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Oct. 7th, 2009

Writer's Block: Airplane reading

If you're going on a long plane or road trip, what sort of reading materials do you bring along? Is it different from what you usually read? Will you watch a trashy movie or read a bad novel or magazines just to pass the time?


Nope. I usually bring whatever I'm currently reading and maybe a backup if I'm a good bit into it. Plus an ipod to drown out the humanity...or at least give it a cool soundtrack of my choosing.

I took my kids out to my sister's in Chicago for TG 07...three kids (10,7,6 at the time) on a short flight after a long wait. I tried to think of every logistical contingency possible. What if the Germans attack? Cyclone? Wicked witches? Werewolves? Vampires? Werewolf-Vampires? Anything that could crop up to turn a short trip to Chicago into a long trip to Hell. Turns out my kids are pretty darned awesome when they're in public.

They must get that there's an invisible line I do not want to cross in public, and never get too close to crossing it and rain down the god of hellfire on their mortal souls...or just get the Xbox taken away for eternity...one of the two.

They were awesome going out and coming back. And all they really got into were these little, invisible pen activity books...$3 each. They even met a little girl who had this tiny DVD thing that played Spongebob cartoons and offered to share, but they got bored and either watched the planes, people and whatnot or played with their books.

I even got a little "mispy" over the whole thing whilst reading my book, putting up a stoic front, and catching little glimpses of them while they're occupied...that, and when they're sleeping of course, is when they are at their most angelic. I don't know if that is some sort of evolutionary defense mechanism ingrained in kids, puppies or kittens, but damnit, it works on me.

I look forward to our next trip...hopefully longer and to Ireland to visit the kinfolk over there...a real, celtic adventure.

Oct. 3rd, 2009

Writer's Block: Confessions of a couch potato

What is the longest uninterrupted period of time you've ever watched TV? Were you alone or with a friend/partner? Do you tend to watch more TV when you're happy, depressed, or simply bored?


When I got called back into the Navy for Desert Storm, we were kind of stranded in Spain until it was decided what to do with us. During that time we rented a VCR and watched tons of movies, vice going out and partying all the time. I must have watched 60 movies in a very short amount of time and enjoyed the hell out of it. Got to see a lot of movies that I wanted to see but never had the time.

Sep. 23rd, 2009

Writer's Block: Most inspiring teacher

Who is the most inspiring teacher you ever had and why? How often do you think about what they taught you? How has it changed your life?


I've been lucky enough to have some great teachers and some shitty ones. I had a horrible English teacher in high school who, in my estimation, hated men and high school boys in particular. I had a math professor in college who freaked out if anyone made even the slightest sound during a lecture, as if we were all plotting againsty him. I even had a first grade teacher who accused me of stealing in front of the entire class, found out she was wrong and refused to apologize. And after all that, I still remember the most inspiring teachers/professors.

My English professor and mentor from my first year of college after I got out of the military. The Doc was about the coolest teacher/professor/educator I've ever met. He really inspired me to want to write at any level and made me realize I had a gift with language no matter how I ended up using it. Mea culpa indeed, Doc.

My third and fourth grade teachers for very different reasons. I love my mother, but she can be a pill and was when I was growing up. Both of these women were the most postive, adult, female, role models I can think of. My third grade teacher was, and I only think this now as an adult, a lesbian and she was about the coolest woman alive. She was in her 40's and was just excited to be teaching. She was one of those rare women, and I apologize if that offends, that could exude authority, fairness and maternity without trying to emulate a man. I know that sounds unfair, but I think some women try to copy their fathers when they try to be authoritative...IMHO. She did not and didn't ever need to. I trusted and respected her without question and I think that is why I was one of her favorites in class. That and I pulled "sphygmomanometer" out of my ass when we played spelling baseball and I opted for the home run (that's a word out of the dictionary). Despite herself, she was as surprised as I was.

My fourth grade teacher was an older and sweeter lady, quite the opposite and obviously maternal. You could tell she had five kids and the patience of Job. I had my appendix out when I was 10 and missed a good deal of school (it ruptured and I was in hospital for 17 days). I could tell how happy she was to see me back. She always made me feel welcome.

My Art teacher in high school, who was also the wrestling coach. He was a Vietnam Vet, but you would never know that. He was probably one of the most laid back guys I had ever met and I admired him very much. Another person who could command the room without you even realizing it. I feel bad that I used his class as an excuse to go out and smoke weed and take pictures on nice days, but somehow I think he would get a kick outta that.

Finally, my Philosophy mentor and professor. This guy seemed to be about the most uptight and highstrung person on the planet when you first had him in class, but quiet and kind as a church mouse outside of class. His rigid sense of logic and command of the "argument" challenged me like no other class I've ever taken. The B's and C's I got in his Critical Thinking and Logic classes are still personal highlights in my academic career. He was the person who taught me to not only question my accepted beliefs, but to pare them down to the bear minimum. I also respected the speed with which his mind operated. I don't think many people could keep up with him.

Sep. 22nd, 2009

Writer's Block: Do you prefer a tent or a luxury hotel?

Would you rather spend the weekend camping in the woods or at a luxury hotel? Why?


Camping. If you do it right, there are a lot less people.

Sep. 16th, 2009

Writer's Block: Would you sell out for reality TV stardom?

For what amount of money (if any) would you consider appearing on a reality TV show? Which one?


Survivor looks fun, and if I could swing leaving work for that amount of time and having someone to watch the kids, I'd do it for the chance at a million. But I'd like to win it, not get paid just to be on it. I think that may be a generational thing, as I don't want fame all that much, and moreso for nothing. The people that are pseudo-famous really stick in my craw, and the reality show folks take the cake.

Sep. 6th, 2009

Writer's Block: Home Remedies

When you get sick or have a cold, what's your favorite remedy to make you feel better?


Bourbon. Hands down, bourbon has never left me hanging when I have a cold. Scoff if you will, but I would much rather curl up on the couch with a good movie and a bourbon than any other cureall.


Sep. 5th, 2009

Writer's Block: Top of the Charts

What's the most-played song in your music library?


This one right chere:



...and I'm not ashamed. Today I proclaim Septemeber 5th National Cheese Day! Let the Cheese flow.

Sep. 3rd, 2009

Writer's Block: Worrisome

What is your biggest worry right now?


There's those general worries that are just out there without any time limits...will my kids stay healthy...will they succeed in school...work. A slew of other, long-term worries that aren't immediately addressable.

But usually my hi-pri worries revolve around money. Will I have to make decisions on what bill I can or cannot pay. What will we have to go without and what is the impact for making that decision?

Don't get me wrong, I usually don't stress too much about it, as long as I can either solve the problem, reasonably predict when I can take care of it, or come to the determination that I can't do anything about it now...let's move on, shall we? However, there have been occasions when I'm lying in bed not being able to get to sleep because my brain is still chewing on that issue that is unresolved, even though I know that at 2am, nothing will be done to resolve it. Times like these, I miss smoking.

Sep. 1st, 2009

Paternity Humor

I'm not one for racist humor, and, though I love gallows humor, I find it difficult to translate that to anyone who hasn't shared similar instances where that sort of humor is accepted. Case in point, the following story that just popped up in the old memory banks.

As a 911 Operator at the end of the century (hey, that sounds like a the premise for a sci-fi show), my co-workers and I were inundated with dire calls and not so dire calls on a daily basis...just sayin. Gallows, off-color and low brow humor were survival mechanisms for dealing with ungodly stress. I'm not making excuses...I'm giving reasons. Domestic Violence or even simple Domestic Disturbances were very commonplace in the region where I dispatched and answered 911 calls.

On one particular occasion we received a 911 call from a white woman (I don't care what you say, but there are certain auditory cues that are fairly reliable when determining a person's race...add to that that we have the capability of looking up their criminal and driving records, which usually contain photos...in this case it was obvious...they were both crackers) claiming her husband was yelling, screaming and generally terrifying her. We try not to assume too much because the officer that arrives on scene needs to have as much objective and unbiased info as they can get to assess the situation and determine who is the victim and who is the perpetrator, if not mutual. Seconds after my co-worker received the call and we had dispatched a unit to the address, with backup on the way, we received another call from the husband's cell just outside. This is an initial relief, as this dictates that at the very least, they are already separated and subsequently, there are no reported injuries or weapons. Bad news is, there was a newborn baby in the house.

As 911 Operators, we are required by law to remain on the line until we hear the officer arrive at the scene to insure we capture as much of the incident as possible. That means staying on the line even if the phone is dropped, and recalling if it hangs up. Once you get the particulars, there is often some awkward silence as there are no more questions left to ask, and once that downtime starts is usually when the disturbance heats up again until the officer arrives. It may be seconds or minutes, but it's high stress dead air and the best of us try to keep the person talking in the hopes that the idea that the police are on the phone, and on the way, will keep tempers in check. This rarely works, and this case was no exception.

The husband walked up to the trailer (yep, I'll say it...that's where a lot of these calls occurred in that area...they're just like great, big boxes of joy) to get his cigarettes out of the house. The wife began to scream for him to "stay the fuck away". He just yelled back that he was getting his smokes and to shut the fuck up...blah, blah, blah. That ignited the whole argument again and try as we might, we couldn't get him out or her to stop instigating and pushing the argument...both were determined to get the last word in.

After some barely intelligible words passed back and forth, we got the gist that they had just brought the baby home, the wife had been unfaithful, and the question to the baby's paternity was the source of the fray.

A side note, the microphones on these 911 consoles are, thankfully, armed with a foot transmit pedal. When you want to speak, you have to depress the pedal to activate the microphone. Let go, and it's a dead mike...thank god.

The next comment the wife made was accompanied by a snide scoff, but otherwise unclear. The husbands response will stay with me for the rest of my life and I'm eternally grateful that my and my co-workers mikes were not on:

"Go ahead and laugh now, bitch. It's all fun and games until the baby comes out black."

I believe the both of us were useless for 30 seconds as we ended up on the floor with tears in our eyes. It took about five minutes until we could repeat the comment, and the rest of the team were on the floor.

From that moment on, and for months to come, that was our response to damn near any snide comment made in the offices...by all dispatchers, cops, firemen and EMTs regardless of gender or race.

I give credit to the husband that he did not succumb to the stereotype of the drunken, redneck, trailer park denizen, and never touched his wife. I don't know what happened to them, but I've always hoped that they stayed together and he got a shirt for the baby with that line on it and won every argument thereafter with those very words.

Writer's Block: As the Cookie Crumbles

If you ran the fortune cookie factory, what message would you make sure gets put in a cookie?


You will suffer death by MSG.

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