Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wordy Guy VI

You thought I'd forgotten about "Wordy Guy", didn't you. Well everybody knows the rules, so no cheating, answer in the comments, and San Jac folks, if you saw Rob's original email and already know the answer, you are not eligible for the sizable cash prize.


A. Displaying characteristics of being drunk

B. Promoting health or well-being

C. Friendly and cheerful, as in a “salubrious greeting”

OK, Bragging Rights are up for grabs.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Camp Coffee Revisited

Being a Coffee Ninny, it’s not too hard to get on my wrong side when you are a cup of Joe. Too much creamer, not enough sugar, bitter, weak, or one of the worst, crunchy.

I have made Camp Coffee before; one of those desperate afternoons when sleep sneaks up the back of your neck, pushes your head forward and clamps down over your eyes. Happens about twice a week these days. That’s when I trudge to the office down the hall for a nudge of java.

On arrival, I found that Nicole was brewing up a pot or two for a meeting that was impending. She told me that one cup wouldn’t hurt, so go ahead. Such a nice girl.

I already had my sugar and creamer in there, so I poured the coffee into the waiting cup. Even before I stirred the medication, I saw black dots swirling and dancing in the tawny pool, giving evidence that the filter had fainted in the basket, as it had done to me.

I notified the hostess, to which she replied with a shocked look, then an exasperated sigh. That was the second time today and the third time in a week that it had happened to her. I suggested that she drop some eggshells in the pot to settle the wayward grounds, the same way Gabby Hayes would have.

She considered it for a second, I think. Perhaps it was just a ruse to placate me, a geezer, reluctant as I am to see anything wasted. Her pause was short-lived though, and she poured it down the sink and swished out the carafe.

Exiting the kitchenette, I stirred my cup and tried to remind myself that I’ll either need to strain it through my moustache, or just not slam it down my throat.

All it took was about 15 minutes and what did I do? Yep, I drank deeply from the cup of life, and ended up spitting coffee nubs out for the next few minutes.

Mental Note: Read mental note you make for yourself or it is a waste of time to make a mental note.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fantastic Day

It was a beautiful day today, after the rain last week, and the heat/humidity, today's weather was nothing short of spectacular. After church, my girls and I went and used up the last of my Starbucks gift card. Three drinks, two "tall" and one "grande"...$11 dollars and some-odd cents. They were "free" so that's not so bad. We sat outside and drank our expensive almost-coffee drinks.

My youngest went to a skate party; my middle girl drove us around. We went driving for awhile after the drop-off, the back roads were quiet and the air was sweet and cool.

When we drove back into the neighborhood, we saw some kids with a sprinkler in the driveway wearing their bathing suits running around in the water. In February.

If you are reading this from Minnesota or Ohio or somewhere in the Northeast; Sorry.

If you are reading from anywhere else on the Gulf Coast or Florida, you know what I'm talkin' about. I love winter here.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Martha’s Birthday

It has been a whole year since I informed all of you about Martha’s birthday. Well, this morning marks another one. She deserves every gift she gets.

Except the first one I gave her this morning. It was a heart attack. Or at least the beginnings of one. I presented her with a REAL gift as soon as her pulse rate got back into the normal range.

This in no way gives her a pass for all the torture she put me through in church or other “quiet zone” activities through the years.

I spoke with my Dad this morning, and told him, “Happy Birthday to Your Daughter!” He laughed and said he was thinking about it yesterday. “It seems like just last month,” he said.

“I got to the hospital just as they were coming off the elevator and I just cried. The nurse asked what was wrong, and I told them, ‘That’s my baby’”.

Happy Birthday, Martha!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Mournful Cry of a Chair

The waiting room at the doctor’s office is a great place to troll for Geezer stories, especially if you are waiting with a twelve year-old.

A week or so back, this was my situation. The room was filling fairly rapidly with feverish, miserable, coughing, hacking and generally sad-looking people. Pretty much what you would expect in the middle of February.

As we sat hopeful to hear my little patient’s name, a little round couple rolled in. He immediately came down our side of the corral as his wife checked in. When finished, she waddled down our aisle and took the only seat available; the one right next to my inquisitive child.

To preface what happened next, I will explain the construction of the chairs that are in stock at the office. They have a laminated wood frame, circa 1993 wearing a thin vinyl skin with a thin foam rubber pad under that. The chair frame itself is very sturdy. They definitely need to be, after watching many of the patients.

The lady passed by (like a stock trailer) and parked in front of her chosen perch. As she sat down, the requisite “poof” was escalated to a larger, more desperate “POOF”, followed by the normal sound of the air held by the foam escaping through the holes in the stitching. But this was a little more urgent, especially considering the load that was dropped on it.

Instead of the “pouf-sssssssss” that normally emanates from one of these utilitarian furniture items, the resulting sound was more of a “POPFF–WHEEEEEEEEEEZZZZE”. This mournful, distressed sound caught everyone by surprise. Not the least of which was my transparent, easily amused daughter.

She had cast a sidelong glance at me to see if I would react to the size of the lady walking past before the “seating incident” occurred, so she was still turned to me when the explosion and subsequent upholstery scream went up from the cushion. At the moment, or very next moment, her face turned full up to the side of my head, and I could see with my peripheral vision that this girl’s eyes were the size of silver dollars, and her face was in the process of detonating into a full fledged Church Laugh. I instantly tried to steel myself to avoid an outburst of my own.

I am usually very good at suppressing the atmospheric pressure that builds up when a sudden outbreak of laughter is not in the best interest of decorum. Many Sundays of practice while seated next to my sister in church have carried me to my present “true gentleman” status.

But my kid looking up at me with her mouth clamped shut and her lips quivering and her nostrils flaring in silent suppressed howling laughter was like tossing a road flare into a gasoline spill. She is a quick thinker though; she pretended to show some cute and/or funny picture on her phone. I made a show like I thought it funny as well, and then broke out MY phone and reciprocated.

During this tense, hilarious exchange, the man across the room with the too-tight coach’s shorts, polo shirt and a camo gimme cap crowning a gray mullet was eyeballing us silently, regarding us as a sleepy pit bull looks at the children playing at the end of the block.

The most redeeming aspect of the whole incident was that the lady that sat down so heavily and caused the whole commotion was also giggling insanely at what she had wrought. Her husband smiled quietly to himself, as if to say, “Better you than me, dearest.”

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sunday Zzzermon

This Sunday, my middle daughter and I visited the Methodist church in Alvin. We got there a little late, and since the service had already started, we were a bit self-conscious. I suggested that we steal away up to the balcony to keep from being the target of pious eyes.

On arrival at the balcony, we saw that there were no other residents in the whole area. I was fine with it, but my offspring was mortified and would not come to sit in the pew. She convinced me to come back to earth and we slunk in the main sanctuary at the “meet and greet your neighbors” time. A seasoned usher directed us to the back row on the left, apparently he knew that we were from the Baptist church, and thus being quite comfortable on the back row.

As we sat there with the service commencing, I noticed the people around us, or should I say the scarcity thereof. As I took stock of our geographical location, I perceived that though we sat on the last pew, there was a row of chairs set up behind us. On that row, there was a quiet young man, and he seemed pleasant enough. But as the course of the ceremony progressed to the prayer and reading of the scripture, I noticed that the young man’s breathing was very audible.

In a very few minutes, the rhythm of his respiration became deeper, and had a distinct flutter in the soft palate. The longer the prayer went on, more time was afforded for the sound to build. It also carried to at least a row ahead of us. I was beginning to think that perhaps the seating arrangement was not accidental. Perhaps the regulars had measured over time the distance required to keep their focus. There was about a ten-foot diameter “buffer zone” around our friend.

The “children’s time” and the beginning of the pastoral teaching were very interesting to me, but the glottal resonance of the back row snorer began to command more and more if my attention. He would occasionally wake up, and resume his normal respiration. But a short time would elapse until the sonorous concert would resume with a bit more gusto. Then he began to talk in his sleep.


As distracted as I was by the snoring, the sleep talking was almost too much. There are gaps in my memory of the sermon, but I won’t soon forget the sleeping beauty behind us last Sunday.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Weather Alert

School Closings

It has become evident by the reports from the National Weather Service, local newsreaders and smokers just in from lunch at the District Office that the extreme amount of sunshine and mild, mid-fifties temperatures are going to cause problems in keeping the college open.

Due to these severe weather-related conditions, it is advised that everyone from students to staff and especially administration at San Jacinto College should stay apprised of the situation by remaining glued to the television set in lieu of attending class, just to see if their campus is affected.

“Gaah, the sun is so, like BRIGHT, I could hardly drive to the Chik-Fil-A without squinting my eyes completely shut…” said one staffer.

Students are jamming the phone lines asking if classes will be cancelled today. The Executive Council is monitoring the situation and will make an announcement when the conditions warrant action.

While the weather is indeed extremely well-lit and temperate, many of the affected populations agree that no one should be expected to have to attend work or school under such extreme circumstances.

It has become apparent that the window for weather conditions has become even more narrow before the students call and ask to be relieved of class duties.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Happy New Year!

Yes, it’s that time again, New Years Day! The one we just finished is obviously not the subject of this post. That would be silly. When have I ever been silly? Nope, the Chinese New Year looms ahead of us with the promise of great prosperity and luck, marked by the celebrations of a LOT of people the world over.

Normally, the Chinese New Year wouldn’t concern me too much, but since I teach art classes at the Chinese School in Clear Lake on Saturdays, the New Year celebration means there will be no school on Saturday. So this holiday means something to me because it means something to my students. I decided to find out a little bit about the Chinese New Year.

This year is 4706 and it starts on February 7, and is denoted “Year of the Rat”…hmm, I know quite a few people who must have been born in this year… In actuality though, a number of famous and influential people were born in the “Year of the Rat” including Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Affleck, Samuel L. Jackson, William Shakespeare, and Mozart. The attributes of the rat that supposedly show up in people born in the Year of the Rat are that they are quick-witted, smart, charming and persuasive. However, I don’t know of many rats that would welcome the association with the likes of Ben Affleck. But when you’re a rat, it’s hard to make your opinions heard, no matter how insulted you get. They just don’t get much respect. Now, I am sure public opinion about the rat will diminish even more despite the favorable press it gets with this holiday.

The Chinese New Year is apparently one of those floating holidays based on some ancient and inconvenient calendar that Americans are too lazy to follow. Like the most significant holidays observed the world over; Passover, Easter, Thanksgiving and Spring Break, the dates are governed by intricate ciphering and star/moon/planet gazing to determine where it falls on the Gregorian calendar. Last year, the Chinese New Year fell on February 18; next year, we celebrate on January 26. That could cause a good bit of confusion without access to the internet or an astute Chinese scholar.

All of this cultural talk and year-of-the-so-and-so has engendered a measure of curiosity on my part in reference to where I come down in this Chinese horoscope field of study. Every year has a characteristic associated therewith, and persons born in each year bear a resemblance or share characteristics with the year’s namesake. What trait do I share with my birth year, 1959? I delved into the vast collective cyber-brain to extract my untapped Chinese heritage and thanks to the venerable, all-knowing internet, I discovered that I was born in the year of the Fried Pie.

I never took much stock in horoscopes, but this seems to be pretty accurate.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Wordy Guy V

You thought I'd forgotten about "Wordy Guy", didn't you. Well everybody knows the rules, so no cheating, answer in the comments, and San Jac folks, if you saw Rob's original email and already know the answer, you are not eligible for the sizable cash prize.

1. A small constellation near the larger Orion constellation

2. Prayer

3. Proper Latin name for an insect native to Australia, commonly called the Prickly Walking Stick

I'll post the answer on Monday.

OK, so it's Monday, and although the two early commentors raised the level of optimism I allowed myself, the voting/guessing is closed with BOTH entries with the correct definition.

"Cactus" is our bragging rights winner for this round of Wordy Guy, and I hope next time, more of you will actually venture a guess.

You're killing me, you know that, don't you?