Friday, June 30, 2006

What's the perfect gift for Rob after this week??

Answer: oxygen tank

Between 8:30am Wednesday and 8:00pm tonight, I worked just over 43 hours.

Oh!, you say...that's why he hasn't blogged!!

Make sure you read "The Shell Game" just below. I think it's an interesting study in humanity. I should know, I'm one of the lab rats!

The Shell Game......

Imagine for a moment, if you will, a twist on the shell game. This time there are four shells, and no ball. Each shell, when lifted, reveal a characteristic instead.

Sometimes the game is played daily; sometimes the shells don't reveal new traits or characteristics for quite awhile, and there have been days where I've watched them change personality on multiple occasions!

Your quadrants are:


...based on watching the game from outside its board. Remember, in this version the shells themselves never move, they, when lifted, only reveal the current traits of the one they represent.

For many years, the game, though always unpredictable on final outcomes, did not have any real dramatic shake-ups. That is, until one day (Dec 3, 2005), one shell offered a new rule to the game never tried before. This time, for the first time, the shells themselves would move.

And so, 30-some days later, the four shells, some with more fear and dread than others, began the process. One shell did not move, interestingly enough. #2 stayed in the Northeast. #1 left the Northwest for the Southeast. #3 moved slightly from Southeast to Southwest. Finally, #4 left the Southwest to anchor the Northwest.

Believe me when I tell you this---in the months since the move, watching the "new" version of the shell game has produced massively different results in some, and rock steady results in others. Looking at the doorway of the board, you would enter on the West side. Immediately you would encounter #4. Turn right and walk and you are with #3. Around a quick corner, just a few steps, brings you to #2.

But, however, had you, after seeing #4, went straight ahead several steps, you'd be in the Northwest with #1. But here is a key point---#1 and #2's quadrants are against the wall of the board, subconsciously suggesting to a visitor, longer escape. If you walk into a room, for example (let's go to the office cubicle phenomenon, shall we?), chances are after meeting #4, you would be more likely after looking at the lay of the land, to move right toward #3, then also greet #2 upon discovering him/her.

Meanwhile, #1, who can be clearly seen by the person walking in, does not receive interaction usually, unless someone has a specific reason to head to the Northwest Corner (is that like the Northwest Territory??)

So, let's review.

#1---Is seen at the entry point of the board, but more times than not is bypassed in order to see others easily available in more open spaces.

#2---Isn't seen at entry point, so someone who likes to keep to themselves would probably want a lifetime contract to that location. But, they also will see some people with usually a moment to prepare, and said person knows when someone comes straight into the Northeast, they mean business. It's like, I'm going to Hawaii for Hawaii, I'm not stopping in Kansas City and fooling myself.

#3---The most strategic, most open player in the game. They can see both Northeast and Southwest, and everyone entering the board, with a suave move of the head. This position allows for more communication, and, if the player should so choose, more power, being able to grasp the landscape very well.

#4---The Southwest needs to be ingenious by nature in this game, because the player is stuck with having spectators arrive directly behind them. They continually pray none ever enter with a meat cleaver. But, the Southwest does have the huge advantage of being able, if they so choose, to be the first one and/or the last one to communicate with a spectator, depending upon whether their characteristics of communication are grandiose or not.

Now, we've analyzed the shells as people, in a room, and how where they are affect their workings with outsiders, or "spectators".

Now to the real Shell Game. What has changed since the shells moved for the first time ever?

#1---The move from Southwest to Northwest has found the shell showing us more and more periods of frustration, lack of communication, and a feeling of actually not being a part of the Shell Game any longer. Sometimes the shell lifts and an "SOS"-type signal is bellowed. Sometimes, there are glimpses of the former personality traits shown us by the shell when it was known as #4.

#2---is #2. No move brings this shell the greatest advantage since the game was resumed after the move. The shell reveals much of the same traits as before, but they're not all the same. Characteristical change around #2 has caused #2 to act, react, and thus, present new glimpses when the shell is lifted.

#3---Arguably the recipient of the most advantageous move, yet, for the most time, the shell has revealed continued traits from its stint in the corner at #1. Going though from, yelling to the shell across the way, to actually seeing and more easily communicating to the Northeast and Southwest, has brought a mixed bag of new characteristics previously not revealed by the shell.

#4---What once was Southeast loses some vision in the Southwest, but makes up for it in other ways. In fact, spectators have pointed out that #4's oral communication skills, a strong personality in the Southeast, have become even stronger in the Southwest. Hanging with a shell never previously seen can do that. Plus, it's a pretty fair piece of board real estate, as mentioned before; the slightly more open, and much more accessible quadrants, are Southeast and Southwest.

So, in the final analysis, taking a typical day out of the hat (..or shell) to get a random sample of what the shells reveal, we might find....

#1---pensive, occasionally communicating but most times not, feeling isolation due to how the board is built, splitting the quadrants with high walls so that the four shells will never be able to see each other at the same time during the game.

#2---strong, yet weary, determined in work and not accepting mediocrity.

#3---in the center of the action, sometimes a good thing and sometimes a distraction; some days filled with laughter, others filled with silence, and some days both (admit it, YOU'VE had days like that, too!) Also professional. The shell shows that trait alot.

#4---Happy go lucky; not in the work sense, the personality sense. Orally communicates fluently, expresses frustration, and is the shell most keenly aware of the signs which would say to #4 what the other shells will reveal at the end of the game.

So, there you have it. The Shell Game, for the 21st Century. I'm sure you know by now the term shell is a "shell" for the real analysis. Where do you play The Shell Game?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Songs that make me go "Wah!!"

My musical companion at work is Live 365, as I've built a preset list of over 30 channels, either 80s, 70s, or Contemporary Christian. Inevitably, as the day goes on (I wear headphones, kinda, one ear on, one off), there comes a song that, well, has a good shot at making me the recipient of this question from a co-worker.....

.....Rob? Are you alright?

It just means I've completed another session with a song that brings the tears. Five years ago, I couldn't have a cry if I wanted to. Now, as I've mentioned before, it's a totally different story.

So, these are some that do the trick; those in bold are pretty much guaranteed to do it every time.....

--Babe, Styx
--The Best of Times, Styx
--Don't Let It End, Styx
--With You I'm Born Again, Billy Preston and Syreeta
--Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, Elton John
--Nights In White Satin, Moody Blues
--I Know You're Out There Somewhere, Moody Blues
--What's New?, Linda Ronstadt with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra--The Way You Look Tonight, Phil Collins (live version)
--Separate Lives, Phil Collins and female singer (live version---the original from the White Nights Soundtrack sucks. I know, I used to have to play it on the radio.)
--Beauty and the Beast, Peabo Bryson and Celine Dion
--A Whole New World, Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle
--At This Moment, Billy Vera and the Beaters
--It Was A Very Good Year, Frank Sinatra
--Theme from Mahogany, Diana Ross
--Sea of Love, The Honeydrippers
--I Want to Know What Love is, Foreigner
--Chiquitita, Abba
--The Winner Takes It All, Abba
--All Out of Love, Air Supply
--Could've Been, Tiffany (yes, I know, Tiffany)
--One More Night, Phil Collins
--Against All Odds, Phil Collins
--Like It Or Not, Genesis
--Alone, Heart
--Eternal Flame, Bangles
--Right Here Waiting, Richard Marx
--Total Eclipse of the Heart, Bonnie Tyler (I hated this song in high school)
--If I Could Turn Back Time, Cher
--Endless Love, Diana Ross and Lionel Richie
--Another Auld Lang Syne, Dan Fogelberg

You can assume that a few of the ones near the bottom of the list do the most emotional work, but this list is not in order. I will say, though, the champion song is the last listed, as I'm usually gone before Dan even sings "Met...".

More? Yeah; I'll find 'em and update this. I'm not ashamed to admit, as an 80s tune once kinda crooned, I have "..sad songs to make me cry".

Good night!

Friday, June 23, 2006

I am a "Caniac"!!!

Rod Brind'Amour leads Carolina as captain. Cam Ward played like Ken Dryden and he alone deserved the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Eric Staal scores the empty net goal Monday night and I shouted like I haven't shouted during a sporting event in a long, long time.

The Stanley Cup in North Carolina. Who would have ever thought!! I love it. :)

I think I really do feel like 39.......

'In the year of thirty-nine'

Don't you hear my call
Though you're many years away
Don't you hear me calling you
Write your letters in the sand
For the day I'll take your hand
In the land that our grand-children knew

From: "'39" by Queen (A Night at the Opera--1976)

I am, now, in my "year of 39". I know, it's really the start of my 40th year, but I can look at it with two mindsets. My 40th year is preparing and facing the future, while the "year of 39" encompasses here and now.

So, the lyrics quoted above make some sense as I close out this 39th birthday. Looking ahead, I call....even to those who are "many years away".......

The call is heard immediately by family, friends close and far, and others, and, one day, the call will reach future generations, hopefully. (Don't you hear me calling you?)

To those to come, Lord willing, in my life, sign in on the sand so I know your name when we take hands, especially my grandchildren whose land we will occupy.

I could sit here and type a thousand names of people who have come through my life thus far, all bringing their own unique contribution to, well, me. I'd love to meet a thousand more! And there are several great friends, that, quite frankly, I don't want to live without, and one who I can't live without at this point in life.

So, I welcome you to my "year of 39" or the kickoff of my "40th anniversary yearlong celebration", your choice. My attendance was mandatory.


This week at work was, ah, busy. Gee, everybody shocked to read that? That's fine, I'd always rather be too busy than too idle. Besides, God told me not to worship idles....ah....I mean idols. Maybe that's why I don't watch American Idol.


My best friend at work was on vacation this week, so I hope she and her family had a wonderful week on the sand, near the waves.....yeah, they went to Wyoming. :)


Now, the wifey is facing her "40" in ten days......I say we fly in the cast of Grey's Anatomy, send her with them to a fancy eatin' place (aka restaurant), then the cast can mingle with us family, maybe even do some karaoke.....

.....and allow the wifey to have a private table with Patrick Dempsey.

Hey, hey!! I'll be with her at midnight, not him! :) Better ask her, though, if that would be her plan. Oh, and Dempsey hit 40 in January so he can give her advice.


Now, THIS is excellent!! I always knew June 23rd was special (in no small part thanks to me!), but now it's official. Check out THIS.......


Question to the nation at large: When the Ford television commercial featuring Taylor Hicks (Mr. American Idol) comes on, do you find yourself turning your head away from the screen like I do?? Has nothing to do with his physical attributes. Everything to do with the song.


Well, I asked the fam to hold off on the birthday gift until Saturday, so we'd have plenty of time. My request? Go out to eat, of course!!!! But, then I understand Rachel went to Mom and asked what "we were getting Dad for his birthday". Mom's explanation of going out being the gift didn't suffice. Apparently her desire was for knowing what SHE would be giving! So, Mom says we'll be going to Wal-Mart after eating (could I divert the van to Target?? Please??) so she can get something for Dad. I have a few ideas on CD's I might like. :)

Well, Match Game '74 is less than 10 minutes away, so I close and remind myself to come back and change my age on the profile at the top right of this boring blog.

I was seven when the show was first aired.

I ain't seven no more. :) Good night, friends!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day, funny closed-captioning, and other thoughts.....

Happy Fathers Day, first to my Dad, who is recuperating from the surgery I blogged about earlier this month. Looking forward to seeing him during vacation time.

I received two cool cards, one from wifey, one from the kids and the cats. Rachel wrote the message, while Robbie chimed in with a reminder of his latest thing that makes him laugh.....

....the midget leprechaun on WWE Smackdown. Only my son would put something like that in my Father's Day card. I loved it.


USA Network is in need of help in the closed-captioning department. Tonight during two (more!!) of my wife's TV shows, closed-captioning was, well, somewhat unreliable, shall we say. The best "mistakes" were:

1) Lowe's----says you get six months free financing with a purchase of $299 or more.
----CC reads you get six months free financing with a purchase of $9 or more.

2) Hershey's----CC created a Reader's Digest condensed version of their name:



As dominating as Carolina was in game two of the Stanley Cup Finals, they were dominated by Edmonton in game six Saturday night. It was sad to watch. And Erik Cole's return from a broken neck made no difference. Well, at least game seven is in Raleigh tomorrow night. Who takes it? The young, hungry team, or the veteran, tested team?

They all want to win the Cup. Will those who have played 6, 8, 10, 14 years without holding it have enough, or will the youthful legs of Edmonton do what they've seemed to do since the start of overtime in game five---which is skate so fast they make the Hurricanes look like they're standing still.

Through it all, GO HURRICANES!!!!



Heard----"Why didn't you go to the police?"

Read-----"Why didn't you go to the pole?"


Went into the pool for the first time this season; me and the kids hanging out, laughing and having fun. It was so nice. It's already in the 90s here. I fear a long, hot summer. I crave long hours in air-conditioned locations. :)


And finally, my best friend at work is on vacation this week, so things just won't be the same. May her and her family have an awesome week! The Withams are T-minus three weeks from Friday from their first vacation with all four Withams in four years.

I hope the foundation of our home doesn't crack in light of the shocking news. :)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Out of shape.....REALLY out of shape....

So, it's Virginia Credit Union day at Busch Gardens Sunday and we meet up with our niece and her friends from North Csrolina. Had a wonderful time; weather was perfect and everyone pretty much got to the ride of their choice.

I hurt my foot in the log flume, so I gingerly walked the late afternoon and evening.
That was nothing.

Try huge pain in the lower calves, especially my left leg, for the past two days.

Why? Could it be it's because I sit all day at work, come home and sit, then go to bed?

Sure it could.......

....but let it be know I drank, for me, alot of water there Sunday. Trying to find the silver lining......


Carolina is one game away from tasting the sweetness of Lord Stanley's Cup. After defeating Edmonton last night, they come home to RBC, where Wednesday night they can launch the hockey party heard 'round the world.

Ten years ago I was in Raleigh for a minor league hockey game with the old Raleigh Icecaps. They played in a 3,000 seat arena, which wasn't full, believe me.

Now? RBC will be packed to the rafters, with rabid hockey fans ready to celebrate.

Sure wish my bro could be there...he's been a big supporter for a long time. :)


Tonight on Larry King, Al Gore said we have 10 years left before major environmental catastrophes occur.

30 years ago, scientists were hailing "the new ice age". Now, within 40 years, we go completely the other way to the point where the earth is falling to shreds?

If Earth has been in existence for millions and millions of years, what's 40 years? My point is we, as humans, should be concerned about Earth, and be very enviromentally conscience. At the same time, let's put things in perspective.

Something happened from the inside or outside to destroy the dinosaurs.....and the earth kept on going. Is it possible that humans aren't as powerful over the earth and its condition than we think we are?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

You go, Pops!

Just to tell the world.....

.....Dad came home from the hospital mid-week from surgery. He's doing well after the aortic aneurysm surgery with a side of hernia disposal.

I know why he recovered so quickly....he missed his girlfriends back at the senior center.

Good enough reason for me! :)

I wonder........ Jack Bauer is doing so far in his home somewhere in the depths of China? Think there's a buffet and a spa?

....why a President, rather than finishing a speech to the nation with a "good night", or a "God bless America", decides to shock everyone by saying, "Buzz Off France!!"

....why are they called ex-husbands or ex-wives? What about "q-wive", "r-wive", or "j-husband"?

....why was the Belmont Stakes even held today?

....why did the missus take all the chicken leftover from last night's dinner to work for breakfast this morning? I ended up having a Snickers bar and an ice cream sandwich. On the other hand, maybe I didn't end up so bad after all. :), I know why seeing Elizabeth Vargas at the end of 20/20 last night just ticked me off all over again about the egregious way ABC treated her in the WNT anchor fiasco. I can't believe I'm typing this, but I'm actually looking forward to seeing what Katie Couric will do on CBS. Just please, CBS, don't make her use the name "Katherine". That will completely undermine her credibility by saying, "we have to remake her for people to take her seriously on the evening news."

....why I'm getting old so fast? Only yesterday a trip to Busch Gardens would excite me (I like water rides); but now I'm going tomorrow and really could care less, except watching the kids have fun, of course! Just hope the weather doesn't make it uncomfortable out there.

....why can't I blog as much as I want to? Simple. Time. When you hang out at your cubicle 12-14 hours a day; doesn't leave much time to blog, and my rule is, "don't blog at work".


Finally; this MUST be said.....

The opening segment of Letterman on Thursday night was the best one I've seen since his NBC days. Honest. I never stopped laughing. Hard. Out loud.

As someone on staff would tell him: "Good job, old man!"

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Well, I certainly left a great "depression".....

Sorry it's been a week since my last blog entry...for several reasons. None the least of which was finding out last Tuesday night my Dad had been diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm.

If you're looking for jolly, pick-me-up reading, don't click the previous link. But, for families of those with all types of aneurysms, it's reality and must be dealt with head on..... see, it's not his first aneurysm. We'll travel that road another time.

So, I obviously want to get to New Bern, NC, where Dad, my brother, sis-in-law, and graduating niece (yea!!) live.

Surgery is Friday. Hope to leave early from work and head down Friday evening. Why did I ever think that would happen?? So, it'll be a Saturday trip.

Rachel has her first piano recital Saturday, so the family cannot go. It's me, alone.

And therein lies the rub. You see, I haven't set foot outside the Commonwealth of Virginia in, well, it was exactly three years last Thursday. This is part of the life filled with the glories and wonders of depression. Many people, like me, have this overcoming desire to be around or at home. You might remember the church I used to pastor was 45 miles away. For a few months some time back, I was getting some "pangs" just going to church.

A peep of anxiety fell Friday night. Saturday morning was a mess. I can't go to North Carolina...neither can I, well, leave bed. Wife offers solution which would allow her to drive me down later in the day and makes arranges to do such. She gets home from Rachel's recital and couldn't do plan B either.

Wife was, well, I don't want to speak her emotion since I don't feel we'll keep it with, Wife was disappointed with me because of all the people I had inconvenienced. Makes perfect sense and I understand now. It wasn't my first concern, though.

My dad, brother and sis in NC were my concern, and my inability to get in a van and drive awhile to the south and east had yet to show itself other than in my mind. Bed was a wonderful security blanket (can I get a shout out from someone depressed who finds their bed a haven occasionally!)

Sunday came and went, with me only going to work late Sunday night (which I had planned to do on the way home from NC). But I had taken Monday off. Hmmmmm......

What about striking out after the family goes to work/school? I start quietly planning, even showing interest in how to check fluids in my van (long story), because I couldn't go without doing that.

And then, just before Wife leaves for work, this ill feeling begins. I didn't let it last long. I knew the deal.

So, sleep some more, hang out with the family, and watch a lame Deal or No Deal. (Celine? Had she ever watched the show???)

Talked with Bro today and Dad's very well, waiting for a regular room to open up so he can stop bugging the ICU nurses.

Oh, and we also covered the big 5-4 Carolina Hurricanes win in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals!!!

And the second best thing was my bro didn't kill me. I'm so embarrassed by all this, yet I'm so open about it. How do you reconcile those two facts?? I don't know when I'll be ready to travel far; that's the only "fact" I can present as to when this mountain shall be climbed.

And the very best part was Dad doing so well in surgery and so far in recovery.

After going to the doc today, I've been told some therapy may be in my future. That'll be interesting.

My transcripts will only be available on pay-per-read.

PS: Hurricanes fans, just because you pulled out game one and Edmonton's goalie is kinda gimpy, don't start drinking from the cup just yet.

PPS: I made sure I was checking at my work computer tonight so I would know when the time was:

6:06:06pm on 06/06/06.

I waited for blood to creep down the walls of the office, a big demonface to appear in the sky.......

......all I got was an apparition of my co-worker, Rodney, standing at the office door singing, "Havin' My Baby", singing in the direction of the desk of one of the three ladies in which I share the room. He left without giving us a clue as to his, well, direction.

And that was all. I can only imagine what the Apostle Paul would say at the sight...


A correction though, as we close 06/06/06, the narrative. Paul did admit later that he heard Joseph sing the same song to Mary while walking with her toward the stable.


...and we present May's winning numbers.....

1, 2, 6, 10, 18 and 30.

Started strong, ended sputtering. Where was the kick for the final turn?