Carnivals, Holidays, Fish and Dry Eyes



Don't forget to check out some of the cool posts below. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll buy a snuggie.

Timing

(For Fragments of Fiction)

"Wendy let me in I wanna be your friend
I want to guard your dreams and visions
Just wrap your legs round these velvet rims
And strap your hands across my engines
Together we could break this trap
Well run till we drop, baby well never go back
Will you walk with me out on the wire
`cause baby I'm just a scared and lonely rider
But I gotta find out how it feels
I want to know if love is wild, girl I want to know if love is real"
Born To Run- Bruce Springsteen

"Show me how you do that trick
The one that makes me scream" she said
"The one that makes me laugh" she said
And threw her arms around my neck
"Show me how you do it
And I promise you I promise that
I'll run away with you
I'll run away with you"
Just Like Heaven- The Cure

If you close your eyes and listen carefully you can hear the soft clink-clank of metal against metal. You're so focused upon your task it is hard to say how long the rhythmic banging has been going on. You're name is Johnny and you're lifting weights in your garage. It is well after midnight and you can't sleep.

You don't feel much like talking to anyone and even if you did you're friends are all asleep. It is a work night so you don't really want to have a drink.Or maybe that is because you suspect that it won't just be one drink and you'd rather not finish that six pack. Besides you don't really want to drink alone.

So you decide that you are going to take your nervous energy and make use of it. You strap on your iPod and head outside to exercise because you know that you always feel better afterwards. And besides it will help clear your head.

Alone in the garage you start your workout and try not to focus on June. Been forever since she was a part of your life. But some days you can't help but wonder what could have been. Sometimes timing is a bitch and that has you shaking your head. It seems more than a little unfair that circumstances could be the reason that a relationship doesn't work.

As you focus on your form you can't help but smile wistfully as you think about how unexpected it was to find June. Neither one of you could have ever predicted it. You grew up in different places and in different worlds. She used to tell you that she would never forgive you for not finding her earlier. You'd laugh and tell her that you could say the same thing.

Time would pass and you'd confess that you had never been more in love with anyone or more scared. This was the kind of thing that only happened in books and movies and that made you drag your feet. She'd tell you the same thing. And in no time you would forge a bond that was deeper and more powerful than any either one of you had known or experienced.

But life is not a book or a movie and things would happen. The world outside the one you shared would come to exert its influence upon you. The timing was off and no matter what you did you couldn't fight it. You tried. You did what you could and when it wasn't good enough you beat yourself up and wondered how it fell apart.

So sometimes late at night you'd wander outside and stare at the moon. Looking up at that giant white orb you'd sometimes smile and wonder if June was doing it too. Other times you'd stare at it and feel like howling in frustration and you'd wonder again if she felt like that too.

There would be good days and bad days. Moments when you were determined to walk away. You'd tell yourself that it didn't matter why it ended or who was at fault or what. All that mattered was moving on with your life. But in the silent recesses of your heart you'd never completely let go.

The bond that you had forged was too strong and too deep. And once you acknowledged this truth of your heart you began to feel better. Once you accepted that you would always love June you were able to start living again. It wasn't exactly what you wanted, but it was a start.

Because the truth was that your heart told you that June was still out there and that the end to this story had yet to be written. The promises you made were still valid. The love you shared still lived. And maybe, just maybe there might be chance to pick things up somewhere down the road.

And then you took off your watch and stuffed it in a drawer because the last thing you wanted to be reminded of was timing.

Music For A Wednesday Afternoon Except its Thursday

Going To California-Led Zeppelin
When The Levee Breaks- Led Zeppelin
Over the Hills and Far Away - Led Zeppelin
Nobody's Fault But Mine- Led Zeppelin
Gimme Shelter- Rolling Stones
Undercover Of the Night- Rolling Stones
Sabotage- Beastie Boys
Extreme Ways- Moby
We Are All Made of Stars- Moby
Beautiful- Moby

A Curious Collection

I have a bunch of ideas for posts but am short on time tonight. So I spent a little time digging through the archives and came up with some posts that are worth checking out again, more or less.

My Son Made Me A Whoopie Cushion
How Do You Make a Baby?
The Son Asks & The Father Answers
Dreams Fulfilled and Unfulfilled
Comic Books Find Religion
Children

In Honor of the Olympics- The Agony of Defeat



More information can be found here.

It Gets Worse

Fragments of Fiction insert #21987

In my dreams a battle rages. I am floating above a battlefield in which men are fighting with clubs, axes, swords and crossbows. There are no guns or bombs because this is a fight based upon brutality. This is a fight in which the combatants come face to face, where the victor’s prize is watching the loser die a horrific death. I don’t want to watch, but I cannot help it. I have had this dream too many times to count and every time I have it I am forced to watch as limbs are hewn from bodies, heads are caved in and blood runs like a river. There is so much blood I imagine that if the ancient Hebrews are to believed the Nile must once have looked like this.

Each time I wake up I am breathless and covered in sweat. I lie in bed shaking and sore. I feel like someone has beaten me up. I get out of bed and cannot help but check for bruises. I know that they are there, but they are located in a place that I cannot see.

I am broken. I am damaged and I am well aware that things are not right inside my head. The only thing that keeps me from completely losing it is her. She is holding on to me so tightly that I cannot fall over the edge. I want to. I want to. I want to. I want to let go and roll off of the cliff because I am so tired that I cannot keep this up any longer.

She has wrapped me in a protective love that is so strong I cannot break its grip, but I will soon. I won’t want to, but there is a demon inside me and he is starving. He is not alone. He has an ally who is tough and determined. He has a friend who waits patiently. Georgie is crafty. He has street smarts and he understands that it will not take much to push me back down into the pit. He knows that if he pulls hard enough it is all going to come crashing down.

I haven’t seen Georgie in quite some time and I am not smart enough to realize that it is his absence that has given me the strength to begin to crawl back into the light. She knows that he is the cancer that is killing me and she does all that she can to fight it. But we all get frustrated and sometimes it is our frustration that is at the root of our greatest pain.

Georgie wants to go hang out, kick around a bit. He doesn’t have any specific plans other than a simple request to do this with me. I might not have gone. I might have stayed in that night but for her comments. She calls me a fool.

“You know going out with him is a mistake. He is a jerk.” I look at her in silence. She takes my lack of response as encouragement to continue.

“Georgie is an asshole, is that who you want to hang out with.” The truth hurts. Her words bite and sting so much so that my ego is bruised.

I am not kind or gentle in my reply, “What are you my mother. I’ll see you later.”
She blocks the door and tells me that if I leave I shouldn’t expect her to hang around waiting for me.

We exchange some more words but none of them are the kind that provide room for reconciliation. And by the time I catch up with Georgie I am looking for trouble. I am angry and he knows it.

“Dude, why do you let that bitch tell you what to do.”

If he had said that to me a few months earlier I might have tried to remove his head from his body, but not now. The anger is in control and I have left my self-control and judgment somewhere else. Trouble is coming and I am racing to meet it. Now I sit silent and stew in my anger.

Georgie is driving. I haven’t any idea where we are going because I am too busy with the six pack in my lap. By the time we got to the parking lot I had finished the four beers and had discarded the two orphans for whiskey. I hadn’t even gotten out of the car when I hear Georgie cursing at someone.

I didn’t bother to find out what was going on. I walked around the side of the car and punched the first guy in the mouth. He fell down but that didn’t stop me. I started stomping and kicking him. I wasn’t able to do too much damage because someone grabbed me from behind.

They didn’t realize what a big mistake that was. I was too drunk to feel any pain and too numb to care about the pain I was handing out. I used my legs to push off of the car in front of me and slammed him into the car behind me. He gasped and crumpled to the ground.

There is a full fledged melee going on around me. I am swinging at anyone that comes close to me and trying to get to those who do not. I am screaming incoherently. No one is close enough for me to hit so I start kicking cars and punching the windows. If ever there was an indictment of the police and their response time, it is tonight. I should have been arrested but they must have been busy elsewhere.

My hands are bloody and bruised but my anger is not sated. I grab Georgie and we get back into the car to go looking for more people to take it out on. I have time to take a couple more sips of whiskey. The cowards secret sauce is warming my insides when I notice her standing outside a restaurant talking to some guy.

“Georgie, stop the fucking car” and let me out. I don’t bother waiting for the car to completely stop before I get out and charge the man speaking to my girl. I am like the bull going for the matador. My head is down and I will not stop until I have my prey upon my horns.

It is not a fair fight. He doesn’t see me coming and hasn’t any idea that in a moment he is going to lose the ability to chew solids for the next few months. Fortunately for him there are at least three other valets and they are able to pull me off of him before I can kill him because that is what I want to do. I am drunk and I don’t care about the consequences.

But the valets are friends and they are not willing to let one of their boys get hurt without exacting their own payment. The last thing I see is a boot coming down on my face. As I pass out I can hear her crying and screaming at Georgie. He still manages to get the last word in.

“I told you that she was a bitch.”

Some Things I'll Teach My Children (Updated)

I have a long list of items to teach my children but here is an incomplete list of things that I want to teach them.

  1. Laugh, love and learn always and forever.
  2. Never forget to hold your friends and family close to you.
  3. A good hug can change your day. Everyone needs a hug. We all need to touch and be held. My thoughts on being shomer negiah later.
  4. The majority opinion is not always right nor the most moral/ethical.
  5. Some things are worth fighting for and some are not. The hard part is discerning which is which.
  6. You can never read too many books but you must always supplement your reading/education by doing.
  7. Travel and interact with the world around you.
  8. Learn to speak more than one language.
  9. Play a team sport and learn how to be a team player.
  10. Understand that life is a journey and that half the fun is indeed getting there.
  11. Life is filled with moments, some good and some bad. Just remember this too shall pass.
  12. If saying goodbye doesn't hurt than whatever it was probably wasn't worth much.
  13. Take pictures of friends, places and loved ones. They'll help preserve some great memories.
  14. Try not to grow up too quickly. Childhood is but a short time.
  15. Look for magic.
  16. Remember that you may not always agree with your parents but they also are looking out for your best interests.
Originally posted here.

Setting Goals

How Far Can You Push Dad

"Last night I dreamed I died and stood outside those pearly gates.
When suddenly I realized there must be some mistake.
If they know half the things I've done, they'll never let me in.
And then somewhere from the other side I heard these words again.

And They said, "Let me tell you a secret about a father's love,
A secret that my daddy said was just between us.
You see Daddies don't just love their children every now and then.
It's a love without end, amen, it's a love without end, amen."
Love Without End, Amen- George Strait

Confession time. Those two paragraphs make me choke up, almost every time. I suppose that you can attribute to a mix of being a father and a son. I understand both sides intimately, something that my children don't quite understand. They are young enough that it still throws them when I catch them doing things that they shouldn't.

It is kind of funny to see the looks on incredulity on their faces. It is almost utter amazement that dear old dad has figured out again who took an extra cookie (crumbs on the floor) or was reading under the cover with a flashlight (I can see the light through the blanket).

And of course there are the looks that they sometimes exchange when they hear me call my parents anything other than grandma and grandpa. This morning my daughter asked why I slip between Hebrew and English. Sometimes I say abba and eema or sometimes mom and dad. I turned the question around and asked her why she does it. She shrugged her shoulders and said "I asked you first."

I laughed. She really is my girl in so many ways which is why I am screwed, in a good way of course.

Lately she and her brother have been testing my patience. It is not unusual or unexpected.Truth is that I have been testing the patience of everyone around me for a thousand years now so I have no grounds to complain upon.

Still I have tried to make it infinitely clear that there are consequences for our actions and that they will be held accountable for them just as their parents are. The other day the two of them managed to tag team me into a serious case of parental frustration and anger.

The how and why of it don't really matter. But I can tell you that the final straw was when the dark haired beauty tried to get my attention during a business call.I was pacing back and forth and she was doing everything she could to get me to look at her. I smiled, waved and gave her the usual signal of "not now, I'll help as soon as this is done."

It worked for a moment, but then it passed and she decided to try to get my attention by tapping me on my leg, only she missed. Unfortunately she didn't miss the boys. I don't know what look I gave her, but her older brother grabbed her and said something like "run!"

To be honest, I am not sure how the call ended. Can't tell you if I said goodbye or hung up. But I do know that I let out a barbaric yawp and then stormed out the door and into the garage. Once inside I started beating the crap out of the heavy bag. Every punch was accompanied by a stream of four letter words.

A short time later I had regained my composure and walked back inside the house and found out that I hadn't been cursing as quietly as I had thought as the dark haired beauty asked me why I yelled "motherfucker" so many times.

I smiled and told her that she was mistaken, but was corrected by my son who said, "dad you said motherfucker a lot." I looked at them and told them that I was glad that they listened so carefully to my words. This didn't go over as well I would have liked because it encouraged the dark haired beauty to tell me some of the other words I had used.

We sat down and had a quick conversation about why I was angry and whether it is ok for me to use the bad words. I think that this was the first time that I ever told them to do as I say and not as I do. But we'll save that for a different post.

Hours later when they had long since been tucked into bed and I sat in the dark and remembered a few moments when I was on the other side of the fence. And I couldn't help but wonder how they'll remember these moments.

I remember being their age and the occasional potch I received from my father. It wasn't something that happened more than a handful of times. I remember him yelling and how loud he could be. But what sticks out are the moments when he was quiet. I think that I was more afraid of the silence than anything because I didn't know what would happen.

It occurs to me that my son said something about that. I don't yell very often because I don't have to. They really are good kids. Not to mention that my voice is relatively deep so it is not hard for me to be heard. But there are moments where all they get is a glare.

That's because I try not to say anything that I'll regret later.Not to mention that sometimes the crestfallen look on their faces kills me. It is a real roller coaster ride this parenting thing. Wouldn't change it for the world, but some times....

One Day The Battles Will End

For Fragments of Fiction tied into the story I started here.

"I never will forget those nights
i wonder if it was a dream
remember how you drove me crazy?
remember how i made you scream?

now i don't understand what happened to our love
now baby gonna get you back
gonna show you what I'm made of..."
Boys of Summer- Don Henley

I have been thinking about timing and second chances. I have been thinking about places I have been and moments that have been burned into my memory. Some of them are among the happiest I have and others, well, they aren't so happy.

I remember it all, the good and the bad. I remember the feelings of sheer bliss and the knowledge that two people were never more perfectly suited for each other than we were. It was inexplicable and indescribable, this feeling of joy that we brought to each other.

You called me your air and I called you my heart. You took my breath away with your grace and style. I was always conscious of your presence and amazed that you had chosen me to love. Sometimes when we kissed it felt like I had jumped into the arctic sea. My whole body tingled and I was short of breath.

++++++++++++++

Sometimes I picture a giant earthquake as being responsible for our having been separated. A monstrous quake that tore the land asunder and ripped us apart. Other moments I envision it differently. I have been called up again and sent overseas to fight.

They don't know when the war is going to end. Can't tell us anything other than to fight hard and stay safe. I don't sleep much, just a few hours here and there. I miss you more than you realize. I think of you often. When I first got out here I didn't have time to think. I was this scared kid who wet his pants the first time he saw action and spent hours scrambling to stay alive.

Now I have grown accustomed to combat. The horrors of war don't bother me as they should and I wonder if perhaps something inside me is broken. And then I remember that fortune teller we visited at the shore. She told us that we would never have another love like ours and that if we held on tight we could heal each other.

++++++++++++++


Lately I find myself lost in thoughts of timing, second chances and new opportunities. I suppose that you could throw redemption into it as well. There was a time when that song made me sad. All I could hear was a story of love that had been lost. It reminded me of Whiskey Lullaby.

They were two people who were hopelessly in love and lost each other. So very much in love that they couldn't quite figure out how to be happy without each other.

"She put him out like the burning' end of a midnight cigarette
She broke his heart he spent his whole life trying' to forget
We watched him drink his pain away a little at a time
But he never could get drunk enough to get her off his mind
Until the night

1st Chorus
He put that bottle to his head and pulled the trigger
And finally drank away her memory
Life is short but this time it was bigger
Than the strength he had to get up off his knees
We found him with his face down in the pillow
With a note that said I'll love her till I die
And when we buried him beneath the willow
The angels sang a whiskey lullaby

(Sing lullaby)

The rumors flew but nobody know how much she blamed herself
For years and years she tried to hide the whiskey on her breath
She finally drank her pain away a little at a time
But she never could get drunk enough to get him off her mind
Until the night

2nd Chorus
She put that bottle to her head and pulled the trigger
And finally drank away his memory
Life is short but this time it was bigger
Than the strength she had to get up off her knees
We found her with her face down in the pillow
Clinging to his picture for dear life
We laid her next to him beneath the willow
While the angels sang a whiskey lullaby"

(Sing lullaby)

For a while I felt a little bit lost like that. I wondered if that was how it was going to be for me. I wondered if I was going to end up forever looking back at the love that I couldn't have and lamenting the life that might have been.

But something snapped inside of me and I felt differently. I woke up and felt you thinking about me and I remembered the way you'd laugh when I'd call and you'd say that you were just about to dial my number. I felt you smile and I just knew that you still felt the same but couldn't figure out how to make it happen.

If I asked you to confirm you would deny it. You'd start a fight because it is easier to use anger to maintain that wall. We're different that way. I face the pain by sticking my hands in the fire. Neither way is any better or any worse. They are different and that is OK.

Really one of the strengths of our bond is that mature love and the willingness to accept the differences. We don't try to change each other. You can keep trying to stay irritated with me. I'll make it easier by saying that it won't last. And sooner or later you'll find yourself in that place again.

Makes me giggle just thinking about it.

Best of The Jewish/Israeli Blogosphere

It is Haveil Havalim, the Best of The Jewish/Israeli blogosphere's weekly blog carnival. Go check out Haveil Havalim #257: The "Moshe Rabbeinu Birthday/Yahrzeit" Edition.

You'll be glad that you did.

Musical Morning

Well kids here is a list of some of the tunes that helped me get through this day.

The River- Bruce Springsteen
No Surrender- Bruce Springsteen
Atlantic City- Bruce Springsteen
The Rising- Bruce Springsteen
City of Blinding Lights- U2
Until The End of The World- U2
Walk On- U2
Woke Up This Morning- A3
White Rabbit- Jefferson Airplane
Somebody to Love- Jefferson Airplane
Te Amare - Miguel Bose
Remember When- Alan Jackson
Love Without End- George Strait

The Whackadoodle & Wingnut Insurance Agency

Fathers Planning for The Future

"It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link of the chain of destiny can be handled at a time." ~ Winston Churchill 

I like the headline Fathers Planning for The Future for many of the same reasons that I like A Play In Three Acts. Mostly I appreciate the open ended aspect. Is it one father planning for the future or is it many. Could even be the title of an upcoming seminar I am going to provide on how to be a great father.

You know the kind of seminar I am talking about. I am going to charge you the very low and reasonable price of $19.99 to buy a tape/CD/MP3 excerpt of my talk. You'll be so enthralled by this you'll readily agree to spend $150.00 to come hear me give the full talk at a later date.

During that session you'll fall completely under my spell and agree to fork over a substantially larger sum so that you can participate in a full weekend of workshops, most of which won't be led by me. However as they will have TheJackB's picture and seal of approval you won't care.

Damn, I love being a brand. But that is not what this post is about. This really is about a discussion the boys and I recently had regarding the future and how to plan for it.

"If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up some place else."
Yogi Berra

I have spent more time thinking about what it is that makes me happy and fulfilled. More moments delving into the deeper recesses in my head thinking about what truly brings me joy. To me this seems to be the linchpin in my quest. More on this later.

It is another sunny day and we're sitting outside again enjoying coffee, the elixir of life. The conversation begins with the usual rhythm of sports, movie quotes and a curse or two about the mystery aches and pains that have taken up residence in our bodies. It gradually moves on to serious matters.

"I have been draining funds from my retirement account to pay for the mortgage." Heads nod and we hear tales of an impending custody battle. Eyes roll as we hear about the ex and her attempt to gain more than is fair. More stories are shared and there is more furrowing of our brows.

We're not much different from so many others. A group of college graduates who all have a hefty chunk of experience in the working world. Fathers who have done all that we can do to provide for our families and their well being.

And every single one of us is currently fighting a battle that they never imagined would happen. The wars we wage are all different, but we bear scars from them. They have taken a toll and that is part of why we are gathered together. It is another chance to lean on a friend and to see if somehow the collective wisdom offers a solution that we haven't come up with.

The conversation is interrupted by the sound of a female voice. A woman shouts out hello. Moments later she is standing next to the table. We know her, or at least a few of us do. We went to high school together. Pleasantries are exchanged and she runs off to pick her youngest up from pre-school.

Jim says that she has a great body for having popped out three kids. "If only I wish that we could say the same about you," I reply. We trade insults back and forth. He throws a twenty dollar bill at me and calls it a donation for lap band surgery.

I grab the twenty and stand up and before he can say anything I walk inside. Moments later I come out with more coffee and a few snacks. I drop the change in front of him and say "thank you." He grumbles something about not leaving until he gets his twenty dollars back. I ignore it.

We talk about the future. The fathers are a bit nervous. I tell them that I figured out a while back that it is really hard to say where we are going to be in five years. I am sincere in this. I do my best to plan for the future, but I really can't say where I'll be.

My life is different from what it was five years ago. All of ours are. In this particular group I have the oldest child. He'll be ten later this year. I don't claim to be the best father, but I am not new at this game anymore. I wasn't five years ago either.

It is easy for me to list a lot of changes in the past five years. Grandparents have died, jobs have changed and frankly some of our friends have died. Marriages have started and ended. I go back a little farther and talk about how I purchased a bunch of Worldcom stock.

At the time it was considered a smart purchase. Big company with little risk is what they said and so I believed. Guess who isn't around any more. There are a lot of stories that I can tell that are similar as can the boys.

Most of us graduated college and found jobs doing things that paid the bills. We were taught that it was more important to make a buck and that we could worry about being happy later. There is a lot of truth in that. But what you don't know when you are younger is just how much can change in your own perspective and desire. Life experience teaches you many things some of which just aren't evident and cannot be seen when you are younger.

I don't say that to make a claim that you have to be older to know who you are and what you want. Some of us reach that point earlier. But in many, it takes a while to get there. It requires time in the the salt mines to learn that what you thought you wanted has changed and that what you need is entirely different.

Having a plan is important and very useful. But so is the ability to adapt to change and to work with it so that you wherever you end up is somewhere you want to be.

The uncertainty is frustrating and that is really why a big part of my life is devoted to doing everything that I can to control my destiny. I can't control everything nor do I want to. But with a little luck and some work at least I can try and steer the ship.

America's Most Miserable Cities

I wasn't going to do this. Really, I wasn't going to share the list. Didn't want to incite a riot among the readers. Too tired to be chased by Angry Texans and the assorted wing nuts that come out of the woodwork when I post these things.

But, we'll go ahead and do it and see if the list changes from year to year.

America's Most Miserable Cities
Cleveland, Ohio
Stockton, CA
Memphis, TN
Detroit, MI
Flint, MI
Miami, FL
St. Louis, MO
Buffalo, NY
Canton, OH
Chicago, IL

New York, Akron, Philadelphia and Toledo are a few of the other cities that made the list. Truthfully, I thought that they'd include L.A. but the City of Angels was spared. General theme here- jobs, or should I say no jobs.

Unemployment wreaks havoc on a city.

Late Thursday Night/Friday Morning

"I know some things that you don’t
I’ve done things that you won’t
There’s nothing like a trail of blood
to find your way back home"
Life is Beautiful- SIXX:A.M.


Eighteen months ago I went to Circuit City and bought a new computer. It was an unusual purchase for me. Unusual because I purchased a floor model. I never buy floor models, at least not when it comes to electronics.

Floor models tend to be higher end items that are heavily discounted because as a floor model they have been used extensively. I tend to view floor models as being very similar to rental cars. People don't take good care of them. Since it is not theirs, they have a tendency to beat the crap out of them.

A good salesman convinced me that this model had been thoroughly checked out. He swore that it had been taken care of and that I was getting a good deal. He did a good job of convincing me and sealed the deal by providing a serious break on an extended warranty.

If you haven't figured it you, the new computer worked beautifully for a while and then began to give me all sorts of trouble. I ran the normal diagnostics, antivirus, spyware, defragged it and more. Never did find any nasty bugs hanging out there. Managed to get it running a bit faster, but not like it was.

Eventually I came to regret the purchase. At least once a month I seem to have some sort of issues with it. It might not actually be that frequent, but I have been soured upon it. Who knows, maybe it is aware that I dislike it and is acting out.

At the moment the freaking thing and I are engaged in war. Two weeks ago I purchased a new external hard drive from the nice folks at Seagate. It is supposed to be a plug-n-play model. It all worked fine for about a week and then I ran into some mysterious problem. The dread blue screen of death flashed and I spent hours fighting to get the damn thing working again.

I bought the external so that I could back up my important files. I didn't think that my "just-in-case" preventative measure was going to be a problem. But apparently I was wrong and I just might plug in the recovery discs and start over.

I have managed to move about 75% of my files over to the backup, but still have a big chunk to take care of. So I am begging, pleading, praying and alternately threatening that damn thing. Let me get my files off and I'll stop bugging you computer, really, this won't hurt a bit.

In the interim I am working off of my BlackBerry and an older computer that my kids use. So I am getting things done, but not nearly as quickly as I would like. Double arghhhhhhhhh!

Unnaturally Disarming

Last night I stumbled back home around 10 PM or so. I wasn't inebriated, just exhausted. Played a few hours of basketball and drove myself to go all out all night. I didn't stumble on the court, just onto the porch of my house. As I walked up the steps one of my legs decided to mutiny and so I sort of fell into the door.

Suppose I should be happy that no one videotaped my inadvertent headbutt into the door. I learned two things from the experience.

1) I have a hard head. No bruise from the encounter and thankfully no headache.
2) The door isn't fragile. Intellectually I knew this, but I am a child trapped in a man's body so I like to test things to see if they really do work.

Once inside the mutinous leg decided that I am not Captain Queeg and rejoined the team. This was good as it made the shower that followed far more pleasurable. A short time later I wandered over to check on the children and marveled again at how peaceful they are when they sleep.

Simply amazing...I used to sleep like that, careless and fancy free. In general I still sleep well, but it is not uncommon for my dreams to slip and disturb that careless state of mind I sometimes miss. I kissed the kids and whispered in their ears and headed out to the computer. It was time to do some work.

Several hours later I strolled into the bedroom, lay down on the bed and stared at the ceiling. It was after 1 A.M. and I was wide awake and felt like I had enough energy to back to the gym. In the years prior to kids I might have done so, but I knew that in a few hours I had to get those kids out of bed.

So I did what I could to relax and try to fall asleep. It took a long time, but eventually I dozed off. And of course this coincided with the dark haired beauty's decision that she needed to sleep next to dad. Have I ever mentioned that she is like a 5.5 year-old version of the Tasmanian Devil?

The girl kicks and rolls and flails about...all night long. And of course she uses my body as her personal punching bag. The end result is that I decide I am too tired to deal with this and she is old enough to sleep by herself.

She didn't wake up because of a nightmare or because she didn't feel well. She woke up because she kicked off her covers and was cold. I picked her up and carried her to her bedroom. As soon as I put her down she jumped up and raced back to my bed. The little sneak had pretended to be asleep. Not only that, she had managed to help ensure that I got about three hours sleep last night.

And then to add insult to injury she wouldn't get up this morning. She moaned about being cold and whined about being tired. Since I am a kind man and never grouchy I growled and grunted something about giving away all of her toys and putting her to bed at 6 P.M. every night from today until 2098.

Did I mention that not only was I exhausted but incredibly sore. The endorphins from the night before were gone and all that remained were sore muscles that screamed at me for asking them to work hard.

As I stormed about the house I heard my son whisper, "abba is serious. Don't make him any angrier he is impossible when he is tired like this." I grimaced and wandered into the kitchen to make sure that their breakfast was underway.

And then from out of nowhere I felt these little arms circle around me and I looked down. Dark eyes peered back up at me, a little cherubic face smiled. Silently I cursed, in 5 seconds she had made my anger disappear. It is unnaturally disarming. It is not supposed to work that way. I am supposed to make the choice about whether to be angry or not.

Damn, damn, damn. I did my best to try not to smile and then she started laughing at me. It is not fair. She is using my tricks against me. I own the patent and the copyright on them and she still did it. Agrhhh.

General Housekeeping Notes

It is pushing 1 A.M. and I should really be asleep. Instead I have been spending time taking care of some odds and ends around this joint.

I finally got around to setting up a Facebook fan page for this joint. You can find a link to it on the right hand side of the page. It is a bit rough now but eventually it should turn into something nicer. The goal of the page is very simple, to help market this joint. I am curious to see what sort of impact it has upon readership and traffic, if any.

I am still mulling over whether to move this over to a self hosted Wordpress blog. I probably should do it, but I am slow to make those kinds of changes. Blogger gave me my start and I feel a bit of attachment and allegiance to it.

Still, a Wordpress blog offers numerous advantages that are well worth pursuing. One of the things that I want to do is clean up the clutter and make this a bit snazzier. The content won't change. You'll still come here and find posts about life, parenting, science and the occasional mention of that wacky Shmata Queen. She still thinks that Lake Erie has a beach.

Beaches require saltwater. Great lakes are just large bodies of water that are surrounded by a pile of sand.

I still intend to write a book and a screenplay or two. I have a bunch of ideas that I am playing around with. The short/long term goal is take those ideas and make them into something.

Anyhoo, I am starting to nod off so I am going to end this here. I encourage you to consider becoming a fan so that you can benefit from all the privileges that yields. More on this to come.

The Ghosts of Our Past

The ghosts of our past haunt us to our dying days. It is a common misconception among people to assume that this is a negative thing, that this is a something that hurt us. It can be, but only if you let it. We have the power to control our destiny. That is what I had told her, a promise of our future.

We were so very much in love. She was intoxicating, addictive, my favorite drug. I couldn’t get enough of her. Even now I can still smell her, the scent that never leaves me. Ok, it is not completely true, now it is more of a memory, but in my dreams she still visits me. In the dark of night she comes to stay with me and in the morning I wake up to the bittersweet realization that she has left me again.

Sometimes I’ll close my eyes and try to fall back asleep, hoping, praying that I can reconnect with the dream. In my mind there is no pain, no sorrow, no loss and no heartbreak. We’re still driving a convertible, her hair blowing in the wind, body pressed close to mine.

“Young hearts gotta run free, be free, live free
Time is on, time is on your side
Time, time, time, time is on your side
is on your side
is on your side
is on your side
Young heart be free tonight
tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight, yeah”

Young Turks- Rod Stewart

It was one of our songs, we loved the idea of just running away together. It was a plan of ours, to steal away in to the night and to find somewhere that we could live together for the rest of eternity.

You know what is like, the first love of your life. You have nothing to compare those feelings to, nothing makes your heart soar like they do. As a teenage boy you have to fight to not act like an idiot. You’d pick a fight with some guy just so that you could try and prove how brave you were. You’d do a million other stupid things like that, just because you felt like you had to show her how much she meant to you. There was a fire inside you that you swore could not be quenched, a burning that felt so good it ached.

Sometimes that passion you felt could get you into trouble. Sometimes you found yourself getting involved in things that were best left to others. Sometimes you got lost, got stuck with the wrong crowd and the wrong people. 

Sometimes you found out that your parents were not that stupid, that they knew something more about living and life than you did. Sometimes the lack of life experience could save you because you didn’t realize the amount of danger you were in and sometimes it was that very lack of experience that condemned you.

It was my fault that I lost her. It really was. Because I was an idiot who fumbled the best thing I had. Because my fragile male ego wouldn’t allow me to ask for help and by the time I was ready to the only people who would help me were the very people that I should have run away from.

When she left me it was because I was already gone. I had already left the relationship, the boy she fell in love with fell down the rabbit hole but there wasn’t a friendly rabbit waiting for me. There was a creature with a smile like the Cheshire cat, a creature who was only too happy to take me on as their apprentice. She called him an asshole and a loser. She called him a leech, a thug and more.

I called him Georgie.

When your Favorite Blog Suddenly Goes Bad

(originally posted here)

If you blog for any length of time you witness the rise and fall of many blogs. Some of them are good, some are fair, some are horrible and some are just amazing.

Many bloggers have written about blog crushes. They have spent time elucidating and illustrating what it is that makes them smile. They may have even gone into intricate detail about the blogs they love, it is part of a blog crush. Sometimes you cannot put your finger on why you enjoy it, you just know that you do.

Here is what you don't see much of, the discussion of what happens when your blog crush fades into the twilight. There are a number of reasons why this could happen. Sometimes it is just because they stop blogging. It doesn't matter why they stopped, the writing just ends and there you go.

Sometimes your blog crush fades because you come to grow tired of the gimmick and or style of their writing.

But in my book the saddest end of the blog crush is when they write something that is so shocking and offensive that you cannot continue to read them anymore. I guess that you could see it in similar terms to a breakup or divorce. And so your crush comes to a bittersweet end.

A Quick Summary

If you haven't been here in a while here is what has been playing:

How Do You Steal A 9.5 Foot Python
Transitions
The Summer Camp Dilemma
Some Music
The First Gray Hair
Building a Community on Your Blog
The Lost Soul Mate
Making the Most of Time
Was It Good Sex or Love
We Are The World- Now And Then
Insolent Innocence

How Do You Steal A 9.5 Foot Python

Color me confused about this:

"Authorities are looking for a python that was reported stolen from a petting zoo in Fort Myers.
The snake's owner told Lee County deputies that the 9-and-a-half-foot female was locked in its cage Saturday night, but was gone the next morning.

The snake was part of a petting zoo set up in a tent in a shopping center parking lot. The lock on the snake's cage was cut, and a blanket covering the cage had been lifted."

Transitions

"Some need gold and some need diamond rings
Or a drug to take away the pain that living brings
A promise of a better world to come
When whatever here is done"
Happy- Bruce Springsteen

A dear friend and I had a long talk last night about life and how it doesn't always work out the way you think that it will. Thoughts about our conversation carried over into this morning and I found myself thinking about some of the things that I thought would happen that didn't.

The tweet below is a good example:

I remember thinking that I was going to fly home and pack up my stuff. Israel was where I wanted to be. I love L.A. I always have and I always will but there was something about Jerusalem that captured my heart. I fell in love with it and I couldn't imagine not following up on that love.

I wanted to have more than a month at a time to learn about it and to see if it was a summer romance or a life long relationship. The flight home was long. I wasn't coming home after my first visit. I had spent a lot of time there before, but this was different. I was in my twenties and had no obligation to anyone but myself.

The move back to Israel didn't happen because life happened. Various things came about and now fifteen years later I look back at it and sometimes I wonder about the road not taken. It is a moment in time, a snapshot of my life that I can still see vividly in my mind.

Three years later I went back to Israel, but this time I was married. It was a short trip, barely three weeks. A chance to show her around and try to sell her on a place that already owned a piece of my heart. It was a good trip, but we came home with the understanding that we would go back sooner than later.

But things changed again. More than a decade later and I haven't been back. My children have heard stories and want to go. One day we will.

+++++++++++++++++

When we spoke last night my friend and I talked about his wife. It is his second time on the merry-go-round called marriage. He is exceptionally happy, or as I told him disgustingly happy. The two of them get googly eyed over each other. It makes me happy to see him so happy.

The first wife was a problem. She didn't look like a problem. Didn't set off the radar and maybe she should have, but she didn't. When she left he was blindsided. It was ugly and I felt badly for him. The experience changed his perspective and mine.

But now I am confident and more importantly so is he that he has a much better partner. She is a better match for him in every way. And he never could have predicted this. Had it not been for the ugly experience he wouldn't have ever met her.

Can't say that I am a fan of enduring great hardship so that you can experience something amazing, but I suppose that it has its benefits.

+++++++++++++++++

I have written many times about friends and contemporaries that have died. At almost 41 I really shouldn't be able to list more than a few, if any. Yet I can run down at least ten people that I knew. Ten people who have died during the past 14 or so years.

Their deaths were all unexpected. When I look at them and I look at some of the other experiences I have had it makes me a bit crazy. Crazy in the sense that I am impatient to do the things that I love and to spend time with the people that I love.

Time is fleeting and we have little control over many things. No matter how hard we fight time and try to master it we cannot win. It will move, things will change and we will find ourselves in new situations. So I am doing my best to roll with the changes and to influence the transitions from one phase into another as best as I can.

My life is different from what I expected it to be 15 years ago. I can't say that I am entirely certain what it will be like in five years. But I can guarantee that everyday I am working on doing the things that I need to do to get the most of out it.

The biggest tragedy in my life, the one thing that I can't accept is not taking a chance on living. So, I am going for it...again.

The Summer Camp Dilemma

My FWOCs (friends without children) think that I am crazy, but I am really concerned about where my kids are going to go to camp this summer. We haven't signed these guys up for anything yet. And while you may think that there is plenty of time to do so, the truth is that we are already well behind.

Camps started accepting reservations (deposits) in December. Some of them are already booked and waiting lists have been formed. This is no surprise to me as I have been a part of this aspect of the childrens' rat race for about seven years now.

I have grudgingly dragged my heels for one simple reason. Cash. Yep, the cash flow here at The Shack hasn't been what I would like it to be. That bad economy we keep reading and or speaking about has wreaked havoc on many. Some clients have been very slow to pay and others have held off scheduling new projects. Consequently we have scaled back and been hesitant to put out cash for things that aren't necessity.

Fiscal responsibility is a good lesson to teach the kids and they'll learn from this. This will serve them well in life. However it is making me crazy for a variety of reasons. I feel badly that there is a chance that they won't get to go to camp. Many of their friends have already asked them to ask their parents to sign them up so that they can be in the same group. I'd rather not disappoint them, but I have to look at the big picture.

Life is about balance and compromise. This may be one of those compromises that no one likes to make but have to be done. If it doesn't happen it won't be the end of the world and it will be one more lesson that they can learn from.

However it does come with other costs. They can't stay home all day. I have a home office and having them here constantly puts a severe crimp in my productivity. So plans have to be made to keep them active and stimulated. The question is how to do it.

Well, no final decisions are going to be made today and this could end up being nothing but a momentary hiccup. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Some Music

Here is what I listened to this evening:

Mercy, Mercy Me- Marvin Gaye
Night Shift- The Commodores
September - Earth, Wind & Fire
The Hustle- Van McCoy
Who Wants to Live Forever- Queen
Love of My Life- Queen
Boee -Idan Raichel

The First Gray Hair

My daughter discovered a gray hair on my head. To the best of my knowledge it is my first. I rather imagine that this poor fellow is a scout that has been sent out by the other hairs with a mission to gather intelligence. His goal is to check out the land and determine if it is safe for the rest of the hair community. Can they come colonize the land or must they search for a more hospitable environment.

Her brother disputes her account of the color of said hair. He thinks that it is kind of blond. It could be, I have some reddish-blond highlights in my beard.

His assertion doesn't go over well with the dark haired beauty. She tells him that he is wrong and suggests that he get a flashlight to double check. Moments later two children are shining a light on the side of my head and comparing notes.

"Dad, you have a lot of hair everywhere but in the front of your head," he says. His sister concurs, but has some questions. "Abba, why do you have some space by your forehead and why do you only have one gray hair?"

I shrug my shoulders and tell them that before they were born I looked different. The dark haired beauty is quick to help, "you had really short hair and lines in your stomach." This time her brother decides to add, "ya dad, your stomach is a little round now."

Bless their little hearts. So glad that my children are so quick to point out all of my faults.
++++++

My fragile male ego is feeling a bit testy. I am not comfortable with all of these changes. Some of them are completely within my control and others less so. My diet has been lousy. For a while I have been on an eat and destroy mission. The good news is that I have been wildly successful. The bad news is that my success has manifested itself by making me look like hell.

It is my own fault. When some people are under stress they stop eating. Others take my approach and eat. So I am working hard to change the habit. I am impatient and wonder why I can't just blink the excess away. The good news is that I have been very consistent with my workouts. If I keep this up I will see results, provided that I cut down on the calories.

My hair is a different story. I haven't ever had a problem with gray hair and it is not because until now I didn't have any. I don't care what the color is as long as it is not pink or purple. The changes in the front have been a different story. I am not bald, not even close.

The back and sides are as full as they ever were. It is the front that has changed. It is definitely a bit thin. Nobody cares about it but me, but that is life. We are always our own worst critics.
++++++

I am standing inside my bathroom. It is the middle of the day and I am staring hard at my hair. I really can't tell if it is a gray hair, but I am assume that it is. In a few months I'll turn 41. Gray is appropriate, but then again I am not in any rush.

In the back of my head I remember someone saying that your beard goes gray before your head. I suppose that I could google it but I'd rather engage in a more practical approach. I haven't shaved in three or four days. I have a very healthy shadow coming in and I can't see any evidence of gray.

While I am engaged in this fit of vanity I decide to take a harder look at myself. I strip off my clothes and stand in front of the mirror. I laugh knowing that I am probably going to blog about this. The house is empty so I let out a barbaric yawp and assume a series of poses.

When I flex I can still see the cuts in my stomach. My arms and back still show signs of having been used for something more than hanging a shirt.

With a deep sigh I get dressed and exit the bathroom. Play time is over and work calls. I am still disappointed in myself, but make a promise to try harder. And with that I settle back into my chair and respond to emails. As I type I can see my reflection in the monitor. One little hair protrudes from the left side of my head. It is the instigator of all of this nonsense.

Somehow that seems appropriate. One wild hair, a renegade....

Building a Community on Your Blog

Ten minutes ago I received an email notification that Chris Brogan had responded to a comment I made on his blog. Chris is one of the rock stars of social media and the blogosphere. If you look at my Feedburner chicklet you'll see that I am averaging around 650 or so readers a day, Chris has more than 45,000.

My posts probably average about 7 or 8 comments. I am guessing that Chris averages about 15 times that amount.

The point of all this is not a shameless attempt to get Chris' attention and hope that he mentions me so that I can share in his traffic. Rather it is to touch upon the feeling that I got when I received that noticed that he had replied to my comment.

I was very pleased. It made me happy. He acknowledged me. It helps that I appreciate his work and that I think that he is a leader in the field. I am especially appreciative because I recognize how much time it must take to respond to comments.

The point here is that if you want to build a community on your blog you need more than great content. You need to find a way to acknowledge people. You need to take a moment to shine a light on them and acknowledge that they are important and worthwhile.

If you do that you'll find that they'll keep coming back and they'll bring friends. It is a worthwhile venture and something that brick and mortar businesses would do well to observe. We're more than just numbers. We're more than the prospect you hope to close or the sale you just made.

Treat people well and you'll reap many rewards. It is worth the effort.

The Lost Soul Mate

This is the next insert in Fragments of Fiction. It is part of a collection of short stories that I am thinking about turning into something larger.


I don't know what it is about you that closes and opens, only something in me understands the voice in your eyes is deeper than all roses- E.E. Cummings.

“For I dipped into the future, far as human eye could see, Saw the vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be” Alfred Tennyson

"There is a road from the eye to heart that does not go through the intellect." ~ G.K. Chesterton



Some nights I find myself wandering beneath a moonlit sky watching and waiting for a sign that I don't really expect to come but wish for with the greatest of desires. I often stop and stare into the night sky and remember what it was like to stare into your eyes.

I didn't tell you what I saw in them, about how they twinkled and glowed. I didn't say the things that I thought because I could see you already knew them. You, the song of my heart already knew these things because you were my air as I was yours.

It seemed gratuitous to try and put into words the secret language our hearts spoke. Better to sit in silence holding your hand and sharing a moment. I treasured those moments of silence in which we would listen to each other breathe and bask in our presence together.

A story of two souls who laid themselves bare for each other. Two who became as one and in the darkness created light. I sit here writing this with the knowledge that some will call it hyperbole and romantic drivel. They have never experienced the sort of intimacy and oneness that we have and consequently haven't the faculty to follow. It is beyond their ken.

This is ok. I don't write for them and care not one whit whether they follow. I write for you and for I. You are my lost soul mate and your absence is always evident. Sometimes when I think of you I think of Rick and Ilsa in Casablanca and wonder if one day you'll reappear as she did.



But if you did reappear I can't say that I'd send you off like Rick did. I don't really know what I'd do.  I have often wondered if Rick really meant those things he said. You know what I am talking about,

Ilsa: But what about us?
Rick: We'll always have Paris. We didn't have, we, we lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.
Ilsa: When I said I would never leave you.
Rick: And you never will. But I've got a job to do, too. Where I'm going, you can't follow. What I've got to do, you can't be any part of. Ilsa, I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that. Now, now... Here's looking at you kid.

It is a movie, not reality so it is hard to say. Still, I wonder. Did he really mean all those things. I sometimes think that he was just protecting a heart that was still broken. You don't say something like this and just forget about it. Or maybe he found that special something that allowed him to move on. That is part of the beauty of a movie, it is open to interpretation.

As for me, well I am in a different sort of place. Not really sure how to describe other than to say that all my options are open. I feel as if I have taken the first step on a journey to somewhere else. Can't say for certain if these are the first steps to the time and place in which the reunion of lost soul mates will take place or if it is something else.

What I do know is that part of the joy of life is the journey and the mysteries that lie therein. So perhaps one day we will find ourselves staring into those eyes again. And if we do I am sure that it will be familiar and mysterious. There will always be that electricity when we brush up against each other here or elsewhere.

I'll leave it at that knowing that you're smiling as am I. The future beckons and I must answer.

Making the Most of Time

"I want to go home, I want to go home,
Oh Lord, I want to go home,

Last night I went to sleep in Detroit city,
And I dreamed about those cotton fields and home,
I dreamed about my mother,
dear old papa, sister and brother,
And I dreamed about that girl,
whose been waitin' for so long,"
Detroit City- Bobby Bare

It is late afternoon and my eyes are closed and I am taking a moment to collect myself. I am standing inside my garage staring at a gray suitcase. It is an American Tourister that has been around the world. It is probably 20 years older than I am and is the first suitcase I remember seeing. As a young boy I found it fascinating to open and close it.

For years that bag went with us on family vacations, but before that it belonged to my father. It was one of the bags that he took with him when he left for the Peace Corps.

I am standing inside the garage because I have fifteen minutes to engage in pumping iron. Fifteen minutes to get the blood pumping and to try and turn back time. The garage serves as my man cave. Inside my home it and the bathroom are my sole refuges, the places that I can seek quiet in.

Time is moving far too quickly and I am feeling pressured. It is like an anaconda that has wrapped its coils around my body and is squeezing. The pressure is relentless and I can feel small beads of sweat forming upon my brow.

They say that the constrictor family of snakes wait for you to exhale and then squeeze you again. The obvious goal is to choke you to death, but in the interim they are going to make it as difficult as possible for you to breathe.

But I am not easy prey and refuse to go down. I lift weights so that I have the physical strength to wrestle with the snake and I am not afraid to use my teeth. They say that snake tastes like chicken and I am willing to find out.

I like listening to the weights clinking and clanking. The sounds of the metal against the concrete helps to relax me. In my mind I see that 20 year old I used to be. Six pack abs and rock solid muscles throw the weights around like they are nothing.

A neighbor calls out to me and reality smacks me in the face. The garage door isn't completely closed and they have spotted me. I start to giggle. I see that 20 year old but I know that isn't what they see. The 20 year old didn't have any extra padding around the middle. He didn't lift weights next to a high chair or stroller. There weren't boxes filled with china or an old dresser floating around either.

I don't quite look like Homer Simpson but  I don't look like the 20 year-old any more. That is partly why I am lifting like this. I am frustrated with what I see in the mirror. Tired of tight fitting pants and mystery aches and pains.

Twenty years ago I woke up and stood straight up.Now it takes a moment to work the kinks out. I stand up and look like a question mark. A shift here and a wiggle there and the body is back to exclamation mark status.

Workout is almost done.I grimace in frustration.I am impatient. I want immediate results. I want my body to respond as it used to. Can't quite accept that it won't. Can't help but believe that if I feed and treat it properly I can get back what I lost.

Maybe not everything, but most. That is one of the gifts of age. I know what I want. I have goals and objectives that I am working on. A plan for regaining those things that I once had and obtaining that which I still desire.

Still, it is sometimes hard not to beat myself up over the mistakes. Hard not to kick myself about things that I could or should have done. If I was a smarter man I would have listened to my own advice and I wouldn't have to grit my teeth like this.

Still. it is what it is and all I can do is try my best to make the most of my time.

Was It Good Sex or Love

This is actually an interesting story about a WWII POW who claimed to have broken out of and back into his German P.O.W. camp more than 200 times.

The reason for the frequency with which Greasley put his life in danger, he admitted with engaging good humour and frankness, was simple: he had embarked on a romance with a local German girl. Rosa Rauchbach was, if anything, running even greater risks than Greasley.
A translator at the camp where he was imprisoned, she had concealed her Jewish roots from the Nazis. Discovery of their affair would almost certainly have meant doom for them both.

Greasley recounted the almost incredible details of his wartime romance in the book Do The Birds Still Sing In Hell? (2008), which he had been "thinking about and threatening to write" for almost 70 years. But while the book is described as an "autobiographical novel", the story was largely confirmed at his debriefing by MI9 intelligence officers shortly after the war.

Read the whole story.

Best of The Jewish/Israeli Blogosphere Blog Carnival

It is live. Go Check it Out.

Insolent Innocence

Saludos my friends and you know who you are. It is a bit after two in Los Angeles. I haven't shaved in two days so I have a healthy shadow running across my face. Dark circles beneath my eyes and a serious expression make me look a bit weathered and worn.


You wouldn't say that I am dressed to impress. I am barefoot and sporting a worn pair of denim shorts accompanied by a fine white T-shirt from the classic designers at Tar-jay. Might I add that the t-shirt sports a very fine photo of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

It is far more comfortable than the suit, tie and wingtips I once wore and far more my style. And today of all days it is not just well deserved but needed, this comfort line of clothing that is. 2010 may be the Year of Jack but this past week was not.

I woke up today and felt like I was the star of a Neil Diamond song. Don't ask me what that means because I haven't a clue. Went to bed late and woke up early and that my friends is a recipe for a half crazed and cranky Jack.

Some of you are asking the obvious question, what is the difference between you today and any other day. And the answer is that I don't know. No one told me that there would be any math or science on this test. I didn't pull a Sarah Palin, there is no crib sheet in my palm. No answers tattooed upon my thigh. I'd wink at you but you'd probably think that it was some sort of twitch or something.

Right about now is when I'd like to pull out my guitar and start strumming. I'd do my best impression of Bruce Springsteen. I'd sing a song about the working man and how he fights for his family. I'd sing a song about the executive that puts in 60 hours and coaches his kid's soccer team. I'd sing about the man and woman who love each other with the sort of fierce intensity that you hardly see and rarely experience.

You'd find yourself singing along with me. You'd stand up and clap and wonder why you never knew that I had this talent. Later on you'd come up and ask me why I am not doing this professionally and I'd tell you that I am not a musician or a rock star. I am just a man who has a little life experience that you can relate to. But then again maybe I can take this energy, these thoughts and feelings and turn it into something concrete.

+++++++Insolent Innocence+++++++++

That is the name of the book, the movie and the band that I want to read, write and start. Insolent Innocence is a name that came to me earlier today. To the best of my knowledge it doesn't exist yet, that is, no one else is using it. Now don't go getting any funny ideas because if you take it I will find you and do something.

Don't ask me what something is because I won't tell you in advance. Ask my kids and they'll tell you that this daddy blogger has a steely eyed glare that will make you flinch. If you are ever the recipient of it you'll know. Or maybe you'll think that I am squinting in which case I'll have to take steps to disabuse you of such a silly idea. I can be quite persuasive.


More on this to come later.

100 Greatest Movie Quotes

Not safe for work. Some of them are pretty good and others are gratuitous.

A Quick Review

If you haven't been able to visit recently here is a short list of what you missed:

Puppies, Puppies, Puppies
A Valentine's Day Fable
The Challenger- Astronauts May have Lived Longer Than We Thought
The Presentation
Is My Children's Happinesss More Important Than My Own
How Sister's Helped to Train A Father of "Daddy's Girl"
Instant Gratification Is Making Me Instantly Impatient
I Still Hate Valentine's Day
Monday Morning Music

More to come- stay tuned.

Puppies, Puppies, Puppies


And now courtesy of the Octo-dog: 8 puppies. Great Googly Moogly. We went from two dogs to ten in no time at all.

A Valentine's Day Fable

I decided to put together a Valentine's Day segment for Fragments of Fiction.

"If I traveled all my life
And I never get to stop and settle down
Long as I have you by my side
There's a roof above and good walls all around
You're my castle, you're my cabin and my instant pleasure dome
I need you in my house 'cause you're my home"
You're My Home- Billy Joel

"I was alone, I took a ride,
I didn't know what I would find there
Another road where maybe I could see another kind of mind there

Ooh, then I suddenly see you,
Ooh, did I tell you I need you
Every single day of my life"
Got To Get You Into My Life- The Beatles

"Who knows how long I've loved you,
You know I love you still.
Will I wait a lonely lifetime?
If you want me to I will."
I Will- The Beatles

I am tired of beginning sentences with "if." It frustrates me to hear the word pass through my lips and begin some sentence in which I express disappointment or regret about things I could or should have done. Life is not meant to be lived by looking backwards at the places we have been and the cries of what could have been.

It is not. Life is for the present and the future. The past is your garage. It is a closet stuffed full of experiences that we hope that we have learned from so that we don't make the same mistakes. But it is the place where we can take refuge from some of the challenges of the day.

I seek balance between the two. I search for a way to reconcile these things so that I can live the life I want to live. Some times it is hard and I punish myself for the mistakes. I cry out in anger and frustration and wonder how I found myself stuck in this place.

We said that we would find a way. We promised that no matter what happened we would hold hands and overcome the challenges. And now you are gone.

You told me that things were too hard that life was too stressful. My intensity made it harder. And for that I am sorry. I can only be who I am. A boy who fell in love with a girl and has never stopped loving her. A man who cannot forget that first kiss and the look in your eyes.

It was the kiss that changed the world. There are times when I agonize about it because if I had never kissed you then I'd never know the emptiness of my heart. If we had never meant I would never have known that someone could fill me so completely and make me so happy.

You uncovered places inside me that I didn't know existed and now they are so very cold without you there to help keep them warm.

Still, the experience reminds me of how incredibly strong I have become. I won't ever stop loving you. Your absence is palpable. You are my air and I am choking without you. But I am surviving. Every day that we go without contact is one more reminder that I can do it. I can walk and live and be.

Yet, that doesn't close the hole in my heart. All that it does is provide a bandage that I can use to get through the day. And the funniest thing about all of this is that my heart tells me that this is not done. We're not through,not by a long shot.

I have this feeling that something is going to change. The whispers in the dark tell me to just let it be. They say that this is nothing more than a blip in time. For now this walk down life's pathways are separate but they will intersect again and when they do we will be stronger than ever before.

That gypsy that sells Love Potion Number 9 won't be seeing me because we don't need that kind of help and that is ok.

So this Valentine's Day don't be surprised if you suddenly see me standing there. Don't be shocked when I pull you into my arms and kiss you. It is been far too long since we spent time together in our special world. Just remember that when you are thinking about me I am think about you. I'll see you on the other side.

The Challenger- Astronauts May have Lived Longer Than We Thought

I was a junior in high school when the Challenger exploded. I was sitting my A.P. History class when we got the news. I remember it well. I remember President Reagan's address:
The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of God.
I remember being told that the astronauts probably died immediately. Tonight I read an article that suggests otherwise.

"But they were wrong.

NASA’s intensive, meticulous studies of every facet of that explosion, comparing what happened to other blowups of aircraft and spacecraft, and the knowledge of the forces of the blast and the excellent shape and construction of the crew cabin, finally led some investigators to a mind-numbing conclusion.

They were alive all the way down.

The explosive release of fuel that dismembered the wings and other parts of the shuttle were not that great to cause immediate death, or even serious injury to the crew. Challenger was designed to withstand a wing-loading force of 3 G’s (three times gravity), with another 1.5 G safety factor built in. When the external tank exploded and separated the two solid boosters, rapid-fire events, so swift they all seemed of the same instant, took place. In a moment, all fuel was gone from the big tank.

The computers still functioned and, right on design plan, dutifully noted the lack of fuel and shut down the engines. It was a supreme exercise in futility, because by then Challenger was no longer a spacecraft.

One solid booster broke free, its huge flame a cutting torch across Challenger, separating a wing. Enormous G-loads snapped free the other wing. Challenger came apart — but the crew cabin remained essentially intact, able to sustain its occupants.

The explosive force sheared metal assemblies, but was almost precisely the force needed to separate the still-intact crew compartment from the expanding cloud of flaming debris and smoke. What the best data tell the experts is that the Challenger broke up 48,000 feet above the Atlantic. The undamaged crew compartment, impelled by the speed already achieved, soared to a peak altitude of 65,000 feet before beginning its curve earthward.

The crew cabin, reinforced aluminum, stayed solid, riding its own velocity in a great curving ballistic arc, reached the top of its curve, and then began the dive toward the ocean.

It was only when the compartment smashed, like a speeding bullet, into the sea’s surface, drilling a hollow from the surface down to the ocean floor, that it crumpled into a tangled mass.

Mercifully unconscious?

But even if the crew cabin had survived intact, wouldn’t the violent pitching and yawing of the cabin as it descended toward the ocean created G-forces so strong as to render the astronauts unconscious?

That may have once been believed. But that was before the investigation turned up the key piece of evidence that led to the inescapable conclusion that they were alive: On the trip down, the commander and pilot’s reserved oxygen packs had been turned on by astronaut Judy Resnik, seated directly behind them. Furthermore, the pictures, which showed the cabin riding its own velocity in a ballistic arc, did not support an erratic, spinning motion. And even if there were G-forces, commander Dick Scobee was an experienced test pilot, habituated to them.

The evidence led experts to conclude the seven astronauts lived. They worked frantically to save themselves through the plummeting arc that would take them 2 minutes and 45 seconds to smash into the ocean.

That is when they died — after an eternity of descent."

I don't have words for this. Almost three minutes. That is easily long enough to understand that the Shuttle has suffered a catastrophic injury. Long enough to begin contemplating the consequences. Horrifying.

If this is how it went then I hope that they were able to get lost in their training. That somehow it kept them occupied on the task at hand and that they didn't suffer. I guess that we'll never know for certain.

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...