Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011 is looking up

Just a quick note....I have been invited to write a guest post on Frugal Golf Travel.  You will be the second to know when it hits their blog!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas lesson

December is full of Christmas parties, Christmas shopping, Christmas plays, Christmas musicals, Christmas wishes and Christmas cheer.  This season has always been the most exciting time of year for me.  Maybe it is the anticipation, the surprises, I cannot put my finger on it.  Which is probably why I like it.  (Come to think of it, the same can be said for my golf game)  Maybe Christmas is special to me because of its purpose and meaning.  Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus.  I now keep the date marked on all my calendars.  Might want to keep that day marked on your calendars too; just saying cause He gets a little jealous if you forget.  

My kids love Christmas for a different reason.  They start counting down from 365 as soon as Christmas day passes.  They take a slight mental studder step on their birthday of course as they get inundated with gifts that day as well.  Admittedly some of the toys they get are pretty snazzy.  Like the Casio keyboard or the remote control walking dragon or the programmable talking Elmo or the Disney movies or the Thomas the train sets.  Putting some of these things together or programming them can be quite a challenge.

One of the funniest things for me to watch Christmas morning is my dad and father-in-law help get the toys out of the boxes.  They use pocket knives, screwdrivers, box cutters, threaten a blow torch, even use their teeth.  Obviously lawyers have made it to the North Pole.  I can only image a few years ago an elf did not properly fasten a toy correctly in a box.  The toy got loose, suffered broken parts and mental anguish...o my.  You can see the North Pole Register headline now.  "Toy suffers child rejection - Elf #98934389 under investigation for improper package securage."  Now the NPPA (North Pole Packaging Authority) has strictly regulated the elves to use more rubber bands, steel ties, mystery plastic fasteners and tape than is needed to repair the international space station.  Ultimately the children still suffer, as they wait and wait for their toys to be unfastened by frustrated Pop and Papa. 

Speaking of suffering around Christmas...a few years back about a week after Christmas we had all gone to bed when I was suddenly awakened/awoke/awoken...I woke up unexpected about 1:56 AM by an unknown voice.  Moms have a sixth sense to hear their children and know when their kids are sick.  Dads have a sixth sense knowing something is in the house that does not belong.  Here I was, wide awake from a dead sleep, at 1:56 AM.  I was thinking how did this person get in the house?  Are the girls going to hear him?  Will he get startled and leave?  Maybe I should make a noise.  He must have seen all our empty electronic boxes on the street and he wants the loot.  Maybe I was just dreaming.  I took a deep breath and settled back down.  

I heard the voice again!  I prayed that this was not happening.  Lord I have two young girls and a lovely wife.  After I prayed, my mind started racing.  I thought, by the time I could load a gun or reach the toilet plunger (under distress your mind thinks of the strangest weapons) the intruder would probably hear me.  I was still in my bed under the covers with my eyes closed..."Kipp there is somebody in the house!" whispered my wife.  I whispered back, "Well since you are up, go see who it is."  Amazing how much pain can be inflected by the simple combo of a thumb and pointer finger. "Aren't you the man of the house?"  As I quietly exit the bed, I whispered back "You just had to go there."

I started down the hallway with no weapon, no idea of what to do, no plan.  I prayed again.  I thought, if I survive the first encounter and he does not shoot first, I would help him load his truck with whatever material item he wanted.  If he threatened to harm my family, I was going to do whatever it took to take him out.  As I got closer to my oldest daughters room I heard the voice again.  It was a voice I knew!  

I had heard that voice before.  I stopped cold trying to think where I knew this voice from.  Work, the local golf pro, the grocery store, church...nothing was ringing a bell.  I finally stepped closer to the door of my daughter's room.  "Good Morning. It's 8:00.  It's time for your oatmeal."  I said "ELMO!"  I knew it was somebody I knew.  The programmable talking Elmo doll had obviously had some issue with its internal clock or a low battery.  Surely it was not the fault of the parental programmer.  We had programmed it to wake up our daughter at 8:00 announcing it was time for her oatmeal.  I reached down and grabbed talking Elmo by his throat.  I walked back to my room to show my wife.  She was pointing the gun at just kidding. "Why are you holding Elmo?!"  As soon as she asked, Elmo spoke again.  "Is your oatmeal delicious?"  "Hey that's the voice we have been hearing."

My daughter thankfully has not asked for her Talking Elmo since that evening.  I would hate to have to explain that Talking Elmo is no longer with us.  As for the lesson learned, be careful not to get wrapped up in what we do at Christmas and forget why we celebrate Christmas.  You may get taught a lesson too.

Friday, December 17, 2010

rockbottom Business Meeting

I need to call a end of the year business meeting.

First of all Thank You all for visiting and sharing in on the fun.  I hope you have had as much reading the stories on rockbottom as I have had writing them.

I will keep this meeting brief.  

Newest features 
As you may notice I like to change things around on the site.  Sometimes colors, sometimes fonts, sometimes placements of gadgets.  The latest gadget is the new 'subscribe via email' button.  If you would like to be notified via email when the latest post is posted, load your email and you should be all set.  When the latest story is posted, and if I have read the gadget instructions correctly, you will be notified by email.  If you do not want to be bothered with email, then just continue to visit on a random basis.

Second order of business is to answer the most frequently asked question: "When are part II of AT and part II of Paintball coming out?"  Well the bottom line to that question is - when the book comes out.  Which would pose another immediate question.  "What book?"  Exactly.  What book.  All I can say is one of the items on my bucket list is to write a book.  I have a few long winded stories that my public relations officer, M.Y. Self, thinks would fit nicely under a hardback cover or in one of those Kindle/Nookie ereaders.  The long winded stories would be nice for a long plane ride, long road trip, or during the TV re-run season.  "kippsversion" aka "rockbottom" is allowing me to practice how to tell a story.  I am using what I learn to edit those long stories.  "When will the book be ready?"  Well slow down a minute.  Step one is to get them all written down, edited and formatted.  "How long..."  No more questions.

Closing remarks
As the first year on "kippsversion" aka "rockbottom" comes to a close and new year is about to begin, I want to again say Thank You for visiting, reading, laughing, criticizing, and following.  Meeting adjourned.

Merry Christmas!  

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Perception vs Big Picture

Not sure what triggered these thoughts.  But here are some thoughts on perception vs the bigger picture. (Random order)

Perception is passwords protect our valued information.
Big Picture is the geek down the street can hack into your computer.

Perception is the game of golf is easy.
Big Picture is only 125 golfers in America play on the PGA tour.

Perception is everybody cares about you.
Big Picture is your mom is the only ones that cares and maybe your dad.

Perception is people are good.
Big Picture is everybody lies.

Perception is God does not exist.
Big Picture is you will find out one day.
Perception is if its on the internet it must be true.
Big Picture is have you ever received a financial windfall after forwarding the email to 8 of your closest friends?

Perception is a 30% sale is saving you money.
Big Picture is if you do not spend it, you save even more.

Perception is reality shows are real.
Big Picture is they are all rigged with pre-planned outcomes.

Perception is that BP cleaned up the crude oil mess in the Gulf of Mexico.
Big Picture is if they only cleaned up a million gallons of the tens of millions gallons spilled, where is the rest of it?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Close call

There has a been a monumental shift in man law as I currently know them. 

There are more ladies where I work than men.  The building we now work in strategically located both the ladies and gentlemen restrooms on the same hallway.  Fairly standard for most everywhere in the USA.  The women's room is on the right side of the hallway and a few more steps to the left is the men's restroom.

On most every occasion I make my way to the men's room, there is always two or more ladies going to, coming from, or in the doorway of the restroom.  More times that not there is conversation of some sort between the ladies.  Even as I pass by the door to the ladies room, although not audible enough to understand, I can hear conversations coming from the ladies room.  

The men's room is and has always been just the opposite.  Rarely will you see men going to in pairs or groups to the restroom.  A rarer event is conversation coming from the men's restroom.  Normally entering the men's room is like entering a vault.  The noise of the air moving around is deafening.  Seriously the only sounds made are when the urinals and toilets are flushed, the water is run, and the hand towels removed.  Until...

This day things changed  The first view walking in the room is the three sinks, counter top, and long mirror.  Rounding the corner to the left the stalls come into view.   There are four stalls; two of them have doors closed.  Stall 1 and 3 are occupied.  Man Bathroom Law Number 1 is to always leave an empty stall or urinal open between you and anybody else or anybody that may enter.  Man Bathroom Law 2 is if you are going to fill a gap you either wait outside the urinal/stall zone or you leave and come back later.  As I turn again to the left to get my destination, there is a man leaving the urinal bank.  Suddenly I realize several things at once.  

First there are voices coming from stall 1 and 3.  Conversation about football.  I am being greeted by the dude leaving the urinal bank.  "What's up Kipp." Then as I get to my destination I hear from stall 3.  "Kipp? What do you think they are going to do about Auburn's Cam Newton?"  

I seriously thought, even though I am standing at a urinal, I had entered the ladies room.  Never in my years have I ever heard conversation much less been asked my opinion on any subject while another person was sitting on the pot.  This is an image I do not want in my brain....ever.  Because of Man Bathroom Law 3, no eye contact in the urinal/stall zone; I did not recognize who had called out my name.  "Kipp that is you, I can see you through the crack in the door.  What is your take on the Auburn investigation?"  I froze...(refer back to man law 3 again).

I felt a shift in man bathroom law taking place.  Almost as much as the NCAA has brought to college football.  Allowing parents to shop their children to the highest bidder.  Rules are changing.  Porcelain talk has made it to the men's room.  Really?  Is this happening?  When did it become suddenly acceptable to have conversation while sitting on the porcelain pot?  Then before I could stop it ... "I must be in mamby-pamby land, you jackwagons!" 

(if unfamiliar with this quote, go see the latest Gieco commercial with the psychologist used to be drill sargent.  All rights belong to Gieco ---

Silence returned to the men's room.  

I am typically open to change.  But much like the Drill Sargent psychologist, I ain't ready for no mamby pamby land especially in the men's bathroom.   

Friday, November 26, 2010

Mr. Bus Driver

A few years ago I was invited by CB to a Monday Football Game in New Orleans, LA at the Super Dome.  The men of his church had organized the trip. The deal was a no-brainer.  For $60, I got a ticket to the game and round trip ticket on a charter bus.   

The plan was to leave town about 3:00 pm, arrive in New Orleans around 6:00 pm to eat at one of the famous seafood restaurants downtown, then enjoy the Monday night game at 8:00.  I wish I could remember the restaurant ... it was the first time I had ever eaten gator.  Yes, it tasted like chicken.  

The visiting team for the game was the St. Louis Rams.  At the time, a man by the name of Kurt Warner was the quarterback for the Rams.  Later that year he lead the Rams to a Super Bowl victory and he was named the MVP.

We started loading up the charter bus about 3:00 pm.  All the attendees on the bus were men or boys.  As we loaded up on the bus we were curious about our ride.  We were ooing and ahhing over the TV screens about every 4 rows.  We checked out how far back the seats would go, to know if we will be able to sleep on the way back.  We were clicking the arm rest up and down in case not everybody showed up; seeing if we would be able to stretch out over two seats.  We even went to the back to check out the lavatory.  We were impressed with our accommodations for the trip to New Orleans.  Nice bus.

The bus filled up to near capacity about 3:15 pm.  The bus driver closed the door and asked if this was everybody.  He got an affirmative response from someone up front.  CB's pastor was sitting in the seat directly in front of CB and I.  He seemed to think if they were not here by now they were not coming.

The bus driver stepped up to the isle with his microphone.  

Bus Driver (BD): "Guys before we leave I have a few rules to go over.  Rule number one.  This bus is equipped with a laboratory."

Me: I glanced at CB  "Isn't it lavatory?  
CB: "Shhh."

BD: "It is there for your convenience and luxury.  When you go in and take care of your business, most of which I would hope and assume will be from a standing position, you will notice a button about stomach height for most of you on the wall to the right.  It is labeled "Flush".  Listen closely.  Push and hold the button for a count of 2.  1...2...then release it.  It will not flush immediately, it has a delay.  If you repeatedly push the button it could cause a malfunction and the laboratory will become inoperable.  I give you these instructions because I want everyone to understand them.  Does anybody have any questions.  No?  Good.  If the laboratory becomes inoperable, I do not make any stops until we get to our destination. So do not approach me and ask."
Someone from the bus: "Nobody better screw up the bathroom!"

BD:"Rule number two..."
Me: "CB maybe we should have driven ourselves."
CB: "Hang on lets hear him out."

BD:  "...I noticed most of you clicking the arm rests up and down, up and down.  I want to let you know the arm rest cost $200 each.  If you break it; you buy it."
Someone from the bus: click - click  "Just putting it away so I am not tempted anymore." 

BD: "Rule number three..."
CB: "If he has more than three I say we bail."
Me: "He may a rule against us getting off the bus."
BD: "...the temperature of the bus is the way I like it.  With this many people on the bus it will cool down as we get on the road.  From there I will make adjustments.  Do not approach me while I am driving and ask me to adjust it.  I have the climax controls up front with me and will make the adjustments as necessary to keep you comfortable."

Silence on the bus.

CB: is looking at me with big eyes, furiously shaking his head but not saying a word: N-NO NO NO....NO! Then with a stern look using his telepathic mind language: DON'T YOU EVEN MAKE A SOUND OR I WILL KILL YOU RIGHT HERE.

The Pastor turns to CB and I.  "Where do you think we can get one of those 'climax controls'; sounds like a gold mine."



The Saints lost to the Rams.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


When my wife and I were dating in college my mode of transportation was a Honda two door sport coupe.  It was a sweet ride.  Some other people, including Honda, called it a Civic three door hatchback.  The Civic was and still is a popular vehicle.  Not sure why they discontinued the hatchback.  Maybe they are planning a big retro comeback.  The best thing about it, other than a total babe magnet, was the gas mileage, the low maintenance cost and its reliability.  Everybody wanted one.

On one particular cool night after work I pulled this sweet ride into her parents driveway with the windows down.  Arriving fairly late and figuring to not stay too long, I decided to leave the windows down.  It never hurt to air out the inside of my sports* car with a nice cool breeze once in a while.  
*(kept all my sports equipment in the back: the golf clubs, softball glove, basketball, football)  

About 30 minutes after arriving, being a school night, I bid my princess a goodnight.  I jumped in my car started it up and headed down the street out of her neighborhood.  The cool air was nice.  Leaving the windows down allowed the night air scent to infiltrated the inside of my car.  I took a big deep breath of the fresh air.  Clearing my mind of a long day.  I became keenly aware of a few other things.  There was no moon out; it was extremely dark.  There were no other cars on the streets; extremely quiet.  Matter of fact, there was no traffic.  Just me, my civic, thoughts of my princess, and the cool air.  That's when I felt a tap on my right shoulder.  

Suddenly thoughts of how stupid I was...why would I leave my windows down and car unlocked late at night!  It would have only taken a minute or two to hand crank the windows back up.  DANG IT!  I am going to die.

I started thinking.  Who could it be?  Her ex-boyfriend?  A real robber?  Why did they pick my car?  Oh, wait, Einstein.  Then I started thinking.  What do I have of value with me?  I still had about $60 from last paycheck in my wallet.  Oh man, my new watch.  Dang it, it is all about to be gone.  Wait what if they want the car?  Oh man, they want this sweet ride.  What if they are about to stab me or shoot me?  I am not going to make it.

Their hand was still on my shoulder.  Yet, they were not making any demands.  They must want me to stop the car.  I was too freighted to look in the rear view mirror.  I took a deep breath and let off the accelerator.  I slowly came to a stop in the middle of the street.  Thinking if the police came by they would investigate why I was stopped in the middle of the street.  If I got shot and thrown out on the street the police may conclude I was car jacked.  I was in shock.

The car finally stopped.  I held my breath.  Waiting for the gun shot or the knife blade in my back.  I decided to make peace with my maker.  I regained my composure after talking with Him.  I finally decided to face my assailant.  As I turn my head to the right, I wanted to face my attacker and their demands.  I wanted to see the evil twisted sinister person who had violated my personal space trying to steal my only possession.  I wanted to go to my grave seeing the face of this thief and murderer.  When I cut my eyes around I looked directly into the cold yellow eyes of a black cat.  Her whiskers tickled my cheek.  She nudged my nose, threw her head toward the windshield and started to purr as if to say, "Hey studmuffin, love the ride. Isn't this a great night?  Where we going?"  

Realizing the worst case scenario at this point would be to startle the cat causing her to freak out, scratch me, giving me cat scratch fever, or biting me giving me rabies; my heart actually started beating again.  I took another deep breath.  The neighbors black cat had entered my car, most likely, in search of the left over quarter pounder box in the back seat.  I did a quick U-turn and took the abducted cat back to the driveway where she had entered my car.  I opened the door let her out and left again.  

Strangely there was a new scent in the car...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wax on Wax off on Two

My wife says to me: "Kipp when was the last time you got a hair cut?"
Me: "About three weeks ago.  Why?
Wife: "Turn around let me see your neck."

My wife had got a new wax product from her sister.  This new wax product was being billed as nearly pain free.  By reducing the amount of wax with an amazing new space aged polymer it reduces the pain factor considerably.  Per the instructions on the tub container, to get the best performance and most pain free experience the "targeted area" should have a few weeks worth of hair growth.  Seeing the back of my neck and now with the knowledge it has three week hair growth on it, my wife's plan was set in motion. 

Wife: "Have you ever used wax?"
Me: "Seriously, you just asked me" 
Wife: "OK good then we will try it on your neck first.  Just a little bit to see how good it works.  If it works like it should we can do your entire neck."

There was no further discussion.  She heads for the kitchen to warm the wax.  I am left standing in front of the bathroom mirror rubbing my neck thinking my neck could use a trim.  It will be smooth as a baby bottom in a few minutes.    

She returns from the kitchen with the warm wax.  She gets about a tablespoon worth of wax.  As she is about to apply it to my neck, she decides to go down to a teaspoon.  With the Popsicle stick applicator she applies the wax to the right side of my neck.  The warm wax was smoothed out, best I could feel it was about the size of a piece of Laffy Taffy candy.  (About an inch rectangle swath of wax over the three week old neck hair) 

The instructions read aloud by my lovely wife:
"Let the wax set for about 30 seconds then apply a pull strip.  Next taking a firm grip on the pull strip, jerk quickly." 

I am about a head taller than my wife and I out weigh her by about a person.  The logistics of this next step required some positioning for leverage.  I leaned over the sink with my elbows on the counter.  My head hanging over the sink.  This placed the "target area" in a great position for my wife to pull the strip and jerk quickly.  My wife placed her left hand on my back and her feet planted firmly on the floor.  I felt a little pressure on my back when she grabbed the pull tab with her right hand.  

Me: "Ouch!" 
I stand up.
Wife: "WHAT!"
Me: "You are supposed to rip it."
Wife: "I just grabbed the pull strip.  I did not rip it yet."
Me: "Well you already pulled a few hairs out."
Wife: "I was just getting a grip."
Me: "Well grab and rip, lets go."
I lean back over the sink.

She grabbed the pull strip again and pushing down on my back and this time on my neck, asked if I was ready.  

Me:"Should I take a deep breath?  Should I hold my breath?  If you will just pull when I am not expecting it.  Maybe it will catch me off guard that way...(she tugged)

In an instant my legs gave way, my right knee hit the floor first.  My vision was immediately flooded with black fly like creatures zipping across in front of the dim light behind them.  My body temperature increased to about a thousand degrees.  Sweat from areas that normally do not sweat, were wet.  I lost hearing.  My neck was on fire.  Tears welled up in my right eye.  My left eye seemed to have popped straight out of its socket.  My hands had gotten stuck under the faucet from where I was leaning on the counter.  If not for them being lodged, I would have been on the floor in the fetal position sucking my thumb.

Wife:  "Auh waa o cha?"
Wife: "Auh waah o cha?"
My hearing returned and I was finally able to understand her. 
Wife: "Are you OK?"
Me: "Am I OK?  Aww it's not so bad, considering you just RIPPED SKIN, MUSCLE AND TENDONS RIGHT OFF MY BODY!"

My wife, I guess, seeing that I was able to breath again and speak coherent words starts laughing uncontrollably.  Not just girly giggling, I am talking doubled over, cross legged so she would not pee herself, laughing.  When she regained her composure she says the worst words she has ever spoken to me in the umpteen years we have been together, these words still haunt me...

Wife: "Kipp not all the wax came off.  There is still about two thirds still attached to your neck."
She went back to her cross legged position.

Me: *!
*There are times when certain adult language is blurted out without foreknowledge of the adult that speaks it.  This was one such occurrence.  
Me: "This has to come off.  You have to do it.  I can't reach it nor do I think I could consciously do something so painful to myself.  It would be like asking me to saw off my arm starting from under my armpit using a hand held limb saw."

Wife: "Are you ready?"
Me: "YES! While my adrenaline is still flowing!  For God's sake woman, use BOTH hands!  Put your foot on my back and use your legs!"
Wife: "I do not want to hurt you."
Me: "Did you really just say that?"

With her new found inspiration from the look she was just given, she immediately stepped on my back, grabbed the pull strip with both hands, grunted with a primal scream of a cave woman killing a saber tooth tiger and ripped the wax from my neck.  She stood with the wax held high over her head with her foot still in my back as if I was the dead carcass.  I barely heard her over my own screams.

Wife:"Lie still while I go get some paper towels from the kitchen."
Me: "Why?"
Wife: "You are bleeding.  Don't move.  I don't want to have clean up the floor."

As I lie there bleeding, wet with sweat, neck on fire, black flies filling my vision, a bruised kidney or at least a broken rib, repenting for the adult language, I thought...How can they handle this but still be so scared of spiders and roaches?

About three months after the waxing "incident", the scab had healed.  The bald spot left took another couple of weeks for the neck hair to grow back.  It showed up in the purest silvery gray hair you have ever seen.  It is the only patch of gray hair I have on my entire body.  I can only imagine it is my body commemorating the spot of absolute trauma it sustained that day.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Am I in trouble?

The names in this story have been changed to protect those that need their heart blessed.

The company I work for is spread out over multiple buildings.  The building I worked from a few years back held about 100 employees.  We were each issued an ID badge and key for security and entry to the building.  However, we were constantly letting in the lunch delivery guy, the flower delivery guy (no not for me) and any customers that might be visiting the area.  By 'letting in' I mean into the foyer or the break room.  Once they made their delivery or visit, they were escorted back out of the building.
Walking across the foyer of the main entrance one summer day about 9:30 A.M. I notice a gentleman approaching the door with an arm full of flowers.  Red roses to be exact.  So I approach the door, open it and let the man into the building.  

Me: "How are you today?  Can I help you find somebody?"

Flower man: "Yes I am looking for Andrea."

Me: "OK wait here and I will go get her for you."

Flower man: "OK thanks I will wait here."

Andrea is on the phone when I get to her desk.  I motion for her to get off the phone.  She tells the person on the other side she will call them back.

Me: "Andrea can you come with me for a second?"

Andrea: "Am I in trouble?"

Me: "I do not think so."

We walk back up to the foyer.  I step across the foyer to the other side so I can view her reaction getting the red roses from the flower deliver guy.  I was used to hearing "Thank you!" or "Oh he shouldn't have!" or "It is a good thing he did!" or "These are for me?!"  But this day was different.  It went something like this...

Andrea stops in her tracks and starts smiling from ear to ear.  Flower guys grins and hits a knee.  Andrea puts her hands on her chest and takes a deep breath.  My eyes get real big as I say "Oh no."  Flower guy seems to be fumbling around with the roses as if he is trying to find a place to lay them down.  He looks up at me and stretches out the roses toward me.  

Me: "Whoa! Hey man, I'm married."

Flower guy: "Can you hold these for a second."      

He hands me the roses and reaches across to his other hand to grab a ring.  Andrea and I both see the diamond engagement ring at the same time.  She squeals a little.  I think I said "Unbelievable".  

Andrea: "Oh Flower guy..."

I have cleaned up what actually came out of his mouth.  But here is nearly what Flower guy so eloquently said to Andrea.  Trust me I could not have made this up.

Flower guy: "I know I am going to screw this up, but will you marry me?"

Me: "When you say 'screw' this up?  Did you mean this whole proposal event here or your future matrimony?  Because as the only witness to this event, I need to know.  If you want to try it again later today trust me man, nobody will know."  Of course it was my inside voice! 

Andrea: "Yes."

Me: My outside voice this time, "Well Andrea this is the part when you would kiss him...preferably when I am not standing here."  
I spun on my heels and moseyed off to my office in shock.  
Looking back now, when she asked me "Am I in trouble?"
...bless her heart.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Radio Rivalry

This probably should go on my thought burst page...

Our local sports afternoon radio show is hosted by our local newspaper sports editor Randy and one of our local TV stations reporters Pat.  I have listened them fairly regular for the past two years or three years driving home from work.  They are fairly entertaining.  They seem to be enjoying what they do, heckle each other frequently, and every now and then they talk about sports.

College football season is taken very seriously in our parts.  Competitive spirits run deep in our neck of the woods.  The stories you hear about having to declare who you place your collegiate allegiance with when you are born; it's true.  I got stamped with the University of Alabama.  We live right in the middle of the South Eastern Conference.  Nationally recognized, the SEC is the most competitive college football division (via the last four BCS champions have been from the SEC - FL, LSU, FL, AL).  We are all waiting to see if those western kids from Oregon or Boise State can crash our BCS party this year.  

Anyway the topic of the day on the radio show was the current seemingly bad calls by the referees and the replay officials.  Specifically the last few Auburn games against Arkansas and LSU.  The consensus of the referee calls seemed to always come back "there is not enough conclusive evidence to over turn the ruling on the field".

After watching the games they were discussing I felt strongly my opinion needed to be heard by the listeners.  This is the moment I decide to make my first ever call into the show. 

Producer: "Hello blah blah blah?" (seriously I did not hear what they asked)

Me: I would like to make a comment.

Producer: "What is your name?"

Me: Kipp

Producer: "K-i-p?"

Me: No K-i-p-p

Producer: "OK hold please"

The phone goes quiet, no hold music, no tying me back into the show, only cold dark silence.  So I turned the radio back up just enough to hear what they are still talking about.  
"Blah, blah, blah, blah."  
There comments are nothing to what mine will be.  Mine is going to cause mad laughter and I might even make the next promo. 

Randy:"We have to go to commercial break, when we come back we will go to the phones.  Kipp is up first when we come back."

During the commercial I suddenly realize I am on hold, next in line to speak to thousands, OK maybe hundreds of people listening to the afternoon sports show.  A little nervous, yes.  Should I hang up, no way I am on hold, next in line.  I start thinking how I should articulate my comment.  A little late for that, I know.

Randy: "And were back.  Let's get to the phone lines.  Kipp has been holding, Kipp welcome to the show."

Me: Hey Randy, I was wondering how good of a editorial cartoonist you are?

Randy: "Well Kipp what do you mean?"

Me: I would like to see you draw a sports editorial cartoon of the referees at Jordan Hare Stadium (Auburn's stadium, where the last two games have been played against Arkansas and LSU) huddling on the field and announcing the last play is under review.  In the next frame have the referee with the headphones on his head calling the replay booth.  In the next frame have a room labeled "replay booth" completely empty with only a lit phone on the counter, no chair, no TV monitor, and a few crickets chirping.  The last frame back to the referees on the field saying 'after further review, due to inconclusive video evidence, the ruling on the field - stands. 

That cold dark phone silence returned.  I checked my phone to see if the call had dropped.  I turned the volume up on the radio to see if I inadvertently turned the radio back down.  Nothing.  Although I think I heard crickets chirping in my truck.  Several seconds go by.  I was about to hang up thinking the radio station had catastrophic power loss.

Randy: "Kipp what did you think about the ruling concerning the near safety in the LSU game?  Did you think the referees should have overturned that call?" 

Me: Yes I do.  Sure he took a hit to stop his forward progress on the 6, but he did not go down.  Matter of fact he regained his balance taking more controlled steps, all be it backwards, then the LSU defender tackled him in the end zone.  The replay showed all of that, but without having a replay official in the booth...what did we expect them rule?  Yes I think it was a safety.

Randy: "I could see it going either way."

My phone goes cold dark silent but I can still hear the radio.  "Let's go the next caller..."

The next day at work.  One of my female co-workers that is an Auburn fan says, "Was that you I heard on the radio yesterday afternoon?"

Me: Yeah, I thought my cartoon editorial was going to, at least, get a little laugh. But it tanked.  I got nothing.

Co-worker: "I have to admit I thought it was cute, but you do realize that Pat, the Alabama fan, was off yesterday.  Randy is the Auburn fan.  IF Randy thought it was funny, all that dead air was probably him muting the line so you would not any credit for a good comment."

I realized it was like being in a water fight.  I was using a water balloon and Randy was using the water hose.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I thought that was you...

Took the family to dinner the other night at a Mexican diner.  My youngest asked me to take her to the fountain to get her picture made.  Yes the restaurant has a fountain inside the restaurant.  No, I do not know why they have a fountain in the middle of the restaurant.  Yes she wanted to throw some coins in the fountain.  Are you going to let me get to the story? 

We get up and pass the booth directly behind where we were sitting.  I recognize a co-worker.  She says, "Hey Kipp I thought that was you.  I thought that was your head."  I chatted with her for a minute, introduced her to the family, etc.  

As I sat back down in the booth, I could not help but to process what she said "I thought that was your head."  OK the fitted hats I have bought have always been XL.  The protective baseball helmet was always XL.  The football helmet I wore that one year, was XL.  People have made comments about the big nugget sitting on top of my shoulders once or twice.  But this was the first time someone said it with their outside voice:
"Not many people around with a noggin that size, that has to be Kipp".  

A few days later, right after I turned around to answer "Hey Kipp..."  I asked my self about my large noggin.  I asked, Self, when I am out in public; do more people recognize me from the front or the back?  Self said, Come to think of it, there are more times I turn around to people calling my name as opposed to people waving at me or walking up to me with their hand out for a handshake.  Self then wanted to know, what's up with that?  Then Self and I got side tracked as we sang "Oooooo Oooooo Oooooo What's up with that?  What's up with that?" from the recent SNL skit.

Then a few nights ago my girls were watching family slide shows on our computer.  They were giggling about some of daddy's adventures.  You would not have believed this otherwise, so I added a few of the family pictures. It even made me crack up...

...OH sure now you know me!  What's up with that!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Never forget

My memory got jarred recently...My parents and I were swapping airline experiences.  Things like the worst turbulence, the worst landings, the worst passengers, etc.  I suddenly remembered a flight that was filled with more emotion than any other, but I could not tell them.  I could not get the words out of my mouth.  

There was an email going around a few years ago that described one of these episodes.  This is not that episode.  I now have a platform to tell you and my parents of my experience.  

As we pulled back from the gate in Atlanta on the last flight home, the captain informed us of two special passenger's on board.  One would be joining us in the cabin the other one in a special compartment below the cabin.  The pilot introduced United States Army Soldier (forgive me I can not recall his name - I will call him "York") who would be accompanying his fellow soldier to his parents, hometown, and funeral.  The fallen soldier had given the ultimate sacrifice while in Iraq.  

It was the quietest fifty minute flight I had ever experienced.  As a business travel of over 6 years, that is hundreds of flights.  Maybe I was not the only one thinking about the cost of my freedom.  Our flight arrived at near midnight.  As we stopped at the gate, the seat belt sign was not immediately turned off.  The pilot announced that in honor of the soldiers on the plane would we allow United States Soldier York to gather his belongings and exit the plane first.  I had never seen an entire 100 passenger plane sit still while one person gathered their belongings to exit.  

We all watched in silence.  I could see Soldier York who was sitting ahead of me.  He stood up, retrieved his bag from the over head bin and set it in his seat.  He gathered his beret and methodically adjusted it on his head until it was just right.  He then took a deep breath, arched his back, straighten his jacket, shouldered his bag, turned sharply and began to walk down the aisle to exit the plane.  As many passengers as could, began to quietly and respectfully stand up.  As he past an elderly lady, she smiled and patted his arm.  Several men thanked him for his service to our country.  I heard one gentlemen thank him for conducting the task he was currently assigned.  As Soldier York was about to exit, the pilot asked us to hold our places until both soldiers had exited the plane.  

I had a window seat.  I sat back down and watched as the casket came down the conveyor belt.  The family of the fallen soldier was standing behind the hearse.  They were holding onto each other and wiping away their tears as the casket got closer to them.  Soldier York graciously greeted the family.  Along with other soldiers that had arrived, they ceremoniously transferred the casket to the hearse.  They all stood back and saluted the soldiers casket before the door was closed on the hearse.  As I turned my head to wipe a tear from my eye, I realized most of the passengers had crowded into the isles.   They were straining to see out the window.  The only sounds being made were sniffles.  The respect the passengers were showing for our fallen soldier was amazing.  The pilot broke the silence with the announcement we were now free to exit the plane.
Not a word was spoken by the passengers as they exited the plane.  After I picked up my luggage and walked to my car, I was still amazed at what all I just witnessed.  My car was parked near the security gate from the tarmac.  For whatever reason had caused a delay, the hearse was just leaving the tarmac. It allowed me and about ten others to suddenly go stand on the curb.  I felt this man deserved some reverence for defending me, my family, and our country.  If felt his family deserved my condolences for the loss of their son.  As his motorcade rode by those of us gathered, some saluted, some waved quietly, some held their hand over their heart, and some stood at attention.

I felt an array of emotion standing there.  I was angry at the terrorists for bringing this fight to our country.  I was immensely proud of our military.  I was sad this soldier had lost his life defending me.  I was heartbroken for the family losing a loved one.  All these emotions were running through me at the same time.  It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life.  I will never forget it.

Never forget.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Four year old's are great.  

They just tell you what they see.  "Hey Big Daddy do you wish you were skinny?"  They repeat in public the bad things they hear you say in the confines of the mini-van when somebody cuts you off in traffic.  "Dag-gum-it!"  They love unconditionally.  They will hug you for no reason.  They forget they were just in time out.  Just be careful when you tell them they cannot have a real puppy.  They remember that one for a while.  I think it took one of Big Daddy's double stuffed Oreo's to get by the real puppy episode.      

They have no limitations.  They can do anything.  They can fly.  Do not believe me, just clip a hand towel to the back of their shirt.  They can swim across the ocean.  Just have them puff out their cheeks and swing their arms.  They can walk on the moon.  Tell them to walk slowly in big steps.  One of the funniest thing you will see is a four year old trying to walk in slow motion.  Short legs, short arms, over-sized head, walking with big eyes, real slow...HA!  They can be a talking dog, an artist, a doctor, a fairy, a singing mermaid, a zookeeper, a writer, a waitress, a mother, a father, on and on.  

My four year old told my wife one night:
"You know what my cat wants?"  
No, what does your cat want?  
"Some water."  
How do you know your cat wants water?  
"I talk cat."  
You do?  
"Yeah see...'meow-meow'.
Their imagination is their only limitation.  No wonder they are so fun to be around.  

What can we learn from a four year old?  Our imaginations may be rusty but they still work.  We can still pretend too.  Just the other night I was a one passenger commercial airliner; carried the kids one at a time on my back.  Flew them around the world (through the living room, kitchen, dining room) a few times.  We hit some turbulence (my knee gave out) once or twice before dropping them off at Disney World (on their bed).  Even at our age we can still dream.  Give it a whirl, you will see...'meow-meow'.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Somethings just have to wait

Over the last week or so I have been researching other blogs...
(isn't it amazing that the time one sets aside for oneself to work on ones hobby it quickly attracts those that are supposed to be in the bed asleep?)

Slipping into the living room quietly and whispering my four year old says, 
"Hey dad what are you doing?"  
Writing down some thoughts honey, why aren't you in bed?  
"I wanted to tell you what I wanted for my birthday."
Is it any different than what you told me at lunch? 
"I want an American doll, a Kiya doll.  No wait a ZuZu pet.  No wait a Veggie Tale Castle."  
OK honey we will see.  You need to go back and get in bed.
"Let me see what else..."
What else what?
"What else I want for my birthday." 
It's after 9:00 honey you need to go to bed.  Are you not tired sweetie?
"Yeah my legs are tired.  But my eyes are not tired.  My ears are not tired.  My arms are not tired.  My nose is not tired.  My mouth is not tired.  My hands are not tired."

...suddenly I found myself typing a conversation and thinking about what a four year old wants for her birthday.  The wonderful blog research findings I was going to tell you about will just to have to wait.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Family Fun on the Farm (pig race)

Good clean family entertainment is not as hard to find as you think.  Like the other day when me and the family went to visit a farm over the state line.  A local family farm opens up to the public to come in and get lost in a corn maze.  To compliment the corn maze which takes about 15-20 minutes to navigate, they have a corn cannon, cow train, petting zoo, and a pig race.  

The corn cannon is set up with a home made steel tube (gun barrel) hooked up on top of a 55 gallon drum that has compressed air underneath.  The compressed air is hosed up so that with a push of a button, it shoots dried corn on the cob at cut-out wooden animal figures about 50 yards away.  BOOM-SSHIISSS!  The kids and I loved it.

The cow train is not what it sounds like.  It is barrels that have been modified or cut in half, added a board seat inside, seat belt, and wheels on the outside.  The barrel is then painted white with black spots to resemble a cow.  Each barrel is connected to each other (hence the "cow train") and pulled by a fairly good size John Deere tractor (the "cow train engine").  The driver of the cow train ("cow conductor") seemed to be having as much or more fun than the kids riding.  The driver appeared to be doing his dead level best to throw the kids from the cow train.  He was turning the tractor so fast he was nearly on two wheels.  The empty caboose cow car fish tailed as it came out of the tight turns.  "Its just because there is not anybody riding in it" one of his fellow works said calmly.    The driver would turn so tight it looked as if he was going to catch the cow caboose (looked like a dog chasing his tail).  The whole cow train would be whipping around like a tornado.  Then he would snap the steering wheel out if the spin and take off in a S turn.  The kids survived and of course wanted to go again.  They loved it.

The petting zoo was highlighted by the kids feeding the goat and the horse with the feed provided at $0.25 per hand full.  The kids would giggle out loud when the animals would lick or nibble the palm of their hands.  They loved it.

The pig race was marshaled by the cow conductor, "Ponytail Pete".  This guy needs to start his own park.  To me, this was the highlight of the trip.  He called out to everybody that was around.  
     "It's tiiime fer the pig race!  Anyboddy that didn't have bacon fer breekfas is wekcome to come watch.  Those that had bacon need not come over.  It'll spook the pigs.  Come gatter roun and watch as Bar-B-Q, Bacon, and Pork Chop race roun the course for da Oreo cookie grand prize!"  
I leaned over to my wife, if you see me running around that pin, just know I am doing it for the Oreo.  
     "We will have a second race wit Ham and Spam.  For those of you that wur here last year and member Porky...he normly races wit Ham and Spam in heat two.  But he pulled a hamstring yesterdee and is unable to race tday."  
He did not skip a beat.  
     "Pigs are duh smartest animal on this farm.  (not much of a stretch there, sorry Lord forgive me) We trained the pigs to run round dis pin in about 4 days.  Plus theys the smallest animals we got and it only takes one Oreo per race, so theys thugh cheapest."  
This guys was reeling in the crowd. Nearly everybody there that day was around the pig pin.
     "Normly we have hank-er-chiefs for the pigs to wear, but they got dirty yesterdee when we had a pig pile up in turn three causin injury to Porky's hamstring like I told ya before"  He pulled his hat off and wiped his forehead with a rag. "Squealin like you ain't never heard.  The whole thing was a awful sight.  It was awful, just awful.  So since the hank-er-chiefs are being washed tday, the pigs will be a racin naked.  Don't worry, nobody worry, their just baby pigs."  
This guy is the Jay Leno of Lucedale.

He sets them up just like he said in two heats.  The first heat was a slow walk around the pin for Bar-B-Q, Bacon, and Pork Chop.  Not sure which one won - they were all naked so it was difficult to tell them apart.  But they all got a piece of the Oreo cookie.  Lapping it up while they looked at me with a smile.  How did they know I loved Oreo's.  Them pigs are smart!

Ham and Spam's race was a bit faster paced.  It seemed they were in a bit more hurry to get back to their shaded pin.  Ponytail Pete had informed us that pigs do not have sweat glands.  So they need shade or mud or water to keep them cool.  As promised, and apparently throwing caution to the wind (bless Porky's heart) all five baby pigs were set up and raced a final lap for another Oreo cookie.  The last race was the fastest.  Getting them all together seemed to jump start their competitive spirit.  Of course from all the pointing and laughing, it could have been they wanted back in their dressing rooms...  ;-)

     "Thats all fer the first event folks.  We'll have anutter race in bout 30 minutes.  Anyboddy that wants Bar-B-Q, Bacon, Pork Chop, or Ham's autograph jus step over hear and we'll see which one is in da mood.  Anybody wants a kiss from Spam will need to get in line over here, she is always in the mood for a kiss so no need to rush the line."  
I found myself laughing out loud at this guy every time he spoke. We loved it.

Go checkout the website and watch their 2010 commercial for highlights of the corn maze, cow train, and pig race.   The video is safe for work, the pigs have on their hank-er-chiefs. :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Life Lesson #1,323,566

Golf can be dangerous, even sitting in a golf cart.

Being paired in a golf cart with someone you do not know is fairly common in golf.  This particular Saturday was no exception.  OK I had met the man once before and knew him well enough to call him by name, but I knew nothing about him.  

Riding around in a golf cart for four hours you tend to find out about people.  Typically you find out: how good at golf they are, does their vocabulary include words that are longer than four letters, do they smoke, do they drink, where they work, do they like their wife, etc.  This day was no different.  As I was driving the golf cart, I was finding out some things about "Seal".  

First thing I learned about him was his golf game.  He dressed nice; some people say it is more important to look nice than to play well (I beg to differ, just google images of Ian Poulter or John Daly).  His golf game was OK.  He needs to practice his chipping and putting (otherwise known as the short game).  He seemed to have an even temper.  He three putted the first three greens and still managed to keep his cool.  He kept his golf clubs cleaned with a towel after each shot; sign of a neat freak.  He had covers for each and every club; another sign of a neat freak.  He had a sky caddie (electronic device to indicate in yards how far you are away from the hole); control freak.  He did not smoke; get the idea.  He had not started drinking.  He had a tattoo on his right calf of a bull shark.  He was a big fellow.  He could easily play outside linebacker for a major college football team in the SEC. 

Along about the fourth hole on the course I found out what he did for a living.  Where do you work?  "I am in the Navy.  I am on a Navy Seal team.  I work on and repair some of the seals aquatic equipment."  He started moving his left elbow out like a chicken wing as he was talking.   I assumed he was trying to show me another tattoo.  Feeling a little crowded in the golf cart and trying to help him control his flapping elbow, I asked him another question.  Now that I know you are a Navy Seal are you going to have kill me?  Nonchalantly he said, "Maybe."  :-o  After an awkard pause...I asked him how long he has been in the Navy.  "12 years."  Cool.  Sounds exciting.

He went on to tell me about a You Tube video that shows the boats he works on.  "Go to You Tube and search for the 'SUW45XZ13 naval nocturnal search and destroy aquatic attack maritime bull shark boat' and watch it.  Then you will know what I do."  OK what was the first part of that search again?
We continued our round of golf and get to about the fifteenth hole.  He asked me to stop the golf cart because he needs something out of his golf bag.  Oh gosh - he really is going to kill me.  He returns with an inhaler.  Well I have heard these guys were skilled killers but an inhaler?  This is going to be interesting.  How is going to kill me with that?  He takes a few deep breaths and then takes a hit from the inhaler.  He holds his breath.  I asked him, hey man are you feeling OK?  Do I need to take you back to the clubhouse?  He exhales, "No I will be OK.  I just need some water."

Luckily we were near a water fountain.  Breathing better, and hydrated we moved on to the 15th tee and teed off.  We had to wait for the group in front of us before playing our next shot.  

He takes this opportunity to tell me of all his ailments.  "Yeah I have asthma, bad joints, arthritis, tennis elbow, and bone spurs in my heels.  Just got a cortisone shot in both heels for those.  Not sure it worked though they are hurting me right now."  Yeah I noticed you had started limping a few holes back.  "Due to my bad joints I can't feel my left thigh from my waist to my knee."  Really, so you cannot feel my hand on your thigh right now?  With speed only a trained Navy Seal boat mechanic has, his left hand came down on his numb left thigh - WACK!  He screamed "WHAT THE...!"  As I am now half leaning out of the left side of the golf cart holding the steering wheel with a death grip as proof, I shouted back: SIR I am just kidding! Look my hands are on the wheel!  They are on the wheel SIR!  He looks and sees my hands and agrees that I had not put my hand on his numb thigh.  (How do I know he knew? Hello...I am writing the story.)  Come on I was just kidding man!  Seal looks at me coldly, "That was not funny."    

So we are all clear, and that you all know; you should never, never ever, pull a practical joke on a Navy Seal mechanic that works on a SUW45XZ13 naval nocturnal search and destroy aquatic attack maritime bull shark boat.  Although I did survive, it is just not safe.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Beach Trip

We were invited to the beach a year or so ago by one of the married couples in our Sunday school class.  Technically the entire class was invited.   They have access to their parents’ condo in Orange Beach, AL.  They told us they use it most every weekend during the summer months.  The gig was for us to come down any time of day and hang out to do, whatever.  The available amenities are a pool, tennis court, and of course the beach.  Our hosts were going to fire up the grill and provide the burgers.  We the guests would supply the sides.  Lunch would be served around noon.       

The planned itinerary for the beach trip was set.  The plan called for the kids to get up about 8:00, eat a little breakfast, get dressed, pack the van with the beach toys, and leave the house about 10:00.  Looking back...maybe it was not such a good idea to tell the kids the night before we were going to the beach when they woke up.

As I rolled over in bed, feeling certain I had a few more winks before hearing the alarm, I see a freighting sight.  My oldest daughter (7 at the time) is dressed in her bathing suit, at what turned out to be 6:30, staring at me with a big grin on her face.  “When are we leaving for the beach dad?”  “After breakfast” was my grumbled reply.  At 7:00 my youngest (3 at the time) arrived in her bathing suit to stand beside her sister.  Now they are both staring at me.  Isn’t it cute when your kids are using their whisper voice but are actually talking louder than normal?  “Dad is it time to go yet?”  I decided to get up and fix breakfast.  

Breakfast was made with two purposes in mind.  One - killing a little time to get their minds off the beach.  Two - sustaining them until the burgers were ready at noon.   I decided to make them biscuits, grits, and bacon.  Frozen biscuits take about 20 minutes (Hardee's would not be proud of me).  My thinking was the big breakfast will keep their minds off the beach for at least 20 minutes.  What I got was two kids with 20 minutes to kill while the biscuits were cooking.  “When are going to the beach daddy?”  “Girls I told you we are leaving at 10:00.”  “Daddy what time is it?”  “7:16” “When are going to the beach daddy?”  “Girls I told you we are leaving at 10:00.”  “Daddy what time is it?”  “7:17”  To get an idea of what it was really like…repeat these questions for the next 18 minutes.

After breakfast was eaten, mess cleaned up, thousand questions answered, the house cleaned, the toys picked up, and the trash removed (you have to clean the house before you leave on a trip - southern tradition).  All of the sudden it is time to go!  I get a new set of questions: “Did you pack their shovels, buckets, floaties, sunscreen, did you put ice in the ice chest, where are the change of clothes I put on their bed, did you pack the snacks for the ride over and back?”  Those are the questions I was able to remember.   My response “Where did the morning go?”  

It was 10:00; go time.  I tell the girls to get in the Beach-mobile.  Amazing how fast the little punks can open the van door, climb in their seats, buckle their own seat belts, all without incident or fighting when it’s somewhere they want to go.  “Did you make them go the bathroom?”  ~fingernails scratching blackboard~ Unloading kids from the Beach-mobile when they have been up since 6:30, dressed in their bathing suits, asking when are we going to the beach every 60 seconds, after shouting at them “TIME TO GO THE BEACH GIRLS WOO HOOO”, to get out of the van and go use the potty; was met with considerable resistance.  

As we are driving on the interstate to get to the beach, we had allotted an extra 30 minutes for our trip in case there was an accident.  Luckily we all made it without anyone wetting their pants.  As we cruised the highway next to the beach my wife noticed a new feature to our Alabama coastal scene – Parasailing.  We have not been to the beach during the peak season in quite a number of years.  Now that we have kids, our speed is more along the lines of mid October when high school and college kids are back in school.  She was taken in by the new beach parasailing fad.  She was amazed at how many there were.  “Look there is another one…and another!  I would NOT do that.  You can probably see what is swimming in the water from up there.”  She counted about 7 or 8 parasailer’s before we arrived at our destination. 

We were the only couple to show up with kids, although it was clearly stated we could bring kids.  We knew immediately we were going to be the life of the party; we had the most stuff.  “Can we just leave these buckets, shovels, Frisbees, floaties, and backpacks in the hall or is it OK to have them out by the front door?”  I asked our speechless hostess.  She mustered up enough to fumble out an introduction to her younger unmarried brother. I asked him, “Where is all your beach stuff dude?”  He calmly replied, “I got my hat and a towel -  I’m good.”  Poor fellow must have been raised by his uncle.  

Our hosts were right on schedule with lunch.  The burgers were on the grill and the appetizers were sitting out.  Before we could get our burger fixed the kids had already managed to spill a drink on the table and a drop some chip dip on a few cloth chairs.  Our hostess calmly says “Oh don’t worry, the cushions have scotch guard.  That should come out.”  These beach people do not take long to eat.  You would think they would eat more for all the energy they burn up playing in the sun.  “Are you and your family ready to go to the pool?”

We asked if we could use the bathroom to change into our suits and sunscreen the girls.  "We only have the one bathroom."  While all my girls were in the restroom one of the other couples whispered to the hostess, “Is there a changing room by the pool we could use?” 

The girls came out of from the bathroom and passed off the new aerosol sunscreen we had bought for the trip.  We are trying to be more cautious of the affects of the sun on our skin.  I start spraying the sunscreen on my tender belly white skin that has not seen Mr. U.V. Sunray since the late 80’s.  “This new aerosol...-cough-...sunscreen...–waving the spray away from my great...–cough-...isn’t it?” As I am being led out the front door our host suggest, “Why don’t we go to the pool out back, its less crowded.”  The look on his face seemed to say “Hey the less people to witness this circus show the better.”  

We get to the pool out back and our kids are in heaven.  They are enjoying it so much they have to let everyone within the next three counties know about it.   ‘High pitched shrieking squeal’ is a phrase that seems to do no justice for a three year old that is let loose on a floatie in the shallow end of a pool.  It was pool party time.

As my wife and I slipped into the shallow end to make sure our girls did not drown, the guys with no kids worked on setting up a paddle ball game with their spouses.  “OK guys against girls.  Whoever can keep the ball going the longest, wins.  Go.  OK the team that can hit it more than two consecutive times, wins.  Go.  OK the team that can hit it two times in a row.”   The paddles are put on the side of the pool.  “Sooo, when did your girls learn to swim?”

My two girls were having a blast splashing and swimming around.  The guys had decided conversation about the economy was easier than co-ed pool paddle ball.  Their spouses were talking with their hands over their mouths…I could not quite make out if was about “American Idol’s Ryan Seacrest” or “Can you believe this”…there was a lot of kids squealing in the back ground.  Finally somebody asked what time is was getting to be.
“It’s 3:30.”  
“Holy Smoke!”
“Ooooo Daddy said a bad word!”

We had been in the pool for about two and half hours.  It felt like thirty minutes.  This is a phenomenon known to parents as, bliss.  When you can hang out in the pool or anywhere for that matter, enjoying yourself watching the kids swim, engage in adult conversation with other adults, and not know that two and half hours pass, pure bliss.

“We need to start heading back toward home honey.”   The kids scream that they are not ready to go.   “OK but just five more minutes.”  This parental declaration of course means any time frame between another minute to an hour and 5 minutes.  The amount of time depends on what kind of mess they make, the type of dessert that is brought out, a piece of gossip you were not expecting, or if your team scores a touchdown.   In this case another several minutes go by because both the kids and the adults were still enjoying themselves.  But as the aerosol sunscreen seemed to have worn off my shoulders and my internal fire alarm was going off, I made the roundup call –  “OK girls lets go, get out of the pool.”   

It seemed be working.  My wife got out, my oldest daughter got out, and my youngest was heading toward the steps in her floatie.  I get out and get my towel to start drying off.  “That is not the towel I brought for you!”  Being the only man in the house with three women I have learned I am nasty.  I have to have my own towel, toothpaste, soap, chair, even a separate bathroom (it’s at the corner gas station).  In my house there is a distinct separation of his and theirs.   As I put one of the sacred towels down and reached for a designated nasty man towel I stub my pinky toe.   It has no bearing on the story whatsoever but just for the record nobody noticed my discomfort.   

As we are drying off and packing up our pool supplies I turn around and notice my youngest is still in her floatie, in the pool.  She is the ONLY one in the pool.  She is not a good swimmer.  She is out in the middle of the pool.  Calmly as to not frighten my wife, I call out softly “Honey come on let’s go, get out.”  “No Daddy.”  My oldest offered her advice of counting to three.  “Thanks but she realizes she is way over there and I am way over here and I am already dressed and will not be getting back in to get her.  Don’t think she is going to go for the three-count sweetie.”  After several more statements of quiet encouragement to exit the pool before we are noticed.  I see a full proof solution. 

The lifeguards’ shepherds hook is hanging next to the pool on the bathroom house.  I throw out one last command that goes unanswered.  Then I grab hold of the lifeguard hook and show it to my youngest.  She shrieks louder than ever.  It draws everyone’s attention, even from the charter fishing boat going by in the canal.   I hook her around the waist in a picture perfect lifeguard rescue and pull her to the side.  She is half giggling due to the coolness of what is happening and half crying because she has been outsmarted by her old man.   I heard applause from the one inebriated lady that had come to the pool to continue indulging in her spirits and read a romance novel.  She said “Looks like you have done that before - pool boy.”  “Yes ma’am I have. If you do not ease up on those daiquiris I may have to use this on you later.”

We return to the condo to get the girls changed into dry clothes and offer thanks to the hosts for allowing us come visit.  They graciously, with a straight face, tell us how much they enjoyed us being there and what a joy the kids were.  We pack up and start our trek back home.   The girls of course fall asleep within 10 minutes of getting the van.  Ah the thrill a father gets knowing that his children are getting to nap on the ride home after playing in the hot sun all day only to wake up as soon we pull in the driveway ready to play again, brings a feeling over him that is nearly indescribable.

As I unpack the coolers, bags, wet towels, toys, Tupperware, wet bathing suits, empty soda cans, beach chairs, sand buckets, shovels, backpacks and other stuff from the van; my wife asked me where I put my pair of swimming trunks.  I tell her they are in my backpack.  I get them out and hand them to her.  As she is walking to the laundry room she stretches them out and holds them up, “I could have parasailed home behind the van.”

Monday, August 23, 2010


Everybody has a DMV is mine.

Not only did I have to get permission to leave work early, I had to skip lunch.  I left the office at 4:00 on the nose to go to the DMV that closes at 4:30. The purpose of my mission; to renew my drivers license.  I arrive at the DMV at 4:10.  There is an older couple at a desk just inside the front door I just walked through.  There is no signage to let me know which line to get in or window to stand in front of or door to enter.  There is no "take a number" machine.  There is no drivers license renewal kiosk.  I step a little further in the main room and do a 360 degree turn looking for any sign indicating where I need to go.  Nothing.

The front desk must be the gatekeeper.  The line at the desk has increased by one lady.  The older couple leaves as I get in line.  The lady in front of me requested a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) manual.  She was handed a manual that was about an inch thick.  She seemed surprised at the size of the CDL manual.  "You have to be ____ing me!"  She left with the manual right in front of her wide opened eyes.  

I politely smiled at the gatekeeper and let her I know I needed to renew my drivers license. "Sir it is 4:15.  The line for renewing your drivers license is over there."  From here to when you read (to here) took about a nano second and a half.  I thought the clock in my truck must be off, I thought it was about 4:12 but hey what is 3 minutes. She gave me the time, they must be tracking how long people have to stand in line.  Maybe they were trying to set or beat a record. (to here)  "OK thanks."  I start toward the line.
"SIR!  I cannot let you get in the line!"  I stopped in a state of shock and quickly turned around.  I noticed her State Trooper uniform about the time I got "Excuse me?!" out of my mouth.
"As I was saying sir, we close at 4:30.  There are people in line already.  We have another office across town that closes at 5:00.  Maybe you should try that office."

Without saying a word, or making facial expressions that would remotely cause me to spend the night in the slammer, I exited the building.  I was furious.  I knew I could not complain to the authorities.  They had just asked me to leave.  I could not plead my case or schmooze the gatekeeper.  She made it clear she was ready to go home and did not care I had skipped lunch to make here before they closed.

What makes me mad is when I compared what happened to my own job.  If a customer of mine needs something 20 minutes before closing, I do my best to resolve their issue.  I have even stayed late to assist customers.  Seeing the blatant disregard for service irked me.  Not only the disreguard for service but the lack of appreciation of a tax payer.  Is this facility not controlled at least in part by the voters and the tax payers?  Being asked to leave the facility because it was late and there was already a line...   

My first thought, seriously, for real... How do I get a job here!?  Being in customer service for almost 15 years.  What is like to be able to talk down to a customer?  "Hey dude, get out of here, its almost closing time."  To be able to shout at a customer.  "CUSTOMER!  Did you not just hear what I said!?Can you imagine not having any recourse for shouting at your customers?  To have no quota to worry about.  "I could only finish one of your seven priority requested TCMP reports today there John.  Tomorrow?  You requested seven, I  You do the math there sport."   

My second thought... Is this what we have to look forward too?  You think you might have broken a leg?  Uh the line for X-ray is pretty long, maybe you ought to try the other facility down the road.  What, you are having chest pains?  Well we do not have the staff here to test for that condition.  You need to go the other facility in the other town that specializes in chest pain.  How old are you?  Oh sorry you are over the qualified age limit for that procedure. 

Maybe I am still a little peeved at showing up 20 minutes before closing time and not getting to conduct my civic responsibility because there was already a line for that.  I am sure things will be better tomorrow when I take my lunch hour to go to the DMV across town.