February 22, 2006

Be back shortly

I'm taking a short hiatus. A few weeks away from here. I promise to be back soon and better than ever. In the meantime, check out some of my Favorite Leaks or other posts if you've never read the early ones.

February 21, 2006

True tale from today

"Excuse me, is that your Mercedes that you just parked?"


"Well, you parked in a handicapped space and you don't have a handicapped sticker on your car. I just wanted to let you know that I find that incredibly offensive." And I walked away.

She must have muttered something about my audacity to the woman a little further down the aisle, because I heard that woman say, "I find it offensive too."

The woman must have been close to fifty (on which side I don't know) and was wearing a $6,000-$10,000 dollar fur coat, $400 shoes, etc...

I just wish I had thought to say, "If you are too freakin' lazy to walk from further out, perhaps you should hire someone to run your errands for you."

February 16, 2006


Have you ever seen an idol falter or be less perfect than you imagined? Someone you looked up to for years. Someone that showed you who you wanted to be in your life? Suddenly, one day, you come to the realization that that person doesn't sit at the alter of perfection as you'd imagined, but rather the alter of regular? They have regular problems. Regular issues. They aren't quite so golden as you thought.

Perhaps the revelation came tempered over a good deal of time. It sneaked up on you. When you least expected it, it smacked you in the head with a cast iron skillet like you'd see in a cartoon or even a television show. One day, you just realized that your hero was flesh and blood. That they bled like a normal person. That they were fallible just like everyone else. That they didn't respect you as you hoped they would.

Does it matter in the end? Is that idol any less in your mind for having been revealed as a fragile entity that resembles your own vision? Do you still look up to them anyway?

February 13, 2006

The delivery

One night my senior year of college, I was watching TV with my roommates. It must not have been too late at night. Probably around Jeopardy time or something like that. So there is a knock on the door. We all look at each other. "I'm not expecting anyone." It's universal. Oook. I get up and answer the door. It's Brown. UPS, you know? He's got a good sized box and it's for me. *eyes narrow* I'm not expecting any packages. So, I sign for it and take it into the living room.

I open the flaps. And reach in and pull out a beaten round metal bowl. WTF? I dig further and pull out utensils, a wooden handle and a little cookbook. It's a wok. Hand-hammered in China. I look around at my roommates and ask. What the hell? They are laughing. "You don't remember do you?" Remember what? You came home from the bar a couple months ago. The TV was on. An infomercial was playing. OMG. I remember now. The food looked so good. I whipped out my VISA card and ordered it.

Now, you might think that an alcohol induced late night purchase was a waste of money that would never be used. Lemme tell ya. I got every dime out of that hand hammered wok. I used it for more than 10 years. I perfected my own versions of beef & broccoli and beef & snow peas. I also mastered the same dishes with chicken. For a very long time, all I ate was chinese food. My roommates would ask when I was going to crank up the wok again. Damn. I'm off to go shopping for a new hand hammered wok from China. I think I'll remember ordering this one. lol

February 11, 2006

Even the pope...

When I was a kid, my uncle D came to live with us for awhile. A self-professed beach bum from Monterey, California, D was immediately the favorite uncle. He was so different from my mother. He drove a beat up, faded blue and olive green Volkswagen van with a red velvet bed in the back and a mirror on the ceiling. He tinkered with the motor himself. Working on it, making it run or keeping it running. The radio only played country in that van. Old Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton and other sad country voices in the tin speakers. I was disappointed he no longer had his '65 Mustang, but apparently, it had given up the ghost. And well, a Mustang can't really have a mirror on the ceiling can it?

D was an electrician by trade, but apparently, there was little or no work for electricians at that point in time. He talked about the Union. Gotta pay the dues to be current, can't pay the dues without a job, can't get a job unless you are union. I never understood that when I was younger, I still don't. He was a real man. Rough, rawboned, with red skin, he had a knowing look in his eye. Kinda like you'd expect from Santa Claus but with an edge. He did the crossword everyday. He had these tiny St. Nick style reading glasses that made him look gentle.

I guess he had both sides in Budwieser him. I recall him as a gentle man that could do arts and crafts (he spent hours making driftwood sculptures, but nothing diminished his manliness. He smoked Camels. Unfiltered. I used to go to 7-11 and buy him his packs of Camels for a dollar. I don't think 7-11 would sell them to me nowadays. I still have a place in my heart for Camel cigarettes. I have never smoked a cigarette in my life. I never will, but if I had to, it would be a turkish blend Camel. I can still visualize that short pack in my hand. Perhaps that is why I like it. It was a squat little package that seemed to fit neatly in my hand. I can picture him sitting outside with a Budwieser beside him and the Camel balanced between his fingers. I'd watch the smoke rise from the tip of the cigarette as it smoldered. The patterns fascinated me. Smoke still does.

I used to play small practical jokes on him. Once I took a highlighter and colored an entire cigarette bright yellow. He was pissed. I ended up giving him a nickel to pay for it. Another time, I had gotten some Loads from somewhere and put them in some of his cigarettes. I was sitting outside with him when he got to the first one. He was right in the middle of an inhale and bang. The end of his cigarette literally exploded. I recall the strings of Turkish blend leaf sticking out of the end of the exploded cigarette like weeds that were suddenly left to go rampant in the garden. He sat there frozen while I fell to the ground engulfed in peals of laughter. I can only recall one time in my life when I laughed harder, but that is a story that involves Ex-lax in chili and will have to wait 'til another day.

Luckily, the Load had caught him in a mellow mood and he saw the humor in it although he wasn't happy. He smoked the remainder of that cigarette and when he reached for another he caught the interest on my face. So you loaded more of them huh? I shrugged. Knowing that to speak would be the end. He said, "I'll just smoke them backwards." I guess this is one benefit of unfiltered cigarettes, it doesn't really matter what end you smoke them from. He lit the Camel and puffed away in satisfaction that he'd beaten me in my prank.

Or so he thought. Suddenly, the cigarette exploded with a little bang. I think I was in tears at this point I was laughing so hard. See, I'd loaded both ends of the cigarettes. I was delighted as a kid to have succeeded with my prank not only once, but defeated his counter measure as well. I don't recall his reaction to that second Load, but I don't recall being in trouble over it, so he must have seen the humor in the joke.

D doesn't smoke anymore, and I haven't seen him in eight or nine years. The last time I saw him, he was still that same mellow guy. Someone who'd seen too much in his life, but continued to move forward. Every time I see a Camel ad in a magazine, I'm transported back to my times as a child listening to my uncle tell me stories laced with language that I was too young to hear. I can hear his gravelly voice today as though I was there. "Even the pope says, 'Fuck'."

February 07, 2006

Smoooth operator

So, I was talking to this woman today and the words high maintenance came up. Not in relation to her. She was talking about me. Me?!?! OK, so I am. Shoot me. lol Anyway, the conversation went back and forth. She tried to claim she was more like an economy car and I said, "With curves like that, you are definitely the Sport model." Nice. It was cheesy, but gooood. lol

I'm not sure what this post is about. I've had total ADD the past week or more. I keep forgetting to do the simplest things. I walk from room to room only to go back to figure out why I was there. I'm surprised I haven't burned my apt. down cooking dinner. I had a great idea for a post a while ago and then lost it... This is what you get today. I'll try harder tomorrow.

February 03, 2006


Today seems like a good day to deal with the supernatural. So let's dive right in shall we? We've all seen Firestarter and Carrie, but I'm not going to talk about pyro powers or anything like that. More that sixth sense or what some people would call ESP. Another friend of mine calls it something else in my case. She says that most people have guardian spirits (as in 1 or 2). She says I have at least six. Now, I don't see ghosts and stuff doesn't move in my house or anything like that, so let's be clear. I'm not talking about haunting.

I'm talking about strange leaps in thought that help me out. A sudden urge to slow down on an empty highway and two miles later going past a speed trap. Or willing cars out of my way on the road and for no apparent reason the traffic pattern suddenly shifting to be the way I wanted it. We won't get into weather control (that's a story for another day.)

Some people would just say, it's a coincidence. I might agree if it didn't happen so often to me. I'll give you some examples. On a cross-Minnesota trip a friend was driving down the interstate. (MN as much of the Midwest doesn't have huge volumes of traffic like metropolitan areas. We were in cruise mode just chatting about a concert we'd gone to see in Minneapolis. We weren't passing other cars, cars weren't passing us. Suddenly, I was struck by the need to ask my friend to slow down. Why? He asked. I don't know, just do it.

Less than a few miles later we passed a state trooper gunning everyone with his radar. My friend was like, How did you know? I didn't. I just had the feeling we needed to slow down. That feeling has saved me so many times. I used to drive a Ford F-150 Lightning. It's basically a race car in a truck body. Driving 85-95 MPH became common for me in heavy traffic. Somehow, I always got a feeling of when I should slow down. Sure, I see traffic patterns and watch for people hitting their brakes at the same point in the road where there might be a patrol car lurking, but this is more than that. It happens on empty roads with no sign of anything coming up.

Other times, I just know things. This one is hard to describe, but I get strange inclinations that a friend might be in need of help. I'll call them and find out something has happened in their life. Or I'll think of a particular person several times in a 2-3 period that I only talk to sporadically and then they call me. Or I pick up the phone to call someone and they are on the line without it ever ringing (or me dialing). I know this happens to other people, but the frequency is so common with me that there has to be something else in play that isn't coincidence.

February 01, 2006

Letting them down

I was teaching a Powerpoint (ack.. spit) class when out new commanding officer walked in. Now, when the Battalion Commander walks in, the typical response is for someone to shout Attention and everyone get to that position. I realized later that I hadn't done so and was honestly perplexed that he was alone. BN CO's don't normally go anywhere alone. The saving grace was that the students in the class were taking a test and also in a classroom environment the teacher is the highest ranking person. I'm not saying I was being disrespectful, but I wasn't exactly adhering to the norms either. He asked a few questions about the class and the test. I told him the test was hard, but if I took it easy on them, then when they had to deliver, they might not have the goods. I didn't want them going back to their sections not having been properly trained. He agreed.

"So why aren't you in OCS Munkey?" We were both sitting down. Fairly relaxed. My mind leapt into high gear. This guy had only been here for a week or two. The question was not idle. Someone had talked to him about me. And more than likely he'd read my personnel file. I'd gone to college already. My GT scores were incredibly high, but no-one had ever asked me about Officer Candidate School. Sometimes I can be dense, but that day wasn't one of those times. He was offering me a whole new life. A chance to be an officer. I didn't take what he said lightly. He wouldn't have been offering if he couldn't have delivered. Furthermore, he didn't owe me anything. So why offer? The answer is for the good of the service. The outgoing commander had obviously discussed me with him. Over the previous 10 months, I'd made myself indispensable to the commander. (Something that would be reflected throughout my military tours.)

"Because I wouldn't be able to do my job anymore. I'm good at it." I sensed he wanted more, but I didn't want to go there.

"You'd be a good officer too." Yeah, they'd take one look at my background and send me to Signal Unit where I would end up in charge of wire pullers and commo guys. I wouldn't know a thing about what they did. OR I'd somehow end up being an infantry officer. Something that would be about as useful as tits on a boar hog (not my phrase, but I always wanted to use it.) The bottom line was that if I went to OCS, the military would really own me. I told myself the entire 6 years I was in the service that it was a job. I did a task they needed done and they paid me for it. It wasn't until recently that I became proud of having served in my nations military.

"If you change your mind, let me know. I'd be happy to take care of it for you." This is one of the major decisions in my life that I think about a lot. How would my life be different had he walked out of that room with my concession to go to OCS that day? Within a year, I'd have been turned into an officer and a gentleman. Yes, it's a reference to the movie, but it's also true. Lower enlisted people do all the grunt work in the military, but it's the officers that get all the respect. When I finally left the military, I'd have found myself looking for a completely different kind of job. I'd make more money today, etc. On the other hand, I would have given up what at the time was the love of my life. My work.

He left that room disappointed. I left the room knowing that I had a great deal of respect I hadn't realized before. Sometimes your life can change that fast. 5 minutes. I think about those 5 minutes often. I don't regret my choice for minute. But I think about it. I consider the implications of what I did that day. Am I ready for the next 5 minute crossroad? Will I know the next time someone is offering me a different future? How will I react?