Friday, December 31, 2004


Now that I am over my initial "stunned" reaction I can attempt to say something halfway intelligent regarding this disaster. I first heard about the tsunami disaster while at a foosball tournament. I picked my head up to gaze at the big screen TV which was running CNN. The footage just blew me away. I could not imagine being in my home when the water started coming in and there was absolutely nothing to do but flee. Whole homes swept away in the matter of minutes. It stunned everyone I was with too.

First off let me start by offering my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who were killed by the tsunamis. I would also offer a speedy recover to those who were injured and hope they can make it home soon. Like I said, I have no idea what these people are going through physically and emotionally. I know we have had our share of natural disasters in the U.S. with hurricanes, forest fires, tornados, etc. But something like this puts everything into perspective.

I was glad to hear that the governments were going to invest in the early warning system (taken from Part of me wonders why something like this wasn't invested in sooner seeing that many of the areas hit were well known tourist/vacation destinations. Local economies in these areas must depend heavily on revenues generated from tourism. After this happening I can see the tourism for these areas dropping tremendously, which will further hurt any already wounded economy. Despite the tsunamis there will be rough waters ahead for the countries most affected.

This just shows you how volatile the earth really is. This also has sent a certain message home for me personally. No matter how careful you are or prepared the rug can still be jerked out from underneath you. The main point to remember is how you respond to adversity and what actions you take to right yourself. I hope the governments and agencies involved can take the proper steps to help this situation. I hope relief funds can be raised to sufficiently help the families most affected by this tragedy, my heart going out to them the most.


Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Why Do I Get The Jitters?

Sitting in anticipation for a lunch date I have with a client regarding his NCAA recruitment efforts. His expected graduation date is May 2006. I mean I signed on to assist in his efforts knowing full well this would require me to light a small fire under the ass of this kid to make sure tasks get done with proper diligence. I guess it is my personal excitement centering around the fact I want to see my client get into his choice school (and soccer program). In the grand scheme of things this is his first attempt at marketing himself and I want to see him do well. Besides, being a bit worried about getting everything done always makes me nervous and at the same time keeps me on my toes. :)

This sort of urgency has been serving me well with many endeavors as of late. Things with the house are progressing slowly but surely in the right direction. Pop's final affairs are hopefully going to wrap themselves up soon. Hind sight is always 20/20 but I would have organized a lot of Pop's necessary documents a bit differently. Pop was great at many things but records just wasn't one of them. Everything will be handled regardless so nothing to worry about.

I just wish it would shed some positive light on the Melissa front. Not a day goes by that she is not on my mind in some form or fashion. I remember when I would be nervous and jittery she used to know exactly what to say to bring me peace and settle down. I'm tempted to try and call her but I realize that this might not be received well especially since she hasn't returned my last call wishing her a Merry Christmas. I don't think it is intentional. She has been working the graveyard shift at her place of work so she is on a different clock. Hopefully, I will hear from her soon.

Well enough of these random thoughts. Got errands to run and a lunch date to be early for!


Sunday, December 26, 2004

Echo Boomers!

As you all know from my previous disclosures, I tend to sit on the couch in front of the TV and of all things punch keys on my laptop. I know it seems ridiculous. Even Ellen DeGeneres mocked this sort of activity during one of her stand-up performances. But she was "spot on" in the fact that we all seem to be connected to so many different things simultaniously. It amazes me how I actually concentrate on any one thing. This could explain many things I have experienced in life but we'll leave that for another time.

What prompted me to hop on here and punch some more keys was a story on 60 Minutes called the Echo Boomers. The story explored this large generation of adolescents directly descended from the Baby Boomers and how they are affecting present day society much in the same vein as adolescents in the '60s shaped society then. The story highlighted some of the more obvious obsevations about these kids which we all have seen first hand. Any trip to the local mall can show you how kids of the Echo Boom are different. Myself, only 10-15 years removed, I see remarkable things and at the same time things that make me wonder. If I take a typical teen (a client of mine) who I've known for several years as a basic model you'll see what I mean.

This kid has in his possession at any instant during the day at least one mobile communication/media hybrid device that he can operate at the expert level. Being a tech-junkie myself I often call his bluff when he brags about a new "toy" he has. In a move that's sort of like a throwback to my parents' generation (my father, the old son of a gun, particularly comes to mind) I almost always ask him, "...what do you need that for?" But clearly, whatever the new tech item is he clearly is not keeping it polished on his desk or tucked within his backpack for safe keeping. He is definitely using it!

Many times during our sessions he is bombarded with text messages, random direct-talk quips (a la Nextel), download status notifications, you name it. Not that I entertain this for too long, especially when we are on the clock, the fact remains he is constantly connected to information sources. Albeit, most of his "breaking news" is in the form of updates revolving around chicks he is currently working on (a-hem) dating. Nevertheless, the point is still valid. The whipper-snappers of present day have a lot of access to information of all sorts. This can be a great thing.

What makes me wonder, however, is if we still have room for more traditional learning experiences. You know, experiences that sometimes took many times over to really appreciate and grow from. In the days I chewed ground as a youth, a skinned knee or elbow taught all kids a valuable lesson is playing it safe. But the Echo Boomers have never known riding a bike without wearing a helmet. Not saying helmets are a bad idea in light of how many motorists we have, but it still makes me think. Bonafide "rough housing" has been replaced with highly structured (and sterile) environments where kids play sports, exercise, etc. In these settings, if two kids happen to "bump" into one another they are almost immediately pounced on by not only the coach, the assistant and several parent volunteers. All of them with one thing in mind I'm sure - a possible lawsuit pending. Am I the only one that is taken back by this? While I do feel that the Echo Boomers are definitely being groomed for great things, I also think they are being groomed for a serious reality check once they get out from under their parents protective umbrella.

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow... Bah, Weatherbug!

More sugar on the crumb cake! LOL Actually, this should be more than a sprinkle as we are expected to get between 2 and 4 inches here on the Island. That is if Weatherbug Live is on point, which it usually is. I can't wait until I get to see Weatherbug in action during tornado season in Nebraska. I think I hear the Weatherbug ring too often now I can hardly wait... ;)

Compared to LI's News 12 Weatherbug is a nifty weather tracker and is usually on the money. It can get annoying especially when it rings you multiple times within a ten minute period for the same storm advisory. But God hasn't sorted out the bugs in life's current beta version just yet, so I suppose this sort of thing can be expected. Now for a cup of tea and to enjoy watching Caesar spin in circles as he bites at snow flakes. I have to be prepared one of these days with the video camera for sure. Not just his movements but the sound his mouth makes as he chomps at the snow flakes is such a pisser!


Saturday, December 25, 2004

Props To A Couple of Gracious Hosts

While I am enjoying a lovely cup of red tea and soaking in the beautiful, crisp Christmas morning from inside my thoughts float back to Thursday night's dinner party hosted by Monkey and Nora. The two of them have been hosting formal parties now for the past couple of years and they have been truly wonderful nights. Thursday night's dinner party was no exception.

Monkey, being a rather militant vegetarian (hehe), always plans a grande menu for all with the help of his main squeeze making them a dynamic culinary duo. Like myself, Monkey has learned from an early age his way around a kitchen. So everything that is prepared is always on point. They share my personal passion for fine food, wine, spirits and the fine company of friends. I always feel honored being invited to nights like these. The evening started with a "cocktail hour" with hors d'oeuvres served with lovely Georgia wine (not the state but the country formally part of the Soviet Union) presented by Sashka. I was glad Sashka was in attendance because I don't get to see him as often as I used to. The wine, the name escapes me unfortunately, went particularly well with the Gouda cheese. After a couple of glasses all were bubbling over with the holiday spirit. During the cocktail hour, I had met guests from previous parties and the vibe was that of old friends. The conversation meandered from careers to electronics to movies and cinema to food and international holiday traditions. Hermo, Leslie, Working Man, Sashka, Bri, Jenn, myself and all were stimulated, indeed.

Everything was warming up for the main sit-down featuring roasted free-range chickens, soy-based poultry, stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams (personal fave), an assortment of vegetables, everything one would expect on a Holiday menu and some you wouldn't expect. Hats off again to Nora and Monkey for a delicious feast. I was touched when Monkey asked me to carve up the first round of chicken which, by the way, was so tender it practically pulled straight from the bone. As the conversation rolled on between stuffing our faces, more wine flowed and happy song rang through the home. The wine selection was excellent covering many regions and continents. As I've grown older I appreciate what a fine wine can do to highlight a lovely meal. My own contribution was a case of Ruffin Chianti desert wine to be imbibed with the crown jewel of the holiday feast...

Chocolate fondue! It is true that I am not a fan of desert foods. I generally pass up cakes and pies because when I was a kid I could not get enough of them. Maybe it is some weird form of Irish Catholic guilt but who knows. But there are two things that make me break my own rule; a good chocolate mousse and a great chocolate fondue. The foundation of Monkey's chocolate fondue is Lindt's all natural Cocoa Bar chocolate. I should have paid particular attention whether it was the 75% or 85% variety Lindt features in their cocoa. Both of these blends offer a little less sweetness. This is required when consuming chocolate fondue with such naturally sweet items as raspberries, strawberries, Granny Smith apples, rice crispies treats, mandarin oranges, etc. My mouth still waters a bit thinking about the wonderful chocolate fondue. I feel I may be repetitive but that is just too bad because the food was excellent.

So in an evening filled with Christmas cheer, lots of friends and a fine atmosphere, you couldn't ask for anything more. My only regret is that I did not offer a toast to Monkey and Nora and all the guests for making the evening a stellar night. I am sure that through out the night I made my high regard for the party known to everyone. For all those who attended the party, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and safe travel to your destinations. Be happy and be safe because I look forward to seeing you all again at the next party!


Merry Christmas!!!

Just wanted to drop a fast note to everyone who matters to me (and you all know who you are) to have a Merry Christmas! Enjoy yourselves, family and friends and indulge in all the holiday treats. We have next year to worry about our girlish (or lack thereof in my case) figures. I offer you all the warmest, best wishes for the New Year!


Monday, December 20, 2004

Sugar On The Crumb Cake...

This is something my Mother used to say with a laugh whenever she would shake a bit of baby powder on my bum after changing me. After hearing it a lot when I was young it has sort of stuck with me over the years.

When I looked out the window last night and saw it snowing this phrase came to mind. Yes, winter is here officially even though it technically is not winter for another day. I wasn't ready to see the white stuff just yet, but it looks like there is a good chance for a white Christmas, so I'm not that upset. But boy has the temperature dropped! Yesterday it was 50 degrees and this morning when I let Caesar out for his morning piss my nipples felt like they could etch glass. It was 15 degrees with a kicking wind gust. Time to whip out the snow parkas and get the snow scrapers ready.

Hmm. I think today I will run operations completely from the house because I really do not feel like going out in this cold. I know I mentioned that I like the cold weather but I draw the line at like 20 degrees - you can't even wear shorts comfortably in anything below 20 degrees! :)


Sunday, December 19, 2004

A Late Morning Spent At The Mud Bowl

Calverton National Cementary is truly a beautiful cemetery. Its landscape and road architecture can at times be confusing but there is a method behind this. The facility was designed so that much of the natural landscape remains undisturbed on the thousand-plus acres. In addition to the land that makes up the cemetery, there is the national park grounds and nature trail. There is also a single track that meanders through the entire acreage which is a good beginner trail being that it is mostly flat. I like the place especially when it isn't crowded.

Today it was a bit packed with many visiting grave sites for the Holiday. I went today to place a pine wreath at the headstone. This is a tradition in my family (as with many others) that I have become particularly fond off. I know that placing something like a pine wreath or blanket might be superficial but I believe that it symbolizes all of the thoughts, daydreams and memories. I tend to go overboard with each of the wreaths I get for aunt Linda, uncle Jimmy, Nanny and now Pop. But I feel if I cannot afford a pretty wreath for each of them then I have greater probems than I am willing to admit! I don't know if I had mentioned it before but my Mother was cremated and I have her urn (she was placed in three of them, one for Pop, one for my father and one for myself) on a table in the foyer. I decorate the table during Christmas with poinsettia, candles and other evergreens en lieu of the wreaths for the headstones.

I called uncle Bob and my father as soon as I woke this morning because I wanted to get up there before noon figuring it would be crowded by then. Neither of them picked up so I left messages. After waiting until 11:00am I decided to that was long enough, so I went up there by myself. This annoyed me a bit but decided not to make it ruin my day. Besides, what would be the use of visiting Pop if I was pissed off. He certainly wouldn't appreciate that.

At Calverton, Pop's section is still being filled with graves so much of the area is dirt without grass. Since we've been having so much over night frost the ground is saturated. This made the trek to Pop's headstone really, really muddy. I almost fell trying to keep balance while going up and down the hills. I didn't want to fall or drop the wreath in the mud, even though it would be staked to the ground. I know this might sound ridiculous but that's just the way I am. The wreath was the perfect size for the headstone since I really had no idea how wide the stones were. I'll have to post a pic of it sometime as long as it is not too morbid a thing to do here. Well, unless I think it is morbid I will do it since I call the shots here! ;)

I'll have to cut this one a bit short since I am actually stealing a moment between laundry loads. LOL I find multitasking during domestic duties helpful otherwise laundry never gets done. I'll start the washer and then begin watching a movie and low and behold the wet clothes never make it into the dryer. Normally this isn't a big deal, but if I forget about the wet laundry in the dryer for longer than a day they become funky. So then I have to wash them all over again. But if I blog or pay bills or something similar then I am more inclined to actually dry and fold the laundry. Nice!


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Another Week Flashed By/Weekend Excursion of Discovery

I know life is moving quickly once again when days seem to stream on by like a flash flood. My mind might still be clinging to its "beginning of the week" mode when all of a sudden the clock strikes 5:00PM on Friday afternoon. This has left me beside myself on more than one ocassion and last week was no exception.

As the house is slowly starting to take order it will be no time at all when it hits the listings. Collecting and sorting Pop's antiques and other assorted odds and ends (along with some good old-fashioned belated Fall cleaning} has lead me through a journey of memories both good and not as good. While this current project has been mentally tiresome at times it has provided me with some needed therapy. 'Closure' is a word that seems to be thrown around a lot lately. I've come across it in an endless sea of sources. But I am working towards closure at my own pace. As long as I am moving forward with this and the rest of my goals I continue to feel that sense of peace I had mentioned before.

With all the time I have been spending working inside the house I have been making it a habit of leaving it on the weekends. Last Saturday I had a new discovery of a place called The Nutty Irishman in the town of Bayshore. I have heard of The Nutty Irishman (TNI) on several ocassions. You see, in my neck of the woods everyone and their stepbrother claim their pub to be an "Irish" pub and fall quite short. Being of Irish decent I tend to be a bit sensitive about these things (not really, well...). TNI is no exception since it is in fact a franchise. But what it lacked in culture and tradition it made up for in ambience. The place is truly a stunning multi-level venue. From first glance at the interior layout one could easily conclude that many centuries ago the original structure was probably used as a lavish lobby, bar and gaming room for a hotel or inn. Bayshore being a harbor town this makes a lot of sense. I love the look of exposed timber beams and dark wood moldings which TNI has plenty of. Be sure to check out the photo gallery (most of the shots are during daylight hours). Hopefully they will update with some photos taken during live performances because their stage is excellent. A great venue for local and tour bands as well.

The band "The Gyst" looked and sounded great that night. I had a really great time and managed to still walk out on my own two feet. But this was most likely due to their rather steep beer prices. I mean "yes" this is Bayshore but please! $4.50 for a Corona? Now I'd gladly pay $4.50 all night long for pints of Guinness Stout, LOL.


Monday, December 06, 2004

The Mystery of The Crew

I have been told by some that it can be confusing as to which friend I might be referring to when I post as I like to use their nick names. So here is a legend of ALL my friends (including all the ones named Mike) along with an alias common to them.

The Crew:

Mike I - IT/Consulting - aka "Lil' Mike/Methodical Man"
Mike P - NYPD's Finest - aka "Big Mike/The Cop/Meatball"
Mike D - Retail Opps. Mgr. - aka "Mikey D"
Rob M - DJ/Producer - aka "Gangster"
Mike M - Security Consulting - aka "Merz/Speakeasy"
Kenny H - Finance/Acct. Mgr. - aka "H-Bomb/The Working Man"
Morgan F - Marketing - aka "Monkey/Drunkin' Monkey"
Kevin M - Security Consulting - aka "Sick-O"
Dave M (me) - Education/IT - aka "Mackelicious/Mack Attack"
Brian M - Marketing - aka "Blimey"

MIA List:
Hiram F - UW Campus Security - aka "Hermo"
Greg R - Sports Management - aka "Burger Man"
Alex G - Finance - aka "Sashka/The Mad Rooskie"
Dave S - Guidance Counselor - aka "Dr. Doo-little"

Hopefully this will help with all the confusion. My apologies to all!



Thursday nights are usually boring. Even though I can sleep in a bit on Friday because I'm off (rising at 8am instead of 7am, whoop-dee-doo!) there never seems to be anything going on. The crew are not always available leaving me with domestic duties to occupy time while I watch a flick or two, then off to bed. On this particular Thursday night I decided to give my bro lil' Mike a call and see if he was into getting some dinner and possibly some brews down at our usual spot. Mike was up for it!

I remembered that Thursday night was kareoke night. Now I'm not really into kareoke a whole lot (I have no voice at all so you'd never see me up on the stage) but there are a couple of regulars who attend that do some pretty decent covers. For example, one dude is like 5'4" and hispanic but he does a dead-on impression of the singer Maxwell. He covers the original album version of "Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)" from Maxwell's '96 Urban Hang Suite. (By the way, this is a killer album and I recommend it as well as all Maxwell's releases.) I've wondered if the kareoke singer has ever heard the remix version of "Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)" from the single of the same name. The arrangements and lyrics are a bit different but the groove to this version is very heavy and even more soulful than the original. His voice would sound so good on the PA. I'll have to dig up this single again and give it some rotation because it is a true gem!

Anyway, Mike picked me up around 9:45pm and we had arrived just in time for the open mic kareoke to start. Since I already had dinner earlier I just ordered a few hot pretzels from the bar while Mike had a burger with steak fries with plenty of pints for the two of us. The Christmas decorations were up and the soft glow of the lights provided ambience. The house lights are either too bright when on or a bit too dim when they are turned down. I think the light from regular white Christmas lights is pretty cool. Reminds me of candle light in a way. Actually, the thought had occured to me to string up some shrubs I was planning to put in the back yard and leave them like that all year. (The ambient light they would create would be perfect for night time back yard parties in the summer. Throw in some pillar candle stands with candles burning here and there and the back yard scene is sweet.) Needless to say the updated decor and a little something else had me in pretty good spirits.

That little something else were the birds. Not referring to fowl, mind you, but a rather large flock had decided to make the Brickhouse their pirch for the evening. Mike is currently in between relationships of sorts and my situation with Melissa is a bit complex to say the least. Him and I have been a great support system for each other in recent months. I was happy that the field was loaded in Mike's favor. I had made up my mind weeks ago that for the immediate future I will gladly be a wing man to Mike. Being so close to my move, I really cannot logically see the point in pursuing anything that will have to end abruptly. Also, to be quite honest, I am not ready to get involved with anyone. I still have very, very deep feelings for Melissa. I need to concentrate on me and what I am trying to do in my personal life; correcting some problems, tying up loose ends. I look at nights like these as a way for me to spend as much time as possible with my friends before I move.

Having a hair-splittingly critical ear for music at times I have to say that I was enjoying the kareoke. Yes, there were a few birds and dudes who, like myself, lacked a singing voice but it was entertaining. A mutual friend Kevin joined us about an hour later to chill out and have drinks. Of course, Kevin was delighted that we had a tab going. I hate having to go up to the bar and try to fumble for dough while you are shoulder-to-shoulder was everyone and their auntie. Plus, the bartenders are really a class bunch of guys so as soon as they see me in view they always offer me another pint. So it speeds things up a bit especially when you are trying to get a bird a drink!

The crowd was pretty lively as the night went on. I'll have to remember to audio blog some of the regular performers because they were pretty good. The music choices were off the hook. Kev having had a few votka tonics in a short period of time was really carrying a big buzz. Its comical seeing him when he is buzzed because it seems his inhibitions go out the window. A group of three chicks were singing "Lady Marmalade" and (of course) as soon as they were done Kev wanted to go up to them and chatterbox. Not being the type of guy to leave a friend hanging I stepped over as well. Mike always plays it real cool. Very rarely will you see him give up his seat unless it is to get another pint or take a trip to the head. So as we talked it up as a group we slowly moved back to our table where Mike was sitting comfortably awaiting introductions. You can't knock the hussle!

Now a brief word on Kevin. The only way to describe Kevin is straight up obnoxious at times. You never really know what he will say next, sort of like Howard Stern. He always has a knack for saying something totally off canter which can at best spark a raucous laughfest OR insite a fight. Apparently this evening it would be the latter. Many volunteers from one of the local fire departments were at the Brickhouse and I noticed that Kev had already engaged himself in conversations with many of them. Some of these dudes resembled myself in stature which didn't seem to phase Kev one bit. Sure enough a few moments later two of them approached me asking who Kev was and if I had come with him. Basically, they wanted to know what his deal was.

I had worn a collared shirt and sweater that night and as the night progresses I normally tend to get a bit hot. As I was talking to these two dudes I unbuttoned the cuffs of my shirt to try and roll up my sleeves. Quite harmless I thought. I guess these dudes didn't like this and immediately stated their disapproval. At this point I am majorly buzzed having had about 12-15 pints of Blue Point Toasted Lager (awesome stuff). I didn't really appreciate these two guys thinking they can tell me what I can or cannot do. After telling them as much it seems things were a bit tense. Knowing I could not back down at that point, even though it was two against one, I decided that proper "attitude" was the best way to deal with these two meat heads. Mike and Kev were chatterboxing some of the birds and I didn't want to knock them off their game. You see, sometimes being a bit too friendly with guys like the two firemen can give them the excuse to walk all over you. After spewing a few choice verbal daggers along with some appropriately below the belt profanity it seems my two "new" friends became meeker lads, indeed. Having two or three buy backs coming my way, I thought it would be best to get the two a pint as a gesture of goodwill. Of all times to get involved, Kev decided to get in the mix and started talking a lot of nonsense.

I decided to "walk" Kev outside to help him cool down since the bouncer started to take notice of the situation. Kevin became quite wild now that we were outside and wouldn't stop going on and on about him and I beating the shit out of the firemen. After a few minutes of this I had to grab him and shake him a bit, pleading for him to calm down. Fighting at this point wouldn't be necessary because I had already had it out with the two big dudes inside and everything was cordial. Kevin, obviously a bit agitated at me for not wanting to throw down, swung for the fences and (missing me) hit a brick pillar busting the knuckles on his right hand open. Not feeling the pain he continued to scuffle with me. This annoyed me but not enough to try and hit him back. After pushing him a few times I told him to stay out here a few minutes to cool down and then come back in because it was truly frigid outside (I felt sorry for Kev, really).

When I went back inside and made my way back to my table I could just feel all the eyes on me. So I looked around at a few people and everyone WAS looking at me. I sort of glanced back at them with a puzzled look, not knowing what the hell was going on. This girl that I had talked to before called me over to her and her friends. All three bartenders also approached when I came over. I was greeted with, "...what did you do to him? ...holy shit, are you alright? ...Dave, you didn't have to kill him? Dave, man, this one is on me!" Turns out I didn't really notice how much blood was on my sweater from our scuffle. It looked like I tuned Kevin up pretty good especially since he did not walk in with me. The group of girls found it more respectable that I wasn't involved in a fight, which helped calm the bar down a bit.

After about another half an hour the vibe was pretty cheerful again. Mike and I took a few turns with the firemen buying rounds and I had a really great time the rest of the night. Inside, my head was still reeling. As many conversations were going on and it was hard to concentrate on any one in particular, I just thought about Melissa. Sometimes I see her face in my mind which is enough to make me feel more tranquil when things are rushing fast around me. The outcome was the best one because no one got into a fight and nobody got hurt. Even though I am sure some of the firemen wanted to get into a scrap, I like to think even they were glad it didn't have to come down to that. After all, its the holiday season and who needs the drama. In the words of Junk Yard Willy Robinson, "Save the drama for yo mamma!"