Friday, March 28, 2008

Blog reruns

One of the downsides of the golden years is that you can become forgetful. Stress doesn't help the situation. Lately I've been catching myself losing my train of thought mid-sentence. This doesn't help when you are trying to come up with a new blog topic. Some great idea will pop into my head and I'll start to jot it down and then it will dawn in me that I had that great idea in a post a couple of years ago.

Like tonight, I thought I'd title a post "Give us this day, our daily blog." Then I realized I wrote that post back in February of 2006: Give us this day, our daily blog.

Well, it was a good idea for a post anyway. But repeating the same blog is right up there with repeating the same joke. Eventually people get that frozen smile on their face that doesn't match their eyes and start avoiding you. I suppose that is one of the pitfalls of blogging way too long.

I fear at times I have run out of original ideas. I might as well start writing plots for sitcoms. They appreciate rehashing plots there.

If the truth were to be told, I sometimes like to go back and read some of my old stuff. The plus side of not remembering anything is that it all seems fresh and new to me. It's as if I am reading something someone else wrote. I catch myself chuckling and saying, "This guy is funny." Then I remember I wrote it and slap myself for such conceited thoughts.

But some of it was really funny.

I wish I could write as well as that guy again.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Do the right thing

We were driving home from taking Tess' mother out to Easter brunch in Olympia (a city about an hour and a half north of Seattle). It was pouring rain and traffic sucked. But then again traffic always sucks around here. I was driving in the HOV lane on Interstate 5. It is a lane reserved for cars with two or more passengers. And although it is the left hand lane on the freeway, it is not the fast lane.

I was driving the speed limit. Okay maybe 65 tops, but basically around the speed limit. A car whips up behind me. Then it pulls into the lane next to the HOV lane, passes me and whips back into the HOV lane in front of me. Then the driver deliberately and very plainly flips me the finger. Yes, he flashes me the bird, the nasty digit, the ultimate sign of disdain. And it is merely because I wasn't speeding in the carpool lane.

I had my wife and daughter in the backseat. The weather sucked. I was doing the right thing. And this piece of shit flips me the finger and speeds off into the distance like the frigging lowlife coward he is.

My parents taught me to do the right thing. I don't litter. I use my turn signal. I obey speed limits. I wear my seat belt. I return shopping carts to the cart return. I let people into the lane in front of me (when they signal). I don't walk against the "don't walk" signal. I brake for squirrels. I put the toilet seat down. I do the right thing. I believe doing the right thing defines a civilization. Flipping someone off for doing the right thing destroys a civilization.

It is not that I am a slave to foolish regulations. I step over lines in places that tell you to wait behind the line until called. I don't always color within the lines. But these are not laws that create order. Speed limits and traffic signals do.

I will teach my children to do the right thing, too. I will instill in them that it is selfish and a sign of poor character to think that laws apply to everyone but you. I will teach them to be civilized.

As for the piece of trash that flipped me off in the HOV lane...well, may the next car you flip off be an unmarked police car driven by someone who believes in doing the right thing, too.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Nifty 50s

"Today's 50 is yesterday's 40."
--They say


Twenty-five years ago I was freaked out by turning 25. All I could think about was that I was a quarter of a century old and I hadn't accomplished much. In another 2 1/2 hours I will be a half a century old and I suppose I have accomplished more than I had when I was 25. But it still kind of freaks me out.

Oh, I know I have quite a bit of living left. I have a lovely wife. I'm a father to an 18-month old daughter and I have a son arriving in July. I don't have time to reflect too much on the AARP sending me an invitation to join.

That is part of the beauty of having children. Your focus shifts. It's hard to be self-absorbed when you are comforting a toddler who has just upchucked lunch on you after a coughing spell. And it is hard not to feel a sense of accomplishment when she falls peacefully asleep in your arms after only 15 minutes of rocking.

So I guess turning 50 isn't so terrible. Just shoot me though if I ever refer to myself as 50 years young.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Reno Cowboys


 Years ago my best friend Michael J. moved to Reno, Reno to pursue his fortune in the world of casinos and slot machines. This was a perk for me because I went and visited him at least once a year. 

 I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Reno. I went there for the first time when I turned 21. Harold's Club and the Nevada Club still existed back then. I remember going to my first cabaret show at Harold's Club called Bordello. The first number was, "If you want to see my busoms you'll have to pop my balloons." The dancers actually came through the audience and let you pop a balloon. At 21, I thought that was the height of sophistication. 

Anyway, when Michael J. moved to Reno and started working at Harrah's, I was more than happy to take advantage of it as an excuse to visit him whenever I could. It was an opportunity to drink a little, gamble and little and go shoot groceries on the desert outside the city. While working at Harrah's, Michael met a Vietnam veteran named Joe. Joe liked guns and introduced Michael to the pleasure of driving out to the desert with a cooler of beer, lawn chairs and a .357 magnum with plenty of ammunition. Michael soon learned the Zen art of plinking away at random objects with a handgun. And on one of my trips to Reno, Michael introduced me to the joys of shooting up the desert. 

I was no stranger to guns. I grew up in Idaho. We used to go out on the desert and shoot cans with a .22 rifle. So I didn't really balk at Michael's suggestion that we drive out to the desert and engage in some theraputic target practice. But whereas growing up, we simply shot cans, Michael introduced me to the art of shooting groceries and produce. 

Before we hit the desert in Michael's Jeep, we stopped at a Ralph's Market and stocked up on things we thought would be fun to shoot. This included pineapples, coconuts, bottles of water, light french salad dressing, barbecue sauce and eventually Barney dolls. After the first shooting adventure, I was hooked. The desert shoots became the highlight of my Reno trips. I eventually bought my own pistol -- a chrome plated .357 magnum single-action pistol called, the Marshall -- and learned all the airline rules to pack it and take it on my Reno trips (this was long before 9-11).

Now granted, neither of us were great shots. But nothing makes up for a bad aim like lots of ammunition. One time we put a liter of bottled water on a fence post. I pumped so many rounds into the post, it fell over and broke the bottle. 

Eventually Michael grew sick of Reno and moved back to Seattle. Ironically, I saw less of him once he moved back to Seattle than I had when he lived in Reno. Now I never see him. But I always remember our trips out to the desert where we'd bond our friendship while plinking away at bottle's of Snapple. 

The video above documents what I think was our last shootout on the desert. I can't even tell you what year it was. Judging from how skinny I was, it was a long, long, time ago. But shoot, it was the best therapy in the world and I miss those times. Michael J, if you are out there dude, here's to you bud! Hope you still have the dog's playing poker print I gave you.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Original thought

Being original on a regular basis is hard work. I think the writer's strike was probably more of a ploy to give the poor schmuck's a break from having to come up with new material every day. Not that television sitcoms really need original material. You just need to figure out how to repackage the same old crap in new wrapping paper to be a sitcom writer.

Blogging, however should be original thought. I see very few original blogs anymore (even my own). Bloggers need to learn to leave plagerisim to the professional Web sites and sitcom writers and keep blogging pure by being creative about being unoriginal.

I tell you, what I find the most original and entertaining in blogs are the stories of people's lives. Even the mundane day to day stuff is more original than regurgitating political rhetoric or reprinting crap you've googled on the Web.

Okay there are limits what you should record about your life. I was watching a program the other night about some guy who had documented everything he'd done minute by minute for 40 some years...(2:10 p.m. I chewed a stick of Juicy Fruit gum, 2: 14 p.m. I threw the gum away...2:15 I voided my bladder for about 3 minutes). Okay, this may be original in a mindnumbing sense, but it is also stupid and way too much information. Pretend your life is has been Tivo'd and fast forward through the boring crap. Would you watch a movie that spent the first 30 minutes documenting the character flossing his teeth?

That being said, I need to go void my bladder and floss my teeth.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Head in the clouds

I just got back from a business trip to San Diego. And although I think flying these days sucks, I kind of like looking out the window at the clouds. They almost makes you forget for a moment that you cooled your heels in the terminal for hours after two gate changes, endured surly flight attendants who sneered at you with disdain as they offered to sell you a $5 snack box when you complain about the stale pretzels. And you are almost able to shut out the drone of the captain or co-pilot or whoever it is in the cockpit who thinks it is important for the passengers to know what the airspeed is, your exact altitude and what mountain you are passing. Oh, and the clouds are nice to watch when the same crew member lets you know that "we are experiencing turbulence" as if you wouldn't have noticed the severe shaking and the surly flight attendants using the drink cart as a battering ram for unsuspecting elbows as they dash for their jump seats to buckle down until the pitching of the plane stops.

But the clouds are pretty.