jews from Lithuania and Poland. In 1938, Johnson was told of a young Austrian Jewish musician who was about to be deported from the United States. With an element of subterfuge, LBJ sent him to the U.S. Consulate in Havana to obtain a residency permit. Erich Leinsdorf, the world famous musician and conductor, credited LBJ for saving his live.

Johnson Saved Hundreds of Jews

That same year, LBJ warned a Jewish friend that European Jews faced annihilation. Somehow, Johnson provided him with a pile of signed immigration papers that were used to get 42 Jews out of Warsaw. But that wasn’t enough. According to historian, James M. Smallwood, Congressman Johnson used legal and sometimes illegal methods to smuggle “hundreds of Jews into Texas, using Galveston as the entry port. Enough money could buy false passports and fake visas in Cuba, Mexico, and other Latin American countries. … Johnson smuggled boatloads and planeloads of Jews into Texas. He hid them in the Texas National Youth Administration…. Johnson saved at least four or five hundred Jews, possibly more..”"
The Elder has more.

Season Finale of Lost

I thought it was excellent. Well done, enjoyable and not a bad way to pass the time.

Dental Floss

Apparently I am floss challenged. That is not to say that I do not floss, I do. Rather I can't seem to pull the correct length. It is either too short or too long.

On top of that I have large hands that I can't quite fit in my mouth. It is probably a good thing, not that I really have a standing need to stick my hands in my mouth.

Some people might tell you that I am good at sticking my foot in my mouth. That is a tired euphemism, especially since my feet are even larger than my hands. I couldn't fit them inside even if I wanted to.

And I don't.

This is a ridiculous post, but right now my life is rather ridiculous. If you ask if that is good or bad I will say that I do not know. What does it matter and how did I get here.

One more comment about floss. I have a stupid joke I do with floss in which I simulate an air conditioner. Some of you may remember the A/C displays at Sears, you know the one that used the green thread on the grill.

That is all for now.

From The Archives

I stumbled onto some old crap that I decided to dust off and display again.

Hate Mail

You Don't Smell Like Daddy

Parents- List Your Child's Most Irritating Toy/Show

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Will They Know Me- I Am Going To Die

The Internet's Impact Upon Sex & Relationships

Selective Memories

How I Write

Polishing Posts- Editing

Advice You Probably Won't Need

Goodbye Harvey Korman

CNN is reporting that Harvey Korman has died. The great Hedley Lamarr is no more.

You Don't have to Pay Full Price

CNN/Money has an article that discusses how many retailers are trying to continue to bring in new customers during hard times.

"NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Times are tough. The economy is weakening, consumer confidence is at a low and Americans are struggling just to buy basics like gas and groceries. So when it comes to getting goods that fall beyond the bare necessities, shoppers are getting smarter.

Not only has scouring the Web for the best possible price become standard protocol before buying a big-ticket item, but more consumers are employing creative strategies for scoring hot deals on everything from stereos to sweat pants.

Comparison shopping, haggling and swapping discount codes are all becoming mainstream marks of savvy shoppers. And retailers are playing along.

Coupon craze

Swapping online coupons or discount codes is one quick way to score a reduced price. Often simply applying the right coupon or promotion code during the online payment process can mean a savings of 10% to 30% or at least free shipping.

"People are feeling a bit of squeeze and are looking for ways to save money without cutting back their spending," said Barry Boone, owner of currentcodes.com and naughtycodes.com.

Web sites like currentcodes.com list discount codes for a number of online retailers from Amazon to Zappos. If you find a code to an online store you're shopping at, just copy it and paste it into the "promotional code" box in the checkout area of the retailer's Web site."

Here is a list of sites that you can use to find coupons:

blog.couponmountain.com
coolsavings.com
couponblog.net
couponcabin.com
currentcodes.com
deallocker.com
naughtycodes.com
printable-coupons.blogspot.com
retailmenot.com
wow-coupons.com

If you know of any others please feel free to leave them in the comments.

The 10 worst jobs in science

MSNBC has an interesting list of the ten worst jobs in science. Read the whole article and see what they have to say, or let me walk you through an abridged version.

No. 10: Whale-feces researcher
No. 9: Forensic entomologist
No. 8: Olympic drug tester
No.7: Gravity Research Subject
No. 6: Microsoft security grunt
No. 5: Coursework carcass preparer

No. 4: Garbologist

No. 3: Elephant vasectomist

No. 2: Oceanographer

No. 1 Hazmat diver

Responding to Comments

Once upon a time I referred to blog posts that had no comments as orphans or something along those lines, I don't quite remember and don't feel like looking it up. What I can say for certain is that I remember being disturbed to see that some posts never received any feedback.

It was kind of a silly thing to be miffed about. I really don't blog for the comments, but that doesn't mean that I don't want/enjoy/appreciate the feedback. It may be a secondary thing, but nonetheless it is nice to see that someone took the time to respond.

Now many years into my blogging career I pay far less attention to that than I used to. Sure, there are some posts that I think are amazing that still never receive any comments, but I don't pay much attention to it. The comments are nice, but they don't drive the blog.

All that being said I have a responsibility to respond to comments and I need to come clean about this. Lately I have been a bit lax about it. I read every comment that comes in and I try to respond in a timely fashion, but sometimes I fall short.

That is not to say that I do not respond, but sometimes it might take me a couple of days to get to it. My apologies.

Also, the rules of the blog dictate that I let you know that sometimes I have nothing more to say or add and as a result I not respond to a comment.

Anyhoo, that is all I have to say about this for now. Thanks for reading.

My Fourth Blogiversary- What Do I have To Say

It seems that another year has come and gone. Another year of challenges, struggles and more than a few victories. Another year in which I promised myself to come up with a more profound blogiversary post than the past, but still didn't.

So let me get a few things out of the way. When I look back at the posts I put up during my first few months of blogging I really cringe. Some of them are just dreadful, the exact opposite of the profundities I always hope to find there.

For that matter I tend to dislike most of my posts. When I read them I always find an expression that sounds tired, far too trite or falls short in some other way. When I look back I wonder what the hell I was thinking and why I wasn't more careful in my editing.

And then I begin to consider all of the benefits that I have received from blogging and I begin to smile. Blogging has been the source of new friendships and provided an education in many areas that I wouldn't have normally received.

I was truly touched by the support I received after posting The Bearer of Bad Tidings- One Less Set of Footsteps.

Blogging has truly opened up new interests and changed my views on some things.

If you have spent any time reading the junk I put up you are aware that I often use this place to conduct my own therapy. I air out the junk that rattles around my skull and use the screen to clean out the clutter. I share my hopes and dreams and fears.

Here in cyberspace I sometimes scream. Here in cyberspace I cry. But more often here in cyberspace I laugh and find a way to get through the rough spots.

Here in cyberspace I test out my writing. I have taken and continue to take great pleasure in writing Fragments of Fiction.

The opportunity to document the wonderful and crazy things that my children do has been tremendous. I have four years of records that I wouldn't otherwise have.

As I sit here I mull over whether to try and list the bloggers that have been here for most if not all of the ride. I don't think that I could possibly do it justice. I don't think that I could possibly list you all, but I'll give it a shot. I know that I am going to leave some people, accept my apologies now.

The following is in no order of importance, just an incomplete list of bloggers that have made this experience more fun for me.
Treppenwitz
Israellycool
The Muqata
Elie's Expositions
Soccer Dad
Seraphic Secret
Stacey's Shmata
Serandez
NY's Funniest Rabbi
The Rebbetzin's Husband
Toner Mishap
An Audience of One
A couple more comments about this incomplete list. Each of you has touched me in a different way. Some of you and I have developed real friendships. We have had the opportunity to meet in person and develop something special that exists in real time as well as cyberspace.

But I think that the one thing that really ties you all together is that I feel like I have found a person that has taken the time to give a real picture of who you are. Over the years I have seen the good and the bad. You didn't take the easy way out and edit things to create a false picture of yourself.

At least that is my impression, who knows, I could be wrong.

I suppose that I should give some thought to how to wrap this up, but then again brevity is not my strong suit. Nonetheless for the sake of the 17 long time readers I'll give it a shot.

If you ask me how much longer you can expect to find me blogging I'll tell you that I don't know. This is post number 5,716. I have an unofficial goal of hitting 10,000. I may keep going until I hit the mark or I may not.

It is hard to say. I wouldn't be surprised to see it go on for years, nor would I be surprised if one day I just put down the keyboard and walked away. Some bloggers like Stephen continue to reinvent themselves. I must say that I find that to be somewhat intriguing.

Anyway, I think that for now I have done enough babbling for now. In just a moment I'll sign off and listen to some music and fall asleep. Who knows, in the morning I just might decide that I hate this and rewrite the whole damn thing.

A Few more odds and ends:
Past Blogiversary posts

A Blogiversary
Happy Blogivesary To Me
My Third Blogiversary- Not Quite a Farewell
Some old posts that I stumbled upon and decided to share with you just because I did.
I Am The Source of Evil In The JBlogosphere
Liveblogging Dinner With The Shmata Queen Part II
Sir, I Need A Condom
My Daughter's Favorite Book
Dancing WIth My Daughter
Some Things I'll Teach My Children
Why I Blog

A Different Sort of Childhood

While I was traversing the fine state of Texas I took a moment to give G a shout to try and catch up. I met the old man on the first day of kindergarten, way back in the fuzzy days of 1974.

Every now and then big, tall and lanky and I pull out the old photos and thank the powers that be that we weren't responsible for the incredibly ugly clothes that represent the '70s. Gosh, some of the crap that our parents made us wear is beyond hideous. Can't wait to see what happens when the children get a hold of those photos. I am ready to take a bit of abuse.

Anyway, the bastage didn't bother to pick up the phone. This means one of two things.

1) Those exceptionally old ears can't hear the soft ring of a cellphone.
2) The parents of the new woman were busy interrogating him.

On a side note he and I always refer to each other in the loving manner which you have just read. I don't know when it started, but it is just how we do it.

All of this brings me to the point of the post in which I expound upon how different childhood is for my children. I could rail on about technology, but that is not the big distinction.

The biggest change is that when I was a kid we played outside all year round. During the school year you came home changed and then ran outside. If you listened to your mom you usually heard a reminder to be home by dinner time, but you still went on your merry little way.

In my neighborhood we were outside and running around at a very young age. Older siblings usually kept half an eye upon you. That didn't mean that you couldn't get into a heap of trouble, you could. And typically those same older siblings helped encourage you to do the very thing that got you into hot water.

But things are different now. With the proliferation of news about pedophiles, rapists, murderers and bad guys in general parents are hesitant to let their children run around without careful supervision.

It used to be that mom was happy to do her chores indoors and give the occasional look out the window. Not anymore. Parents want to be outside with their kids where they can keep a close eye on things.

I really do not believe that things are worse now than when I was young. IMO the difference is the amount of information. With all the stories about the terrible things that happen to children it is hard let your kids do anything that you can't see.

And with our busy lives it can be really hard to work all day, come home and find time to let the kids run around outside, especially during the shorter days of the year.

FWIW, in my neighborhood I do see a lot of kids playing outside, but they tend to be older than my children. So maybe it is something that will happen, just at a later age than when I began. But something tells me that even if it does happen it will be with more reservations from the parents than when we were young.

The end of the innocence is not limited to the youth.

The Worst Place To Have Plumbing Problems

I can't think of too many places that could possibly be more problematic than in outer space. I hope that they have plenty of bottles and pots, or at least corks and rubber bands.

"WASHINGTON (AP) -- The international space station's lone toilet is broken, leaving the crew with almost nowhere to go. So NASA may order an in-orbit plumbing service call when space shuttle Discovery visits next week.

Until then, the three-man crew will have to make do with a jury-rigged system when they need to urinate.

While one of the crew was using the Russian-made toilet last week, the toilet motor fan stopped working, according to NASA. Since then, the liquid waste gathering part of the toilet has been working on-and-off.

Fortunately, the solid waste collecting part is functioning normally.

Russian officials don't know the cause of the problem, and the crew has been unable to fix it.

The crew has used the toilet on the Soyuz return capsule, but it has a limited capacity. They now are using a backup bag-like collection system that can be connected to the broken toilet, according to NASA public affairs officials."

For the full story flush here.

Thank You!!- Haveil Havalim Hosts

Haveil Havalim is the weekly roundup of posts from the Jewish/Israeli blogosphere. As many of you know the carnival was originally organized by Soccer Dad and I have since taken over the role of admin.

This is a post that is long overdue to thank the many bloggers who have stepped up to the plate and taken on the responsibility of hosting as well as those of you who continue to contribute because without your help H.H. would cease to exist.

So I wanted to take a moment to publicly thank those of you who have hosted and those of you who are standing on deck. Here is a list of bloggers whose help has been invaluable. Take a moment and go say hello.

And please note that some of the newer hosts are already taking a second turn at bat.
Past Posts

Ill call Baila
Esser Agaroth
The Israel Situation
My Shrapnel
Life in Israel
Jtown Underground
Tzipiyah.com
SimplyJews
Ima on (and off) the Bimah
Frume Sarah's World

Future Hosts

Frum Satire
Writes Like She Talks
Soccer Dad
Ima on (and off) the Bimah
Daled Amos
Yidwithlid
Esser Agaroth
Frume Sarah's World
The Rebbetzin's Husband
Yehuda Berlinger
For a more complete list of past hosts please click here.

A Few Hikes I Might Attempt

David has a video of a pretty cool hike. It is not for the light of heart. But then again neither is the Mt. Huashan Hiking Trail.

I grabbed the two photos below from Rick Archer's site. It is worth clicking through to go read more about the hike.

The Husband Store- A Joke

This is from the mailbag.

A brand new store has just opened in New York City that sells Husbands.

When women go to choose a husband, they have to follow the instructions at the entrance:-

"You may visit this store ONLY ONCE! There are 6 floors and the value of the products increase as you ascend the flights. You may choose any item from a particular floor, or may choose to go up to the next floor, but you CANNOT go back down except to exit the building

So, a woman goes to the Husband Store to find a husband.

On the 1st floor the sign on the door reads: Floor 1 - These men have jobs.

The 2nd floor sign reads: Floor 2 - These men Have Jobs and Love Kids.

The 3rd floor sign reads: Floor 3 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids and are extremely good looking.

"Wow," she thinks, but feels compelled to keep going.

She goes to the 4th floor and the sign reads: Floor 4 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Good Looking and Help with Housework.

"Oh, mercy me!" she exclaims, "I can hardly stand it!"

Still, she goes to the 5th floor and sign reads: Floor 5 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Gorgeous, help with Housework and Have A Strong Romantic Streak. She is so tempted to stay, but she goes to the 6th floor and the sign reads:

Floor 6 - You are visitor 31,456,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please. Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store .

To avoid gender bias charges, the store's owner opens a New Wives store just across the street.

The 1st floor has wives that love sex.

The 2nd floor has wives that love sex and have money.

The 3rd through 6th floors have never been visited.

Traveling Jack's Plane Made It

I am pleased to say that my unscheduled trip to Dallas was quite successful. I am even more pleased to say that my plane did not crash. If you had a chance to check out this post you'll see that my kids were a bit concerned about this. Ok, I was minorly concerned about it as well, but not so much.

Did my usual father bit with them, flashed them a big smile, hugged and reassured them and even said Tefilat Ha-Derech with them, although it most assuredly wasn't done from inside of a tank. And might I add that some days I'd like to have my own tank to drive around town in. The mileage isn't great, but it does wonders for solving road rage for other drivers. No one wants to get in a fight with the guy that can crush your car.

Anyhoo, the flight out there wasn't too bad, but that is probably due to the time of departure. It left at 7 AM which meant that I had to get up at the ungodly hour of 4 something am. Throughout my adult life I have tried to make a point of never being awake at that particular time unless I happened to be coming home from a night out on the town.

In this case the early morning played to my advantage as I was able to enjoy the comfort of the last four rows to myself. Unfortunately something I consumed the day before decided to play with me so I found myself traversing the seven feet between my seat and the closet they call a bathroom more times than I care to remember.

If ever I need to find a way to make myself feel like a I am physically imposing I only need step into an airplane bathroom. My shoulders extend from one side to the other and my knees scrape the door. Surely there is no more luxurious way to enjoy a call of nature than to do so from the midst of an undersized closet in a flying tin can.

The trip from here to there was relatively short so the joy of the plane ride was short lived. Once again I got a kick out of the rental car agent telling me to be careful of the traffic and to watch the heat. Clearly they haven't spent much time in paradise.

There is a lot more that could be shared but I'll do you all a favor and cover some of the highlights. Sunday was a long day. As I mentioned I woke up rather early, hopped on the plane, grabbed a car and then drove about 150 miles or so.

On my way back to the hotel the GPS quit so I had to fumble around a bit to get back to the hotel. Finally made it and then discovered that the key to my room wasn't working. Sooooooooo, I trudged back down to the front desk and spoke with a very nice man who I couldn't understand.

I could have sworn he said Everybody Wang Chung Tonight. It took great effort not to try and reply with some attempt at wit. I was pretty tired and I swear that it sounded like he said it. I couldn't help but wonder if he was giving me the first part of an '80s password. Should I have replied with something like Brat Pack, Duran Duran or maybe Kajagoogoo.

I don't know.

This morning I enjoyed a fabulous 12 course breakfast meal that was prepared by the Shmata Queen. Yes folks, she lives, even if she doesn't blog any longer. And it was my good fortune not to be poisoned by the Texan temptresses culinary skills.

However I did find it all so entrancing that I almost managed to miss my flight. Just barely made it and I do mean barely. As I ran up to the gate I walked right onto the plane and found that I was seated behind a giant of a man. Nice fellow, kind of reminded me of Chicken from Survivor. Would have liked him better if he didn't feel the need to put the seat back so far his Ten gallon hat was tickling my nose and the seat was across my lap.

He is lucky that I didn't have a marker or black shoe polish or I might have had to try a few tricks out. He is probably more thankful that I didn't fall asleep; because if I had I might have snored and or drooled in his ear. Now that is probably more information than any of you want, but I am a giving sort of fellow.

One last comment about Chicken. The man had terrible gas. It was so bad I was tempted to open the emergency row door, if for no other reason than to have the sanctuary of that fine yellow oxygen mask.

More later. Jack is out.

What If The Plane Crashes

A last minute business trip has me feeling more harried than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest. Racing around trying to get normal errands and a slew of new ones done in half the time. Disorganized, scrambled, disjointed and a bit disconcerted.

Not how I normally operate, no really it isn't. Breathless, heart pounding, too big a deal to blow and yet not big enough to take that seriously. I find myself short tempered and easily irritated, or maybe that is my normal persona.

Have to be up before the crack of down to race off to the airport to go swimming in uncharted waters. Contradictions abound, confident and nervous, feeling optimistic and despondent. If only I could have a little bit more time things would be easier, but that is not how it is.

It is never easy. Not for me, not for me. The trick is reminding myself that no matter what happens I always land of my feet. Better than a cat, not as graceful, but a thick skull helps cushion the blows.

Gather myself and get composed. All is well. The skitter-scatter of earlier has passed and I am ready to hit the world. All is good. All will be well because I'll make it that way and then the kids hit me.

"Daddy, what happens if the plane crashes?" "Daddy, what happens if it runs out of gas." "Daddy, if you die I am going to cry forever."

Torn by their plaintive cries I reassure them that nothing is going to happen. I flash them my best fatherly smile and sweep them into my arms. I don't know where this fear comes from, but I am here to help them.

Flashes of the auto accident I was in a few years ago remind me that things could have turned out very differently. My car was totaled. Tow truck driver didn't believe that I walked away, called me Superman.

I laugh to myself at the memory and realize that turning 39 bothers me more than I want to admit. Am I really having an early mid life crisis. That is not me, but maybe it is.

I play ball with reckless abandon throwing my body every which way. I am covered in bruises. My knees hurt, an elbow aches and the pinched nerve in my neck is acting up. Every day I fight to prove to myself that the clock has stopped ticking. Every morning I wake up and feel like I got my butt kicked.

"Daddy, can you promise me that the plane will not crash."

Torn, I want to say yes, but part of me hesitates. What if it does. What if I die. Will my lying create more issues. Decide to lie, stats say that it is unlikely.

I used to love flying, but now it has turned into such a pain. I am not real excited about getting on the plane. I'll do it because it is worth doing, but I won't like it.

Make my daughter smile by telling her I need a special princess kiss to protect me. One more hug from her big brother and it is off to bed. Time for me to finish packing.

I am off into the wild blue yonder. My stomach aches and my head hurts. I must really be tired because this whole deal bothers me more than normal. Going to get some shuteye because I know that a good night's rest cures a lot.

Wish me luck and I'll see you later.

If You're Hairier Than Bigfoot

If you're Hairier than Bigfoot or make Cousin It look like a candidate for Rogaine you just might want to check out the Mangroomer. It is a product that I swear should be attached to a Ronco commercial.

The image below cracks me up, but I have to ask why they used a hairless model to promote the superior advantages of the Mangroomer to other proven sources of hair removal such as Nair, wives, razor blades, forest fires and tuition bills.Now part of me feels badly about making fun of such a fine device, but this just begs for it. Certainly I am not as obnoxious as the people at Shaverama who had the following to say:

We're going to wait for the "BUTTCRACK" shaver.

Now that is the kind of high praise that every inventor wishes that they would receive. Or to dig something out of the archives, I bet that Old Doc Bean wishes that he would have had this option.

Traveling Jack's Sideshow Extravaganza

It has been one heck of a week. I have been in and out of so many juke joints I am not quite sure what day of the week it is.

Anyhoo, I may or may not have time to write some new posts so for now I am going to leave you with an invitation to search through the archives or spend a little time reading/re-reading these golden oldies.

Later on I might have to read them myself and see if I still agree with what I wrote.

Why The Baal Teshuva World Irritates Me
Morality Without Religion- A Comment to The Self-Righteous
The Long And Winding Road
The Long And Winding Road Part Two
The Long and Winding Road Part Three
The Long And Winding Road Part 4
Playing Games With Telemarketers
What The Hell Happened to Courtesy
Blog Questions We Ask Ourselves

Back later, I hope.

Thursday Afternoon on iTunes

When We Dance- Sting
All I Want Is You- U2
I'm On Fire- Bruce Springsteen
Knockin' On Heaven's Door- Bob Dylan
Layla- Derek and the Dominos
I've Loved and Lost Again- Patsy Cline
One- Metallica
Franklin's Tower- Grateful Dead
Lola- The Kinks
The House Of The Rising Sun- The Animals
Roll over Beethoven- Jerry Lee Lewis

From The Mailbag

Readers email me all the time. Here are a few notes and the foolish answers that I decided to share with you. Can't say that they are all that insightful or interesting, but nonetheless they are yours to consume.

Dear Jack,

Who are Johnny and June?

Thanks,

Dave Hill

Dear Dave,

I see that you are busy. Far too busy asking questions. Don't you know that curiosity killed the cat. The answer is that you know Johnny and June.

Thanks,

Jack


Dear Jack,

You seem like a real pain in the ass to deal with. How do people deal with you?

-Mike

Mike,

Usually with a deck of marked cards.

Jack,

How would you describe yourself?

Yours,

Maxine

Dear Maxine,

Here is your answer: A work in progress. How's that.


Jack,

What is your relationship to Jameel's waffles?

-Rafi

Rafi,

I'd say murderous. He cooks 'em and I eat 'em.

Hi Jack,

How many bloggers have you met in person?

-Marc

Hi Marc,

Approximately 6.

Thanks,

Jack

Walkabout- Time To Look For Answers

Freestyle blogging coming fast and furious. Various thoughts about things that I think I think or might not think that I think or could think that I think. It doesn't make sense to me either.

My father took a moment to complain/comment that my son has the same habit of asking for advice and then doing his own thing that I do. I had to laugh. I don't think that my dad is all that different. It is kind of a rite of passage of the tribe of Jack. You find yourself troubled about something and seek out answers only to ignore everything that was suggested to you.

I like the idea of the Aboriginal walkabout. It is that time when you go out into the bush by yourself and take some time to learn about yourself.

Sometimes I remind myself that change is not in and of itself a bad thing. The fear of what could happen can be worse than the actual event. It is not always easy to turn off your mind and sit in the silence. Sometimes the easiest way for me to do it is to exercise until I am physically exhausted.

My workout ends and I sit inside the steam room and...I don't really know what. I just sit there and continue to sweat. If I have done a proper job of wearing myself out I can't tell you what happens, just that I am there.

Life is a roller coaster. Some moments are up and some are down. The hard part is remembering that the bad times will change just as the good does.

The really hard part about being exhausted is that it makes all of your problems look more imposing than they are.

Got a dear friend who is fighting to get through a few challenges of his own. About twice a week I have to remind him that it is ok to be upset. It is ok to be afraid. It is ok to feel like things will never improve and it is ok to hope that they will.

That may sound ridiculous, but I think that he forgets. Today I told him that things will get better and he said that they could get worse. You know what, they very well might. It is entirely possible that they will, but even if they do they will get better.

Some days it is hard to get through the crap. I can only speak for me, but I know that there are times when I feel like I am living minute to minute. There are times when I feel like I am floating through life and that real happiness is something that other people get.

But I am too stubborn to accept that or maybe too much of a dreamer. Who knows. All I know is that I have some dreams that I am determined to turn into reality. I don't let the small bumps prevent those from happening.

Keywords For May

Here is an abbreviated list of keywords that were used to find this little corner of cyberspace. It never ceases to amaze me how people stumble onto/into this joint.

When love comes walking in
meaning of zohan
you follow your heart and your head will come
favorite song lyrics
what did dr. seuss do for the war
the heart wants what the heart wants
Anne from cleveland Heights
explaining death to children
redemption meaning
sex on the side
when was the saying heroes are made, not born made
trust in our love
poison frogs and ant
can not have random sex with someone you love
what is the meaning of get the best of me
if you go triple platinum it has nothing to do with
richie's pizza jerusalem
westin adventures
how to be a better car salesman
when you die what happens to your penis
meaning of baruch dayan emes
Hamat gader synagogue
Sing like William Shatner
You will smile again
funny bathroom noises
ethics of pirkei

Some More Links That Caught My Eye

How To Eavesdrop on Bluetooth Conversations-I could think of a few uses for this.

A Walking Table- Kind of Cool.

Insults from Around The World- Because you never know when you might need one of these.

Business Cards That Will Get You Business

Here are some pix of a few that I liked with links to the whole load.


How To Open a Beer Without an Opener

I have used a few of these tricks once or twice. Funny to realize that I learned them all a good twenty years or so ago.

The Israeli Flying Car

Wired reports:
A group of Israeli technology and defense firms are working on what could become the world's first robotic aircraft for evacuating, and even treating, soldiers injured on the battlefield. Let's just hope the technology is a little slicker than the concept art (right).

Israel's Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies is working with local techies and arms-makers to build "MedUAV," a combination of ducted-fan flying drone and robotic ambulance. According to Defense News' Barbara Opall-Rome, the Institute is hoping -- hoping -- to start test flights in 24 months. Eventually, the idea is to carry up to four passengers at speeds of 150 knots and heights of up to 10,000 feet.

(If the whole thing looks retro-futuro familiar, that's because Urban Aeronautics, makers of this concept drone, is one of the companies behind the robo-medevac.)

Six of the 119 soldiers killed in Israel's 33-day war with Hezbollah might have survived, if the Israeli Defense Forces "had been able to evacuate casualties within the so-called 'golden hour,' when their chances for recovery were relatively high. But because the IDF could not thoroughly cleanse urban areas of hidden terrorists and concealed rocket-launching squads, the Israel Air Force often could not dispatch medical evacuation helicopters upon demand," Defense News notes.

Cheapest and Most Expensive Gasoline

Courtesy of CNN Money. Comments forthcoming.

Most expensive places to buy gas
Rank Country Price/gal
1. Eritrea $9.58
2. Norway $8.73
3. United Kingdom $8.38
4. Netherlands $8.37
5. Monaco $8.31
6. Iceland $8.28
7. Belgium $8.22
8. France $8.07
9. Germany $7.86
10. Portugal $7.84
108. United States $3.45

Where gasoline is cheapest

1. Venezuela 12 cents
2. Iran 40 cents
3. Saudi Arabia 45 cents
4. Libya 50 cents
5. Swaziland 54 cents
6. Qatar 73 cents
7. Bahrain 81 cents
8. Egypt 89 cents
9. Kuwait 90 cents
10. Seychelles 98 cents
44. United States $3.45

Birthday Gifts

Excuse for me sounding childish, but I received virtually no birthday gifts this year. It surprised me. What surprised me even more was that the lack of gifts bothered me. I wouldn't have guessed that it would, but it did.

Got a gift card for Barnes & Noble from some family members. I appreciate that. I love books and will most definitely make use of the card. The funny thing is that I can't figure out what I want to buy. It is not something that happens to me. I can always find a book or two that interests me.

But for some reason I can't quite make up my mind as to what to get. I have a bunch that I am considering, just not sure what.

For a while I played around with the idea of buying a CD, but in the iTunes era I rarely find an entire CD that I want. It is much easier and far more economical to buy the few tracks that I truly like.

I need to find a chunk of time to go wander the aisles and see what catches my fancy. Perhaps the MLBF Chronicles.

Not Their Finest Moments

As I sit here watching the video below and others like it I am reminded that my children are growing up in a different world than I did. In some ways it is far less forgiving.

Tis But a Flesh Wound

The Rebbitzen's Husband tipped me off to this one:

"PROVO, Utah (AP) -- A newspaper photographer got a little too close to the action at the state high school track championships -- and was speared through the leg by a javelin.

Ryan McGeeney of the Standard-Examiner was spared serious injury Saturday, and even managed to snap a photo of his speared leg while others tended to him.

"If I didn't, it would probably be my editor's first question when I got back," McGeeney said.

The 33-year-old McGeeney, an ex-Marine who spent six months in Afghanistan, was taking pictures of the discus event and apparently wandered into off-limits area set aside for the javelin.

Striking just below the knee, the javelin tip went through the skin and emerged on the other side of his leg.

"It wasn't real painful. ... I was very lucky in that it didn't hit any blood vessels, nerves, ligaments or tendons," McGeeney said."

Best of line of the article goes to the coach who said:

"One of the first things that came to my mind was, 'Good thing we brought a second javelin,"' Miles' coach, Richard Vance, said Monday.
Can you feel the love.

Coming Soon- The Search For Her Smile

Join Indiana Jack on the epic adventure The Search For Her Smile coming to a grapevine near you.

Notes For June- Fragments of Fiction

As I bang out the pieces to the latest editions of Fragments of Fiction I have made a habit of sharing some of my notes with you. Not sure if anyone besides myself appreciates it, but I think that at some point in time it might be of interest.

June sat down and brushed her long dark hair and tried to relax. She lived a very busy life and had precious few moments to herself. Alone in front of the mirror she wondered how life had come to be like this. She prided herself on her practicality and had always considered herself to be someone who could bloom wherever she was planted.

It just hadn't ever occurred to her that one day she'd find herself in this particular situation. Decisive and goal oriented she had relied upon her old standard, research, research, research, make a list and then execute the plan.

This time she found that she couldn't rely upon her old standbys. Relationships don't always lend themselves to a plan and emotions make it hard to make decisions. She found that irritating and a bit endearing. Johnny had always had a way of upsetting her world.

It was part of what she loved about him and part of what drove her crazy. He was very good at figuring out what to do and what to say. Sometimes that had served him well and sometimes it made his life more difficult as she had come to be more disappointed when he did the wrong thing.

She just expected more of him. She loved that it felt like he could read her mind, or at least she had.

Lately she had felt disconnected and out of sorts. It was disconcerting and upsetting. She wanted to let him in and to feel close, but she just couldn't make herself do it. At times she found herself doing things to push him away. Again, she didn't mean to.

It made her frustrated and angry that he wouldn't just leave. She was confused to begin with and it confused her more that he didn't respond as she expected. But Johnny never did exactly what she thought.

She pushed and he pulled. She yelled and he spoke softly, most of the time. Sometimes he pushed back.

More and more often she found herself worried that she was a disappointment and that one day he would just disappear. He told her frequently not to worry and said that he would be there.

Johnny figured that June's malaise was just one of those things and that given time she'd work through it.

Does America Waste Food

The N.Y. Times reports:

As it turns out, Americans waste an astounding amount of food — an estimated 27 percent of the food available for consumption, according to a government study — and it happens at the supermarket, in restaurants and cafeterias and in your very own kitchen. It works out to about a pound of food every day for every American.

Grocery stores discard products because of spoilage or minor cosmetic blemishes. Restaurants throw away what they don’t use. And consumers toss out everything from bananas that have turned brown to last week’s Chinese leftovers. In 1997, in one of the few studies of food waste, the Department of Agriculture estimated that two years before, 96.4 billion pounds of the 356 billion pounds of edible food in the United States was never eaten. Fresh produce, milk, grain products and sweeteners made up two-thirds of the waste. An update is under way.

The study didn’t account for the explosion of ready-to-eat foods now available at supermarkets, from rotisserie chickens to sandwiches and soups. What do you think happens to that potato salad and meatloaf at the end of the day?

A more recent study by the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that Americans generate roughly 30 million tons of food waste each year, which is about 12 percent of the total waste stream. All but about 2 percent of that food waste ends up in landfills; by comparison, 62 percent of yard waste is composted.

I Love French Toast

It is one of my favorite treats. How about you?

A Relationship Challenged

This is part of the Johnny and June Fragment I have been working on. If you want to read what has come before try:

More about Johnny
June
Johnny and June- A Rough Draft

Johnny considered his options, it was late and he was tired, much too tired to make serious decisions. Part of the joy of maturing had taught him that making hard decisions when angry or over tired was a mistake. It was like playing with fire and he didn't like getting burned.

Sweat pored down across the brow and he grimaced as it dripped into his eyes. It was fitting how the sweat blurred his vision. He couldn't see clearly and he wasn't sure if he was thinking clearly. And the matter at hand wasn't something that he could just laugh off, though he wished it were otherwise.

The funny thing about relationships is that sometimes the most passionate love affair could be so complex. There are layers upon layers to be considered. When you are dealing with the person you love most in the world you can't help but find that your emotions play with you. Fear, anger, happiness, insecurity and more swirl through your mind. Navigating deeper waters with a broken compass is tricky.

Old Johnny had been down this road a time or two. And it was his past experience that empowered and paralyzed him. The beauty of allowing himself to love a woman so completely, to just accept her without reservation had helped to heal a part of him that he was unaware had been broken.

The past was finally behind him. The scars were just funny old stories to be told or just forgotten. They weren't going to hold him back any longer, at least that was what he had thought.

It had taken some doing to get to this point. It had taken some real effort to let go and give in to his feelings. And then life had done what he had feared it might, it had thrown him into a situation that frightened him in a different way than admitting that he was in love.

June had told him that she was having second thoughts. Oh lord, it couldn't be happening again, could it. Just when he let his guard down he was socked in the mouth and kicked in the belly. He remembered this feeling all too well. The metallic taste in his mouth and the strange tingling sensation in his fingers.

He took a deep breath and did another set of curls. That college kid who had been so broken hearted had latched onto Bogart's role as Rick in Casablanca. It wasn't entirely novel or unique, but he loved how Rick had taken ownership of his heartbreak and made it clear that it wouldn't define his life.

The reminiscing made him smile. That kid had been so naive and so innocent but had thought of himself as being so sophisticated. The mirror in front of Johnny made it clear that though it might feel like college was yesterday more than a couple of years had passed by. A little less hair and a few more lines on his face and so much life experience.

So what if the college kid could go for weeks upon end without sleep, he didn't know dick. That was the beauty about life experience, not to mention the endorphins released by a good workout.
It was true, June's head wasn't screwed on as tight as he'd like it to be, but it didn't have to be bad news.

He didn't have to be like Rick. He didn't have to play the noble hero who sends his great love off to help save the world. The world wasn't at war and June wasn't married to the guy who was going to help inspire Europe to fight the Nazis. In fact, Johnny was feeling so good he would have punched Victor Lazlo in the mouth and thrown his European ass out into the cold snow.

He might suffer from moments of uncertainty and angst, but old Johnny was clear on a few things. He loved June and he would do what he had to do to show her. He wasn't going to just roll over and give in because it was hard. He wasn't willing to let her just walk.

This was nothing more than the challenge that all great love stories face. If it came too easy they wouldn't really appreciate each other, now would they.

In that moment his plan became clear. He knew what he wanted and he was ready to make it happen. There wasn't a road map or guide to rely upon. But one of the many things that Johnny and June loved about their relationship was that it was so different from those of their past. He had always told her to hold onto his hand and he'd take care of her. This was no different.

All he had to do was convince her.

Cleaning The Garage

Sunday Night Play list- Here is an incomplete list of what is playing on my iTunes:

If You Could Read My Mind-Gordon Lightfoot
Shaking the Tree- Peter Gabriel
All I Want Is You- U2
With Or Without You- U2
Go Your Own Way- Fleetwood Mac
When We Dance- Sting
Crazy Train(Live) with Randy Rhoads- Ozzie Osbourne
Diamonds on the Soles- Paul Simon & Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Don't Stop Believin'-Journey
What a freaky, deaky day. I am not all that sure how to describe it so I'll just ramble on through it. If you live in L.A. you know that right now we are in the midst of a heatwave. It is after 10 and it has to be more than 80 outside.

When I wrote about being 25 I thought of a similar time to this one, weather wise. Back then the A/C in my apartment barely worked so I spent more than a couple of nights sleeping outdoors on a raft in our pool. There was something very peaceful about sleeping on the water. Every now and then I think about those days and wonder if I shouldn't live on a boat.

Anyway, found ourselves at a park to celebrate a nephew's birthday. It was an experience. There is a lot that I could share about it. I could mention that my nephew has a set of grandparents who need to get their collective asses kicked up, down and around the block. And then again for good measure.

The stories I could tell about these knuckleheads have taken upon legendary status for their place in incompetence, stupidity and unbelievable chutzpah. In fact it has taken great effort not to share them with you. If you think that your in laws are bad write me and I'll show you some who have worked over time to screw up their children and the relationships of all they come into contact with.

Ok, that is not entirely fair, but they don't know a thing about fair so why do I extend the courtesy. On the off chance that one day my nephew reads this let me say this; Uncle Jack tried very hard to help but due to my inability to use magic or the Jedi Mind Trick I couldn't do more. Sorry pal.

Back to things that interest me. The kids did me proud. They ran around in spite of the heat. Just like their old man used to do. However the old metal equipment has been removed so they cannot say that the slide felt like a frying pan. That is kind of nice. It gives me something like those crazy snow stories my father would tell. You know, the ones where he claims he walked through snow storms to reach school. Only it was 3 miles, uphill both directions and he carried my uncle and was never late.

Headed from the party to the always exciting Israel festival. It is different from the Walk we used to do. Anyone remember that, back in the day when we marched all over LA and ended up at Rancho Park.

Anyhoo, the festival was pretty nice. There was a ton of booths, some great food and precisely 1,287,986 Israelis. I got a good chuckle watching this American guy yell at a group of people about standing in line.

Of course this being the festival the freaking missionaries showed up and I gave them the usual treatment.

Missionary: Would you like a flyer?
Jack: I don't speak English?

Missionary: Atah Medeber Ivrit? (Do you speak Hebrew?)
Jack: Nope.

Missionary: You understood both languages?
Jack: Nah, that was an optical pollution. You know, that fire in cleveland is burning here.

Missionary: I know someone from cleveland.
Jack: Was his name Grover?

Missionary: Do you mind if I walk with you?
Jack: Doesn't seem like it matters, now does it.

Missionary: I wonder if you'd let me speak with you about something.
Jack: My wife once asked me that very same question.

Missionary: And what happened?
Jack: She ended up in Texas and I ended up here.

Missionary: You're the first person who has taken time to speak with me today.
Jack: Well, you're walking with me. Frankly if you were any closer it'd be considered sexual harassment.

Missionary: That is kind of funny. May I borrow it?
Jack: Only if you return it.

Missionary: You see, I can help you become a complete Jew.
Jack: I am not aware that I am missing anything. Got all of my teeth and two sets of encyclopedias.

Missionary: You are a smart guy, so you probably realize that they didn't teach you everything in school.
Jack: Actually I am not that nice. I pride myself on being exceptionally offensive to people who peddle bullshit to me. It is juvenile, but it helps keep me young.

Missionary: I am used to it. People act strongly when they hear the truth.
Jack: Ok, let's stop for a moment and talk.

Missionary: I am so glad, thank you for your time.
Jack: Let's see if you still feel that way in five minutes. Matter of fact, this is probably a mistake. Maybe I should go.

Missionary: It is ok.
Jack: The only reason it is ok is because I am keeping you from trying to engage in religious terror against someone else. It is truly sad that you have been captured by a cult and have been brainwashed.

Missionary: I can assure you that I am not brainwashed.
Jack: Good news for you, I am certified as a deprogrammer and let me tell you that every time we pull someone from a cult they always tell us that we're the ones with the problem.

Missionary: If you felt secure you wouldn't be so hostile.
Jack: No, if you felt secure you'd come right out and say who you were, what you were doing and you'd hand out pamphlets that were honest. But you don't because you can't. The reality is that deep down you know that you're a charlatan peddling lies. Put down the pamphlets and let go. You don't have to live on the Dark Side.

Missionary: I am not sure that this is getting us anywhere.
Jack: Probably not, but we'll never know because I just lost ten minutes of my life that I can never get back.

And with that I regained control of my senses and resumed walking. When I left several hours later I saw him engaged in a conversation with four excited Chabadniks. Ok, I can't really say that he was doing much talking, but he was trying. It was kind of fun to watch. I kept waiting for two of the guys to hold him down while the the other two forced him to wrap tefillin.

Which raises another comment. I like the Chabad guys, but you have to chill out on the tefillin. Just relax a moment. You guys found me ten at least ten times and each time all you asked was if I had wrapped tefillin today. I was half tempted to tell you that I did wrap tefillin, only it was during my breakfast in which I consumed a bacon cheeseburger, milkshake and a shrimp cocktail. Would have said it, but it was so ridiculous that I couldn't figure out how to do it with a straight face.

Eventually I found myself back home where I engaged in more masochism. I deigned to clean the garage. I didn't have time to do as much as I wanted, but I did manage to get a bit done. The biggest problem wasn't even my incredible fatigue, it was my incredible nostalgia and sick need for sentimentality.

As I tore through boxes I stumbled onto all sorts of stuff. The first had a bunch of baby toys. Don't ask me why I still have them, ok I can answer that. I can't quite part with them. I look at them and I see this little boy, this tiny little thing with my hands and feet. This little guy who used to live with me. This baby who became a toddler and is now a full fledged boy.

Some of his old toys just take me back. And don't get me started on the Thomas The Tank Engine stuff. He has long since stopped playing with them, but I am never giving those away. Thomas, Gordon and Percy will be with me until my grandchildren have need of them. In fact I just may see that my will says that it is only good as long as he is in possession of those trains and track. Sir Topham Hatt rocks!

Inside another box was more evidence of the babies that used to live here as well as grandparents who are no longer with us. Can't quite give those things up either.

So after a few hours of muss and fuss I managed to pull myself out of the garage and get back to the important task of blogging. Don't know if any of this is important to anyone, but perhaps in 2109 someone will look back and be amused by what their great, great, great, great, great grandpa Jack did one May.

A Few Videos

AM Radio Again



Summer

Cool Food Sculptures


Click here for the full set at Gawker.

Haveil Havailm #166: The MommyBlogger Edition

Morning folks. You can find the latest edition of HH at the following address:

Haveil Havailm #166: The MommyBlogger Edition

Go take a gander.

How Do Fighter Pilots Go To The Bathroom

Here at the Shack we are proud purveyors of news about all sorts of things, including bodily functions. We have a certain appreciation for the call of nature and have wondered about how pilots take care of this.

There is something somewhat comical about the image of the tough fighter pilot waltzing off his plane with a big stain in their flight suit. Anyway, CNN has the details about a potential solution to this problem.

Is it just me or does the Advanced Mission Extender Device sound like a sex toy.
"WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Where do fighter pilots traveling faster than the speed of sound go when they really need to "go"?

Until recently, the answer has been: into a bag.

But it's not a great solution. "Piddle packs" -- heavy-duty bags containing absorbent sponges -- have been blamed for at least two crashes over the years, and they're not always tidy.

A few years ago, after enduring years of complaints from pilots, the Air Force let it be known that it was looking for an answer.

A small medical equipment development company in Milton, Vermont answered the call.

"The DoD put out a list of projects they needed solutions for," said Mark Harvie, president of Omni Medical Solutions. "Bladder relief for pilots was one of the items on the list and we were looking for a new project," he said.

After four years of testing by the Vermont Air National Guard and the Air Force and about $5 million in government and private funds, AMXD is spelling relief for pilots aloft.

Under the old system, pilots routinely avoid liquids before taking off to prevent the unmentionable. But dehydration can make them more susceptible to the G-forces typically seen in fighter aircraft, Harvie said.

When nature's call becomes too pressing to ignore, a pilot has to fly and unbuckle the harness at the same time -- while using both hands to maneuver around in a seat to which he or she is virtually molded.

The aerobatic maneuver is even harder for female pilots.

On long or cold-weather flights, the amount of gear and clothing made the maneuver nearly impossible, and pilots would sometimes have no choice but to relieve themselves in their flight suits.

In the AMXD, a cup for a man and a pad for a woman is strategically placed before the pilot dons a flight suit.

An instructional DVD tells pilots: "When the time comes to urinate, unzip the flight suit, remove the hose.... The control unit will pump the urine from the cup to the collection bag, where it will be chemically gelled."
Remind me not to touch the gel. ;) BTW, if you are interested in reading more of the bathroom news you just can't live without you can click here or here.

It Is Going To Hurt When I Hit Bottom

The four year blogiversary is fast approaching. In a short time I am going to sit down and try and write a post that is appropriate for that day. I'll try to be eloquent and insightful. I'll do my best to be profound and to demonstrate that I have learned something.

Can't say if I'll succeed. Can't say if it will accomplish what I want or hope it will. We'll see.

Had a long talk with my dad today, kind of a state of the union for me. He sat and listened and gave me the same advice I have heard all of my entire life. "You can't do anything other than try your best and sometimes that won't be enough."

I hate to fall. I hate to fail. Took some risks and it looks like they may not materialize. Can't say for certain if they're going to fail, but it doesn't really look like they are going to succeed either.

It feels a bit like standing on a bed of nails. I can feel the sharp edge poking against my feet. It doesn't hurt, but it is clear that if I stumble I am going to find myself in a world of hurt. It will be more than a gentle prick.

I am more than excited. I am terribly frightened that this time I really blew it and at the same time I am intrigued. Is it ego, is it bravado that drives me. If I can pull this off it will be something special and if not, well it is going to really hurt when I fall. I can't keep the balancing act going much longer.

If you asked me to draw/paint a picture of what is happening in my head I'd tell you to picture a battlefield. I am surrounded by enemies. Covered in blood and gore all I can do is use my sword and my ability to try and survive. It doesn't look good. It doesn't look like anyone is going to come ride to my rescue.

Force of will is what is going to make the difference. If I want to survive it will be through sheer determination, too stubborn to lie down and die.

It sounds goofy, but it is an accurate representation. The challenge is to do my best not to be overwhelmed by it all. And right now that is an enormous task.

The Story of Two Souls (Replayed)

I wrote this post quite some time ago. It must have been picked up by someone because all of a sudden the traffic has spiked around it. Anyway, since it seems to be so popular I thought that I'd run it again.

This story has a beginning and a middle but there is yet to be an ending to it and in some ways that is most fitting because it is a story of love and not just any kind of love but one that is all consuming.

The love we speak of is the kind in which you are addicted to the other person, they are your air and your blood. They share your heart and own a piece of your soul. It is the best kind of love and the rarest to find outside of the love of a parent for their child.

Daniel and I had been friends for quite a few years when he first mentioned Anne to me. They were both married to other people and happily so, but somehow they had met online through a bulletin board they both posted upon.

At first it hadn't been anything more than a minor flirtation that slowly matured and developed into a deep friendship and then into a raging inferno of love and lust. It was not planned and it caught the two of them by surprise as it was clear that the feelings that they had were quite deep and very strong.

In some ways it was a very different and unique kind of love. Daniel and Anne were not strangers to love as they had both had past loves and of course they were both married to people that they thought were besheret. Neither one of them had gone to the chuppah with any thought or sense that one day they would view the work week the way that they had viewed their weekends for it was only at work that they had real freedom to write and speak with each other.

Their love was different because of how they had met. They were an online match, almost a cliche in the information age but it was an accurate description. So it was when they began communicating with each other they were able to avoid the pitfalls and challenges that sexual tension in men and women brings. There was no concern about whether he should try and kiss her or if she should let him. No worries about finding the perfect dress, shirt, jeans, heels, cologne or perfume. It was very freeing.

Anne and Daniel bypassed all that and concentrated on communicating with each other because words were all they had. And something interesting and amazing happened, there was complete honesty. It was the kind of honesty that you sometimes feel when you share your life story with the stranger who sits next to you on a long flight.

I remember well the day that Daniel told me about how happy he was and how scared. Somehow he had stumbled into or onto a relationship that he knew was different. Every time he spoke with Anne his heart sang and he knew that she was someone special.

Anne felt the same way. Daniel said that he felt foolish at how fast she figured it out and how at ease he felt when she told him she loved him. There was no awkward moment and no uncomfortable silence. He smiled and repeated it back to her. He loved her too and he apologized that he had to say it over the phone and that he wasn't able to show her in person his true feelings.

That moment changed their lives in a dramatic way because it called their current married status into question. It changed their relationship, molded it and forged it into something that had to be characterized as a torrid love affair. It was a burning love based upon friendship, respect, and believe it or not incredible desire.

When Daniel told Anne that he was going to find a way to come and see her he could feel her heart pounding and he knew that when they finally kissed he was going to have to hold her firmly because her knees would buckle. That kiss would be another defining moment.

Shortly thereafter they found a way to meet. It was only for a few hours but when they hugged each other it felt like they had always been together. Lovemaking was something that could not be described as anything but the merging of two souls in common cause and desire. They moved together as one and their goodbye was bittersweet. For though they knew that they would see each other again it felt as if a hole was being ripped out of their being. There was a huge gaping wound that bled and ached.

If there is such a thing as love at first sight they were the couple that would have experienced it. Later that week Anne received a card from Daniel that said:

"One kiss. One touch. One man and one woman and nothing will ever be the same. You know it and I know it and we live it."

She cried tears of joy. At her desk she looked out of the window and wept because she could imagine losing this man but wasn't sure how she could manage to get him. She had never wanted to be the other woman. It wasn't even a passing thought.

Until she met Daniel she had thought of herself as being very happy with her marriage and her first husband. Her first husband, that is how she thought of the man she lived with. He was the father of her children and someone she cared about but not someone she wanted sharing her bed any longer.

She was a good wife and a good mother. She doted on her children and she tried to keep the first husband happy in all ways, but every time she slept with him her heart cried out as if she was being violated.

For his part Daniel was in a similar situation. He felt trapped and experienced bouts of extreme sadness at the time he had lost and would not be able to spend with Anne. She was so good to him and did so much to make him happy but he never could completely forget about his own home life.

It was also good and he was also a good husband and a good father. But Daniel knew that it was only a matter of time before it was obvious to everyone that his heart had a new flame and it made him feel guilty.

He hadn't gone searching. He hadn't done anything to short circuit the marriage but somehow he had found someone new and he couldn't imagine living without her. Sometimes he would try and be practical and think logically about it. He'd think of walking away and telling her that he was sorry, that it was too late.

But every time he thought about it a dull pain in his head appeared and a sharp ache in his side. And he knew that one day they would leave their current spouses and go to each other. One day they would have to face the pain of ending one love affair and beginning a new one and though the thought of it pained him he was more upset by the guilt he felt at the excitement of starting a new life.

So there you have much of the story of of Daniel and Anne. It is tale with a beginning and a middle but the end is not yet written. Some loves can only be delayed but they can never be prevented.
I wrote a second part to this. You can find it here.

Words On A Page

 Added a few words on a page, some well written, some less so but all with purpose in mind. Can't win the Pulitzer every time, for certa...