The dream has been with me from an early age, as I’m sure it has for many of you. Sure, the features have changed with time—the inevitable consequence of an ever-changing life—but the fantasy remains. And if circumstances ever permit it, I will not hesitate to make this dream a reality.
I am referring, of course, to the house of my dreams.
As a boy—and one hell of a comic book freak—my dream home mirrored the secret, subterranean headquarters of my favorite hero, the Batman himself. There was the requisite mansion sitting atop it, with endless bedrooms and limitless excess, but the real fantasy lay beneath. Caves filled with the latest computer technology would connect me to the world outside; equipment manufactured in secret would leave no paper trail to be discovered later; and like my hero, I would be a force to be reckoned with in the world of crime fighting and vigilante justice.
Fortunately, I grew out of this and realized that (a) there can be only one Batman and (b) it takes a lot of cash to sustain such a lifestyle. And let’s face it: I am no Bruce Wayne.
Future incarnations of my dream home—the evolving blueprints of which existed only in my mind—changed in architecture, style, size, dimension and nearly every other measurable category. However, other features remained consistent through the years: secret passages, a hidden underground lair—complete with an escape tunnel—ergonomic design, self-sustaining life support systems, greenhouses and extensive gardens… you know, the basics.
The sad thing about all this is that no matter how badly I want it—how desperately I want my dream home to become a reality—the fact is that it probably won’t happen. Pulling something like this off takes funding… significant funding. And I’m not talking about the kind you get from a bank or rich investor—someone with a legitimate claim to the property who could cause problems later. I need the kind of cash that only I control, like lottery winnings or a Publisher’s Clearing House jackpot.
Not bloody likely, I know, but a boy can dream.
It is in this spirit that I now share some ideas about my Dream House, the home that exists in my mind at this particular moment in time. It differs from those that came before it and will undoubtedly change in the future, but for now this represents the house I wish for in my dreams and waking life. The details are a little fuzzy and for now only certain features have taken form. That will change if the dream ever becomes a reality, though, so I pray I live to see it.
For now, however, a slide show will have to do.
It had to happen eventually.
After blogging daily for more than eight months, I finally hit a day when publishing a post seemed unlikely.
Granted, by virtue of writing this post, I will still publish something. It’s just not what I expected and, as you can see, it isn’t very long, either.
I realize that size supposedly doesn’t matter—whether I choose to believe it or not—but length does. At least that’s what I’ve always been told.
Also, this blogging every day thing is hardly easy, as I’m sure any bloggers in the crowd already know. Life always gets in the way, so sometimes there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.
Take today, for instance.
I was hoping to post something last night—which is my usual routine—but a combination of allergy problems and lack of sleep sealed that deal. I passed out on the sofa and missed that opportunity.
My work schedule had some gaps in it and I was hoping to blog earlier today, but once again I managed to fill them all with other tasks and unexpected meetings. So once again, blogging fell by the wayside.
Fortunately, my iPhone is awesome and despite being at my son’s tee ball practice, I was able to churn this out. All the bells and whistles may be missing—namely pictures (which you now see since I had a chance to update this post, thank goodness)—but those can always be added later. I don’t know anyone who visits blogs just for pictures anyway, at least not many of them.
So even though this post is kind of a let-down, for me as well, it definitely served its purpose. And since a new WordPress day begins in just under two hours—most likely to accommodate our international friends—a new and hopefully more interesting post will be heading your way soon.
Unless, of course, life gets in the way again. And we all know that’s apt to happen at any time.
Today is a testament to that.
In the mid-to-late 1990’s, comedian Bill Cosby starred in a television special and short-lived series called Kids Say the Darndest Things. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, it focused on the outrageous responses children of all ages gave to questions they were asked. The show even linked up with Art Linkletter’s House Party, which aired from 1945 to the late 1960’s on both television and radio and included a “Kids Say the Darndest Things” segment. It was pretty cute, as you can see from classic exchanges like this one:
COSBY: How would you make a marriage work?
RICKY (Age 8): Tell your wife that she looks pretty even if she looks like a truck.
Or even this one:
COSBY: I have a cut on my finger. What should I do for it?
KEMETT (Age 5): You have to put some Neosporin on it and a band-aid so it’ll go away.
COSBY: Where does it go?
KEMETT: It goes down here in your blood.
COSBY: Then where does it go?
KEMETT: Then it’ll go… in another country.
While it is true that kids say the darndest things, I argue that adults take it one step further and do the darndest things. Just open your newspaper, turn on your television or scan any online news website and you’ll see evidence of people all over the world doing some crazy, unbelievable, inexcusable, offensive, confusing, sick, disgusting and downright ridiculous shit.
Hell, throw a rock and you’re likely to hit someone in the middle of doing some such thing. They are literally everywhere.
Remember that I’m not talking about your normal, everyday activities or behaviors, either. I’m talking about the people who go to extremes, do things we may never understand and keep the rest of us on our toes. And the things they do? Well, they never cease to amaze or alarm… sometimes both. Such is the case with each of these stories, all of them from the recent news and involving people most of us hope we never have to meet.
Judge for yourself, though.
WILLIAMSTON, NORTH CAROLINA
There’s nothing like a freaky story from my home state to kick things off. It makes me so proud… not.
A few Saturdays ago, deputies in Martin County responded to a call from the home of Carla Jean Baggett and her boyfriend, Randall Edward Johnson. Also living in the house were Baggett’s mother, sister and nephew, Jeremy Bogle.
When authorities arrived, they immediately smelled a funky odor and knew something was wrong. Bogle told them no one had seen Baggett for several days, but that Johnson had claimed she was lying in bed. Only every time someone asked to see her, Johnson would claim she was busy smoking a cigarette or sleeping.
That was reason enough for deputies to enter the bedroom. And Johnson wasn’t lying, either. Baggett was indeed in her bed and had been the entire time.
She was dead. And yes, she had been decomposing pretty well, too. That obviously didn’t matter much to Johnson, because he had been sleeping with her corpse for days.
Although it seems Baggett died of natural causes and foul play is not suspected, Johnson was arrested and charged with felony concealment of a death from law enforcement. And we can only hope he gets some treatment for either having trouble coping with his loss—which I hope is to blame—or the other thing: his desire to sleep with a dead body.
Let’s also hope sleep is all he planned to do with her.
Move over, Mike Tyson!
In true “Iron Mike” style, Ashley Plato of Lorain, Ohio—no relation to doomed Diff’rent Strokes star Dana Plato—was recently arrested for attempting to bite off her boyfriend’s ear. The attack came during a card game when Plato and Shawn Lane started arguing. Things quickly became physical, according to witness Tom Stone, who watched as Plato leapt onto his friend and targeted his ear. Stone also sprung into action.
“I grabbed her and pulled her off of him… and told her to get out of my apartment,” Stone said later. And he remembered first seeing the injury to Lane. “It was terrible. Part of his ear was split open and the skin was broken… it was bleeding real bad.”
Plato is being held in jail and is set to appear in court next week—and she has been ordered to stay away from Lane—but people in her community won’t soon forget about her behavior.
“Just the fact, the extreme, that she used her own body to do some damage to another individual,” Elyria resident Mirian Burks explained. “He will be damaged for life.”
None said it better than neighbor Michael Robinson, though.
“That’s not normal human behavior, you know? We don’t bite; DOGS do.”
I think he has a point, don’t you?
When you read this next story, please don’t expect to understand how someone could be so cold and callous. And waste no time trying to determine a motive because, honestly, I can’t imagine how one could ever justify this kind of behavior.
The so-called human in question is Kisha Carter, a resident of the Crystal Inn Motel on Tulane Avenue.
Last week, the local SPCA got a call from a guest at the same motel that saw two puppies being tossed out of a third-floor window. The guest immediately gathered up the injured animals and rushed them to a nearby clinic. One puppy died on the way and, sadly, the other passed a short time later.
The SPCA investigated the animal cruelty allegations and checked the motel’s surveillance video, which led them straight to Kisha Carter. She was arrested on the spot, taken to jail and charged with aggravated cruelty to animals.
If you ask me, this comes as close to pure evil as any crime could, even those specific to humans. Killing sweet, defenseless puppies? I’d vote for the death penalty in a case like this any day of the week. It is truly reprehensible.
Our last stop is in Manning, Oregon, where Tony Hall-Rivas was recently arraigned on five counts of burglary. Of course, that’s not the real reason he’s in trouble. If you want to know the truth, his actual crime was less against humans and more against Mother Nature.
Hall-Rivas sexually molested horses.
For roughly eight months, this crop-swinging Casanova would sneak into a neighbor’s barn, have his way with the sexiest colts and mares around (I guess) and skedaddle before the horses’ owner could catch him. The neighbor did get close on one occasion, though, when he saw Hall-Rivas running through the back gate early one morning doing something very unusual.
He was pulling up his pants. Gross.
The neighbor contacted the authorities and shared his suspicions, which led them to install all sorts of monitoring and surveillance equipment in the barn. And it didn’t take long for them to collect all the evidence they needed. Yes, Hall-Rivas had been breaking in regularly. And yes, he was fondling the foals and doing some other things I dare not mention here.
As if video evidence weren’t enough, though, the authorities also submitted to a lab the hat they found at the scene—which presumably belonged to Hall-Rivas—as well as other evidence they collected after witnessing the horse rapist’s escape… fluids, hairs and things like that. A few DNA tests erased any lingering doubts once and for all: Halls-Rivas was indeed enamored with equines.
And you know what they say: Once you go Black (Beauty), you never go back. Long live the Horse-Fucker!
Pardon my French.
Jim Morrison and the Doors were right: People are Strange. And they are getting even stranger by the day. Just wait until tomorrow and I’m sure you will see what I mean. Or better yet, check back here again soon.
You know I love writing about them!
If you were to ask, I bet most people would say that class reunions—whether high school or college—were a waste of time. That’s generally what I hear anytime the subject is broached. And I have never heard anyone get excited at the prospect of attending, even in the case of five-year reunions, which to me seem close enough to graduation to still be fun.
I didn’t attend mine, of course, but that’s because (a) the person in charge of organizing the event “dropped the ball” or (b) the reunion got tossed in with some alumni event. And since I discard most of the mailings arriving from my alma maters (the majority of which involve fundraising, which is of no interest to a person with limited resources… I have to eat, after all)—I still don’t know the truth. Maybe I did miss the damn thing.
Anyway, I was recently invited to a reunion of sorts—it was actually a cookout during alumni weekend at the college where I work—and decided to really get into it, especially given my previous reunion misgivings. Sure, I never actually went to this school, much less graduated from it, but I certainly felt like an honorary graduate.
You see, I used to work—and party—with a lot of these folks. We waited tables together, bartended together or met up through mutual friends at “off-campus gatherings”—which is a nice way of saying that we did some crazy you-know-what when we were younger. I even work with some graduates now, since many alums return to campus in staff, faculty or administrative roles later. This means I know people who graduated in nearly every decade since the 1960s, not to mention grads from a good number of years throughout.
And since I myself was not a graduate—and it was in this context that most attendees would likely view each other (digging through their college memories to place names with faces)—I could travel relatively incognito. Some of my best friends would know me immediately. Former acquaintances would remember me vaguely, but hopefully in a positive way. And others wouldn’t know me at all… but I would probably know them.
It sounded like fun to me.
Prior to the cookout, I joined a Facebook page for the event and started monitoring it to see who was planning to come. Told you I was getting into it. On this page, I could also see who might attend, who might not, and who was too freaking lazy to respond to the one-click, yea-or-nay invitation they received.
Odd that people can find time to update their FB status, tell me about their latest bowel movement and how it resembled Justin Bieber with his old haircut, post pictures of the nasty meal they’re about to choke down and still miss an invitation to their class reunion. Some people’s priorities are so out-of-whack that I weep for the future.
It looked like a lot of my old friends were planning to come, so I found myself getting pretty excited and reminisced about some of the “trouble” we got into back in the day—I set off “trouble” because nothing we did was very serious, at least not from a legal perspective. Damn it. I’ve probably said too much already. Sorry, pals.
My Internet wanderings also led me on a search to see what other people thought about class reunions. I didn’t dig very deep, but the best I could find were surveys from 1961 asking people when their reunion should be held, or some such question.
Incidentally, the answer seems to be August or July, which apparently represent the national averages for reunion planning (21% and 23% respectively). I found that on my reunion search, too. Thanks, ReunionAnnouncements.com!
The day of the big cookout finally came and throughout the morning and afternoon, pictures of alumni on the local scene kept popping up on Facebook. There they were at a local restaurant, tossing back shots and trading stories about the old days. Or watching some athletic event, maybe one they played when they were here as students. Either way, it looked like plenty of people made the trip. And since the band playing the event also had connections to the college—the lead singer was a graduate, if I’m not mistaken—it promised to be a fun time for all.
And in many ways, it was.
I made it to the cookout in the late afternoon to find it pretty vacant, but steadily picking up. There was plenty of food and free beer to be had—and I took advantage of them both, in courteous moderation, of course—but being a staff member definitely put a damper on things, or so I thought initially.
Then I remembered that most of the attendees—myself included—were older, had kids and just couldn’t sustain a late-night throw-down anyway. Most of us could still drink effectively, mind you. Some things never change. We just couldn’t get hammered, get wild and get up the next morning with no regard for consequences.
A few people brought their families with them, for goodness sake.
So that was kind of a downer, but only in terms of making us all long for our lost youth. It was nice to remember some of the things we did, to address some of the drama we created and to get past old grudges and misunderstandings. Sure, there was still some bad blood here and there, but that’s certainly to be expected.
Another down side to class reunions that I hear people mention is all the judging and showboating that goes on as former classmates try to impress each other with their savvy business achievements… or ridicule the people with shorter, less impressive resumes, which probably happens more often. This may be true—as I said, I have very little frame of reference here. But that certainly wasn’t the case at this cookout reunion. In fact, I would have to say that the opposite was true.
For whatever reason, people I hadn’t seen in years—and even some I’d never met before—opened up their hearts and shared their personal stories and struggles with me. And I returned the “favor” by sharing a few of my own, which normally makes them feel a whole lot better. It was definitely nice and I had the opportunity to add a few new friends in the process. And not Facebook friends, either. Real friends in tangible reality.
What a novel concept!
Another upside to this great event—and one I would hesitate to mention if I possessed any sort of internal filter, which I don’t—were the beautiful young ladies in attendance. Yes, we had all aged a little and picked up a few pounds and wrinkles along the way. And yes, most would refer to us as middle-aged, a term I very much dislike at the start of my forty-second year, but I can live with that. And judging from some of the beautiful women I saw and spoke with, time had treated them just fine. Beauty is beauty at any age, right?
Of course, most (if not all) of them are married with loving husbands and beautiful kids, so the “hook ups” of the past are but a distant memory. Even if they weren’t, the parties die down around eight o’clock anyway. And though I really show my age when I say this, I don’t know anyone who can stay up past ten, at least not if they’re parents. There simply isn’t time to hook up anymore, and in some ways, it’s a real shame.
It’s probably a lot safer this way, no doubt, but it’s hardly more fun.
All in all, though, I have to admit that my first pseudo class reunion was fun, albeit it very laid-back. All the components for a good time were there: good food, fellowship, reminiscing, networking, activities for kids, music, beer and wine, a free taxi service. And it was a good time, despite ending so early and reminding us all that regardless of how fond our memories are, we can never go back to being the people we were back then.
Memories will just have to be enough.
Crime, murder, war, death, dismemberment, corruption, hate, discrimination, violence.
These are obviously examples of the evil to be found in the world around us. No matter how positive or upbeat a person is, watching newscasts and reading stories of darkness and depravity is enough to turn anyone’s half-full glass into a half-empty one.
And I am certainly no exception.
Fortunately, there are some stories that have the opposite effect and bring light into an otherwise darkening world. They may be few and far between, mind you, but they are out there.
As proof, I offer the following snippets from recent news stories that should serve to inspire rather than depress. They all focus on people who aren’t satisfied to simply live their lives at the expense of others. Instead, they see opportunities to help their fellow man and jump at the chance.
And believe me. We could all learn something from the examples they set.
In March, 21-year-old Ryan Cornelissen was driving to the bank when he was flagged down by another driver near the town of Garfield. He immediately pulled over to see what the problem was and discovered that the man’s wife had just given birth.
And the baby wasn’t breathing.
Since the couple didn’t speak much English, Cornelissen called 911 and the dispatcher walked him through the correct procedure for infant CPR. Moments later, the newborn gasped for air and started to breathe normally. He is now being kept in the hospital for a few weeks, but by all accounts should be fine.
Not bad for a community college student, huh? Even better is the career path Cornelissen is pursuing: law enforcement.
It seems to be that if anyone would make a great cop, it would be him!
This next story doesn’t involve a single individual, but a group of people who moved quickly to save someone from certain death.
It happened last week when a woman driving through a busy intersection started to have a seizure. Kristin Martin and Zachery Green were sitting in their cars when it happened and didn’t hesitate to react. They immediately jumped out of their vehicles and ran after her.
When they realized they wouldn’t be able to stop the out-of-control car, Martin and Green flagged down Don Grimshaw, a high school principal who was driving a huge Ford truck. With no concern for himself or his own vehicle, Grimshaw took action.
“I got in front of her and just tried to match up speeds and stop the car with the truck,” he said later. “The car kind of went back up on two wheels and went back down for a second. I thought it was going to go over the [guard] rail but fortunately it didn’t.”
The car eventually came to a stop as first responders arrived on the scene. And it looks as if the woman who had the seizure is going to be fine.
When asked why he chose to step in, Green put it best and answered simply, “It’s just the right thing to do.”
Amen to that, my brother. I only wish everyone felt the same way.
Several weeks ago, Officer John Moss was on patrol when he received an emergency call from his dispatcher. Officials at a nearby high school reported that a 15-year-old student had left school and was headed for the Clark Street bridge, presumably to commit suicide.
When Moss arrived on the scene, he saw the young man climb over the rail and hang there, possibly trying to summon up the courage to jump. The officer tried to talk him down, but he just wasn’t going for it. Instead, he simply said “bye” and let go.
With reflexes like a jungle cat, Moss quickly grabbed the boy‘s arm and held him until backup arrived in the form of Officer Joe Kramer. He rushed over and helped Moss pull the boy over the rail to safety. And thanks to their quick thinking—and even quicker reaction time—it appears the disturbed young man will get the psychological help he needs.
The Stevens Point Police Department is planning to honor Moss and Kramer in a ceremony soon and many consider the men to be heroes. Only Moss isn’t one of them.
“Anyone in our department would do the same thing,” he said later. “We were just the ones that were there at the time.”
And thank goodness they were. Otherwise I would probably be writing about the teen’s suicide instead of his rescue. And there is no inspiration to be drawn from that.
EAST GREENWICH TOWNSHIP, NEW JERSEY
Rescuing anyone from a perilous and potentially deadly situation is amazing enough, but saving a child—especially one with obvious challenges—borders on the spectacular, if it doesn’t blow right past it.
Such a situation occurred recently in New Jersey when a 9-year-old autistic boy wandered away from his home and was reported missing. Officers soon arrived on the scene and joined family members and neighbors as they searched the area.
Eventually, the trail led them to Mantua Creek, a muddy mess on the other side of the trees behind the boy’s home. And when they found the boy’s shoes on the shore, things got even more desperate.
“In front of the sneakers all we saw were maybe seven or eight footprints that led out to the waterway,” explained Officer Phil Owens, one of the first responders. “And at that point my heart sunk.”
The boy’s father immediately started to call his name and within minutes, they heard him screaming. Almost two hours had passed since he first wandered off, but at least now they knew the boy was alive.
How long that would be the case was another story. Owens scanned the creek and fortunately, he caught sight of the missing child.
“All we saw at one point was just a small head bobbing back and forth and screaming,” Owens recounted later. “He was up to his neck in mud.”
And the tide was rising quickly.
Without hesitation, Owens and a colleague, Canine Officer Adam Ziegler, threw caution to the wind and jumped into the muddy water, uniforms, guns and all. Moments later some additional officers arrived and, working together, they were able to pull the autistic boy free.
It was a challenge to get him to shore—the officers started sinking into the same mud that trapped the boy—but they eventually made it. The boy was rushed to the hospital as a precaution, but was cleared and released a short time later. And the residents of this small township couldn’t be more grateful.
“I think it’s great to know that we have people around here that’ll do stuff like that,” neighbor Adam Pitz said of his local police force.
I couldn’t agree more, Adam. And it’s nice to hear something positive about law enforcement for a change. The media focuses far too much on the few bad apples that give all cops a bad name. The truth is that most of them choose the profession for one very clear reason: to help.
Just ask Officers Owens and Ziegler if you don’t believe me.
So there you have it: four examples of good people coming to the rescue of total strangers in need. It brings to mind a quote I heard more than a decade ago: “Don’t leave for tomorrow the love you can give today.” This may not seem to apply until you consider the one thing that connects all of the heroes mentioned here: love for their fellow man.
And if you don’t have love, what do you have?
Last night was the mid-season premiere of the AMC hit television series “The Walking Dead” and boy, was it awesome. I will avoid the usual spoilers since some of you may not have seen the episode yet, but suffice it to say that the rest of the season should be pretty entertaining and eventful. I can hardly wait!
For those of you unfamiliar with the show, it focuses primarily on a small group of survivors struggling to live in a world populated by zombies. The apocalypse stems from a virus that infects everyone and causes those who die (or get bitten) to become reanimated corpses with a taste for flesh. It’s not unlike most zombie productions with two notable exceptions: this is a weekly series—which means zombie lovers like me can get a regular fix—and it is largely character-driven—which used to be the norm until computer-generated effects came along.
If you haven’t seen “The Walking Dead,” then I strongly suggest you take a look. Just be sure to tuck the kids into their beds first because it can get a little graphic at times.
As I was watching last night, I started thinking about the challenges we would face if the zombie apocalypse actually occurred. We all know the dead won’t start rising from the grave—at least I hope they won’t—but it is possible for a virus to produce the effects normally associated with zombie behavior. Heck, I even think some scientist proved it could happen, even if the chances are remote.
And last year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated its website with tips on “Zombie Preparedness”—check it out here. Granted, it was meant to be humorous and to appeal to zombie lovers everywhere, but is it possible there could be more to it?
In the past, my answer would be a resounding “no,” but these days I’m not so sure. I’ve always had this theory that the government knows more than they tell the public—which I’m sure most of us have felt at one time or another—but release only enough to prevent panic and chaos. For instance, there is no doubt in my mind that an alien spacecraft has been recovered, perhaps in Roswell, New Mexico. At the very least, I believe our government has proof that aliens exist. They just can’t release that information because doing so could make “War of the Worlds” seem like a love-in.
People will simply freak out.
My theory also involves popular culture and the media since I feel these are the vehicles our government uses to condition us to the unknown and to prepare us for what lies ahead. Where a film like ET: The Extra-Terrestrial softens us up so we will be nice to any kind aliens who land here, one like Independence Day prepares us for aliens who are intent on humankind’s destruction.
So when the CDC offers tips on preparing for the zombie apocalypse, I take notice. And I hope to be ready once the dead walk the earth.
Of course, surviving the zombie apocalypse won’t be easy. You will have to be alert, resilient and, most importantly, resourceful. Basic necessities like food and shelter won’t be easy to come by. And other luxuries—like power, for instance—may disappear altogether. We simply won’t know until it happens.
The good news is that while I was watching last night’s episode of “The Walking Dead” and thinking about my own chances of survival during a zombie apocalypse, I believe I found a solution to the question of power. And while it may seem a little far-fetched, don’t forget that we’re talking about zombies here. They’re pretty far-fetched themselves.
The idea came to me as I was brainstorming ways of producing power once the grid went down. My first thought was an obvious one: hydroelectric power. I’m sure we’ve all seen those old water wheels that were once used to generate electricity. Okay, some of us may have only seen pictures of them, but I’m sure most of you know they existed.
Keep this in mind for a second and I promise to put all the pieces together soon.
I also started thinking about those fake rabbits they use in dog racing to keep the competitors moving around the track. The dogs focus on chasing the rabbit—ignoring the other canines also in hot pursuit—and eventually finish the race. This little tidbit helped bring my whole idea together.
If the zombie apocalypse does occur, then there will be one very hot commodity humans struggling for survival might overlook: the zombies themselves! Here you have an endless supply of undead energy, all of it focused on hunting down and eating humans. Why not channel this energy into something useful? And what could be more useful than power?
Check it out.
My idea is to build some kind of basic power station that includes a fenced-in area where zombies can be safely contained. Within this enclosure would be bars connected to a turbine, each of which could be pushed by “walkers” to generate kinetic energy and, therefore, electricity. Dangled in front of the walkers could be a delicious human—protected from attack by some kind of barrier—or even a bucket full of fresh meat to tantalize the them and keep them moving forward. The energy they produce could be fed into a battery array, providing almost endless power and likely enough to sustain a small community.
And if your zombies ever decompose or decay enough to prevent further use, all you have to do is round up some more. The world should be full of them by then.
So there you have it: one very specific way to keep the lights on once zombies populate the earth. It may never happen, of course, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prepare for the worst, right?
And I don’t know about you, but life without television—even one that only plays DVDs—would be more of an apocalypse than even zombies could cause!
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and it’s likely some of the guys out there are scrambling to find gifts for their ladies as we speak.
Actually, there could be guys shopping for guys and girls shopping for girls, too. Sorry for the oversight.
Whatever the situation, odds are that businesses peddling things like candy, flowers, greeting cards and jewelry are doing pretty good right now. And that, to me, is the problem.
I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day and honestly, I don’t know many men who are. It’s not because I always forget it and have been subjected to years of abuse from disappointed girlfriends. Far from it. My objection comes from the holiday’s most obvious feature: blatant commercialism.
People always complain about how commercial Christmas has become, but if you ask me, Valentine’s Day is worse. At least Christmas is based on deeply held religious beliefs. Valentine’s Day has no such basis, so we’ve been told it’s all about love. And that’s true. It is about love.
Love of the almighty dollar.
But don’t let me spoil it for you. Go ahead and buy your candy, make your dinner reservations and dry clean your finest–maybe even sexiest–outfits. And just to be true to the spirit of this “important” holiday, I offer some plans that others are making for V-Day this year. Enjoy!
The Humane Society of Chittenden County is offering a unique gift for Valentine’s Day this year: puppy grams. For a small fee, lovers can send their mates roses, chocolates and a note from a puppy eager for adoption.
I bet you thought actual puppies were being packed up and delivered, didn’t you?
Regardless of whether these puppies are adopted or not–which we all know they will be–a portion of each sale goes back to the HSCC. If nothing else, perhaps these donations can prevent some of the older dogs from being put to sleep. At least not until after Valentine’s Day, that is.
Newlyweds James Jones and Melissa Degesso-Jones of Seminole County found an interesting way to come together for their first Valentine’s Day. James suffers from renal failure so this year, Melissa is planning to give him her kidney.
When James was told he needed a transplant from a matching donor, Melissa immediately volunteered (as any good wife would, I think). Of course, volunteering isn’t enough; the tissue has to match or the transplanted organ will be rejected and wasted. So doctors ran some tests and eventually, the results came back.
She was a match–in more ways than one, if you think about it.
How sweet is it for two lovers to come together, get married, exchange organs and come even closer together as a result? I can already feel my eyes tearing up.
If you live in Michigan and find yourself depressed this V-Day because your marriage is falling apart–especially if you’re low on cash and don’t have much in the way of children–there is hope.
The Law Offices of Walter H. Bentley III is running a contest where the grand prize is nothing less than… wait for it… a free divorce!
To enter, just write the most persuasive and compelling story to explain why you should win and submit it before the deadline. And who knows? Maybe this time next year it will be freedom that you celebrate along with love.
Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!
This past weekend, my wife was returning from her sister’s house and noticed an unusual amount of activity one block from our home. An unusual amount of police activity.
Basically, there were cops everywhere.
As she crept by in her Subaru, one of the officers flagged her down and checked her license and registration. She asked what the problem was and without being too informative—Heaven forbid—he told her there had been a shooting.
Moments later, she told me about it.
After locking the doors and turning out a number of lights—precautionary measures in case some maniac was still on the loose in our neighborhood—we moved like cat burglars from one window to another, keeping an eye out and looking for suspicious activity despite all the blue lights reflected on the surrounding houses. I was confident no criminal would be stupid enough to hide near the scene of his crime, but you can never be sure.
After all, crime seemed like a good idea and you see how well that worked out.
The next morning, I received a text message from my brother asking if we were alright. He didn’t have any details, but the grapevine in our small town ensured that he heard about the shooting. I told him everything was fine and that it was probably some jackass who accidentally discharged a weapon in his home. We live in a good neighborhood and the surrounding area is rural-suburban—to coin a phrase—so I was sure it couldn’t be serious.
I was wrong.
A buddy of mine has friends who live in my neighborhood and one of them was close to the action that night. In fact, he arrived on the scene just before the police and recounted the story to my friend shortly thereafter. To protect his anonymity, I’ll call him Sam.
Several houses down from Sam lived Jim, a relatively young man who just went through a nasty divorce. His ex-wife (Linda) and her daughter (Tina) had moved out long ago and without wasting any time, Jim had started dating again. Not only that, but he quickly found a girlfriend who looked exactly like Linda and welcomed her into his home instead.
For a while, Jim was happy and life seemed to be back to normal. Then came this past weekend and it all turned to shit.
Saturday evening, Jim received a call from his former stepdaughter, Tina. She was coming over to pick up the last of her mother’s things and wanted to make sure he was home, which he was. Jim and his girlfriend Mary were spending a quiet night at home and honestly, she wanted Linda’s stuff gone as much as Jim did, maybe even more.
Jim told Tina it would be fine and a half hour later, she arrived. While Jim and Mary sat in the living room and watched television, Tina collected her mother’s knick-knacks. Then for some unknown reason, an argument broke out.
Jim and Tina got into it—probably because she was planning to take something that really belonged to him, or that he and Linda had purchased together (at least that’s my theory)—and eventually, Jim wandered off towards his bedroom.
When Jim reappeared, he was holding his pistol and aiming it at Tina’s head.
Two shots and Tina dropped to the floor dead.
She was followed a moment later by Jim, who put the gun to his own head and exercised his constitutional second amendment right for the last time (as many spontaneous gunmen are apt to do).
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen: a murder-suicide one street over from my own home.
What in the hell is this country coming to?
I suppose it could be worse. Poor Sam was walking home from a friend’s that night, passed Jim’s house and saw a woman vomiting in the bushes. As he approached her—actually Jim’s girlfriend, Mary—he glanced through the still-open front door and saw blood everywhere: on the walls, on the ceiling… everywhere. Then Sam realized who the woman was.
“Is everything okay, Mary?” he asked her with genuine concern in his voice. She struggled to respond through all the convulsing and dry heaving, but managed to speak.
“He killed her,” she told Sam. “He killed her.”
Sam immediately feared the crime may still be in progress and quickly asked for clarification.
“Who killed her, Mary? Was it Jim?”
Mary lowered her head, nodded and vomited again at the very thought of what she witnessed. Sam, on the other hand, was getting worried.
“Where is Jim now?” he asked the barfing woman, his eyes never leaving the door. “Does he still have the gun?”
Mary shook her head. “He’s dead, too. Jim shot himself.”
Around that time, the first responding officers arrived and quickly shuffled Sam away from the scene. He answered some questions, went home and called to tell my buddy. And today my buddy told me.
Although I am never surprised by violence—and have probably been desensitized to it in many ways—I must say it is shocking to have something so tragic and gruesome happen within 100 yards of my home, the same home where I live with my wife and child. These kinds of things are supposed to happen in bad neighborhoods, not good ones. At least that’s what we would all like to think, but it’s not the truth.
The truth is that crime and violence can happen anywhere. Even worse, it can be perpetrated by anyone, even people you know and trust. One minute you’re having a cookout with that nice older man from next door; the next minute, you’re calling the fire department because that same neighbor tried to burn your house down. And if you’re like most victims, you probably never saw it coming.
Jim, the murder-suicide guy, was like that. Sam could always sense that something wasn’t quite right with him—or so he said after the fact, which is easy to do since as they say, “retrospect is 20/20”—but the fact is that even Sam had no idea what Jim was capable of. He came and went each day, interacted with people from the block, did yard work on the weekends (weather permitting, of course) and basically seemed normal.
Now that I think about it, maybe that was the tip-off: he seemed normal. And in today’s society, normalcy just isn’t an option. These days it’s all about survival.
Be good to each other, dear readers. And for goodness sake, watch your backs. You never know where the next “Jim” will strike, so please don’t take any chances.
I hope you are all enjoying this wonderful Thanksgiving as much as I am. Granted, I won’t enjoy the trademark delicious meal until a little later, but the morning and early afternoon of relaxing, drinking coffee and watching football has been great. And since I’m also up in my fantasy football week—which sounded nerdy even as I was typing it—everything is good.
This Thanksgiving, I have quite a lot to be thankful for. And since I need to post something before I slip into a food coma later—a self-induced food coma, at that—I figured what the heck? Why not list some of these things and ask readers to do the same?
So here we are. And before I begin, I have one request. If you read this article and have the time, please consider posting your own list in the comments section—we’ll say 10 things you have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Thanks in advance to those of you who decide to join in!
This year, I am thankful…
- For my family, friends, health, employment and every other obligatory thing people normally say in this situation. Except I genuinely mean it, of course
- That Obama won the presidential election and Mitt Romney isn’t running the country. Then again, Mitt is still in the news and can’t even go to the movies with his wife without being hounded by the media, so it’s all relative.
- For the people who not only take the time to read my blog, but also share their views and cultivate new friendships. You folks truly are the best, and I’m not just saying that. I assure you it’s from the heart.
- To be old enough to have some wisdom—a little, at least—yet young enough to have my memories—which we all know won’t last forever.
- That Thanksgiving includes three great NFL football games and that for the moment, I am doing great in my weekly fantasy football game. I know, I know. That sounded nerdy as I was writing it.
- For my favorite television shows—including “Revolution,” “The Walking Dead” and “The Big Bang Theory”—and the fact that T.V. is the only entertainment I can really afford. Dang economy.
- To have my hair, and it is still growing like a weed. Some of my buddies were unfortunate enough to go bald in high school. More and more of them go bald everyday, as witnessed on Facebook and other social networking sites. I’m sure you all know exactly what I mean.
- For Black Friday specials that are also available online because honestly, I’m afraid to venture out on the busiest shopping day of the year. No offense, but those people are crazy!
- That Lindsay Lohan, Kim Kardashian or any other B-list, pseudo-celebrity hasn’t been given their own Thanksgiving special. We deserve at least one day’s break, don’t you think?
- For the end of this “what I’m thankful for” list. Now it’s your turn!
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
Last night, a year’s worth of campaigning finally came to an end as President Barack Obama defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney in what many consider a landslide victory. Not only did Obama collect more electoral votes—the only real determinants of America’s next leader—but he also pulled ahead in the popular vote. In other words, the people have spoken and it is now official: Barack Obama will remain our President for the next four years.
And honestly, I couldn’t be happier.
Bear in mind that I don’t believe Romney is as evil or self-serving as people seem to think. Paul Ryan seems a little sketchy, but that’s only because I don’t know much about him. Nevertheless, I was fully prepared to deal with them both for the next four to eight years. I wasn’t looking forward to it, but I could handle it if it happened. I’m pretty adaptable. Fortunately, this won’t be necessary. And aside from some random news coverage the next few months, I doubt if I’ll ever hear about Mitt Romney again. Ryan may appear in 2016 as a candidate or running mate, but Mitt will likely fade into obscurity, at least in terms of national exposure.
Farewell, Mitt. Thanks for the memories.
Of course, I thought Romney would get one last jab in when he delayed his concession speech last night. Then word spread that his advisors would likely contest the results from Ohio, the state that basically put Obama over the top. Here we go again, I told myself. Fortunately, the President soon won several more states and Ohio no longer mattered. Yet Romney still hadn’t delivered his speech.
What the hell?
At first, I thought what some of you likely thought, especially my Democrat friends out there: Here he goes being an ass again. It seemed like Mitt was stalling and since it was so late, I caught myself yawning or dozing off every couple of minutes. And this went on for a while.
Then I thought about a news story I read earlier where Romney claimed to have only an acceptance speech. At the time, his confidence came off as arrogance, but I now see that he was just staying positive. Sadly, things didn’t work out and Mitt found himself sitting in that hotel room—surrounded by family, friends and staff members—but lacking a concession speech. And the clock was ticking.
I know Romney probably didn’t write the speech himself, but I was happy when he finally took the stage. And even though I had grown weary of hearing him speak—through no fault of his own and due primarily to overexposure in the media—I thought Mitt delivered a gracious, heartfelt and classy concession speech. He was visibly weary and undoubtedly crushed by the defeat, but he did the right thing, threw his support behind the President and exited the political world stage with dignity. I have newfound respect for him and sincerely wish him well in the next phase of his life.
To President Obama—my candidate of choice—I offer my deepest congratulations and look forward to the things he will accomplish these next four years. People give him a hard time, but this man walked into an economic disaster and got bombarded with unreasonable expectations right out of the gate. And whether you can admit it or not, Obama has made some positive strides: the unemployment rate is down; Osama Bin Laden is toast; the automobile industry is alive and kicking; people once denied health care are getting the help they need; and students can get money for college, to name a few.
I’m sure some Republicans in the crowd have something to say about this, but please refrain from posting mean or offensive comments. Lord knows, there’s enough of that happening on Facebook to last a lifetime. Political status updates have sparked heated arguments and friends are being de-friended left and right.
It’s all pretty ridiculous.
What we should be doing is precisely what President Obama, Democrats and Republicans should be doing soon: working together. Our beloved nation is divided. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. But are we sure this is such a bad thing? If you ask me, it’s better to view it as an opportunity. We now have a chance to put our heads together and to solve our collective problems fairly and intelligently. No one group will make the decisions and a consensus will need to be reached if we ever hope to progress and evolve as a nation. Together, we can make America great. Divided, we may never get our heads above water again. A number of clichés come to mind that could be included here, but I’m pretty sure I hit my quota already.
So here I am sitting in an Obama-Biden country again and wondering what the future will bring. It was a long and difficult campaign, but now it’s done and things can finally return to normal. And for once, I can enjoy some television without being subjected to political ads, super pacts and “I endorse this message” every 15 seconds.
Life is good.