Turn Two Days Into Two Weeks

Sometimes I think I take things to the extreme. I have had the past two days off and I have purposefully stayed away from the computer, the TV and any form of technology. Dedicated to making these days as long and dull as possible I have read an entire desk reference, Lewis Third Edition Project Management and the feel good management style book, This Is Your Ship by Captain Abrashoff. To be honest with you I really wanted to to see what would happen if I ever became responsible and worst yet, sophisticated.

So Tuesday began at 5am with a cold shower to get the blood flowing. I remember my Grandfather swearing by the rejuvenating effect it had on him each morning. Makes you wonder why he died of a heart attack, huh? I think I screamed a little and while toweling off I couldn’t help but hum Tommy Petty’s, “American Girl”. I think it was because of the Buffalo Bill “tuck” scene from Silence Of The Lambs. I’ll let you figure that one out.

(In case you are wondering, this is what came up when I searched for an image of a”cold shower”. I couldn’t pass it up.)

After the shower I had breakfast which consisted of a sunny side up egg, plain toast and black coffee. As I ate I read the Wall Street Journal to the occasional sound of the percolating puff of the coffee pot. It almost made me crack and turn on the TV, even if it was to the sound of Dora the Explorer. Six a.m. and I was already going mad.

So there I was, about to start my day of enlightenment without the aid of instant information. Sitting at my desk I opened The Desk Reference of Project Management to page 1 out of 552. And there I sat for the next six hours reading with highlighter in hand. I made it all the way to page 10 when these sort of things started popping in my head.

Does anyone eat inside a McDonald’s anymore?” – Seriously. I try not to eat fast food but sometimes on road trips the only thing to eat for miles is a double cheeseburger. But I always go through the drivethru unless I need to use the restroom but even then I get back in the car only to swing through the drivethru. Actually the last time I was eating in a McDonalds it was for a birthday party and my buddy urinated in the shoe bin of the playground. That didn’t go over well and there were a lot of barefoot kids walking to their minivans. Like I said it was many years ago and I imagine the only people who “dine” inside are 80 year olds who order the fish sandwich with a cup of Sanka.

Am I too old to sign up for karate?” – Lately I have felt the need to walk around as a registered weapon but not for the purposes of throwing people through windows or kicking someone multiple times with one jump, but rather to wear the uniform. I saw this guy in Kroger a few weeks ago who was clearly over fifty but he was in his karate get-up and had a purple belt on. Now I know little about martial arts but I am pretty sure he only started a few years ago if he was only to purple. That inspired me to think about finding a dojo but I am worried I will be the only 29 year old among thirty 10 year old white belts. Then after class I would meet them out for ice cream in our uniforms and sneakers. Yeah, I don’t think so.

If my life was on the line or for one million dollars, could I will myself into being a proficient roller skater?” – It’s no question to anyone that I can’t roller skate. I never had the desire to do so and even in middle school I scoffed at the idea. But if someone was pointing a rifle at me and told me to skate, I bet I could force myself into being a pretty decent skater. I am not talking about triple spin jumps or anything but I think I could do a few rounds around the rink without a catastrophic fall on the hip.

This guy isn't me but I wish it was

Well, before I knew it I was making skating motions with my feet, it was three hours later and I was up to page 125. I had no idea what I read but I was 125 pages ahead of where I started. So to make this long day shorter for those who are reading this, I finished the entire desk reference. All I needed to do was focus with the aid of reading allowed, walking in circles and making up songs to the theme of cost reduction metrics and work management scope plans. Before I knew it, the day was over and I retired to bed and had sweet dreams of everything boring.

I got up the next day to another cold shower, bland breakfast and preceded to read another book. This one was a little better but still not something to keep you on the edge of your seat. It was about how a captain in the Navy inspired his crap crew to be the best in the service and how he did it. Yadda, yadda, yadda….take your $70,000 annual Navy salary, think outside of the box, impress people who think inside the box, sign a million dollar book deal on how you did it, travel around to be a keynote speaker for the rest of your life. Got it.

After all that I have managed to make my two days off seem like two weeks. That’s the secret to elongating a vacation. I guess that is why the elderly drive 35 miles per hour on the freeway, watch CSPAN and Home Shopping, eat at 4pm and read nine newspapers a day. I have cracked their code. Just two days seemed like two weeks so I imagine retirement must seem like a second life.

To wrap up the two days I picked up Chinese food, turned on the tube to South Park, checked the email, felt flattered by the kind compliments from the last blog I wrote and read everyone else’s blogs. I must say that everyone on my blogroll is more talented than the people who wrote the two books I finished. It was very apparent. I’m lucky to have blog buddies that are so talented.

Putting the “Me” in “Extreme” with the Ultimate Warrior

In every profession there comes a time when thoughts drift to where the grass grows greener. I think I am there. It’s not that I am unhappy, it’s just that always being on the move is wearing me down and I would love to be in one state for more than just a couple of weeks. But before I can even think about jumping head first into the interview process again I need to revamp my style. Now that I have a few years of corporate experience I really need to have a more direct and aggressive approach to knock the socks off any CEO or senior exec. I need inspiration. Who can help me with this?

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Ah, The Ultimate Warrior! The guy would put passion into every syllable he speaks, whether it makes sense or not. Most believe he is completely crazy but I find a little genius in his madness. Who else can go on a screaming rant about planets, trees, Grimlock Systems, multiple gods, and poodles without so much as a shrug from the audience. Granted they were the type of people who thought wrestling was most definitely real and Ultimate Warrior goes home each night to his spaceship but that is beside the point. The point is he can win the hearts and minds of anyone with a whole bunch of nothing and if I am going to swing my resume at a fortune five company, I want to have that gift. Here’s an example of what I am talking about. Enjoy.

Let’s see…..I got logs, fire, Hercules, flames that go up and down and that’s about it. See what I mean? There is no real congruent thought process going on there but for some reason I feel compelled to agree with what ever he says. I think he can help me put the “me” in “extreme”. Let’s study another video shall we?

Look at that intensity! How can any interviewer deny the dedication of someone who approaches them with mouth agape and hissing? I would skip the whole “You’re not worthy enough to breathe the same air as me.” I doubt that would be appreciated right off the bat so that line will be put in the back pocket for a later date. I will use it, though. Just give me time. Maybe I should practice a simulated interview before I go full on with the real thing? Hmmmm….I need more inspiration.

Ok, that was a little over the top but I think I have it! I do need to work on my snorts but over all I think I have the gist of it. Now it is only me here tonight. All my buddies are having fondue date night or some lame ass thing so this practice interview will take a little imagination, a little dress up, and a total disregard for any dignity I may have left. Ahhh….if you have been a reader of VeggieMacabre you know I have kissed my dignity away a long time ago. Anyway, this is only helping my future in corporate America. Right? Keep in mind I am 29 and this is my Saturday night.

Interviewer: Let’s see….. who is next? Bill….

“Wendy, could you go ahead and send in my 9:00?”

Interviewer: H…hello, you must be Bill. Please have a seat? Would you care for a cup of coffee?

Me: Isssssssss it extREME?

Interviewer: I think it is just regular. Well, let’s get going. I have a copy of your resume and you have the experience and meet the education requirements but I was wondering about your cover letter. “I’m fucking awesome?” that seems a little….direct. Don’t you think? And it’s misspelled too.

Me: YOU DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT TO TALK TO ME, NORMAL. YOU DON’T EVEN DESERVE TO BREATH THE SAME ..er…ahem…I was going for a straight on approach. After all, isn’t that what a cover letter really says, anyway?

Interviewer: Ah, that does make sense. I admire your candor and honesty. Are you familiar with the history of our company?

Me: Back when the gods aligned the planets in the grimlock system I WAS FORMED TO UNDERSTAND THAT only I can grasp the miSSION STATE-MENT of your placccccccccccce of paycheck origon. So yes I am familiar and that is why I feel I can be not only an asset to it’s future but someday be a relic of it’s history.

Interviewer: Very good. If you could choose one thing to be your weakest trait what would that be?

Me: *SNOOORRRRRT* THE SMELLLLL OF COMMMBAT drives me mmmmMMAD! That and I have always had an impatient attitude from outside contractors of the work breakdown structure plan. I need to delegate more effectively from inside the scope.

Interviewer: Ok then, so what do you feel is your strongest?

Me: DO YOU ASK YOUR GOD THIS QUESTION WITHOUT BEING BURNED LIKE A FOREST TREE UNDER LIGHTNING? LOAD THE SPACESHIPS WITH THE ROCKET FUEL! But really I think the training with the airlines and the MBA tasks this year alone has prepared me and sharpened my strongest assets…..so I guess it is the ability to inspire teamwork. Normal.

Wendy: Mr. Larson, your daughter has comeback from the art class in the conference room. Should I send her in?

Interviewer: Oh shoot. Sorry Bill, it is “Take your daughter to work day”.

Yes Wendy, send her in.

Bill: *snortttttt* (long exhale) No problem at all.

Interviewer: Meet my daughter, Lola.


Interviewer: OH My God!

I think we are done here.

Bill: So…..should I call or will you guys call me…?

Interviewer: Get out.

Well, maybe the pumpkin simulation of the brief interview process shed some light why the Ultimate Warrior maybe a little more than I needed after all. But I sure like his style. Plus, he can’t be all that bad. He’s anti smoking!

*Sorry you were subjected to this tonight. I was just burned out from studying and needed to regress a little.*

Life Lessons

It is amazing to me that in an instant the very way we view life can change forever. It can happen at the oddest time and from people we would never expect. A few months ago my Uncle Mark (left) and his best pal Jim (right) took their annual vacation to see me from Philadelphia. Now I love these guys but I will be honest when I say that I was looking forward to their visit much like my semi-annual visit to the dentist. They definitly march to their own beat and by the time they left to go home I was grateful to them for allowing me to be in the parade.

Growing up Uncle Mark was definitely the “cool” uncle. He lived in the basement of my grand parents house that was a 12 year old kids paradise full of BB guns, cable TV, candy, a police scanner and a computer. This was heaven sent when the only thing to do upstairs was watch CSPAN, PBS money drives and God forbid read. He also taught me how to punch, never hit a girl, what poison ivy looked like, every line up the Flyers had since ’77, the need to study hard, carrots equal good eyesight, milk makes you tall, spinach equals muscles, don’t smoke (he still smokes 2 packs a day), girls hate guys that are smelly, and some day the Russians will invade so be prepared. See? All good things and I have retained it all even 20 + years later.

Well, Uncle Mark still lives in the grand parents basement and now when I go up there, I find myself giving him lessons and advice. He has never settled down with anyone and that is with reason. Ninety percent of the advice I give is about women. It’s not that I know that much, it’s that he doesn’t. Here’s an example.

Last Christmas I was visiting in Philadelphia and after dinner he took me to his Friday night hang out. It was a dance club for seniors and between Jim and Mark it was more like a potential chance to meet some strange. I went to the bar to get us a couple of beers and as I was walking back I noticed that Mark had no intentions of approaching any women. Actually if you didn’t know him, he kind of looked like a stalker. Well, I decided to help him out and a noticed a younger lady sitting by herself and I asked if she would like to come hang out with us. After bribing her with a seven and seven she came and I introduced her to my “rich and single” uncle. Things went pretty well and they were hitting it off right up to point when his cell phone rang. I swear to God this is what Mark said next.

We have to go. That was my mother and I told her we would be home before midnight. Do you camp? I like to camp so maybe we can go camping?”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him she might not call. Actually I did they opposite. I said he was smooth and she would definitely sleep with him but next time, leave the whole “Mom called” thing to yourself and for Christ sakes stop calling her mother.

Jim is a cool guy. He is the typical blue collar Philadelphia Eagles fan that will kill you in a bar if you say anything derogatory about McNabb. He too is 50, single, living at home still. (These guys have a lot in common.) The one thing about Jim is his child like amazement for the most ordinary things. A few years ago on another holiday trip up north, all three of us took a trip up to Allen Town to spend the day at a Bass Pro outlet. I like Bass Pro so I went along. Little did I know we would take a six hour detour and tour the UTZ Pretzel packing factory because we passed it on the highway. If I knew earlier that day I would be wearing a hairnet and safety goggles I would have stayed home.

So now you know them. They have hearts the size of Kansas but socially they do their own thing. Well before I knew it the week had come for them to visit. I actually had been so busy I forgot until the night before but if anyone could entertain themselves they could.

After they arrived we caught up for a few minutes, ate dinner and watched a little baseball. Upon inquiring what plans they have for the week, Jim and Mark made it apparently clear that they needed to first find a Walmart and stat. Apparently on they made the decision when packing to leave the underwear at home to make room for other things. I have never heard of anyone making a cognitive decision to leave the underwear at home. That’s the first thing I pack. Well, I took them to Walmart and you haven’t lived until you see two fifty year olds argue over brief or boxer. Another thing that I didn’t know but every Walmart these guys are at they collect as many plastic bags as possible. After check out they stood out side and compared who had the most bags much like kids comparing Halloween candy. I think this was an omen for the day that followed.

So it was Saturday and their first full day of vacation. I took the day off to show them around before they left to spend the rest of their time in the Everglade. I figured we would go to waterfront, charter a boat, fish off the pier, or take a ride down to South Beach. When I asked what they had in mind Jim piped up and said he saw an add for a Flea Market that’s open and we should check it out but first they needed to stop at another Walmart that was having a grand opening in Stewart an hour north. Ok then. Off to the Flea Market.

Jim rented a pretty nice sports car and we took that to find this crazy mystery place called a flea market. I must admit that Jim is a pretty aggressive driver. I take that back, he’s more crazy than aggressive. After 30 seconds in the back seat I decided that seat belts were pretty pointless when you hit a Crown Vic going 90. If I’m going to die then I’m coming through the front seat and taking one of them with me. I think this guy had a safer ride than I did.

So after we broke the sound barrier three times, honked the horn 400 times, flicked off random elderly couple 250 times and ran 30 red lights we pulled into the South Florida Flea Market. It’s amazing how fast you can get around town when you totally disregard the law. The market was what I thought it was; half shopping, half circus. But no matter, I was there because Uncle Mark and Jim had their hearts set on it. And then I found out what they were there for. They needed gym bags, socks, a new watch with an alarm, pecans and the ultimate sausage sandwich. Wait…what? Sausage sandwich? I have never hung around anyone who has gone on a quest for a sausage sandwich. There’s always a first.

Just browsing around the different kiosks I felt almost overloaded with the amount of ninja swords, personal designed hats, airbrushed T-shirts and homemade jewelry. Jim and Mark were pigs in shit, though. I was there for the people watching but I found myself just watching them. Mark got his socks and watch while Jim haggled with an Indian guy for a couple of Nikie gym bags with an upside down swoosh. Onto lunch!

Holy shit they found sausage sandwiches! I couldn’t believe it. They must be flea market pro’s because they didn’t even question whether or not sausage sandwiches were available. I declined to eat one and it’s not that I’m a snob when it comes to eating food at a flee market. It’s just that I had food poisoning once, which is why I will never drink chocolate milk from a gas station again. I think getting food poisoning from a sausage sandwich may indeed kill me. I just watched in utter amazement as Jim dropped most of it on his shirt and Uncle Mark chewed with his mouth opening while flirting with the raffle ticket chick. From then on I stayed twenty paces behind them pretending to be on the phone.

We came, we saw, we concurred the South Florida Flea market. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. Actually just watching these two guys made the whole trip worth while. I’ll never think about sausage without linking it to the smell of pony rides and pleather. Now onto the new Walmart and it’s grand opening! This one I did skip and stayed in the car. I can’t tell the difference between one Walmart and another.

They went in and came out relatively quickly. But not without a inordinate amount Walmart bags of course. While they were in a kind lady gave them the idea that we should go to up to Fort Pierce to look at the manatees that hang out in the marina. Sounded fine to me. I have only seen a few since living in Florida so why not?

After we pulled out of the Walmart parking lot Mark turned down the radio and hushed us because it was just about 3:00 and he had to test his new alarm wrist watch. We listened intently and at at the stroke of three an audible vioce chimed, “The time is three PM and you’re an asshole.” Holy shit it was a novelty gag watch and the look on Uncle Marks face was to die for. I haven’t laughed that hard in a while. You know the laugh. The laugh that makes your mouth muscles ache. I must say that Uncle Mark didn’t find it too funny and that made it all the more hilarious.

Well, we got to Ft. Pierce in less than 20 minutes which is pretty amazing because it was over 60 miles away. And sure enough the lady was right and there were sea cows a float’n. I’ve never seen two 50 year olds go shit house mad over floating fat mammals. I can still hear Uncle Mark yelling, “Look at his snozzle, look at his snozzle!” I can only assume that a snozzle in the mouth of the manatee. It was pretty priceless.

After that picture opportunity we hopped back in the death machine and took A1A, which is the beach side highway back down to West Palm. On the way we passed a nuclear power plant and for what ever reason they had to pull over and get an outside look. Knowing the history of these guys what do you think happened next?

  • They looked at it from a safe distance and we drove away?
  • They heeded my warnings and just kept going?
  • They walked up to the front gate and decided to take a few pictures?

Of course they took a picture. And not even 30 seconds later two cops pulled up and gave us what we had coming. I think they figured out the harmlessness of the situation but made it a point to make me feel like an idiot and I didn’t even leave the car. Now I was ready to go home.

So the day came to an end. I was never so glad to be sitting on my bed staring at the TV. Even if it was off. I had to share the days events with someone so I called a dear friend of mine and we were rolling with laughter just by the readers digest version of it all. Then I got the outside perspective of what I missed. Uncle Mark and Jim are not sad characters at all. Actually they have what most strive for their whole life. They are truly happy. It doesn’t matter that sausage sandwiches decorate their shirt or the fact that they are oblivious to wearing brown socks with white Stride Rites. In their world Walmarts are Mecca and finding a flea market can make or break a Saturday.

After I got off the phone I walked downstairs and ordered us a few pizzas . At dinner I looked at the atrocious table manners they had with a sense of awe. I had a whole new appreciation for who these guys were. They held the secret to personal happiness. It wasn’t obliviousness or lack of intellect but rather their complete view point on life. Happiness comes in the small things. All I need to do to realize that was take the stick out of my ass and see them for what they are worth and there is no price on that. I needed to learn more from them but soon their trip was over and I find myself missing the strange adventures. I can’t wait to see them for Christmas and maybe the zest for life will inspire me to throw caution to the wind and seek out sausage sandwiches from a random vendor. I think about that every time I find Walmart bags around the house. Thanks guys.

Halloween Party

Every year I look forward to Halloween and I really don’t know why. I get geared up way too early, burn out around mid October and on the actual day all I really want to do is start the Christmas season. But this year I planned to combat the poorly timed holiday spirit by actually having something to do on Halloween day. This year we threw a party.

So the night before Halloween I finally carved this years pumpkin. Every year I do the same face. It’s more like a retro design but I like it. It reminds me of the back of Charlie Browns head when that bitch Lucy and her even bitchier friend fool him into modeling for their jack-o-lantern. Next year will be same and there is comfort in that. Martha Stewart can F’ing hang.

Here I am. I didn’t intend to be Jason this year. Actually I really wanted to be Angus Young but because I am me, I waited until Halloween afternoon to find all 20 accessories necessary to pull off the rocking outfit. So, I used a flight suit from my prior military career and dropped $6.99 on a hockey mask at exactly 4:30 that afternoon. That’s a plus for the costume but it’s tough to drink 10 beers through a hockey mask. I almost cut a hole in the mouth region but there is a thin line between beer drinking genius and a weird S&M mistaken identity.

Well the decorations were up, the costumes were on and the food was out. Now all we needed were the people to show up and complete the circuit. I will admit that last night I had a few awkward moments very reminiscent of junior high and high school. The party began at 7pm and soon it was 7:30 and we sat on the couch staring out the window while X-Entertainment’s Halloween Jukebox blared Alice Cooper. Just Jason Voorhees and a cowgirl staring pathetically staring out the window. That’s a site from the street.

Then there was a knock! It was the guests and everyone hit a home run on the costumes. Now I was four beers ahead so my friendliness was amplified because everyone received a hug from the slasher of Friday the13th. That was a high point of the night but like all hosts experience, parties have peaks and valleys. Enter the babies.

Don’t get me wrong, I like kids. I think they are cute in small doses and on TV but after a while I’m done. I’m sure that will change if I ever have one of my own but I don’t and I relish in the freedom to leave the scene and change the channel. But they were there and I felt it was necessary to put away the hockey mask and explain all night that I am not a top Gun pilot, damn it.

Ninety five percent of the guests were Tara’s work friends. She is a news anchor so everyone in the news world was at the apartment. So right when the babies and new parents arrived so did my friend Johnathan. He was a priest with a Raggedy Andy doll pinned to his crotch. I thought it was spot on. Spot on, man.

There was definitely a lull taking place about half way through the party. None of the people at the news station were really making an effort to talk with my friends and I was busy making sure no one was cutting through the bedrooms because the babies were sleeping and making sure that people tried the dip. Then one of the quests showed up with Guitar Hero for the Playstation and it was a home run. I don’t go ape shit over video games but that one was pretty cool and it was sort of a bridge that made people mingle. I even rocked Dio’s “Holy Diver” and damn near kicked the TV over with excitement.

This is the point when the festivities are now driven by the alcohol consumption. My friends felt a little neglected and jumped ship before midnight. That sucked for me because the news people talk about one thing and that is work. They also throw people who aren’t present under the bus and that is a real sore spot with me. I’m sure i do it too but i definitely don’t do it in public. That’s really the death rattle of the party when everyone is in the kitchen talking shop and me and the one girl who works in Atlanta watch Nightmare On Elm Street 3. I’m sure she didn’t like it but it was that or do that awkward, stand in the corner and fake laugh thing. It was even weird for me to go to the fridge to get my 16th beer. I felt like the car that disturbed the street hockey game. I could have sworn I heard “game on” when I walked back to the couch.

All parties, good or bad, come to an end and this one did too. I said my good byes and I was pretty proud I didn’t make an ass out of myself. I didn’t fall off the roof or throw up in my hockey mask so I was a head of the game. Right up to the point when the new parents were walking out the door with their sleeping baby. Then I tried to make a funny and it went over like a fart in church. “Thanks for coming and thanks for bringing the little guy. I must admit that I was a little disappointed we couldn’t eat him……ahem….right?” At least they faked a laugh.

You didn’t think I could let Halloween go without me making a little slip did you?

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