Monday, December 26, 2011

Where The Old Folks Write

Since moving back to Michigan, I've been scouring the internets trying to find a local writing group.  No luck thus far.  And while I've yet to visit a library to inquire what they might be keeping secret, I'm becoming more resigned to the fact I used to write in a very unique place.

South Florida is home to dozens of writer's groups, of all different sizes, genres and colors. I tried out a few  but always stayed loyal to my main group.  This was an eclectic collection from all different walks of life, all writing about something different while offering great critiques that have made me better over the years.

However, as I reflect on my time down there, one thing is so blatantly obvious it almost need not be stated.  I will state it nonetheless since many of you may not be aware of this fact.

Florida is home to many, many old folks.  Now I'm not talking rocking-on-a-porch-with-a-blanket-while-your-teeth-fall-out old.  I'm talking about retired folks.  Folks without jobs and lots of time to write and way too much retirement money to spend on writing conferences, self-publishing and the like.

People up here work all day. (At least those with jobs.)  Retirees in Florida have all the time in the world to devote to their craft/hobby/passion.  Where ever you look down there you can slip into a group, get a half-way decent critique and better yourself.  Up here, I'm not so sure.

I've found one group that meets regularly near the University of Michigan.  I'll give it a try, but I'm likely to find a bunch of young know-it-alls, too pumped full of their professors' BS to give serious critique.  Then again, that might be a refreshing change.

After all, I can only read so many memoirs no one else will ever see.

So bring on the young.  And thanks to the old.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

Listen To The Snow

It's been a couple of weeks.  I'm back in Michigan and the feeling I never left is starting to creep in.  It's been a struggle.  I miss my friends.  Miss the Sun.  Miss the beach, even though I rarely went to the beach.  Eleven years feels like they're being washed away by the blinding snow.  Six inches.  I had to buy a shovel.  And boots.  My poor car doesn't know what happened.

Writing?  Please.  I can't find all the boxes.  And when I find a box I can't find what should be in it.  We have a six month lease.  Why bother unpacking?  Why bother staying?

Because I'm not working as much.  But being paid as much.  My boy needs me, and is getting more of me than before.  That's why.

Sometimes things work out when they never did.  This makes me nervous.  This past year has been one for the records.  Maybe it's a turning point.  Could the future really be as bright?  I hope so.  We're barely a year away from the end of the Mayan calendar.  I'm hoping they just ran out of ink.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Wrong Pants, Part Two

When we moved to Florida, eleven years ago, there was a couple of weeks when I traveled back and forth between both worlds. Our clothes were scattered and mixed together amongst a number of suitcases. During one of these trips I pulled a pair of jeans, the only pants I had, out of a bag only to discover they belonged to Mrs. Sarcasm.

Well what could I do? I had no other clothes so I squeezed into those lady jeans and held my breath the next six hours. I can't recall if I was able to button them but it left an un-erasable memory.

So now we're in the process of moving back up north. And once again I'm traveling back and forth for a few weeks. This week I'm back in Florida, so of course I need some shorts. I tossed a pair in my bag and when I tried to put them on this morning, sure enough, they belonged to Mama Sarcasm.

It seems there's a bit more of me than eleven years ago. So no shorts for me but I certainly feel I've come full circle.

At least I have my velour suits.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Daylight Savings Time Goof

This was a few years ago, but worth reporting, since I just read an article about a bunch of other people's screw-ups.

You'll recall from reading this blog so closely, there was a time I was based in Atlantic City for my airline whilst living in Florida.  This meant I had to fly up there to report for work and fly all my trips out of New Jersey.  The only plus to this was that nearly every layover Atlantic City crews had were in Ft. Lauderdale.  This meant getting paid to sleep at home.

One such layover fell on the night of Daylight Savings Time, in this case in the spring, when we set our clocks forward.  As much as I was grateful for the chance to sleep in my own bed, setting the clocks ahead one hour made an already short night (something like a 5 AM report time) even shorter.  Still, I dutifully changed all the clocks before going to sleep and settled in for what I assumed to be a fitful night, since I never sleep well knowing I have to be up soon.

Strange thing was, the night really dragged on.  I recall waking up in the middle of the night feeling very rested only to discover I still had several hours left to sleep.  It felt like a gift.  That was, until the phone rang.

Crew Scheduling was curious as to my whereabouts, since it was just about departure time and I was nowhere in sight.  It was in that moment I realized that when I'd set all the clocks, I had actually set them back instead of forward, thus accounting for those extra hours of sleep.

Fortunately the Crew Scheduler seemed more amused than angry, and I assured him I would get there as fast as possible.  I don't recall how late the flight left, but I was greeted by more than one set of rolling eyes from the rest of the crew.  Living in New Jersey, they had all gone to the hotel, where it was easy to spot someone not in the lobby at van time.

These days, I'm careful to take the Daylight Savings Day off.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Things I'll Miss About Living In Florida

7. The weather, obviously
Summer's always been my favorite season.  I've been enjoying it non-stop for the past eleven years.  And now that it's finally nice enough to turn off the air conditioner and open the windows, I'm moving to Michigan.  Just in time for winter.  Bah!


6. The beach. 
Elliot at Large
I rarely go anymore, but when we first lived here, we made a point of going to the beach often.  I recall my first Thanksgiving as a southerner, digging my toes into the sand and playing in the temperate surf.  Sadly, life took over and the beach became just another thing I didn't make time for.  I took my son today for the first, and probably last, time.





5. The flora. 
Exotic species are everywhere.  From swaying palm trees to colorful bougainvillea to citrus groves, sea grape and gumbo limbo trees.  I have a fruit haven in my backyard where I grow bananas, pineapples, oranges and the Peruvian apple cactus fruit, which grew back there for years before I even realized it was a fruit.



4. The fauna. 
Roseate Spoonbill - Everglades National Park
Alligators, crocodiles, panthers, armadillos, golden orb weaver spiders, Burmese pythons, iguanas, parrots ant lions, scorpions, lizards, geckos and every species of tropical fish, just to name a few.  I once found a ferret in my front yard.  Admittedly it was someone's pet, but it was a much more enjoyable find than the pygmy rattlesnake on the front porch.







3.  My next-door neighbor, Howard.
Howard's Dining Room
Where else will I find such blog fodder.  I'm compiling a list of Howard's greatest hits, which ought to include his handing out raisins for Halloween this year.  Why, you ask?  Tune in later.  Actually, he's been helpful when necessary.  Still goofy, but a decent friend.





2. La Bamba's Mexican Restaurant.
Mexican food made by real Mexicans.  If you find yourself near Ft. Lauderdale, eat here.  It is that good.




1. My writing friends - The Inkbloods.
The Inkbloods
I've made other friends over the years.  Some have moved on, some have passed on.  When I joined the library critique group so long ago, I hoped it would improve my writing.   I had no idea it would come with friendships lasting far beyond Tuesday nights.  I will miss them most of all.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Halfsies

In an ironic twist of timing, just as I'm selling my house, and mowing the lawn for perhaps the last time, my lawn mower broke in half.

Not the kind of thing I'm used to seeing, the back half of a lawnmower snapping off in mid-mow.  But that's what happened.  Now I'm faced with the prospect of borrowing Howard's seldom-used mower to finish the job.  But it leaves me wondering if this isn't an omen for my impending move.

It is, after all, the back half of the year.  We're in the back half of the deal to sell the house.  At least I have an uncut back half of a yard to match the back half of my mower.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why Are You Still Reading This Blog?

Okay.  So lately I really suck as a blogger.  My apologies to anyone still reading.  Here's what's what.

I haven't been writing much.  I think about a page and a half in the last few months.  I've got a three-month-old who keeps me pretty busy.  I suppose nap time ought to be writing time, but I'm usually wiped out by then.  I've always needed to be in the mood to write anyway. 

Being a father has given me fresh ideas for writing.  If only I could find the time.

Our neighborhood is in turmoil.  Howard clings to power like a Middle-east dictator.  Too bad I won't be around to see how it turns out because...

I'm selling my house.  I may have sold it actually.  I wouldn't think one day on the market would elicit a decent offer, but that's what happened.  Since Elliot was born we decided it was important to be closer to family so we're packing up the sunshine and moving home to Michigan.

Just in time for winter.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Major Coup

With school back in session for a week already, it was high time Howard and Moira took the kids to Disney World for ten days.  Never mind they had all summer.  Don't you know it's just easier to wait until school starts?  Thank goodness for the happiest place on earth, because our little community is anything but.

Quick background:  We have a lake.  It's banks have been eroding for years.  Our association board has twice assessed the homeowners thousands of dollars to fix it.  Twice, the fix has failed.  They just authorized another assessment.  It's a lot.  Folks is pissed.

So while Howard the board member rode around Disney World on his association-paid-for golf cart, a recall movement began.  I signed the petition. As much as I like to rag on Howard and Moira, I do consider them friends.  As a result of that friendship, I know far too much about what goes on on that board.   And really, knowing who was behind it, it would be too much fun not to.

Two doors down from Howard lives Linus.  Linus is a drunk with a heart condition that will one day leave him dead.  No warning. He'll just die.  As a result, he doesn't work, instead spending his final days (stretching into years now) sitting in his garage with a beer in his hand.  All day long.  A few years ago, Linus painted his house a non-board-approved color.  After much bellyaching on both sides, he painted the trim a different color, but still refuses to pay the fine levied against him.  This, among other things, has pitted Linus and Howard against each other.

Howard is now paranoid. He's so "fustrated" some nut job (read, Linus) will take over and undo all his great deeds, like our ridiculous three-gate entry system for residents. He even fears the "new" board members will want to string "bob-wire" around the lake. This came between laments of how bad he wants to quit the board, but fears who might replace him.

I, being everyone's friend, get to hear both sides.  And both sides are nuts.  But since it's Linus leading the charge against Howard, I figure there will be fireworks before long.  And I missed the fireworks this past Fourth of July, so I figure I'm do for some fun.

And since I'm friends with both, I get to play the instigator too.  But here's the best part, none of it will affect me anyway.  We're selling our house.

HAHAHAHAAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Fear not loyal readers.  Wherever I live, I end up with wacky neighbors.  Remind me to tell you about the Herdsmen.  Or Morty and Leroy.  Or Dennis the Menace.  Or Baldy and RAF.  Or you could read about Hotpants

And yes, if I end living next door to you, you too will get a derogatory nickname.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I'm Published!

I teased some big news a couple weeks ago.  My first short story, The Forty-eight Dollar and Thirty-nine Cent Christmas Card, is featured in Journeys IV An Anthology of Award Winning Short Stories.

You know those little envelopes that fall out of your morning newspaper a few weeks before Christmas?  The ones pre-addressed to the delivery guy, with a little slot for a Christmas tip he's already decided you owe him?  George's mission to tip the paper delivery guy is fraught with sticky locks, confusing cold medicine and one nosy caterer.

And heck, there are a whole bunch of short stories besides mine.  Click the link above to order it today.  It will be available from Amazon.com on Friday, September 16.

Journeys IV

An Anthology of Award-Winning Short Stories

Authored by Multiple Award Winning Authors
Edited by Mary Lois Sanders

A rainy night in Tampa; a special gift; a link to life; a Christmas card; an old wardrobe; a critique; a sci-fi fantasy; a granddaughter's love; monsters; super heroes; heroes; family reunions; death; adventures in the jungle or in a trash dump, an afternoon for lemonade and mystery ...

Creative Writer's Notebook presents the winners and honorable mention honorees from its 2010 Short Story Competition.

Immerse yourself in an afternoon of pleasure, all from the creative minds of these talented writers.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Swaddle Fail

My boy needs to be swaddled when he sleeps, otherwise flailing arms and legs keep the entire household awake.  When properly swaddled, peaceful, sleeping baby can be achieved.


There are times, however, when pre-flailing prevents an optimum swaddle, even given today's advanced swaddle technology.  On these occasions, peaceful sleeping baby lasts only so long.  Replaced by this...




Arms usually come free by morning.  I can accept that.  But this is after only an hour.  Don't ask me how the leg got out.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Deadliest Flight?

Well, I'm no crab fisherman, but according to Career Builder, my profession has the third highest fatality rate per 100,000.

  1. Fishers and related fishing workers: 116
  2. Logging workers: 91.9
  3. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers: 70.6
  4. Farmers and ranchers: 41.4
  5. Mining machine operators: 38.7
  6. Roofers: 32.4
  7. Refuse and recyclable materials collectors: 29.8
  8. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers: 21.8
  9. Industrial machinery installation, repair and maintenance workers: 20.3
  10. Police and sheriff's officers: 18.0
So how do you like that?  For every 100,000 pilots that take off, only 99,929.4 land alive.  Thus far, I've been among them, but time will get me as it got that sixth-tenth of a pilot.  That wasn't pretty.  Having said that, I don't think I'd fair any better in some of these other professions.

I could never make it number 6 as a roofer, since my two biggest fears are roofs and ladders.  At first glance I was surprised at number 7 on the list.

Who knew garbage collection was so fraught with danger?  But I suppose people throw away some volatile stuff.

Sales workers at number 8?!?  I guess some people took Death of a Salesman quite literally.

Maybe I could be a cop.  But maybe not.  The numbers say it's safer, but even with such a high mortality rate, no one is shooting at me.

I think I'll stay a pilot for a while.  It's still the best part-time, full-paying job for me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Who To Query? Or Is It Whom?

Irregardless, which is not a word, but irks Mama Sarcasm when I use it, I'm slowly getting back to querying.  The question isn't really which agent I should query.  I shall query any and all agents offering a modicum of interest, which is to say, I shall query all agents.  I don't know who's going to be interested, after all.  But I wondered what kind of agent is more attractive.  Is it the established agent with years of experience, multiple clients and a long list of contacts?  Or is it the new agent, just starting out and trying to build a client list?

There is good and bad about both.  And truthfully, I do not know.  I'm just hoping to query the agent that likes my story and will best represent it, and me.

What say you?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Quandry

I've got a major announcement to announce, but it's leaving me uneasy.  In order to do this right, I feel I have to reveal my true identity.  This, I fear, could backfire, since I've written some not-so-nice things about some real people, like my next door neighbors and a few of the morons I've worked with.  Not that I give two rats about the idiots I fly with, but my neighbors, despite what I've written (all true, by the way) are actually decent people.  Dare I say, good friends?  Well, friends, anyway.

Of course, in the interest of snarkiness, I should point out that Howard mowed his lawn today.  Again, he went about three months between cuttings, and picked one of the rainiest days of the year, yet again, meaning the clumpy grass kept clogging his mower, causing him to restart.  This is not news.  What is news is the strange apparatus he wore which, from a distance, appeared to be one of those masks you put in the freezer and then wear to keep cool.  He had it on his forehead.  Only Moira's Bret Michaels headband would have completed the ensemble.  At least he wore a shirt this time.

At any rate, good news coming soon.  Start saving your dollars.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Sweet Sound Of Silence. And Laughter.

Somehow my boy has convinced both his parents he will only sleep peacefully if rocking in his swing.  The same swing I railed against purchasing, for fear he wouldn't like it and I would then be stuck with this behemoth of a contraption taking up precious space in my minimalist home.  Glad I was wrong on that one.  But I feared he had become too accustomed to sleeping in this thing, so today, having no confidence it would actually take, I put him in his crib.  Now, two hours and sixteen minutes later, he's still dozing peacefully.  Let's hope this sticks.  I don't want to end up like Howard and Moira, with a nine-year-old who still sleeps in their bed.

Oh, and he's started smiling this week.  Not quite on demand, but quite cutely.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Howard The Garbage Thief

I haven't had to stretch too far to show that my next door neighbor is lazy.  Lest you've forgotten, read about the dead fish, the mulch pile, or the one-year-old, Portugese-speaking baby.   But now comes a new level of laze.  For the past few weeks, I've noticed an extra black trash bag appearing in my garbage bin.  I only use white bags.

Today was trash day and last night, I caught all 350 shirtless pounds of Howard sneaking back across the street from the neighbor's garbage can.  Apparently I was too slow getting mine out to the curb, so Howard had to go across the street.  I can't help but wondering if that really is less work than actually dragging his own garbage can from the side of the house.

Of course, the real irony is that Howard takes out the trash at all.  With a greasy sheen for a floor; ants crawling on the counter tops; dead fish under the furniture and dog crap on the bottom of everybody's feet, what could be so repulsive that even Howard throws it away?

Best I not find out.  My garbage can will be at the curb Sunday and Wednesday nights.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ten Things To Not Say To An Airline Pilot

After forty days on maternity leave, it was back to work today.  Some things haven't changed.  The traveling public is still a collective moron.  So to help on your next foray into an airport, here are some tips.

If you see a person with three or more stripes on their shoulders, that person is a pilot.

  1. The pilot does not know which carousel your bags will be on.
  2. The pilot does not know why your plane, not his plane, is late.
  3. The pilot does not want to hear your most horrendous travel tales.
  4. The pilot is not scared to fly the plane.
  5. If the pilot is sitting in a passenger seat, he is not supposed to be flying the plane. 
  6. The pilot has, in fact, flown in some really bad weather.
  7. If the pilot is talking on the phone, do not approach the pilot and speak to him as if he is not talking on the phone.  He still will not know where your bags are.
  8. The pilot is (most likely) not drunk.  If you think you are making a funny joke, the joke will be on you.  The pilot will announce over the loudspeaker that the flight will be delayed while he leaves the airport to pee in a cup.  The pilot will also name you as his accuser, to your fellow passengers.
  9. Before you ask the pilot a stupid question, look around at the airport signage.  
  10. The pilot does not know where you parked your car.

Monday, July 25, 2011

When The Cord Falls Off

Someday I swear I'm going to write again.  Just like someday I'm going back to work.  Although the latter is more from necessity than desire.  Believe me, I'm putting it off as long as possible.  My boy is 17 days old now, and his life force has sucked my energy.  I take back everything I ever said about overwhelmed parents.  Not that I would trade it for anything.  But it occurred to me the other day, when the remnants of Elliot's umbilical cord finally fell off, he had, in a way, graduated to new level of babyhood.

His new-newborn diapers were designed to avoid touching the cord.  No longer necessary.  With the cord gone, he could now get wet, and so he had his first bath.  His weight is increasing.  He's holding his head up more, at least trying to with some success.  Today, he looked at me cross-eyed a couple of times.  A sign he was trying to focus on me, perhaps?

My point is, passing the umbilical cord milestone lead to a great many new experiences.  I expect there will be plenty more, but I also thought about it in terms of writing. 

We writers start out just like newborns.  Perhaps not all, but most of us probably composed some pretty poor prose in the beginning.  We, too, needed our cords to fall off before we improved.  A writer's cord may come off in any number of ways and I'm far too sleep-deprived to list them all.  Perhaps it comes from a stinging first critique, or even better, a gushing-with-praise critique.  Or a first rejection letter.  Or, for the younger set, a certain grade in school.  Whatever form it takes, that first milestone ultimately teaches us to be better writers.

I've grown substantially as a writer, and I have the proof.  I've saved every horrible draft of every document I've ever written. Not just because I may have had a better idea way back when, but, delusional as I am, I envision the writing museum of the future, with my own wing and people agape over varying versions of my most famous works, finally made public.

Of course I have a ways to go.  And a bit more sleep may clear that nonsense from my head.  Still I've got an upcoming writer's cord moment, which I will announce in the near future.  After which, I, and my son, will continue to grow.

What about you?  When did your writer's cord fall off?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ten Days In

My boy is ten days old.  I must have aged ten years.  Who knew lack of sleep wielded such power.  I fear bragging will do me in, but I may have stumbled onto a solution.  Thank the heavens for white noise. 

Certainly no one else is parenting Elliot (other than his mum, that is.)  For that I pity you.  He is, without question, the World's Greatest Baby.  Oh sure, everyone thinks their kids are the best, and I don't mean to be one of those dads, but let's face it.  All your kids are pretenders. 

Although, I would be remiss to admit he hasn't actually done much with his life thus far.  He's pretty well coasted on looks alone.  Don't worry.  I've got some chores waiting for him.  In the meantime, feast your eyes on a pretty cute kid.


Elliot's first pose.
Lest you wondered who his mum is, here she is at the same age, making the same face.

Lest you wondered who the dad is, compare our poses.
Swaddled and ready for the big time.



















By the way, I delivered him.  Yeah.  Dad rocks too!

Friday, July 8, 2011

We Have A Son!


July 8, 2011. 7 lbs. 11 oz. 20 inches long.

The greatest baby in the whole wide world.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

We're At The Hospital

END Baby is almost here.

HOLY CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Random Capitalization Run Amok

Not everyone is a Rhodes Scholar.  And you sure don't need an advanced degree to become an airline pilot.   I have the proof.  There is a super-secret pilot forum where super-(ahem)-smart pilots spend a good deal of time griping about the chosen profession they despise.  One of these super-geniuses is shouting loud for all to read and I can't leave it alone.  So here are all the best parts.   The beauty is I know this Einstein.  I can't wait to fly with him again.

Must not laugh.  Must not laugh.

Reprinted without permission, unedited. Except where it gets wordy.  Hence the ...  

My comments are in blue.

There is a Very serious CBA Conflict both Moral and Ethical issue Presented to us by the "Subsription" Service Charge being forced upon us to Fully Particiapte in the new Electronic Shift Trade System."
Misspelling I can live with.  It's the random capitalization  I enjoy the most.  This, by the way, is just the opening salvo, so you know it only gets better.  It's really not necessary to read everything.  I will just highlight my favorite parts.
Provided ... communication todate with our Local Reps with regard to this issue listed from Most recent on top to first. 
I am in process of ... to seek personal re-embusment for the ... subscriptions costs charge to me  
Well, I can't overlook all the misspelling. What follows is taken from an email to our union leadership, which he posted on the forum. 
 Who ever is responsible ... appears to be either in-sensitive ... and/or has some personal stake in its implantation.

There are a great number of hyphenated words as well.  Someone needs to implant the idea of spell check.
 There is a significant finical issue here pilot group wide at stake

I really don't know what he was going for here.  Financial, perhaps.  I prefer not to know.
 I am afraid weather the semantics of the definition of a truly "additional' i.e. "Add-On" service vice an essential part of Electronic Shift Trading, critical to making the entire concept of immediate award processing fair, which has been chronologically "added on" after its initial implementation or not is mute

I'm sorry.  I couldn't hear that last part.  Take this sentence for what it is worth.  And then please tell me what it is worth.  It confuses me at every attempt. 
 I don't see how this clause ... could be any Clearer ?

My question regarding this question is what constitutes a question?  I thought I knew.  Now I'm not so Clear.
 I feel my earlier description ... has been mis-understood.

I dis-agree.  It's quite Clear.
 The Mere Physical constraint ... of the true available open trips Vice the actual true number ....  
This is the second time he's used vice.  Is it a verb?  A noun?  I'm con-fused.
The Concept ... is the Same concept as that behind company's effort to Market the ... Subscription service ...
 Golly, I thought, with more melancholy than gollys normally carry.
Once the success of this program in effect collecting 10's of thousands of Dollars Back from our employees
Doesn't that look like the name of a night club?  Or maybe a country-western bar?  I know, a new game show!
Not all of Us Have to take a shower after work ?
I'll leave you to speculate on the context here.  Just be sure to leave a space for punctuation.
To Charge for them ... you were to Charge not ... but to Charge us for their Delivery
This reminds me.  I must take charge of END Baby's delivery.  

Poor bastard.  Someone actually called him out on his grammar.  Here is his response:
 I am sorry too you are distracted from the core of the issue presented here by my grammtical mistakes and poor spelling.
 Grammticalling makes me miss Grandma.
 This is a very serious issue...  unless you PAY to Play.   A Practice specificly intended ... with a common understanding. 

Each and every Parings represnted ... carries a specific Cash Value in pay.  Your ablity to earn ,,, is not a Frivolous Issue.  Please do not treat it as such by focusing on my high school english to the point you lose sight of the very real grievance here.   This directly affects you.
And I have been moved to mock.
I have dared to reach out to the Pilot group as a whole becuase,
Note the comma. And the misspelling.
Absent a Formal Defence presented ... against the Company ... It is incumbant on ALL ... pay these subsriptions fee's who choose to fully particapte ... to file a formal grieveance ...  restitution of the fee's collected.

Frank States the issue will be brought to and considered...
But only if the fee's agree.
Thank Heavens our planes are highly automated. 

I'm going to Hell.



Friday, June 24, 2011

The Neurotic In Me

END Baby is coming any day now.  Ah, let me explain about END Baby.  You'll recall that we are planning on adopting a Korean, to whom we've long referred as Our Korean.  Then Momma Sarcasm went and got pregnant, screwing up our adoption plans.  We needed a name for conversational purposes, but we've chosen not to learn the sex until we meet this new baby.  So we came up with something better than the generic, The Baby, that wouldn't be confused with Our Korean. 

Ethnically Non-Diverse Baby, or END Baby.

I, as an airline pilot, often travel for work.  To fill the void as the count winds down, my mother-in-law has come from Michigan for two weeks and three days.  It gave me great comfort to know she would take the reigns should END Baby make an early arrival whilst I traveled.  END Baby is still not due for a few more weeks, but the doctor said it could well come any day.  So I'm done working.  But my mother-in-law isn't done visiting.  And now, the neurotic in me struggles to stay inside. 

To be clear, she is doing lots to help; preparing and freezing weeks of meals; cleaning; laundering, washing dishes; mothering her own baby.  Of course the flip side is that she is doing it all in my house. 

Let me be clear.  I can NOT stand company.  I don't care who it is, I do not want anyone in my home who doesn't already live there.  I don't even like answering the door for the delivery guy.  It is my sanctuary and has been designed for that purpose.  Throw in someone who does not belong and all sense of propriety is gone.  And whilst I understand that both END Baby and Our Korean will be like company that never leaves, I hope to be more accepting of them.

All of this has me analyzing my psyche.  I find I truly am neurotic.  For instance, this morning I ran some laundry.  Without my knowledge, my aforementioned mother-in-law folded it.  Very helpful.  Except...

She folds wrong.  Just as you would find in a store, freshly laundered shirts must be presented chest up, with the bottom tucked under and the sleeves wrapped around back.  And outside out.  At least she didn't go into my drawers to put away my drawers.  Of course this only left me fighting the urge to re-fold everything. 

She is here to help.  She is here to help.

She does the dishes wrong and openly admits it.  Apparently, I have earned a reputation as a "dishwasher Nazi," for repeatedly insisting my loading guidelines be followed.  This has been a fifteen-year battle with Momma Sarcasm.  I now see where she gets it.

She is helping.

I gave up my restroom.  My sanctuary within my sanctuary.  It is neat.  It is minimalistic.  It is no longer my own.  Yet I notice the toothbrush holder sits empty.  The cup is bone dry.  How does she rinse her mouth after brushing, I asked?  She does not, she answered with a laugh, as though the mere suggestion were ludicrous.  She runs the brush under the faucet and then sucks water from the bristles.  Barbaric.

I need help. 

I fear for my children.  I'd better possess powerfully dominant genes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When To Say When?

Does there ever come a time in your writing when you get bored?  And not because your story is boring, although that can certainly be the case, but maybe you've been working on something so long, it becomes a chore.  Or maybe you come up with a new idea whilst in the midst of an old one.  Then what do you do?  How realistic is writing two completely different pieces at the same time?  Or more than two?  Can novels and short stories exist in the same universe that is a writer's mind?  At what point must you set one down to concentrate on the other?

The saving grace of the unpublished writer is the freedom to ditch something old for something new.  Or even ditching something new to go back to something old.  Either way, the passion better be strong, or everything is going to suffer. 

Does anyone else have these problems?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Howard And The Mulch Pile

Some of the neighbors have spruced up their yards, bringing in professional landscapers to make things nice.  My next-door neighbor, Howard, has been lamenting how awful his yard looks.  I've been pointing out how awful it's looked for years to no avail.  I guess seeing everyone else's results spurred Howard to action.  Not that he called in a professional or anything, despite my encouragement.  He decided to go all Sarah Palin on the neighborhood.

He has an area near the front door that has, over the years, been home to a fountain, a park bench, a rock garden and currently all of the above, buried under some pretty thick grass.  Once he got to work there was no stopping him.  Except when NASCAR was on.  Or it looked like it might rain.  Or he'd had to go to work for an hour that day.  Or the kids were sick.  Or Disney was only three hours away.

So instead of the poured concrete borders that come in a variety of colors and shapes, are resistant to infestation and don't fade in the sun, Howard decided to put down wooden railroad ties, that will fade in the sun, but only after they disintegrate under the daily South Florida downpours and will then be devoured by termites.

But Howard sawed and cut.  Not carefully of course.  You can see how the corners don't exactly line up.  No problem, just stick a stray scrap of wood in the gap.  And what about all that grass?  Howard's plan to fill the area with mulch was a good one, but I advised he dig up the grass first, lest it continue growing through the mulch.  Not necessary, he assured me.  He'd just cover it. That'll kill the grass.  Click on the pic for a closer look at how that's working out, two weeks later.

And, you'll notice, out by the curb lay the mutilated remains of an old desk.  An unfortunate, yet vital sacrifice, necessary to ensure the dreaded return of Howard's fish tank.

To Be Continued...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Top Ten Fewer Things In My Life

This baby's changing things.  Here are a few, in the order in which I think them up.

10.  Sleep - They say sleep now, because we'll never get it back.  Well, why the hell am I so tired already?  I'm still getting my eight hours?  Am I that old?

9.  Brown hair - This one is disturbing in two ways.  First, I've always prided myself on still having all of my hair, still in the original color.  This kid hasn't even been born yet and I'm noticing little white hairs.  Either I'm aging or there is a recessive albino gene that is finally making itself known.  Yet for some reason, this doesn't bother me, which is the second part that is deeply disturbing.

8.  Aviation magazines -  Let me put it this way:  Do you think a cashier wants to read about cash registers all day long*?  Certainly not.  Momma Sarcasm no longer works in an advertising agency where one of the accounts had something to do with something to do with flying.  Every week she'd bring home magazines she'd been given because people assumed I wanted to read them.  I do not.  But she has a little problem saying no. Except to me.  

7.  Writing time - I can't write with her in the house.  It's like pulling my pilot suitcase with my left hand, or riding an escalator without holding on.  It throws off my equilibrium and I'm certain I will plummet to my death.

6.  McFlurries - Did you know pregnant women can't have soft-serve ice cream? Something about breeding harmful bacteria, or some such thing.  This sucks.  We used to have a lot of these.  And it's hot as frak!  I could still eat them in front of her but would end bad for me.  Not that it would affect everything...

5.  Sex - I know you can still have sex during pregnancy, but are you kidding me?  How creepy is that?  It is, in every way, the wrong kind of threesome.

4.  Work - Not everything on this list is bad.  I'm taking all of July off.  As much of August as I can.  Work sucks.  Even when you like it.

3.  Oprah -  Not really pregnancy related, and I suppose this applies to almost everyone, but I'm running out of ideas.

2. TV shows - My entire Tuesday night lineup got cancelled.  Smallville is done.  Steve Carrell left The Office.  In a way, I'm glad.  Serial telly is such a timesuck.  At least I've got a few years of Sesame Street to look forward to.

1.  My own car - Momma Sarcasm's car don't work for baby tot'n.  It's old, but it's paid for, so we're swappin'.  I don't know why I'm suddenly writin' like a redneck.  Maybe caus'n our cable company done added a bunch of channels and we now get the Dukes of Hazzard every night.  YeeeeeHOOOO!

*I almost quoted Kumar, from Harold and Kumar go to White Castle - "Just cause you're hung like a moose doesn't mean you gotta do porn."
So true.  And a much better Wilson Phillips lip-syncing scene than Bridesmaids.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Exploring New Worlds

That seems like a good title for a post on writing fiction.  Alas, what follows is a true and somewhat frightening tale of my new life.  Sometime soon, I will become a father, a change which requires forays into heretofore unknown territory.  Awhile back, we ventured into the baby store.  I had never been.  Didn't know they existed to such degree and had no idea the amount of stuff babies need.  Thank heavens they put everything on display to help me.  It was quite daunting for someone who not only didn't know anything, but who didn't know what it was I didn't know.  Did that make sense?  Let me try again. 

It's not that I didn't know the answers.  It's that I didn't know there were subjects about which questions existed that required answers.   If you're still confused, read the definition of froggered.

Well I sure was glad the people at the baby store put everything so clearly on display, because not knowing what one needs becomes a bit less challenging when they just show you that you need everything.  And we must because it was all there, bright and colorful at every turn.  Of course I'll need a new home to fit it all.  And a large garage.  And a warehouse.  Or perhaps they would let us take up residence in a small corner of the store.  This would add the convenience of having a baby photo studio right in our home, which, they (along with a few others) so helpfully informed me, is one more thing we need.  So while everyone may continue to tell us everything we need, and I will foolishly suggest we wait until we see whether we need it, I can relax in knowing it is readily available somewhere on the very high shelves of our new home, open to the public Mon thru Sat 9 - 9 and Sundays 11 - 6.

However, on the off chance they don't let us move into the store, a couple of days ago we went to a baby consignment sale.  I thought this unnecessary since we already had our own, never-been-used and still-in-the-original-package baby, but was pleasantly surprised to discover no infants with price tags.  Instead there was lots and lots of stuff.  Almost as much as the baby store, but more disturbing were the mommies.  They were all-too familiar with all this baby stuff and spoke a language neither I, nor Momma Sarcasm, understood.  We felt like strangers in a strange land.  Like explorers on an alien world.  How long had this society existed?  What were the customs and practices?  How does one adapt to their social norms?  And why were there so many super-sized drinks from McDonald's in the strollers'* cupholders?  Needless to say, we came home with more stuff we absolutely need.  Our house is beginning to look like the hillbilly neighbors', ready to burst at the seams.


At any rate, here is my child's foot, taken last week.  That is one mammoth big toe.  Not that we're expecting a pachyderm.  In fact, we don't know what we're having.  Well, a human, I expect, but we don't know the sex and have been pretty surprised no one has slipped up at any of these ultrasound appointments.  I've been diligent about telling them not to tell us.  Still, I can just see us making it to the last hour and some nurse walks in to the delivery room to congratulate us on our little girl.  Not that we think it's a girl, although Momma Sarcasm thinks there is a taco in this picture, but why would they give us a picture showing the goods when they know we don't want to know?  Still, we photoshopped the taco out, lest some smarmy blog reader, who actually knows what they're looking at, congratulates us on our little girl.  And if little girls' ultrasound bits actually do look like little tacos, do keep it to yourselves.

*Henceforth, strollers shall be referenced as prams.  That is what the British call them.  And I am worldly.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Caught In A Loop

Perhaps Blogger is confused, but I can't leave any comments anywhere, except as anonymous.  When I try to sign in, I am put into an endless loop that takes me to the sign-in page, where I sign in, then back to the comment form, where I am anonymous.  So I scroll down to select my account and am taken back to the sign-in page and on and on and on and on....

I would ask if anyone else is experiencing this, but if you are, how could you answer yes?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Gun-Toting Mamas

With fatherhood looming (Just get here already.  It feels like it's been three years) what better way to celebrate than a collection of mom's-to-be, awash in the glow of...wait?  What?  Oh, pardon me.  That glow is the from the hot muzzle.  For some reason...for some, ungodly reason, the interwebs teems with pictures of pregnant women posing with firearms.  So let's celebrate that.

I said NO jackboots on the new sod!


Tom assumed she'd never know he didn't wear a condom.  Eventually, she figured it out.

Does this really need an explanation?

On second glance, you're right.  It's a lovely pattern.  My apologies.

Oh yeah?  Well what's your nursery look like?

Bonus

No gun, but how could I not?

Yeah.  I stole all these pictures.  What are you gonna do, shoot me?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Small Tales Reminder

We want your short stories for our Small Tales Anthology.  Deadline for submissions is May 31.  Polish what your working on and send it off.  There's only a month left.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Hillbillies

My next door neighbor, Howard, mowed his lawn last week for the first time in four months.  I assumed it was because I threatened to call the city again.  Not so.  Today being Easter, they needed short grass for the egg hunt in the backyard, else it might have presented a challenge that required the kids to, I don't know, actually hunt for the eggs.  Instead, Moira led baby Eddie to each egg, pointed it out and then lowered him down so he could pick it up and put it in the basket she placed in front of him.  All the while, he kept falling down, which is more of a hazard than you might think since Alfalfa the dog had just done his business all over the egg patch.  Through it all, Howard was nowhere in sight.  Must be NASCAR day.

Happy Easter!!
                      ^

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Small Tales Update

My Small Tales partner Vince Ferraro has posted a little tribute to the e-reader over on the Small Tales Blog.  For those of you still clinging to your paper books in fear of e-reading, I can only ask, why are you blogging and reading blogs?  It's the way of the future, and it's how we will be publishing Small Tales, so if you don't want to miss out on some fantastic short stories, get on over there and see what Vince has to say.

And don't forget, we're accepting short story submissions through May 31.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Friends You Don't Know

I just googled someone I haven't heard from in a few years.  Wow.  I'm glad I haven't.  This is disturbing on so many levels.

First, the background:

Some years ago, I wanted to be an airline pilot, so I moved to Florida and went to flight school.  To gain some experience I became a flight instructor (I know, that sounds backwards, but is completely common.)  At the flight school, I made some friends.  One particular fellow was a bit of a know-it-all, who didn't always know it all that well.  Renee Bradley* wasn't always likable, but eventually we became pals.  Not great pals.  Maybe not even good pals, but we were friends, and as annoying as he could sometimes be, Renee had a quality about him that told you he was a very loyal friend. 

Renee had an interesting, if not entirely enviable, backstory.  He came from money although I don't think he ever earned any.  Someone bought him a Karate school.  Someone else paid for his condo.  He drove a purple Mustang that was probably a gift.  And, he got a nice settlement after a car accident.  Despite all this, he seemed to work pretty hard, flying as much as anyone else and we were all trying to fly as much as possible so we could move on to better things.  All the while, Renee seemed like the kind of guy who wanted people to think he was successful, outgoing and popular.  However, I heard him say on more than one occasion that he was looking forward to going home at night to play with his cats.  I always thought that was who Renee really was, too shy to really let anyone get to know him, but desperate to be liked. 

Really, Renee was a guy with low-self esteem, who's father belittled him in front of me the one time I met him.  Renee was incapable of finding love because he jumped into relationships too fast and too hard.  Still, he was a friend.

We all moved on from the flight school but kept in touch somewhat.  Then I'd heard Renee was in another car accident and couldn't fly anymore.  Others who knew him better said he just kind of quit on life.  He became addicted to pain killers and spent all of his time on the couch, no longer even playing with his cats.  I spoke to Renee for the last time four years ago.  He sounded out of it, calling himself retired and hanging out with his other retired friends.  Renee Bradley was 34 years old.

Now, the disturbing:

Google turned up the following headline:

Renee Bradley Had Two Beautiful Young Women Die in His Apartment.

In retirement Renee became quite the playboy.  He partied hard, abusing prescription drugs, cocaine and who knows what else.  He frequented sex clubs and had the wrong kinds of connections.  The police referred to him as the Candy Man, able to get you anything you wanted.  He apparently used this ability to attract impressionable young girls, just starting out in life.  One such young woman overdosed in his condo.  He tried CPR and called 911.  She died. 

But Renee was already moving on.  He had a new girlfriend, and took her to the funeral.  Four months later, she, too, died under identical circumstances. 

Were this anyone else I wouldn't hesitate to say he killed them, either by giving them some lethal combination of drugs, or something else just as sinister.  The guy in the paper sounds like a sociopathic serial killer.  And yet I now understand how people can so blindly stand by loved ones that are so blatantly guilty and defend their innocence.

I don't know what Renee's culpability is, (the police called him a person of interest, but have declined to charge him in either death) but it sure seems high.  I'm just left wondering how the shy, annoying, know-it-all I once considered a friend became such a monster. 

Makes you wonder who we really know.

*Not his real name, don't bother googling Renee Bradley.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Baby Expo Vs. Boomer Expo

A year ago, I stopped by Boomer Expo to support an author friend selling her book to old people.  It was among the more amusing events I had ever attended.  This past weekend, with fatherhood looming, I went to Baby Expo.

A few comparisons:

At Baby Expo, vendors set out samples of their products.  Little kids take these things, because they are little kids and don't know any better.

At Boomer Expo, vendors also set out samples and old people take these things because old people hoard and steal.  My friend had little candies on her table.  They took the candies.  She also had it decorated with Mardi Gras-style beads.  They stole the beads.  No one bought her books.

At Baby Expo you dodge strollers.  At Boomer Expo you dodge wheelchairs and walkers and hovearounds.

Baby Expo has races for  kids on wheeliehorses.  Boomer Expo had Sean Connery and Marilyn Monroe look-a-likes.  Both dudes!

At Baby Expo you can get a free 3D ultrasound that shows a clear image of your child-to-be.  At Boomer Expo you can get free cancer or diabetes screening.

At Baby Expo you can try out strollers.

At Boomer Expo you can try out a casket.

The End.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Celebrity Brush-Past Of The Day


A trip to the doctor resulted in a prescription for Mrs. Sarcasm and a popcorn craving for myself.  Our local Target didn't have the medicine we needed, but they have a very nice deal on popcorn and pop.  Two CVSs later, an older dude shuffled past, wearing a half-open shirt and a goatee.

"That was Barney Miller," I said.

"It did look like him," said Mrs. Sarcasm, sounding like she thought I was nuts.

But I know a fake New York cop when I see one.  And when we sat down to wait for our pregnant lady pills, enjoying our popcorn and pop, the pharmacist commented that all we needed was a movie.

So I said, "I thought I just saw Hal Linden.  Maybe he could come back and do a show."

"Yeah, that was him," said the pharmacist.  "He comes in here a lot."

"Are you kidding?" exclaimed Mrs. Sarcasm, now sounding disappointed I was not nuts.

Now, I do not live in what anyone would describe as a celebrity mecca, but apparently this particular CVS is something of a magnet for the rich and sort-of famous.  Perhaps because it's close to an expensive stretch of beach and the pharmacist respects their privacy.  I rethought that after the pharmacist ticked off a list of who's who that you might have heard of, or know of someone who might be related to someone else.

People like Hal Linden.  The Cake Boss's mom.  Enzo Ferrari, owner of Ferrari. Some cat who apparently owns all the car dealerships in Florida.  I'm sure there would have been more, but our prescription was ready.

This isn't our regular store.  In fact, we live on the other side of town, but if this writing and flying thing doesn't work out, maybe I'll have a go as a paparazzo. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Announcing The Small Tales Anthology

Lack of blogging doesn't mean inactivity.  Today I put a crib together.  All by myself.  Wouldn't my father-in-law be impressed?  And he wasn't even there to tell me how to use an Allen Wrench.  (I'll bet he doesn't even know who Allen was, which puts us on equal ground.)

I have also been busy working on another project.  A secret project.  Be it secret no more!

Below is the official press release.


Welcome! The Small Tales Editorial Board is super excited today to announce the kick off of our project. So what is the project, exactly? Small Tales is a new anthology of cross-genre short stories. And we're open to submissions.

Small Tales is run by writers, for writers.  We are Sierra Godfrey, Linda Leszczuk, MC Howe, Vince Ferraro, and Mike Chen.

Small Tales will be published electronically, and will feature short stories up to 5000 words in length (excepting erotica and poetry). The idea is to present good fiction, laid out in easy to read style, in PDF or e-reader format.

Small Tales will be published in August 2011. We're really excited about putting together a collection of good fiction, and would love your submission. See our Submissions page for info on submitting.

Have any questions about Small Tales, how was it formed, or what the process will be? Leave a comment!

So head on over to the Small Tales Blog for more info and then start writing!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Big Love = Big Let Down

Why am I reviewing a TV show only people with a subscription can watch, when I've never reviewed anything before?

Because, frankly, I have nothing else to blog about.  You may have noticed its been quiet around here lately.  No excuses, just quiet.

If you haven't seen, or heard of it (if so, why are you still reading) Big Love was an HBO television series about a polygamist family and the struggles that come with "practicing the principle of plural marriage."   Not strictly Mormon, they followed the teachings of Mormon founder Joseph Smith to the letter, especially the one that said a man had a celestial obligation to have more than one wife. 

Bill Henrickson was the head of the family, the priesthood holder, which is their way of saying he made the rules because he had a cosmic hot-line to the Heavenly Father.  He had three wives and between them, lots of kids.  During the five seasons of Big Love, we saw the Henrickson clan fight moral battles against both the foes and proponents of plural marriage, the latter being the nuts from a town called Juniper Creek, based on the real life town of Colorado City, Arizona, where I have visited.  The former included regular Mormons (the Henricksons live in Utah, for goodness sakes) like their neighbors Pam and Carl.  Pam is the BFF to Bill's third wife Margene, while Carl resents everything Bill and his family stand for, fearing Margene's influence on Pam.

Bill owns a successful home improvement store, but increasingly branches out to diversify.  The problem is he keeps getting involved in more and more public enterprises, always putting his family in jeopardy, since polygamy is all illegal and stuff.  Well, Bill finally goes over the deep end when he gets elected to the Utah state senate, announces he is a polygamist and vows to end the persecution of polygs.

Things go downhill from there.  The stores start losing business.  Bill's kids get beat up at school and his marriage(s) suffer(s).  When it is revealed that his third wife was only 16 when he married her, he faces charges of statutory rape, expulsion from the Senate and the goofballs from Juniper Creek come gunning for him, literally.

Still with me?

Good, cause that was all setup for this. 

Okay, Spoiler Alert

With all this looming over their heads, the producers of Big Love had a pretty tall order to wrap everything up Sunday night.  Would Bill go to jail?  Would the prophet of Juniper Creek send Bill to an early meeting with Heavenly Father?  Would the marriage survive?  Would he get impeached? 

No to all of the above.

In the end, they avoided everything by having Carl the neighbor, who had been in all of like, two scenes the entire series, and who's previous claim to fame was being Jerry Seinfeld's pool guy, Ramon, shoot Bill because he was mad that Bill took it upon himself to re-sod Carl's lawn while he was out of town.

Major cop-out.  Great writers know how to get their hero out of a jam.  And while a lot of other reviews have praised this ending as brilliant, I call foul.  Yeah, yeah...nice little epilogue at the end with the family still together, the Sister Wives having bonded stronger than ever in the wake of Bill's death, but come on!  Carl!?!  Or should I say, Ramon the pool guy?  After all the great villains this show has produced over the years to have such a nobody off our hero leaves me still asking why all these days later.

Anyway Big Love is over and I'm not having withdrawals, so I guess, from that standpoint, it ended well.  Seinfeld said you should always leave them wanting more, but I don't think he meant more Ramon.

That's it for me!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fun With My Father-in-law...

...Wait.  That's not right.

You Can't Use Sarcasm. He Doesn't Get It.

No.  That doesn't quite capture the essence.  I know.

Things I'm More Than Capable Of But Have No Desire To Do So The Mrs. Calls In Her Dad?

Or maybe...

I Am A Moron Just Like His Own Son.

Too obvious.

Put Down The Damn Sudoku Puzzle!

How about,

Do You Want To Go Anywhere?  No I'm Fine.  What Do You Want To Eat?  Whatever You Want Is Fine.  Is There Anything You'd Like To Do While You're Here?  I'm Fine.

Getting close.

24 Hours Without Sleep.  Flew All Night Across The Country So I Could Get Home In Time To Drive Him Back To The Airport.

One more.  I think this is it.

Here For A Week.  Need A Week To Recover.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lost In Translation

Due to the nature of my job, I often depart hotels buck early.  Way before anyone has taken their first morning breath, let alone contemplated breakfast.  On days such as these, my airline has contracted our hotels to provide a bagged breakfast, which usually consists of fruit, yogurt, a bagel or danish and some juice.

This past Saturday was just such a day.  But when I asked the front desk clerk for my brown bag, he gave me a sheepish grin and told me they only provide them before 6 AM.  I pointed out that my watch read 5:50.  His answered with a shrug that one or two minutes doesn't count.  Quite certain those minutes do count, I reminded him of his contractual obligation.  He then told me I could get something in the restaurant.  When I asked if the restaurant was open, knowing full well my contract entitled me to a bagged snack, he shrugged again.  This was not an answer, so I prodded further. 

"The restaurant opens at six," he said.

"But I have to be on the van to the airport at six.  Which is why you are required to provide my snack before six."

"You can go in at 5:45."

I was dubious, to say the least.  This now put things before six, and he should still be required to offer a snack.  Besides, you can't very well enter a restaurant at 5:45 and be expected to have completed your meal by six.  He finally relented, allowing me to take a single granola bar/and or a piece of fruit and a beverage.  I shouldn't have been so grateful, but at least I didn't try to make off with a morning salad and pint of ice cream like one of the flight attendants.

Still, there was something this hotel clerk had in common with the next food service professional that gave me pause.  Both were from India. (I surmised this.  They could have been Pakistani, or from elsewhere in that region, but neither seemed to be a local.  And both spoke with heavy accents.)

Whilst paying for a sandwich at Subway, I noticed apple pie on the menu.  This intrigued me, and I inquired about the pie.  What size was it?  What was it's shape?  Was it baked or fried (like the old McDonald's apple pies before they became "healthy.")

"I don't sell those," she said.

"But they're on your menu," I pointed out.

"Some things I don't sell," she said.  "Sometimes I do.  Today I don't."

Somethings, even the obvious, aren't so much.  Even when printed in ink, or tiny plastic letters, you'd better be sure to ask.  And if you want a delicious apple pie, (she did at least confirm they are like the old McDonald's apple pies) you'd better plan a trip to Europe.  At least as of ten years ago, you could still get them there. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Day With Captain Personality

I've blogged a great deal about my job as a pilot, and the many characters I'm forced to endure in the tight enclosure called the cockpit (also known as the box office, but only with an all female crew.)  The latest was a guy possessing the ability to enhance the mundane in the already boring.

What I've never done is detail a typical day in the life.  That's difficult, because no days are typical.  I could be gone for days at a time, beginning in one hotel and ending in another.  I might only fly one leg and have the rest of the day to myself.  Or, as was the case this past Monday...

7:30 - Wake up.  Feel Mrs. Sarcasm's belly for baby movement.  Nothing.  This kid likes to shy away from me.

7:30 - 8:00 - Enjoy a bowl of Apple Jack's and Charlie Sheen's morning show meltdown.


8:30 - Mrs. Sarcasm leaves for work.  I promise to call the drug company to straighten out a billing issue and deposit a check into savings at the ATM  At least I think she said savings.

8:45 - Retrieve floor steamer from attic. (Tile floors have silicone streaks thanks to runaway grout sealer.)

9:10 - Determine steamer isn't getting the job done.

9:15 - 9:25 - Research cleaning solutions.

9:25 - Discover solution.  Determine it to be more labor intensive than time allotted.

9:30 - Watch Smallville on TiVo.

10:20 - Curse Smallville producers for wasting one of the final episodes in a rip-off of The Hangover.  Watch The Big Bang Theory.  Applaud brilliant ending.

10:40 - Shower

10:50 - Remember promise to call drug company.  Call drug company.

11:00 - Lunch


11:15 - End call with drug company.

11:20 - Leave for work.

11:30 - Stop at ATM.  Deposit check into checking.  Remember it was supposed go to savings.

11:31 - Transfer funds.  Pat myself on the back for getting it right.

12:00 - Arrive at airport.

12:20 - Arrive a plane.  Scheduled departure is 13:00.  No captain in sight.  Begin preflight checks.

12:40 - Complete preflight checks.  Still no captain.  Consider calling Crew Scheduling.

12:45 - Boarding complete.  Captain arrives.  No explanation.  No apology.  No nice to see you.  States that this will be his leg to fly the plane.  Seems to have forgotten his personality.

12:50 - Depart gate.  Captain follows bizarre taxi route to the runway.

12:56 - Arrive at runway.  Captain complains of the long line for takeoff.  Says it looks like we'll be waiting a while.  I mutter that some of us have already been waiting a while.

13:12 - Takeoff.


13:25 - Captain tells me I look like this one actor, but can't remember who.  I ask what he's been in.  He says Fargo.  I shake my head in disappointment.  People used to tell me I looked like Tom Cruise.


Faster than you can jump off a couch I've gone from this...
To this.














14:00 - Captain tells me my shoes are in violation of company policy.  Pulls out manual and opens to the page on footwear, which, for some reason, he has bookmarked.  I tell him he can report me when we get to Boston and I'll get off the trip.  He decides my shoes are okay.  (because they are.)

14:15 - Captain stinks up the cockpit with a can of Tuna.

14:16 - Captain chokes on tuna.  Spends next twenty minutes coughing.

14:45 - I take a bathroom break so I can get away from the tuna smell and the coughing.  Get a lemonade and some M&M's.

14:50- Still choking.

(At 15:00 I did something I'm not going to write about, lest the FAA figures out who I am.  When finished, I was caught up on the previous day's events.)

15:58 - After approaching too high and too fast, captain lands in Boston.

16:02 - Arrive at gate.

16:03 - Captain discovers cockroach in his flight bag.  Declares it is pregnant and freaks out.  Bristles at the suggestion he brought it from home.

16:04 - Captain leaves, announcing he'll be back "later."


16:05 - Begin preflight.

16:20 - Call home.  Find out deposit was supposed to go into checking.

16:40 - Captain returns.  Announces he stuffed his face with Japanese food and two ice cream cones.

16:42 - Decides he must check my work for accuracy.  I let him know it was not only accurate, but done on time.

16:58 - Leave gate.  He turns the wrong way and screws up the flow of airport ground traffic.

17:08 - My leg.  Flawless takeoff.

17:50 - Captain begins crossword puzzle.

18:25 - Captain begins nap.

20:08 - I execute near perfect landing.  Told our gate is occupied.  Expect 40 minute wait.  Shut down engines.

20:40 - Still waiting.  Try Family Feud demo on new phone.  Won't load.  Try Sims Demo.  Sim won't go where I want him to.

21:07 - Arrive at gate.  Shut down plane.

21:50 - Arrive home.  Listen to baby's heartbeat.  Still not kicking for me.

22:00 - Eat meatballs and mashed potatoes much later than I prefer.  Finally watch last week's The Office and Parks and Recreation.

23:00 - Nighty-night.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Truth Behind The Lie

Apparently I'm not a very good liar.  Most people were spot on that I had not, in fact, taken third place in the Seventh Annual Coconut Scramble.  To my knowledge there is no Coconut Scramble.  But shouldn't there be?

The rest was true.  I am a loud ice chewer and walk like a duck.  At least I used to.  Not with a waddle or anything, but my toes have always pointed out.  This actually turned out to be a legitimate ailment, which has been treated and has had pleasant side effects.  It has not, however, curbed my need for incessant foot tapping, often when the music is only in my head.

Fun Story:

For my first airline job I was based at Washington National, just across the river from D.C., an airport steeped in paranoia in the days after 9/11.  Back then, there were all kinds of security procedures in place to create the illusion of safety.  One of the safety protocols was the use of a secret code word the pilots had to provide before entering Washington's airspace.  This was rather silly because any bad guy with a radio only had to listen to all the pilots saying the same random word unrelated to anything else in the transmission.

Fun Story within a Fun Story:
The secret word changed every day, and was provided to the captain, who would then tell the first officer.  One day the word was frog.
Fun Story within a Fun Story within a Fun Story:
I used to fly with a guy from the tiny African nation, Eritrea.  His English was impeccable, but I learned he did not have a handle on homonyms.  If the word was 'horse' for example, I would write it down as 'hoarse.'  He would freak out that I was going to say the wrong word, and we might have to divert. Because...
The captain told the first officer the word was frog.  The first officer responded, "Dog?" and the captain said, "No.  Frog.  You know, ribbet."  When it came time to enter the airspace and say the word, the first officer said, "Ribbet," and they had to divert.
So you can see how tense it can get.  Well, I was brand new and tapping my foot to the soundtrack in my head.  At about 500 feet as we were about to land we encountered windshear, a sudden burst of wind that can be quite hazardous when close to the ground.  It's something we train for extensively, and since I was fresh out of training, assumed it must happen all the time.  Not so much.  We aborted the landing and climbed to a safe altitude, avoiding all the monuments we're not supposed to fly over, all the while my foot kept tapping.  Somewhere in the middle of it all, the captain, who was flying the airplane, yelled at me to stop tapping my damn foot because it was making him nervous.  Not the windshear that could have killed us.

But for that moment, he was unforgettable.  Unlike the guy in my next post...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

First Crusader Challenge

It's high time I got around to the First Crusader Challenge.  It seems I made it with days to spare.  I am now required, in 300 words or less, to tell:

· one secret

· one lie

· one interesting quirk

· one annoying habit

· one of your best character traits, and

· one of your favourite things in the whole world.

And I'm supposed to use the words, bloviate, fuliguline, rabbit and blade.  Must find a dictionary...

I'll not lie.  I hate these things.  It's no secret I tend to bloviate and who wants that?  But a challenge is a challenge...

I walk like a duck and recently took action to rectify my fuliguline gait.  There have been some interesting side effects, not the least of which is that my calves have strengthened to those of a much younger man.  I'm not saying I can jump like a rabbit, but I recently took third place in the Seventh Annual Coconut Scramble.  I sprang a third of the way up a thirty-foot tree in a single bound, needing only 12.4 seconds to complete the climb.  My doctor will be quite pleased.  I didn't believe he could cure me without surgery, but so far no blade has touched my feet.  And I need my feet.  Not for walking or anything, although I appreciate mobility.  But I have a rather interesting quirk, which some might call an annoying habit, although I consider loud ice chewing my annoying habit.  My interesting quirk is that I always tap my feet to music.  Not even always good music, which can be a concern, but I can't kill the beat no matter what.  Fortunately my ears work well in concert with my fingers to change the station as soon as a sour note is played.  Since good music is one of my favorite things in the world, it is important all my parts are in working order.  But don't worry, I won't subject you to my singing, for while I think I'm pretty good, I am humble enough to be too insecure to prove it.  You're welcome.

Challenge accepted and met.  Although, I may have revealed something about me that isn’t strictly true, can you guess what it is?  Answers in the next post...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Keeping Frak A Four-Letter Word

Longtime followers may have noticed I tend not to use foul language.  I possess a wide enough vocabulary to get my message across without the need to curse.  I do, however, toss out an F-bomb every now and again.  Sparingly, of course.  But frak!  Sometimes no other word will do.  So it was with great concern I saw this story on CNN, Hollywood fights to end 'fracking.'  Don't bother clicking the link.  It's completely boring.  But I was left wondering...

Is my favorite expletive under assualt?

Thankfully not.  Apparently 'fracking' with a 'c' refers to drilling for natural gas.  Really?  Drilling?  How anyone could misappropriate such a delightful malediction to refer to something with such obvious sexual undertones is beyond me.  That's frakked up.

The letter 'c' notwithstanding, I fear this may be the beginning of a more widespread and sinister attack.  With so much of the world illiterate it is not unthinkable this is a veiled attempt to remove frak from the vernacular of polite society.  If we learned one thing from Battlestar Galactica, it is that all of this has happened before.  All of it will happen again. 

My good friend Jeanne Krause wrote a post about all the things she did as a kid, yet somehow survived.  Things like drinking water from the hose, riding a bike without a helmet, and spending a night in jail because her parents sided with The Law!  You think today's kids have ever done any of that?  Society has taken away anything with just a hint of danger.  Frak has started to appear on mainstream TV as an acceptable alternative to the unsayable.  As a word, it is both harmless and fun.  But I fear this halting of 'fracking' may be the next assault. 

I'm not frakked in the head here.  Hollywood first brought frak to the mainstream.  If they turn against it, where will it lead?  The newspapers?  In schools?  On the playgrounds?

So, my friends, I beseech you.  Don't let them turn frak into a five-letter word.  When you feel the need to curse, instead say frak. You could cause the ripple that turns the tide.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Traveling Meat Salesman

How's that for a title?  This isn't actually about a traveling meat salesman, although he did stop by today.  Sorry.  I'm not terribly interested in buying steak from the back of a pickup truck.  I guided him over to Howard's house.  They like to eat.  A lot.

Anyway, intrigued as you were by the title, stay a moment.  It seems, since joining Rachael Harrie's Writer's Platform Building Crusade (catchy team name, that) I've been meeting some new bloggers to whom I must apologize for my lack of interaction.  It's coming, but you have to be patient with me.  Just ask someone who has been around awhile.

So now I find myself scrolling, quite daunted, through the list of blogs I follow over there on the right.  I'm not one to use google reader or my dashboard very much.  I put everything on the front page so I never have to travel too far.  But it is getting harder to keep track, so I'll be organizing the blogs I follow into categories.  I'm thinking I'll have some favorites.  Keep keeping me interested and you might find yourself at the top of list no one else cares about.

Now I'm starting to think this sounds like a lot of work.  Like writing 6000 words in a day was easy.

Keep stopping by to see if I actually do it.