Even though I am one of those freaks that actually reads that entire manual shoved into the glovebox of a new car from cover to cover, I never knew that the little check engine and those other various auto dashboard warning lights, were officially called ‘tell-tale indicators’. I have always known them as ‘idiot lights’.  Although I’m not sure when I realized the rest of the world also called them that and it was not just part of my Dad’s unique vernacular like Pennsyltucky,  schmucko, white caca and happy horseshit.

I was thinking that you can sort people into three basic personality groups based on how they react to those little annoying dashboard lights. Folks like me tend to heed the warnings immediately like we’re in some imminent danger and a drill sergeant is barking some life or death order that must be quickly followed or else. GET GAS NOW!!!!  ADD COOLANT THIS SECOND!!!!  DRIVE DIRECTLY TO YOUR MECHANIC OR YOU WILL DIE…DIE…DIE!!!!! In spite of all my loud bravado, I’m actually pretty good at following directions, so it makes sense that even if it’s a mechanical two ton pile of non-living steel giving the commands, I obey them with great seriousness and vigor.

Another group sees those lights as a passive nudge, a little hint or tiny suggestion. Those are the same people who when they buy something that has to be assembled, would not dream of looking at the accompanying instructions unless in absolute dire need. Even though it might kill them, the extreme version of that personality type will purposely refuse to wear a seat belt or motorcycle helmet simply because they do not like being told they have to.  Yeah, they acknowledge the little warning lights but actively choose to dismiss the message and delay their response until they are damn well ready to deal with it.

The last category is the oblivious. They could not even tell you that a bright glowing light three inches from the steering wheel had been continuously on for the past month because they never noticed it. But in their defense, it’s hard to see a little glowing light while driving and you are also busy texting, fixing yourself in the mirror, playing with the radio and avoiding all those other drivers who seem to constantly cause all those accident close calls. I don’t worry about insulting them because there is not a chance they would have read this far; no one got murdered, had sex or exploded yet so they would have gotten bored long ago.

I have kept it no secret that I am a bit of a paranoid worry wort, so an illuminated idiot light is just another thing for me to obsess over. Last week a light came on in my Mini Cooper saying that I needed air in my rear driver’s side tire. Of course I filled it that night using the small compressor I have at home. I hate going to the gas stations that charge you $1.50 for air. I understand the expense of having the machine but its air. I’m paying for air. It’s not like I am not always surrounded by tons of it; I just can’t get it into my tire without help and I have that help in that machine at home where I can do it for free.

Buying air for a buck fifty is like paying $1.50 for a bottle of water… oh wait… I do that too.  Even though I have a filtered water dispenser in my fridge and a Britta filtered pitcher on my counter, I still find myself buying bottled water.

Think about that for a second. Really think about it. Let it roll around your head because it seems normal to us now because over time we have all been convinced that there is nothing wrong with paying for water and air. My depression era grand-parents would have a conniption knowing that I was paying good money for water and air. Someone is a friggin brilliant marketing genius because they created something out of nothing.  It’s like selling a package with a bag of dirt along with a bag of water and calling it Instant Mud.

Nowadays we don’t think twice about paying for water and air. Pretty soon we will be paying for light… oh wait a minute, I get an electric bill.  For crying out loud, soft and medium, is there nothing free? The whole damn planet is covered with water surrounded by air and fifty percent of the time is engulfed in light. Why am I paying for this stuff.

The day after I filled that tire, my wife and I drove to a kinda rough neighborhood on the other side of town to go see an old movie at an even older repertory movie theater.  Yes, we could have waited to see it at home for free on cable TV or watched on demand anytime with Netflicks or Hulu or Prime or any of the other kinda unnecessary services that offer stuff that used to be free but we now pay for. But since we are so free with our money, spending all willy nilly on air, water and light, why not go crazy and pay full price to see an old movie on a big screen. There is even more irony to it when you realize the movie we saw was Idiocracy.

After the film we got in the car to drive home and the dash board light came back on about the same tire. All my paranoia aside, one time could be a fluke but twice means a real leak. I like my car, my possessions, my wife and my life so I decided stopping to get air at night in the most crime ridden part of town might not be the best way for an unarmed dorky middle aged white guy to retain those things. Remember, I have been robbed at gun point, with a knife pressed against my side and with a hammer waved at my face, maybe my paranoia is well earned. I really try now to avoid those situations if at all possible.

We drove to a somewhat safer neighborhood where I begrudgingly spent $1.50 for air. ‘AIR!!!, I’m buying air!’ I thought to myself ‘it’s like I’m buying a bottle of water at the beach’, it’s understandable but it just feels wrong.

We got home safe, secure and sound with no incident except for a little grumbling I unfortunately caused with the wife. I was all wound up about having to stop in the bad neighborhood and driving on a low tire and paying for the air thing and knowing I now had to make time to get my tire fixed… Then I got even more annoyed because I lost the little cover that goes over the tube where you put air in.

I mentally worked myself up so much I could not remember it was called a ‘valve stem cover’ but then again I use that term about as much as I use ‘tell-tale indicator’. It slipped out of my hands as I was trying to screw it back on and it rolled off into oblivion. After spending more time on the ground looking for it than it took to put air in the tire, I got back in the car and backed up to use the headlights to find it. My confused wife looked at me like I was nuts, which I am, but that is not the point.

After still failing to find it, I got back in the car and told my wife why I was searching the gas station gutter but of course I could not think of the term ‘valve stem cover’ so I got even more exasperated describing my odd behavior. She told me ‘she always puts the cap in her pocket when she first takes it off so she knows where it is’.

It actually was good advice, but not good timing to give it. Instead of being the completely innocent helpful remark she meant it as, I took her innocuous advice as ‘nar nar you stupid idiot can’t you put $1.50 worth of air in a damn tire without screwing up that task you useless monkey-boy’. Taking it the damn wrong way on top of knowing that the damn advice would not of helped a damn anyway because I lost the damn thing while trying to put it back on the damn tire, I snidely responded with something like ‘thank you very much for that advice’ in the very most damn sarcastic tone I could damn well muster.

I immediately apologized and we quickly got over it but I felt like a guilty lug the rest of the night.  I deeply respect, admire and love my wife. She does not need or deserve me or anyone talking to her like that. It’s uncalled for and made me feel like I was sinking to the level of the current crass political pundits. Just because our society has suddenly deemed that as acceptable behavior, I don’t have to. (Does that mean I have to change which Idiot Light response group I belong to?) Now I was frustrated with the tire, the air and myself. To make matters worse, on the drive home my low air in tire tell-tale indicator light came back on again. My buck fifty of air was gone and I barely got a chance to use it.


Not sure how my tires get low.

Posted in it is what it is | Leave a comment


My Mother kept not-so subtly correcting us in her sweet/stern well practiced ‘I’m not raising my voice but you will listen to what am saying’ tone, that raising five kids made her very good at. That voice might sound deceptively calm to an outsider but when one of us kids heard it, we knew she meant business. This was the precursor to the dreaded count to three or the occasional outright roar and no one wanted her to get to that level of anger if it could be avoided. As always, that day we paid attention.

Even more than her single raised eyebrow glare, that little voice inflection had enough power to get us to immediately stop messing around, correct our behavior and often even redirect us towards getting some pre-assigned chore completed. Nowadays we still react to it, not for fear of punishment but more from a highly trained conditioned reflex.

Back when my Mom was doing most of the heavy lifting bringing us up, as was typical in the Mesozoic Era when I was young, she was like an amazing Grand Master in the art of child wrangling with that voice. Of course you have to give us kids credit too; we did give her lots and lots of opportunity to hone the skill. If she could teach that voice to the United Nations’ world leaders, I’m confident they could stop wars. Or at least stop them long enough for everyone worldwide to clean up their rooms and maybe get the dishes done. Hell, with enough conditioning my Mother could get Putin, Trump, Kim Jong-un and Robert Mugabe to stop their sword rattling and sit together for a few light hearted rounds of Hungry Hungry Hippos before declaring a new era of world peace.

Through my Mom’s physical and emotional pain I recognized that very same voice as she kept repeatedly saying “this is not a funeral, it’s a celebration of his life”.  Even as we were standing in the cemetery about to inter her son’s / my brother’s ashes into the columbarium niche, she pulled out the old secret weapon voice to make sure everyone was treating the grievous occasion in an easier to deal with more positive way. More than just teaching us good behavior, she has always made taking care of us and making sure we are happy the top priorities in her life.

The voice must have worked because despite the astoundingly depressing occasion  my three remaining somber siblings and me still made bad aside jokes to each other during the ‘non-funeral life celebration’ while they were placing the remains in the marble wall. Don’t think bad of us, that is just what my family does. It has always been how we deal with this kind of stuff.  I am confident my brother wouldn’t have wanted it any other way and were he there, he would have joined us in the ‘too soon’ jokes.

That day also assuredly proved again that as a family we are much better at burying our emotions then each other. That does not mean we do not ‘feel’. As a family we just don’t talk a lot about touchy feely mushy stuff.  I am a product of a different generation when Mothers handle the kids and stoic Fathers prove their love by working a zillion hours a week putting food on the family table (that we ate all together for dinner with no outside distractions). Dads didn’t repeatedly whisper I love you to their kids, instead it was a known underlying fully implied thing.

This still is true. If I gave a warm bear hug greeting to anyone in my family besides my Mother, they would look at me like I had joined some small off-shore island mind controlling free-love hippy fringe religion cult (which based on the current election outcome, might not be out of the question). We don’t say it and show it in obvious ways but we very much love each other and would do anything for each other… except wear our emotions on our sleeve.

A friend of mine recently had gotten concerned about me and in turn, the level of our friendship. They called me out on my becoming increasingly more non-communicative this year. Granted I started the year in January with my brother’s “not a funeral celebration of his life” (damn Mom’s good, that voice is still in my head making sure I call it the right thing) and followed it up with a forced work change from my dream job, a major move, a couple of very serious family illnesses, and, and… well let’s say it has not gotten much easier. But friendships, like any of the other ‘ships’ (relationship, internship, championship, workmanship…) take effort and if they are ignored or are one-sided they become less shipshape and sink.

Sometimes the obvious is not so obvious and that little bubble we wrap ourselves in for protection gets tougher and stronger and harder to see through and hidden behind a couple of walls and… I’m just saying it’s not a bad thing when someone calls you out on the woe is me bullshit.

When it is my ‘not a funeral/celebration of his life’ and people stand up and talk about me, I want them to have a hard time deciding which story or adventure or fun thing to choose from. I don’t want anyone to have to dig way far back to glory days of the distant past. Yes life is never easy and sometimes things really, really suck. But if I close my eyes I can hear my Mom’s voice, The Voice.  And it’s telling me to ‘hup two skid-do’. And I don’t know exactly what the hell that means but I’m sure it has something to do with getting my head out of ass, not getting overwhelmed by the crap and enjoying all the amazingly good that is around me. And I better do it because I do not want to hear her start to count.


Posted in it is what it is | 2 Comments


The sun just pulled up high enough into the sky to strongly focus its warm intense beams into the room through the big wall of windows (OK they are more like small glass paned multiple door panels but that is not as pleasant sounding as windows and I’m trying to create a mood here, so just picture in your mind big pretty windows instead of the luxurious glass double doors I really have… ooooooo  wait…  luxurious glass double doors, that sounds as good as windows… ok ok, big-lux-sun-glass–door, you get the picture, lets move on with the mood making shtick so we can get to the point of this thing).

Suddenly an intense bright light shot through the slats of the blinds on the luxurious glass double doors and filled the room with dozens of straight line light beam patterns that bounced off the floor and walls. (moody eh?) In seconds my house turned from quiet early morning to daytime.  The dog rolled over burrowing his head deeper under his blanket. A couple of the cats quickly discovered the new sun beams and sprawled on the cozy warm rug contorting their stretched bodies to avoid any of the shadows (about here is when I normally would cut the mood crap and start getting to the point… not sure that will happen today).

The sunlight reflected off my computer screen with an intensity that reminded me of my old neighborhood creepy bully melting ants under a magnifying glass on a scorching summer sidewalk. I squinted in fear of the light boring holes into my pupils. I had been typing away, virtually yammering on, about bugs, babies and bureaucrats trying to cobble together some sort of humorous tale to follow up my somewhat somber blog last week. It wasn’t working.

The light caused me to look away and think about what I was writing. Does anyone really want to hear me compare the enjoyability of the current  presidential race to babies crying in an expensive restaurant  or to the mosquito bite that is about an inch north west of my most private of personal parts on that soft tender patch of skin just below the underwear line.  Actually, it’s hard to believe but that bug bite might even be even more irritating than that last presidential debate.

I don’t know how I got a damn mosquito bite on that sensitive spot but man oh Manischewitz, its ultra-crazy over-the-top itchy. The problem is I can’t scratch it anytime around another human because it would look like I was reaching into my pants towards my most private of personal parts in public. Now maybe I could get away with that if I was a droopy pants street corner thug or a slightly slow late blooming toddler but if a grown middle-aged dorky bald guy scratches his naughty bits in public, it’s kinda Creeper City USA.  Too much of that behavior and the CSI /NICS folks will be q-tipping my car trunk for missing person body part residue (hmmm, maybe I did not need the mood making sun/window stuff if all I’m gonna do is talk about under the pants near naughty bits scratching).

I can only imagine how darn bad it would look if a co-worker caught me scratching away like a maniac just inside the front of my pants with a decidedly relieved look slapped on my face. Of course I would most certainly deny that I was publicly personal part prodding but at that point no one would ever believe me. That would be like trying to get the disgusted driver in the car next you to believe you were not picking your nose when they looked over and caught you doing a single index finger side of the nose scratch.  I can hear it now. “Oh don’t look at me that way. It was a simple scratch. If you don’t believe me, you can get out of your comfy car, come over here and inspect my hand for nasal residue because there is none to be found!!! And further more Mr. Snide Guy in the car next to me, while I’m proving to you that my finger was ‘next to’ and not ‘in my’ nose, kindly ignore that my other hand is shoved into the top of my pants scratching an uncontrollable itch an inch away from my male reproductive body parts!!”


The sun was making it hard to sit there writing this mess and even though I knew this blog entry needed some work, I got up to fetch a cup of coffee and mull things over. I like a good morning mull with my coffee. My brain wandered and quickly my inner-head voices collided. The Narrator of my blog started chatting with snide Parenthesis Aside Comment Guy. They both urged me to start this thing over.

I pleaded with the voices. Do you know how much time I have already invested in this? We are on the ninth paragraph already. They did not care. I tried pulling the wacky John Belushi Animal House German’s bomb Pearl Harbor motivational interpretation of the famous ‘when the going gets tough’ speech on them but the voices in my head would not change their opinion. Eventually the light had shifted enough that I could sit back down and comfortably continue writing. I wrestled back control of the Narrator voice from inside my head and started typing with it again but Parenthesis Comment Boy kept questioning what I was doing.

Yeah, I said,  there was not really a point in here (see!). But that does not mean its bad (what?). It’s kind of a Seinfeld-esque study in making something out of nothing (your stretching and you know you stole that nose pick thing from an episode of that show). I think it is entertaining prose and good enough to go with (bullshit).

People will love it; I’m not changing a single word. I’ll throw it up there on the old internet for the world to read and you will see (throw up is the right term…and you realize you’re talking to yourself). Yeah (in public, in print, for all the world to see). So (well, I know you do it all the time inside your head but you do not normally share your internal monologue with the world). Is that a bad thing oh wise, know it all Parenthesis-Boy voice in my head (kinda yeah).

(People already think your nuts and this might push them to really worry about you). It’s better to be a nutty guy with debating voices in his head than a nasty perv reaching into his pants to scratch an itch (neither is good.). Oh, well than how do I get out of this? (Just write a little bit more about the light in the room calming down, cut your losses and go. Besides your readership is down; people will be preoccupied this week by the hurricane and Halloween). True, even my FACEBOOK friends seem to be paying way more attention to creepy clowns and caustic candidates then to my little old blog.  (Maybe you will be lucky and no one will read this confusing mess) It’s not that bad is it? (yeah, it is).

The sun moved higher up into the sky and the beams of light moved out of the room. The cats flashed me that what did you do look, as if I had some control over their disappearing sunlight. The dog popped his head out from under the blanket. I typed a brief ending (not soon enough), took some Benadryl and moved on with the rest of my day.


Posted in it is what it is | 1 Comment


The rain storm did not last too long but it was an intense and angry downpour that made me glad I was working inside an old downtown marble and steel re-purposed bank vault building. The type of building you expect to still see standing tall among the vine entangled rubble and ruins several millennia from now long after the shortsighted human race wipes itself out of existence and nature takes over again. Of course between ISIS, Al Qaeda, North Korea, North Africa, the Mid-East, The Far East, The Philippians, Aleppo, Hillary, Trump, Putin, Fracking, Hacking, McGriddles, lone gunman, riots, mistrust in the streets and global warming… well, that might just end up being a lot sooner than later.

A howling wind echoed through the cracks and seams of that old building and thick sheets of rain with frequent white flashes of lightning were all that could be seen through the steel bar covered windows. It was long after five PM when the wind and water finally abated. We all stepped out of the doorway that evening with the same trepidation as Dorothy making her first colorful steps from her dreary black and white flying farm house into OZ. Seeing the streams of water cascading down the street and realizing the traffic lights were out, each of us knew we would be facing our own yellow brick style adventure finding our way back home in the chaotic post storm rush hour mess.

I was living in a furnished ‘temporary’ apartment right behind the Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans’s Garden District. Although I had only been there about a month, I was feeling like a real local commuting to work every day on the creaky historic St Charles Ave Streetcar, almost expecting to see Professor Longhair or Ignatius J. Reilly in the seat next to me. That day though, the rains had left about a foot and half deep river over the street and tracks causing the road to be closed to all vehicles including my trolley home.

Not knowing what to expect, I asked a few locals at the flooded trolley stop if this usually clears up quickly. They flashed me that annoyed/sorry/shocked expression, like they were forced to come up with a compliment for a friend’s newborn ugly pin-headed baby. I quickly realized, to them, my inquiry was just as ridiculous as asking the harried New Yorker next to you on a stalled subway train when will it will start moving again. How would they know… I got it. I decided it was best if I just shut up and follow the rest of the crowd’s lead.  I rolled up my dress pants above my knees, stuffed my shoes and socks into my briefcase with my already shed tie and sloshed my way barefoot through the dirty rushing waters the mile or so towards home.

New Orleans is not the cleanest city I’ve ever been in, so unfortunately as the flood waters rise, the filth and scum float along with it. I felt like I was wading ankle deep through a giant dirty public restroom mop bucket of filth dodging broken glass and other various gutter refuse lurking bellow the brown murky water. Hiking through the messy slurry I imagined these storms were nature’s way of tidying things up a bit. I eventually made it to my street but decided at that point splashing a few more steps was not going to expose me to any additional nasty skin diseases that I had not already picked up.

Igor’s was just a block further west down St Charles Ave from my place… the safe direction towards the bigger mansions with their ornate verandas and balconies.  To the north was where I heard gunshots echo from the burnt out slums most every night but the rains seemed to have quieted that down too. Igor’s was a 24hour a day dive bar with a tiny five item menu prepared on the just as tiny grill behind the six stool bar. Locally brewed Abita Turbodog was the only beer on tap. The place also featured four sidewalk tables, three slot machines, two pool tables, one pinball machine and, of course, two sets of washer/dryers.

You never really had to leave Igor’s and after that truly gross walk home, the only reason I left that night after I finished my burger and beer, was the intense desire to boil off the street scunge from my ankles and feet. By the time I stepped out the door, the water was receding and the road was already starting to clear up.

Memories of that odd walk through the soggy humid New Orleans’ street popped in my head this morning as I was taking the dog out between rainstorms. I closed my eyes and could almost smell the same dense funk in the air. Once back inside, I turned on my computer and virtually strolled down St Charles Ave next to the trolley tracks on Google Maps. I recognized the shapes of some of the buildings but the storefronts were mostly different. Igor’s was still there but it looked bigger and cleaner and kinda trendier than I remembered. The guard station at my old condo was gone. Maybe the neighborhood just north got better or maybe my memories are getting worse.

I tried to recall more details about my time there. A long late night walk home from Tipitina’s, the bowling alley with an amazing blues club inside it, the beer vendors calling out ‘beer to go, take one for the road’ on the way out of a show, crab cake Eggs Benedict with warm beignets for Sunday brunch, jogs past the above ground cemeteries, coffee in the French Quarter on quiet weekday mornings before the tourists woke up…

My brother Neil ended up down in New Orleans for a short business trip when I was there. He got disgusted with the boutique style hotel his company booked him in, so after dinner together he opted to sleep on my condo sofa instead. We talked for a long time that night. The debauchery and bayou swagger of New Orleans was lost on him He had no desire to see the excitement brimming just below the dirt and humidity. He did not like the place at all.

I was the opposite; I loved it. I think I still do.  But I have not been back since then. Since long before the hurricane…and the rebirth. Since I settled down in Texas 16 years ago. It’s hard to believe how old and dated my memories are getting. I can’t believe it is over 20 years since I last saw New Orleans. I can’t believe it’s getting close to a year since I last saw Neil.  I can’t see him again but I can get back to New Orleans. I worry though, that it won’t live up to my muddied memories. Maybe that is why I have not gone back. But until I do finally get there again, when the rain falls just the right way and there is a deep funk in the air, I can still close my eyes and vividly recall wading down the middle of St. Charles Ave.  And that’s a good thing.


Posted in it is what it is | 1 Comment


I have been walking the Earth for approximately 468,419 hours.  Okay, so maybe I was doing more crawling and crying the first 14,000 hours than walking and talking but the point is I have logged in a lot of hours being a living breathing human.

Now a few years ago Malcolm Gladwell, a poofy haired pop psychologist lecturer trying to sell books, popularized a somewhat older concept that you can master a field of study and become an expert if you practice it for 10,000 hours.  He used Bill Gates and the Beatles as examples. Now  I have a hard time buying into this because like I mentioned above, obviously I have been practicing being a living breathing human for well over 40 times that amount of time and yet I still find myself relatively oblivious about much of my world.

So is there something wrong with me that with all this practice ‘humaning’, I’m not a grand master expert at it? I’ll even knock it down a few notches and say that for years I’ve fancied myself a kinda observant, common sensey, street smarty kinda guy but now I’m questioning that.

Like the other day I looked down and thought, well how long has there been an ‘Fn’ key on my computer keyboard lurking between the space bar and Ctrl key?   ‘FN’?   Does this turn on some odd radio frequency or link me to some lost chemical element cross between Iron and Francium?  More to the point, how long has that thing been hiding in plain sight down there?  I felt like one of those clueless neighbors to a terrorist interviewed on the evening news about them being pleasant, quiet and nice but oblivious to them building a 40foot-tall enriched plutonium nuclear grade weapon in their front yard next to their pink petunias and garden gnome.

Look, I’m not completely drooling in a cup,  coma girl Terri Schiavo, Brian Wilson in the 1980s, out of it.  I know the ‘FN’ button is a shortcut ‘function’ key but I have typed on this damn keyboard almost every day for the last seven years and I truly never noticed it lounging down there on the bottom of my keyboard. It’s obvious I’ve never used it. The white printed letters on most of my vowel keys are completely rubbed off. All that is left on my ‘A’ is a kinda crippled worm looking dash. Actually most of my keys are pretty well-worn but that little ‘FN’ is sitting there all out of place untouched and pristine like a well-dressed religious virgin girl in a pure white dress at rain-soaked muddy Insane Clown Posse juggalo gathering.

Heck now that I am looking, there also seems to be a shortcut button on my keyboard to my computer’s calculator right there above my number keys. When did that get there? Just a couple of paragraphs ago I was fumbling around some sleazy dark corner of Windows 10 making small talk with Cortana, the love child of Siri and that little paper clip guy that used to annoyingly pop up when I screwed up in Word or Excel, hoping to get a clue where the damn calculator is hidden so I could figure out how many hours I was alive.

For a couple of decades the calculator was always in the accessories folder but 10,000 hours of practice computer boy, Bill Gates, apparently this year decided to shove it deep into the stinky bowels of the current app based operating system. It’s in there somewhere probably next to some worn tired code that when activated will magically open Minesweeper. I obviously found it or else that hour thing would not be up there at the beginning but I had to search all over for it. You would think a master super practiced human would have noticed sometime in the past seven years the happy little shortcut key with a picture of a calculator on it that works without even having to hold down the ‘FN’ key to use it.

But back to my feeble point, what else am I missing that is right in front of my nose.  I used to think I was a very observant person but being alive for nearly 500,000 hours has put me in my place. Along with all the wisdom I have gained, I also have learned that I don’t know everything; as a matter of fact I know closer to nothing than everything. Oh don’t worry, I’m not just putting myself down. I’m dragging you down into the muck of existence with me, because the sad truth is no matter how many hours of existence you got under your belt, you too know closer to nothing than everything too.

I think my life will become easier once I admit I just can’t know everything nor do I need to know everything. I’m not saying I should give up learning more and trying to better myself but just keep it in perspective.  Why do I expect perfection out of myself but I do not expect everyone else to be great at everything. I don’t expect Albert Einstein to be an expert scuba diver or Ernest Hemingway to be an astronaut or Leonardo Da Vinci to be a chef… well, actually along with everything else he did kinda design kitchens and food presentations and stuff… OK bad example, Da Vinci could do friggin everything but I’m not Lenny… and that’s okay too. I just need to be a pretty good me. And if I can get that through my skull, I think I will be a happier camper for the rest of my hours.


Posted in it is what it is | Leave a comment


You know that scene where the little miniature devil and angel version of the guy magically pop onto  each of his shoulders than take turns talking into his ears urging him to follow their respective path? Well lately my brain has been wandering like an Appalachian Trail hiker and I feel like I am not only carrying around a gabby Mini Dan Angel and persuasive Mini Dan Devil on my shoulders but I also have their pals Mini Dan Overwhelmed, Mini Dan Stress-boy, Mini Dan Apathy and Mini Dan Curmudgeon spewing their opinionated advice right up the old cochlea express directly into my brain.

The wife and I are in the thick of a whirlwind year highlighted by such relaxing events like buying and selling a house, both of us changing jobs, incurable illness, death in the family, elder care issues and more… Basically a whole mess of those top 10 life traumas have cluster bombed our happy little idyllic world bubble. It might have been imaginary with an unrealistic rose tint to it, but I miss my friggin’damn bubble.

Lately it’s been run, run, run and not a lot of fun.  But this current roller coaster ride is far from over so I need to find a way to tighten my seat belt, raise my arms to the wind and figure out a way to enjoy the rest of this ride because at this point there is no getting off.

I finally had an open afternoon and evening just to myself with little planned except to grab some dinner, toss down a couple of drinks and attend a groovus concert. Of course the real goal was to take my mind off my worries but my brain and all my advice giving Mini Dan shoulder buddies had other plans.  Like a broken water spigot, I could not shut off the flow of thoughts. I attempted to drown out the chatter by reminding myself that my life really truly is not so bad and so many others have it so very much worse than I, but my little gang of Mini Dans would have none of that misery loves company crap and kept dragging me back into their wallowing mire of blah.

Normally one of the simple joys of my life is just sitting alone reading the newspaper over a late afternoon cold beer in a quiet dank pub but I could not bring myself to crack open the paper. What was going on?  If one of my go to forms of mind drifting relaxation was now depressing me, I knew something was amiss. I thought maybe I needed to use this time for a little self-analysis. At the risk of sounding a bit too much like the Son Of Sam killer taking victim suggestions from the neighbor’s talking dog, I opted to address each of the little Mini Dans and talk some of these clowns off my shoulders.

First I checked on who was causing the most problems. The more famous usual suspects, Mini Dan Depression, Mini Dan Mid-Life Crisis and Mini Dan Male Menopause, were nowhere to be found. That was good because those jerks are hard to evict. They also can really mess with you, causing some bad decisions and instigating some real wacky crap you’ll regret later.

This was going to take some time, I ordered a second beer. Like they were little flecks of dandruff, I flicked off the easy ones like Mini Dan Grumpy, Mini Dan Short Fuse and Mini Dan Surly.  Those guys come and go with the wind and if I get to the root of the problem they rarely rear their ugly little mini Dan heads. Like a weird morphed mix of Sherlock Holmes and Sigmund Freud I start hunting for mental clues buried deep in my mushy grey matter.

After getting rid of a few more issue causing idiots it hit me.  After 40 years of avid readership, which Mini Dan was causing the newspaper’s world news to depress me and make me flip straight to the comics. Is it Mini Dan Agoraphobia, Mini Dan Paranoia or Mini Dan Old Age Fears that is making me feel like the world around me is out of control? Control!  Control!!!

That’s been the main culprit. Mini Dan Control Freak. That little bastard!!! I almost fell into his trap. I was not going to need a third beer, that would have just given more fuel to that wee shoulder standing old nemesis of mine. Mini Dan Control Freak  has been causing me problems for decades going way back in school, my work carrier and relationships. Now I was pretty sure he was the guy who lately had been stirring the pot and dragging all his pesty Mini Dan buddies to the shoulder pity party.

I have always had control issues and this year its felt like I have so little control over the events of my life  its been like riding on an unstopping driver-less train. Even the vacations I have taken  were not of my own design or choosing. Even if the control I have had over my world has been a false illusion, I was still able to find comfort in it.

I leaned back in my bar stool and looked knowingly at the rolled up newspaper. The bad news in the paper is no worse than usual but now it was just appearing to be more out of my control. I might have been forced into the job change and move but in the right frame of mind those are good things. There are things I can do and getting a handle on those is the key to me feeling better. Like I can’t control getting older but I can use the wisdom I have picked up along the way to my advantage. I can still read the paper but just skip to the crossword puzzle when the real world chaos starts to get to me. And I can evict all those meddling Mini Dans… well maybe all of them except that Mini Devil Dan guy, he is kinda fun.


Posted in it is what it is | 2 Comments

EX – Ohhh – DUS

Just like the very first Star Wars movie, the Bible has had several different versions of the original released. Both also have had numerous sequels and prequels that cause a lot of arguments over which is better or more true among its avid fans and followers. I would prefer not to debate ingrained beliefs and making fun of them does not always go over so well.

I’m more of a Trek then Wars guy so it’s easy for me to sidestep that one. Religion is a whole different can of exploding worms like abortion and presidential politics. Whether you’re the type to jump into the deep end of the religious pool and be engulfed by its teachings or you wade into the shallow end to just let little bits of it splash on you when you want it, I sure as H-E-Double Light Sabers am not qualified to dictate what is right or wrong.

It is never my goal to alienate or aggravate a reader so I usually don’t touch those topics. Yet this morning I was thinking about the biblical story of Exodus. You know the one; around 1200 or1300 or 1400 BCE (no one agrees on these damn dates) good old burning shrub chatting Moses led his enslaved people on a rougher trip than the one ‘over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house’.

For a whole bunch of years my main man Moses and the gang were wandering through a parted river and shvitzing through an arid desert till they set up shop in a less Pharaoh-y neighborhood with a mountain view and a hiking trail to a tablet dispensary. Aside from a little bit of last minute American ‘Idol’ like fervor of false god worshiping, the whole mass of travelers still managed to hold onto their same old culture and all the old important possessions they laboriously dragged with them. You can almost hear the kvetching old Jewish man voices crying out from the crowd “oy my feet are aching in these sandals” or “who forgot to pack the damn yeast” or “why did we drag all this crap with us when we could have bought new”.

Not to belittle this important tale in any way shape or form, but that is kinda the way I was feeling the other morning about the cross town move my wife and I just made. It’s been a long arduous difficult journey but we are hoping to gain more comfort and freedom in the new house plus we are no longer enslaved by our old evil Home Owners Association. The new house has all our old stuff but it looks and feels different.

For better or worse, most of our practices and routines have moved with us. The wife and I still work too much, don’t get enough sleep and have bad eating habits. Even the pet’s morning ritual has been transported without change. Somewhere between 4:30 and 6:30 AM one of the three cats decides they want breakfast. After they discover that dancing on my sleeping head won’t make that happen they use the dog as a pawn in their twisted manipulative indoor hunt for vittles (tender or not). They start jumping over, around, under and on our half deaf, almost blind, elderly, weak bladdered dachshund.

When the dog finally wakes up I have three options:

  1. Get up that instant to take the dog out. Then immediately crawl right back into bed to the sounds of a grunting moaning dog begging for breakfast while three cats attempt the same goal by using my semi-sleeping body as track and field venue performing various high jumps, sprints and hurdles on the bed.
  2. Drag my half-awake ass out of bed at that instant to let the dog outside then go through a 15 minute highly complex series of circumvolutions and gyrations otherwise known as our complex bi-daily pet food distribution drudgery focusing on everyone’s medical necessitates and finicky food moods.
  3. Sleep for two seconds longer, than bitch and curse at the dog, and mostly myself, while cleaning up massive quantities of stinky dog pee from the floor (I mentioned the weak bladder thing right?). Then continue with either option 1 or 2.

On my Exodus thinking morning, I won the lottery and the dog part of the ritual did not happen till after 7:00. Around 7:30 I finally started my own morning routine and plopped in front of the computer with a steaming cup of eye opening joe and no thought whatsoever of what to write about this week. My blank mind got tired of looking at the blank page on my blank monitor, so I headed to the kitchen for a second cup of coffee… not for inspiration but for science.

A few nights ago while out to dinner with friends, I got quizzed about my coffee intake levels and the effects it has on my bowels. Apparently he has a more direct response than I do, thus the brown coffee mug he showed off to us that his wife gave him reading ‘coffee make me poop’.  Although I see the huge benefits to some folks, I don’t think his wife should suggest it as an ad campaign to her bosses at Starbucks.

I like to think I am an observant person with a keen eye for the nuances of the world around me but I am often reminded I can sometimes be as oblivious as my sleeping almost deaf, nearly blind elderly pup when the cats are dancing on his chair trying to wake him up. I had been shaving my face for decades before a friend casually mentioned just prior to his wedding that he was purposely not going to shave the day before the nuptials so he would have a cleaner shave for the wedding pictures.

What?. All shaves are not created equal?  How did I not know this? I tested it. Yes I got a cleaner closer shave if I skipped a day. Fascinating. I felt a confused mix of education and astonishment like Mr. Spock watching a Gallamite and a Ferengis making out. How had I lived so long not knowing this simple easy factoid that was, for a change, truly literally right in front of face. It’s the same thing with this coffee stuff. I did not know there was a coffee-poop relationship thing; a relationship so real that they are slapping it on the side of brown mugs.  Am I the last one to know?

Like the shaving thing I had to test the theory.  I did some personal research adjusting the quantities of my coffee intake and I think I can cut myself some slack. Apparently my mug would have to be yellow and say ‘coffee does NOT affect my poop but it sure makes me pee’. But that is another type of exodus and for propriety reasons I likely should not co-mingle the two.


Posted in it is what it is | 1 Comment