Friday, November 30, 2007

Bull Shift

As November comes to a close, I think about the book I wrote a few years ago for National Novel Writing Month. I called it "Daytime at Night" and it was ostensibly about at guy who is trapped by life in general, but by the night shift specifically. And I know of what I speak. When I was 21 I worked overnight for a summer at a can factory. Our shift was 6 PM to 6 AM for four straight days, with four straight days off. I was young, and money hungry so I regularly worked on a few of my off days as well, and it was no surprise if I worked 72 hours in a week.

Then in the summer of '04 I changed departments at work, to a midnight to 8:30 am schedule. From August of 2004 to August of 2006 I worked those hours, and in order to spend as much time as possible with Inky I would come home and try to go right to sleep. I would try to sleep from 10 AM to 5 PM when she would get home, and then we would have our meal together, dinner for her, breakfast for me. At 11:00 I would go to work and she would go to sleep, and while she slept I would eat my dinner, all too often something bad for me from a fast food place or an all night convenience store. Along the way, I would jack myself up with sugar and caffeine to stay awake, and on more than few occurrences I would go 40 to 50 hours with no sleep at all.

I'm no different from millions of people world wide who work graveyard. Some do it for opportunities that wouldn't exist for them in the daylight, others do it for family reasons. No matter why, and for what benefit, it takes it's toll on everyone. An added dimension to the disruption of the circadian rhythm, is the fact that most jobs that are done overnight are physical in nature, or mind numbingly boring. (Mine was a little of both) Some overnight jobs, however, are truly matters of life and death. The next time you go to the ER at 3:30 AM, think about how long your doctor has been up.

No matter why people work over night, the truth is it is terrible for you. When I first started it in '04 my family doctor told me that studies suggested that working graveyard took years off your life. Now there is a study out from WHO that says that Third Shifters are more likely to get cancer. Great! The story points out that a lack of sleep could contribute to a weakening of the immune system, which made me wonder if that may have something to do with why I am sick all the time these days.

In the 15 months since I left third shift I have had Asthmatic Bronchitis, Acute Sinusitis, four or five colds and a few wicket bouts of a stomach virus. I know that I'm not in the best shape, but I wasn't all that much more fit back in '04 and I didn't get sick this much then. When I used my sick days then it was to hang out with friends, or as a mental health day. Now I spend 3 days on the couch with multiple boxes of tissues while coughing loud enough to wake the dead. I miss the old days before internal clock got clocked.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

This Blows

The only thing worse than being sick, is being sick on a vacation day or a holiday. I've managed to do both this week. I started feeling under the weather the day after Thanksgiving and I got the full brunt of it on Sunday. One of my friends from out of town was visiting for a few days, so I took Monday off to spend time with him, and there I was coughing, having trouble swallowing and basically feeling like shit warmed over.

I used to think the worst thing in the world was taking a sick day because I was actually sick, but that was when I hardly ever got sick. Now, I seem to get 4 or 5 bad colds a year and the flu every other year or so. I hate getting older.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

There's a Change a Comin'

First it was the US House and Senate. Then it was Tony Blair, and now it's John Howard. Next to go: W and his Dick. Kevin Rudd and his Labor Party toppled the Howard Government in today's elections in Australia meaning another of Bush's allies has lost his job. Howard may have lost his seat all together, meaning that not only will he not be Prime Minister any longer, but he may not even be in the government. This would be the first time a sitting PM has lost his seat in almost 100 years.

This is not so much an outright win for Labor as it is a loss for Howard's Liberal Party (read: conservative, as apparently the word liberal is reversed in the southern hemisphere) Howard was seen as Bush's lap dog and the people of Australia were sick of it. There's only so long we, the common people, will let you push us around.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I'm Chris Hanson, What are you doing here Neil Diamond?

So I'm sure everyone has heard that Neil Diamond has finally reveled that he wrote "Sweet Caroline” about JFK's daughter. On the surface that sounds sweet indeed; a struggling young singer who sees an adorable picture of Caroline Kennedy and her pony and writes a song about it. Unfortunately, I'm a cynical a-hole, and this grossed me out to no end.

"Hands, touching hands. Reaching out. Touching me, touching you."

Eww! This song was written 40 years ago, and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg is 50. So Neil saw this picture of a 10 year old girl and her horse and he was compelled to write these lyrics? I know things were done differently back then, but I'm pretty sure a 27 year old man writing "touching me, touching you" about a 10 year old was still fucked up. Plus, I'm pretty sure I've heard Neil tell a whole different story about how he was inspired to write this song:

"I wrote this song after a big show at the Forum. Gary and I had been drinking pretty heavily and we'd been driving. We were driving down this dark road and I hit a kid. So we got out and sure enough he was dead. So, we took off... pretty fast, and two hours later I wrote "Sweet Caroline."

Some how I find this version of the story less offensive then the dude who had a bone for the President's daughter and her horse. So Neil Diamond is not only a pedophile but also a horse fucker? Wow, that is big news indeed.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Leavin' On a Jet Plane

Inky and I have been close to pulling the trigger for weeks, but we had to wait till we were 100% sure of our itinerary. I had to find out the NRL and AFL schedules and we had to decide on how many days to spend in each city. That's all done now, and we have booked our trip to Australia. In 173 days we will be boarding a Qantas wide body Jet and heading over the Pacific. Our first stop will be Sydney, but only for a few days. Then it's on to a long weekend of hiking in Tasmania (and perhaps a Footy match too). From Tazzy we'll fly to Melbourne for a week of further exploring our favorite city in the world. We hope to catch a few live music shows, eat some great grub and spend and evening or two at a pub making freinds.

I am also beside myself with excitement to see a Friday Night Footy game at the MCG between the Geelong Cats and their rival Collingwood Magpies. We're also going on jaunts along the Great Ocean Road and through Western Victoria. Following Melbourne we will go to the Northern Territory to see gigantic orange monolith Uluru, which you may know as Ayers Rock. Finlay, it's back to beautiful Sydney to wrap up our trip and to set me up for the worlds longest birthday.

We'll fly home on my 32nd, leaving Sydney at 1:00 in the afternoon, and then landing in L.A. at 9:45 AM...earlier in the day on my birthday. Thanks to timezones, the International Date Line and flying from West to East I will have a 41 hour birthday from the time it strikes midnight in Sydney till the time it strikes midnight in L.A. Of course the best present in the world isn't a nearly two day long birthday, it's the very fact that when I open my eyes that day it will be the Sydney skyline I will be seeing.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Pie Hole

Inky loves the new show "Pushing Daisy's" and since the protagonist on that show is a pie maker, pie has been our minds of late. To that end we went out and bought a cherry pie a few weeks back, but the time is neigh for the one, true pie. Pumpkin. I picked one up a the grocery store a while back and it wasn't good. It lacked taste, most notable that spicy zing my mother's version of pumpkin pie has.

So while at the store yesterday I picked up all the stuff we needed to make our own pies. I handled the dry ingredients while Inky worked the wet ones. We ended up with two beautiful pies, but more importantly two very tasty pies. We make a great team, even though I'll end up having to handle more of the pie eating duties.

This is just like when I got on a salsa making kick a few years back; it really does taste better when you make it at home. It's not like I went out and picked a pumpkin or anything, we used canned pumpkin, but it still has all the familiar signs of homemade, and that makes all the difference.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Cards On the Table.

First and foremost let me say that I don't have any problem with women expressing their sexuality. This is still America and as long as we are fighting Islamo-fascists who cover their women with a birka, the only way to win is to let women show a little leg in public. Notice I said 'a little' as in a mini skirt, not a belt. That Kyla Ebbert bitch is back in the news again. You remember Kyla, the Hooters waitress who was on a Southwest flight to Arizona and was rebuked for dressing in a manner not fitting with Southwest's "family values." She was on her way to Arizona for one day only to go to a doctors appointment (Boob job, Anyone?) and didn't have any clothes to change into.

She then proceeded to go on a pormotional storm, including Dr. Phil and the Today Show, where she flashed her little white thong to God, Matt Lauer and the world. On Dr. Phil she first took, and then turned down free-fly vouchers from Southwest, one would imagine due to her Lawyers intervention during the commercial break. In short, she waged a one woman fight... to get attention for herself.

Kyla succeed in getting attention, and after she faded into the ether, she had her people get hold of Hef's people. Now she is in the newest edition of Playboy featured in a spread called "Legs in the Air." There's no mincing words with that title is there? No doubt Kyla sees that as a way to launch a career in the pubic bad, public eye. Maybe she can be Paris Hilton's snatch double, or get work in the Ann Coulter made for TV movie. In the end, Kyla gets what she wants, and some 14 year old boy will get to shoot a ropey jet of jism all over her photos. That's what I call synergy! God bless the USA!


Thursday, November 15, 2007

But My Friends Call Me....

There was a time in this nation where there were only 8 male first names. So in order to distinguish all the Georges, Josephs and Michaels men needed...nay required a moniker. As a young man you could just adopt the childish version of a name: Joseph becomes Joey or a boy named after their father may become Little Joe, J.J. or just Junior. But, that didn't help if there were 4 or five other Georges in your class and so nicknaming came into fashion, and a lot of them stuck right into adulthood. Here are just a few great nicknames you hardly see young men with now: Bud, Butch, Tex, Mack or Mac, Red, Whitey, Chip, Buddy, Buzz, Dutch, Lucky, Sonny, Chip, Duke, Babe, Buck, Lefty etc...

What you do see these days are names like Trip or Trey for the next generations of these families. How much do you want to bet that half of these guys have a dad named John Michael Jones II, but he went by Red due to his red hair. Or, Buzz, Buddy or Buck.

I don't have any friends with cool ass nicknames like this. We just tend to call each other by our last names. I guess it's true that today's generations are just lazy, and my parents were the Greatest Generation... at least as far as nicknames are concerned. I used to think these nicknames were just stereotypes from WWII and 'nam movies e.g. the Irish guy was Red, the Southerner was Tex and the WOP was Paulie... we're always something ending in ie or y. All you have to do is look at the obituaries or a grave yard to see how many names include quotes to know this trend was real. They always read: Joseph A. "Butch" Sanders, beloved wife of Pearl, beloved father of Joey and Margaret.

I'd love to see this trend return with the younger generation. I bet there are 8 Taylors in every 5th grade class in America, both boys and girls. And forget about the Britneys of various spellings. I plan on doing my part by asking all my Friends to calling me Dutch. It's just a great fucking nickname. Try out my two sample sentences to see the difference:

"This weekend Jon, Matt, Brandon and I went out and compared our fantasy teams, played cards all night and talked about politics."

"This weekend Buzz, Lefty, Dutch and I went out and banged a few chicks, played cards all night and transported a minor across state lines."

See what a difference a few cool nicknames make?

A few years back when Inky and I lived in Maryland I voted for a politician solely because his name was Dutch. His platform could have included mass puppy murder and I would have voted for him. Because even a line of cute dogs heading to a miniature guillotine seems cool when it's enacted by a guy named Dutch.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Greazy Law #2

I know this is going to sound harsh, and I'm ok with that. As a person who drives a lot for work, I'm fed up with a certain type of driver. And so it is that I must enact a Greazy Law to call for the immediate murder of any person who drives at or below the speed limit in the left lane, and then speeds up when I try to pass them on the right. They should be pulled from their cars, buried up to their necks and run over with an industrial sized lawn mower.

I'm not the type of dickhole that flies up behind someone in the left lane, and I never flash my lights at people. But, if I'm behind you and you're going slow, I do expect that you get over and let me pass. (The whole "slower traffic keep right thing you know) After about a mile of waiting for someone to get over, I will eventually take matters into my own hands and get in the right lane to pass them. This always seems to be the moment that the douche nozzle in front of me seems to find the accelerator. What the fuck? Fuck those people. Greazy has spoken!


Monday, November 12, 2007

Song Spotlight: Gone Again

Driving into work today I got a nice little pick me up courtesy of WXPN. They played the Indigo Girls song "Gone Again" off their 1999 release Come on Now Social. It was particularly fitting since the song, penned and sung by Amy Ray, is set in a few of the places that Inky and I are going on our next trip to Australia: Sydney, Melbourne and the Northern Territory. It was also nice timing since Inky and I will be leaving for our trip in exactly 6 months, or 180 days. It can't get here soon enough. In the meantime, here are the words:

I think I'll bag that trip for two
And pack it up to Kakadu.
Honey, it's not for the weather
Or the lack of loving you.
I got all this in between
Something I could not foresee.
All the deals I made don't matter
If I can't just let you be.

Gone again gone again
There ain't no way I'm gonna let this heart mend
Gone again

I walked in King's Cross for a while,
Gave a junkie girl a smile.
We both trade it in for danger
Or the company of strangers.
She said all her family
Was at the welfare agency,
Then she swindled my last twenty
For a kiss and some poetry.

Gone again gone again
There ain't no way I'm gonna let this heart mend
Gone again

If I don't make Kakadu,
I'll be at the Rainbow Room.
I'll be courting some disaster
With the Melbourne wrecking crew.
Honey, all this is to say
That every dog don't got its day,
If we take the love we're given
And we throw it all away.

Gone again gone again
There ain't no way I'm gonna let this heart mend
Gone again


Sunday, November 11, 2007

What a long strange trip it was

For weeks Inky, XL and I have been planing to get together this weekend to blow off some steam. The plan was to go out to a bar where Inky and XL could get shit faced and I could drive them to get food and then safely home. But, nothing in life ever happens how you plan it. I got a call on Thursday morning that my Uncle had passed away, and that the funeral was Saturday morning... in Queens. I called XL and told him he I had to go to Queens, and half as a joke told him that if he still wanted to come up he could go to the funeral with me.

He still came up, but even that was a test of wills. He and his wife have a 3rd car that they use to put a lot of miles on and save their primary modes of transportation. XL brought that car, but somewhere on the Baltimore Beltway his exhaust system fell out and he was stuck on the side of the road. Just when I thought the weekend had fallen apart, he called me back to say he had a plan. His father put his Jeep on a roll back truck and sent it to pick up his Honda. Not only a tow, but new car delivery! Now that's impressive.

XL and I set out for Jersey a bit later then we had hoped, and along the way we popped into Yocco's South for hot dogs and pierogies, at around 4:00. Upon arriving in Metuchen, and rendezvousing with my Mother and little brother we then went to Harold's New York Style Deli in Edison. This place is owned by the guy who used to own the Carnegie Deli in NYC. To say that they do things big at Harold's is an understatement. Just take a glance of the photo of me with the "small" cornbeaf sandwich at the start of this post. I mean, goddamn! We each ate what we could of our sandwiches, and some of the pickles from the worlds largest pickle bar, and we called it a night.

In the morning I put on a black dress shirt, black suit, grey tie, black shoes, black over coat and black gloves and we left for Queens. My Uncle Pat was an old school New York guinea, and this was an old school funeral. Nestled in a tiny Queens neighborhood was the funeral home right across from the Church, and the drive to the cemetery took us along Queens Boulevard. As it turns out my Uncle Pasquale was buried less than 25 feet from one time Gambino boss "Big Paul" Castellano. Also at St. John's Cemetery: Lucky Luciano, John Gotti, Vito Genovese, Carlo Gambino, Joe Colombo, Joe Profaci, oh yeah and John Atlas, Robert Mapplethorp and my Uncle Pat. And there we stood, My Mother, brother, XL and I... wow.

XL and I had plans with Inky in PA so we had to skip out on the plush reception at the very expensive looking Queens Italian restaurant, but we had some good eats back in Metuchen. We had some pizza at Roberto's on Main St, before picking up some cannoli's, one of which I left out of respect for my old man. On the way home XL had a few more hot dogs, and I had an order of pierogies at Yocco's 100 before we got back to Central PA. Then Inky and XL went through a case of Yuengling and a few shots each of Jager as we watched the Chappell show. A good time was had by all, and before the night was over I ran out to get them some Five Guys. I think we all need to spend a few days on a treadmill!


Friday, November 09, 2007

Outgrowing the Holidays

I have such fond memories of the holidays we had as a kid. I really loved Thanksgiving, and of course I lived for Christmas. It was easy then, because you had time off from school and the focus was on seeing family and basically just chilling together. Who wouldn't love that? It's all different now, however, and I feel sad that I'm not into it anymore. Now if I want to have time off at the holidays, it comes at the expense of a vacation later in the year, it's not just a given. Inky and I also live far away from our families so we always have to travel on holidays, and almost never get to spend them in our own home. Plus, since we don't plan on having kids, we know that we will be the ones who have to travel for the better part of the next 3 decades.

It all adds up to turn these once sacrosanct days into just any other 3 day weekend where we pick up and go. It may as well be memorial day or July 4th but with turkey instead of a cook out and presents instead of fireworks. Not that I don't love turkey and presents minds you, because they are two of my favorite things in the world. Hell, XL and I are driving to New York City tonight for an old school dego funeral and we're stopping for lunch in Lancaster so I can have a turkey bobbie, so it's not even about that. It's just that these holidays have lost a bit of their zing for me , and that makes me sad. Sad for myself and for those who have to put up with me.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Countdown to Oz...I need a break!

My life is awash with annoyance, the most recent being a meeting with "The Bobs" today. I was supposed to have of watching Inky and XL drink themselves stupid, while I just got to act stupid, ahead of me, but that may be put on hold so I can go to the funeral of one of my old man's best friends. Not that an Italian American businessman's funeral in Queens isn't a hoot, but does it have to be on a weekend? I get bereavement leave. Wow! That may be about the most shallow thing I have ever written.

At any rate, Inky and I leave for Australia in 184 days, which may as well be an eternity. God do we need a break.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Just Plain Lazy

Back in my day we had to open our own doors! As I've said a number of times on my blog, working on a college campus can make you feel very old. One way that happens is my almost daily "damn kids today" observations. This one has been simmering for a while now, and to be fair isn't confined to only college kids.

I can't stand the people who hit the handicap button rather than open the door themselves. When I worked for a big Fortune 500 company in Baltimore a few years back, we also had a ton of people who would open the door via the handicap button rather than pull or push on the handle. Some even went as far as pushing the button with their elbow, or with the back of their hand; one would imagine to avoid germs.

Then there are the people who will walk out of their way at Target to use the auto opening door, rather than the manual one. If you calculate the amount of energy it takes to walk that 10 extra feet, I'll bet it's more than reaching out your arm and pulling on a handle. And, it's not like huge Church Cathedral doors we're talking about here, these doors are designed to be sturdy yet light. People are just too fucking lazy!

If the kids on this campus are any indication, the future is no brighter when it comes to lazy-ass Americans. They can sit and type out short story sized text messages to one another, but they can't be bothered to open a god damned door.

That is all.


Monday, November 05, 2007

On Edge

The time has come for me to admit something: I'm constantly on edge when it comes to my job. It's not that I don't like the job, just that I'm not particularly crazy about jobs in general, and less enamored of how work makes me feel. I'm a big boy, and I get it: we all have to work. I'm past the stage of asking why we have to do something we don't like for 80% of our lives and not just spend our time loving life. OK, maybe I'm not past that, but at least I understand that we're not going to undo thousands of years of human culture so we can all chill out at the beach.

But there's got to be something else, right? I love the time I have outside of work, but I have failed to find a job that sets my soul alite. Maybe that's not in the cards these days, but what's sad is that I know this is a problem most of the people in my life have. I know so few people who love what they do, or worse who they do it for. I normally handle these kinds of feelings pretty well, but of late I've been more edgy then usual. I'm very excited that Inky and I will be leaving for our trip to Australia in 187 days, 12 hours and 7 minutes, but I am already painfully aware that we'll be back to our normal lives 3 weeks later.

I don't know quite what I'm going to do about all this, but I'm trying to figure that out. And don't worry, if I come up with a foolproof solution I'll be sure to do a blog post about it.


Friday, November 02, 2007

Fat Guy in a Little Coat

Riddle me this Batman: if nearly one third of all people in this country are over weight, then how come I can never find fat guy clothes? This is supposed to be the greatest capitalist nation in the world right? So what happened to the law of supply and demand? The demand is out there, just go to Wal Mart at 3 am and you'll see it. Sadly, most fat people are there because that is one of the few places a big guy can get his kit on.

Walk around the mall sometime, and look at all the stores that cater to super small people. It's mind blowing, and it also flies in the face of logical sales strategies. Maybe the thinking is that heavy people are down on their appearance so they shop less, whereas skinny people are vain and go out and buy a ton of shit they don't need. I don't know, but I do know that you can't find half the shit in a XXL that you can find in a XXS.