Monday, February 26, 2018

Pot Holes:What do They Really Cost?

Pot Holes:  ?  What do They Really Cost?

      Pot Holes!  Got your attention right away didn’t I?  No joke, if the Pot Holes in my town were Kansas wheat, it’d be a record bumper crop.  They’re everywhere!  Going down the main street in my beloved Burg has turned into the Monaco Grand Prix, complete with vicious twist and turns then straight aways with massive acceleration.  Except the speeds aren't fringing on 100 MPH or the posted 35MPH, but actually a cautiously crawling 10 MPH...  Ohhh, it's painful.
     My fellow citizens and I have become so fond of some of these Pot Hole they have their own scenic road signs...”The Grand Canyon”, “Cliffs of Dover”, "The New River Gorge” and my personal favorite, the “Snake River Canyon”.  There was a small contingent of Police out there on Saturday slowing traffic so an Evil Kniveal impersonator could set up his ramp and jump that Beast!  Shame too, he almost made it.
    So, now really, what’s the cost of a Pot Hole?  I know from a personal perspective it’s exactly $323.23.
       Let me walk you through my figures.  And please, particularly if you're a City Engineer, don’t jump ahead, as this has little to do with asphalt and labor.  I’m talking real cost.
   So expense number one...  Button down dress shirt x 2 = $62.50.  How is that you ask?  Welp, the first one fell pray to a steaming cup of Joe.  Yes Sir, straight down the middle of the fairway.  Newly pressed white business shirt gained this growing inky spot when the front half of my truck disappeared in one of our more infamous creators.  After a few choice expletives, I realized that puppy wasn't coming out.  Nice new gardening shirt.
     Shirt number two you ask?  This one was worthy of a commercial, or at least a You Tube clip.  On the way in for a basketball game my cheek inadvertently collided with my Chili Cheese Burrito which landed squarely in my pocket.  What are the odds ?  Apparently pretty good.  All as the result of my left front tire plunging precariously into a newly created creator causing it to skip a full revolution, sending me and my Burrito careening toward the curb.  After shirt number one had bite the dust  you'd think I would have worn black to the game.    
     Expense three...$132.23.  Front end alignment and tire balancing.  This one goes without saying.  But my guess is, seriously, if I came back into town at 3:33A.M., I’d bet the dedicated employees of all four auto part stores and two garages would be working in complete unison to make these freaks of nature BIGGER!  Jack Hanners, pick axes, sledgehammers, the whole deal.  Swinging, picking hammering toward their winter bonus!  
     So the last, and most certainly not the least, of my Pot Hole expenses is the fiscal and emotional toll these gargantuan holes have placed upon my relationship.
     Here’s what I mean... so most of us dudes look at this newly minted obstacle course as a challenge right?  Who among us hasn’t bragged about our speed and "Tire to Hole Ratio"?  How many times you’ve braved the gauntlet and not hit ONE!  
    So as the course flag dropped last Saturday on the way through town, I was on fire, hadn’t been engulfed in one!!  However, and this is big, my loving spouse was furious, giving me “The Look”. Unbeknownst to me she had banged her head twice off the passenger window, poked herself in the eye during the traditional make up/ touch up session, and drawn a "Chantilly Red" smile across her cheeks that The Joker would be envious of.  
     My best gauntlet time was quickly overshadowed during a quite $137.41 dinner at her favorite restaurant with two fairly expensive bottles of wine.  I don't drink wine.  Just sayin....

So, how much am I willing to chip in to fix our Moon-Like Pot Hole conundrum? 

Well, about $323.23.  You??



Sunday, February 25, 2018

That Night and Ms. Parker

     That Night and Ms. Parker...  As promised, I am going t omake no changes to this blog post from a grammatical, and spelling perspective.  And it shouldbe vey fitting as this is how my life changed.  In a VW Van, in a night and in a bed.  racey sounding isn't it?
     Well unfortunately for you it's  not.  Back when I was about ten years old in late November we were on the way home from hockey practice in Westerville, Ohio at he old Ice Chalet, for those of you who may remember.  It was about 10:30 at night, my sister had had figure skating practice that evening woile I had been on the second sheet of ice with the hockey team.  The 45 minuite home was uneventful until we came to our last stop sign, literally across the road from our 26 acre farm.  Right now as I sit here a gazillion years later, I can still see the side lights of a semi truck passing in front of us, that burnt orange color traveling from my right to my left, can also feel the impact as our VW Van hit the side of this semi, now we are spinningcounterclockwise.  The frumping sound of metal on metal in my mind, then everything stops.  Having been stretched out n the back seat of the van, still decked out in my hockey gear, now I see my sister and Mom hanging out of the car by their seat belts.  Ya see the front of the car had literally been ripped off, like the top of a tin can of beans.  I get out of the car to help them out and then, and really I mean right now, because I can see this in my minds eye as I sit here sharing this with you, I see the headlights of the car traveling beind the truck swerve.  The next few minutes or seconds, never sure which it could be is lost for ever, buried in my subconscious, cause that vehicle, going about 55 MPH hits me.  Thaaawack!  SO now, my ten year old eyes feel the bllod of my mothers facial cuts dripping down onto mine as a guttural scream-cry comes from her throt as she leans over the top of me.
     That moment changed my life.  No kidding right?  I can fill you in on the rest later but that moment changed my life for the good.  God came to me that evening in the form of an 18 wheeler.  Ya know, like the Native American's giving the spirits animal shapes.  Mine was a truck.
    So for the next six months, I was a very cptive audience, having been intraction in the hospital, then ina cast up to my hips at home nursing a broken femer and a bunch of other cuts and stuff.  My Mom and sister made it through with some relatively minor injusrues btw.  Anyway as I transitioned home to lay there starting at the ceiling, in saunters young Ms. Parker to tutor me.  All I can remener is her long blond hair, short skitsr and well endowed nature.  Good job Mom and Dad, you got my attention!  Tell you what, if I didn't want to read before, this specimen changed my minid.  And read we did.  For the next five months.  The first book I remember us reading together was actually a hockey book (just bought it on ebay) "Porko vonPopbutton" and amazing tale about a kid who goes off to school and becomes a hockey star.  That night, that truck, Miss Parker all helped me develop a tool box that would assist me with breaking the dyslexic code.  And I thank all of you for that!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

A True Confession

This is a TRUE Confession.  At 4:00 A.M. this morning as the pitch black stared back at me with a light winter rain drumming out my thoughts, I felt the inherent need to Confess to you.  After five and a half decades, I found my PASSION. 
    Approximately six years ago I discovered, dare I say this, I have a talent for writing.  Started with lyrics, then poems and now books.  Which in my mind (the whole point of this blog entry), MY MIND, is one of the most ironic things I have ever know. 
     The reason?
     Last week I drove four hours to Lexington, KY for business, and on the way listened to a voicemail from my publisher (Monday Creek Publishing- Whoop Whoop) leaving me the phone number of a professor at Ohio University who specialized in Dislexia (that's how my mind would spell it... and yes I will poke fun at myself ((endearing coping skill)), even on a life molding topic such as this) who had read my recently published children's book "The Adventures of Coal and Andy; Charlie the Catfish". For those of you who haven't read it quite yet, on the back cover I profess I struggled with childhood Dyslexia.  As this phenomenon is her passion and major course of study, she wanted to spend a few minutes discussing my experiences.  As it turns out, like me, she is also a non-spelling, slow reading, number reversing, word switching, highly functioning, phenomenally educated, extremely intuitive, amazingly passionate person who is making a hugh difference in the WORLD.  This conversation changed my life.
     I want to know how this can be?  It has taken me years, I literally mean years of my life, to this day as a matter of fact, to understand that I am not a RetardThat word hurts...  As a matter of fact, I've used it.  I've hidden behind it.  I've run from it.  I suppose in this day and age, "Developmentally Challenged" is more PC.  Not Stupid, Idiot, or Late Bloomer?  Worn all those tags, accepted all those adjectives, believed those labels... 
     Let me be clear, "Crystal Clear".  This is no "Woe is me" tale.  This is a TRUE Confession.  A proclamation I have found yet another True PASSION in my life.  And with this new found mission, I intend on changing not one child's life, as was my goal with "Charlie the Catfish", but copious gobs of crumb snatchers as well.  I'm going to tell you my story, with as many gory details as I can remember, in order to help the next kid get out of the box we are trying to put him or her in.
This won't be my only blogging topic, but certainly one worth tracking. 
     On my next post, I am going to turn off the spell/ grammar checks to give you an idea of who the man is hiding behind the curtain.
     This otta be fun!!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Getting the Grease

     Yes, we all know the adage "The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease".  For once, I'll play the role of the Squeaky Wheel.  And I literally mean the Squeaky Wheel. 
     So there I was, Friday afternoon, ready to head home for the President's Day weekend.  However, I needed to make a quick pit stop at Kroger's Market for the essentials which will allow me to stay tucked in at the house all weekend.  I mean all weekend.
     First stop...  the grocery store.  See, here's the rub...  I live in a small college town and if this required ten minute stop is done at the wrong time of day or perhaps on Mom or Dad's Weekend, you might as well have brought a tent to camp out.  Seriously, the lines for a new iPhone launch are shorter,  by a mile, I'm talking all 5,280 feet.
     Coasting through the parking lot doing my recon, the mission looked like a GO.  Spots available, a few carts in the cart corral, and most cars looked local.  Let's do this. 
     Once in the door I grab the first cart I can get my hands on.  Vigorously scrubbing the carts handle with the provided disinfect wipe clearing any hibbie geebies the last shopper may have graciously left, I sneak a peek upward to plan my route.  
     Now as I may have inferred, I needed the essentials.  Dawg and cat food, beer and a pallet of water for the barn fridge.  As I cruise past the organic veggies, I realize that the front left wheel on my shopping companion is teetering. No biggie, I'll only be here for two minutes, max.
        I continue on my predestined route to isle 16, pet food.  Grab the 50 pound bag of dog food for my buds, the 20 pound bag of food for my mouse eradication team, plus six cans of the wet stuff that smells like, well, cat food.  
    Engaging the handle I push.  That 70 plus pounds starts to head immediately left.  Heading right for the bird food and cat litter.  Whoooa...  Hang on partner.  I self correct realizing this cart had just copped a major attitude.  Confident I can out-muscle this contraption, I adjust my heading with a 20 degree crab (aviation term for angle) and headed off to the libation aisle.    
     Halfway to my next check point the front left wheel literally starts to squeak like a 13 year old boy's voice as he talks to his first crush.  I know this, I was that bashful squeaking fella.
     Now, I've got every shoppers attention as I literally push-drag my demonic cart to my beer.  Finally arriving in the brew section (with a major cramp in my left forearm), I hoist two cases of high octane and one pallet of water (strategically positioned a the end cap) into the belly of the beast.
     Lets see, if I do my calculations right, that's another 32 pounds of liquid.  So now, this limping contraption weights about 110 pounds and begins pulling on my left arm like a six year old who sees the Twizzlers on sale.  I mean yanking and squealing doing a fine imitation of Ms. Veruca Salt at he Chocolate Factory! 
     The unpopulated Goal line looms 20 yards past the massive pyramid of bargain soup cans. I can do this!  Push, drag, push drag, yank, squeal, squeak.  Push, drag, push, drag, yank, squeal, squeak.  Almost there.  So what happens next?  That's right!  The cantankerous wheel liberates itself from bondage, straightening the cart and drives me straight into the pyramid, sending tomato, barley, and vegetable soup scurrying across multiple lanes of shopper traffic!  What do I do?  Yank my hat down, bolt for the exit, and head out to the fresh air.  "Clean Up on Aisle 10!"    

Thursday, February 15, 2018

That Old Coffee Cup
     "What in the tarnation are you doing with MY COFFEE CUP!  Hand that over right now or I'll punch you in the snot locker so hard, you won't be able to smell Christmas DINNER!"  These are my exact thoughts when one of our visiting family members grabs my favorite coffee cup out of the cupboard to enjoy a nice fresh cup of Java.  What really comes out of my mouth?  "Hey ahhh, I think that one still has grounds in it.  Try this one."  Or perhaps, "Good Morning, opps, that one's cracked, let me pour you a fresh cup."   I deftly grab MY CUP and hand off one that I stole from work about six months ago. 
     Honestly, there are some things in this world I am willing to throw down for, and this is one of them.  Seriously, how strange is that?  A coffee cup?  I had to ask myself what makes this small piece of sentiment sooooo important? 
     I examined this chink in my armor and realized it's the sentiment and value that I place on the time with my old friend.  My cup waits almost a full 24 hours for me to carefully extract it from the cupboard and pour that morning steaming sunshine into it.  Sounds corny doesn't it?  But is it?  If my cup was a puppy it'd be the one with the tail just flailing, ears back, tongue hanging out, eye's saying "Pick Me!  Pick Me!  Pick Me!" 
     And I do J  And I'd wager that you do as well.  Just like yours, My Coffee Cup fits perfectly in my hand, just the right size, just the right warmth, just the right amount.  It's, well, Just Right.  Much like my favorite pair of work boots, which is another blog entirely, this piece of pottery has history with me.  We've shared the dawn of my best days, my worst, and many that have some and gone.  Truth be told, perhaps the reason it's so special is the time we get to spend with the other love of my life.  Each Saturday morning we pick our best friends out of their hibernation, fill them to the brim and share tales of our hope for the day.  All four of us, experiencing the most uncluttered time of the day.  And who doesn't love Saturdays?  The bonus day!
    My heart truly skips a beat when I see a relative reach for my friend as it proudly sits there, unsuspecting, unable to protect itself, waiting patiently for my hand to guide it to the coffee pot.  For like my beautiful spouse, you are the one I chose.  Amongst all the others. 
     Hiding you in the back of the dishwasher or my side of the bathroom during holiday visits is not above me.  You mean that much, your friendship, your memories, your loyalty. 
I look forward to many more mornings together, sharing the dawn of new day, preparing to make history.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Half Pipe?  Half Crazy!
So here I sit watching tonight's Olympic Coverage from the safety and warmth of my living room.  Fires blazing, yellow Lab snoring, mid evening nap looming.  Beautiful night, no doubt. 
     Tonight's events grab my full attention and make me start to wonder how deranged some of these winter athletes must really be.  Seriously, they must be nuts!
     The half pipe is on at this very moment...A young athlete is hurtling 50 feet in the air doing twists, turns and half this and a full that and I tell ya, it's amazing to watch.  But what the heck is going through her mind right now?  "Hmm, wonder what's going on at home?" , "Man, what was that Korean thing I ate last night, it was awesome!" or my favorite "I wonder if someone is insta-gramming this?".  No doubt, she can think that; she has trained her mind and muscles to perfection.  And it shows!  Me?  What would I be saying?  "Hail Mary..." or "I shouldn't drink and snow board." or perhaps the most realistic "Am I gonna Die?".
Half Pipe?  Try Half Crazy! 
     The events changes to another safe hobby; the Ski Jump.  Oh My God!  I know most of you remember the "Agony of Defeat"?  You literally couldn't pay me enough to go barreling down that massive hill, knowing there is no possible way to get off this ride before you go flying, and I mean FLYING through the air.  How in the world do these athletes get started as a child?  The only potential I have shown for the winter Olympics, no joke, was last year when I fell off our six foot ladder changing a light bulb out in the barn.  Full summersault, half twist, with a debilitating leg over the head split to end my performance.  Hadn't practiced at all!  Nope, no hot totties and congrats by a roaring fire in the Lodge like these phenomenal winter athletes, but more like four weeks of 800mg horse tranquilizers, a blue sling and a bunch of "What the Hell happened to yous".  Yea, that's more my speed!
But seriously folks, the concentration, dedication and pure personal courage these half bonkers individuals show is amazing.  And its so hard, I mean soooo hard to compare the Winter and the Summer events.  Honestly not taking anything away from the Summer crew, but how many of us would attach ourselves to a turbo charged sled for the thrill of going at amazing speeds, or maybe standing a top the glorified 1 x 6 planks to soar miles in the air, or maybe, just maybe, climb into a aerodynamically perfect tube with blades on the bottom to blow through curves higher than those on the best NASCAR tracks?  Hmmm...and Oh Yea, can't forgot to mention the thrill of being thrown through the air twirling, while your partner awaits you with open arms  going 20 MPH on ice skates?
Incredible, Just Incredible.  My hats off to these Winter Athletes that Do It because they can!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

February, ahh yes, the mentally darkest month of the year.  And who first spelled it anyway?  Thank God for red lines, always thought it was "Feb ewe airy".  Have you ever met anyone walking this rain pelted, ice growing, snow covered earth, that actually pronouns the "r"?  Well, I sure haven't.
     So this blog post doesn't really concern the weather but brings to light a daily phenomena that exists as a byproduct of Mother Nature's rank attitude. 
     For those of you whom I haven't had the pleasure of meeting, my family and I live on a small horse farm in the Southeast corner of Ohio.  Absolutely beautiful area with rolling hills, meandering creeks, real Norman Rockwell stuff.  Just gorgeous.  In order to keep this little parcel of land and its inhabitants moving right along, I also have a full time job about 20 minutes up the road.  Love the company and will stay there as long as they'll have me.
     Each night I make the trek home knowing that my loving spouse has beaten me to our humble abode and is diligently chopping, boiling, and prepping a fantastic dinner.  Which means, that yours truly, gets to head out to our "Equine Facility" and feed our four hay burning, muffin making, mud wearing, retirement devouring horses.  Much like my beloved, I prep their hay, scoop the grain and then get the hose out to fill up their 100 gallon stock tank.  And here, my friends, is where the phenomena makes itself know.  Every night, its unfailing and every present. I slowly uncoil the hose from it's keeper, you know, the one I diligently placed the hose on just 24 hours ago and run it the 75 feet out to the thirsty tub.
     Quick pause for a bit of background...  I grew up on a small farm, bailed hay as a kid till my skin wore off, raised steers, hogs and sheep.  Tied and untied knots for halters, gates, and siblings who were out of hand.  Then, to manifest my need to work my bones into the dirt, did a 21 year stint in the U.S. Army.  Had the pleasure of jumping out of planes, rappelling from helicopters and attending the US Army Ranger School.  I mention these experiences not to beat my chest, but because I was taught, untaught and retaught how to tie 1,323 different type of knots.  At some points, the man in the Smokey bear hat said my life could depend on this skill.
    But for the life of me, how on this blessed earth, can an inanimate object, like the heavy duty farm hose, neatly stored and unstored every night, tie itself in a perfect square knot within 75 feet?  Honest to God, I have never witnessed anything, I mean ANYTHING, like it.  One night the Soma da Bitch even had two half hitches on either side of the perfectly dimensional square knot.  Took me years to perfect that simple configuration!  Its never a granny knot that'll come undone, but an unflawed piece of art, just laying there choking the water away from the vessel that needs it most.  There are times I believe a well camouflaged Ranger Instructor sprints out from under the horse trailer and ties that thing himself.  Simply amazing.
   Now I know that each one of you who works in the elements can relate to this daily miracle.  And if by chance, you know what incantation I can place on this water carrying apparatus, or have extra chicken bones and blood about the house to break this spell, I would LOVE to hear from you!

Time to go water the horses...


Saturday, February 3, 2018

Maiden Voyage 1,323 Miles to GO!

So as you may know, A One Thousand, Three Hundred and Twenty Three (1,"323") mile voyage begins with one step.  That step for me happened as I sauntered onto a Southwest flight in Columbus, OH bound for The Dig D.  Ahh yes, Dallas, beautiful city, and for those of you living under a rock frozen to the ground, it's 45 degrees warmer than Columbus (currently 12 degrees as I bang this out), or should I say Athens, OH, my actual stomping grounds.
As a newly minted/ published Children's Book Author "The Adventures of Coal and Andy; Charlie the Catfish" I was looking forward to reading a phenomenal book my publisher, friend, and mentor, (Ms. Gina McKnight of Monday Creek Publishing) had given me prior to my Adventure to the Great State of Texas.  This bite sized book "YOU ARE A WRITER (so start ACTING like one)" by Mr. Jeff Goins intrigued me immediately.  Didn't even have to open it, I was hooked by the cover.  I couldn't wait to devour the wisdom within. 
Needless to say, it didn't disappoint.  Jeff recommended several things for us rookies.  One of the nuggets that grabbed my attention was blogging.
As Jeff would also recommend, tell everyone you're a writer.
That's three times right?  Worked for Dorothy, so why shouldn't three reps work for me?  "There's no place like home"...
So here I am...
What I can promise you if you endeavor to hang in there as I pontificate the oddities of life...

-  I don't really care what people think of my Blog...  My ideas, my keyboard, my blog...  However, if I strike a cord, let me know.  We'll agree, disagree, and then move on.  It's the forward progress that's key here People.
-  Humor... Dry, Sarcastic, Unique.  The kind of humor that carries a bit of well disguised insight into the normal oddities of life.
-  A Truly Red White and Blue, Patriotic point of view.  After 21 years in the Big Green Machine, it's worn off on me a tad.  If you come from the far left, enjoy what I have to say, tell me to get bent, and then come back for some more.
-  (This particular launch being the exception)  Brief and to the point.  I'm not going to waste anyone's time.  Most importantly, my own.
-  A healthy smattering of Poetry, Lyrics, growing stories for both real kids and adult kids, and perhaps some other literary stuff that no one has a name for yet. 
-  A thought or two on other folks efforts, especially those who espouse a unique twist on life.

So welcome to my First Blog entry.  Remember this is the first, the only one of it's kind, and you had the distinct privilege to be here when it started.  This is going to be a Hoot!

Catch Up With You Soon!