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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fringeville Edition #80, November 10 2012

Great Balls of....

With the political season over, I get to watch my grandson more often. The hours on my “brick and mortar” jobs are all over the map, so there’s usually a hole here and there when I can get a few hours of prime Pop-Pop time.

I have no problems with the critical Pop-Pop stuff: going to the park, heading out to Friendly’s for ice cream or driving to an airport to watch airplanes come and go. But if I said I have the complete toddler-care skill set I would be lying.

The best example is changing diapers. Sure, they’re easy-peasy in this day and age. They’re disposable. They have adhesive tabs and what-nots instead of diaper pins so that I don’t harpoon either the grandson or myself.

It’s not the newfangled diaper technology that I have trouble with. It’s the kickboxing my grandson practices when I’m trying to change him.

Now, it would seem I have the natural advantage. He weighs about thirty pounds. I weigh more than six times what he does and my ass has its own zip code. My arms are longer than his legs, so I should be able to ward off his kicks.

Fat chance.

The little bugger’s legs move at warp speed. That speed is what the military calls a “force multiplier.” My two old Pop-Pop arms are up against what seems like eight legs at once. From the waist down, this kid is a thrashing octopus during diaper changes.

Trying to ward off an Octotoddler while removing a soiled diaper of you-know-what would challenge a battle-hardened SEAL team. A mere Pop-Pop is no match.

Yesterday’s diaper change was a high water mark for the grandson’s dominance of his aging Pop-Pop.

We were doing a puzzle on the living room floor when the aroma of a nitrogen-based waste product hit my nose.

“Did you make a fart?” (I know I shouldn’t ask him that, and I know he’ll repeat that word at the worst possible time, but he knows what a fart is and when he lets one loose he’ll grin a little if you ask him if he made one.)

He just stared back at me.

“Did you make a stinky?”

There was that little grin.

Off to the couch we went for a diaper change.

While I try to get his shoes off, Octotoddler lands his first blows. I nearly lost my glasses. Trying to get the pants off, he pummels my ribcage. I’m no match. But I still have one weapon: The dreaded “LOUD POP-POP VOICE.”


I get his little pout. That misty-eyed “Pops just yelled at me” look.

But he stops kicking, and I’m pretty proud of myself.

I open the diaper. Something in there is ripe. But I see nothing.

I open the diaper completely and see a couple dozen tiny and toxic little pellets: toddler plutonium. Great balls of stinky death that have to be handled gingerly. One wrong move and they’ll roll right out of the diaper.

I looked at my grandson’s face. Uh-oh. There was that little grin again.

Suddenly, a blur of legs. The diaper is airborne. Something is rolling across the floor. The cats are chasing it.

BAM! A blow to the face! The glasses are off.

“NO!” I shout to the grandson and to the cats who are playing hockey with the toddler plutonium.

Eventually, I regained control. The diaper was changed. All the biohazards were located and disposed of.

Ten minutes later, my daughter-in-law arrived to take him home.

I’m sure I looked tired and beaten. Being bested by a toddler takes a lot out of a guy.

“Give Pop-Pop a kiss and a hug!”

He trotted over and gave me a big kiss and a pair of hugs (one for each shoulder).

“Goodbye, Pops!”

And that made it all worthwhile.

But if sometime later this week while we’re watching television the wife asks: “What are the cats batting around the floor?” …well, I’m pleading the fifth.

* * *

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fringeville Edition #79, November 09 2012

I'm back. The Elections are over.. I can get back to musing on chicken wings, odd bits and pieces of my daily life, chicken wings, politics, chicken wings, zombies, and yes... chicken wings.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fringeville Edition #78, September 20 2012

...there's an aroma in the air...can you smell it?

The scent of habanero's in the air!  Bubbling sauce!


It's that time again. The 6th District's Annual Tailgate Party!

Last year's chili competition champion, Jim Wallace, will have to defend his chilimeister crown against some stiff competition. I've even heard rumors of Polish chili being entered in this year's event.

Say what  you want, but we folks in the 6th District have some fun, enjoy our food, and are changing our area one vote at a time.

Hope to see you there... I'll have my face in a bowl of chili!


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fringeville Edition #76, September 02 2012

Seeking an epiphany...

I'm at one of those moments when I'm questioning everything. When I've lost my way. When the ground seems to have fallen out from beneath my feet because all I knew about the world has turned upside-down.

This has happened before.

In the past I've cured it with a long walk. I don't mean a little jaunt around the block. I mean a long, difficult slog. (Anything over a mile for a guy with OI and no knees or ankles is a long, difficult slog indeed.)

I once walked from Pittston to Plains in winter to get my gas can and funnel from the shed. Then I hoofed it from my neck of town to a gas station for $5 worth of gas. From there to the shopping plaza on River Road to gas up our only car, which had run out earlier in the day, stranding my wife until her mother rescued her. These were probably the most difficult financial days in our lives up to that point. There wasn't much money to be had. Day to day, life was a struggle. Peter was robbed regularly to pay Paul, and both these fellows were getting pretty irritated. Our car had an unreliable gas gauge, and I'd forgotten to put gas in it the night before. That's how I ended up on my little trek.

I hadn't meant to walk that distance. I'd only intended to walk to a bus stop and then get close enough to home to call someone for a ride. But somewhere between the office and the bus stop something started to change. The walk and the cold winter air sparked my thoughts even as my body wore down. By the time I finally got home, I was bone-dead-tired but I had a course charted and was determined to follow it. I'd had an epiphany. Over time things did get slowly better, but I sometimes wonder what would have happened without that long, long walk. Would I ever have found my way out of what seemed to be an endless, perilous forest?

I'm in that zone again. I'm been looking for that epiphany. I've walked a bit, but I physically can't do the distance I once could with what's left of my legs.

Just when I reached the point of surrender, I found myself at church. Just a regular Sunday Mass. I didn't have that big epiphany, but something happened. Something spoke to my heart. Here is the essence of what was revealed to me:

Do not look to mankind for truth. Look to God.

Admit your faults and weaknesses to God. God knows them already, but until you say them out loud, until you are truthful with yourself, you're going to have a hard time finding the path God has prepared for you.

That's all I've been able to put into words so far, but there is much more below the surface. And those two little gems don't look like much until you really put some thought into them. The way I see it, God's going to feed me things in bits and pieces and wait for me to catch on and catch up.

Hopefully, I've been humbled enough to listen to Him this time...

* * *

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fringeville Edition #75, July 22 2012

To most of America, Penn State is a football program gone very, very, very bad.

The wreckage of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the coddling of a child molester by the most powerful people at the University is a stinking sewer of a scandal not likely to be matched again in our lifetimes.

But to folks like me, Penn State football was far more than just a game. It was emblematic of the right way to do things. It was proof that you didn't have to cheat to win. It meant that excellence could be achieved both on the football field and in the classroom.

And the man who made that all possible was Joseph Vincent Paterno. We stuck by him in the good years and the bad, because this was Joe and he was special. He was different. Miami coach Jimmy Johnson once called him "Saint Joe," and went on to say, "...everyone respects Joe's image. No one would dare say anything about it." (From the January 2, 1987 Gainesville Sun)

But all of it ...the program, Paterno's legacy, the university's reputation and integrity ...was built on quicksand.

I took a cautious stance when the scandal first broke. I wanted to see how the process played out before passing judgement on Paterno and the university. There was never a question in my mind that Sandusky was a monster. I hoped he was the only one. He wasn't. 

This is a very difficult post for me to write. This post signifies the acceptance on my part that the football coach I admired so much protected a great monster and became one himself.

So what happens now?

There are calls for the NCAA to impose the "death penalty" for football at Penn State. I think that will likely happen (even though it may not be covered by NCAA bylaws) unless Penn State imposes self-penalties so severe that it stays the executioner.

I would prefer the latter over the former.

There is a public thirst for vengeance right now, and I understand why. Children were abused by a serial pedophile. It doesn't get worse than that.

But the death penalty so many clamor for would punish an entire region of the state. As an article on Penn Live points out, it would be a "nuclear winter" for central Pennsylvania. Indeed the article states that Penn State football has an impact of more than $165 million dollars on Pennsylvania's economy.

The "death penalty" would mean Jerry Sandusky and the lesser monsters who enabled him would add regional economic destruction to the damage tally for this scandal.

How many more lives will the monsters be allowed to destroy?

If Penn State doesn't take drastic action and throw themselves on the mercy of the NCAA, the answer is too many lives to count. We are in some manner of economic depression. Crush the economy in central Pennsylvania, and it won't recover for years. It may never fully recover at all.

Killing Penn State's program would undoubtedly hurt the Big Ten conference, as well, extending the damage of these monsters to other parts of the country.

There are many things Penn State can do on its own to possibly ward off the death penalty. Here are just a few ideas:

1)  Take down the Paterno statue. Yesterday, if not sooner. While some would call that merely a symbolic gesture, leaving it up could well signal that Penn State isn't sincere about changing a culture that allowed such a monstrous evil to thrive on campus.

2)  Self-limit by half the athletic scholarships for the football program. According to the Freeh report, the football program's staff was not trained in Clery Act compliance and most "...had never heard of the Clery Act." (The Act requires institutions that participate in federal financial aid programs to report crimes that occur on or near their campuses).

3)  A self-ban on bowls and any championship consideration for a number of seasons.

4)  A significant chunk of ticket sales ...a painfully significant chunk ...should be dedicated to victims of sexual abuse for at least five years.

5)  Anyone on the Board of Trustees when the abuse happened needs to go, kicking and screaming if necessary. Phase them out over the course of a year or so if there are concerns about the institution's stability should all go at once ...but they all need to leave. They may not have known what was going on, but they were part of the culture and that culture needs to be excised completely.

That's just a start. The football program would be severely punished without damaging the region's economy as severely as the aptly named "death penalty." (There would still be economic pain. Penn State football might not be competive for a decade or more, and there would be a dropoff in attendance due to the scandal itself and, later, because the teams fielded would likely stink. But I could care less about that aspect. I just don't think the monsters who destroyed children should be allowed to destroy any other lives.)

And for the sake of decency, Penn State should give new Coach Bill O'Brien the opportunity to leave without financial penalty. (I frankly would be surprised if he's not looking for an exit door right now.)

Will I watch Penn State football going forward? I don't know. For now, I'm closing the book on that chapter of my life. Whether I attend or watch games someday in the future depends on what the university does in the weeks ahead.

But if I do watch, it will never be the same. A man I greatly admired looked the other way and kids were damaged. Lives were destroyed and there is likely more damage to come. 

The Penn State I thought I knew was a mirage. I'd rather play with my grandson on a Saturday afternoon than chase mirages. And I'll keep him close and have a wary eye because, you see, monsters walk among us. That's one terrible lesson we've all learned from this nightmare.

...Wait a second, wait a second... I left New England for this?
 * * *

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fringeville Edition #74, July 04 2012

Happy 4th of July. DON'T GET BLOWED UP!! (My usual fireworks warning)

The snow-covered shoreline, the color of bleu cheese dressing, beckoned them onward.
This is another "keep alive" post.  I am chomping at the bit to post more, and especially post about my political adventures on the campaign trail with Laureen Cummings, but I've sworn off political posting until after the election. (If you don't have time to do it right, don't do it all!)

What I can say is that the divisions in the electorate are sharp, deep and growing more extreme by the day. I pray for the future of America, and until after the election, in the words of Forrest Gump: "...that's all I've got say about that."

In close, if you haven't read the Declaration of Independence for a while, get a chicken wing and a brewski (or other cold beverage to beat a hot summer day) and read it again. The words are as powerful today as when they were written.

And they still give me hope for our great, divided Nation...

(I do contend with no proof whatever that the Declaration of Independence was written after a round of extra-spicy chicken wings.)

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of AMERICA.

WHEN, in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another; and to assume, among the Powers Of The Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the Causes which impel them to the Separation.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their CREATOR with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established, should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

HE has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.

HE has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

HE has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them and formidable to Tyranny only.

HE has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.

HE has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the people.

HE has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, Incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining, in the mean Time, exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions within.

HE has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

HE has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

HE has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.

HE has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.

HE has kept among us, in times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the Consent of our Legislatures.

HE has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

HE has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

FOR quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:

FOR protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

FOR cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:

FOR imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

FOR depriving us in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:

FOR transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:

FOR abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule into these Colonies:

FOR taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

FOR suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.

HE has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection, and waging War against us.

HE has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.

HE is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with Circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.

HE has constrained our fellow Citizens, taken Captive on the high Seas, to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

HE has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.

IN every Stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every Act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.

NOR have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them, from Time to Time, of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our Connexions and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of Consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the Rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

WE, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in GENERAL CONGRESS, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be,FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connexion between them and the State of Great-Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of Right do. And for the Support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of DIVINE PROVIDENCE, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honour.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

* * *

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Fringeville Edition #73, June 05 2012

Yes, for the record I am appalled with the election of a skinhead white supremacist to Luzerne County Republican Committee.

The root cause of this was apathy, not hate. Apathy is a tree that bears unpredictable fruit and this time the fruit was especially bitter.

This man got one vote. And that's all he needed because no one was on the ballot.

I stand with Aaron Kaufer and against those who embrace hate and violence.

That's as plain as I can say it.

* * *

Monday, May 21, 2012

Fringeville Edition #72, May 21 2012

Assistant Campaign Manager Goes Berserk!
I've no idea how this happened.
Plains PA - A political operative, apparently unhappy with the dessert selection at lunch, is suspected of painting every surface in his reach with the contents of his pudding cup. He may also have hidden some of his lunch under the cushion of his high chair.

"He denies it," says a spokesman for the Plains Township Police. "But we found pork and beans on his lap and pudding under his fingernails."

Fortunately, his favorite weapon was out of reach.

"In past episodes, he's sprayed most of the furniture with chocolate milk," says a source in the unnamed political campaign. "This time his sippy cup was on the end table."

He will likely go unpunished.

"He's too damned cute," said the spokesperson.
* * *

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Fringeville Edition #71, May 13 2012

Mother's Day 2012
The Mothers of Invention
It's about time they named a day after Frank & Co.

* * *

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Fringeville Edition #70, April 07 2012

It's been weeks since my last post. For those of you who don't know, I'm managing a political campaign and there just aren't enough hours in the day for everything I need and want to do.

So, tonight, I decided to give myself an early Easter present and post something, only I'm drawing a total blank. So as a fall back, I'll write a bit about some things I've been meaning to post about and simply haven't had the time.

Kindle Adventures.

I've put three works up on Amazon: A short story, a short story collection, and a novella. Overall, the experience has been great. It's challenging to have total control over a project, but its rewarding when the work is done.

Here's what I love about Kindle self-publishing: You can get your work out there without going through all the middlemen of the traditional publishing world. YOU are the author. YOU format the book. YOU design the cover. YOU select any artwork. And YOU market it (with help from Amazon, if you're in their KDP Select program).

It was neat to see my last book climb as high as #29 in one of the free book categories (the book was free for a weekend promotion). More than 300 copies were sold. Most in the U.S. and the rest in the U.K., Germany and one copy in France (I wonder if they're eating brie while reading it in Paris?).

Here's what I hate: First, while it's exciting to see you book climb up in the rankings during a free promotion, once the promotion ends it drops quickly. I suppose this is to be expected for unknown authors, but it's not much fun to drop from #29 in a free category to #70,000 once the promo ends.

Next: there's way too many spam books at Amazon. I've had my books jump several hundred THOUSAND in the rankings because of a single sale. That tells you Amazon has too much crap in the pipes.

Here's another issue: The huge volume of spam books at .99 cents pressures writers to sell their hard work for a pittance. Many good books are going for $2.99 or less. (Sorry, I won't do it. With the exception of occasional single short stories, my stuff's going out at $4.99. I gotta eat.)

Lastly: Too many authors are lazy. I've seen many promising books that are simply slapped together with no attention to detail: poor editing and funky formatting abound. Dammit, folks, show some pride! If someone gets distracted from your book by an unexpected change in font or a sentence without verbs, you're doing a lousy job. Your Kindle book is a reflection of you. Granted, there's a learning curve. I certainly experienced it. But small mistakes aren't what I'm talking about here. I've downloaded books by established authors that had sporadic minor errors. It happens. But when books look like first drafts and are chock full of layout errors, that's just plain laziness. Get it together or get out of the pool.

* * *
OK. I've had my Amazon vent. On to other things. I'll just do a rapid-fire list:

1)  I haven't had wings in weeks. My cholesterol thanks me, but dammit I'm in withdrawal.
2)  If I hear the name Jerry Sandusky one more time, I just might kill myself. Enough already.
3)  Nothing beats deep-fried turkey. That was Holy Saturday dinner. Frying the bird and sipping a Monty Python Holy Ale (or two) with my son. It doesn't get better than that.
4)  The house smells like Easter ham and kielbalsa. I love Easter.
5)  I've been taking so many campaign-related calls that my phone is actually starting to overheat, no matter which battery I use. I'm worried it's going to explode like a Star Trek phaser on overload. If you hear a boom and see a glow on the horizon, it's probably me on my way to orbit.
6)  I continue to work hard at not growing up completely. So far, so good...

Happy Easter!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fringeville Edition #69, March 15 2012

I worked at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital for sixteen years. I usually find myself there a couple of times a year visiting family and friends who are hospitalized.

I'm ambivalent about these little journeys.

On the one hand, I worked there a long time. I know a lot of people who still work there. It's exciting to see them again and touch base.

On the other hand, I worked there a long time. I know a lot of people who still work there. And sometimes I get brain freeze and forget their #%$$^! names.

I was there today, and it was an "on the other hand" kind of day. I found myself face-to-face with someone I worked with almost every day. And I had a brain freeze and forgot her name. It was one of those gawd-awful embarrassing moments we all have and from which there is no graceful escape.

I worked in patient Escort Services. She worked in the Recovery Room. When her patients were ready to go to their rooms, she'd pick up the phone and call Escort for an aide to help transport the patient. Probably four or five times a week, I was that aide. I worked directly with her thousands of times. We have mutual friends. She worked with my sister. My best friend's sister cuts her hair.

When I saw her, she asked the dreaded question: "You know who I am, don't you?"

"You worked in the Recovery Room, right?" I asked stupidly (because that much I already knew).

"You better remember my name," she said, knowing full well I was in a state of brain freeze.

I panicked, of course. I started mumbling about the pitfalls of knowing so many people, which just dug me deeper and deeper and deeper into a hole.

How was I going to climb out??

I started thinking of women's names alphabetically: ...Amy ...Alva ...Anne ...Betty ...Bella

By the time I hit the 'D' names I knew I was in deep trouble. She was rightfully getting annoyed.

In desperation, I changed tactics. I imagined myself walking into the Recovery Room on any given day seventeen years or so ago. Who would I see? ...Cathy ...Barb ...Sally ...Diane ...Kim ...Vera.


"Vera," I sighed.

"You're lucky," she replied.

I really do know a boatload of people. I don't forget faces. But the names ...well that's when I get brain-freeze. Sixteen years working in a hospital; sixteen years in food service; thousands of people I met when I ran a door-to-door campaign for office, plus all the usual vast lists of people we all know from church, school and every place in between ...well it's no wonder I occasionally get frozen gray matter.

It's episodes like this, however, that leave you feeling incredibly stupid.

Vera was graceful, and probably wouldn't have beaten me too severely if my brain hadn't thawed. But this was a day for a good dose of humble pie, and I had me a big-ass piece of it.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fringeville Edition #68, March 14 2012

So ...after I wrote my tongue-in-cheek post earlier today about Dick Cheney's fear of Canada, the god of all things bizarre did me one better.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited Afghanistan today to speak with Marines at Camp Bastion in Helmand province.

Earlier in the day, an Afghan civilian stole a truck at Camp Bastion's airbase and drove it onto a runway before crashing into a ditch. The man, who ended up on fire, jumped onto a vehicle full of soldiers before he was subdued and extinguished. It is suspected this was a failed suicide attack.

On that same runway, not far away, sat the airplane carrying Secretary Panetta, who had just landed.

Yes, that's bizarre, but it gets far more bizarre than that.

When Marines went to hear Panetta speak, they were ordered by Major General Mark Gurganus to lay down their weapons before entering the tent. The official reason was so that American troops wouldn't be the only troops armed. The request did not come from Panetta or his folks.

Maybe I'm crazy, but it seems to me that Panetta should have been surrounded by as many armed, locked, and loaded Marines as possible based on the earlier incident.

Panetta: Potential victim of Niedermeyer Syndrome?

Why would Major General Gurganis disarm our own troops shortly after an attempted terror attack on the Defense Secretary? Was he concerned about Niedermeyer Syndrome? (Please rent Animal House to learn more about this devastating affliction.)

Surely Panetta has nothing to fear from our own troops, despite his feelings that Congressional approval for any possible military action in Syria is apparently unnecessary? International approval is all we need, and then Congress would be informed. Eventually. After that night's episode of American Idol.

Some of these troops are on multiple deployments, endangering their lives for their country (not the U.N.) again and again and again and again. And this is how they're treated.

I've said this before, but you can't make stuff like this up. Bizarreness rules.

There's no bullets in that airplane, right? Right??

* * *

Fringeville Edition #67, March 14 2012

Witch makes me wonder...

Why do I write fiction? Because the real world is just too bizarre these days.

Let's start with the Nepal. In February, a woman from a village in Nepal was murdered by a mob in front of her nine year-old daughter. They thought the woman was a witch, so they beat her and burned her alive.

Incidents like these remind us that we haven't moved very far from the caves. We can build nuclear weapons. We can explore space. We can investigate the fundamental nature of the Universe as we search for the elusive "God particle."

But on any given day, we're burning witches. Or beheading in the name of religion. Or forcing children to run until they die.

When I write my "serious" fiction, I write about damaged people. Hopefully, by the end of a story, they've begun to heal. In the end, I like to think that no matter how somber the story there's a justification for my readers to continue hoping. They certainly won't get that inspiration reading most headlines these days, where the very worst in human character is on display.

* * *

...I can hold off those crazy Canucks with this.

Speaking of bizarre, how's this?  Dick Cheney is afraid to go to Canada. Keep in mind, Mr. Cheney visited Iraq in 2008. But he won't visit Canada these days due to "security concerns." Possible mortar attacks in Iraq? No problem. Suicide attack in the Green Zone? Bring it on. 

Just keep him the hell out of Canada, they might pelt him with that yummy round bacon.

* * *

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Fringeville Edition #65, March 10 2012

At Amazon NOW!

It's here: Patience, my third Kindle e-book.

Available at Amazon by clicking here

No Kindle? There are free reading apps at Amazon ...have at it!!!

(I am, of course, plugging the book shamelessly. I'm broke. Can't buy wings. Need da dough!)


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Fringeville Edition #64, March 04 2012

For reasons that will become apparent to everyone soon, for the foreseeable future my "Fringeville" posts are going to non-political.

Most of my posts aren't political anyway (chicken wings, Penn State, humor, family life, chicken wings) and there are many other far more talented and knowledgeable blogmeisters to post on politics. (Most, however, avoid posts on wings and nasal spelunking.)


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fringeville Edition #63, February 26 2012


When I'm quiet this long, there's a lot going through my head.There's either one long post coming or a bunch of little ones. Sit tight ...and heed the robot's warning!


Friday, February 17, 2012

Fringeville Edition #62, February 17 2012

Just want to make sure I've got this straight. They think they can save the US Postal Service by:
*  Cutting delivery days 17% (Bye-bye, Saturday deliveries)
*  Raising first-class postage 11% (Hello, 50-cent stamps)
*  Adding a day to First Class Delivery.

To recap:  Slower mail delivery, fewer delivery days and higher postage will cure what ails what was once one of the marvels of  the world, the USPS.

Yeah, work that plan. It's a winner. At this rate, in ten years you'll be paying a buck to deliver it yourself. But you'll have to buy gas for the USPS truck first.