The Morning After

Needless to say that last post was both painful and cathartic. It took a lot out of me, much of it being frustration and anger. That is not to suggest or say that writing removed the elements that are creating issues, it just helped me regain perspective.

That is something that I try to pass along to my children, perspective. Perspective is a very useful tool. It helps us place the challenges we face in a context that we can understand and deal with. Imagine jumping into ice cold water. The shock of the cold temperature can leave you breathless and focused solely upon trying to find a way to warm up.

But if you can stay calm and take a moment to become acclimated to the new situation things will look different.

It is easy to say, but not always easy to do. I struggle with it. It is a constant battle not to just react, but to think and consider carefully what choices to make. Obviously we are talking about the bigger events and occasions here. The question of how to appropriately respond to health and or financial issues is far different than determining what to eat for dinner.

Perspective makes it all easier to do, sometimes. You can tell me about starving children, homeless people and or the terminally ill and how they have a harder life than I do. I'll agree that they do because that is truth. However it doesn't completely remove the sting and or pain of my own struggles.

I feel badly for those people. I can empathize and sympathize about their situation, but it doesn't pay the mortgage or put food on my table. It doesn't remove the bureaucratic red tape that I am currently dealing with in other situations. Do you really think that because some one died I am going to say that I don't mind that a 30 day process has taken almost six months.

Not going to happen. So perspective is useful, but it is not a panacea for all of the challenges we face in life. At least this how I feel today. I expect that 20 years ago I might have felt differently just as 20 years from now I may also have a different opinion.

If I am still blogging then maybe I'll remember to come back and re-read this and see if I still hold the same opinion.

It Was Very Good Year- No It Wasn't

I am guilty of blogging while bitter. I am BWB with a dose of angry, cantankerous, curmudgeonly and a dash of STFU.

To paraphrase the dark haired beauty 2009 has been a very, very, very, very, very, very troubling year. Back in the early days of this blog I would have laid out all of the reasons why. I wouldn't have thought twice about displaying all the goods, warts and all.

Back then when I had complete anonymity it was easy to say whatever, do whatever and go on. But it is different now, life is different.

Now, I am beset and besieged on all sides. The castle is under attack and I don't see the white rider on the horizon. There is no calvary coming to the rescue, no hope from the outside. The situation I find myself in is the sort of thing that lends itself to the phrase that heroes are made, not born.

The ambiguity is intentional. I use this place as a refuge but some people aren't entitled to seeing all that goes on behind the scenes. Some people don't deserve to know it all. In that recipe above I forgot to mention that it should include stupid and defiant. Consider that rectified.

Anyhoo, as we are in the midst of the holiday season I find myself casting a dire glare at it all and I don't like what I see. If I were the captain of a ship I'd say that I am in the worst storm I have ever found myself in. That is not melodrama, it is fact.

I cannot think of a time where things were worse. There were some very bad moments, but none of them compare to the extended play version of Jack as the Ancient Mariner. There is a fucking albatross tied to my neck I can't shake the damn thing off.

So much has happened that doubt and questioning have become regular companions. I look in the mirror and see a face that I don't recognize.

He stares back at me and dares me to try to make him go away. He is accompanied by a little nagging voice that whispers in my ear, questions my ability.

This is a test of will and desire.  I accept responsibility for the things that I did that placed me here and I curse that which happened because of the stupidity of others.

It is funny, as I sit here typing about being the captain of ship I find myself feeling dizzy. Really, the screen is rolling back and forth and I can feel the floor moving beneath me as if the house really were sailing upon the sea.

So I'll continue for a moment with the ship analogy, I'll be the captain, albeit without my Tennile as she is off doing other things.

What will our intrepid captain do? Does he have a plan? The answer is sort of, maybe and I hope so. I am working on a number of projects that may yield some big dividends. I have taken specific actions that I hope will help chart a course that ends in smooth waters and not dashed upon the rocks.

I really don't know if it will work. All I can do is try. This much I know for certain. Three friends died this year. Three 40 year-olds aren't walking the earth any more. They were taken. Their time is done and that is all she wrote.

For better or for worse  I am still here. And I will fight because if there is one thing that I know how to do it is fight. And that is all there is left to say.

YouTube - Chinese Jews from Kaifeng arrive in Israel 2009 - a moving documentary

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Posted via email from thejackb's posterous

A Different Sort of Children's Book

Originally posted here.

Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting & Music

Family went on a little trip so dad is doing some much needed work around the house. Here is a partial list of what I am listening to:

Tunnel of Love -Bruce Springsteen
Ain't Got You --Bruce Springsteen
My Love Will Not Let You Down -Bruce Springsteen
Happy -Bruce Springsteen
Rain In the Summertime - The Alarm
Knockin On Heaven's Door - Bob Dylan
Southern Cross - Crosby, Stills, Nash
You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)  - Josh Groban
Shooting Star - Bad Company
If I Needed Someone - The Beatles
Baby I Need Your Loving - The Four Tops
Ain't Too Proud to Beg - The Temptations
Crazy Love - Ray Charles Van Morirson
Uptight (Everything's Alright)  - Stevie Wonder
Nobody's Fault But Mine - Led Zeppelin
Let Me Go - Heaven 17
I Want Candy - Bow Wow Wow
June Bug - The B52s
Loaded - Primal Scream
The Voice - The Moody Blues
The Brazilian - Genesis
Someday Never Comes - Credence Clearwater Revival
Gone Away - The Offspring
This is Radio Clash - The Clash

I Will Never Fall In Love Again

This is part seven of the project I am working on for National Novel Writing Month. Here are the links to the first sections.
Who Broke Your Heart- Things You Might Not Know
The End of a Marriage
A 21st Century Break Up
"I Don't Want To Kiss My Husband Ever Again"
Once Upon A Time
Hanging Out With Hairy

I pulled into a parking space, turned off the motor and cursed out loud. The weather outside the car was perfect. Blue skies and just enough heat to make you feel warm were all the reason I needed not to be here. It is a good thing that my skull isn't transparent because if it was my dear friend Harold would be able to see storm clouds heading his way. With any luck he'd be struck by lightning.

Ok, that is probably unfair. I was semi responsible for this meeting. The company had a funny policy about paying people only for the work they did and not for work that they might do. I had a long conversation with one of the bookkeepers about that one. We got stuck riding an elevator together and since I haven't a clue what pasty faced number boys are interested I talked about paychecks.

We both learned something that day. He found out that a two minute ride on an elevator can feel like a week in cleveland and I found out that I can babble at length about anything. I know, you already knew that.

By the time I had walked into the office I had figured out that the topic of my next submission was going to be why marriage was the devil's greatest invention. In my experience it was the closest thing to hell that one could find. Before you go off half cocked you need to understand that the classic definition of hell is wrong. It is not a place of fire and brimstone.

Hell is seeing the love of your life unhappily living with someone else, but pretending to be happy. Hell is being granted a taste of the most incredible relationship and experience of your life and then having it taken away. It  is like being seated at a table with the greatest feast you have ever seen. The food looks and smells incredible. You look around the table and see that the other guests are having a culinary experience that borders n the orgasmic. Just as you are about to join the  festivities you realize that your arms are tied behind you and your jaw is wired shut.

Hell is the real world and that is much worse than anything Dante can come up with.

Well, if there was ever any question about my being a bit bitter there isn't now. Life is sometimes funny in a way that makes you laugh and sometimes in a way that makes you want to cry.

The first time I had my heart broken was hard. The second time was rough and the third time was ridiculously painful. It was bad enough that I swore that I wouldn't fall in love again. And for a long time that is how it went. Various women came into my life. Some of them tried to break through the walls that I had erected but none really succeeded.

And then one day she did. One day the wall was up and the next day it was a pile of rubble. It scared me. I was frightened and excited by it all. But she took me by the hand and promised to just love me. I think that was part of what caught me, the "I just love you" bit. It was so simple and yet so powerful.

She did and so did I. We just loved each other. It is a cliche, but it felt like a dream. Somewhere along the way we got lost. If I didn't have my meeting with Harold I might even take the time to tell you how and why. At least I think that I would. Can't say for certain because I don't know if I understand it.

So in the time we have before I go off to the meeting let me fill in some details. We fell apart, sort of. Not sure that we ever stopped loving each other, just found ourselves in unfamiliar territory and went separate directions.

She got married and I got married.

I thought that I was in love. I really did. It seemed like it. I guess that it must have felt like it or I wouldn't have done that whole ring thing.

But here I am today, ringless, wifeless and until the other day very happy. Things were great until they told me about her. I was perfectly fine and now I am not.

Now I find myself on fire for a woman I haven't seen or spoken to for what seems like forever. Now I find my heart pounding for a woman who probably thinks of me as just another ex. I am sure that she thinks of me fondly, but what are the chances that she feels like I do.

And this sort of talk is part of why I am pissed off with my daughter and the friends. I didn't want to look at this corner of my closet. I didn't want to explore the lost ruins to see if any treasure remains.There is a reason why you let sleeping dogs lie.

Sigh. Well, I'll put this frustration to good use and go needle the hell out of Harold. If he doesn't go off on one of this interminably long speeches I still might get to the beach.

Americans Toss Out 40 Percent of All Food

This story is more than a little disturbing. People go hungry while others throw it away. Something needs to be done.

U.S. residents are wasting food like never before.
While many Americans feast on turkey and all the fixings today, a new study finds food waste per person has shot up 50 percent since 1974. Some 1,400 calories worth of food is discarded per person each day, which adds up to 150 trillion calories a year.
The study finds that about 40 percent of all the food produced in the United States is tossed out.
Meanwhile, while some have plenty of food to spare, a recent report by the Department of Agriculture finds the number of U.S. homes lacking "food security," meaning their eating habits were disrupted for lack of money, rose from 4.7 million in 2007 to 6.7 million last year.
About 1 billion people worldwide don't have enough to eat, according to the World Food Program.

Thanksgiving- A Working Holiday

Thanksgiving is a working holiday, but the nature of the work varies from person to person. If you are hosting a Thanksgiving dinner you may be working on preparing the house and the meal. Or you might be one of those people who have to work on Thanksgiving at a job that helps to pay the bills.

You might be the chef or hostess at a restaurant. You could be a bus driver, bag boy, cashier or guy behind the counter at 7-11. Many of us enjoy the holiday because it offers a time during which we stop working. It is a vacation from our normal lives. And that is great, as Martha would say it is a good thing.

I have several Thanksgiving traditions. One of them is a football game. It is not a game I watch, but one I play in. Every year my fraternity plays on Thanksgiving day. I started playing in 1987 and with the exception of the Thanksgiving I spent in Georgetown in 1990 haven't missed one since.

Today I lined up against a boy who told me that he was born the year I graduated from college. So I did what every guy my age would do, I kicked his ass, rubbed his nose in the mud and told him to go home and play with his Lincoln Logs. It is a man's game and we're very manly people.

Of course I don't ever want to see video footage of the game. Allow me to think that I look like a gazelle running and not some awkward, herky-jerky marionette. I glide through the line and sack the quarterback. When necessary I smash a hole in the middle and stomp the ground with all who oppose me. Please allow me to retain this simple fiction.

The game was great fun, but this year was a bit different. It was different because it was a working Thanksgiving for me. I didn't play the entire game because my partners and I took time to work on our business. It was important. It is important and I am glad that we did it.

Part of the reason that I am writing about this is because we are chronicling our journey.If fortune smiles upon us one day we will look back upon this time and talk about it. It will be a fond recollection that we will share as well as a lesson that we pass along to our children.

Success and opportunity are there for those who know how to acquire them. We happen to believe that part of the process is hard work. And we hope that there is a payoff to this hard work.

Although this is a working Thanksgiving for me I am well aware that it is not the sort of work that others are doing. In a few moments I will stop typing and head off to a much needed shower. For a few moments I'll sit inside and watch the mud caked on my arms flow towards the drain. And then I'll dry off, change clothes and head off to dinner.

I am thankful for the opportunity. I am grateful that I have a place to go. And now if you'll excuse me I really must move as the dark haired beauty has told me that I must give her two hugs and three kisses before I am allowed to eat dinner.

Five years-old and that girl is already barking orders at me like some kind of drill sergeant. It is a good thing that she is so damn cute because I don't take orders or instructions very well.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Amazon Eve, A Giant Model

I found this story over on The Huffington Post.

A model named Amazon Eve recently appeared in the Australian magazine Zoo Weekly. She has a beautiful face and figure, but it's her height that makes her stand out the most. According to Eve's MySpace page, the American model is 6' 8'' and 30 years old.

Twitter & Hair Loss

A Thanksgiving Quote

"When you're in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, 'Damn, that was fun'." — Groucho Marx

The Book Meme

Stole this just because...

Where do you fall in the list? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books here.

Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read. If you want to, tag other book nerds.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen x
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien x
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte x
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling X
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee X
6 The Bible x
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte x
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell X
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens X

Total: 9

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller X
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare 1/2 X read quite a bit
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien X
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger X
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger (saw the movie)
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

Total: 3.5
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald X
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams X
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky x
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck X
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll X
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame X

Total: 6

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles DickensX
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis x
34 Emma-Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis x
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden (sitting on my shelf, unread)
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne X

Total: 3

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell X
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown X
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding X
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan (also sitting on the shelf)

Total: 3

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert X
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen x
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens X
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley X
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (sequel to lust and malaria)

Total: 4

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck X
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas x
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac (read some of it)
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville X
Total: 3

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens X
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker X
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno – Dante X
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt

Total: 3

 81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens X
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker x
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White X
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom x
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle X
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

Total: 5

 91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas X
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare X
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl X
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo X

Total: 3

Grand Total: 42.5

Damn Brits, trying to make me feel like I am illiterate and uneducated.

Thanks for Giving

iTunes just pushed through Captain Jack and You're My Home and I find myself thinking about life and the things that are happening to me, around me and the world. Life is moving at lightspeed and at times it feels like I can barely keep up.

One of my fraternity brothers recently lost his wife. She was only 40, a mother taken far too early. I lost another friend about six weeks ago and another this past May. Three people who were all my age. Won't claim to have been close or best friends with any of them. But I spent large chunks of time with all of them and more than a a laugh or two.

One day they were here and the next they were gone.

It is not as unusual as we might hope it to be. Things happen to people. It doesn't matter whether they are good or bad, life happens. It is hard sometimes to reconcile why people like Charles Manson are granted long lives in relatively good health and others have so many challenges to overcome.

Out in the dark there are people that I love and care about who are fighting their own battles. Some are doing the best that they can to help sick parents. It is hard to watch our heroes fail. It is hard to watch the people we think of as being invulnerable break down and know that our own ability to help them is so limited.


Destiny. I have been thinking about it quite a bit. Been thinking about what I really believe and whether some things are preordained. There are moments where I want to believe that some things are meant to be. Moments when I demand that G-d, karma, the universe, something give me an answer that makes sense. And there are moments where I doubt it all.

Here is what I know for certain....nothing, or relatively little. But I can tell you that I am doing all that I can to take control of my destiny. I have to. Lately life has felt a bit like I am riding a stagecoach that has no driver. Well, I climbed out the door, over the top and jumped into the saddle. I am busy trying to take the reigns so that I can gain some control of it.

And I am thankful for that. I am grateful that I can try to make a difference there. I am grateful for my health and the health of my family. I am grateful for having some amazing friends. I am grateful for having had a good life and am well aware that sometimes it can all change suddenly.

I have seen those changes and because I have I am unwilling to watch life pass me by. I am unwilling to let the horses take me over the cliff or to just stare out the window watching the scenery pass me by.

I cannot be other than I am and I am grateful for the chance to be me. Have a happy Thanksgiving.

Scenes From A Car

I am a person who loves to watch people. Yep, that is me, a peoplewatcher. I just find it interesting to sit back and watch what people do. In restaurants I find it especially interesting to watch couples who are clearly on a date and see what happens.

Sometimes it can be a lot of fun to create dialogue for them, to offer a running commentary. OTOH, sometimes my creative juices are nonexistent and I can't think of anything funny to say.

Another aspect of peoplewatching is the fun that you can have while driving. If you spend enough time on the road you see so many different things. Here is an incomplete list of things that I have seen at one time or another:

  • Woman applying makeup- Always makes me feel good to know that if they rear-end me they will end up with the mascara brush in the eye or pushed so far up their left nostril it is likely to become a permanent fixture.
  • Men Shaving- Actually I once saw a guy using a blade and no shaving cream. Ouch! What are you thinking.
  • The ubiquitous nosepicker- Both men and women. You may be alone in your car but you are most definitely not alone on the road.
  • The ubiquitous cellphone talker- They are everywhere and there is not enough to be said about them that hasn't already been said.
  • Oral Sex- Yep, I have seen more than one man with a large smile on his face and one hand on the wheel. Again this is one of those situations where I smile when I think about what will happen if the jerkoff (wrong word to use) smacks into my car.
  • Fast Food Fanatic- I don't know if fanatic is the right word, but I like the alliteration. This is the guy or girl who cannot stop stuffing that leaky taco or drippy burger into their mouth.
  • The Entertainer- Thus named for those people who sing and dance to the radio. It can be especially fun to watch them bebop around blissfully unaware that someone is filming them so that they can be uploaded onto the net.

Ok, this list could be more interesting and there are most definitely some screwy things that I haven't listed but this is primetime and there are children reading this blog.

My Kids Like Singing Along to This

Posted via web from thejackb's posterous

A Bathroom Ambassador

Alright Charmin, my dysfunctional digestive system and I will give you some free publicity.You offered some decent cash to serve as a bathroom ambassador. I even considered applying, but I am a warm weather guy and the moola wasn't quite enough to gain my interest, came close but....
Today, Charmin, America's favorite toilet paper brand, launches a national job search to find five outgoing and enthusiastic people to work in New York City's Times Square Charmin Restrooms this holiday season for a salary of $10,000 each! The five chosen "Charmin Ambassadors" will interact with hundreds of thousands of restroom guests, while getting paid to revel in their own "love of the loo." This isn't your ordinary 9 AM - 5 PM job, and Charmin only asks that candidates should enjoy going to the bathroom so much - whether it be to catch up on reading or just enjoy some "me time" - they never want to leave.
Related posts:

How Many Toilets Must A Man Post About
New & Improved Toilet- Fish 'n Flush
Urine For a Tale- Or Pissed Off About Peeing
High Tech Toilet Seat
A Different Sort Of Urinal
Public Toilet
A Bathroom Surprise
It is A Bathroom Revolution
Take Your Toilet to Dinner
Crappy Service on a Slow News Day
A free guide to the toilets of the world
Tokyo Shakes and It is Outhouse Central
His Ass Burst Right Into Flames
Use The Toilet and Make Money
How Do Fighter Pilots Go To The Bathroom
For A Good Time Call...

Some Music for the Morning

Been awake far too long. Here are some of the songs that have accompanied me at this lonely keyboard.

Uprising - Muse
Europa and the Pirate Twins- Thomas Dolby
Dear Prudence-Siouxsie & The Banshees
I Am The Walrus- The Beatles
Helter Skelter- The Beatles
Freeze Frame- J. Geils Band
Gods Gonna Cut You Down- Johnny Cash
Ghost Riders In The Sky- Johnny Cash
Handle With Care- Traveling Wilburys
She's My Baby- Traveling Wilburys
Mr. Tinkertrain- Ozzy Osborne
Mama I'm Coming Home- Ozzy Osborne

Drunk Pole Dancing Gone Wrong

Words fail me. Oy.
Updated to reflect that it is a viral video from Heineken.

Facing Our Fears

Teach your children  - Crosby Stills Nash

Maybe I am getting older. I used to be able to go full bore for months at a time and never notice. I had a metabolism that destroyed million calorie meals. The body was rock solid and I was relatively fearless. Relative meaning that there were two or three things that scared me, but they were limited to the highly unlikely like being eaten alive by some creature.

Today I am nursing a cup of coffee and a body that has more than a couple of aches and pains. The hardest part of the day is this nagging voice in the back of my head. A little whisper of doubt that asks me why I don't just give in and let myself fall into the abyss that waits below.

Ego and stupidity provide enough strength to stave off the doubt. For a while longer I'll ignore the whispers and somehow stay afloat long enough to see daylight.


It has been busy. Life has been exceptionally busy and I have found myself doing the fire dance more than I might like. Into the flames I fall and then I bob, weave, hop and skip my way to the other side. And if I am lucky I find that aside from a scrape or two, there is not much damage.

And thus we come to the part in which I speak of how the children made my heart swell with pride. It is not just because of exceptional parent/teacher conferences, though they were great. Great academic reports that included descriptions of children who are gentle souls that are well liked and look out for other kids always make me happy.

There are a half dozen tales that could be shared, but I want to focus on two.

Saturday we found ourselves at a high ropes course. A wooden tower that was about 100 feet high stood before us. Four different starting points and a multitude of choices once you began your ascent offered a health challenge. It looked similar to the picture below.

I used to love these types of challenges. They were fun and they made my heart pound. But somewhere along the way they started to make me nervous and angry. Angry because it used to be easy for me to do and now, well it is harder.

My son has never liked this kind of stuff. He is not a fan of fast rides, roller coasters and the like. I have always told him that I don't care about that. No reason for him to do these things unless he wants to.

The dark haired beauty is different. That girl is fearless which is part of why I am losing my hair. I see the look in her eyes and I recognize it. It is the same one that used to be implanted in my own. But I am like every parent, risks are different when I take them.

She looked at the tower and without hesitation told me she was going to climb it. So we made it happen. She got a harness and got in line. After a while her brother insisted that he wanted to leave. I told him that it wasn't going to happen and that he had an obligation to support his sister as she would him.

There was some grumbling and then he was silent. A short time later the grumbling resumed and I got irritated. I told him to stop being selfish and he told me that he doesn't like climbing towers and a lightbulb went off in my head.

I sat down with him and told him that I didn't care if he climbed it. It didn't change my feelings about him at all. And then I told him that it scared me and that I wanted to climb it twice. He asked why I would climb it twice and I said that it was because the first time I wouldn't enjoy it much. The fear was going to bother me, but that I knew that the second time it wouldn't.

A few moments later he told me that he wanted to try. I told him that he didn't have to and that I wasn't trying to convince him. He said that if I was willing to try then he would to. And he did.

He scrambled up that thing like a monkey, would have made it to the top except he made the mistake of looking down and got scared. But I didn't care. The whole point is that he stepped out of his comfort zone to push himself. He took a chance and I love that.

It was great.


Yesterday morning the dark haired beauty earned the name "Indiana." I was wrestling with her brother and he yelled for help. So she climbed up on the bed and started humming the theme to Raiders of The Lost Ark. She then pretended to swing over and jumped on top of me yelling that she would rescue him.

I loved it. The two of them fight like all siblings do, but there are moments like that last one that make it clear that they have a very strong bond. It makes me proud and happy to see that. I hope that it never goes away.

Recent Posts

Since the Traveling Jack show is going on the road I decided to leave you with a collection of posts to read. Here are some recent ones with a couple old ones thrown in for good measure.

A Love Song That Needs To Be Written Continued
A Holiday Gift Guide- Some Unusual Gifts
The Pressures of Parenthood
Mumbai- One Year Later
Music of the Day
Healthcare, Funerals, Costco,Coke and Libel
Why Do You Blog?      
A Little Digestive Distress- Chicken Vindaloo
Not Quite a Recap- Let's Talk about Body Parts

A Love Song That Needs To Be Written Continued

This is part two of this post.

The pain of your absence is significant. The emptiness and the ache are more prevalent than not and sorrow has become a trusted companion.

I live alone and apart.

Bright blue skies surround me and the warmth of the sun embraces me but at times all I can feel is a bitter cold that shoots right through me. Sometimes tears come to my eyes, unbidden and unwelcome I fight them and force them back from whence they came.

My eyes are closed and I let my mind wander. I look for signs of your wrongdoing and seek evidence of misdeeds. I use these as kindle for a fire that I build inside. Angry flames build and for a moment I am granted sanctuary from the stark landscape that I otherwise inhabit.

The fire never lasts nor burns as brightly as its companion. The raging inferno that symbolizes the love I feel for you. It is a bonfire that consumes the anger and confuses me. I who never had trouble staying angry with others cannot seem to do so with you.

Something about you has disarmed me. I hate and love you for that. It is unfair to be placed in this position. Unfair to you and unfair to me.

I dove into the fire and swore that I would do so for you a thousand times. For years I have been swimming in this sea of flames. But in the past your presence made me invincible and oblivious to that which took place around me.

Still I go looking for you. Ever watchful and always aware I look for evidence of your presence. Sometimes I see you in our secret world. In the distance I watch as you dance alone and I remember the promises we made. The promise that no matter what we'd do what we had to do.

So I stand back silently watch your dance. So graceful, so elegant and at times so sad.

And in the silence I look inwards and see you staring back at me. Dark eyes and a mysterious smile greet me. I send out my soul and try to touch yours knowing that for now this is how it is and how it will be.

I laugh and I giggle.I scream and I swear at the absurdity of it all. Telephone in hand I dial your number but never let it ring.

I see you frequently and in the most unexpected places. For a moment my heart starts to pound. I can't believe that you are here and I wonder how it happened that we could find ourselves wandering the aisles of the same store. And then I realize that it is not you.

Some days are easier than others. Some days I am so busy I don't have time to realize that you aren't here. But sooner or later I find myself alone in bed and I remember. So I close my eyes and whisper a silent message that I hope finds its way to your ears.

And in the midst of the craziness and the chaos I still have this belief that the separation is temporary, that we'll find our way. And I hear you scoff and feel you shake your head. I see the list you made and hear you recite the reasons why not.

So I laugh and bring you into my arms. For a moment you resist and then you relent because we both know that some things can't be stopped nor prevented. The world is not built on logic and reason. Life doesn't operate based upon what is smart or convenient, it just moves along as it does.

So in spite of it all I wait. Not ready to hang up my cleats or give up. Not yet, not now. I am too tough, too stubborn with just the right amount of too stupid added in. And if you let me, I'll love you a little bit longer.

A Holiday Gift Guide- Some Unusual Gifts

Here at The Shack we are well aware that Chanukah is less than a month away and as a result we have done absolutely no shopping for those eight crazy nights.

After all, what fun would it be to do all of our shopping in advance. It would remove the sheer joy of fighting crowds for parking and being assaulted mentally, emotionally and verbally during those fabulous trips through the mall.

Besides we like sharing this experience with our Gentile friends who have to help out that joyful fat man with his adventures in chimney cleaning and present deliveries. So we are pleased to present to you the first post on potential gifts for the holidays with a post about unusual yet useful gifts for the holidays.

Today's featured gift idea is one that I mused about inventing on Twitter.

I thought that it was a great idea. So did @JessicaGottlieb and @AintYoMamasBlog.  In fact following the Tweets we exchanged I contemplated trying to find a way to invent this product. But as it turns out someone already has and since old Jack is a good sport I am happy to give them a free plug here.

The Calmar Consulting Corporation offers AquaNotes which offers you the chance to write in the shower or the tub. And because Jack is a romantic old fool we'll even share this next section with you:

The development of AquaNotes® made this Shower Thinker’s life more complete. But, in truth, he had only begun to understand the concept of "complete".  After reuniting with a long-lost love, he married and a new necessity arose…the need to have a special water-proof notepad on which to leave love notes in the shower for his new, wonderful bride. That’s when Aqua LoveNotes® was created.
Those love notes would be very useful. It is a great way to leave your special someone a note reminding them that you are tired of finding their hair everywhere or that there are a number of special things that they can do to send you off to work with a smile in the morning.

Or even a simple, "I appreciate the way that you fold my napkin in my lunchbox. Thank you sweetheart." Of course that assumes that you still carry a lunchbox. Some of us never outgrow those cool units from the '70s.

Later on we'll be glad to offer some standard gift selections for you. In the interim here is a list of some unique items that just might be of interest to someone you know.

It is A Bathroom Revolution
How to Make Hard Boiled Eggs
What Not to Do-Snakebites
The Cubicle Celebrates 40 Years

How Velcro Was Invented
My New Desk- I Have To Get One
London Restaurant Tries To Solve Gas Crisis
Who Wants To Buy An Artificial Foreskin
Untapped Sources of Energy

The Mangroomer
Business Cards That Will Get You Business
Medical Technology- The future is now

Inventions You have Got To Have (Includes the ladies urinal, toilet forehead support system and much more.)
The Nose Pouch
How Much Would it Cost To Build The Death Star

Lose Weight With The Greatest Exercise Ever
The Best Clothing You'll Ever Own
When Disaster Strikes- Blow Up Your House
A free guide to the toilets of the world

The Pressures of Parenthood

 Something is off and I can't quite figure out what it is. Must be my Mojo. That crazy broad the Shmata Queen must have run off with it or hidden it. I hate when that happens.

Fortunately I have a spare. Actually I have more than a few that I keep secured in a secret vault that she doesn't have access to. I don't mind mentioning this because she is on a secret mission and is not currently reading this. And even if she comes back early from her hiatus it won't matter because by that point I'll have reacquired my mojo.

That mojo thing is important. It is part of what keeps me going. It is part of how I deal with the pressures of parenthood. It helps keep me balanced.

When my oldest was born I kept looking for the manual that comes with babies. It is not like I was going to read it. I am a man. We don't ask for directions, we just find our way.

I suppose that there might be a nugget or two of useful information in that manual. Maybe there is a section that provides instruction for how to deal with trying to launch a new business during hard economic times. Or a section that tells you what to do when dealing with a crazy woman.

Actually there is a big yellow book at Borders, called "Women for Dummies" but why would I bother with that. In case you haven't noticed, when I find myself in a hole I just keep digging. If I stick at it I'll eventually find myself in China at which point I'll set up a new import/export business.

Hey, speaking of China do you think that Marco Polo had any idea that one day he'd be turned into a game we play in swimming pools.

I am rambling. I do it often and I do it well. I do it when I am happy and when I am stressed out. And now I am stressed out.

The new business is in the very early stages. It is like a little fetus except a fetus has more protection than this does. Every day I look in the mirror and ask myself if now is the right time to do this. Two kids in private school and a mortgage suggest that it is absolutely the worst time.

Then again the economy is terrible. Every day businesses are going under, people are losing their homes and things are generally less stable than they could be. And that tells me that now is a good time to try.

Why? Because I like going against the grain. I like swimming upstream. Some people do it the easy way and then there is Jack, he does it the hard way. Did I mention that I have a second business I want to try and launch now.

Last night I sat and watched the dark haired beauty sleep. Long black curls strewn across a pixie doll face that was the picture of innocence. I sat and thought about her and wondered what sort of woman she is going to become. She tells me that when I am really old I am going to come live with her so that she can take care of me.

The thought made me smile. She doesn't realize that when she was born I promised to take care of her for her entire life. And if nothing else I have another couple of decades before she'll be old enough to handle herself.

I made my way over to her check on her brother and marveled over the sleeping giant. He is huge now. Ok, he is normal size for his age, but he looks huge to me. He is big enough to make wrestling more challenging. It used to be effortless, now, I need to pay a little attention to it.

He asked me if I would ever have a job where we could work together. I shrugged and told him that it might happen one day. Haven't a clue if the businesses I am working on now will be of any interest to him. Right now I just hope that they'll be successful us to merit the opportunity.

I can't help but wonder if it is a mistake going this route. I can't help but wonder if I should focus on the corporate world. Work for a company that is stable, offers a strong compensation package that includes benefits. Would it provide more security. Would it be better for my family. Am I am taking on unnecessary risk by doing this now.

In theory this is something that I should have tried before the kids came along. Would have been a hell of  a lot easier. But I wasn't ready. I didn't have the skill set that I have now and more importantly I didn't have the mental toughness.

I am comfortable and confident saying that. It is true. So in some ways now really is the right time to try, but I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't a bit nervous.

The one thing that I know for certain is that a year from now life is going to be different, I just don't know exactly how different it will be.

Mumbai- One Year Later

It is a year since the terrorist attack in Mumbai. Some questions have been answered and others remain. Are the police better equipped than they were. Have they learned anything.

Something tells me that the terrorists are still training. They are not stupid. They look at the tools they used in the past and implement them again where needed.

I worry that nothing has changed. Time has passed and people have forgotten. Lost memories are dangerous.

Music of the Day

I am working on a number of posts, but before they go up I figure that I'll share some of the music of the day with you.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps - George Harrison
I Am the Walrus- The Beatles 

The End- The Beatles
Longer - Dan Fogelberg
Same Old Lange Syne- Dan Fogelberg
Leader Of The Pack- Shangri- Las
Lola- The Kinks
Destroyer- The Kinks
Come Dancing- The Kinks
Our House- Madness
Suite Judy Blue Eyes 1974- Crosby Stills Nash
Helplessly Hopin'-Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Our House - Crosby Stills Nash & Young
(The Kids Aren't Alright)- The Offspring
You're Gonna Go Far, Kid- The Offspring
Gone Away- The Offspring

Healthcare, Funerals, Costco,Coke and Libel

Nothing like more sturm und drang  in my life to make things interesting. I asked people to answer why they blog and received some interesting answers. Not unlike many of you I am here because it provides both an outlet and a chronicle of my life.

Posts like this one will be something that my children and grandchildren can read so that they understand that my life is like theirs. It is filled with moments of routine punctuated with bouts of craziness. That goes well with the wacky man they call dad now and may call grandpa in the future. Don't call me grandpa today because I am not old and I will kick your ass, male, female, feline or otherwise.

I received a letter today informing me that my healthcare costs are going to more than double in 2010. Since I am independently wealthy and without a care in the world I wasn't fazed at all by this.In fact I felt so bad about not being able to empathize with people I tasered my own scrotum.

There, that should make for the kind of search term I don't want associated with the blog. But at the moment I am too frustrated to care.

Stevie Ray Vaughn's The House Is Rockin'  just came on iTunes. If my life were a movie it would be an appropriate song to play now. It'd be one of those time line bits where you'd see me running frantically to try and overcome a challenge. By the time it ended I'd be out of breath but a huge smile would grace my lips and the screen would fade to black.

Except my life isn't a movie, or a sitcom or a play. The crap that was flung on me isn't a prop, it is real and it stinks. Blast.

Found out last night that my fraternity brother's wife died. I don't know all of the details other than she was 40, it wasn't suicide or car accident. It was some sort of health issue that snuck up on them, or so it was described to me.

She is the third contemporary of mine to die since May. Two mothers and a man, all aged 40. All died because of some sort of health issue.

Queen, I am Going Slightly Mad  is now playing. Again, an appropriate song. I am going mad. It finally happened, I took that last step, you know the one that Bugs Bunny refers to as a "Lulu." Damn, life might be easier if this was a Looney Tunes cartoon.

The funeral starts in about ten minutes. I was very seriously thinking about going, but chose not to. Haven't seen the husband in several years and have exchanged just an email or two during that time. I was torn about the decision not to go, but I have a ton of stuff to handle. He won't miss me, I'll send a card.

Don't mean to sound callous, but we all have to take care of our stuff. Right now I am doing the best that I can to take care of mine. Of course being told that the privilege of seeing the doctor and providing for my family's well being is going to become more difficult has influenced this.

Damn, damn and damn again. On to a different topic.


I just read that Costco and Coke are having a disagreement. I bet Costco wins this fight.
ATLANTA - Costco customers may have to look elsewhere for Coca-Cola products now that the retailer has stopped carrying them because the pair are fighting over prices.

The public squabble between one of the nation's largest wholesale club operators and the world's largest soft drink maker is likely to fizzle quickly. But it reveals real tensions as retailers and product makers square off on prices.

As shoppers continue to grapple with the recession, retailers want to win their favor by giving them low prices. But that has been creating tension between product makers like Coca-Cola Co., who are working hard to maintain profit margins while meeting retailer demands.
In other news there is a new report about the influence Twitter has on the world. Courtney Love is being sued for libel for something she tweeted. But it is not limited to celebrities, this issue that is.

Consider the case of Amanda Bonnen and her former landlord. Bonnen, an Illinois resident, is accused of using Twitter to tell another user: "Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon Realty thinks it's okay."

Horizon Group Management LLC, the company that owned the apartment in question, sued Bonnen for libel over the alleged tweet. Horizon is seeking $50,000 in damages.

Legal experts say such Internet-related cases are being watched closely because they confront new and unaddressed areas of American law.

For example, how should a libel case be handled when it comes to social media? How can society balance accountability with free speech? And if information -- from private thoughts to public data -- is so readily available, how do we define what constitutes privacy?
There are other examples of ordinary citizens who are in legal trouble in the article. It is a reminder that there are risks in using social media. Twitter, blogs, Facebook and the like can all have an impact upon your life in ways that we might not immediately foresee.

These are more than cautionary tales. They are real life examples of things that need to consider when you are playing online. It is not completely clear where the lines will be drawn, but eventually the courts will come up with something. In the interim remember that the boundaries are fluid.

Ain't life grand.

Why Do You Blog?

Last Saturday night I stood outside in the cool Virginia air and engaged in a brief discussion about blogging. The people I spoke with said that they had friends who blogged but it was not something that they engaged in themselves.

They were very curious about why I blog and whether I get anything out of it. Later on I'll share more of that conversation. But for now, I am curious to hear what you have to say.

Why do you blog?

Slapped In The Face By Reality

One whirlwind weekend trip has come and gone and I feel like I have been slapped in the face by reality. I am exhausted, mentally and emotionally spent in ways that I never would have guessed. It required far more to get myself ready to go on the trip than it should have, but sometimes that is how it goes.

And then once I was out the door it was a series of events that at times were uplifting as well as moments that were shocking. I'd like to say that the entire trip was just one big high but the rules of the blog dictate complete honesty and well...

Well..., there were some moments that surprised me. There were moments that left me feeling a bit like I had been punched in the gut and wondering WTF just happened. At one point Saturday night I am confident that I must have looked like I had seen a ghost.

For lack of a better description I had a pseudo-revelation that was completely unexpected and am still trying to digest it all. The funny thing about this revelation is that even though I had it, I don't quite know what to make of it. It felt a bit like the universe tapped me on the shoulder and told me that I want this but didn't give me a clue as to how to make it happen.

I spent a few hours late Saturday night trying to figure out what my next move is and ended up thoroughly frustrated. I think I know what I want to do. I suspect that I have a plan that will work, but I am not sure. Truth is that I am sure of everything and nothing.

Forgive me for my melodrama, but this blog was birthed in fire. I really didn't get the feel of how to do it all until I was in the middle of a crisis and then things just clicked. Since then this joint has served its role of chronicling the ups and downs of my life.

I often say that I can't wait until I have nothing to write about because my life is dull, steady and boring. But something tells me that it is never going to happen. Life doesn't stop. There is always going to be something going on.

Especially in my world, that is just how it is. Where I walk the earth shakes and it is not because I need to go on a diet. What a wacky thing.


Sunday was far smoother than Saturday night. Even though I hadn't quite figured out what to make of everything, I had regained some balance and perspective. By the time I hit the runway I was beginning to feel like I had a small inkling of what to do about everything.

Then came a grueling plane ride. Screaming children, airplane noise, lack of food and a raging headache wreaked havoc on the almost zen like state I had achieved.

By the time we landed I was in the land of crankiness and was relishing the thought of clubbing baby seals and stomping on sand castles. I was ready for food, quiet and my own bed, in that order.

Since I was famished I decided that the best course of action was to stop on the way home and grab something to eat. Of course I managed to stop at three different restaurants that were closing as I got there. One guy kind of snapped at me, "we're closed."

Wrong thing to say. I barked back that if they were closed it would be wise to lock the door, flip the sign to read closed and to treat customers who walk in as if they were a customer and not the food critic for the local newspaper.

Needless to say his attitude changed, but I left anyway. I am not the food critic. I get it, they want to go home and that is cool with me. Just no reason for him to be a jerk. Eventually I got some food into my system and puttered around the house before I collapsed in my bed.

And now I am sitting at my desk staring at all of the work I left for today. I had this silly dream that it would magically disappear. Of course I was slapped in the face by reality, so I probably should go and get back to it.

Life is something, isn't it.

The Hypocrisy of Charitable Giving During the Holiday Season

I have never understood why some people push the idea that one time of year is better than another for donating time or money to a particular cause. It seems to me that if the cause merits your support than it shouldn't matter whether it is April, May or December.

If they do good work and they help people than you should support them year round. Now maybe you can't donate your money or time year round, but that is not really the point. It is all about giving back when you can and not limiting it solely to a season.

It is part of why I dislike the holiday season. It feels a bit like they are trying to cover up the crass commercialization with a two dollar donation to the United Way. Just doesn't feel right to me.

I talk to my kids about giving back. It is good to remind them that they lead a very nice life. They don't really understand just how privileged they are. They don't know what it means to go hungry or to not have a home. I am very grateful that they don't know these things.

And I don't think that they have to experience it to understand it either.

But I do think that they need to learn what it means to give back. They need to learn that it is not always about giving a check, that sometimes giving your time is more valuable than money.

It is an ongoing discussion here.

You Should Have Been Here

One more post before boarding. This is for Fragments of Fiction, just another story I have created.

It was much harder than I had anticipated it to be. The trip that is. I spent the whole time there as an outsider looking in.

Can't say that I really mind being the outsider. Been doing it all my life, feels natural. Most of the time it is a comfortable fit, but not this time.

Tight patent leather wing tips clicked and clacked across the dance floor, but none were mine. They stayed on the side and watched the world around them.

This should have been the time to walk in with you on my arm.

The perfect time to glare at the men trying to check you out, while secretly smiling. The chance to step out from the worlds we live in and enjoy something special and different.

But you weren't there and I was alone.

Who knew that your absence would be so palpable. Who knew that it would feel so shocking, like jumping into icy water.

Except that stinging sensation didn't completely disappear because I never completely adjusted. Once we laughed and cried together. We told each other that "you're my air". Now my air is gone and I am choking.

But tomorrow is a new day and with it a fresh start. I am looking forward to it because you never know what the day can bring. I am happy, but I miss you terribly. Just thought that you'd should know. 

A Captive Audience

It is a quarter to five here on the East Coast. I have 45 minute to kill before we begin boarding the plane so I thought that I'd try to be productive.

Today I was reminded twice of what it means to be a captive audience.

I recently attended an event where one of the other attendees "regaled" us with tales of her children and grandchildren. Endless stories about how smart and how cute they are were heaped one upon the other with little regard for those of us who were forced to listen.

I like kids. I write about my own all the time. But the distinction between what happened today and the blog is that you have a choice.

You can read, skim and or skip these tales without concern. No one will be hurt. It won't look like you are lacking social graces.

It is possible that I was the only one who was irritated by these tales today. It is possible that everyone else enjoyed the 362 stories we heard. I can only speak for myself and say that it got old.

Not to mention their need to one up anyone else who managed to share a tale of their own. Midway through I was aggravated so I pulled a "Natural Jack" and started making up things about my kids, incredibly ridiculous things. I just had to know if this other person would respond and how.

On the other side of the captive audience bit is my visit to the airport. The prices that are being charged for simple things like water are crazy. $3.50 for 12 ounces is robbery.

And don't get me started about the fees for checking luggage. We gave them billions of dollars to recover from 911 and they gave us fewer flights and new fees. Something is very, very, wrong here.

Travel day

(This is another post generated through Posterous. Hopefully the formatting isn't an issue.)

It is a travel day. I am sitting inside my hotel room drinking a cup of mint tea and trying to relax.

There are a million projects waiting for me back home and I am antsy. Most of the time it wouldn't bother me. I would shrug my shoulders and relax because I can't do anything about them from here.

But today is different. I am feeling anxious, restless and generally unsettled. I expect that knowing I am going to be stuck in the old flying tin can has a part in this too.

Writing often helps me to relax so I figured I might as well give it a shot. Maybe it will help take the edge off.

Last night I went to the wedding of a very dear friend. Been hanging out with the old man for more than 35 years now.

Thirty-five years. It feels a bit strange to write that. We can't really be that old. It is not our entire lives, but it is most.

His wife is wonderful and I am thrilled for him. They were radiating joy last night, just spilling out of them. That's how it should be.

I didn't know very many people there at all. It was a little strange.

I say strange because until a few years ago we lived in the same city. With very few exceptions we knew all of each others friends.

Now that he is stuck out here in the East that is no longer true. He has a whole new life and a bunch of new friends.

It was fun meeting them and hearing stories about things they had done. I smiled, the old man is consistent. Always described as a mensch, reliable and consistent.

The wedding was at this place out in the country. Beautiful mansion that looks awesome when it is lit up at night. I expect that if it wasn't overcast we would have been able to see a ton of stars.

Had sort of a weird experience there that I am trying to sort out. There was sort of a junior high moment/vibe a time or two.

The old man has another old friend who attended the wedding. There were some moments there where I felt like he was trying to compete with me for the old man's attention.

Now maybe it is just me, but I sort of doubt it. I don't understand where this jealousy thing is coming from.

I am a bit hesitant to even write about it. So I'll compromise and say that we get different sorts of things from different friends.

That doesn't require swearing a pledge of allegiance to one person, never to be broken. You can have several good friends.

In fact I have always taught my children that you really can't have too many friends. And if you are truly lucky several will be very close friends.

Anyhoo, I don't think that I want to write any more about this nonsense. It was just kind of strange.

Meanwhile back in the land of adult behavior and reality I have to finish packing. I really do dislike it. Although packing to go home is always easier than to go away.

Looking forward to seeing the family. The dark haired beauty has called me daily so that she can sing songs and shower dad in love. It is pretty cool.

Might try checking in again later, who knows. See you all in a bit. Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Posted via email from thejackb's posterous

Haveil Havalim #243

I am trying to blog from a BlackBerry. Please forgive me for formatting issues that may occur. Haveil Havalim, the Best of The Jewish/Israeli blogosphere is now live. You can find it at the following address:

Go read it with your morning coffee. Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Posted via email from thejackb's posterous

Gone Fishin'

The Traveling Jack Show is underway. Not sure if I'll have time to update this any time before the end of the weekend, could be Monday.

If you need things to read feel free to sift throught the archives. Don't forget to check out the drop down menus on the far right. There are links to all sorts of good stuff there.

I don't Like Flying Anymore

Flying reminds me a bit of hanging out with an old girlfriend. There are moments where I stare at you and wonder why we ever broke up. You're beautiful. You're sexy and you're a lot of fun. We start to talk and the conversation just flows.

For a while I start to wonder why we broke up. Maybe it wasn't you, maybe it was me. But gradually I find evidence of the things that I didn't like and the shine starts to fade a bit. When you laugh you snort. When we were going out I thought that it was cute, but at the end it made me crazy.

I notice a few other details that irritate me and slowly I remember why it is that we don't see each other anymore.

That sort of describes my feelings about flying. There was a time when I loved it. It used to be special and exciting. It was an experience that I look forward to, but not anymore. Now it is a task.

And so it begins with a search for a ride to the airport. More often than not the trips are midweek so the family isn't available to take me. Cabs and vans are expensive. Frankly I hate sharing them. I dislike having to make other stops to pick other travelers up. And even if I didn't the fare with tip is almost always $50 bucks.

I can take the bus. A for a couple of bucks a day I can park the car and ride along with 50 others to go catch a ride on a flying tin can. I suppose that it is not such a bad thing. But it stresses me out.

And let's not forget the whole security process. I am quite appreciative of the efforts that are being taken to protect us, but it is a grind. Having to take off my shoes, empty my pockets, dump the laptop and get checked out is a pain. I prefer to have it than not, but still...

Eventually you find yourself in the terminal where you get to just sit and wait.

Maybe it comes down to a lack of control. Maybe it is nothing more than frustration with having to give up the control of my time and ability to do what I want. If I am going somewhere I tend to prefer to be the one driving. I just feel more comfortable.

None of this covers the other details. My shoulders are two big for the seat and my knees often brush against the seat in front of me.

Confession time: I tend to do very little talking on flights. I prefer to sleep or watch a movie. But if I end up sitting next to someone talkative I often make up stories about my life. Sometimes I tell them that I played college football or soccer. Sometimes I tell them that I work in a Biotech lab and I am not allowed to discuss my job.

It all depends. I never really know what I am going to tell them in advance. I like to just let it unfold. I suppose I should run for a bit. I need to go pack.

Other Posts about Flying
Cruising At 34,000 Feet
Deciphering Frequent Flier Programs
All My Bags Are Packed
Airplane Trouble? Kill a Goat
Flying The Unfriendly Skies
Crying Child Forces Family From Plane
The Land of Lost Luggage
Airlines Continue To Rob The Public
The Joys of Flying Commercial Airlines 
What If The Plane Crashes
Traveling Jack's Plane Made It 

A Love Song That Needs To Be Written

Sometimes I sit here and stare at your picture. I look into your eyes and I tell you the things that I won't share with another. I pour out my heart and wait for the response that never comes. I write stupid poems and love notes that I never send.

Alone in the dark I caress your face and remember. I fell into that proverbial fire, or maybe it is more honest to say that I jumped in.

I saw you standing there and couldn't stand to be so far away.

Now you are gone and I ache. I ache and I burn. That fire eats away at me. Time passes and the hole in my heart remains.

I remember the promises we made to each other.I remember the good times and the bad. But mostly I remember the good.

Sometimes in the dead of night I walk outside and stare at the moon. I wander alone and wonder if you can feel my silent call.

Moments in time. That is what we had, moments in time. But when we had them time stood still. Moments that changed everything so that we can no longer remember the lives we had before.

Now there is silence. The lack of your presence is jarring. Every day I look for you but you are not there. I listen and hear nothing but the hum of life going on without you.

And maybe this is the way that things will be. One day I'll be someone's grandpa and they'll ask me to tell them a story that no one knows. And maybe I'll tell them about how I found and lost the song of my heart. They'll hear about loss and destruction and learn about redemption too.

Or maybe my heart will prove to be prescient. Maybe the hope and the certainty will prove correct. And maybe you'll be the grandma to my grandpa. Maybe we'll make those grandkids squirm because we still kiss and hold hands in front of them like silly teenagers.

I know what I want. I know what I think. I know what I know and I know many things that I am not saying. Some you'll just have to hear for yourself.

Just remember that when you think of me I am thinking about you. One day I'll turn this into that love song I promised to write, but not yet. For now that is going to have to wait until another day.

We Aren't That Family

Mom called me a few hours ago to relay some news, my uncle died. I asked when and she told me that it happened last Thursday. Being my normal prickly self I asked if the family had used the pony express or pigeons to notify us. After all, he had moved back to Chicago, so maybe, just maybe that would explain the delay in hearing about his passing.

No, he died here in Los Angeles about eight miles from my house. He died at the same hospital as his older brother did, my grandfather. He was 90 and he had leukemia, but I am not sure what the cause of his death was. I don't know a lot of details. The lack of details here are the kind of thing that drives the Shmata Queen crazy.

But I have a good reason. Midway through the call Mom's cell phone cut out. Gone, goodbye, straight to voicemail. The last thing I heard was my nephew yelling for Grandma to say hi.

A nephew that my uncle didn't know. He didn't know because he was estranged from the family. It feels a bit weird to type that out. We're not that family. We're not a family that has secrets. We're not a family that hides things or has weird fights and relationships that go back a thousand years.

At least that is what I thought growing up. Funny how as a kid you just accept things. Or how many things you don't question because they are what you know.

Relations between my uncle and my parents were strained, but I am not sure that any of them really knew why. I can provide some details about what upset my parents. And I can speculate about my uncle, but that is all that it is, speculation. He took those reasons right or wrong with him.

My uncle was a 90 year old gay man. He grew up in a time and place in which his sexuality made life very difficult for him. I give him a break on some things because that had to be hard and unfair. But then again I grew up with his big brother, my grandfather as one of my role models. I knew his sisters well. And I know that he was taught that life isn't fair so you do what you have to do.

It is not always nice and it is not always fair. That is just how it is.

I have a lot of memories of my uncle coming for family events. He used to bring his best friend Phil with him. I thought that it was cool that they got to live together and share a room. I didn't know anything beyond that just that they were best friends.

My uncle was the last of his siblings. And now that he is gone I feel a loss. I can't really say that I miss him. We didn't really talk, haven't seen him since my grandfather died. But I realize now that I liked knowing that he was around. I liked hearing the family stories. He didn't look exactly like grandpa, but there was a resemblance. And of course expressions and gestures.

My uncle has died and with him the last piece of that generation on my father's side. I feel a loss. There are no more witnesses to those stories. No more who lived to see those things. No more tales of my great-grandfather to be told by his children.

For some reason it makes me feel a bit older. A few hours ago I received a note on Facebook. A friend of mine posted a picture of me from my Bar Mitzvah. I remember taking that shot. It was a few minutes before we took a family photo, with my uncle and a bunch of other relatives.

If I look up I can see my reflection in the kitchen window. I swear that it is a bit blurry, so I squint and see the thirteen year-old boy I was metamorph into the 40 year-old man I am now.

It is a different world than it was.

Almost 20 years

Next week marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of this spot. Hard to believe, not many have kept going since then. I have barely kept up...