Friday, December 28, 2007

Bite Your Tongue

I'm not really compulsive. To date, I've never had anything remotely OCD about myself. But lately, I've taken to chewing the sides of my tongue.

I drive a lot. Normally, about 25,000 miles a year and now that dealer school is 130 miles round-trip 4 days a week, that mileage ante is even higher. So, of course, with so much idle time driving, I'm frequently lost in thought. Zoning out if you will. Suddenly, I realize I've been grinding my molars on the sides of my tongue. Chewing, as if I have a piece of steak back there. Except that steak is my tongue and not nearly as tasty.

What's up with that? I don't really hurt it when I chew but I find it a nuisance. It annoys me that I do anything compulsively let alone absent-mindedly, but it annoys me more that after I'm aware I'm doing it I have to dedicate 100% of my attention to stop doing it. I haven't noticed doing it anywhere other than in the car, either.

Is it stress? I honestly don't feel stressed out. Perhaps a habit that I need to work on to break? Great! (That was sarcasm, people. It doesn't translate well in text.)

I definitely grind my teeth in my sleep as evidenced by the "lecture" my dental hygienist gives me every six months, and my Little One does it horribly so, which the dentist insists she'll likely grow out of. Yeah, right.

So what's a guy to do? Google, right? Which I did. Tongue chewing is quite common. As long as the chewer is not drawing blood, apparently, its quite harmless. The Internet is great for learning there's other mental patients out there just like yourself, isn't it?

So I'm not going to sweat it. When I become aware of it, I'll consciously try to "calm" my mouth and perhaps it will pass in time.

Or, perhaps it will lead to some other, even more irritating OCD trait. I'm thinking of taking up the door-locking one in that event. You know, the one where you have to check the lock 70-billion times before leaving that house. I'm lucky if I check it 1/2 the time, now. At least that one serves a purpose in the end. Security.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Dora No Puede Explorar

My Spanish sucks. Does that translate to Dora Cannot Explore? Because she can't.

My wife and I bought the Little One a brand new loft bed. Her bedroom is small so we found that's the perfect solution for creating a bunch of space in her room so she can spread out and play. Plus we have high ceilings so it worked perfectly. Of course, the task involved totally deconstructing her room, building the bed and putting everything back in its new and spacious storage locations.

Toward the end of putting everything back, Mrs. B. stepped on one of the Little One's 3 or so Dora the Explorer dolls. This particularly irritating 15 inch bitch promptly breaks out into song, "Every boy and every girl, every where around the world....." in an incredibly shrill and irritating voice.

The Little One, sensing her mom's frustration with this pestulence, promptly ran over, grabbed little Dora by the ankles and proceeded to Paul Bunyon the thing into the new post of the loft bed. I mean a full-on, axe-type cut that Babe Ruth would have been proud of. Little Dora's head, neck and upper torso took the brunt of the blunt force trauma.

The singing stopped.

Fighting back tears of laughter, the Mrs. shot the Little One a look in an effort to "parent" even though it was hysterically funny. To which TLO responded, "What? It worked, didn't it? That thing's annoying."

Worked, it did. Probably forever. The doll doctor's prognosis for future Dora Exploration is not good. The prognosis for future stage and screen work is even dimmer.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007


My mom wasn't feeling well enough to come down for the holiday. To top it off, my dad had come down with something as well. Bummer.

The plan now is a New Year's visit.

Other than that, I really enjoyed my long holiday weekend.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas to you too!

Aww, c'mon Santa! You're better than that!

Must be the stress of so many unfinished toys and so few days left. That, or kid's pissing on his lap.

Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Late, late, late, late, late show.

One of my main worries when I started dealer school was the long drive home after midnight. I feared I would be exhausted and fighting falling asleep at the wheel. That hasn't been an issue at all. In fact, after class I'm kind of wired up and usually stay up for 45 minutes to an hour once I get home, which means I'm getting to sleep around 2 a.m.

Since I've learned I'll be awake anyway, I've been stopping at the gym on my way home once or twice a week on days I haven't been able to get my workout in at lunchtime or right after work (but before school). So I'm in the gym at 1 a.m. working out. Its quiet and nice and tons of equipment is available. I was very happy a few years ago when my gym switched to 24-hour format because I've always been inconsistent in my workout scheduling and like all the flexibility I can get.

Plus, the tendinitis in my elbow has been cooperating. Things are good. This week marks the half way point of schooling too. We have a final, for blackjack, next week and our "auditions" the week of the first. The audition is the review of your dealing abilities and knowledge of all the rules and procedures. I'm pretty confident I'll do well.

Then the last few weeks are novelty games: Acey Ducey, Casino War, the Money Wheel, Caribbean Stud and Texas Hold 'Em.

I'm getting there!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Great News

I haven't gone into too much detail about it in blogspace, but I've touched on the fact that my mom has terminal cancer. Basically it is everywhere in her body, but the most debilitating part is it is in/on her spine. The diseased cells weaken the bone to the point where she has tiny cracks in the vertebra which could turn into breaks or worse, paralysis, should she fall or get hit by something. Obviously, she's living a careful existence but still living her life to the fullest her health will allow.

Her latest scans show the bones are actually stronger than they were during her last scan only a few months ago. Consequently, she called over the weekend to announce that she is feeling so much better lately that she will travel to stay with me for Christmas! Of course, she acts like its such a burden on us and it can be tedious convincing her that its our pleasure to have them. So, my parents will be down from Saturday through Christmas unless something unforeseen changes things.

Two years ago I wondered if that might be her last Christmas with us. Then last year I wondered it again. Perhaps I should stop wondering. She's too much of a fighter.

Can't wait until Saturday, mom. We all love you and my baby girl is overjoyed to see her Grammy and Grampa!

Monday, December 17, 2007


Mrs. Blogger and I were discussing the differences between men and women and I made a point I think she believes is true. I wonder if you do too --

Men find humor in the repulsive and pain.

To wit; the fart could be the most durable humorous occurrence ever. Jokes get old and funny movies seem not-so-funny after the passage of time. But to males, the fart is consistently funny (unless one pretends to be high-brow -- then I suspect its funny, but they'd never let on to it).

Two-year-olds laugh when they let one fly. Pre-teens think it fall-down hysterical when anyone, including dogs, fart. Teenagers revel in "farting in your general direction" or into a fan. College-age men compete in terms of its noxiousness or length or to test the "lighter theory". And old-timers, after a less-than-discrete emission, love blaming the dog, the running mouse or "barking spiders with bad breath". Apparently, at no point is it not funny.

And pain. Men know the pain a shot to the groin creates. Yet, they consistently think its funny. Funny, too, is the towel whip, sledding down stairs, the Indian burn, the titty twister or the bruises left from a drunken night. How else can one explain the success of Jackass and the like? Isn't 90% of that humor based on pain? Usually to the privates?

For the most part, women don't get any of that. Nor should they, I suppose. I can't imagine a woman putting shrimp in her binkini bottom and swimming with whale sharks. Yet, men think it hysterical when other men do it.

On the other hand, women find all things embarrassing funny. Were it a slip and fall on the ice in front of others (without injury, of course), a skirt tucked in pantyhose, an unzipped fly or split pants, toilet paper stuck to a shoe, or (like Mrs. B earlier today) forgetting a wallet but not realizing until after ordering lunch (she dug enough change out to finalize the transaction - and this occurrence warranted a phone call to me). For certain, they'll be red-faced and "devastated" but not to the point where the story won't merit repeating 5 or so more times during the course of the day.

Subtle differences, sure. And funny IS funny, of course. Maybe women prefer laughing at themselves and men rather laugh at others? If true, that's a sad trait. What do you think?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Question Answered

As Christmas approaches, a common question, or quip on the news in southern New England, is whether or not we have a "white" Christmas. Question answered: we will. We got walloped yesterday with about 11 inches of fluffy snow and a Nor'Easter (snow, plus heavy winds) is expected over the weekend. I left work early so I wasn't very impacted by it (except dealer school was canceled) but I heard of commuters basically sitting on the highways and taking upwards of 3 hours to travel 20 or so miles.

Except for that kind of ordeal, I don't mind winter storms at all. In fact, I like them unless its late March and there's nothing more festive than winter shopping, snow covered lights and clean white landscapes for Christmas. It looks weird to me to see holiday lights strung in warm climates, like southern California or Puerto Rico or the like. I guess I'm a Yankee at the core.

My next question though: what the HELL did people do before snowblowers?

Monday, December 10, 2007

$4 for a Smile

Last week, as I was exiting the city during rush hour and lamenting the fact that when the light turned green it meant I moved only two car lengths, I spotted a cardboard sign. In proper block lettering it said "Homeless. Please help." The woman holding it was perhaps thirty. She could have easily passed as a regular thirty-year-old dressed in a hoodie, jeans and tan workboots. She didn't look dirty, whorey or strung out. In fact, she didn't look like a street person at all.

I quickly did some green light-red light calculations and realized I would probably stop right where she was standing during the next cycle so I glanced down to my dash console where I frequently keep some cash, if not some change. I found $4 and grabbed it and proceeded to fold it neatly. As I approached her I rolled down the window of my 72 degree, climate- controlled luxury car and handed it to her with a smile and said, "Good luck to you." She responded with a sincere "God bless you" and eased back into her position on the sidewalk.

This particular evening was to be the coldest of the year so far. The forecast was for lows in the 18 to 22 degree range and as darkness fell, it was already quite chilly. Perhaps there was as shelter where she would be able to stay. Perhaps she wasn't that bad off and was playing me. Perhaps, though, neither were true.

I'm not trying to sound like I'm some saint and tooting my own horn, but it really is easy to give a few bucks. I piss away money nearly every day on something I can absolutely do without. Maybe that four bucks kept her from getting kicked out of a Dunkin' Donuts or a McDonald's that night allowing her one more night where she didn't die of hypothermia, or get raped or murdered. Maybe she combined it with some other donations to get her belly full, or take a bus to some family. Maybe she drank or smoked it Cynics would tell you that's what they'd do, so why bother? They'll just smoke it or drink it. I guess I'm more optimistic than that.

When you buy a lottery ticket, you're not really expecting to win are you? You're actually buying a dream. You're buying the chance to talk with family or co-workers what you'd do with $50 million, aren't you? The things you'd buy, the people you'd take care of. When you give someone down and out a few bucks, aren't you really just buying yourself the same dream, but on a smaller scale? Maybe, just maybe, my money made a difference, if even for one night. I have no doubt those of you in blog-world are a generous sort. I read about generous spirit and heart nearly every day here. So, I'm sure you all know from which I speak.

When we drive our nice car in our leather seats to our warm homes and our soft couches and plasma televisions, do we feel entitled to it, or lucky for it, or both? We eat our hot steak with our steamed veggies and drink our fresh ice cold fresh milk and we've earned it. We've finished school, perhaps went to college and became good employees through drive and determination. We've worked hard for what we have and no one can say we're not entitled to it. I'm surely not living an altruistic existence as I certainly like my creature comforts but so many of of us are only a few paychecks away from the street. An illness, a layoff, the housing market and mortgage crunch could all impact any one of us quicker than we could fathom. Then what? Impose on family? Maybe not all of us have that support structure. I'm lucky. I do.

However, one of my brother's was homeless for a variety of reasons. At some point, family could do no more to help and he took to the streets, collecting cans to get by. Thankfully, after some time, he sought assistance with The Salvation Army and they helped him get his shit together. Eventually, he moved on with his life to the point where you'd never know his past based on his successes today. He's now a married homeowner and landlord with a steady and successful career. I will be eternally grateful for the good work The Salvation Army did and do and show it by never passing the bucket and bell without reaching in my pocket, just as you all do. And I thank you. Because you helped my family stay whole and you can be proud that you decided a few bucks, or coins, could make a difference. On a personal level, it did. Probably to the point of saving a life. Again, thank you.

That person with a cardboard sign is somebody's sister and daughter and friend. That young woman was once somebody's little girl and I can't imagine my little girl ever getting to the point this young woman was. But if she did, I would hope someone could roll down a window and place a buck or two into her cold hands. Hopefully, someone out there loves her and through continued generosity, they can be reunited in the future and she can right her ship. Could I do more? I suppose I could. But I tried in a small way.

But for luck, DNA or sanity go any one of us to homeless, no? Trust me, $4 brought a smile to my face more than that large Starbucks Mocha Latte ever would.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Christmas Tale II

I did a bad thing. Perhaps more accurately, we did a bad thing. My younger brothers and I, that is.

My mother is and always has been really gung-ho about all things Christmas. She loved to decorate and plan and host Christmas Eve parties and spent extravagantly on presents for all six of us.

Pursuant to her being so fired up for Christmas, she would frequently do much of her shopping early even going so far as to wrapping the presents and have them under the tree by Thanksgiving weekend.

One year, I got the bright idea that if we carefully snipped the the tape at the end of the box gifts we could see what we got. Soon, it evolved into actually taking the toy out of the box and playing with it. Sometimes for weeks. I would then return it to the box shortly before Christmas.

We owned an Intellivision gaming system. This was the state of the art computer gaming system at the time and all my Atari friends were rather jealous.

Naturally, many of our "group" gifts were games for the system and said games came in a very distinguishable box that was obvious as to its contents even when wrapped.

So one Black Friday I slit the tape, slid out the box and found Pitfall! Yes!!

Pitfall represented The Game that we wanted that year. As excited as if we got a an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle with a Compass in the Stock (ref), I opened the box, grabbed the cartridge and slid the empty box back in its packaging. We had that the cartridge in the system in a matter of minutes and played for hours on end, day after day.

Soon we were expertly navigating rope swings over crocodile pits, ladders into sub-terranean passageways and stinging scorpions. In fact, we played so much on our ill-gotten game that we even began to grow bored with it.

Flash forward to Christmas Eve and I expertly slid the cartridge back into its box packaging and placed box back in the undisturbed Christmas wrapping with a fresh pad of tape.

The next morning we opened our gift, feigned surprise and pretended to eagerly await its play. As my youngest brother easily moved through level after level without so much as losing one guy, my mother remarked, "Its amazing to me how quickly you guys get the hang of these games."

If she only knew.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Christmas Tale I

'Tis the season of course. I have a few quick Christmas stories to share over the next couple days.

Between the age of 12 and 15 I had a paper route. It was one of those morning gigs necessitating my alarm to ring at about 5 a.m. Don't even ask me how I was able to do it for years and years for the meager wages of $37 a week, but somehow I was.

One frigid Christmas morning, as I was delivering to my third-to-last house, I prepared myself for the daily freak out of that particular customer's dog. It was a little guy, perhaps Border Collie-sized, and without fail it went ballistic every time I closed the paper into the storm.

Apparently, the customer wasn't really bothered by it all but I couldn't help but cringe every time.

So I hear the dog going nuts as I turn on my heel to vacate their porch and it was then I noticed their Christmas tree, through the picture window, completely decorated and still lighted falling not-so-gently onto its side. Fido must have gotten caught up in it, or its wiring or whatever, but it created a six foot, shiny, blinking, noisy avalanche of balsam.

Good morning. And Merry Christmas. That must have been a fun one.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Frustration Ala Mode


1 2001 Chrysler 300M
65 Miles Commute (Each Way)
100 Sirius channel for Howard Stern Repeats
20 oz Mountain Dew
3 1/2 Hours Dealer Class
3.26 Dollars per Gallon of Gas


Mix Chrysler, Commute and Stern in a large bowl for 70 minutes. Periodically whisk Mountain Dew into belly. Stir in class time. Repeat in reverse order. Sift gas prices out of wallet.

Repeat Tuesday. Repeat Wednesday. Repeat Thursday.

Redo directions for twelve consecutive weeks.