Monday, September 27, 2010

Slight Oops leads to New Look

I have had a beard since I was eighteen.

My Mother despised beards of all kinds; she would tolerate mustaches, but she didn't like beards, and every time I would come home from college with facial hair, she would get this look.....

It's hard to describe the look. Imagine the wrath of God on the face of a 4'11' woman. Her eyes would kind of....squint....and her mouth would move to the right, and her head would tilt just a bit. Combined with the crossing of the arms and the desperate attempt to "harumph" like one of the big boys, it was quite a formidable picture.

I can recall with great fondness the time I came home for Christmas sometime in the 90's. Mom still had most of her senses, and I had decided that haircuts were overrated. Long hair, beard.....if it had been just a little warmer, I would have gone with the paisley shirt and some flip flops, in an attempt to induce a stroke.

She gave me the look.

I smiled, and said, "okay, Mom. I'll be here for five days. I'll give you one shot; you can use it now, or save it up. But you only get the one."

She almost smiled, which would have destroyed the illusion of "harumph." And she said nothing.

Until 6 AM the next morning. She threw my door open, and yelled as loudly as she could, "YOU NEED A HAIRCUT!"

And then, she closed the door, and joined my Father in the kitchen.

I could hear my Father chuckling.

My Mother had a sense of humor. And excellent timing.

Yes, I've had many hair lengths, and styles, and I've had facial hair for thirty years, unless some role demanded a chin...and even then, I would barter for the mustache, because I have this mole at the corner of my mouth that I've always been self conscious about.....

Which leads me to today.....

I went into the bathroom, to do the daily ablutions, and reached for the beard trimmer, and took a swipe.....not realizing that the trimmer was bare, and rather than shorten the whiskers, I took them out completely.....

I'm standing in the mirror with half a beard.


It's the season for the goatee, don't you think?

Friday, September 24, 2010

The mind, it wanders.

I've got no thru-line today, my friends. And, as I think about it, perhaps I never did.

So, there are random thoughts:

I'm about eight working days away from a vacation from my life. I'm looking forward to getting out and seeing some old friends south of here, and so far, I've arranged a few get together's from here to Hannibal and back again. My plan is simple: no plan. I go on Tuesday, I come back some time after that...but no later than that following Wednesday. And hope I can get away from this rut I've been in.

I am so tired of analyzing threats. I long to wake up in a world where I was either safe, or blissfully unaware of how "not safe" I was.

I got a haircut yesterday. On the plus side, it's a good haircut. On the minus side, a new haircut always shows a bit more scalp than I ever expected to see in a mirror. Nothing says, "you're not who you think you are" more than bald spots on the top of your head.

I have these days when I throw the Ipod into "random". And it's amazing, when you have roughly ten full days worth of music on your little device, how much you don't remember having on your little device. A song came on today during my gym time (I think during leg presses) that I hadn't really heard in a long time.

Greetings from Sodom,
How we wish you were here...
The weather's getting warmer
Now that the trees are all cleared.
No time for a conscience,
And we recognize no crime;
Yeah, we got dogs and Valvoline
It's a pretty damned good time...

Last Plane Out by Toy Matinee. They only did one album. It's very good. My thanks to Eric S. for turning me on to it, back in '91.

I've never ridden in the Limo.
I've never attended a World Series game.
I've been in every state in the lower 48.
I want to attend Alaska, but have no real desire to attend Hawaii.
I could never get the hang of Jacks.
I was always too nice to win at Monopoly.
Speaking of Monopoly; I saw the new version of the game uses credit cards instead of cash. Hey, what's that on the horizon? My goodness, it's the end of the world as we know it!

By the way, how many of you want to shout "LEONARD BERNSTEIN!" every time you hear "The End of the World as We Know It?"

I like a good slice of Beef Wellington. But I'm more fond of the meatloaf plate at that little diner up the 101 near San Luis Obispo.

Besides, you'd feel stupid ordering a chocolate malt with Beef Wellington. Hell, I'd DO it, but I'd feel self conscious.

I just received a lovely care package from my friends at Doc Burnstein's Ice Cream Lab. It was for my birthday, but they're very busy getting ready to open their second contained a T-Shirt celebrating the Fifth Anniversary of the Lab Show (my brainchild....!) and eight half gallons of the best ice cream I've ever had. Vanilla, Black Raspberry Cheesecake, Motor Oil, Doc's Java, and Cuyucos Crunch, a flavor so rare, they don't even serve it in the parlor.....I am going to eat it all. Slowly. And every bite will make me wish I had an infinite supply.

Okay, time to wrap up.

Thank you for taking the time.

Don't forget to tip your waiter. Or waitress.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

One saving grace among many.....

Tuesdays, I can take or leave.

They are a variation on a theme, really; normally, I work at midnight until the sun comes up, but on Tuesdays, I enter the building that looks like a large stack of pancakes (mmmmm, pancakes!) at 3:30, and work until midnight. And then, I take a few days off. So, Tuesday brings the beginnings of all the things I couldn't do in the course of the week...the chores and whatnot.

So. Gym. Mowed the lawn, which was a major chore, but it's done, and given the fact that the weather is turning quite quickly here in the Northern State, it will probably be my last mowing of the season. Showered, shaved, made a grocery list. Napped.

And on my way to work, I was halted by the red light at the corner of Washington and Boulevard Avenue. I say that because I want everybody to get a kick out of a street called Boulevard Avenue.

Anyway, on the sidewalk on the corner were a young man and a young woman (boy and girl, if you prefer) riding their bicycles. They appeared to be laughing at something. They were both smiling broadly at each other.

My background allowed me to wander into story time, making up who they are and what the relationship is, where they rode from and where they were riding to, and what the ages were and so on.....

But I had to come back to the smile. That smile that seems to come too infrequently in adulthood; that smile that makes that moment, that very moment there, the most important one in the known and unknown world.

That kind of smile goes the way of the dodo as you get older, I fear. You can't have that kind of smile once you begin to analyze everything, or worry about where the next paycheck is going, or wonder if you have to mow the lawn one more time.

I smiled, though. But my smile was not as broad, but more sentimental. I was smiling at the memory of being that....burdened.

Those smiles belong to the young; they shouldn't have to worry for many years.

I worry, so they don't have to.

Still. It was a good memory, and the smile felt good.

Friday, September 17, 2010


For the record, let me just say (without saying too much) that Facebook is a really good weapon on the war against Terror.

And a certain fellow who got onto a plane to Chicago this afternoon owes his whole weekend's good times to me. And Facebook.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ancora Imparo, Part II.

Every so often, I veer into a land of cerebral musing. I enjoy a good conversation, but the best of them comes when the lightning bolt flashes from the dark, and I learn something I didn't know before.

Recently, I got involved in a conversation about the nature of hatred.

I am of the strange belief that hate is filled with all sorts of byproducts, that are, in and of themselves, somewhat to be wished for. Hatred hits the adrenaline button, which makes the senses more acute, and can bring on a sense of euphoria. And that euphoria can develop into a kind of narcissism, and with that, the more you have the more you want.....and the cycle continues.

Hate is seductive in that regard. Hate presumes a power that really doesn't exist. Hate is destructive in its creation. Hate is a flesh eating virus.

I recently came across hatred. I saw it on a man's face. He didn't know me, but he knew "my kind."

You know the kind. The kind that has education, and attempts understanding, and tries to be tolerant.

But the hating man was having none of it. He hated everything that I stood for. He hated where I came from, what I knew, what I didn't know, and how I looked at the world.

He wouldn't give me the chance to explain that I'm not all that crazy about how I look at the world, either, but.....

The really unbalanced part of this whole human equation was the fact that this was a proud member of the United States Marines.

He hated me because I never served. I didn't know the meaning of service. I didn't understand what is was like, and I was soft and weak and practically a voice of the terrorist.

Why would he think this?

Because I could not agree that the burning of a flag was worse than the burning of a holy book.

Friday, September 10, 2010

My last word on the Subject.

For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;

Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
Pilots of the purple twilight dropping down with costly bales;

Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain'd a ghastly dew
From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue;

Far along the world-wide whisper of the south-wind rushing warm,
With the standards of the peoples plunging thro' the thunder-storm;

Till the war-drum throbb'd no longer, and the battle-flags were furl'd
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.

There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapped in universal law.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Embrace and Release.....

I've mentioned on many occasions that I enjoy the Fall of the year better than any other season; and in the Northern State, where Mother Nature is Bi-Polar, it is said that we earn our seasonal changes. We earn the Spring by surviving the horrors of Winter...and we earn the Fall by surviving the Summer.

The leaves are changing to the color of the glowing embers...
My heart is waiting for the Spring to come again.

But there is a slight downside to the Fall. The Anniversary of the world changing forever.

I would like to say a small prayer on that day, and drink a toast to those that serve, and those that gave that Last Full Measure of Devotion to their fellow man. I would like to spend no more time on it than that, and surely that would be enough. But I work for an organization that was created in the fire of that event, and.....

We have done the best we could, these past years, to try to make things safe for the American people; and yes, our failures get a lot of attention; more so than our successes. And there is a huge contingent of people who think that we're, at the very least, a violation of their privacy, and at most a laughable organization that is more "security theatre" than actual security...and they regularly petition to have us removed, because nothing has happened since that fateful day.

Forgetting, of course, that there may actually BE a correlation between "nothing happening" and "us being there."

And yes, there are some unsavory folks working in the ranks; people with a chip on their shoulders and no social skills, who don't see a connection between the job of security and treating people with simple respect. And on behalf of the organization, I would apologize for them. But don't equate Officer A**h*le with the organization. As the old song goes, "one bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch..."

I am proud of the job that we do, and I'm proud to be a part of it.

That being said, I am uncomfortable with the attention we give to the tragedy. It is important, I know, to be able to look back at the Genesis, and acknowledge that we have come through the strife, and become a stronger, more aware society. But we have so far yet to go.

We need to fear less. We need to hope more. And, we need to forgive a little.

Any good Christian would tell you that.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


I want to be on a golf course.

And I'll tell you why.....stop me if you've heard this one before.

This is a story that came from a long night of rehearsal when I was a poorly paid but firmly dedicated college instructor. The rehearsal did not go very well, and I told this story.

I'm a golfer; I learned from my Father, who was a pretty decent golfer, and I did not, alas, follow in his footsteps. I had more bad rounds than I had good rounds...but I didn't care too much, because there was something special about the feel of the air and the smell of the grass on an early Saturday morning....

And every so often, when the Gods of Golf smile down at you, the club will swing just right, the wrists will be just ever so....and the shot will be juuuuust perfect. They don't come often, so you really appreciate them when they do come.

And, when it DOES happen, you think to yourself, "Wow. If I could put two or three shots like that together, I could par a hole. And if I could put a couple of pars together, I could have a pretty decent round...." And the next thing you know, that ONE SHOT has got you just inches away from playing at Augusta.

Oh, and I've walked Augusta. It's a very nice course.

And then, of course, you dream of Green Jackets and what you'll ask to be served the next year at the dinner.....all because of one....good....shot.

And without that one shot, you'd throw the clubs into the water hazard, and head for the car.

One shot brings you back next week to try again.

And that's the lesson of Golf, my matter how bad it gets, there is going to be one shot that will bring you back to try it again next week.