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Twas the Night of Christmas

Twas the night of Christmas,
and all through the state,
every creature was driving,
as slow as a mouse.

I drove to my sister's on Christmas Day. Bad traffic. Infuriatingly bad. Motorized carts would have been less frustrating. Well, maybe not. Why did I just think about that? That made my blood pressure rise just thinking of it. We had three lanes of traffic, that's TWO lanes for slow, old, bad drivers. But they thought a nice Christmas present would be to spread out perfectly across all three lanes to prevent anyone from going over 50 mph. On the FREEWAY. for MILES. So many cars. So many slow cars. So many mini-vans. It was a Christmas Caravan of Caravans. I wish that on only a select few deserving wretches. Getting stuck behind a Christmas Caravan of Caravans, I mean. I was on the phone with my friend Carrie; she got off the phone to "straighten her hair?!" Isn't it already straight? Obviously she could hear my pulse over the phone. She said I sounded frustrated. I said I wasn't, and proceeded to list off what WOULD make me frustrated. Not a good way to stay un-frustrated. First, I lied about not being frustrated; then, I thought on things that made me more frustrated and even more likely to die of a stroke while driving.

This grumbling made me thankful though. Thankful to all the people who suffered through the construction of the 4th, 5th and 6th lanes of I-75 where it meets I-4. Their years of sacrifice and frustration "paved" the way for me to "bypass" my own frustration. Passing Caravan after Caravan from the far right lane (!?!), I cruised the rest of the way to my sister's at 85 and 90 mph. No cops. I guess they knew about the Christmas Caravan of Caravans.

Another thought I had...
I love how the world shut down for a few hours on Christmas day. By that I mean text messaging. People were shut out of text messaging for a few hours on Christmas because SO MANY people were doing it. That amazes me about our world. That so many people were actually text messaging, and that many people's lives were messed over because the systems couldn't handle it. Our impersonal, impatient lives were inconvenienced and frustrated because we had to make phone calls instead. My dad called the day before because he thought the "wires would be busy." I scoffed. Until I couldn't reply to all the "Merry Christmas" texts on Christmas Day. But he was still wrong. The lines weren't busy. For calls. I couldn't figure out why or how that many people were text messaging during the same few hours until I looked at my inbox. I had youth from the church text messaging their entire phonebooks the same mass text message. "I hope you all have a Merry Christmas! And I love you and I'm so thankful for you! This next year is gonna be great!"

What's our world come to? Bulk snail mail to automated political phone calls to mass emails to mass text messages. And this is what shuts down the world.


Dear Nona, You're Hazardous to My Health

I hear the older you get, the more impatient you become. I don't know if it's that, or if it's simply the older I get, the more I'm exposed to increasingly infuriating circumstances. Aside from traffic and annoying people and unsmart people, which could very well be one in the same, Publix is my new most likely place to develop an aneurysm. At least on Thursday afternoons.

I went grocery shopping today, on an empty stomach no less. Always ill-advised for what you'll buy with your stomach and not your brain or wallet. But add to the list a decrease in mental stamina. This fatigue wears on you like you're a pitbull's new chew toy. At least when you're grocery shopping with 90 year olds.

I've never seen so many motorized vehicles indoors before. The Department of Motor Vehicles is going to be getting some letters from me; they really need to require licenses for these things. At least some guidelines. No kids. No blind people. No almost blind people who can't hear or turn their heads 45 degrees either direction. I had SEVERAL near-death experiences today. I might have even peed my pants once. These old people are ruthless. Or clueless. Equally hazardous. Who commits vehicular manslaughter inSIDE Publix? About 4 people today almost did. How are there THAT many motorized carts anyway? Is there a motorized cart dealership around the corner I haven't seen yet? I know I almost ran over two handicapped people in one day because I'm not used to so many motorized carts moseying around town. I see it's a more rampant problem than first assumed.

I walked down aisles and each side would be road-blocked. Opposite sides of the aisle they park. They criss-crossed each other. They'd sit there oblivious to normal social rules of etiquette, existence, decency, LOGIC. Partly because at 90 years old their sight is going, they'd just stare at the shelves. Or maybe they were on their way to picking up the items from the shelves, but they're just SO SLOW that you can't see them moving. Or maybe the nonagenarians are oblivious to the rest of humanity because they have no clue from any of their failing senses that mankind still exists.

I tried to make a turn out of one aisle into the main area by the meats, and I was stuck for a minute and a half. That's valuable grocery time. Wasted on what? Not decisions or poor cashiers and baggers. Not parking or getting a new, cleaner, less-sticky buggy. Not coupons or even drying off from the vegetable sprinklers. Wasted on waiting. I wasted away a little bit today. And might have had an aneurysm in the process. I know my blood pressure spiked. I was tachycardic. All while I just sat there. No flashers. No blinkers. No brakes. Just people, old and focused, parked until they've gotten what they set out to find. You can't say excuse me. They don't hear you. You can't make eye contact, a polite smile or callous scowl. They don't see you. You can't go around. They've managed, with 90 years' experience under their belts, to blockade you better than JFK in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Yet somehow, if you attempt to move their cart, they know. It's the only sense still working effectively for them. Their 6th sense of cart mechanics and whereabouts. Blind and deaf, with brittle bones and an acute sense of where their motorized cart is at all times. Unreal.

I had to wait to get hamburger because the entire hamburger section was occupied. Twice I turned around and faced the Honey Nut Oats and Bran display. Deep breaths. Counting to a trillion. Digging my fingernails into my own flesh. All the usual ways to compose yourself. All because a man and his wife EACH had a motorized cart. HOW ON EARTH IS THAT LEGAL? Besides the traffic mess it creates indoors, the congestion and backup, the logistics of maneuvering within such a confined space, the havoc it wreaks on your life. HOW IS THAT LEGAL for two people to need motorized carts at the same time? Compassion dictates they are each entitled to one. But NOT AT THE SAME TIME. NOT TOGETHER. How did they GET HERE??! Who's driving the motorized vehicle in the life and death game of chicken on Highway 520?

Apparently we all are. Lucky for them. They're clueless.

The sad thing, or maybe the most frustrating thing about today, is that I was more likely to have had a heart attack in the store than any ONE of them. I was less rattled when my tired exploded just off the interstate a few days ago than I was today (Big thanks by the way, to the woman with the tow truck who helped me figure out my weird jack. And not a big thanks to the man in the other tow truck with the two green front teeth who just watched me change my tire in the rain and puddles.). Today I felt like cattle herded off to the slaughter. The mental pain. The anguish. The claustrophobia. The slowness. The imminence. The hopelessness. The impulse to scream bloody murder or attempt it on any of these nonagenarians who kept ME from MY goal: Efficiency. I was marching, my purpose rendered meaningless, in whatever direction they wanted me to go. I was dominated by 90 year old women. I was emasculated. In essence, I was neutered.

A Grocery Shopping Eunuch.


Of Miscellany

So it was brought to my attention that I haven't blogged since last Friday. I'm fully aware of this, so does that mean it really wasn't brought to my attention? More so, it was brought up. I think that's better. More accurate. Less figurative. Well no, it's still figurative. Or is that idiomatic? Semantic?

Well anyway, about this lull in activity, I suppose I'm recuperating. Or perhaps against the backdrop of my Full Season Sit Through of 24, very little seems noteworthy. A very typical week pales when contrasted to such unrelenting rigor like watching a whole season in one sitting, or even better actually living it out. You know, being a spy. Except I can't confirm or deny any involvement in covert activity. So I'm left to talk of Christmas program choir practices and song-writing. I'm not talking about choir practice, and my songs aren't done yet. (Oh, but when they are, I'll put them online with the others.) No, this week I didn't execute my boss. And no, it's not because I don't have one. It's just a mediocre week with little to talk about, and nothing to show for it to prove it.

So apologetically, this feels forced.

But alas, the show must go on.

I was in Barnes & Noble. Read some of one of those toilet trivia books. The kind that are good if you live alone, but completely unsanitary if not. Well I read about parrots. And it got me thinking. You know how people wonder what kind of animal you'd be? I always say a platypus or if a plant, then a sunflower. Attention seekers, you know? Well, I now think I'd be a parrot. According to this toilet trivia book, the quintessential reference on all things avian, parrots are as social as 5 year olds. And if left unsocialized for inhumane periods of time, they will go mad. Crazy. Develop tics. Pull out feathers. And there's no hope of bringing them back to sanity. Crazy, huh? After my last job doing research in neuropsychology, I not only sympathize with parrots, I think I was a few weeks from joining them.

I want a pet parrot now. Or toucan.

Another interesting discovery: with the creation of the Happy Meal, McDonald's became the world's largest toy distributer.

Sorry, Santa. You just got super-sized.


24 Season 3: Live. It's Over.

My Debrief:
It's 0950 and I'm done. The mission's accomplished. The Full Season Sit Through has been completed. The world is safe for another day.

Sleep Status: I made it. Dozed for 7 minutes. That's well short of the amount of time Jack was unconscious.

The "Facilities" Status: Two reports plus one prior to lockdown.

Food/Water Status: Velveeta Shells and cheese at 0825 this morning. And the Breyer's from last night. (sidenote: I saw Jack with some coffee. Wish I liked coffee.)

SPOILER ALERT: Skip this paragraph if you don't like plots ruined...
Psychological Status: I'm proud to have served along side you, Jack. I feel like crying too. Playing Russian Roulette, pulling the trigger on your partner, shooting up heroin, executing your boss, and chopping off said partner's hand would make any man cry. Even us.

Thanks to everyone for you support. Your blog posts and myspace and facebook comments and messages and phone calls and text messages were all greatly appreciated. And needed. I'd have given up without it. I did this for you and me and the country. We made history tonight. And saved the world.

Good game, guys. Good game.

Season 4, we're coming for you.

Do. Dee. Do. Dee. Do. Dee.

24 Season 3: Live. 5 Down.

Final disc.

Sleep Status:
In and out of sleepiness. It just depends on the thrill factor of the moment. Still sleep deprived. And still sleep sober.

The "Facilities" Status:
No new incidents to report.

Food/Water Status:
Starting to get hungry again. Still in starvation mode. Only food in past 24 hours is the Breyer's.

Psychological Status:
Finally here. One more disc to go. And the last few episodes have been riveting enough to keep me awake. I'm banking on a clutch performance in these last "4" hours. The last disc is always pretty solid.

Don't disappoint.

24 Season 3: Live. 4 Down.

Another one bites the dust. Starting disc 5. Cinco. Funf.

Sleep Status:
Close call earlier. I almost took Jack up on that Free Nap Voucher from earlier in the day. Not yet though...

The "Facilities" Status:

Food/Water Status:
Still good. Looking into the feasibility of an Easy Mac smorgasboard.

Psychological Status:
I still have sensation in my faculties.

I'm not a fan of this season. Maybe because I'm overloading in one sitting. It's not as captivating as seasons past, but that too could be because I've been at this as long as the characters themselves. More exhausted than excited. If they'd just use me in the field, maybe adrenaline would be more likely to carry the day...

24 Season 3: Live. 3 Down.

Halfway there.

I'm onto disc 4 now. I got sidetracked on what some may call an ill-advised 2 hour break. Good conversation. Needed. It was well worth it to me, but it still wasn't the best strategic move I've made during this Full Season Sit Through.

Sleep Status:
Getting a little drowsy. I need some action.

The "Facilities" Status:
Add another tally mark.

Food/Water Status:
I had some ice cream. Breyer's. I needed the sugar.

Psychological Status:
Mentally fatigued. A little bored.

"Ohhh, we're halfway there...Ohhh oh, livin' on a prayer...Take my hand and we'll make it I swear...Ohhh oh, livin' on a prayer..." -Bon Jovi


24 Season 3: Live. 2 Down.

Starting 2100 hours (9pm) right now.

Sleep Status:
Cruising. Although, Jack did get knocked out for about 30-45 minutes. Good to know I have a Power Nap Voucher if I need it around 5 am...

The "Facilities" Status:
One tally mark on the wall.

Food/Water Status:
Still hungry. Not as much as earlier. Maybe I've gone into starvation mode. There's Ramen Noodles, tuna, and cream corn in the pantry if the hunger pangs start to blur my vision.

Psychological Status:
This is gonna take longer than I thought...

Round 3. Here I come.

24 Season 3: Live. 1 Down.

5 to go...

First disc down. Not bad. Not hooked. But I don't really have a choice...

About to start 17oo (5pm) and it's only 1600 right now. Making good time.

Sleep Status:
No problem.

The "Facilities" Status:
I could use a leak.

Food/Water Status:
I'm hungry. The about two hours ago kind of hungry. This could get tricky...

Psychological Status:
Not as psyched.

Game Time

All right boys and girls. Put the kids to bed. The seal is broken. Commence lockdown.

T-minus 3 minutes and counting...

Sleep Status:
Well rested. Woke up at 0730. Back to bed by 0930. Woke up again at 1100. Good to go.

The "Facilities" Status:
Taken care of 1 and 2 this morning. Check.

Food/Water Status:
No food. Limited water. Could be a tactical error. Stay tuned.

Psychological Status:
Psyched. All signs a go.

It's time.

Let's do this.

David Blane-like

My History-making Undertaking

As I said on myspace, 1pm TODAY is go-time on the Full Season Sit Through. And like David Blane, the master magician or demon possessed regular guy, I will be updating you on my condition.

To all my supporters, thanks. Without you I'd just be, well lonely. I only wish I'd recruited financial support and sponsorships for this history-making undertaking. $1-$10 if I make it. Like a Walk-a-thon. I'd've paid off another 6 months of retirement.

To all the naysayers, the nitpicks, and the negative ne'er-say-wells, I know Jack probably pees during commercials. Maybe even grabs a frostie during commercials. And I know the DVDs don't have commercials. But that makes this no less daunting a mission. No less courageous an endeavor. No less legitimate a cause. I do this for me, for you, for the country. I do this for all the kids out there who pray every night to be a spy like me and Jack. We were born for this. It's our calling. Our mandate. It's who we are.

I leave you with a quote from Emilio Estevez as Billy the Kid in "Young Guns" (which coincidentally starred Keifer Sutherland, also known as Jack Bauer).

"Reap the whirlwind, Murphy. Reap it."


24 Season 3: Live

Season 6 of the Tv show "24" is starting in January. I just finished Season 2. Season 5 is out on dvd this week, I think. Desperate times call for desperate measures. It's time to get caught up.

So I'm planning a "Full Season Sit Through." That's right. The whole season in ONE sitting. It's drastic, but necessary. If Jack Bauer has to do it, so do I. I'm planning on resting up, and locking myself in. Whatever "hour" Season 3 starts, I start. No calls to the outside world. No news. No internet. Just me and Jack Bauer saving the world or the President or whatever Season 3 is about. 24 hours straight for Jack; 24 hours straight for me.

Some have asked what about food? Will you have people bringing it in to you? What about the bathroom? I've thought about these things. I considered ordering pizza and having it delivered. I thought about eating whatever cold canned vegetables were in the pantry when hunger struck. I even contemplated hooking up an IV and pumping fluids in my body so I don't get dehydrated. But that's cheating. I'll eat when Jack Bauer eats. I'll sleep when Jack Bauer sleeps. I'll pee when Jack Bauer pees. I never see him eat on the show. 24 hours comes and goes and he neither eats nor sleeps nor pees. The only sleep comes when he passes out from torture. Or codes. I'll eat and sleep and pee when he does. Besides, if I'm not eating or drinking, why would I need to pee? My blood, sweat, and tears should handle my bodily fluids for this day.

Some of you think I won't make it. You think I might die first. With all the twists and turns, sleep deprivation, starvation, and dehydration, you feel my heart will give out. My head explode. Or I'll crack. Either give up, or burst into fits of uncontrollable emotion. Tears and rage. Psycho-babble and gibberish. Well I sit here to tell you I've mapped this out. I've trained for this. I've dreamt of this. I was born for this. This is who I am. I'm a spy. (I neither confirm nor deny any involvement with a covert agency.) Hear ye this: as surely as the people at CTU and the White House and Joint Chiefs last 24 straight hours under such intense, heart-stopping suspense, so too will I. You can chalk it up to previous experience (not an admission of covert activity) or count it as practice (not an admission of recent recruitment into a covert agency). I've never cracked under torture before, and I'm not going to crack now. I will do this. It will be a success.

And Season 4 beware.

I'm coming for you.


Thanksgiving Vacation

Chapter 2: Nightmare over Elm Street

Apparently I've slept through take-off. Last thing I remember I felt very uncomfortable. Physically and mentally. I had walked down the aisle to my seat, the middle seat, next to the girl who was already asleep with her legs draped over MY armrest. Who DOES that? We had just boarded. I get it, girl. You want what you want when you want it. You can have my armrest, just don't LAP OVER into my seat. Reluctantly, and slowly I might add, she rearranged so that her feet were now propped against the window. Whatever. As long as you don't BUST THE WINDOW or invade my personal space, I don't care what makes you happy in your own seat. All I was thinking, "Please, Lord. Don't let anyone sit on the other side of me. That way I can move over and let Paris Hilton lounge on my armrest."

As quickly as I said "Amen," a 6'6" behemoth stepped on the plane. And hunched over, made his way closer and closer to my row. He made eye contact with row 37. Not good. Sure enough. His seat was the one my heart claimed with all its might. The one it longed for. Craved after. Prayed over. I named him Dr. Robitussin. What for his coughing-sniffling-sneezing-so-that-I-can't-rest-at-all medicine. He coughs into his shoulders, mostly the right one, the one next to me. And afterwards he sniffles twice. Like he does coke. Nice guy though. I just didn't want to talk to him. Not then. Not now. Not ever. I'm still grumpy my prayer wasn't answered like I wanted. I feel like Paris Hilton to my right. We're both pouting. We didn't want him.

But the lady in the row in front of us, she's very bizarre. I remember she was talking to herself, trying to make conversation with the two empty seats next to her. I could endure that vs. Dr. Robitussin and Paris Hilton I reasoned. I used to work with people with Schizophrenia. And they never invaded my personal space. Or coughed on me. "Lord, please don't let anyone sit next to her so I can go up there and sleep." Then I saw it. The smooth-talking 40-something sitting across the aisle from her. WITH the college freshman.

And I was out like a light.

That was my last recollection. And now I find myself sometime after passing out and blast-off, and this is what I've woken up to. THE TWILIGHT ZONE. Dr. Robitussin is still doing his coughing, sniffling, sneezing bit all over me, Paris Hilton has her feet WEDGED under MY legs, the self-conversationalist lady in front of me is sprawled out like a three year old in the fetal position across her ENTIRE ROW, and the smooth-talking 40-something and college freshman are asleep, awkwardly cuddling each other. I think a little throw-up just came up.

How long was I alseep? Where am I? Are you freaking kidding me?! I can't take this! I need air! I need to SCREAM!! Surely I can finish jostling open the window Paris Hilton put all her weight into. I think I'm passing out...


Thanksgiving Vacation

Chapter 1: 4am

"Thanks again, bro." I shut the car door as Woodside pulls away. Grabbing my crap, I slowly walk into the airport. My steps are peaceful and deliberate. Prepared and unhurried. It's 10:00 at night, and my flight doesn't leave for another 8 hours.

I know, that's a tad early even taking security checks into account. But I really had no other option. Orlando's about an hour away, and between my 6.20am departure time and needing to be at the airport an hour early to check in, well that put me leaving Merritt Island at the 4:00 hour. In the MORNING. I wasn't about to wake up that early, and I certainly couldn't ask someone else to wake up that early to give me a lift if I wasn't even willing to wake up that early to give myself a lift. So 10:00 the night before it is.

I'm pretty bored. Just sitting around. I watched the Orlando Magic blow tonight. Their lead that is. Up 7 with 5 minutes left, they ended up losing by double digits. Memphis went on a 19-2 run or something. Gross. AND. I had to pay $5 for airport bottled water. Just to keep sitting in the bar-pub-sports grille place. When they were winning, I justified it as "I've got nothing better to do, and it's just $5." Once they lost, I rended my clothes and covered myself in sackcloth and ashes. There may have even been wailing.

I've gotten to talk to some friends though. That's passed time. I've read some. Played Tetris on my cell phone. Sat on the floor by the ONLY OUTLET in all of Orlando International Airport. I thought I'd sleep, but it's 3am and I haven't. I'm supposed to call someone and wake them up at 2am and 4am, but I figured 1 call at 3am is a neat compromise. Ha ha. She just answered. Short conversation. The phone was ringing, and I almost hung up, but she hit the phone thinking it was her alarm I guess. Because there was about 15 seconds of rustling and confusion. Then the groggy, crackled hello. HA HA. Fun times. Gotta love the "what-the-heck-just-happened-it's-the-middle-of-the-night-and-my-phone-just-went-nuts?!" phone calls.

So I just woke up to the sound of intense beeping. Apparently 4am is primetime for construction inside the Orlando International Airport. Real cool. I guess I got mine. I know I wasn't in the deepest sleep of my life, seeing that it only lasted 30 MINUTES and the chairs and armrests I contoured myself over weren't Swedish Tempur-pedics, but you have to see me there. Just cuddled in a mess right in front of your eyes. You saw me when I was awake. I go to sleep and that means you can start working? And why the incessant beeping? Do you have to constantly BACK UP whatever that tall tractor thing is? Ever heard of INSIDE voices? Your friends are standing right next to you. If I can hear you, IN MY SLEEP, I PROMISE they can hear you. Sorry, I guess I woke up on the wrong side of...that CHAIR. Are you kidding me? People are already lining up to check in their bags. For a 6:20 flight. It's 4 AM! We have another hour. To sit. To sleep. To be merry! Uhhh. Here we go...

Gross. I'm standing in line. Zombie-like. This smooth-talking 40 year old is hitting on a college fresman. Who is ugly. That was blunt. But seriously. She's ugly. Did I just say that? I'm standing right behind her, and she's on the ground (which I was jealous of, and contemplated joining in until...) with her shirt rising up her back. And her pants riding down her, um, rump. And sure enough this massive crack has TWO tats. Yes, TWO tattoos. One for each cheek. I think a little puke just came up. I'd say I wouldn't blame the man, for he knows not what I see. But her face isn't such a masterpiece of body art either. And from the looks of it, he doesn't seem to mind. Either he's non-judgemental or desperate. I'm increasingly leaning toward desperate. It's 4 IN THE MORNING. Everyone's judgemental at 4 am. And what is with ALL THIS CHATTER? Isn't it understood you don't talk to strangers? Especially at such an ungodly hour?! It's true. Nothing good happens after 4am.

Oy. It's 4am; he must be lonely.

To Be Continued...


Around the Political World in 80 Words (or More)...

Vol. 1.5

Sip. Don't Slurp.

Where's my Pepto? I'm stumbling in the dark, squinting my way around the room, searching for my new bestfriend. I feel like Toodles from the movie "Hook" searching for his marbles. My brother's popping Champagne corks and I'm cracking Pepto caps. What a way to wake up. I went to bed early, feeling increasingly good--now I see I was delusional--about the prospects for the Senate remaining in GOP hands. With only two precints left, Virginia was still in GOP hands. Montana, I decided, we could lose, if Allen and Talent (Missouri, who also had a significant lead at bedtime) and Corker (Tennessee) all won.


I need to take a swig.

Missouri blew out of the water, considering, and Talent has conceded.
+1 Dems

Tennessee did stay in the GOP column. Barely.
No net gain.

And Virginia is now being led by Webb with a recount pending.
+1 Dems

In other words I was way off. Which I'm ok with. I'm not ok with it in the sense that America, for possibly the first time in her history, just elected the Obstructionist Party into the majority in the House and quite possibly the Senate. A party that truly "did nothing," except for obstructing Republican measures, has found a way to dupe the American people. This happens a lot in the 6th year of presidencies. I just didn't see it going this badly.

Hold on. I need another swig.

I had high hopes that many of these seats would fall to the GOP, albeit in close races. But my worst fear is still being manifested. I obviously read too much into the GOP surge that didn't end up being much. And perhaps the surge that I really thought was materializing just needed a couple more days. Or maybe it staved off a complete wipeout. The GOP is down close to 30 seats in the House, and its now two-seat majority in the Senate is up in the air in Virginia and Montana. Basically every Senate seat fell the Dems way last night. I guess I see where that London newspaper was coming from when, after the President won reelection, its headline read "How could 59,054,087 people be so dumb?" I have more respect for people's votes and their right to do so free from harrassment, but I understand the sentiment.


I'm truly saddened. I feel like the Denver Broncos in Superbowl 24. They were slaughtered 55-10 by the 49ers. I know life goes on. I'll go about my day doing whatever it is I do in retirement; oh wait, politics is what I do. And I got worked. Hard.

I'm mad. Not at the voters. A little at those who didn't vote. A lot at the Republicans for losing their way. But nothing is worse than having no cable tv, and HAVING to watch this shalacking via live video stream online with Chris Matthews, Tim Russert, and Keith Olbermann. Or on CBS with Katie Couric. Or ABC with George Stephanopoulos. Or this morning with Diane Sawyer and Charlie Gibson. Their glee could not be contained. And while it's great that they vote, it's not that they're cheering on every Democratic gain. That's for Algore's tv station to do. Let's get Karl Rove in there announcing with Sean Hannity on ABC, and let's get Bill O'Reilly at least on the other side of Chris Matthews. Put Rush Limbaugh right there with Katie. No, let's remove Katie. Next election. They got this one. Now switch it. The world would go into convulsions. Time would stop. I've learned that the liberal media is a reality, but I thought they'd hide it a little better than that, if for no other reason than to keep up the charade that they are unbiased. Maybe since they won, they realized it didn't matter anymore.

I just threw the bottle cap across the room.

But I'm realizing, or at least as I peed this morning I convinced myself, that most people don't care about the midterm elections. Some sure. But not most. When we had control of Congress during the Clinton debacle, I was more worried about the President. Although it didn't hurt having the majority when he committed his "high crimes and misdemeanors." So maybe I'll take solace in the fact that most people didn't see the monumental negligence of electing obstructionist, elitist, anti-military radicals into leadership positions. I know some who were elected were moderates, but those votes are now translated into electing unflinchingly liberal leaders into chairmanships. The first woman Speaker of the House will be the most liberal in our nation's history.

I need a straw.

The secret hopes of Conservatives was that this would strike to the heart of the Republican party. And apparently many more than I had hoped, stayed home to ensure this. Not so much to sabotage the party, more so to discipline the party. For betraying its principles. For indulging in pork barrel excesses. For passing more government instead of limiting government. For letting power corrupt. And apparently more voters than I ever dreamed, really felt that Republicans alone were to blame for Washington's corruption.

And now the Conservatives who stayed home got what they wanted. A wake up call to the party. But to the detriment of the country. Taxes will be repealed. Judges won't be filibustered; they'll be voted down. Including Supreme Court nominess. Government will get even bigger. Medicare. Social Security. Medicaid. Defense will go down. Anti-terrorism measures will be neutered. And not just the Republican ideas will be reversed. A whole rash of liberal measures, 12 years suppressed, will be spewing from every liberal oriface, glorified on every media outlet, and vetoed by the lame-duck President for the next two years. And the impeachment process will begin. If only to redeem the legacy of Mr. William Jefferson Clinton.

Most polls show 71 out of every 100 people think we'll be hit by another terrorist strike in the near future.

Make it 72.

I'm out of Pepto. I just can't catch a break.


Close Only Counts in Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

I almost hit a handicapped person today. It was so close. Too close. Does that make me a bad person? I was pulling out of Publix, and he was on his motorized wheelchair, slouched over a bit and cruising down the sidewalk about to scoot through the crosswalk. Except that I DIDN'T see him. Until he was almost an after-thought. He was in the blindspot by your front windshield where it ends and the passenger window begins. That metal bar that ISN"T see-thru. I think this means I suck. Either as a person or as a driver or both. As if it evens us out, he didn't see me either...

I almost hit ANOTHER handicapped person. No lie. As of 430pm I very nearly crushed TWO handicapped people like lovebugs in the grill of my car. I've seen one person who wheeled around town in his wheelchair in all 5 months I've been here, and today I very nearly creamed TWO. What do you suppose the sentence is for that? Vehicular manslaughter, TWICE in one day. Oh and by the way, Your Honor, they're handicapped. This most recent near incident happened as I'm pulling off the main highway into a little strip mall plaza area. Stupidity built this, as it placed a sidewalk directly intersecting the driveway into this business plaza. Not a crosswalk. A sidewalk. Very awkward. And might I add dangerous. As I'm pulling in, there is a family strolling along the sidewalk assuming they have the right of way, which no doubt they do, but that doesn't make them suddenly invincible. Well what do you know, the front of the group is none other than a little 10 year old girl pushing her disabled relative in her wheelchair. I'm slamming on breaks, half the butt of my car still sticking out in the middle of the highway, and they're galivanting across the BUSY driveway entrance to this plaza like they're guest starring in The Sound of Music. Well their eyes bug out as I roll mine. This really didn't just happen AGAIN! But mark the progress: at least we both saw each other this time...


On the Road Again...

Vol. 1.3

3 1/2 Inches

So I just got back from Jackson. It made me think of the Dave Barnes song "Jackson." I went to Mississippi 3 times this summer. Choir Tour, Nathan's Wedding, and then Lake Forest Ranch. So this was number 4 since I moved. Anyway, the trip registered 1700 miles total. So, I had lots of alone time, which led me to some odd thoughts. Even odder is that I always have alone time, seeing that I'm retired, but for some reason my thoughts aren't as thought-provoking. ? I don't know what I'm trying to say. Except that tedious dotted white lines can lead your mind to wander.


Rain is frustrating. I love playing in it, hate walking in it, loathe driving in it. Driving in the rain bothers me for two reasons. Well at least two: I have to slow down and I have to pay attention. You know, be a safe driver. I have to watch the lines, turn on my squeaky wipers, stress about my shaky brakes, wipe the fog off my windows. It's just a big ordeal.

A little background for those unfamiliar with my pimped out ride. It blows. Barely. I mean, air. I don't have AC so I go with the windows down--well the back two windows down. The passenger window is temperamental; it goes down in spurts, in intervals. It needs to rest awhile before completing its mission. I don't know if it's laying out a game plan before it gets going or what. My driver's side window goes down 3 1/2 inches. That's not very far for those of you who aren't too good with measurements. Try paying a toll with just 3 1/2 inches. It's tricky. And the toll people think you're just being a jerk and making them reach out of their little cubby hole. Boy they can give some looks for that. But it's not like you're in a position to explain yourself, you have to get going. Try ordering and getting your food in a drive thru with 3 1/2 inches. I know a small fry isn't very big, but it's a lot bigger when you can't get it through your window. And those kiddie Frosties are gigantic! 3 1/2 inches is like the size of a pencil, except you have to BREAK IT IN HALF first. Not a lot of air makes it through 3 1/2 inches. This summer I maintained my weight WITHOUT exercise. I simply drove. In my portable sauna. Sometimes people will pull up next to me to say something, and they'll naturally want me to roll my window down to hear them. It's interesting when I don't. Because I can't. But they don't know that. They just think I'm not even HALF interested in what they're saying. Not even a half a roll down. Just a crack. Who has a conversation without even a HALF a roll down?

A neat little factoid about one of my car's successes: the heater works. At least in the summer. I'm sure when winter rolls around the AC will take over and the heater will hibernate.

Anyway. So my car's defrost doesn't work effectively either. Something to do with the AC I'm sure. So when it rains...NOT FUN. My windshield starts fogging inside. I have to wipe it down. Soon all the windows start fogging. Even my MIRROR starts fogging. I have to roll the windows down to get fresh air inside. So now I'm soaking wet.

My brakes lock up sometimes; other times they kind of give out. I'll put my brakes on and there are three distinct possibilities: a. they'll work. b. they'll lock up. c. they'll give out. Not a particularly safe gamble. I have a 1 in 3 chance of safely arriving wherever I'm trying to. So, when it rains, it's a two-ton game of Russian Roulette. But I pray a lot.

Back to the story. I'm driving into Jackson, and it's pouring. One of the worst rains I've been in. I can think of a handful worse. But I think I had AC and defrost then. So this is on a totally different level. I wish I could explain this effectively. My windows are fogging, but it's not a wipeable fog. It's smeary. I wipe my windshield and it doesn't make the fog go away, it smears it on my windshield. It's condensation, so the water doesn't just evaporate. It just got here. It just moves around on the inside of my windshield. I could invent the double wipers--wipers for the outside; wipers for the inside. Except that NO ONE ELSE IN THE WORLD would need them. So, the humidity and wetness just wasn't working. I can literally BARELY see. Going 35 on the interstate. Hitting puddles that I had no clue were coming. Windows down, soaking wet, in Mississippi's first cold front of the Fall Season. It was like Jackson said, "Welcome back, Brent. You suck. You freegin', cheating son of..." I don't know, I just felt like Jackson was beating me up, and the only reason I could come up with for a city I lived in to try to kill me, was because I left it.

Well I finally get to Downtown. I have to go vote. So no umbrella, no jacket, just t-shirt and cargo shorts, and FLIP FLOPS. In COLD rain. I hike around Downtown Jackson until I find the courthouse so I can vote early. I go in, get my ballot, listen to the instructions, and drip all over the nice lady and the ballot. I trot back to my car, and on the way it's as if The City said, "What? You're still standing? Well take this." So the faucet in the sky turned on even stronger and the deluge ensued. So much rain that by the time I got to my car, literally 2 or more inches of rain were on the ground. That's ALMOST as much as my driver's side window goes down...


It was a great time seeing my mom, and CARRIE CUTRER! (back from Africa, that's why the caps) and my other friends. Last thought on my trip, at least right now: my storage unit.

It was so weird. I was home at my mom's house, and it was home in its way. I lived there, but I don't really have stuff there anymore. She's there, so that coupled with it being somewhere I'd lived makes it home. Merritt Island is home insomuch that I live here right now. But it wasn't until I walked up to my storage unit and took the lock off that I realized it. I remember locking it up back in May and thinking to myself, "I wonder when the next time I'll be here will be? (you don't always use good grammar in your wonderings...) I wonder what will be going on with me then." Anyway, it was as if I never left. It felt like a movie when you have a flashback. It was weird. Weirder still was how sad and happy I felt opening up the door to all my stuff. Stuff I'd sworn off as needless crap, left me sentimental. Found me at home. I just felt so at ease right there. It was home. Very weird. So, I rolled out one of my chairs, plopped down and propped up for a bit. Like it was my front porch or something. It felt good. Just to sit and think. To reminisce and to dream. To remember and to long for stability again. I love being in a new place with gracious friends. But I really want to be home. Stupid trip made me homesick for a day or two.

A utility man kept walking around the Storage Supercenter and passed by me a couple of times. Finally he said, "It ain't gonna go nowhere sittin' like that."

I don't think he got it.


ADHD Remedy of the Week

Vol. 1.3
Mom Spanked the Gay Out of Me

I'm a little off on my updates, being out of town and stuff. Retirement is a time to travel after all. But let's get right to it.

Four ideas for you to cure your boredom, depression, distractibility, or fidgetiousness:

First. Watch Heroes.
Second. Watch Jericho.
Third. Watch Prison Break.
Fourth. Surf Irish Salsa.

Heroes is unreal. Seriously. Get caught up. It's super. I love that there are bad guys with superpowers too. The dude that put the lady detective's gun to her head with just his mind? Rock on.

Jericho, I'm still catching up, but wow. Denver. Philly. Chicago. Atlanta. Where else?

Prison Break is back baby. Literally and figuratively. It starts back Monday at 8pm Eastern. But maybe more importantly, it's back to it's greatness. Warning: Don't read the rest of this paragraph if you plan on watching from the beginning...Prison Break is back after a slump the last few episodes since Abruzzi died. Not cool. I was ready to write it off. I think my patience will be rewarded. It's now the Fox River 6.

And now for a little Irish Salsa...

The first vid is from a friend of mine. We're in a rap/video battle (we write rap and look for crazy videos) that I think I'm winning, but no doubt this round went to him.

HA. HA. HA. Can I watch it again please?

Next vid is some guys shooting full beer cans at objects with a potato launcher. Not sure why I like it. It's just neat.

Next. Ever lost money to a vending machine? It's a true test of character isn't it? Well here's another test of character. This video lays out a way for you to make back some of the money you lost. I don't recommend you doing it, but if you can't help yourself, try to keep to only as many times as you've been messed over...

Finally, this last one has sparked a lot of discussion on over whether it's real or a spoof. You decide.

Someone commented on that they saw the ep live. They added this, "Notice the man handling the snake is actually controlling it with the "clamp". Notice the lights on the ambulance never go on. If you don't believe it...after the commercial break, Kimmel interviewed members of the show Grey's Anatomy from the hospital bed SET of Grey's Anatomy. Then...after another commercial break we see the snake was a close-up and some guy was doing the voice and controlling the opening and closing of it's mouth."

I didn't see it live, and maybe this person is right. Or maybe since these episodes are taped anyway, Kimmel went back and made fun of himself and the incident after he was released from the hospital, by going to the Grey's Anatomy set and making a fake snake spoof. Or maybe we'll never know.

Alright I'm out. Hope the week finds you a little less stressed and your distractibility finds itself at home.


Myspace Rehab

So I've been battling internet connections and network administrators. It's becoming increasingly more tricky to "borrow" the wireless internet from who I once thought was an "unsuspecting" neighbor. Now they're on to me, and the connection I once had, is no more. Now I'm "borrowing" from a different source, a VERY NICE PERSON (if you're reading this) but I'm lucky to get a wavering signal, between 1 bar and NO bars of coverage. That's not great. I went to the library at one point because I was tired of waiting on the temperamental connection. The network administrator who stopped lending me internet must be a Democrat. I do read lots of Conservative-leaning websites. He/she must be a racist too. I AM A MINORITY (in case the new network administrator is still reading this), and I hate being discriminated against. That always blows.

The library was very enlightening though...

First, it was like I had reverted 10 years into my past and was back in that place where I liked to learn new things. Ok maybe 15 or more years ago. Nonetheless, it was very fun. I was about to pick up an encyclopedia about Russian Forefathers or something when they called my name to get on the computer. It was really neat though.

Second, people are ferocious. Strip people down to their nature, their cravings, and woah, you better step back. Or "best step back!" depending on which library. People hate to wait. HATE it. Not too surprising really. What with all our commercials and Easy Mac. But this isn't the Grocery Line Impatience, it's a "Where's My Morphine?! Get Out of My Way Lest I Eat You" Impatience. Not my favorite brand, I must say. People came in on lunch breaks trying to sneak on computers, trying to cut in line for computers, even re-entering lines to ensure they can get BACK on the computers. It was threatening and intriguing all in the same moment. Like staring at the charging bear. You're enamored, yet paralyzed with fear. One man was on the computer next to mine when I sat down. His time expired, and he proceeded to take 5 more minutes to sign off of things. I started to get nervous for his safety; the hovering BBW's glare did not convey amusement. He then walked right over to the counter and re-enlisted for another hour. He's a very sick man.

People would walk in expecting a computer. Frustrated at a 10 minute wait, people started becoming instinctive. Some looked lost, like their puppy ran away. But most, and by most I mean the 10 or 15 people who came in during my 50 minute session, would pace. Hover. Fidget. Prowl. They'd huddle at the table closest the computers and within eyeshot and earshot of the "Media Assistant" calling out names like the numbers in a bakery line. They'd make contrived, manipulative, small talk about their "lunch break" being almost over, or about "how long" people had been on the computers. Like a lion hunting a gazelle, they appeared fully capable and equally eager to make their move.

My question is who is so important, or so addicted, that they can't wait to check their email or myspace until AFTER work? The library closes at 9PM! Oh, the MADHOUSE it must be during rush hour. I bet they'll put in a new streetlight with a turn arrow just for the hyenas. And how many are repeat visitors? Twice-a-days. On lunch break, AND after work. Some of the people were known by name. As in they come so much the "Media Assistant" knows who they are. That's not great. They need help. Or rehab. Myspace Rehab. 120 million clients; it would be a lucrative business, except that no one thinks they have a problem. Guys, the first step to fixing the problem, is admitting there is one.

It's interesting science really. Allow me to be serious for one paragraph. In alcoholism, there is the alcohol and the addictive conditioned behavior associated with it. And there is often an enabler, a person who never leaves. Like the woman who is beaten but won't leave her husband. It's interesting. The internet is fast becoming the object, the surfing and checking and rechecking of emails and myspace accounts is the addictive behavior commonly associated with the internet, and the enabler is a cyber-social, pseudo-reality. People far away, distant and impersonal. And they won't leave. They're always there. Enabling. It's textbook. And for another day, it's not surprising so many are addicted. It's easily accessible, aside from authoritarian network administrators, and who wouldn't want friends who won't "cut them out?"

Anyway, Pavlov's Drooling Dogs rendered my first trip to a library in 3 or 4 years as surprising, to say the least. And my library innocence was taken from me rather abruptly. But like Rosa Parks, I stuck to my guns and didn't give up my seat. I finished my business amidst the howls and pants of the onlookers.

You know, I wouldn't be surprised if "Security Officer, Merritt Island Library," is listed on in the near future. Hey, I could come out of retirement for it. No, I wouldn't (or maybe would) be caught dead trying to herd those sick beasts.


Wet 'n Wild: Speedos and Foot Herpes

Quite the day yesterday. I have family in town. My dad and one bro, and my sis and her kids and a zillion other relatives. We went to Wet 'n Wild and had a good time. And well, I just want to run through my day and the parts that are significantly seared into my memory.

a. For all who were wondering what the limit is, I've found it. I have exceeded the maximum allowable limit for "Speedo Exposure." I have met my lifetime max, and anymore sightings could possibly cause my head to explode. Or at least blindness accompanied by temporary paralysis. When did form fitting swim suits ever become acceptable for men? Michelangelo's "David" leaves more to the imagination than some of the male swimsuits I've seen.

b. While on the subject, I was in the wave pool, I happened to look toward the shallow end. The bright white light was none other than a naked butt. Yes, a naked butt. It was a child, but there's no disclaimer that says shirt and shoes and bottoms required EXCEPT for children who are 4-6 years old. That's how old this kid was I imagine. No clue really, it was all quite bright and naked, but quite unright and awkward for sure. Must've been a cultural barrier. Stupid French.

c. When getting out of that same wave pool, I walked over to the chair to start drying off to head home. I'm doing the usual: drying the hair to the arms to the chest to the back to the shorts to the legs to the I look up and an old man, easily in his 70s is staring at me with a crooked grin. I still feel violated. Shivers. Yeck. I'm just praying he's almost blind and thought I was a hot chick. No, that still feels gross.

d. I saw some neat body art. From a family of belly piercings to the age limit and weight limit for back tats. But the grossest body part, granted it wasn't "body art," was in the Lazy River. I'm on our little inner tube and we're stuck in traffic. I hate traffic. I can't even get away from it in a Lazy River. So I'm stuck in this logjam of beached walruses on innertubes, and I'm semi-content. Just relaxing until I realize I'm spinning with little control. I'm being spun by the mass of tubes. There's no room to paddle, and my feet are dangling over the side in mid air. So are everyone else's. And therein lies the trauma. I find I'm spinning uncontrollably closer to a neighbor's feet. My face. His feet. I'm not a feet guy. Not many are, and virtually no one likes them in their face. But this is the torment I befell. So I'm getting closer and closer and realize that the feet aren't just regular feet, but the feet of a dirty englishman. A college aged dirty englishman's feet. With peeling skin on the bottom. And foot fungus on the toes. Orange and brown funk. And to top it off, the top side of the foot had what one could only assume was a renegade form of Foot Herpes. Fever blisters. Cold sores. On the feet. In my face. I think I must've blacked out. No, I WISH I would've blacked out. Ignorance is bliss. I wouldn't have known if I contracted the foot herp or not. Anyway, I dodged and ducked, dipped, dived and dodged my way from The Herpe. Like dodging a ball. Or a wrench. Or an STD. How does one exactly get Foot Herpes? The STD, I can use my imagination. Oral Herpes as well. But FOOT HERPES? I DON'T WANT to use my imagination. The Herpe probably contracted his Foot Herpes as some unsuspecting dirty englishman in a dirty lazy river with another dirty englishman's fever blister-infested feet. Neat. Good thing I'm Mexican. And Irish. And...English. Great. Maybe I'll try to legally change my ethnicity this week. That might head off the Foot Herpe.

Final thought. We ate at Emeril's restaurant Tchoup Chop. Party of 8. $600. What? I'm retired. I should eat well while I can. I store it away like a chipmunk. Or a camel. Or a boa. I ate it all-save the man-sized broccoli on my plate. I'm storing up for winter when I'll be trying the next phase of retirement: hibernation.

I'll leave you with this Asian wine from the wine menu: (warning: PG-13)


See you Friday with the ADHD Remedy of the Week.


Remember That One Time...

Vol. 1.1

Every so often I think of things that were funny, so I thought, maybe you'd like them too.

So remember that one time...

It was May 2002. I got my eyes dialated. Well I got them checked. This was before I had contacts; it was my visit to the Eye Doctor to get contacts. I remember thinking people wouldn't be able to recognize me, and I probably wouldn't either. I mean, when I would go to look at myself in the mirror it was with my glasses on, and if I ever did take them off to see what I looked like, then I couldn't see. That's pretty blind. I'm 20/100. That means what I can read 20 feet away, you could read 100 feet away. While you can drive past a billboard, I'd have to be ON it. I'll pull off the interstate, park the car, and climb up the scary ladder. If I want to read a billboard. 20/100 vision.

Anyway back to the story. Ms. Assistant Lady to Hannibal Lecter puts this goop in my eyes. It's all yellow and gross. And she says, "It's yellow, so dont get freaked out." And sure enough, I was seeing everything yellow for a bit. So she puts this machine looking thing up to my face and makes me stick my head in it. I was a little nervous. She turns it on and there's this blue looking glow stick that she expects me to allow easy access to my eye. She says, "Just relax and open wide. That yellow stuff in your eyes is to numb them." Wrong thing to say, lady. If you tell me that you have to numb my eyes in order to poke them with a glow stick, then its only gonna freak me out more. Obviously this glow stick does hurt if they have to numb my eyes. You numb a mouth to get teeth pulled. Apparently you numb eyeballs to jab them with blue glowsticks.

So after I caught my breath, and we both held open my eyes, she proceeds to zap my eye with this blue laser stick thing. I felt like I was being branded. Well pardon. I didnt "feel" anything, but figuratively, I felt like I was being branded. There's a movie called "A Fire in the Sky," and this guy is abducted by aliens (Oh, I'm going somewhere.). They pin him down and do all these torturous experiments on him out of curiousity. Well at one point, they hold open his eyelids and lower this 8 inch needle into his eye; meanwhile, he cant do a thing about it because like 30 of these alien boys are holding him down. It's a true story. So that ran through my mind as I saw the blue glowstick get closer...and closer...and closer...Then I would blink. It was torture.

So after I realized that I really couldn't feel it, the second eye was a piece of cake. Or beef. That was when I decided I wouldnt hit her in the jaw. I started thinking, "Maybe I can't handle contacts." But then I thought, "Wait a sec. It's probably a lot better than the glowstick scandal, because you dont have to numb your own eyes in order to put your contacts in. So it's all good."

Then the Doc comes in and the lights are all off for the most part and he does that "you look in the corner while I shine this 200 watt flashlight up your eye" thing. Well naturally, though very little about this whole experience actually was, my eyes started watering. It was like he stuck a light bulb inside my eye. I thought I was "seeing the light," and I was off to heaven. Yeah, it was bright. I can't imagine how bright it would've been if that nice lady wouldn't have "numbed" my eyes.

Finally, something funny that did happen amidst the terror. The Doc asked me to open wide during "the shining," and I opened my mouth really wide. I felt so dumb. I was at an Eye Doctor's and I opened my MOUTH when he asked me to open wide. "Open wide." And he just sits there with his Maglite trying to see through my squinted, numb, watery eyes. And my mouth is wide open. And it dawns on both of us. He says, "Your eyes. Open your eyes." I think I'd had my braces on way too long. One too many trips to the Orthodontist. One too many times having braces. I knew I should've worn my retainer the first time around. Or maybe I was just over-stimulated. I mean, yellow goop to numb my eyes, blue glowsticks to brand my eyes, blinding flashlights up my eyes. Now open wide?!! Surely there's NOTHING MORE YOU COULD POSSIBLY THINK TO DO TO MY EYES!! Like a defense mechanism. Open your mouth and hope they try there first before completely blinding you and finishing you off. Maybe you'd like to pull some teeth now? A cleaning? A filling? A root canal? My eyes are taking 15.

Needless to say, I'm terrified of four things: Spiders. Needles. Midget Clowns. And yes now, the Eye Doctor's...namely, the blue glowstick that brands your eyeballs like cattle hide.


Early Retirement '06

In case you were curious, as many are these days, early retirement is good. Boring at times. But well worth it. I definitely appreciate all the hype about it. Although I bet it'd be even more fun if I'd saved for longer than just the past 2 1/2 years. You know, if I'd've actually retired with something, or after I'd accomplished something monumental vs. just for the fun of it because that's another thing you do when you're in Florida. Kind of like going to Disney. Or the beach. Or sweating. Or running from alligators. Retirement is what you do in Florida. I mean, I totally understand why Florida is Retirement Central: Old people get cold easily and Florida doesn't. And that is also the reason traffic is blood-curdling and shuffle board is pandemic.

Alongside my second-guesses on retiring with something more than my paltry "retirement" account, i.e. my savings account, I think my next retirement I'll bring someone with me. It'd just be more reasonable. Instead of sitting around mindlessly by myself, I could do that with company. Instead of reading a book on the beach alone, I could ignore someone in the process. Instead of eating well all by myself, I could bring someone along to watch how it's done. I need a good second in command. Someone to follow orders, someone to do the gruntwork, someone to tell me what I want to hear, someone I can take under my wing and teach how to be a great first in command one day. Teach them how to be a servant. A good leader must be a servant. So, they could drive. Cook. Clean. Do laundry. Run errands. Pay. Rent movies. Network on my behalf. Sustain friendships for me. Write emails. Return phone calls. Maintain this blog.

I just think a second person is a much better move all around than just the solo act. I mean who really likes just Paul McCartney? At least get Ringo. Everyone needs a Ringo. Batman had Robin. Dr. Phil had Oprah. Zach Morris had A.C. Slater AND Screech. There's so many Dynamic Duos out there. The Ambiguously Gay Duo, Simon and Garfunkel, Sigfried and Roy, The Brokeback Mountain guys, you know what. Maybe not. Maybe an opposite sex Paul and Ringo. Like super couples Ben and Jen (Affleck and Lopez) or Brad and Jen (Pitt and Aniston) or Nick and Jessica (Lachey and Simpson)...Or maybe my idea isn't without flaws. But at least it's a workable idea. Opposite sex duos that aren't dysfunctional. Like Bill and Hillary Clinton. Or Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown. Or Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. Or maybe I need a casting director. And a casting call. And a 3-step application/interview/tryout process.

I guess I'll start recruiting for my next retirement while I'm on this one. Top candidates will possess the following skills, attributes, looks, accents:

-Cute. It'll help us not get jumped as much while we're bumming on the beach. Besides, cute is looks plus personality.
-Funny. As in somehow close to as funny as me. Wit and sarcasm are preferred.
-Hyper. That could be annoying in an old person traffic jam. Fun otherwise.
-A super cook. And not gross french things. Normal things. Like Mac&cheese. Or mashed potatoes. Or, especially OR, STEAK. Lobster.
-Music lover. And good singer. Musical abilities a must. And an awesome sounding voice.
-In shape. I mean retirement is gluttonous and lazy enough, being fat from the get go is a no go.
-Good driver. Road rage tendencies are heightened here in The Land of 25mph Coupe de Villes.
-Smart. A hyper dumb person is not fun. At all.
-Ice cream lover. And not any ice cream flavor either. Sensible taste. Vanilla. Boo. Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Peanut Butter Cookie Dough. Bravo. We miss you, stupid Ben & Jerry's.
-Great movie picking judgement.
-Willingness to get a job once the next retirement comes to a close. Money only lasts for so many movies and Dairy Queen Blizzards.
-Compassionate. Love people. Love helping people. Love engaging people. Love making fun of people.
-Outgoing. Quiet or shy? Apply elsewhere. Try the Real World.
-Virtuous. A Lover of Christ. I'm tolerant of other religions, or non-religions, and it would be fun to learn about different religions or non-religions by living alongside someone through a retirement, but if this retirement turned into a "long-term retirement," if you know what I mean, well I'd want us to be compatible long-term.

So I think that's it. If you meet those requirements, or if you feel that for other reasons not listed above you feel qualified, let me know. Apply here or on my myspace or on my facebook. Call me. Email me. A new Early Retirement season will begin NEXT JUNE. "Early Retirement 2007: Endeavors in Maui." Plenty of time to start planning and saving! Other possible locations: Pacific Northwest. Colorado. Australia. Washington D.C. Maine. Vermont. Wiggins. But for now, while the applications start pouring in, I'm going to work on my newest "Early Retirement 2006: Ventures Across Florida" proposal: The beach. All day. Every day. All week.


My Walmart Run

In an effort to generate constant readership, and revitalize my legitimacy as the Best Freaking Blog Ever, I'm posting more.

I went to Walmart tonight. A few observations I wanted to share.

1. I saw a lady and her husband shopping. No big deal except she had a clipboard. I've heard of long grocery lists, but a clipboard? How many people are you shopping for? And how precise does your checkmark have to be? I noticed she was also wearing a Publix Supermarket Polo Shirt. No doubt an employee of that fine Grocery chain. Maybe she was using her clipboard to figure out how much cheaper Walmart's prices were even after her Publix employee discount.

2. I saw a BBW tonight as well. If you aren't hip to online dating profiles, suffice to say she was fairly obese. And diverse. You know how our culture is prone to exposing female mid-drifts? Yep. Got a special treat tonight. But not so much her exposed mid-drift, as her exposed back fat rolls. Here's hoping that doesn't catch on as quickly. On a positive note, she didn't have the lower back tatoo--well not that I could catch my back-fat-roll drift.

3. (Still at Walmart) I walked up to the "express" line, quietly with my handful of staples: mac& cheese, ramen noodles, and corn. Too quietly, regrettably. In front of me was a man in his mid-50s, probably a father of two girls. How do I know? Because as I stood quietly, innocuously I might add, this father, unaware of our three foot proximity, let loose like he'd been holding it in for hours. Like he'd been around women all day and now he was finally free. And the best word to describe this surprise: squirty. It made me think of the old drink "Squirt." It sounded messy. And imperative. Imminent. Urgent. Well I took a step back and then turned around and started looking at the shelf with the air fresheners and gum and tv guides. Never had a dashboard air freshener seemed so close, yet so far away. A couple of thoughts were rapidly cycling through my mind at this point:

-Who DOES that?!
-Surely he didn't know I was there...But everyone ELSE was still there!
-I've waited here too long to switch lines, but that better not SMELL like it sounded...

Well the only reason I didn't audibly crack up out loud was because I didn't want to breathe in anymore than I had to. So then a lady comes up after me in line. (The line where time stood still, mind you.) And she proceeds to get as close to me as is socially unacceptable. I hate the invasion of my personal space. Heebie Jeebies. And she is invading my space to force my hand. To get me to move up further in line. The politics of shopping lines. I hate 'em. For some reason, we feel like we're getting out faster if we crowd up at the register. Nevermind that there's still 33 people in line, I'm only 10 feet away from the cashier! I can see the red laser! I can hear the incessant beeping. I can watch up close and fervently, the cashier struggling to ring up frozen items. And bulky items. And produce items. There's a lot of pressure on those ladies. And it's not just the language barrier. Ringing up items is a concentrated effort. Oh, the politics of shopping lines.

Well so My New Girlfriend behind me, or up on top of me by now, crowds me, successfully moving me closer to Squirt, who by this time is leaning hard to one side, all his weight on his left foot giving him the maximum leverage for the ultimate clenching. Maybe Squirm is a better name, he's so fidgety. Hands inverted on his hips. Eyes darting all around him. Sweat beads forming on his brow. And I was manhandled to within nose-shot of THIS. I should've traded places with her. Since she wanted to move up in line so badly. Crowded HER personal space. Forced HER to inhale his exhaust. That'd put an end to her little political shopping line aspirations. But I couldn't think straight. Maybe it was the fumes.

Well that's it. I'm off on a date with some Chinese food. That's right, China Star. It's me, you and a little Egg Foo Yung...


On the Road Again...
Vol. 1.2

So I have very mixed emotions right now. The youth choir is going on tour in Mississippi. We leave Saturday at 6am. I easily forget the plight of the people on the coast once I get caught up in my own little world, but how sobering that a church youth group from Florida is going to my home town to do mission work. Not vacation bible schools or backyard bible clubs, but construction and painting--physical labor for a literally broken community.

I remember my dad told me about how much of an impact churches were having on the coast in the lives of people who weren't believers. Because churches kept coming down and bringing fresh bodies to work, these folks started to see the true love in the hearts of so many who continued to offer whatever assistance they could. I love the beauty in that. The Church being the Church. Reaching the hurting, finding the helpless, touching lives with love.

I really haven't said much about Katrina. Part of the reason is because it's just so much to comprehend and way too significant a wound on so many lives to try to muster into a few paragraphs. More so, I think until I realized a group was heading down there from here (Florida), I didn't really mourn. Stupid I guess, but mourn's the right word. It's your home, your way of life for however many years. Memories. Loved ones who will never ever be the same. I guess being in Clinton, some 150 miles from the Coast kept me far enough removed from the tragedy at the time, that I was able to grieve in the 9-11 way. I didn't know any New Yorkers, hadn't ever lived there, never climbed to the top of the World Trade Center Towers. But Biloxi, MS? The Ocean Springs Bridge? FBC Gulfport? All of Highway 90? When I started hearing the group talk about this place or that place, we'll be singing here and working there, I, my heart sank. It hit me. I know THOSE places and THOSE people. I've been there, I used to eat there, I grew up there.

It's been like 9 or10 months now. But the hurting, the helpless, the hopeless people of the Coast are still there. Maybe fewer than initially after the storm, but they're still there. Still stuck in tents or 10 foot FEMA trailers. Some have roofs now, others have moved on. But still others find their mortgage covers a measly slab of concrete and heaps of memories like debris. I dont want the prayers to end or the support to quit coming. I don't want the people I know and love to be forgotten unfortunately not unlike so many people off in distant countries. I kept the distance, and I've missed out on opportunities to serve and love and minister. But more so they've lost out on that from me. God's sovereign. No doubt He'll work with or without me. He rescues the helpless; He's a refuge to those in need. I just want to be a part of His working for His glory and His kingdom. So this week will be that chance, even if it took me coming from further away than where I was when Katrina first landed.

Biloxi Sonic on Highway 90.


First Baptist Church Gulfport.

Strong winds I guess.

Walmart in Long Beach or Pass Christian. Apparently the winds were enough to gut the place, but not enough to bring down the security cameras. And I know they didn't just put them up to guard the rubble.

Days Inn in Gulfport. Someone's house in Long Beach. The front of the 2nd floor collapsed, giving it the ramped up look.

Economy Inn in Gulfport.

Waffle House.


On the Road Again...
Vol. 1.1

A Personal Anthem

I know I'm so way behind on my updating, I've just been transitioning a bit. I'm now in paradise; palm trees rustle in my front yard. I'll make this short because it's already Midnight thirty over here--eastern time. And I know you guys get tired of my long posts. Or well you guy--sheri being the only one who reads, or posts. Two things: 1. a brief synopsis. 2. God is so good.

1. I've been here a week technically now since it's Friday by about 30 minutes. It's been a whirlwind, and a lovely one at that. I'm tired. But not spiritually drained. Just sleep deprived. I've been to the Keys and back again. That was fun. Took the seniors who just graduated. We went snorkeling and had a a blast. Met two seniors who are headed to MC and one I'm working on convincing to drop Samford and head to the real baptist college of choice...

I live with a great family. Three kids--now four--2 girls and a boy. They are sweet and very understanding of my hectic schedule. Tonight was my first dinner at the house and only my second or third meal altogether since I've been here. I want a new guitar and I found out Tacoma guitars are sold at the shop just down the road...

2. God is so good. My anthem for years now has been that God is good and God is beautiful. He IS so good. So real. He's not distant and far off. He's not angry or spiteful. He's not indifferent to my troubles and loves. My struggles are His strengths. My fleeting desires are interests to Him. My passions are His joy. My dreams are His promise. My life is His passion. His love never ceases through my falterings or my triumphs. This God who paints the sunsets and freckles the night sky, who rings Saturn and craters the moon, who shined a star 10,000 years ago just to reach us for one small flicker tonight. This is the God near to the broken-hearted and who dances with the rejoicing, who heals the wounded and frees the captives, who redeems sinners and brings prodigals home. He is intimately involved in every aspect of these miniscule lives we consume our every thought with. He longs to show us compassion; He yearns to be merciful. He is good. And He is real.

I've believed for a long time now that God is good, even when times are not. God is always good. He can't be otherwise. I've longed for some time now to again see His beauty. And recently I've realized that God is faithful even when we are not, and even when we don't believe that He will be. But He will be. And more and more I'm discovering with this adamant clarity that God is real beyond measure, beyond reason, beyond what our finite minds and fickle hearts can weather or dare to believe. God is good. God is beautiful. God is real.

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all we can ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever." Ephesians 3.20-21.



The Giant Elephant in the Blog

I plan a full-scale rebuttal to last week's
post (click on the purple word, Dad). It's my friend Jeff's blog and a lovely blog at that--however misguided his latest posting reveals it to be. Ah, I'm just teasing. As a Republican, proud and CHRISTIAN, holy smokes, I am an apparent contradiction and most assuredly a mischaracterization. However, before I post the myriad reasons why Republicans best serve my interests and the interests of most Americans with their policies, I'd like to address the giant elephant that was in his blog. And no, it wasn't an Irish-Mexican Republican.

As a Christian, I support the War in Iraq. And no doubt, the beginning of this blogging dialogue between two friends alluded to this topic in describing people who "give their unceasing loyalty to a party rather than ideas or the like." Previous posts have more blatantly spoken up against war. So let the games begin, and Jeff note that I respect your feelings, truly, especially since they are heartfelt and not political.

I just think you're wrong.

Jesus says we should turn the other cheek and "Blessed are the peacemakers" to be sure, but he also speaks of not building your house on sand, not being foolish and not being legalistic. He speaks of hell and damnation, love and fulfilling the law. I say this not to justify my beliefs or anyone's actions, but to counter any justification in His name--FOR or AGAINST. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves, and we are to love Him with all we are. Sure killing someone isn't loving them really, but I'd just challenge that if someone killed a loved one of mine and was coming after me next, turning the other cheek might be more foolish than wise. Now that's me. Maybe some want to die without putting up a fight and defending themselves, resigned to whatever fate befalls them through peace on their end. Jesus certainly did this himself as was prophesied. But I dont know that He intended us to. Personal opinion I guess, and again, Scripture can be twisted either way on this. Israel was violent; Jesus was not. Some say America was "founded on God." Others think it was wrong to try to overthrow the British because the Bible speaks to respecting your rulers who God placed in control. Ah stupid "priesthood of the believer" complications.

I do believe that the Church should show compassion to all people--not just Americans--and it should embrace justice. It should not seek out war, should not seek out violence, should not champion the desolation of entire countries and their people. I contend, however, that is exactly what Saddam did. He massacred hundreds of thousands, mostly because of race, including by use of yes, weapons of mass destruction. He raped mothers and daughters with their husbands and fathers forced to watch, and then he murdered them afterwards. He tortured. He eliminated political enemies, even allies who were rising too quickly politically. He was the personification of Sadistic Injustice, and he was reigning hypocritically free. I'm not speaking to eliminating him and his regime out of vengeance, but justice. The Lord is sovereign and just. He would have got his eventually, but the evil would have continued until then. And it threatened us here. I have not a single doubt that Saddam shipped his WMD to Syria or buried them in the desert along with
these. Maybe it wasn't a grave enough threat in many people's minds, and as a Republican I was truly nervous to initiate an unprovoked attack. But the madness of a man the likes of Hilter, Stalin, Kim Jong Ill, or even Ahmanijanad in Iran now, could not and should not be underestimated or "over-compassioned." He was in violation of some 14 UN resolutions stemming back to the Clinton White House, and he was constantly attacking US fighter jets in the No Fly Zone, itself an act of aggression. He supported families of Palestinian terrorists, and despite the tales to the contrary, had at least minimal contact with leaders from al-qaeda. All this to say, compassion is okay to an extent, but when it blurs the border of injustice for 50 million citizens and the safety of 300 million Americans and some 6 million Jews, the limit has been exceded. "Poor steward of what was given him," is a dramatically understated way of putting it I suppose. I sort of equate this with a murderer here in the States. Should we let them go on killing in the name of compassion? In the name of peace? In the name of turning the other cheek? To quote Paul, "by no means!" Somewhere justice has to be served for the safety of the people. I think God is okay with that. Again, that's me being my own believer and priest, but it's my conviction.

Strikingly (since I am a "party line" guy and apparently inherently sinful or "vexing" as "someone of faith" for finding similar ideals mostly championed in one party), I feel we need to stop injustice everywhere. President Bush's 2nd Inaugural Speech spoke to the sweeping desire for liberty to be realized in all persons as they were created to be free. That is beautiful and something Christians should desire. God gives us freedom to make choices, including giving Mr. Calvin the free will to choose to be Calvinist. He has set it in our hearts, pitting us choose between Him or the world. Man should be free to choose in life too. But oppression prevents this obviously. I am not proposing, by military force, that we liberate every oppressed people. But where the limit is being drawn, where patience has run its course, all options should be on the table in ensuring liberty for mankind. The Cold War ensured (limited) liberty for Russians and all the Eastern European nations now rallying to its cause. I have no doubt a free Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel will encourage more freedom in Egypt, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Libya and Kuwait. Rwanda was a disgrace to civilized governments and conglomerations of governments. At the time I was probably opposed to intervention, but the elimination of entire races of people because they are that race is a sin against all humankind's history. Something should have been done. Sudan is hopefully transitioning toward peace through negotiations. Hopefully that's all that will be needed to ensure justice for the people. I desire justice and liberty for all people. So should other Christians.

I understand when people counter that LOVE is revolutionary. I believe this too. I believe love has the ability to change lives and ultimately no life is saved or realized without it. People need Jesus and see Him through love. But love does not always take the face of non-violence and inaction. Sometimes love is called into action. Discipline is an example of love enacted. But so too love in action can be removing despots and tyrants and freeing people to experience LIFE and LIBERTY and THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. To free people to LIVE and not die, to love and not fear, to care and not always hurt. Love can be rescuing the sick and dying and tortured and massacred and raped from the bondage of injustice, indecency and inhumanity. Love can be action sometimes, and sadly sometimes through violent means. It doesn't make war less violent or less saddening or less collateral, but it does offer an end of hope and peace and love.

Democracy doesn't always come easily (see our own difficulty of 10-15 years), but it must prevail, it must persevere, it must become reality. Iraqis want it. They wouldn't turn out to vote in higher percentages than Americans, amidst life-threatening conditions, if they didn't want liberty, if it wasn't set in their hearts. Yes, Iraq is really awful right now, but running away in this critical juncture would be devastating. To quote our First President (apparently it carries more weight than other quotes), "Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a tree of rapid growth." Persevere. Out of compassion, out of a love for justice, out of a love for people. Persevere. Out of a love for things greater than ourselves and for things set in the hearts of men. Persevere. Out of a desire to see Liberty take root.

One last thing I suppose. I think it is. I'm not his biggest fan and often times find him over the top, carelessly rude and needlessly insensitive. But that doesn't disqualify him from making sense sometimes. Well his website has video of the beheadings that have occurred in Iraq. It is awful. It is gruesome. It is controversial and probably reason enough for people to dislike him. But my older brother and I looked one day, and I watched in UTTER GUT-WRENCHING HORROR, something I have never experienced in my life. The DEPRAVITY of mankind right before my eyes. The INHUMANITY of these "religious" animals. This religion of peace that has waged war on Christianity and America and Israel. And the epitome of the jihad evidenced in a simple video recording. I don't encourage you to watch it for me or out of some morbid curiosity. But if you want to know why I feel war is necessary at times, then go. Nick Berg is a hero to me, unfortunately he had no choice but to turn both cheeks.


Way Down to Cocoa...

So here's the long story's trailer. I am Florida-bound. Praise God. I've been 11 years in the wilderness of Mississippi, now I'm headed back to the Promised Land.

Youth Ministry. Nathan Chapman. Florida. 1 hour from Orlando and the Magic. And an overwhelming peace and at the same time exhiliration to be going where I know I'm supposed to be. Live your heart. Love life. Be what makes you come ALIVE. Amen.

To God be all glory.


Mustard Seed Size It, Please

So God has been at work so evidently in my life of late. He always is at work, but so often, at least lately, I hadn't seen it. Maybe because I couldn't believe without seeing and maybe I wasn't seeing because my belief was so miniscule. More so, I just think it was a season when God, in His truly infinite wisdom, to build my faith and revive my spirit, was slow to show Himself more clearly. But I've seen even a mustard seed the size of a period (.) is enough. God is so patient, not just with our sin, but with our doubts. Like Gideon or Thomas or Moses or Lot, He's patient with our doubts, with our hesitancies, with our excuses. I didn't question God's being, nor am I saying I'm wrong if I had. I just came to a point so far removed from a Spirit-filled life, so much more consumed with my ideas of who I am. And for years I have been miserable.

Not suicidal miserable. Joyless. Clueless. Lost. Alone. Burnt-out. Tired. Rebellious. Bored. Confused. Rejected. Unworthy. Worthless. Pointless to a God sovereign on one hand yet powerless to rescue me with the other. Sure I had head-knowledge of His grace and power and love. But all I could cling to was that head-knowledge--and it doesn't go far. Head-knowledge is rational, not intimate. I longed for a connection with the One who died so I could have it. "Where are You?" I remember crying to sleep. "I don't know what to pray, but You do. This is all I've got. These tears. Mini-prayers I guess from the deepest part of me. Spirit, You intercede for me." Something to that effect, it was a little emotional.

In this time I craved finding out who I am, what I'm to be, where I'm to be, why, when and how. I worked in Psychiatry, contemplated grad school in Psychology and med school in Psychiatry. Right now I'm in research in the field of neuropsychology. I worked as a Youth Minister and left burnt-out and somewhat angry. I very nearly entered a Congressional race (what?!) and contemplated Law school, an MBA, and/or financial advising. Currently, I want to teach maybe high school history, and I want to one day teach Bible classes at a public university from a Christian rather than Atheistic, excuse me "scholarly," perspective. But none of these define us. They occupy entirely too large a portion of our lives, but we aren't college professors or doctors or lawyers or research assistants in neuropsychology. "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God created beforehand for us to walk in." (Eph 2.10)

I'm not implying a legalistic approach to doing/being/living "good works." But we are His workmanship. 1st, He made us. 2nd, we are His. 3rd, we are defined by that. Our whole existence hinges on the reality that we are created by God and we are His. 4th, whatever He's made us ultimately "to be," whatever we are as His workmanship (obviously it involves glorifying Him), it's so much better than what we concoct and drudge up from our own insecurities. God made us each an integral part of His plan and of His body. Pride stems from insecurity. I'm convinced of this. Not that our insecurities are sinful or prideful or even fully conscious, but they lead us to pride. It's us seeking, striving, longing to complete ourselves and resolve our raging insecurities in a manner independent of God. Instead of trusting His grace and acceptance and plan, we look to heal our own wounds. Sometimes we do so to feel worthy before Him, other times because we feel worthy enough without Him.

I've always struggled with humility. Most likely because of my insecurities in whatever. And also because I didn't want to see myself, whom I consider fairly intelligent and somewhat gifted in many areas and very much interested in many things, reduced to something so much less than I felt was my "potential." But humility isn't contentment in being or achieving nothing. It's being content in your role. It's the opposite of pride in that we are completely secure in our purpose, in who we are as people, and that being solidified by who we are in Christ. We all have roles and goals, hopes, dreams, talents, gifts, and purposes in the body of Christ. We aren't all to be the magnificent mascara or shimmering earrings or even the welcoming hands. Indeed, we aren't all created for that. Some of us are, and some of us are maybe the inner parts, hidden from fame and glory, approval and attention, Church votes and theological debates. I don't know enough about the human body (no med school, remember?) to even begin to accurately correlate our body parts to our Christ-centered roles in His body. But I'd venture that my insides, say my guts, are just as important as my Antonio Banderas "ah yes, how do you say" good looks. But I'd also venture we don't go on dates based on the state of the other person's guts either.

Our roles in Christ are equally important, and we are all graciously equipped and created for those purposes He's intended; however, they are seen and appreciated differently by folks. That's where humility resides. We can rest content that our purpose in the body of Christ, our role in Christ's furthering His kingdom, is sufficient by His grace and significant by His plan. We are all a perfect complement to His perfect plan. Sure we're flawed, but His strength can be manifested through us. And there's no place for us to boast. Pride, again, stems from our insecurities. Yes, though we boast when we are successful at something, we feel compelled to prove and declare to others our success instead of letting it stand on its own. Pride is the root of all evil, no doubt. It makes sense. It's independent of God, and even at its earliest stage, it's planning an exit from humility and our roles in God's plan.

I pray for the grace to trust in God's plan, not just a chronological plan, but His plan within us. As who we are. I pray we see our roles and embrace the joy that's found in living who we are, in chasing with all our heart He who makes us come ALIVE.


I Believe in Magic

O Holy Night, Orlando could very well make the playoffs. I've been hesitant for several reasons to post something about them, but I can't help it now. I didn't want to jinx them, and I didn't want to look entirely foolish when they returned back to old form. But my oh my, 5 in a row, 9 of their last 10, 13 of their last 17, 10 straight at home (after Monday Night's win over Atlanta). Are you kidding me? They were 20-40 just 17 games ago, that after going 2-18 through a 1 month stretch (Jan 27th-Mar 6th) where they wallowed in losing streaks of 4, 8, and 6 games respectively. Yes, that's correct; they won 2 games in the month of February. I was pulling for all losses the rest of the season (kinda crappy I know), so we could land a money lottery pick (you know to make up for the one who disappeared in the middle of summer to the middle of Spain for 4 years and $10 million). Then they won a couple and aggravated me because they were screwing up their draft ranking potential. Then a few more wins and I started to think good things for next year. Then they talked of needing to win 10 in a row to close out the season to have a shot at making the playoffs (including games against Dallas, Miami, Detroit, and San Antonio). When Jameer Nelson said, "Who says we can't win our last nine games [10 overall]? That's not unrealistic at all. I tell people all the time, I played on a team in college that won 27 straight. 9 is only a fraction of that." Then I believed.

It's like the old days. I actually got to see them play the Hawks Monday on Fox Sports South (thankfully Turner South or something carried the Braves), and it was beautiful. I mean beautiful. I haven't been that excited watching and cheering an Orlando Magic team, let alone an Orlando Magic game, since 1997 or so when Penny Hardaway scored 40+ every game of the playoffs. Wow it was magical. They are a team again. No prima donnas (sp?), no ball hogs, no fuss. And apparently I'm not the only one believing. The Orlando Sentinel is believing, and I think maybe even the actual people of Orlando. They need help from a few teams though, and New Jersey already isn't. They win 14 in a row and can't beat a 9th seeded Chicago Bulls team. Ouch. Washington didn't beat Philadelphia. They (Chi and Phi) both need to be losing if Orlando is going to gain ground. Indiana and Milwaukee are thankfully nose-diving. The question is whether they have enough losses in them to completely sabotage their playoff chances.

It's a completely different team now without Steve Francis, or heck Kelvin Cato. Ode to Otis. He's proving to be the best GM the Magic have had since John Gabriel brought Penny Hardaway to Orlando (the first time). Darko blocked Josh Smith the other night and was called for a foul. It wasn't. It was Mutumbo-like. All ball. Arroyo is a great complement to a young and quick team, and as invaluable an asset to the community as Grant Hill. Grant who? I do hope he gets well soon. Hedo is the X-factor in my mind, well he and DeShawn. They're both key to this team's success. Of course Howard and Jameer are critical, but these two fellas have stepped up and played consistently through this current streak. And this Trevor Ariza, he may be something special. These boys are playing like a team, with role players and all. Detroit showed you can do it that way, and we showed Detroit (for one game at least) how it's done.

The Magic are 3rd in field goal percentage on the year, 1st since the All-Star Break. They're this year's Denver Nuggets, streaking to the very end. They've been giving up some spurts to their opponents because they get inpatient on offense. But Brian Hill can be a real coach again for the first time since Shaq left Orlando. He has guys who want to win, however that needs to happen. 4 point guards? Perfect example. Dooling, Arroyo, Diener, and Nelson are competing in a healthy way for playing time. Orlando was down 9 early to Atlanta, so Brian Hill benched some folks and made some changes. He can put in guys who want to hustle and win.

So they play the (Chris Bosh-less) Raptors tonight at home and the Spurs tomorrow in el San Anton. They can afford a loss in San Antonio if they get some help from some Eastern Conference teams. The Nets could start playing like they had the past two weeks and spank Philly. Boston could knock another loss to Indiana. Washington could start playing like they deserve to be in the playoffs and beat Milwaukee. And Atlanta can play like the Hawks who beat us twice this season, and hand a loss to Chicago. Yet most importantly, the wins against Dallas, Detroit, Miami, and hopefully San Antonio are most meaningless if the Magic lose tonight against Toronto. They haven't beaten them yet this year. Now's a better time than any. Come on fellas. You can do this. I believe in Magic.