Friday, December 12, 2008

Survivorman Versus Man vs. Wild

I love watching Survivorman on The Discovery Channel and used to get into Man vs. Wild but don't really care for it anymore and here's why:

Les Stroud, the host of Survivorman goes into every situation on his own with several cameras. He mans them all. So when, on that show, you see him trudging off into the distance you have to realize that he has to walk ALL the way back to pick the camera up again. That's a lot of work, and in a survival situation it seems ludicrous to do. However, that is his dedication to bringing the realism to YOU, the viewer.

There is nobody standing off camera munching on a ham sangwich offering a half to Les. No, if he doesn't find something to eat he goes hungry, Bow-Bow-Bow! It is captivating television. I've seen him dig into certain creepy-crawlies that he has caught with such relish that I have thought to myself, albeit momentarily, "Hmmm! I should try some ground squirrel, wood grub, or Booby bird." The show is real and raw and addictive.

Man vs. Wild is hosted by a dude named Bear Grylls. Cool name. Kind of like Grizzly Adams, or Hank the Hermit. But when you see Mr. Grylls you realize that he neither looks like a bear nor are his teefs sporting any grills and to me that rings out as false advertising. Bear is an ex-British Special Forces member and loves to bring that up in most episodes.

When I first starting watching the show I liked it but there was something about it that just didn't sit right with me. On one show he was in the American West. He spotted some wild horses in the distance and the next thing that you know he was standing next to one with a chord made out of a vine and then placed it over the horse's neck so he could ride it. Now, I am not much of an equestrian, as a matter of fact, I have only been on a horse once and that one needed a quarter to run and stood right in from of E.J. Korvette's in Port Chester, NY. But I knew that it would not be that easy to corral a horse, let alone a wild one.

A little bit after this it comes out that portions of the shows are staged which was not disclosed before, but are before every show now. Now if that was pointed out at the beginning of the series it would not be a big deal, but it looks like they were trying to get away with something. Compared to what Les Stroud does it is cheap and deceptive.

So here's what I propose: A Survivathon between these two! They both get dropped off in some remote location with nothing but their wits and whoever walks out of the drop-off area alive is the winner. They get no help from ANYONE but themselves and their past experiences. They would be in an area where hidden cameras have already been set up where their progress, or regress, could be monitored. Sounds great doesn't? Yes it does!

So, Discovery Channel, make this happen! So let it be written, so let it be done!

Friday, December 5, 2008

"A Wink's as Good as a Nod to A Blind Man. He Saith Knowingly. Wink, Wink. Nudge, Nudge."

My son and I were watching the Tube the other day when a commercial came on that made us do a double take. This is the time of the year where skads of companies air commercials touting the good that they do to make you feel better about them and better about giving your money to them in form of commerce. I can't stand these self-serving commercials because I was taught by my parents, Sunday School, and the Word (That's the Bible for youse heathens) that when you do a good deed you leave it alone and don't draw attention to it. JUST DO IT and then walk away.

Well, now this commercial was from Best Buy, and perhaps dear reader you have seen it too. In it an employee is telling the viewers how they helped a customer pick out an HDTV/Plasma Display/Jumbotron/Enormo-TV and they also arranged to be there to set it up for said customer. The employee even helped the customer learn how to use the remote control, which the employee said was a challenge.

You may be axing (as we used to say long ago and far away),"What's so bad about all this? Best Buy wants people to know that they will go above-and-beyond regarding customer service." Well the problem that I have with it all is when they let you know, early on in the commercial, that THE CUSTOMER WAS BLIND! I kid you not! Best Buy sold an expensive TV to a blind customer. I know, the customer may have wanted that but it really came across in a way that, to me at least, makes Best Buy look like they were taking advantage of this dude.

I have imagined it going something like this:

"Can I help you sir?"(And it really should be MAY I, not CAN I)

"Yes I have heard so much about this thing called an iPod and since I am BLIND, which means I CANNOT see at all, I would love to get one for all of my music, being that I am BLIND and use my EARS far more than I would if I had the power of sight. Which I don't. Because I'm BLIND. Meaning I can't see. One of the Senses down, only four to go."

Waving his hand in front of the customer's face and getting no response, "Um, yeah, um, I have one right over here, yeah that's the ticket."

The customer reaches out and touches the TV, "My that's bigger than I thought that it would be."

"Um, this is the brand new model which just came out today, yeah today. It even has a remote control."

"Is the remote control easy to use?"

"Why yes it is! Even a Blin...um, yes it is!"

"OK, I'll buy it. How much?"

"$2,000."

"That's more than I heard."

"Will you be paying with a credit card?"

"Why yes I shall."

"Excellent! Then for all intents and purposes let's just CALL it $200. OK?"

"What?"

"Um, yeah, well, how would you like to be in a commercial?"

"Radio or TV?"

And so it goes. Keep looking for the commercial and I am sure that you will see it. And let me know if you think that I am wrong, which I am not, but let me know what you think anyway.

No Go Make Somebody's Day
Mac

Friday, November 28, 2008

10 SONGS

Ten Songs is back again as it has been awhile and I have been grooving on some wonderful music of late and felt the need to share it with you my faithful readers. So here goes!

In no particular order:

1. I Am...I Said-Neil Diamond
I love this song even though some of the lines in it are kind of odd. "And no one heard at all not even the chair." What? OK, not really a poet is Mr. Diamond, but the song speaks to me as I am sure that it will speak to you if you give it a chance. So give it a chance!

2. Forever in Blue Jeans-Neil Diamond
Ok, so I am in a bit of Neil Diamond kick. So sue me! I downloaded this song last week and a friend on my clued me in on a Gap commercial with Will Ferrell doing his Diamond impersonation. Very good and very funny. Here it is so you get a twofer with this entry and all at no charge to you!

3. Secret Garden-Bruce Springsteen
Say what you want about his voice or anything else but the man knows how to write a song that can hit you right in the heart. I am a fan of The Boss and will continue to be a fan as long as he continues to be as good as he was when he first started, and he is!

4. It's Bad You Know
This is a cool-as-bones toe-tapping number. I heard it first in conjunction with the TV show The Sopranos and I grove on it a lot. It is kind of addicting. It's bad you know.

5. The Beast in Me-Nick Lowe
This is a cover or a Johnny Cash song and as much as I LOVE the Man in Black I love this version better. Nick Lowe is such an accomplished singer/song writer and I can't say enough about him or his work. This song is so tender, yet pleading. I love it!

6. I'd Love to Change the World-Tens Years After
A kick-arse song from the 60s and one that I can't hear enough times. It's a good song, still more than 10 years after its release.

7. Sweet Touch of Love-Allen Toussaint
I dare you to listen to this song and feel sad or stop your face from smiling. I don't think that it's possible. In fact I challenge you to keep your toes from tapping. Do you know why? Because of the sweet touch of love!

8. Jackson-Johnny and June Carter Cash
I love singing Karaoke, and do it from time to time. The place where I go is a small hole-in-the-wall type of place. No matter how many times I go I always hear this song sung by a man and woman who sound exactly like the originals. They are good singers in their own right, but they make this song so infectious. I find myself singing it several times a week when I'm hotter than a pepper sprout.

9. Maria Elena-Los Indios Tabajaras
This is a lovely instrumental of two classical guitars playing a lovely song. I grew up listening to these guys and they are talented. My oldest son has fallen in love with this song too. Give it listen and it will captivate you.

10. Love is Like Oxygen-Sweet
What can I say other than this is an oldie and a goodie.

All but one song can be purchased over at iTunes. So go listen and be moved!
ENJOY!
Mac


Zombie Dreams

I had a very unusual experience the other night in my dreamland. It has only happened to me once or twice before and that was due to me having the flu and a fever. What happened was that I was having a dream and woke up to get a drink of water. As I went into the kitchen to get my drink I was thinking about my dream which was about zombies. So I thought to myself that it was good that I got up to break out of the dream. I got my water and headed back to bed. I woke up a couple of hours later because the water had run it's course and wanted to come out, if you catch my drift. So I headed to the bathroom and realized that I had gotten back into the dream of zombies. Or more exactly the dream had waited for me to get my water and started right back up when I drifted off to slumberland.

I was apprehensive this time in going back to sleep, but I did and darned if the zombies weren't waiting for me again! But here's the thing: the zombies were not flesh eaters, yet. It seems that the zombies in my dreams were too stupid to know that they should be eating flesh. One part of my dream found us in a grocery store where they were frantically putting together peanut butter sangwiches. I laughed about it even in my dream and remember saying, "This is one wacky dream," in my dream. It was funny in an odd-I-hope-they-remain-vegetarians sort of way.

Why is it that I only have the continuation type of dreams when they are odd, or scary? I have had dreams where I have been in the throes of passion with woman whose beauty would make Helen of Troy look like a dog. And yet, when I have woken from those dreams in the middle of the night I have never been able to get back to them no matter how hard I try. And if I do get back the woman looks like cow with sexy legs, or a monkey with gorgeous lips, or my 3rd grade teacher.

Sure is strange, so I figured that I would share.

Now go get some sleep!
Mac

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hey You Get Off Of My Holiday Part Deux!

It is Thanksgiving Day 2008, so Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Last night I was at home preparing for the Thanksgiving feast that my son and I are going to attend today. I rented a movie, and he invited a chum of his to spend the night. After the movie we were channel surfing and settled on Iron Chef. The original Iron Chef from Japan not the crappy American knock off on The Food Channel. Well, and I kid you not dear reader, the commercials were all, and I mean EVERYONE COTTON PICKING ONE OF THEM, were about the "Early Bird" sales at all of the stores the day after Thanksgiving.

Walmart is opening at 3AM in our area. 3AM! Walgreens at 7AM (not too bad but they open usually around 9. And really, what kind of Christmas gift are you going to buy there? "Thanks Gramma for the Geritol and Depends. Wherever did you find them?") Macy's is opening at 5Am, and so is Kohl's. And Target. And K-Mart.

So, now retailers are urging people to shorten there Thanksgiving by going to bed early so they can get up and SAVE, SAVE, SAVE by bombarding TV viewers with commercials about their early openings the night before Thanksgiving thereby chipping away at the peace that should come the night before a holiday and taking their focus off of the the holiday right in front of them and throwing it on one four weeks away. More is not necessarily better.

As I father I like to get each child one present that means something to them instead of getting them a ton of things, which is what retailers urge us to do. How bad would it be if we started giving one quality present to those whom we give gifts to? Would it cause the economy to collapse anymore than it already has? Would our Christmases be ruined? Would the extra time spent in each other's company on Thanksgiving be overbearing?

Well, I know I seem like a crotchety old man venting about things he can't change. But the thing is WE can change them if we think the changes are worth having and fighting for. It wasn't always like this, and it doesn't have to be. The question that we need to ask ourselves is, "What is it that we really want?" And how we answer this question will tell everything about who we are as a nation.

Just something to think about, and perhaps even discuss at the dinner table today. So, go eat, drink, and be merry and bask in the warmth of the day.

Happiest of Thanksgivings!
Mac

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hey You Get Off Of My Holiday!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

When I was a child I used to hear all of these older men that I knew wax nostalgic about the "Good 'Ole Days" which I thought was an actual time perioud in American history. We had the Gay 90s(which refers to the 1890s and meant something totally different than what you might think. However we could still call the 1990s the Gay 90s for a completely different reason. SUPER!). We had the Roaring 20s, the Psychadelic 60s and so on. Yet I always wondered when the "Good 'Ole Days" were. It wasn't until I was much older that I realized, when I started to lament how things had changed since I was a kid, that the "Good 'Ole Days" were more of a remembrance of happier times than an actual period visible along some antiquated timeline.

I guess when one gets older that it is natural to look back and wonder if life in general has gotten better or worse. I have started to do this of late for many reasons, but the biggest one is that I am getting older and things are changing. We are just a few days away from my most favoritest (as I used to say back in the "G.'O.Ds.'") holiday of the year: Thanksgiving. I have always loved this holiday because it had always marked the beginning of the Holiday Season, and more importantly it was a time to gather around with family and friends and enjoy a moment of pause in thanks for what we have been blessed with. As a kid it meant a short school week followed by FOUR whole days of no school, of playing with friends, of FREEDOM!

There has been, within in the last ten years or so, a trend to move Christmas earlier and earlier. The trend has been pushing Thanksgiving to the wayside in order to get Christmas going faster. You know that you have seen it happening too. Stores that have Christmas decorations up in early November. Christmas trees have been on lots for the last couple of weeks. Don't people who buy those know that they will be dried out by Christmas Eve. I saw a Christmas commercial on TV the day after Halloween, which was November 1st! Why is this happening? It is happening because of the greed of retail stores nationwide. There is very little money to be made off of Thanksgiving, except by the supermarkets but that amount pales in comparison to the money made by the retail industry off of Christmas.

When I was a kid I don't remember seeing any signs of Christmas until after Thanksgiving and that was usually Santa bringing up the rear of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. More times than not we didn't see any Christmas vestiges until the beginning of December. We even used to get our Christmas trees on Christmas Eve. Try doing that nowadays and all you will be able to find is a tree that would make Charlie Brown's Christmas tree look like the one in Rockefeller Plaza.

And speaking of Charlie Brown, when I was a child his TV specials were on only once a year at a set time. If you missed it, you missed it and were one of the very few kids across the country who had to wait until the following year to see it again. That was in the day before cable tv, satellite dishes, dvds, Tivo and VCRs. But now all of those Christmas shoes are shown several times, just like the 24 hours of A Christmas Story shown on TNT each year. Or you can watch them on DVD or Tivo. How special is that? To me not very because one of the greatest treats about it was the next day at school when all of us kids would talk about it and recount the whole show as if those we were talking to hadn't seen, but they had.

So Thanksgiving gets pushed aside for the almighty dollar. How sad! There is little time for one to even digest their turkey dinner before people are going to bed early just to get up in the dead of night to go to some store before the farmers are even up to save a few bucks on Christmas gifts.

Christmas gets the lion's share of songs too. Other than Over the Hills and Through the Woods there are no Thanksgiving songs. Why is that? I think that is that way because we don't really, as a nation, know how to give thanks or whom to give it to. The Pilgrims gathered with their neighbors, the Native Americans, and gave thanks to God for seeing them through that first harsh winter where a number of settlers succumbed to the elements. They gave thanks to the Native Americans for teaching them how to gather the bounty of the new world in order to survive the lean, cold times. They knew how to be thankful even when they had seemingly little in which to be thankful for.

So, this Thursday enjoy Thanksgiving like you would a fine wine. Enjoy its boquet, its aroma. Sip it and enjoy its flavors. Share it with family and friends and take your time with it. Christmas will be there the following Monday, I promise. Be greedy with these four days for your family's sake. For you kid's sake. For God's sake. Enjoy! And give Thanks!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hiatus Over

Sure it's been awhile since I last posted anything but what can I say other than life has been incredibly busy. I have wanted to blog but felt odd about it due to me being away from it so long. It was kind of like leaving a lover for something foolish and then wanting to come back to her but not knowing whether or not she would take you back. Sure she would but you weren't convinced of it so you remain on the periphery looking for an opportune time to go back home. Well my blog, my lady, is always welcoming and I forgot that. So I am back.

Part of the reason that I wasn't blogging was the Election. I mean I was not inspired by either of the candidates and was really wanting some other choices. So I didn't want to waste my time and effort by blogging about the Election. I am a Libertarian and believe that Government does not hold the answers to our problems, We the People hold the answers to our problems and as such Government should be small and then it should get out of our way.

OK, enough of my ranting, and I really haven't even gotten started so I will leave it at that. I have some other things to write about but have work to do about the house. Maybe I will blog about them tonight. The point of this post is to get the fingers tickling the keyboard again and to get the writing juice flowing. So come back so and see what I have to talk about.

Until then, Be Good but Not Boring!
Mac

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Naughty but Nice?

Every so often I have to drive up to the Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin for personal reasons. As I travel up interstate 90, just over the Wisconsin/Illinois state line there is a very tall sign at one exit that reads Naughty but Nice. I understand that it is what is known as an adult store, which is a store that sells porn and sex aids and the like. What I get a kick out of is the name of the place, Naughty but Nice. I mean what kind of demographic was the owner going for after all?

Maybe the owner didn't want anyone picketing in front of his establishment to get rid of the blight of a porn shop in their neighborhood. "We may be naughty but dagnabbit, we are nice too!" I could see him saying that if there were picketers and the news crews showed up to interview him. Or perhaps they have the most base porn magazines and paraphernalia but they also offer top rate customer service. "Here's your copy of Ewe Sexy Beast and a leather bondage mask sir. Would you like that gift wrapped?"

Since the store is in the Midwest it could be that they are just trying to convey a proper image, like that of two people having sex but at least one of them that still has a foot of the floor. That is naughty but it is also nice. However, I think that they should just change the name of the store to Legs Spread, Ankles Crossed. I mean, really, that says it all doesn't it?

Just thought that I would share the ideas that pop into my mind as I travel this great land of ours.

Be Good, But Not Boring!
Mac
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Return of 10 Songs

I haven't blogged for a while and that is because the summer is in full swing and I have been one busy beaver. I also have not posted a 10 Songs Heavy in My iPod Rotation because my iPod's screen was busted and I was not using it until I got it fixed. Well it is fixed and I did it myself with the help of the good people at ifixit.com. It is a great company where you buy the parts that you need and they mail them to you and then you go back to their site where they have the steps in fixing your issue there in bright color pictures. If you ever need to fix something on your iPod (and your warranty is up) then check them out.

Ok, so now I am back in the music listening biz and I really missed my music I have come to find out. These 10 songs are ones that I have been listening to a lot. They can all be found over at iTunes (except for The Beatles-Come on iTunes!), so go check them out.

1.Butterfly-Donavon Frankenreiter.
This is a simple toe-tapping song that has special meaning for me. It reminds me of a special person who has made a difference in my life while she is making an huge difference in the world. She's my Butterfly.

2. Don't Let Me Down-The Beatles
One of their less popular songs but very emotional and powerful. It is just Bass, Guitar, Drums, and Organ and yet the sound is rich and full and the singing packs a powerful punch.

3. I Want to Make the World Turn Around-Steve Miller Band
This song was a departure for Steve Miller from his regular schmaltzy, light, breezy songs. This one was born of something that hits all of us at one time or another and I love the spirit that it conveys.

4. I Melt with You-Nouvelle Vague
I have mentioned before that I love hearing a song done by someone other than the original band playing it. It's just that I appreciate hearing a different take on an established song. I originally heard this song on a commercial on TV for product which I can't remember. Then I went to iTunes and searched the song title and Presto-Change-O there it was (don't you love that about iTunes? I know I do!). It is a great rendition!

5. Dreamgirl-The Dave Matthews Band
I'm not a big DMB fan but I do love this song. I love the idea that his dream girl is also his best friend and that is the beauty of it. Friendship is so important to the success of any relationship. Great song!

6. Jersey Girl-Bruce Springsteen
I am a very big Bruce fan. I love his music and he, to me, is a poet. I have a lot of his albums and yet this is one song that I never really listened to, until recently. It is hypnotic and honest and that is what makes it a special song. He makes the idea of a Jersey Girl seem appealing and romantic and I have known a few JG's in my life and they were neither. Job well done Boss!

7. True Love is Hard to Find-Toots and the Maytals (featuring Bonnie Raitt)
Here is a an honest title mixed with some bluesy music and wonderful lyrics. Put them all together and you have magic!

8. Long Distance Love-Little Feat
Lowell George, the force behind Little Feat, was an incredible talent. He had voice that was powerful and delicate and clear. He could wield a guitar with the best of them. And he could write songs that could rip your heart out and then put it back all patched up. This song exhibits all of the above. Lowell George died way too soon.

9. 5:01 AM (The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking)-Roger Waters
Mr. Waters has talent and a lot of it. When the other three members of Pink Floyd and he had a rift it ended with two Floyds on tour singing the same songs but in different ways. There were lawsuits and accusations and everything that you would see in an ugly divorce. Finally Waters embarked upon his solo career and put out some edgy, yet very good music. This song is the cover of the album and I love it! I am happy to see that all members of the Floyd put aside their differences and came together for the G8 concert in London a few years back. Oh, yeah, they brought the house down!

10. Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde-Travis Tritt
OK, so I went a little Country here. But the song rocks and I heard it recently at karaoke and remembered that I loved this song when it came out. Tritt has a powerful voice and really belts it out here. I was first introduced to the song via its video. It is a good video too.
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Class Clown

The recent passing of George Carlin saddened me as I was a big fan of his comedy and felt like he was family in a way. Aside from the fact that he looks almost exactly like my father, his routines were ingrained in my mind. In 1978 my parents gave me the album CLASS CLOWN for Christmas. On that album were many funny routines including his society changing The Seven Bad Words You Can't Say on TV. I absorbed every bit of that album and would listen to over and over and over all the while laughing until I could not breathe anymore and would almost pass out. I was in 8th grade at the time of this wonderful gift and as taken as I was with George Carlin's humor I embarked on the crusade to enlighten my friends in school as to Carlin's wit and wisdom.

Now in that album he told about all of the things that he did as a class clown, and most of them I "borrowed" from him to see if I could make my classmates laugh. It was AMAZING! I soon discovered the rapture of hearing my classmates laugh at what was coming out of my mouth. After a while I started developing my own class room material to garner a laugh or two. It was incredible! I was a hit! Then the bottom dropped out.

I was not so big with the teachers who found my disruptive antics frustrating. HATERS! Soon my parents were requested to come in for a meeting with all of my teachers. My mom was not pleased at all and I heard about my parents displeasure when I got home. I was actually asked by them, after all of the "talking" that I got, whether or not I had anything to say for myself and how this all started. I just pulled out their Christmas gift to me and said, "I thought that you were giving me permission to spread joy and laughter to my friends." Well they didn't buy that and I was grounded, and from that I was confused as to why they gave me the album in the first place. Had they even listened to it before they gave it to me?

The thing was that the goose-was-on-the-loose so to speak and I was not giving up cracking wise in class, or anywhere else I could. As a result I looked for other Carlin material and delighted in watching comedians whenever I could. I was soon listening to Richard Pryor, Robert Klein, Steven Wright, Emo Phillips, Robin Williams, Pee Wee Herman, Gallagher, Jay Leno and a whole host of others. I would stay up late to see who was performing on Johnny Carson, or David Letterman or An Evening at the Improv.

Anyway, I have George Carlin to thank for my love of stand-up comedy and for my desire to make people laugh. Today's comedians owe an huge thanks to him.

Just some melancholy musings on someone who touched my life. Thanks for the FUNNIES Mr. Carlin. Thank you very much.

Now go listen to some Carlin and laugh!
Mac
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Getting Back On Track

The last month or so has been a bit of a whirlwind for me.  Things have been crazy at work and I have had a bit of overtime come my way, which is nice.  I also moved cross town from my dinky little apartment to a big house with a yard and a feeling of home.  The packing, cleaning, painting, moving, and unpacking has been a bit of a pain in the arse but it is what it is.  With all of that going on I haven't been able to blog like I want to, and that coupled with the computer issues that I was experiencing have kept from posting with regularity.  But alas and alack I am back!

About a year ago I subscribed to Facebook which is like Myspace but as far as I am concerned better.  Recently, however, I have been connecting with friends from my past.  Friends who have meant a lot to me and have made a difference in my life.  Odd that we hadn't kept in touch through the years?  Well life has a way of standing in the path of things that we'd like to do.  Yet, it is nice to see what has been going on in the lives of said friends. 

I will be posting more about that and just in general posting more.  Believe me I have a lot to blog about.  Especially my iPod screen breaking and me having to put a new one in.  More on that soon.

Always remember, Be Good and Not Boring!
Mac
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Computer Down, Living in Limbo

I am writing this at the local library on a Windows computer. My iMac is having some issues. Let me first say that it is a much older iMac (the kind that came in many different colors affectionately known as the fruit macs-mine is bright pink. FABULOUS! Hey it was a gift!). Well I have been without internet access for about a week and I should have everything remedied by next weekend thanks to my friend Macfixer (be sure to check out his blog!). So in the mean time I am limited to clunking around on the Windows platform at the library as time allows.

So pardon the interruption and hopefully I will be back in bizness (as we say back East) soon!

Until then, Be Good But Not Boring!
Mac

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

No Church Today Part 2

I just remembered the most bizarre church experience I have ever had in my life.  I was newly married and living in Philadelphia with my wife.  We went to a church that was yards away from where we lived.  It was summer time and it was warm.  Being Lutheran we sat in the back pew.  We noticed a girl eating an ice cream cone in the pew in front of us.  A bit unorthodox, but I guess the mom figured it would keep the girl occupied and quiet.  Not what I would have done as growing up Lutheran we were taught that the sanctuary was a holy place and we were indeed in the presence of the Lord.  So we were very reverent once we entered into the sanctuary.

Well, I kept looking at this girl lapping at her cone when I heard someone behind us start speaking.  Now as I said we were in the last pew in the back so the dude speaking was standing pretty much in the door way.  "I have a letter here!" the voice said.  I spun around to see that it was a US Postal carrier.  That's right it was the postman! On a Sunday!? When has that ever happened before?  Not to mention that he came in during the Sermon portion of the service.  At first I thought he was part of the sermon as some pastors have wacky interactive sermons to drive home a point.  I immediately thought that the postman was going to say something like, "God sent me to give you this Word from Him," or some such illustration.  However, I soon realized by the look on the pastor's face that this was not part of the service.

I then started to think how on God's green earth could this letter-carrier barge into a church service like he was annoyed that we didn't stop what we were doing to welcome him.  He really had that attitude as if to say, "I don't care that you are playing church, I have a letter to deliver and nothing is going to stop me not even God Himself!"  Well an usher stepped forward and grabbed the letter, signed something and then the mailman left.  All the time that this is was going on the ice cream eater in front off us was just lapping away like this was all some sort of liturgical dinner theater.  I wanted to say to the mother at this point, "You know that ice cream is going to spoil her Lord's Supper and she's not going to have room for the Body of Christ!" With the goings on I kind of felt that the comment would have fit right in with the service, but I refrained.

Well after all of the excitement church was uneventful, which was sad as I was expecting the pastor to work all of that into the service, but he stuck to his sermon which was a bit dry. Anyway, the service was memorable if not the sermon.
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Thursday, April 17, 2008

No Church Today

This past Sunday the church that I attend canceled service.  Well actually the cancellation came on Saturday but the fact is that there was no service Sunday.  The reason was due to a septic overflow problem in the lone bathroom in the building.  There had been a lot of rain last week and the septic backed up and came up through the toilet and flooded the basement.  There was really no way to have church with no bathroom, a flooded basement and the nursery school located in that same basement.  So the call was made to cancel our church service for that day.

I have no problem with that call as it was the right one to make and I don't believe that God was offended nor do I believe that His wrath will be visited upon New Hope Fellowship.  The pastor made the right call.  This event called to mind some other interesting events that I have experienced on a Sunday as a former pastor. 

Back in the day when I was a preacher man I had the blessed opportunity the lead worship services every Sunday for almost a decade.  It was what I believe I was created to do, be a pastor that is.  I loved my job and couldn't believe that I actually got paid for doing what I did.  Not to be punny but I was in heaven.

At my first congregation, in the Mid-Hudson Valley region of New York, I learned a lot about church management and the goings on of how to maintain the building in which we worshiped, sang, ate, communed, married, buried, confirmed, laughed, wept, hugged, supported, basically the building in which we as a body in Christ LIVED.  Well at that church we used to get our oil deliveries for our furnace on the first and third Fridays of the month.  Well one month in January there were 5 weekends and because of that there was a loophole in our oil delivery process.  You see by the fifth Sunday our oil tank was empty and no one had thought to get an extra delivery for that weekend. 

So, here we were at the beginning of our two Sunday services wondering why the heat wasn't coming on.  We debated whether we should cancel services or not for that day.  We decided to hold services but we had everyone huddled together near the front of the sanctuary while someone put in a call to the oil company for an emergency delivery.  Now I am Lutheran and for Lutherans to huddle together, let alone towards the front of the sanctuary is a miracle in itself. 

It was my Sunday to preach and there I was with an overcoat on over my vestments, gloves on hands, hat on head, with my breath clearly visible as I preached.  At one point during my sermon I just started to laugh at the surreality of it all.  As I broke into a laugh the congregation did too and it was a pretty funny moment. 

The oil truck did show up in time for the second service to have some warmth emanating from the floorboard heaters.  It was kind of neat when all was said and done.

There was another time in that congregation and with me preaching when something not so amusing happened.  I remember it as clear as yesterday.  I had just started to preach when I notice an elderly gentleman seated on the left side pews, to my absolute right, slump down in his seat.  The people around him jumped to his aid and this sweet elderly man named George just past out.  We thought he was having a heart attack (which it wasn't) and the congregation sprang into action.  We were blessed to have a lot of nurses in our congregation and there were no less than five there that morning.  We let them do their thing as someone called 911.

So there I was thinking, "What do I do now?" as there was a grave concern on everyone's mind as to what was going on with George.  The next thing I knew I said in a loud voice, "Let us pray," and we prayed for George as the ambulance was en-route.  They were there in a matter of minutes and they took George off to the hospital. The congregation settled down and in the aftermath I realized that I was still at the beginning of my sermon which did not seem to fit anymore.  I have to admit I was a bit a shaken by it all, though I didn't want it to show on my face.  So I just admitted that the sermon was not pertinent to what happened and I then ad-libbed a sermon based on ROMANS 12:4-6  on how we were all connected in the body of Christ and how we all need each other and our church showed it that morning.  I guess that there are times when God wants us to hear what HE decides should be preached each Sunday.  All in all things turned out well for George who was back in his pew the next week and the church was a little closer for the experience.

Those were just a couple of things that came to mind due to this past Sunday.  Every Sunday is unique, but it seems that some Sundays are more unique than others.  The thing to remember is that God is there through it all and it is He who sets things right.

If I remember more extraordinary Sundays I will be sure to share them with you. Until then, go to church and give God thanks for your life.
Mac.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Perimeter Guy

I am a watcher of people. It is one of my favorite pastimes. I love it because I find people fascinating in so many different ways. I used to love to go to the airports, when picking up a family member or friend, and sit at the gates and just listen to the conversations of the travelers and see the goings on there. Of course you can't get that close anymore unless you are traveling due to the changes brought about after 9/11. I think the thing that fascinates me is that I have a way of doing things, as we all do, and when I see someone go about something I would do but in a different manner it makes me wonder why. I think to myself, "What is going on inside that person's mind?"

There is a guy at work, whom I will refer to as The Perimeter Guy (TPG), who fascinates the bejeepers out of me. He is methodical in all that he does as if it is done by a set plan. I would not call him anal retentive, but rather I would call him dedicated to his game plan-from which he does not deviate.

Let me continue by saying I like the guy a lot. He is a decent man and once you get to know him a little bit you realize that he has a whole hosts of stories to tell that are rich and full of life. I like the fact that our worlds come together for 48 hours every other 4 days as his role in my world has served to enrich it, however minor it is. I dig people like him because I have always been drawn to those on the edges who are full of life in their own way.

TPG never misses work, yet always and I do mean always turns down overtime. I asked him why and he says that he likes his time off with his family and I respect that greatly. He is at work a half an hour before it starts and sits in his mini-van and reads. At a quarter to the hour he gets out of his vehicle (or if you from the South it is veHICle) and walks along the walls of the building towards the front door. He could walk directly to the front door in straight line, but he literally hugs the walls to the door. He walks along one until it dead ends into another and then turns right and hugs it until he gets to the door. Very interesting, to me at least.

At work we are allowed 5 breaks throughout the night, each about 30 minutes long. Kind of nice since they are paid breaks. Everyone takes break in one of two break rooms or, when the weather is nice, outside under a gazebo-unless you are a smoker then you are out there no matter the whether sucking down your nicotine while getting drenched or freezing your keister off.

TPG never takes a break other than to go to a break room and take three drinks from three different beverages found in his lunch bag. Then he grabs a handful of trail mix, downs that and heads back to work. He does all of this while standing, mind you. He leaves the break room with a twirl-literally-as he walks through the door and then heads downstairs to the plant floor. However, he doesn't walk straight back to his area of responsibility. He walks along the path for the forklifts which has him walking 10 yards then a hard left and then 15 yards more. Fascinating.

Most people notice his idiosyncrasies but have never asked him about it. Well I did one day, mainly the question was about what he drinks and why the variety. He told me that they are filled with vitamins and the concoctions are made but him at home. He says he doesn't want to sit as he may tire out and he likes to keep moving. And move he does!

He is a blur around his machine at the end of the night with all of his sweeping and cleaning. And man is it clean. I have even seen him on his hands and knees picking up tiny pieces of aluminum so as to have the place spotless for the next shift. The guy cares about what he does and leaving a small footprint behind him.

And that is why he is really on the Perimeter. It is because there are not many like him who do there job so methodically. I don't know whether or not his numbers are better than other mechanics but he is interesting to watch.

He is also on the Perimeter because he is so different from other people at work. If you are going to talk with him you have to make the first move. He doesn't say much and most of what he says is work related. There are those at work who are offended by that because they feel that he is acting like he is better than them. I believe that it is just their insecurities about themselves that make them feel that way. I am not offended by his actions or inactions. If he wants to be quiet and focus only on work then it is fine with me. I will give him his space and continue to be fascinated. And I will be thankful that he is there, making my night a little more interesting.

Just an observation of a man who is a small part of my world. And in that way I guess I am on the perimeter looking in at somebody's life. Fascinating!

Be Good, But Not Boring!
Mac

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

My Bike and Me

Just got back from a very short bike ride, only 6 miles, but it was a bike ride nonetheless. It felt outstanding to be back in the saddle. I am definitely not in the shape I was two years ago when I was daily riding at least 30 miles. However, I vow to work my way back up to that standard as I work my way back into shape.

I am feeling a bit high from the ride and from the fact that I have overcome my aversion to riding since I was hit by that car in June of 2006. What a great feeling! Not the getting hit by a car part. I meant the riding my bike again.

I am looking forward to a 10 miler tomorrow.

Mac

26 Years Ago Today

Mark A. Mellor
11/12/65-04/03/82
Beloved Son, Cherished Friend, Devoted Brother

It was 26 years ago today, April 2nd, that I was involved in a car accident that eventually took the life of my best friend, Mark A. Mellor. He died of a ruptured aorta in the early hours of April 3. He died far too young and left a hole in many peoples lives that will never be filled but has gradually, over time, grown smaller and yet it will never completely heal.

I write this because the world lost a great man, or at least the potential for a great man, on that horrible night. Mark had promise and potential and many of us believed that he would be a top rate pitcher in the Major Leagues. I knew he would be a fine man, devoted husband, and loving father based on how he treated the people around him including me.

I met Mark in 2nd grade when my family moved into his neighborhood. From that point on we were inseparable. Our neighborhood was a close knit community that looked after our own. It is, sadly, a neighborhood that doesn't seem to exist anywhere anymore.

Mark and I spent the days playing War, Chase, Stickball, Baseball, Football, you name and we played it. We spent a ton of time in each others homes and he was as much a brother to me as I was to him and our parents looked at us as another son for each.

Mark came to my aid whenever I was in a fight with someone and I came to his when he was in a scrape himself. Before we had a license to drive a car we either biked or walked where ever we needed to go and as such we would make up games and songs as we went along. It was always a good time when we were together.

I remember hearing my father's words that April 3rd as I lay in a hospital bed after the accident. I asked him how was Mark. "Marky didn't make it," was his reply through tears streaming down his face. Those were the harshest words I have ever heard. I cried, as we all did, and then I set my mind on the long road back to complete recovery.

There was a time when I used to think about Mark every day and dream about him every night. I feel guilty that I don't think of him as much, but my love for him has never died. Every April 2nd I have made it a custom to hoist a cold one in his honor and to tell those around of the greatest guy they would never get to me. The irony in the toast is that I never drank back then but Mark loved a beer or two. I have since grown fond of the drink. I am sure that he would laugh at the fact.

I write this so that you will know of him, just a little bit at least. And I write it to implore you to tell those around you how much you love them and what they mean to you. We are only here for a twinkling moment and then we are gone. Our life is God's gift to us and what we make of it is our gift to Him. Live a life without regret and live it to the fullest. Live a Life of Love!

Forward, Upward, and Onward
Mac

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Content of Character

Some damage took place at work in my area of responsibility this past week. I cannot say yes or no as to whether or not it was my fault. The thing is that if I do cause some damage to our product I get it taken care of immediately as is our standard operating procedure. One of the plant big wigs was making a big deal out of it and my supervisor called me in to speak to me about it. The Supe is a nice guy whom I respect a lot and he realized that there was no way to prove that the damage was my fault as other workers were in during the day and could have caused the problem.

Well the plant big wig would not let it die this week and wanted me to have an Oral Write Up about it. Oral Write up means that I sign a piece of paper that says that I was given an oral warning about the damage. Well I am a member of a union and there was a big deal about it because no one could prove if I did the damage or not, even my Supe thought there was a witch hunt going on. I told him that I may have done the damage without knowing but the amount of damage was beyond me to not notice during a 12 hour shift. He knows that I am a good worker and that I take pride in what I do so after the union stepped in it was decided to get the plant big wig together with me, a union rep, and another worker who does the same exact thing that I do and get to the bottom of all of this hoopla.

I am not worried at all about the outcome as I have a reputation for doing my job and that well. The thing that blew me away about all of this was my fellow worker Jon. He went into the supervisor and said that if he was going to write me up for the damage then they were going to have to write him up to as he helped me a bit that night. He said that it was not fair to single me out and that since we work together we will take the blame together. I was touched that he would take the blame when he clearly didn't have to at all.

I talked to him about this and asked why he stepped up like that and he said, "We're a team and your my brother. We look out for our own, and I got your back." I literally was awestruck and saw such character in this guy who a year ago I thought was a character. Man was I clearly wrong about him then. He showed me that there is still a thing called honor and loyalty out there. Ever since he started working on my crew back in January I was amazed at how much of a team player he is and I really found that working with him made a huge difference in how I viewed work.

I am honored to know and work with someone like Jon who has gone through a tremendous amount of anguish and suffering this past month with a sickness in the family and the death of a close friend. He could have easily put the focus on him and what he was and is going through but he didn't. He could have been like many out there who live as if they have a monopoly on human suffering but he has chosen not to play the martyr. He is a good kid and I will make damn sure that I will be there for him whenever the need arises. His parents raised him well!

Be a Jon to those around you and see how much richer you make their lives!

Be Good,
Mac

Monday, March 31, 2008

A Strange Thing Happened...

...when I went to pick up my son from his mother the other day. The strange thing is that I saw his mom, my ex-wife, in a whole new light. As I have mentioned before she divorced me about four years ago, and at first I was dealing with it as best I could. I mean I had no anger towards her and desperately wanted the marriage back and the family intact. I have also mentioned that last summer a wave of anger towards her hit me and hit me hard. I mean I didn't even want to think of her and didn't want to see her the very few times we would be together to have our kids go with her or me(yes strange situation with us having five children together but 4 with her and one with me-the reason for that:too long to get into right now).

My son had a week off from high school for winter break and he wanted to go up to spend it with his siblings and his mom. We live about 5 hours from each other and meet at a halfway point when he goes up there or they come down here. When I went to go get him this past Saturday I was very happy to see that my other 4 children were there too. I absolutely HATE being apart from them and moving to the Midwest from the Northeast had everything to do with being closer to them.

Anyway, my ex-wife was there and I have to confess that I get very nervous around her the few times that we are near each other for these exchanges. The thing is that we don't speak to each other and the communication that we have is mainly through text messaging on our cell phones. I would love to be friends with her and speak regularly regarding our children but I cannot force her to do something she does not want to do. I have learned, the hard way, to give her the room that she needs because I need for our kids to have as little stress in their lives regarding this divorce.

I worked Friday night and had to work Saturday night so that meant that after a 12 hour shift I had to hop in a car and drive 2 and half hours up to get my son so I could get drive 2 and half hours back to be in time to grab a couple of hours sleep and then get up and go back to work for another 12 hour shift. Not a fun day in that regard but seeing my entire family made it all worth wile.

It was 10am when I got there and I asked them all if they were hungry and they all were, however, the son that lives with me wanted to go home right away-more on that in a bit. We ended up going over to Denny's where the waitress didn't believe me when I told her that we were all celebrating our birthday that day(you can eat for free at Denny's on your birthday).

It was busy when we got there and Roni(my former wife) went in and gave them her name and the number in our party(Yay! A party!). As we were waiting she jumped up and ran up to the hostess and told them that she gave the wrong number for our group. She had given 6 instead of 7. I chuckled as I know that she didn't mean anything by the 6 instead of 7, it just was what it was.

Well we all got seated and I was trying to not be rude and to speak with everyone including her and I looked at her and it hit me: she is not my enemy! She was the woman that I spent 19 years of my life with, 15 of those married(we dated for 4 years of college) and had 5 glorious children with. How could I be angry with her no matter what her divorcing me meant? I was not looking at her for restoring our marriage, as I am not certain that I would even want that back, yet I saw the person that I fell in love with way back when.

It was hard to speak with her as I think that she may have been nervous too and I felt bad that we both may have been experiencing these feelings. I have noticed, and Saturday was no exception, that she rarely looks me in the eyes. I always attributed this to her not loving me anymore and that she disdains me. Yet, some female friends have told me that she may be experiencing guilt over the divorce and that is why she can't look me in the eye. I don't know, maybe it is that.

There was laughter there as the kids were joking around and Roni and I laughed along. I even made her laugh with a comment that alluded to our first year of marriage and something funny that happened then. I didn't plan on making the comment but it was just one of those things. She giggled and I felt good.

Well we ate our meal and then after much hugging and kissing of my kids the 4 got in her van and the one got in my car with me and we went our separate ways. On the ride home I asked my son why he wanted to head home so quickly and he said that he was nervous about his mom and me being together, that we might start fighting or something. I told him that I was a bit nervous too but that his mom and I had to learn to be together in those situations for the benefit of the kids and each other. I told him that his mom and I had to learn to be acquaintances again before we could even be friends again. After that is in God's hands but I would be happy to be able to just be friends with her and to talk every week or two about our kids.

I do wish her happiness as I believe that she deserves it and I know that she has a lot to offer. I am thankful for this way that I see her know as I know carrying anger towards her around was not good for me, my kids, or her.

I live, I grow, I learn.

Mac

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Back in the Saddle...

...Almost!

I have not been on my beloved Canondale bicycle since I was hit by a car whilst riding to work on June 1st of 2006. I have many reasons for not getting back upon it and the main one had to do with my mind just not being ready for it. When I moved into my current residence I lived about 150 yards away from a bike shop. My bike was fine and suffered no damages from the accident, it was just me that got banged up pretty bad. No, the only reason that I would bring my bike into the shop would be for a tune up. Several months ago the bike shop moved even closer to my home and is literally just up the street about 50 yards or so, and it seems that someone is trying to tell me shake it off and be a man!

Well I finally brought my bike in to get her tuned up as the recent warm weather has convinced me that it is time to get back on my horse, so to speak. I thought that I would be able to get her on Monday but the bike shop is closed until later this morning (Thursday) for Easter.

I must admit I am a bit excited to get her back and to start riding my Beast of the East. It is time. I kind of feel like a kid on Christmas Eve who can't get to sleep in the hopes that he wakes to a bike under, or at least near, the Christmas tree. Well I know my bike is there and I am still revved up to get it back.

I will keep you posted as to how it all pans out.

Oh, do you like my mug at the top of the Blog? Kind of big isn't it? Well if someone can tell me how to shrink it and make it fit the banner I would appreciate it, and that means you MacFixer!

Well peace to all and to all Canondale dreams. Must get some sleep since it is 4AM and I have to work tonight.

Be Good, But Not Boring!
Mac

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

10 Songs

1. You Are the Space Invader (An Optimo Espacio Mix)-Prinzhorn Dance School
Not sure where I heard this first. I think it was watching TV and I just heard a snippet of it. I Googled the lyrics that I heard and got the name of this song. I went to iTunes and found this funky little number. I dig it for the beat and the fact that it is just a different song. Its rhythm is infectious.

2. Wise Up-Aimee Mann
I was watching the movie Magnolia (an interesting flick to say the least) and at one point all of the characters started singing this song. It was nothing flashy as they were all just sitting there singing along with this song. Very poignant lyrics that, at 2AM, spoke to me in a profound way about my life.

3. Dreams I'll Never See-Molly Hatchet
Man do I miss Southern Rock! This is actually a cover of The Allman Brothers Band's song Dreams. The two are fantastic yet Dreams is more Bluesy while Hatchet's version is a bit more lively with a touch of hope in it. I love this song and it speaks to me about not giving up on your dreams.

4. Kiss and Say Goodbye-The Manhattans
I'd forgotten this classic oldie until the other day. I just love the singing on it and the fact that the guy realizes that his affair was wrong and that it should end. It is a great Karaoke song.

5. Down in Mexico-The Coasters
I was watching Death Proof by Quentin Tarantino when I heard this song and fell in love with it. It's got a lot of spunk and pizazz. A great dancing song.

6. Into the Open-Heartless Bastards
So I was watching Cinemax and they were doing a lot of teasers for the movie 300 in late February. In these teasers there was this haunting song playing to the slow motion images of the battle scenes. I just heard snippets of lyrics, but not enough to get the song from Google. So I just Googled "The song on the 300 teaser from Cinemax" and darned if the title didn't just pop up. It is a great song and the lead singer has a smoky, raspy voice and the lyrics are wonderful. Check it out. And yeah I watch a lot of movies.

7. Tightrope-Stevie Ray Vaughan
Pound for pound, in my humble opinion, he was the greatest Rock and R&B guitarist to ever have wielded and axe. The guy knew how to make a guitar literally cry. This song came out just as he was getting clean and sober which was right before his untimely death. I love the song for its lyrics which are about forgiveness and for its wailing guitar.


8. Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)-Kate Bush
I have always loved Kate Bush's ethereal sound and this song is timeless. Released in the mid 80s it still carries a lot of umph as far as its content and style. Another song that has gained meaning in my life over the past several years or so.

9. Worried About You-The Rolling Stones
This song is off of their Tattoo You album which, imho, is one of their most complete and best albums. This song captures the strength of Mick Jagger's voice back when the Stones actually rocked and weren't sellouts like they are now.

10. All Mixed Up-Redhouse Painters
This is a cover an older, lesser known Cars tune. I set my iTunes for shuffle one night and it was amazing to find out what I had forgotten was there. I like this version of the song a little better than the original.


Check these songs out and let me know what you think.

Have Fun!
Mac

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day



Back when I was in seminary I did a 20 page paper on the life of St. Patrick. It was not an easy task as hard facts about the man are few and far between while fables about him seem to have flourished. He was actually a Roman citizen who was abducted by Irish raiders and brought from England to Ireland when he just sixteen. This happen circa A.D. 403.

He escaped from his captors after some time with them learning their ways and customs. After returning home to England he had an Epiphany experience much akin to St. Paul's in Acts where he had a dream of a man beckoning him (Paul )to come to Macedonia to spread the Gospel. Patrick had dream much like that where his captors begged him to come back with the Light of Christ to bring them out of the darkness. So Patrick answered the call and was very successful in bringing the Christian faith to the Irish people. It wasn't easy but his faith led him through many hardships.

St. Patrick is credited with driving the snakes out of Ireland. I guess to this day there are no indigenous species of snakes there. I believe it is just an allegory of him bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Ireland and driving out the devil (the snake of the pre-Fall Genesis). Again it is just allegory, in my humble opinion as the Irish (of which I am one) are still people who commit sins. However, we are a devout people and full of wonderful stories and a love of family.

The Shamrock, or three leafed clover, was used by Patrick to explain the Trinity to the Irish as the hills were covered with them. Just a little fun fact.

I think that it is sad that on this day, the day we memorialize Patrick's death, that we indulge in drunken tom foolery. Many people I know just think of St. Patrick's Day as a day to get drunk and act the fool. What a shame that many honor this man of God with acts of sinfulness.

I guess that is just how things are nowadays but people of God don't have to go along with. Now don't get me wrong I love the occasional beer and am not a teetotaler. I am an Irish Lutheran (yeah go figure but some of us do exist). Beer is mother's milk to Irish and almost a Sacrament to the Lutherans. Yet, moderation is the key.

So if you are out and about tonight, have fun but don't get drunk. And remember what Patrick was all about. And if you are living apart from Jesus then drop me a line and I will gladly tell you all about the greatest Man to have ever lived who gave the greatest gift ever given. Patrick new Him and spread His Word. Honor what he stood for.

Slante,
MAC

P.S. Please no green beer tonight. That is bush league!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Things I Am Learning from Divorce

Growing up the only thing I ever knew about divorce was that Elizabeth Taylor had done it 5 times or more. It wasn't something that I gave much thought to as I never saw me divorcing the person that I married. I must admit that it never occurred to me that my wife-to-be would someday fall out of love with me and want out.

During this time of soul searching and awakenings I have heard people talk about divorce as a door to freedom, of course those were the people who wanted out. I never wanted out and for a time I wanted it back and right now I confess that I don't really know what I want. It hasn't been until that last 10 months or so that the hurt finally caught up to me, and the anger. Oh, how the anger has caught up to me!

For the first two years or so I was pretty cool with my feelings and making excuses for my ex-wife (as an aside I just recently came to terms with calling her my ex. Before then it just didn't feel right). Some would say that I was in denial, and maybe I was. I have sought some counseling over this as people have said that going through a divorce is akin to mourning the death of a loved one and I can see the truth in that.

I find it strange how it hits me out of nowhere that I have been rejected by the person that I loved the most, other than God. I was watching TV the other day and saw a movie that I had not seen in a long, long time and had first watched it with my wife. The reality of me watching it alone in my apartment without her hit me and I started to bawl like a baby. The same thing happened right before Christmas. I had all our children and I was trying to make it as special as I could. It was then that I realized that she knew how to make Christmas special with all of her projects and baking and other things. It was her gift. I cried then too when I understood it all.

I am coming around to it all. I wish her the best and pray for her. I know that she is seeing other men and that hurts, but it was bound to happen. She is young and attractive. I talk about dating, but it remains only talk. I think about it, but somehow it doesn't feel right. When it is the right time it will happen, or so I am told. Right now I am focusing my energies on my kids, and I believe that it should be that way.

I have learned a lot about myself through all of this. Most of it positive, some of it not. I know that I was a good husband, perhaps not the best but one that most women would die for. Not bragging here, because I never believed that while I was married.

I also realized that I am an encourager and heap praise on those around me. I love doing it because when I see it I need to let people know. I know the importance of hearing an affirmation at the right moment, the uplifting feeling of knowing that someone cares enough to say it. The hard part is when it doesn't comeback and you end up emptying yourself because of it. We all need praise and affirmation and so I give it still because in my eyes it is the thing to do. However, even now I confess that I crave it and don't see much of it. Maybe that is my lot in life, my cross to bear, and other than this sentence right here I have never mentioned my feelings on that to anyone. I guess I just want to hear that I matter to someone. Sounds kind of selfish, I know but I pledged to be honest when I started this blog way back when.

One of things that I have discovered through the course of my divorce is that I missed my music. I have always been into music as I believe that it is the language that brings people together, expresses one's soul, and makes life bearable. When I got married I got away from listening to music for the sheer pleasure of it mainly because my wife did not like my musical styles. So I capitulated and gave into her wants and listened to what she liked: Pop and Country and Western. Well I have rediscovered myself through my music. Right now I am listening to my iTunes library on shuffle and am hearing some wonderful Jazz, Rock, Techno, and World Music. I have very little Pop and only old school C&W like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson.

In some areas of myself I am coming back to life while I have died in others. I am still learning as I move forward but that is the thing to remember: I AM moving FORWARD. I am learning to crawl again but soon I will be walking on my own and then eventually I will run. First things first. Situation's still developing. More to come in time.

Be Good!
MAC

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Sea Refuses No River

I grew up on Long Island Sound. Not a gigantic body of water, but it was salt and had outlets to the ocean. I love the ocean. It has called to me ever since I was young. I would spend as much time as I could at the beach or on the water. I would got to friends summer homes on the Jersey Shore or up to Boston to visit with them and to see the ocean. I remember going to Maryland as a kid and standing on the beach with the Atlantic lapping its waves on my feet. I was in heaven.

I loved, especially, after spending an entire day at the beach when I would take a deep breath and feel my lungs tighten with a slight pain from at the salt sea air. There is nothing like the smell of the beach at low tide. Kind of funky and malodorous, yet something intriguing about it.

My most favorite times at the beach were in a storm or during winter. The sea is frightening yet mesmerizing at the same time. I can sit on a dock or a boat or the beach during the storms or winter and just lose myself in thought and feel as if I could float away in the breeze.

I remember the first time heading out in a friends catamaran where we lost sight of the shore. I was petrified and excited at the same time. I expected some terrible sea monster to lurch up out of the waters and swallow us whole. I deemed it a fitting way to die. Then my fear left me. It was then I wanted to head further out to the deeps. It seems my fear had turned into respect and that respect lives on today.

I never learned to sail myself, but I have read books about it. I have a dream about circumnavigating the globe in a yacht just to see of what I am made. Could I complete the journey? I don't know but I would love to try. I envision it all with me being alone, though I would love to be accompanied by a beautiful woman who shared my dreams and passions and was madly in love with me. However, I don't think any of those types of women exist sadly enough. I am the kind of guy, it seems of late, that women don't mind having around but never give a second thought or glance to. It is what is and I guess I am coming to terms with living out my days alone. What did Barbara Mandrell used to sing? "Sleeping single in a double bed." That is the cruelest fate of all.

So I turn to my love of the sea. It is much like a woman with its steely beauty that can change from peaceful serenity into a gale storm in a minute. It holds beauty untold and can transport you anywhere and yet it can be silent and still and leave you wondering if the tranquility can last forever.

While the sea can be unforgiving it is also welcoming. It, in the words of Pete Townshend, ...refuses no river. It doesn't care how dirty or pristine the river is it accepts it, welcomes it, blends with it. It holds life and whispers death. It contains creatures we don't even know about. There is more known about space then there is about the depths of the ocean. It is mysterious and I find that enticing. Compared to the ocean I am an insignificant speck and yet men like me have learned to harness its power and thrive in it and with it.

I live far from the ocean, smack dab in the middle of the country and I do not like swimming in rivers, or lakes, or ponds. They hold no appeal for me. To immerse myself into on of those bodies would be like being unfaithful to Lady Ocean. I can't do that, and so I don't. The sea calls to me, and if I am lucky enough to see a seagull I am filled with a brief joy and happiness that I have only ever found on or near the sea.

I am living on dry land and I am haunted by the ocean.

Friday, March 7, 2008

It's My Birthday!

Whooppee! Another year older! Yay!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Stop Winking at Me!


There is a guy at work who seems to be a really nice man. I don't know him all that well aside from the casual conversations of "How are doing today?", and the like. He is a large man and appears to be a hard worker. However he doesn't wear a belt. Doesn't wear a belt? So what? you ask. Sure it sounds weird until you see him bending over a piece of machinery or stooping down to get something out of a vending machine and then see him winking at you. No, not with his eye, but with his plumber's crack. Man I see that thing at least 4 times a night and I really don't want to look at it anymore. Not that I WANTED to look at it in the first place.

The people that I spend my breaks with sit near the vending machines. The tables are towards the back of the break room and it is just the place where we congregate, play cards, eat our meals, talk about life, and generally give each other crap, in a friendly way. Me, being the good Lutheran that I am, sit with my back to the wall so I can see everything that goes on in the break room. I may have to re-think my Lutheranism in general and sit elsewhere so as not to see the MONSTER eyeing me anymore.

Everyone at the table knows that this guy is showing his crack with wreckless abandon. As a matter of fact they know when he enters the room as I usually say something to one of them like, "You must be on crack", or "Krakatoa was a violent explosion." Cute? Maybe. Subtle? Not so much.

I keep challenging my break mates to drop a quarter into his crack when he is bending over the vending machines and to say something like, "OH! I'm sorry I thought that was the coin slot for the machine." They are chickens, one and all and never go for it. And if you are thinking that I am a chicken I am not. I just feel that if I come up with the idea someone else should carry it out. Hey, I can't be the brains and the brawn of our breaks.

So, basically this post is written in the hopes that if you are a crack baby that you will pull your pants up, wear a belt and stop winking at the world. And if you know someone, anyone, exposing their evil eye then you should approach them and let them know of their offense. You can even do it while giving them a belt as a token of appreciation for them to cease and desist from their shame.

Are you with me on this? Make it happen!

Mac

BTW-The pic at the top is not of the guy or his eye. It is just there for exemplary purposes.

Friday, February 29, 2008

LEAP DAY!

It happens once every 4 years and that day is today. Go make it count!


Today makes 50 months. Nuff said.
Mac

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Samoas Part 2

I was at the local supermarket which is just one in a chain of about three. To do any real grocery buying I have to go to one of two towns about 30 minutes away. Well I had just gotten off of work (I was doing some OT on the day shift which was nice) and I was getting some things for dinner. I figured that some ice cream would be great for dessert (and btw, never trust a person who doesn't like ice cream. Someone very wise told me that once and there is a lot of wisdom in that statement). I have a fondness for Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream, though it really packs in the fat so I always opt for the low-fat frozen yogurt version of it. It is not as rich, but it is still wonderful!

Well my local grocer, being a small time operator, is limited on their selection of Ben and Jerry's and they do not carry the low-fat frozen yogurt version of any B&Js offerings, though the gas station up the road does, go figure, but I did not feel like driving all over for ice cream or frozen yogurt. Well, as I continued on in the ice cream aisle my eye caught something in the Edy's section.

Lo and behold! I saw something that Edy's sells that vindicated my love for Girl Scout Samoa Cookies! It seems that Edy's offers a Samoa and Tagalong ice cream officially endorsed by the GSA.

Click on the link and you will see what I mean. SAMOA ICE CREAM!

There it is for all to see. There is no Caramel deLite or Peanut Butter Pattie ice cream, just the ice creams of the best darn Girl Scout Cookies we had back in America! Take that inferior cookies!

I bought a quart and I must say that if I have to get my Samoas that way then I will not argue.

Mac

Friday, February 22, 2008

Forward, Together Forward




I live fairly close to DeKalb, Illinois. I spend a lot of time there. I do most of my shopping there, whether it is for groceries or clothes or other odds and ends. I enjoy the eateries there too, so it is not uncommon for me to be there a few times a week. I have also discovered a wonderfully cheap movie theater there which I frequent from time to time.

Whenever I head over to DeKalb I pass through the campus of Northern Illinois University. It is a lovely campus and I always enjoy seeing the college kids hustle to and fro as they are either going to or coming from a class. A very good friend of mine graduated from NIU just last spring and is a proud member of the class of 2007. I even accompanied her one night to her lab where she had to do some science tests. It was neat to go into her building and to see the campus from a different viewpoint. I love living near colleges or universities as those communities seem to be a bit more hip, vibrant, and artistic. It keeps me young too.

I was in DeKalb early on the morning of February 14th as I was getting some things for my oldest son's birthday that day. I drove out of town by 9AM unaware of the coming storm that would rock both school and community later that day. I must admit that when I heard of the events that unfolded at NIU later that day I didn't react like I did with the Virgina Tech tragedy. I think that it was because I, like the rest of the country, am becoming used to such horrendously stupid acts of violence.

I was at work Sunday night and I was thumbing through some newspapers during one of my breaks and I came across the pictures and bios of the victims. As I read I became so enraged at their loss because they were just kids. If I hadn't read that they were students at NIU I would have thought that they were in high school because they looked so young. It makes no sense as to their untimely passing, and I felt the sting of tears welling up in my eyes. I didn't know any of these kids and I was confused as to why I was reacting this way. I felt grief for them and for their families. In the back of my mind I heard the words of the English poet John Donne:

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.

I mourned for the loss of promise for what could have been for these 5 kids had they been able to fulfill their destinies. What will not be because some deranged person took their lives? How many lives will not be touched by them because of their absence? How many will suffer the loss of their gifts and talents because they have been extinguished?

Last night I headed over to DeKalb to take my son out for dinner and to pick up some things for the house. I must say that I was moved to tears as we both witnessed the outpouring of love and support for NIU by the local businesses. The vast majority of marquees that could have been touting sales and products were lit up with well wishes, thoughts, and prayers for NIU. Virtually every establishment we went into had a placard in the window or door with the NIU Husky on it and a black ribbon and the words Forward, Together Forward. I was moved. I am so proud to live near this community because of their character and passion.

My son and I drank it all in and were silent on the car ride back to our town. There was a lot to think about, even more to pray about. It is my heartfelt prayer that the God of my Salvation will reach down and hold these people-victims families, the people of NIU, and the people of DeKalb-in His loving hands and that He would send His Healer and Comforter to them to bend this situation to His Will and turn this tragedy around.

Mac

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Samoas! Whither Have Ye Gone?

Being a transplant from the East Coast affords me the opportunity to experience the subtle changes in our nation that creep up from place to place. For instance, the further west you go you will find that soda is referred to as pop, basements are called cellars and anything thrown on some dough with tomato juice and then whipped into an oven is known as pizza. As such I joke around with my friends by saying things like, "Back in America we had something known as Pizza," or "Back in America we call it soda," and ribbing of that nature.

Well at work there are always people selling things for their kids school, sports teams, or scouts troops. Everybody throws some money in to help each other out. Recently a friend of mine was hawking Girl Scout cookies. I refrained from buying any because I knew that I would eat a box or two in a sitting so I didn't even look at his order sheet. A few nights ago he showed up with his goods for those who bought a box or five.

So, here we are at one of our breaks and people are opening up their boxes and enjoying some cookies. Someone asked me if I wanted one to which I responded, "Do you have any Samoas?" Well I could have been speaking Japanese for all he cared because the look he shot me was one of incredulity, as if I had said something wrong or unintelligible. He didn't even ask "What?" So I was forced to say, "What's the problem?"

As we continued I noticed others in the break room had heard what I had said and were curious as to what I had meant. He finally said, "What are you talking about?" I told that I wanted a Samoa if he had bought any. He said that he didn't know what I was talking about and that he only had Peanut Butter Patties. I then said, "You mean Tagalongs?" Again silence and staring. The thought popped into my mind that I was not in America anymore.

No one knew what I was talking about and they said that the cookies I spoke of never existed. I disagreed. They then said that if they did the names were changed a million years ago(insinuating that I am old). I told them, "You know, the vanilla cookie covered with coconut and caramel with dark chocolate drizzled on it? It is the best seller for the Girl Scouts!" "Do you mean the vanilla cookie with caramel and coconut with milk chocolate drizzled on it?" Not sure of myself any longer I said yes. "Then you mean Caramel deLites!" I nervously laughed but I had meant Samoas. What the heck was going on? I mean when I was at McDonald's earlier that day they weren't selling Le Royales with cheese! No, they were still selling Quarter Pounders with cheese. What was happening?!

I saw someone eating a Samoa(so I thought) and went up to them to get the box to prove my point but when I picked it up it said Caramel deLites(btw it is pronounced CARE-A-Mel and not CARMLE- just for those living in Dixon, Illinois). Faintly I heard the music from The Twilight Zone playing in the distance and I was ascared, very ascared! Where the heck was I and what had they done to my cookies!?

I had lived in several states and had bought and eaten Samoas, Tagalongs, Trefoils, and Do-Si-Dos from Connecticut to Missouri. What was the deal?

Well thank the good Lord for the Internet because my riddle was answered by finding out that the Girl Scouts use two different bakeries to make, basically, the same cookies. However, depending on the bakery the name is different. Furthermore each Girl Scout Council can use whatever bakery they choose so this disparity is not regional.

So it appears that I was right after all and that I live in an area where the cookies that I know and love are sold under different, more sterile sounding names. I tasted a Caramel deLite and it was too Caramelly(that is Carmelly for those of you who have just moved out of your parents house and into Dixon, Illinois) and not much of a deLite.

Oh, well I guess you can't have your cookies and eat them too. Man I miss America!

Mac