Thursday, August 31, 2006

Separated At Birth?

I found these 2 pictures on the internet and merged them together in Photoshop. The E.T. one I had to distort a little.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Meine Schöne Nichte aus Berlin

This is my 16 year old niece, Ariana, from Berlin, Germany. She has spent her entire life there, except for summer visits with her father and to Florida to visit us. She is a great person. Obviously, her mother raised her well. She is spending a year in America and is enrolled as a junior in high school. I spoke with her the other day. She speaks English almost as well as her native language and she's already gotten an A+ in English and Biology classes. Not bad for a foreigner accustomed to German schools, huh?

Next month is Homecoming. There is a dance, so she went out and bought a pretty dress to wear for the occasion. She hasn't been invited by a boy yet, but I think she will. She's already got her eye on one and I think he's looking right back. Oh, he's handsome, she said. My poor brother. Now, if she was my daughter, I'd go along on the date and make her sit in the back seat. That would be the way it would be until she was 30 years old. I would go along. She would sit in the back. She went to the movies the other night with a classmate. That's OK since it was another girl. Be home by 8:30 though. But Dad, it doesn't start 'til 8. So what.
You vill obey! Good thing I'm just her uncle, and of course, I'm just kidding. OK, 9.

I asked her about football. Rugby and soccer are the sports of choice in Germany, but she's really getting into it. I can picture her as a cheerleader. My high school years were some of the best times of my life and I think this is great for her.
All over Europe, including Germany, there is a skewed take on what makes America tick. This is a wonderful opportunity for her to learn our culture up close and personal with peers her own age and to determine first hand what this nation is all about. I think it works just as well the other way around. This gives other students the chance to learn more about a foreign land. So far, she's having a great time and adjusting well. I think kids are kids the world around. What better way to learn about your neighbors. Besides, the pizza is better here. Aufregen!

Monday, August 21, 2006

When it's time

I believe it was George Carlin who observed that human beings are remarkably funny when it comes to pets. You get one, it lives for 15 years, it dies and you mourn. You get another one, it lives 15 years, it dies and you mourn again. And so on and so on, until you get so old you get a pet to take care of and comfort you. I don't know if he said that part of it.

For almost 14 years, I had Babette. Babette was a Tabby cat. She adopted me, not the other way around. One Friday morning, in the late 80s, this little kitten showed up at the back door of the advertising agency where I worked. I used to go back there to smoke, even though we were allowed to do that inside at the time. I didn't want to pollute the air for all of the workers who didn't. I opened the door and there sat this cute little blonde just meowing and meowing at the sight of me. Now, I've never needed, nor wanted a pet cat, certainly not a kitten, but she just stared up at me with a "thank you, thank you, you're here to help me, right?" look on her face. She was so innocent and defenseless. Hmm, I thought, she looks hungry. Maybe I'll run up the street to Winn-Dixie and get her some cat food. I did. Boy, did she gobble that up.

Like I said, it was a Friday. I left that afternoon without giving her much of a thought, although, I did leave her plenty of dry food and water. Not that I cared or anything. That Monday morning, I came to work and the first thing the receptionist, Helen, said was that my girlfriend was here. What do you mean? My girlfriend is at work. No, she said, the one you left at the back door. Oh no, I thought. She's still here? Yes, and she's probably been here all weekend, waiting for you to come back. Well, I had no more food, so back to Winn-Dixie I went.

Every time I went out the back door, she sat patiently waiting with anticipation and excitement. I told her, OK, you can come inside. I'll let you out at night. I figured it wouldn't take too long to find a home for you, with all of the friends and connections I had. Boy, was I wrong. Weeks went by until the boss said I can't just keep her here, I needed to do something. She was such a sweetie. She almost had me at hello. How was this going to work? I mean, I was relatively young and quite active. I had a girlfriend I spent a lot of time with. I don't see this working out at all. I took her home.

That Saturday morning, we went to the Orange County Animal Center, or whatever it was called, for shots and to get fixed. I didn't need any more of what I didn't want running around. A woman came in at the same time with her cat. Hers was in one of those animal containers. Mine wasn't. One thing I'll say about Babette is that I never had to restrain her. She never had problems with other cats or any other type animal. She was very comfortable. The vet tech took both cats behind a wall at the same time. The wall didn't extend up to the ceiling, so I could hear her and the vet discussing one of them...

"This one's pregnant."

"That's not my cat you're talking about, is it?"

"Yes, it is."

"That little slut!" The waiting room broke into laughter.

The vet tech came out to explain. "We're going to have to abort these kittens," like I was going to disagree with her. "For one thing, there's no telling how large the tomcat was. She might have a problem giving birth to kittens since she might not be large enough to accommodate their..."

"OK. Sure. No problem. Just do it."

"Besides, she's probably not old enough to have the proper instincts to be good a mother. She might abandon them."

"Yup, do what you have to do. How old is she?"

"Seven or eight months." Boy, I thought, they start young, don't they? That's statutory rape in my book. How do you arrest a cat, let alone find the purr-petrator?

Not only did they give her an abortion, they fixed her at the same time and gave her her shots. They wanted to keep her a couple of days for observation and told me I could come back Monday to pick her up. The whole deal cost me $25. Not bad when you go to the county. That's all she was worth to me back then.

I went after work and took her home. She was just this little ball of fur and she barely moved. I had a date that night, so I set her on my bed with a little wet food and water. The next morning I came home. She hadn't budged. A little ball of fur. The food and water was not touched. At that point, I realized she was still in some pain. I called my office and said I wouldn't be in that day. One thing about where I worked, they were very caring people and understood my situation. I stayed with little Babette the remainder of the day and night. I promised myself and her that I would never leave her again. And I never did.

She gave me many wonderful years and lots of memories. One time, a dog chased her around the side of the house where I was talking to a neighbor. About 15 feet away, she leaped into the air and made a beeline straight for my arms. Oh no. I'm in for some serious scratches here. I could see them coming, all pointy and sharp. As soon as she hit me and I wrapped my arms around her for protection, her claws were gone. She never hurt me. The dog wasn't very happy. She used to love to climb on roofs and could never figure out a way down. I'd always rescue her. My old friend, Wayne Trout, once made a brilliant observation. "Dave? Have you ever seen a skeleton of a cat in a tree?" He was right. I think it was a game she played, to reassure herself that I was there.

She loved people. People loved her, even the ones that didn't like cats for one excuse or another, like saying they're allergic to them. No one ever sneezed at Babette. One time, my mother was holding her. She asked me why she has one eye closed. Because, I explained, Babette always stares at me, especially in bed at night, with a loving and trusting gaze. When I start to doze with the TV on, my right eye tends to nod off.

I know it's weird to say this, but she never failed to comfort those in pain. My mother will attest to that. Twice, she let me know when she was in pain. She stuck her back into my face when she had a puncture of some kind. She stared straight into my face to let me know she had a sinus infection. Like I said, I never had to put Babette in a box to take her to the vet. Everyone who ever babysat while I went away had wonderful stories to tell me about her and her personality upon my return.

I lost her 3 years ago. She finally had to get into a box and I buried her in the back yard. She was a great friend, true to the end. What was once worth $25 became priceless. One of the things that got me through the pain was what George Carlin said years earlier. I had to put things in perspective and understand how right he was. I did.

I still think about her often. Because of her, I want no more pets.

My sister and her husband have had Baxter for 13 years. A handsome Yellow Lab, he just got too old. She told me how his quality of life had deteriorated to the point of losing his dignity. He could no longer walk. He was losing the potty war. This morning, Baxter had a wonderful breakfast of special treats. This morning, Baxter took his last trip to see the vet. He had a very happy life. They still have Bailey, his companion of 8 years, and Teddy, a Rat Terrier puppy to help them through this difficult time.

We all have incredible tales to tell of these special creatures who have been so much a part of our lives. Our tails would be wagging like our tongues if we had them.

It's tough to let go, but we have to, by George.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Full Frontal

On a previous post, Pia Savage, of Courting Destiny, asked me if I have any frontal shots of me. I have previously exposed the top of my face and bald head and also a side shot. I responded with, do you really want to see a full frontal of me...and jeopardize my already tiny base of readers, Pia?

In the realm of Bloggers, you get to meet some very interesting people. They come from all walks of life and have some rather unique opinions. You develop a circle of friends. Oh, as you read many blogs, some - perhaps a dozen or so, become a part of your life. We may go beyond just leaving occasional comments back and forth, to a higher, more personal level by exchanging thoughts through e-mails. Although I've yet to meet another blogger, there are a few I would enjoy sitting down next to in the flesh. Of course, Pia, and David W. Boles, of Urban Semiotic fame. His posts can be quite ecclectic. They stimulate the mind and offer readers some very good and topical points to ponder. Miss New Orleans sounds like a hoot. I'd love to meet her one day. Supine Fever is about a young woman going through the trials and tribulations of being in her twenties. Wayne Pedrick. Our Life Together is about a woman who recently lost her husband. She search engined his name and found a post I had written about him. I knew him many years ago. She left me a comment and we communicated through e-mails. I urge you to read some of her posts and leave a remark if you feel compelled to.

There are plenty of great sites out there, too many to mention here. Explore a little, or I might put up another picture. Maybe, I'll wait 'til Halloween...

Friday, August 11, 2006

That's a lot of virgins

Hmm... 24 X 72 = 1,628 Virgins

Had this latest plot to disrupt the world unfolded and come to fruition, wouldn't it have been ironic if some of the virgins awaiting those Islamic terrorists were many of the innocent young children and babies they took out with them?

I've often heard that pigs are smarter than dogs. Why don't police departments (and the TSA) train little pot-bellied pigs to sniff out explosives? Take them along on domestic and international flights while they're at it. Walk them in the streets and subways where terrorists are apt to blow themselves up. I guarantee these acts of violence will cease. No Muslim can enter the kingdom of Heaven with pig's blood on their hands. Maybe, the only liquid allowed to be carried on a flight should be vials of blood. Hand out bags of pork rinds instead of pretzels. In the same vein as "if you didn't do anything wrong, you've got nothing to hide," why not the same thing? If you're not going to blow yourself up, you've got nothing to worry about. Heaven can wait.

We cannot be offensive, I guess. I find what these people are doing to destroy the world as we know it to be highly offensive and life threatening. Why are we supposed to be so politically correct when politics is not the cause or main reason? It is all about the warped interpretations of a certain religion.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I saw a man named Bill one day

My parents live on a small street in a town outside of Orlando. It has about a dozen homes on one side and two on the other. There's a small lake across from their house and several of the other homes. Many years ago, a neighbor, Bill, came down with a very rare form of leukemia. I know a lot more about that disease today than I did back then. It's hit closer to home than I ever would have wanted it to. That is a different story. This one is about Bill.

It was Bill's lake. Bill was always successful in life, from what I could see and what I heard from my parents and the other neighbors. He was well liked. He and his wife had many friends together. His doctors could do nothing for him here, so he went out to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Unfortunately, he was a little too old and the leukemia had taken too strong of a hold for the doctors out there to do much. Oh, they tried different procedures but nothing worked. Eventually, he was sent home to live out his remaining days in as much comfort as his doctors could provide. My parents kept me informed, in spite of the fact that I really didn't know him all too well. Every time I'd visit, I'd make it a point to ask about Bill if they didn't tell me.

One afternoon, I went to see my folks. Driving by Bill and his wife's home, I saw him standing in the driveway. I waved, but he didn't respond. He didn't even look at me. He seemed to be staring out into an empty void and I noticed his face was pale, almost gray. I thought, well, he's not in the best of health right now, anyway. Intently, I watched him as I drove by, thinking that this would more than likely be the last time I'd see him. Something seemed different, but I had no idea what it was. It's as if he was somewhere else. I distinctly remember him wearing a plaid or flannel shirt of some kind. I thought to myself that he must be nearing the end of his journey and, perhaps he was too weak and unresponsive to acknowledge me. I knew he had been declining, but I had no idea what kind of shape he was in.

I pulled into my parents' driveway and went in. The first thing I said after our greetings was that I had just seen Bill standing outside his home. I waved and he didn't even notice me. Poor Bill.

"That's impossible," my mother said.

"Why? Is he too sick to get out of bed? I mean, there he was."

"No, David, Bill passed away two days ago in the hospital."

I went out and looked. He was gone.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Malled To Death*

One of the features of living in suburban areas is the myriad amount of malls and shopping centers scattered everywhere. Shopping can be a blessing and a curse to men, depending on how they handle the whole affair. I really don't think too many people, male and female alike, would argue with this simple little fact that breaks all cultural barriers: WOMEN LIKE TO SHOP.

"Look at this one."

"Uh huh."

"You're not paying attention to me."

"Yes I am."

I can't begin to tell you how many hours I've spent in clothing stores staring at rack after rack before settling into a chair or sofa by the dressing rooms, obviously placed there for the benefit of men while our ladies are trying on articles of clothing. Over the years, I've probably spent as much time relaxing or fidgeting away the hours perusing Vogue, Elle and other female oriented literature, as I have been stuck in rush hour traffic. I've learned a lot about butt cheek exercises, how to get (and keep!) that healthy glow, and what men really want. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out what men really want, does it? I've often wondered why, since the seating arrangements are there for men to while away their time, they don't have Sports Illustrated, Field & Stream and other manly magazines laying around to read. It's a pretty boring experience and excrutiatingly painful since they also make us hold their purse the whole time. The only redeemingly pleasant aspect of having to live through this ordeal is that you get to eye the candy competition as they model their dresses, too, oblivious to your girl because she is focused on two things at the moment, shopping and spending money.

Here's a rule I would stringently follow at all costs, no matter what. Almost all women will walk out of the dressing room and fish for compliments. When she sashays out of there modeling that new, beautiful dress (and it must be or she never would have chosen to try it on) do not, I repeat, DO NOT, as she asks you "Does this dress make me look fat?" respond with, "No, it's all the cake and ice cream you eat that makes you look fat." I've never done that, but I've secretly wanted to on more than one occasion. Not that she's really fat or anything. I mean, just for kicks, but as we men folk know, living room sofas are not as comfortable to sleep on as beds - and I wish to retain my manhood.

While walking through the mall, there's a fine art involved in learning how to stare at other women without yours finding out. Wrap-around sunglasses just don't cut it and they make you look like a perv. Subsequently, we men have developed strong muscles in our faces and necks that snap back into a straight and forward stance, staring blankly ahead, before our ladies and the unsuspecting marks have any kind of clue of what we just did. Peripheral vision is of the utmost importance. It takes years to refine it into an art form and a finely honed skill. In that split second time, we already know more about those babes than you would ever suspect. Nice hair. Small feet. Dainty waist. I could go on, but I won't. Ooh, baby, a solid 8 on the 1-10 scale. In our minds, we've already gone out on some pretty heavy dates. I'm sure women do the same thing. It's human nature, right?

Women, no matter how old they are, can spend hours shopping, especially in malls. Men, on the other hand, just don't seem to have the same kind of energy as they age. They need more rest. That's why there are benches located everywhere, for geezers to park their tired rear ends so they can stare at all the women while their wives take the grandchildren shopping. I remember a chain of swimwear stores where the all-female staff of late teen and early twenty somethings wore a unique uniform called a bathing suit. One piece, two piece, whatever, but they sure were built. The girls, that is. Invariably, there was a bench out front filled with old men staring innocently into that store. There were other men hanging around. It was like a club. They probably got along great as long as they didn't block each other's views. They acted like pigeons, all cooing and clustering around that bench like there was some sort of feeding frenzy going on. Good thing Grandma loved to shop. Good thing for grandchildren. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to do that. For some unexplained reason, we always moved to the other side and picked up the pace when approaching that store.

There's the old saying that the secret to a man's heart is through his stomach. That's pretty much true. Do you know what it is for a woman? Try this sometime when you're feeling romantic or whatever. Just whisper these two simple words in her ear... NINE WEST. See what happens. For some reason, and I don't know how far back in human ancestry it goes, all women have DNA from the prehistoric past, when shoes were first introduced, that links them all to what I call IMS, the Imelda Marcos Syndrome. I guarantee you can walk all corners of the earth, into secluded regions where they still walk around naked and don't know a word of English, and if you scream "Nine West!" women and young girls will come running. Try yelling "Hush Puppies!" and see what happens.

Once you return from your exciting shopping experience, things must be put away. I've been with women who are willing to share closet space. Those were the more fair ones. I'd get 25% and she'd get 75%. I got two square feet of floor space for my 3 pairs of shoes, she got the rest for her 80. I've also been with women who never have enough space. I've had to share the spare bedroom closet with the kids. Well, at least I got to keep my shoes under the bed. After I complained about how hard it is to find shoes with toys piled on top.

After all this shopping and putting things away, I guess it's time to go out for dinner. I'm too tired to cook. Oh yeah, my treat. Later on, I'm going to ask for a neck massage. For some strange reason, it feels a little stiff and sore. But, I'd better take all those empty boxes and bags out to the trash first.

*Disclaimer: This was all written with humor in mind. I would never want to be accused of gender profiling. Ahem.