Monday, November 30, 2009

My version of Random Tuesday Blogging!

Hey everybody!

Welcome to my contribution to the Blogosphere's Random Tuesday extravaganza!

If you check out my Blogroll, you will see some wonderful, humorous bloggers who live all over the United States, Canada, and in one case, Australia.

I enjoy their contributions to Random Tuesday thoughts, so I decided I needed to share mine.

My chosen topic for today is all the useless brouhaha over the coming Apocalypse on December 21, 2012. The same group of doomsayers who warned us about Ronald Wilson Reagan (6 letters in each of his names that is 666!), and then warned us about Nostradamus and the year 2000 computer meltdown (Y2K Lookout!) are now pointing to the Mayan calendar as the messenger as doom, and this new movie should be taken as a warning!

Here is my explanation for why the Mayan calendar ends on that date:

Something happened to, or with the guy who was drawing it.

Who is to say he didn't go home that night and have a heart attack in his sleep, or trip and hit his head on a stone? My favorite possible explanation, and the one I feel most likely to be true, is that Mr Mayan Calendar maker didn't get paid. That's right, I would bet the Mayan civilization went bankrupt trying to bring about universal shaman care for all its citizens, and Mr Calendar maker stopped working on it because he wasn't going to take anymore I.O.U's from their Social security trust fund.

I would also like to point out that numbers are a creation of man. Numbers and days only mean what we want them to mean. Why do you think people read their Horoscopes? We don't have a clue, but we like the idea that we do, even when the truth is we don't.

Nostradamus had no clue, he was just writing down what the drugs were telling him. The same goes for the book of Revelation, it was one person's vision of the future, just like the Mayan calendar. I like the Classic Rock group Dire Straights, and in their song "Industrial disease" there is a line, "two men say they're Jesus, one of them must be wrong."

Damn straight! Those guys had it right. With all these crazy doomsayers, I like to believe they are all wrong.

That's my random Tuesday thought. I hope to have them for many more years, but if you believe the Mayans, you only have Three more and three weeks to put up with any of it.

They say trouble comes in threes. Maybe I should post this at 9 pm, to add three hours to that.

Three years, Three weeks, and three hours until doomsday. Now I am part of the conspiracy! Boolyah!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Happy Thanksgiving.....without the Internet

Thanksgiving has come and gone for another year. It is always seems easy to me to point out everything that is wrong and gripe about it. I hope that everybody took a few minutes to reflect on the many things that people who happen to live in America take for granted and are a true blessing. (Insert what you are thankful for here.)

I traveled to Cape May Point New Jersey for Thanksgiving dinner, at the family beach house. It was a wonderful get together, made even more wonderful by the fact that the Internet was not working. How can this be, no Internet in America?Usually we have no problem with our wireless down there, but this time you no sooner got a connection than it failed.

I want to see Bill Curtis shoot his next "I just found the Internet" commercial there. We could find it, it just kept going into hiding. With Satellite transmissions being blocked by the aliens, it was a good thing that the cable TV still comes in the old fashioned way, by line on a telephone wire. Can you imagine if we would have had no TV? No Football?

I dare not to envision it.

These circumstances made for a nice Thanksgiving gathering, because no one could sneak away and bury themselves in their own little Internet world, reading email, browsing Facebook, or commenting on blogs.Instead we talked to each other face to face.

The women folk actually piled in the car and went shopping at Kmart after dinner. They couldn't go online in private, so they went out as a group. Later that night the family sat around the kitchen table playing board games, with much laughter involved.

There is something to be said about those rare family moments of shared experience. They are becoming few and far between. Those are the memories worth making, and that is another area where Americans are trailing the cultures of other parts of the world.

Technology has changed American culture in many ways, and not always for the better, because it has allowed us to become impersonal. We are more connected to others than ever, yet we are as distant than we have ever been.Thursday I caught a glimpse of a not so recent past that we are forgetting. I hope I get to see it again soon. I kind of liked it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Some gifts are priceless, but the best one cost $6.89

James Thurber was born in Columbus, Ohio on December 8, 1894, and attended Ohio State University.

I grew up in Columbus, Ohio. I attended The Ohio State University. I was born on December 10, 1961

James Thurber is one of my literary heroes. He is best well known for his cartoons and covers of The New Yorker magazine, but I know him for his wicked wit and view of life around him. To see his Wikipedia entry, click here.

I am always on the lookout in old bookstores for hard cover editions of James Thurber's books. In April of this year I was walking along downtown Main Street in Kutztown on a sunny Saturday, and saw that the small bookstore next to the stream was open.

It is called the Saucony Bookstore, and is located at 41 W. Main street. I went in and asked the proprietor if he had any Thurbers. He only had one, and I was ready to buy it, except....... I had no cash, and it was a cash only store. It was about to close at 4 PM, so I told him I would be back.

The book he had is a treasure, the one pictured above, The Thurber carnival. It was published and printed in 1945, and a stamp three pages in certifies that it was "manufactured in strict conformity with Government regulations for saving paper."

The book itself is a collection of his numerous short stories and written works between 1931 and 1945. Two of the more notable and known stories included are "There's an Owl in My Room," and "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." The last twenty pages are reserved for excerpts from his what I feel was his most insightful book, "Men, Women, and Dogs"

Unfortunately for me, every time I had occasion to be in Kutztown, the bookstore was closed. I had mentioned to my wife how much I wanted that book, but as time passed, I had put it from my mind.

Then Saturday we were driving through Kutztown after running errands, and she spotted the large red, white and blue OPEN flag hanging at the door.
"Lets stop, I'll buy you that book, you always talk about," she proposed.

So we went in, and it took some searching, but the owner remembered me, and found where he had put it. So how much was this rare literary find, that I personally treasured?

It was six dollars and fifty cents, plus tax, for a grand total of $6.89.

Some people might think Thurber's Carnival must not be worth that much, and they would likely be right, because to most people James Thurber is a nobody. But to me James Thurber is a mentor, a writer who did it right, and followed his own path, like I try to.

My wife has given me many gifts in our years together, and while I treasure her love for me above any other, the present of a book that cost her less than $7.00 stands up there just below that as one of her best of them all. Thank you honey.

Some gifts, like love, can not be given a price tag, and this book was one of them.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"The Best things happen while you're dancing"

Some of my readers might recognize the title of today's post as a song and dance number from the movie and current Irving Berlin Stage Play, "White Christmas." I saw it yesterday, and in a day or two I will give my review of the amazing show.

I'm using the title today though because it best represents how in my view many people like me dance our way through life. We leap, two step, and even pirouette our way our way across the dance floor from one side to the other, from the beginning to the end. When the music ends, we look back across the floor at points in our performance and look for spots where we can say, "yeah, I nailed it right there!"

Yesterday I had one of those moments, that if I get the chance in the final steps of my life, that I can look back on and say, "yeah, right there, that's what made life worth living, the dance worth doing."

Among the many things we did was visit Toys R' Us and the giant Ferris wheel inside the store, and we visited the Discovery Museum Titanic Exhibit. After lunch we saw "white Christmas before walking 8 blocks back to our bus, which was scheduled to leave at 5:15 PM.
We were on the bus heading home, my wife seated at the window, with her head on my shoulder. We had walked all over Manhattan and we were both tired. She sat up, leaned over, kissed me in the ear, and whispered: "Thank you honey for today, I love you."

Do I need to explain it any further. That is the kind of moment I want to never forget, a moment when all my doubts, mostly hidden, were erased by a few simple words from the woman I chose as my dance partner for life. I think I chose pretty well.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New Fish, New beginnings

Yesterday Mrs C wanted to buy one new fish to keep our lone blue damsel company.

She ended up buying three, but on of them was a pink Goby. It looks identical to the one I found a picture of at Google images, which you see here.

We also got a new algae blennie, and some other multicolored rainbow looking fish, which I'm not waking her up at 1 AM to ask what it is again.

Most Importantly, we purchased a new heater for the aquarium. They are pretty simple things, and as of the last check, the tank was at 75 degrees and everybody was happy.

Except for our Blue Damsel. It seems our Pink Goby has taken over residence in the shipwreck and evicted her. Now she is hanging in the piece of blue pipe. It is kind of like being forced to move from a brick double on North 22nd street in Allentown to a illegal multifamily apartment row home conversion downtown near 6th and Linden.

So while Dory the Blue Damsel was moving around the tank, I was moving around on the Internet as well. I started compiling a list of agents to send possible queries to, and am asking friends to review my query letter for improvement. After every ending, there is a new beginning, and I am making mine.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Endings, beginings, and whatever comes between

You know that saying about it is always darkest before the dawn? I hope dawn gets here soon.

So far this week, all but one of our fish died. I really don't know what happened to cause the heater to fail, but when I went into the family room early Sunday morning, our tropical tank was all fogged up, and the water temp had dropped to room temperature, 65 degrees. We had three floaters, and Bob the Algae Blennie died about four hours later. Only our Blue Damsel survived. As did all the crabs and snails. I guess they are more tolerant to the temperature drop than the fish were. As of tonight, our blue Damsel is actively swimming all over the place, looking for her friends. We think she is lonely.
I immediately started checking everything, and I reset the heater. Now the temperature is back where it belongs. I don't know if we had a power surge or what, but I am bummed. I found the fish soothing to look at when I was writing.

Sunday wasn't done with me with just the fish. I had to go to Redners for some vegetables, and when I came out, my right front tire was almost flat. I only live five minutes from Redners and sometimes I ride my bike there if I am only getting a couple of things. So I drove the car home the half mile on the back road, and changed the tire in my driveway. I rotated all of them while I was at it, and repaired the tire in my garage. The Army gave me many skills of which tire repair is one of them. I drove the 80 mile round trip to work today, and the tire held up, so I must have got that right.

But then I got home today, Monday, and opened my mailbox.

Two more rejection letters of my manuscript came.

This just further verifies for me what I originally believed, that a person acting as my editor was giving me B.S. Her interest only lay in eventually making money off me, whether I was published or not. I put a lot of heart and soul into that manuscript, and I didn't agree with some of the direction I was being urged to take.

I like to think the best of people and take them at their word, but I let this drag on too far. I haven't been this discouraged in a long time, but I will get over it. It isn't the result that makes life what it is, it is the journey we take along the way, and all the twists and turns that entails.
Just because you hit a dead end doesn't mean it is all over. I just have to back up, turn around and try another route, that's all.

So now I am working on a new query letter and assembling my own list of agents to approach.

Like the fish who ended up floating in the tank unexpectedly, I have to flush the past away and start anew. So off I go. Wish me luck?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Thank God election day is over

I take great pride in being a "Super" voter. But voting in every election, while an exercise in civic duty, has a heavy price. You get robocalls and mail. Lots of both. And it is all spoon fed blather that either paints one candidate as a saint or the other as the Antichrist.

We have one of those phones that announces the name of the caller with a robot voice.

"Call from Unavailable was a constant echo in our home during daylight hours the last few weeks.

The best thing to do is to answer and immediately hang up. Then it doesn't call back 4,532 times until you answer. I cleared eight messages of the phone one afternoon when I got home from work.

Sometimes I wondered if our three dogs were bothered by some of the messages, which went on for several minutes. The dogs couldn't escape the blather, but at least they were informed, should they be allowed to vote. God knows they probably knew more about the candidates than most Allentown voters did.

Then there was the mailers.

Isn't there some irony that a candidate that preaches conservation of natural resources and protecting parks and green space would level a forest to get out that message? I looked at them, did a critique for later use over at the political blogs, and piled them by the door.

Now I have a lot of scrap paper. One candidate in particular has some of the weekly bills tallied across his face, but he was not the one in favor of recycling.

So now we have at least 6 months until the next cycle of primaries. Almost makes me pray for a black hole to suck the Earth in and bring time to a standstill.