Good Riddance, 2013

Welp, it’s almost over. 2013 is quickly coming to a close and I, for one, couldn’t be more thrilled. In fact, if I had my ‘druthers, I do a cut and paste on the whole year and forget to paste it.

Yeah, 2013 kinda sucked for the most part.

To be fair, however, 2013 did end on a positive note, so I’d prefer to just write off from say January up until November. The last two months were a vast improvement owing in no small way to getting hired after nearly two years of being out of work. That alone has made the whole of 2013 eminently redeemable.

I don’t mean to come across as cynical and sour, though many days I still feel that way. It’s going to take a while to erase some of the angst of looking for work and not finding it, disillusionment being the key word for all those months. And make no mistake; it’s hard to break the habit overnight of feeling like ten tons of crap. So I’m taking this step to help move away from the negativity and into a more positive place.

Here’s my list of things for which I am grateful. Now, these are in no particular order, nor is there any priority involved. Unless there’s something funny in there, which I don’t know ‘cause I haven’t written it yet. But funny stuff goes in where it works best.

Off we go. Things for which I am grateful:

–  My sense of humor. Lord knows I’d not have made it through this without one. Thank goodness mine came standard issue. Some think my sense of humor is… well, defective. Fine. You can think that. Sometimes I do too, but I hit more than I miss, so you naysayers can bite me. (See? Still cynical and sour. I’m working on that.)

–  Being hired. Of course, I am VERY grateful for the opportunity to rejoin the workforce and stop screaming at the radio every time the job numbers described people who have given up looking for jobs. I DID give up for a while when I was sick and didn’t realize it back in 2012, but in 2013, it just pissed me off to hear that. Being back in the workforce and being blessed to work for the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center is something really cool. While I’m still new here and learning the ropes, everyone here has welcomed me and made me feel at home. So to all of my new colleagues and bosses, thank you for hiring me and thank you for making me feel so at home.

DVR–  My DVR. Holy crap, my DVR has 3 TERABYTES of storage for high-definition TV shows alone! While much of that is consumed with reruns of “The Big Bang Theory” and Seth MacFarlane’s animated shows, being able to watch “Person of Interest,” “Elementary,” or “American Horror Story” whenever I wanted to was a godsend. (On a related note, I just binge watched ten episodes of “Person of Interest” some from many, many months ago. I recommend the show. However, I do NOT recommend binge watching ten episodes.)

–  Credit card companies. Yes, while I was unemployed, I used my credit cards to pay bills. Far, far more than I should have, but hey, when your back’s against the wall and you’ve got kids for whom you’re responsible, you do your best with what you’ve got. So I’m grateful that no one cut me off. Of course, now 2014 will be the year of worrying about how the hell I pay this all off. But at least we’ll all be fed for the foreseeable future.

–  Speaking of kids, I’m grateful for them. All of ‘em. Jon and Andy, my two grown-up kids who are scattered across the continent. You can read more about them here. I’m immensely proud of them both and love them like crazy. Nate and Garrett are my significant other, Beth Geyer’s kidlings and they have made 2013 bearable. There’s no greater comfort than a small child’s hug or having them fall asleep next to you while watching TV. As heavy as they are, it’s never a chore to carry them upstairs, dead asleep and tuck them into bed. There’s no greater gratitude for me than knowing that circumstances I’ve tried to create permit their sleep unburdened by the things that keep me awake at night. That’s my job. Whatever it takes.


–  The dog.

Nope. I lied about that.

–  I’m grateful to the online community for keeping me company when I can’t get out of the house, which is pretty much always. Thank you for entertaining me, engaging me and giving me an outlet for socialization even if it is virtual in nature. I recognize that you’re all real people on the other side of my screen, and I value your friendship, your candor and your confidence. I’m extra grateful that I DO get to see many of you in person from time to time. Thank you for being so welcoming and so supportive.

–  I’m grateful for politicians.

Nope. I lied about that, too.

beth–  Beth Geyer. She allows me to be a real parent to her children, and I try my best to do a good job. I’m grateful for your support when I succeed and for your kindness when I fail. I am grateful for your boundless beauty and your sense of humor. You are extraordinarily clever and your wit and impeccable comedic timing are the stuff of legend. Timing like that you can’t teach. (Nate’s got it, too.) I am grateful for your presence in my world. I’m also grateful for your Sub Divines – the singularly most delicious sandwich recipe ever brought to a relationship ever. Did I say “ever?” Oh, and for your love of beer.

–  My Toyota Prius. It’s paid off.

photo–  Jeff Tobin. Jeff and I go back to 1972.  Last week after a server crash, I sadly lost a terrific essay I wrote about our long-standing disagreement about who’s the better drum major. He’s been a good dude for well over 40 years, and I have always valued our friendship, perspective and the rapport we’ve shared for a year or two now. Specifically, though, I am VERY grateful for you introducing me to single malt scotches. Yes, that was a 2013 thing. I was visiting Chateau Tobin in May near our birthdays this year (we were born 16 hours apart) and Jeff set us up with a scotch tasting. Changed my life. I am grateful for you and for your liquor cabinet.

–  HD Radio. Not satellite, but HD Radio. It’s a form of digital terrestrial radio that no one knows about except geeky guys like me. Living near a big city I can get a whole boatload (yes, it’s a large boat in case you were trying to quantify a boatload) of HD Radio stations you can’t receive on the regular FM band. Relatedly, thanks to Best Buy for having an open-box desktop HD Radio for $29.99 that was going for nearly $100.00 on Amazon.

That’s about it for now. I’ll have more later, I’m sure. Baby steps, you know.

Oh, and to you, my reader. Thank you for reading this. And thank you for commenting, liking it or whatever. Maybe you could think about the things in 2013 for which you are grateful. Tis the season and all that, right?

Jeff Tobin's Gingerbread House (Used shamelessly without permission.)

Jeff Tobin’s Gingerbread House (Used shamelessly without permission.)


P.S.  If you speak binary, you’ll get the message.


I did it again.

It’s not an unusual thing for me, crashing a server or two or three of four. So it’s taken me a few days to get it all back and working, but it’s there. I’m missing some information and posts and the like because I trusted (stupidly) an automated backup system.

I should have known better.

I’ll restore what else I can over the next few days, and for my one reader (and that’s me) mea culpa, I’m sorry, Apologies abound.  I screwed up.

Ah well, I learned plenty in the process.  I suppose that’s something.  🙂

Nighty night, and I hope y’all had a very merry Christmas while I was restoring.


Pearl Harbor Day – A Different Perspective

This is by my friend and former acting colleague Ken Parham, who also served in the Coast Guard in Alaska when I was stationed up there in the Army in the late ’80’s.  Ken and I did a number of stage performances (“Arsenic and Old Lace” is one.  I was Mortimer — he was Teddy.) together up there and met up again in LA as union actors in the early ’90’s.  

Anyway, Ken posted this on Facebook and I thought it was worth reposting here.  This is a great story written by a great guy.  Thanks, Ken, for allowing me to republish this.

KenParhamWhen my ship would go for “refresher training” at Pearl Harbor, we passed by the USS ARIZONA twice a day, going into & out of Pearl Harbor. We passed so close that we could see amazing details of the ship that you couldn’t see from the Memorial. When we passed-by, our ship “rendered honors”. Most of our crew would “man the rail”. Maybe you’ve seen this on tv when Navy ships return from a long deployment; the crew is on-deck, lined up at intervals along the perimeter of the ship. When rendering honors to the ARIZONA, the crew lines ups at intervals on the side closest to the Memorial, preparing to salute.

Right before we start passing-by, the flags are “dipped” – or, lowered. A person blows the whistle over the ship’s P.A. system to come to attention; another whistle for saluting; another whistle for dropping the salute; and a final whistle to “carry on” once past the Memorial.

It is an incredibly solemn and highly, highly emotional experience. Even the “crustiest of Old Salts” are brought to tears. Well, *I* was the one who blew the whistle from the bridge of the ship. I didn’t want to. I did everything I could to get out of the job. Why? Because I was a “basket-case” when we passed the ARIZONA. Sometimes SOBBING (as I’m prone to do & am apparently not ashamed of).

Years later, my Commanding Officer, who became my drinkin’ buddy, told me he gave me the job because I was such a practical joker. He wasn’t making light of the solemnness & seriousness of the respect to be rendered to the ARIZONA, but this was payback for my putting one of those Hawaiian frogs in his shower. If you haven’t seen them, they’re just about as big as a manhole cover. I only did it because I heard he was afraid of frogs. He went on to say that he wanted to see me “get serious” for a few moments, along with seeing if I could do it “without weeping”. I could not.

Well, I KINDA could…sometimes.

You know how when a child is in its final whimpers from crying? Well, put a WHISTLE in that child’s mouth and see how it sounds. I sounded like a drunk Irish referee at a soccer game. I might as well been blowing a clown’s slide whistle. I learned early on to keep the whistle from my face until I was going to use it. A whistle doesn’t do so well when it’s full of tears. One time I even blew a snot-bubble with it.

I also learned to keep the whistle WITH me the entire time we were in Hawaii. The snot bubble gave my buddies on the bridge the idea to put a little drop of liquid dishwashing soap into the whistle. There’s nothing worse than trying to blow a whistle during a solemn event when you’re crying/laughing at bubbles on the bridge…

I somehow know that if they were alive, the sailors on the ARIZONA would find bubbles coming out of the ship’s whistle hilarious…unfortunately, they gave their all for our country…