Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Normally I mail my holiday cards to arrive the day after Thanksgiving.

Just to make people curse under their breath - "That damn Chuck."

This year, however, I was balls deep in schoolwork and stuff so NO ONE got a holiday card.

I did send a mass e-mail to a bunch of folks to let them know what I was doing - again - schoolwork.

And here for you readers is my report card. If you had made a donation to Chuck's Scholarship Fund, you'll be happy to read it.

A = Seminar In Education
A = Peer Tutoring and Composition Theory
A = Foundations of American Education
A = Introduction to Visual Art
A = Introduction to World Literature I
A = Teaching Reading and Adolescent Literature
A = Survey of the Exceptional Child

The teachers have been wonderfully helpful. I talked to most of them and expressed a desire to do well in their classes. If I felt I was struggling, I let them know, and also asked what I could do to ensure an A, i.e., extra credit, supplemental reading, revisions, whatever. They'd give me a list or options, and I'd try to do all of it.

They really do appreciate earnestness.

Some of my classmates, however, do not. One group in a class was making a presentation on Carver which I now want to read. They explained how he excelled in college and was a curve-breaker and asked "You know what a curve-breaker is, right?"

Spontaneously five or six people pointed at me or said "Chuck!"

None of them are actually mean about it, though. And I look forward to seeing many of them again in January.

Anyway, I'm happy to be done with the semester, and I think I'm much better prepared for next semester.

Right now, I'll be studying for my PRAXIS exam in January and I'll try to clean house and blog some more.

I miss all of you! Send comments!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Writing for Children

Today I read for a fourth grade class in the library at local elementary school. I have no regular association with children so I have no relative idea of ages and grades or what they are capable of and when.

When I started to transform Antigone into a children’s story my main goal was to keep ‘the moral’ intact. My interpretation of the moral is that wisdom can be found in everyone and only a fool would disregard it. To get to that moral while sidestepping all the suicides and the hint of incest was my first challenge. I didn’t want a happy ever after ending, but I also didn’t want people hanging or throwing themselves on swords.

The next challenge was to explain why people were disobeying the king. My first rendition left that out completely, saying that he simply made up silly rules that nobody liked. When I read it to classmates, they wanted to know what the rules were that were so silly. Everyone wanted to know why. I didn’t want to go into great detail about two brothers fighting and dying over the rule of a city. One gets burial honors and the other is left, by decree, for carrion.

I took the totally tamed down tale to the school today and met my fourth graders. They are much bigger than I thought fourth graders should be. (Again, I had no reference point.) So I asked them, “How many of you have younger brothers and sisters?” Fortunately, many of them do. I told them that I’d created a story for a younger crowd and I need their help to make it better. Then I asked them if they knew what kings, queens, princes and princesses are, and of course they do. Then I asked if they could tell me what it is that a king does. I got a variety of answers; “They go to fancy parties, wear fancy clothes, sit on their thrones, have butlers, play with their money, boss people around,” et cetera.

I read them the story and they were extremely well-behaved, listening throughout. Then I asked what they thought and how I could make it better. Suggested ideas included talking frogs, bears and Transformers. Some students had wonderful suggestions on ways to get rid of the king. “Take him for a walk and get him lost while everybody else leaves the kingdom.”

The librarian asked me to tell them more about the original story. I told the group that the story was written for a much older crowd than my story. I confessed that all the people who went away forever, actually died. Immediately the children were on their knees in their chairs insisting on knowing how. What a blood-thirsty bunch.

Antigone for Children follows.

Antigone for Children

Antigone for Children

A long time ago, in the city of Thebes, in the land of Greece there was a brand new king, named Creone. He had never been a king before and on his very first day as king he made up some very silly rules. You see, he thought that all kings do is make rules and people obey them. And indeed, in this city, everyone thought the same thing; that the king must be obeyed. So as soon as Creone put on the thin crown of king, he started making silly rules.

For example, he had two nephews, one of whom he liked very much, and the other whom he didn’t like at all. So, he made a rule that everyone in the city should like the nephew that he liked, and not like the nephew that he didn’t like. Everyone thought that this was a very silly rule, but he was the king, and the king must be obeyed. So everyone liked the nephew the king liked, and didn’t like the nephew the king didn’t like. Everyone obeyed the king except one person, Antigone.

Antigone was the sister of the two nephews, and she loved both of her brothers very much. So Antigone decided that she would tell the king she thought that was a very silly rule. Antigone put on her best flowing, white gown and jewelry and did up her hair and went to the king and stamped her foot and crossed her arms and said “I think you have made some very silly rules, and even though you are king, I simply cannot obey because I love both of my brothers very much.”

But the silly king, and a lot of people at that time, didn’t think that girls could be very smart, so he covered his ears and said “I don’t have to listen to you, because I am a king and you are a girl!” and he sent Antigone away forever.

Now the king and queen had a son. His name was Haemen. Haemen liked Antigone very much and he also liked his father very much. And fathers and kings must always be obeyed. “Oh, what shall I do?” he thought. Finally, he decided to put on his best robes and go before his father the king. “Please don’t send Antigone away forever” he begged “ . . . because . . . well, I like her, and besides, I think your rules are silly too.”

But the king didn’t think that young boys could be very smart and he covered his ears and said “I don’t have to listen to you, because I am a king and I am older than you!”

So, Haemon decided he would go away forever just like Antigone.

Next, a very wise blind man came to see the king. His name was Teresias. And Teresias said respectfully, “My king, everyone thinks your rules are silly. You should probably change them.”

But the king didn’t think that anyone other than a king could be very smart, so he covered his ears and said “I don’t have to listen to you because I am a king and you are not and you have to obey me!”

And Teresias warned the king, saying “Because you will not change your silly rules, everyone that you like will go away from you forever.” And with that, Teresias left.

Now the king sat for a bit on his very fine throne, with his very fine robes and his very pretty crown, and thought about what Teresias had said. “Well,” he thought, “Teresias is a very wise man. Maybe I should have changed those rules.”

So the king got up to look for Antigone, but Antigone had gone away forever. Then the king looked for his son, Haemon, but Haemon had gone away forever just like Antigone. And when the Queen found out that her son, Haemon, had gone away, the queen decided that she would go away too.

So now the king was all alone and very sad. And the king thought to himself, “I am such a silly king. I should have listened to Antigone, because girls can be very smart.

And I should have listened to Haemon, because young boys can be very smart too!

And I should have listened to Teresias as well, because you don’t have to see or even be a king to be smart. What a silly king I was.”

And somewhere at that very moment, Antigone and Haemon and Teresias and the Queen smiled, because they knew they were smart all along.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Pump-Kin Festering

Take a look at each of the items in the picture (except for the sweatshirt).

These little treasures are things that we picked up at the Crap . . . I mean CRAFT Festival last weekend.

Pumpkinfest is an annual Mayberry-like event in a small town in Pennsylvania.

The girls and the girly boys went there last weekend for a relaxing weekend at a lakehouse doing NOTHING.

I left most of my schoolwork at home, bringing only a novel (required reading for a class) and my knitting. We played cards, drank a little, ate a lot of junk food, enjoyed each other's company and had just a calm do-nothing weekend away from everything.

I got turned on to a Killer Bunnies game - which is a lot of fun.

Anyhoo, one of the attractions at the small town festival is the Crap Festival. We descended upon the small town and scattered, each Pumpkinfestering their own way, with one specific goal in mind:

Spending no more than $2, buy the crappiest piece of crap you can find at the fair. We then bring all our treasures back to the lakehouse and have an objective judge (who doesn't know who bought what) rate them from Best to Absolute Crap.

The one who purchased the Absolute Crap piece wins all the other pieces.


Last year - a cut out picture, about 1" X 1.5", which looked to have been generated by a color printer won. (It beat out the package of broken crackers - which also helped to establish the 'no food' rule.)

The year before, it was electronic belly button jewelry that won.

Click on the picture for a close up of all the items and see if you can pick the creme de la crap!

(Important for you consideration: On the back of the very patriotic, heart-shaped candle is a prominant "Made in China" sticker.)

You know, you make your own fun. AND, if anyone from that sleepy little town finds objection in our exercise, think of it this way....

This does sort of display us as snooty city folk, but oh well . . . We paid for it - so your crap brought in some dough, which was your intention. And, although there was a LOT of crappy crap, there were also a lot of good things too.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Autumnal Equinox - Happy Mabon

I know, it was last Sunday, but...Happy Autumnal Equinox !

Though I missed it here on the blog, I didn't miss it at home. In fact, I did ALL KINDS of fun equinox activities!

Alright, I confess, I did schoolwork all day. This past Mabon, (Sunday), I cleared the altar, lit some incense and decorated it with a pile of oak leaves. Then dove into my books.

If you read my blog a year ago, you'd know that I'm not a big fan of the darker half of the year, but I've learned to wrap my mind around it. It's the second harvest, it's the end of Summer, it's the beginning of the longer dark. And for me that means reflection and soul searching.

I am a big fan of
being happy with what I've got
and where I've been.

If you know where you are, it can help you understand where you're going.
It would be fun to have a Mall Kiosk sort of thing that mapped out your experiences as if they were stores you've visited, and big arrow that floats over you all the time - YOU ARE HERE.

Here are some "stores" I've been to in the last year.

1-We started and finished the outhouse and made a girl cry. (But not in the bad way.)
2-I started college again and have not fallen behind.
3-My husband and I bought some trees and rocks in the form of acreage in W. Va.
4-I quit my job in D.C. leaving behind a certain vague unappreciated feeling and a not so healthy atmosphere.
5-I've been to a Straight Strip Club
6-We've paid off some bills and loans.

I think it's been a good year. And I think it will be a good Winter.

Okay, so for YOU out there....

Think about where you are and where you've been. (I know, I ask a lot of you.)

Then choose to be happy and move forward

because, YOU ARE HERE now.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pimp My Outhouse

If you're wondering what I've been up to.....

I'm sure you're just dying to know.

Aside from school which is dominating my life right now....

We've finally revealed the pimped out outhouse for our friends.

Visit www.pimpmyouthouse.blogspot.com

Friday, August 31, 2007

End of Week Two

It's the last day of week two of college and I've experienced the same as the first week.

Mondays hit me like a sack of books. I start to feeling extremely overwhelmed. Then I go home and work my butt off all day Tuesday.

Wednesday's hit a little softer and only me bruise me into feeling a 'bit' overwhelmed. I go home and work my butt off all day Thursday and start planning for the next week.

Friday's hit and I'm a little more confident that I'm going to make it through.

I have three Education classes, three English classes and one Art class. So it's a LOT of reading. (As you would imagine.)

Already I've read Gilgamesh, portions of the Old Testament, chapters of Homer's Odyssey, Catcher in the Rye, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and a wheelbarrow full of textbook chapters and supplemental articles...

So, I'll hit my classes today then head off with wonderful friends for a long weekend at the lake. Guess what I'm packing.

ALL MY BOOKS. But I don't resent it.

My friends are wonderful because while they're planning the weekend, they let me not think about it. "Please don't make me think." I said, "Just give me a list and I'll stop at the store along the way." They're going to let me drag my books to the lake and allow me to read, read, read.

Don't get me wrong, I'm going to come up for air, rum and cards. (You know, essentials.) And, I'm going to be reading
on a boat,
on a porch,
in a house,
near a spouse...

It's important to me to maintain the workload, but it's also important to have fun.

How many of you 'live for the weekend' but then only do things you couldn't get done during the week? Laundry, cleaning, pay bills, mow the lawn.

It's important to do all those things, but be sure to carve some time out for YOU.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Week One at Shepherd

Wow, I was so freaking overwhelmed.

Now I'm simply overwhelmed.

LOTS to read. Lots to write. And they're throwing me head first into the tutoring pool. (Which reminds me of the cartoon of the dog sticking his head out of the car window, bragging to another dog, "I'm going to the vet to be tutored.")

Oh! And get this...some scrawny little 20-something remarked that she felt so OLD compared to the other students.

And...and!...AND!...this other KID (I know I'll need to stop ranting about this soon) spoke with all his worldly wisdom on something about which he's COMPLETELY IGNORANT!

And this other person WON'T... STOP... TALKING TO ME! I'll call them "Sunny." Just as a homophone for someone else who provided me with inane chatter.

Notes, essays, reaction papers and annotated bibliographies...that's what Blue (above) has crinkled on his way to catnap land...and what I still have to do.

I don't know HOW I ever got through any of my prior education without reading "The Catcher in the Rye." I still wish I'd been able to dodge that bullet, but it is the 1st of 15 books I need to read for ONE FREAKING CLASS!

Wow. 214 pages of privileged, aimless teen angst wrapped up in one lousy weekend.

WHY was this required reading for so many of you - and how did you get through it?

Okay, paper number four of the day....let's go.

Monday, August 20, 2007

And Awaaaaaay We GO!

10 Minutes before I leave for my first day of school. I'm only slightly nervous. I've made my lunch, packed my books, have my schedule--I'm ready to go.

Just thought I'd pop in here for a word or two.

HUGE life changes in the last 30 days.

There's a 'back-to-school' smell and chill in the air that means Fall is approaching. I don't like Fall that much, though it does offer me glimpses of my favorite color.

I broke down and bought a thermal lunch bag. I'd been eyeing the "Princess" lunch bag--pink with vertical stripes and a little princess crown near the handle. But in my mind's eye it was more black than pink. When I went back to buy it, even I thought it was too pink and guaranteed to get me beat up at recess.

That doesn't happen in college does it?

My lunch is peanut butter and strawberry jelly -- is that too cliche? -- and a couple granola bars.

My back-to-school garb is Hawaiian shirt, jeans and sandals -- is that too cliche?

Maybe I should pack a beer too.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wow - Heavy Stuff and Lil' Friskies

I really MUST find a job.

About eleven years ago, when I was a florist, some very dear friends pestered me to get a REAL job. You know, the kind with holidays and benefits and the like. Button shirts, ties, shoes that hurt my feet and clothes that require ironing really are not my style - but I did as they had pressured me and got a real job. And as much as I may have resented that (a little) in the back of my mind, if I had not, we would not be doing what we're doing today. So thank you my dear, dear friends for that - because . . .

We close today on a few acres of wooded land near artsy-fartsy Berkley Springs, W.V. After closing, we're going to the property and do a happy dance. This is to be our final homestead. Our Camelot. Our walk-around-naked-and-pee-in-the-yard place. So, now more than ever before, it's the first day of the rest of our lives.

I have another friend who has access to a goodly amount of money, which he fritters away on entertainment. He looks at me and Mike and with befuddlement because we have much, much less, yet we're happy. And, actually, I feel that we are much better off--No savings, no retirement, no job, but we have each other.

How do you measure your quality of life?

As we walk through this day, increasing our financial burden (even more) in pursuit of the American dream, we're content. We joke about having to cultivate a taste for cat food later in life. (So if we start nibbling a little now...?)

Friday, July 27, 2007

So Long and Thanks for All the Boobies

I started typing this morning, waxing philosophical about the end of a personal era, first day of the rest of my life, and blah blah blah.

But that would be NO FUN to read at all.

SO - Train People . . . what have I forgotten?

And you outsiders, if you'd like me to explain any of this, send a note, but there's no way to explain EVERY LAST thing...

Highlights of 2.5 years of train commuting.

Aquaman - He'd had a bit too much (a lot too much) to drink before he got on the train, poured water on himself on the train, looked as if peed himself (but didn't really), caused people to think he was going to die.

The time we convinced two cute college girls to be so extremely interested in me just to cause Skidmark to have a conniption.

When we invented the word PAHL (pronounced 'paul') - which means ignorant.

Too many shots at a number of happy hours.

The time one person got so very drunk and started groping people on the Metro.

Juice nights - a big batch of left over liqour in a cooler with a hint of flavoring.

When I turned on the charm to attract a female, just to show I had more game than someone else. "But Chuck, you don't even LIKE girls!"

The slow motion spiraling shower of beer onto the four guys in the corner.

Joke of the day!

When Fez would look left and right and lower his voice before whispering "Penis."

The oh so forward sexual advances of a number of females.

$50 dollars for every time I have to tell the spouse of a commuter "I don't know."

The surreptitious advances of a handful of males.

Waltzing with Chris.

Kissing the girls.

The Great Race of Brunswick.

Spikey-blonde-haired bitter bible bitch.

Acknowledgement of So Do Ku mastery.

Beer, beer, beer.

Boobies, boobies, boobies. (Who needs 'em?)

Fox News.

Knitting for friends.

The beer bottle trick that makes the boys squirm.

The tongue trick that makes the girls squirm.


The Ball Gag.

Ann's color commentary.

The Train Names - Fatal Attraction, Ultra-Donkey, Goldilocks, Man Hands, Girl Chris, Boy Chris, Tattoo Chris, Wine Kelly a.k. Blonde Kelly, SS, Fez, Skidmark, Doogie, Teflon Don, Firewall, GMC Truck Guy, Runs-Like-A-Girl, Business Suit Guy, Banana Guy, Subject Matter Expert, Griz/Hagrid, Labia, Mister Slave, Apple Bottom, Frat Boy, Kennedy, Clown Butt a.k.a. Man from Behind, The Broad, Pitty Pat a.k.a. Jamaica Pat, The Cooking Channel, Eye Candy, KY, . . .

When I stumped a politician on the same-sex marriage issue.

Heat Restrictions.

Ugly, scary and endless baby pictures (UGH.)

Henry's weather announcement.

The Llamacidal Maniac.

The many reasons that Skidmark's gay.

The woman who told me I needed sensitivity training.

The Fart Machine.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Thanks, Mom

I still get those Cuddly hang in there Kitten prayers about Jesus, a Nigerian banker, who loves me and needs help moving money to an account in the name of a terminally ill little boy in Kansas whose touching final wish was to create an e-mail that did something really cool when you forward it to ten of your friends within five minutes or days otherwise something absolutely terrible would happen as was the case of the barely legal girls girls girls who got pregnant sniffing the perfume card in a mall parking lot where one could buy natural penis enhancers that may have already been won by the lonely Russian girl who wants to be my myspace friend only can't work the layout so you have to click through to her adult profile where my computer gets infected with a worm similar to the ones that cause inexpensive breast enhancements which, like our troops, require support in the way of adding your name and forwarding to all your friends the petition to right the terrible loss of "In God We Trust" from all of the pennies you may consider donating to my scholarship fund.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Marlboro Country

I'm walking around the house on tippy-toe and eggshells because my hubby is quitting smoking. I'm very proud of the progress he is making and to help, we've moved all the ashtrays to the front porch and have banned smoking in the house.

I do notice that I smoke less when I am home now, because I have to go outside. And, I too will follow in the footsteps of reformed smokers, but not until after my wonderful husband has returned to normal.
He's not being mean. There have been no fights or huge disagreements. He's just focused on the cigarettes he's NOT having. I'll get the usual kiss when I come home from work, but instead of sensing "I love you," the message I read is "I could be smoking now."

The only thing I know to do is stay out of his way. So, I slip upstairs and knit in front of the cartoons until it's time for bed. Occasionally I venture back through the house to the kitchen for a beer and whisper a nervous but supportive "I love you" or blow a kiss if I pass near, but my eyes betray my fear "He's going to kill me in my sleep."

His lips automatically form "I love you, too." but his eyes ask "Where's the ammo?" And I escape back to the Cartoon Network.

We have had a couple conversations about our quitting process. We understand that there are going to be some INTENSE situations resulting from our severe behavior modification. So we've come up with a code word. Lllover. You have to drag (not roll) the L when you say it..."I'm going to watch cartoons, Lllover.

When used by him it means:
I love you. Your mere presence grates on my very last nerve.
If you're doing something annoying - All of my patience normally displayed in this situation has been sacrificed to focus on not smoking.
If you're NOT doing something annoying - You're just in my sphere of discontent.
I will love you when this is all over.

When used by me:
I love you. Your mere presence grates on my very last nerve.
I'm trying to be very supportive and loving here - and realize that to keep from shooting you myself - I need to be in another room.
I will love you when this is all over.
Remember this when I am quitting.

Oh boy, I'm not looking forward to my turn. Where he is passively, silently brooding, I'm actively evil and calculating. I hope he can endure.

I figure a great time for me to begin my quitting process is my first week away from the office. No longer will I have the familiar routine of a smoke
walking to the train
before boarding the train,
deboarding the train,
after the Metro
with 10:00 coffee
on the way to lunch
back from lunch
with 2:00 coffee
before the Metro
before boarding the train,
walking home
before dinner
after dinner and
a few while watching TV.

So, as my routine will change drastically, it's a good time to quit, don't you think?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Consistent Customer Service

To the Intercontinental Hotels Group Guest Centre

Someone speaking for your establishment has found fault with my attitude and I'd appreciate your assistance in my education regarding this matter. I am not sure that I have the correct e-mail address for this sort of letter, so in addition, I will be posting this inquiry on various Internet sites while awaiting a response.

The morning of June 24th, after a wonderful evening touring Alexandria, Virginia, I and my friends had been looking forward to joining a number of others for breakfast at "Chequers" in the Crown Plaza Old Town, formerly the Radisson (901 N Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314).

Because we knew it would be a large gathering, the hotel had been thoughtfully informed, weeks in advance, that our group of 20 or so would be arriving for breakfast at 9 a.m.

Arriving fashionably late, around 9:15, I thought nothing of our passing ungreeted through the lobby to ascend the steps to the restaurant. I'm sure the people at the desk were doing something infinitely more important and it is probably not a policy to smile and greet guests as they pass.

Neither did I give more than a passing thought at the time to the woman at the restaurant desk who also failed to look up, make inquiry or even acknowledge our presence as we paused before deciding to simply continue unguided into the restaurant proper.

I scanned the room and moved toward our party, catching the eye of the only visible waiter along the way, indicating that we were joining the group.

The waiter quickly assisted in helping us pull more tables into a row, poured us coffee and disappeared.

We sat chatting for a while with our friends, occasionally looking up fruitlessly to see if the waiter would be returning soon, perhaps with menus, some sort of breakfast buffet information, or even a glass of water.

Our friends became equally baffled by his absence and assumed that perhaps the breakfast buffet was the only source of nourishment. How much did it cost? Who knew? How do we indicate we'd like something? We didn't know and remained helplessly abandoned.

Acting on the assumption that the breakfast buffet was the only way we could eat, we risked moving to the line to view what was offered and actually reached for a plate before noticing large, heated bins of nothing but scraps and crumbs of food that indicated what had at one time occupied the bins. We were not alone.

People, both from our party and complete strangers, stood patiently, hungrily and hopefully with their empty plates, giving the establishment the benefit of the doubt that soon someone would come and restock.

It was a pitiful sight, really. Almost like the orphans in Dickins' Oliver Twist -- "You want more?!" I say "almost" because we hadn't had any yet. We didn't want 'more,' we wanted 'some.'

I decided to look for someone, anyone, who might have any information for us. The waiter was still missing and the woman I'd originally passed at the the restaurant desk had also escaped to perhaps the same place. Apparently, it was only the two of them providing this abundant void of service.

I thought luck was with me, however, because in my search for service, I did find a breakfast menu on a ledge that indicated alternatives to the breakfast buffet. With my trophy in hand and the prospect of an omelette in my mind, I passed back through the buffet area and the waiting crowd of people who were eagerly circling a mournfully small plate of French toast sticks that had just arrived via the restaurant desk woman.

Ah! There she is. She seemed a bit harried, but acknowledged my indication that I would need the assistance of "the" waiter. I then returned to the table to await his reappearance. And wait. And wait. And wait.

By the time he did return to our table, I was greatly disgruntled and unwilling to try to extract any kind of service from the establishment. Given my experience thus far, how long after ordering food would it arrive? I wasn't willing to risk further disappointment.

My two friends with whom I'd arrived had, however, nibbled from the breakfast buffet and were obligated to make payment. So they returned and waited at the vacant restaurant desk to pay.

And waited. And waited.

Not wanting to leave an unpaid burden, they descended to the hotel front desk and spoke with J. Simms, who claimed no responsibility for the restaurant and offered absolutely no assistance. When asked if he could locate someone to take payment, he responded, "I don't like your attitude."

My friends were politely asking for assistance and trying to make honest payment for partaking of a poorly stocked breakfast bar and absolutely no hint of customer service and the front desk person doesn't like our attitude?

To summarize:
The hotel knew of our arrival in advance, yet still the restaurant was negligent and understaffed.
The breakfast buffet was a wasteland of orts.
The hostess or cashier acted as neither and can only be called the unresponsive woman at (or absent from) the restaurant desk.
The desk clerk was unhelpful and accusatory.
In all my worldly travels, I don't believe that I have ever encountered such a lack of service in the field of customer hospitality.

Considering that "InterContinental Hotels Group is dedicated to providing consistent customer services," please forgive my ignorance in asking what kind of attitude should we have cultivated from our experience at your establishment?

You can respond directly to me at poizniv@gmail.com or post your comments under this same letter at my Web log (blog), www.just-chuck.blogspot.com .

Thank you for your thoughtful response,

Chuck Walker

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Wanted: Replacement Homosexual

I wouldn't say that I'm flamboyant, (perhaps others will say that for me) and I'm not sure one could tell just by looking at me that I'm gay. Although a thespian, I'm not what one would call "straight-acting" (but I have played one on stage). I'm just your normal homosexual.

One time a woman I know from the train was throwing a holiday party at her home and was happily insistent that I attend. "Chuck, you have to come to my party! I won't take no for an answer."
"Sure," I said "can I bring my husband?"
"I don't care!" She announced, waving her drink, "Bring your wife."

Okay, we've established that she was drinking. So I'm not surprised she confused the noun gender or even that she forgot about the whole conversation, which was repeated - almost verbatim - twice more in the weeks approaching her shindig. What does surprise me is that after polite conversation with my husband at the party she turned to a mutual friend, "I didn't know Chuck was gay!"

How could she NOT know?

Later, that same month, I was determined to be out of the commuter parking lot before the man who normally holds that position. I wore a loose tank top, shorts and hiking boots for the sprint. It was quite an event, (enough for another entry) and many of the commuters on the train pressed against the window to watch.

Guy-1 commented that "He," he said, meaning me, "looks kinda gay dressed like that." and when another rider quickly confirmed, "You didn't know?" it pretty much changed the dynamics of our future conversations.

Once Guy-1 knew I was gay, anything he'd say that could possibly (in his head) be misconstrued as having even the slightest interest in the queer nation, had to be immediately followed with a nervous assurance "But I'm not gay."

"Hi, Chuck. I'm not gay."
"Okay, Guy-1."

I've had to constantly reassure him that I'm happily married, he's not my type BECAUSE he's straight, I have no interest--how many times and ways can I express that I'm not going to jump him when he least expects it?

When people know you're gay - they'll act and react in a variety of ways - complete comfort, morbid curiosity, violence, hidden interest, fear, indifference, secret camaraderie, condemnation, etc. -- a list as long and diverse as there are people.

Overwhelmingly, though, it's men who are the most uncomfortable.

Guy-2 used to press himself as close to the wall as he could when I passed down the narrow train aisle. "Hey, hey! Not too close, huh? I'm not like that!"

I started doing the same thing when he had to pass. "Hey! Keep your distance. I'm not straight and I don't want to catch it. Just keep moving. No means no!"

Do they believe that because they are so (in their minds) incredibly attractive, homosexuals couldn't keep control in such close proximity and would immediately attack? Are they insecure within themselves? Is their perspective only a demonized stereotype?

"Well, Chuck, how should I know? I don't know any gay people."

Yes, you do! You are surrounded by homosexuals - the topic just doesn't come up. Some people take great precautions to keep closeted because they fear repercussion from ignorant people. But look around you! They say one in ten people is gay. That means it's a good bet that 10% of the people you know is - you know what. And if you know what, then you know gay people. At the office, at the bank, at the bar-you just don't know that they're gay because they don't play the stereotyped, demonized role that you get from movies and pulpits.

It bothers me some people can be just plain ignorant and it bothers me that some people choose to remain closeted in fear of those ignorant people. How else will the ignorant people learn?

Here's what I do -- be myself. I know that there is a very real threat, but I'm a confident, comfortably out homosexual in a very public setting, and because of this, I have helped to change some minds about gays -- even Guy-1 and Guy-2. And that's a start.

I'm not going to be on the commuter train for much longer - so, we need someone else to step forward and be the token homosexual. How else will they learn? Please apply in person, 2nd car from the end, upper level, bring beer and a joke of the day - but don't be too good looking or witty - I need you to pale in comparison to the memory of me.

Friday, June 15, 2007

College Expen$e$ so Far

Not counting living expenses - The total Fall 2007 College fees and tuitions (So far)is - $2,980.25
Total C.W. Scholarship Donations + $1,050.35 (Thank you!)
Total University Scholarship + $464.00
Left to pay by August 13th - $1,465.90

() Do all those loose pennies in the bottom of your purse make it harder to find your keys?

() Do you have too many coins in your car ashtray or cupholder?

() Is there an ugly, unwieldly change jar taking up space in your home?

() Are you plagued with a sweaty and uncomfortably heavy amount of pocket change at the end of your workday?

Let me take those awful, nasty, ugly, sweaty, sticky, dirty coins off your hands.

Or, if you're itching to spend some of that tax refund, LOOK NO FURTHER ! You can send a donation to anyone with an e-mail address. Click on the PayPal Icon over there on the right and send a pittance to poizniv@gmail.com

Where will it go?

$35.00 College Application Fee
$100.00 Tuition Deposit
$125.00 Advisement and Registration fee
$45.00 Campus Parking decal
$18.75 Used Book
$18.75 Used Book
$7.50 Used Book
$9.75 Used Book
$9.75 Used Book
$14.25 Used Book
$34.50 Used Book
$45.00 Used Book
$335 (5) New Books
$2,282.00 Fall Tuition (Minus $100 deposit above)
$??,???.00 Living expenses

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Diving into or Going Over the Deep End Today

I never really thought about how big a day today is or how tense or stressed I might be, but apparently my subconscious was all over it.

I dreamt a LOT last night.

It was all very Anime. Escher-like college building constructs that were fraught with danger--steep inclines, water hazards, sheer drops--that all impeded any sort of smooth traversing. Islands that floated in the air were kept tethered to the Earth by chains and kept dropping boulders.

"That Woman" (if I may borrow from A.C. Doyle) was an ever elusive prey. If one were to interpret dreams, this would be the person who had the power to make everything go smoothly, but was never available, difficult to identify, heavily guarded and always saw me coming.

I'd been after the college for months to let me talk to someone - anyone - I have questions, I have special needs. I'm not a clueless teen. I'm a non-traditional student.

Okay, I'm an anal-retentive, old fart who has done my homework.

Taking what I know has transfered - I know what I need to take.
Take the list of what's being offered in the fall
Subtract anything extraneous or must be taken after some prerequisites.
Now the hard part - build a schedule from the pitifully few that remain.

I'd prefer a full 18 credit, MWF schedule, so I could still work a flexible job.
Two courses are only offered at one time, so I have to build around those.
There are next to no good Lit courses offered, and...and...and...

Long story, less long - I have my 'dream' schedule - and I've been watching those classes fill up for weeks and weeks.

Turned away at every request, I'm sure I've been a nagging, simpering, begging pest.

Now today - a complete stranger will look at my file for the first time and puzzle all that out for me? I don't think so.

I'm torn. Should I just sit at the advising table, wasting valuable time as someone else takes that last available seat in Survey of the Exceptional Child -- getting the bored I'd-rather-be-golfing-but-am-doing-you-an-extreme-favor look and listen to their lecture ...


...Should I hand them my nicely printed schedule with the current enrollment numbers and say between gritted teeth,

"Listen, buddy," I'll say, grabbing the sweet-smelling grandmotherly lady by her frilly lapel, "you don't know me and I don't know you, but you have something I need and you're going to give it to me."

Frantic - she tries to maintain the delaying tactic "Now, young man, if you'll just take a . . ."

"THE ALTERNATE PIN ! WHAT IS IT?" Beads of sweat roll down my spine as I see in periphery a bookish looking transfer student head to the registration computer.

Wildly looking left and right for some kind of savior "But, you'll have to . . ."

"THERE'S . . . NO . . . TIME !" I punctuate each word with a slap across the face and pull her up to eye level "Do you see that man over there? LOOK AT HIM ! In all liklihood he is, at this VERY MINUTE" my voice rises "taking the last seat in a class I NEED!" I drop my voice to a whisper "And if you think I'm being ugly now, by God, just you wait 'til I have to come back for an override form. Now," I say, straightening her collar, "give me the alternate pin."

"Here, here it is." She whimpers, reaching into the skirt pocket next to her ample bosom. "555555! Is that what you want?! TAKE IT! I've always hated advising days." She cries.

But her face, her fear and her tears are already forgotten. I have what I came for, what I've been searching for for months. The pin number that will allow me to register.

And now only one thing stands in my way - students whose last names come before mine alphabetically.

NOOOOOO ! ! ! ! !

Monday, June 11, 2007

Studies Show . . .

For those of you who thought that same sex marriages would ruin it for the rest of you, guess what?

It's not the homosexuals that'll do you in, it's the heterosexuals who shack up that's ruining it for you.

But let me toss in another 'guess what.' It's improving the divorce rate!

The 'sanctity' of marriage now, officially, is a moot point.

U.S. Divorce Rate Lowest Since 1970

By DAVID CRARY - AP National Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - By the numbers, divorce just isn't what it used to be.
Despite the common notion that America remains plagued by a divorce epidemic, the national per capita divorce rate has declined steadily since its peak in 1981 and is now at its lowest level since 1970.

The study above points out another 'guess what' that I can't help but aim at all the ultra-conservative, not left, extreme religion type folks -- get this, an educated and working wife actually helps stabilize the marriage.

HA ! Don't you just love it?

But wait, there's more....

If you don't want to be plagued by critical thinking, you can find a study to back up any theory and attribute it to any cause.

President Bush's nominee for surgeon general, Dr. James W. Holsinger Jr., offers another example.

16 years ago Holsinger wrote a piece about gay sex being unnatural and unhealthy. He stated "The rectum is incapable of mechanical protection against abrasion and severe damage ... can result if objects that are large, sharp or pointed are inserted into the rectum . . ."

It is my theory, that Holsinger was inspired by the very large, sharp and pointy and unlubricated pine cone that somehow became lodged in the same area of study.

THIS? is a nominee for the surgeon general?

Are we going to get a new "caution" message on the happy meal toys and razor blades? Does anyone NOT know that putting sharp, abrasive and pointy things in your body COULD cause damage?

Gimme a D!
Gimme a U!
Gimme an H!

Can we get a big "DUH !" here?

Why do you think that people trim the gerbil's nails? -- but I digress.

Okay, he's trying to make two points 1) Unhealthy and 2) Unnatural.

As for number 1, I say, I don't know what YOU are sticking up there, buddy, but if it's sharp and abrasive, I think you're not very clear on gay sex. Let me help you out with two words of advice . . . Astro Glide.

My response to 'point' number 2, homosexuality has been observed in more than 1,500 species.

Soon, I think, we'll discover that french kissing while wearing a bikini does not make you pregnant.

WHERE does Bush find these people?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Form of Admission

While chatting with a lawyer friend this morning I discovered a new silly part of the legal system. It's called a "form of admission." On this form is a list of allegations that the person to whom it is directed must either admit or deny.

Here's the silly part--If you fail to deny an allegation it may be taken that you admit it.

So, of course, all the high school questions immediately pop into my head, i.e.,

Admit____Deny____ You still beat your wife.

If you admit it - well, shame on you. If you deny it, you're admitting that at some point you did beat your wife. If you fail to respond, it's assumed that you beat your wife.

Now consider this question...

Admit____Deny____ You support our troops.

It's been on my mind for a while now. Ever since war with Iraq had begun, the death toll began to rise and the military recruiting commercials increased in frequency. The commercials that say something along the lines of "College . . . career training . . . manhood, etc., talk to your kids about joining the military."

I'll have to admit--my thinking about this stems back before the Iraq war, to my own time in the military two decades ago - why I was there and why it disagreed with me.

I'm a non-violent person.
I don't believe that might makes right.
I don't believe in mutually assured destruction to keep the peace.

But I do know that there are many, many, many people who stand on the opposite side of the fence who will impose their will because they can. And the only reason we are not overrun by them is because we have people who will stand against them.

Without a military force or even a police force, the kinder, gentler people would be at the mercy of anyone with a stick.

So, here's the question--You support the troops. Admit____Deny____

What does that even mean: support the troops?

I wouldn't even dream of saying no, because that plasters UNAMERICAN across my forehead. A scarlet letter U that lumps me with terrorists. "You are either with us or against us" Bush has said.

Why can't it simply be "You are either with us or not?"

You support the troops. Admit____Deny____

If I say I am in support of the troops, then am I saying that I also support Bush and agree with why the troops are there? Do I support interrogation tactics? Do I support their treatment of prisoners? Do I support every bullet fired?


Why ARE they there?

"Eleven years ago, as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi regime was required to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, to cease all development of such weapons, and to stop all support for terrorist groups. The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. It has given shelter and support to terrorism, and practices terror against its own people. The entire world has witnessed Iraq's eleven-year history of defiance, deception and bad faith.". . ."In addition to declaring and destroying all of its weapons of mass destruction, Iraq must end its support for terrorism. It must cease the persecution of its civilian population. It must stop all illicit trade outside the Oil For Food program. It must release or account for all Gulf War personnel, including an American pilot, whose fate is still unknown." G. W. Bush - October 7, 2002

"This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we're in.". . .
"We're carrying out a new strategy in Iraq -- a plan that demands more from Iraq's elected government, and gives our forces in Iraq the reinforcements they need to complete their mission. Our goal is a democratic Iraq that upholds the rule of law, respects the rights of its people, provides them security, and is an ally in the war on terror.". . ."With Iraqis in the lead, our forces will help secure the city by chasing down the terrorists, insurgents, and the roaming death squads. And in Anbar Province, where al Qaeda terrorists have gathered and local forces have begun showing a willingness to fight them, we're sending an additional 4,000 United States Marines, with orders to find the terrorists and clear them out. (Applause.) We didn't drive al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq."
G.W. Bush - January 23, 2007

Was Hussein's dethroning and death a preemptive strike - or was it retaliation for 9/11? In the beginning, it was played as if Hussein had direct involvement with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but later it was simply Saddam's regime posed a risk that the world could not afford to take.

-"The United States has no right, no desire, and no intention to impose our form of government on anyone else." - G.W. Bush - February 2, 2005

but now

-"Our goal is a democratic Iraq . . ." - G.W. Bush - January 23, 2007

So, do I support the troops? Admit____Deny____

How can I tell? From the reasons we were given then, or the reasons we are given now? I simply do not know. (If you fail to deny an allegation it may be taken that you admit it.)

-Saddam Hussein
-al-Qaida and bin Laden.
-Democratic reform.
-Idealogical struggle.
-No honor in retreat.
-Radical Islam.
-Terrorists, insurgents and roaming death squads.


If I say I support the troops - will it give some kind of meaning to this?

U.S. Military Deaths by month:
June-2007 - 17
May-2007 - 127
April-2007 - 104
March-2007 - 81
February-2007 - 80
January-2007 - 83
December-2006 - 112
November-2006 - 70
October-2006 - 106
September-2006 - 72
August-2006 - 65
July-2006 - 43
June-2006 - 61
May-2006 - 69
April-2006 - 76
March-2006 - 31
February-2006 - 55
January-2006 - 62
December-2005 - 68
November-2005 - 84
October-2005 - 96
September-2005 - 49
August-2005 - 85
July-2005 - 54
June-2005 - 78
May-2005 - 80
April-2005 - 52
March-2005 - 35
February-2005 - 58
January-2005 - 107
December-2004 - 72
November-2004 - 137
October-2004 - 64
September-2004 - 80
August-2004 - 66
July-2004 - 54
June-2004 - 42
May-2004 - 80
April-2004 - 135
March-2004 - 52
February-2004 - 20
January-2004 - 47
December-2003 - 40
November-2003 - 82
October-2003 - 44
September-2003 - 31
August-2003 - 35
July-2003 - 48
June-2003 - 30
May-2003 - 37
April-2003 - 74
March-2003 - 65
Total - 3495



What do you want me to say?

I am not against you.

I am for life.

I don't know enough to be with you.

I support the safe return of the troops.

You have failed to deny the allegation it may be taken that you admit it.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Family Thicket

Many people place a great importance on lineage. It is my assertion that it doesn't matter where you come from, it's who you are now that is important. I guess part of my assertion comes from my difficulty in charting a family tree without utilizing extra dimensions.

My father divorced three times.
His 2nd wife married three times.
His 3rd wife divorced three times.
My mother married (I think) five times.
All but three of all the marriages combined resulted in children.
One of my sisters has three children from (I think) three men.
Two of my brothers I've never met - might have children, I dunno.
One half-sister could be a full sister - [The woman that mom claims is the father (yes, that's right) has serious doubts.]

Is this good enough for Springer?

Which gets me to my thought for today -- I wonder . . . how DO they get you on those tell-all shows, when YOU'RE the one whose dirty laundry will be aired?

If someone ever says to you "Oh, Honey, let's go see a live taping of Jerry Springer," your air raid sirens better be going full blast.

Some warning signs that you're a great candidate for a tell-all show are:

Your children all look like the milkman.
(And you're sterile.)
Your girlfriend insists on blindfolding you before nooky.
(You thought it was kinky, but have ever actually seen her naked?)
Your husband likes to water the lawn in heels.
(Claims the stillettos aerate the soil.)
You live in a trailer.
(Blanket statement here, I know - my apologies.)

Really, how does a person get on one of those shows without suspecting something?

Bait and Switch "Wait, this ain't Disneyland."
Altered concsiousness, i.e., drugs, bat, etc. "Whoa, my head. Hey. Where are we?"
Surprise "Are your eyes still closed? Just a few more steps..."

Readers, your mission is to
1-click on the comment bar below and
2-give me scenarios on how to get someone on the show
3-without them knowing what's in store for them.

Friday, June 01, 2007

10 Reasons Chuck Is Not Gay

In response to the Top 10 Reasons Skidmark's Gay, this scandalous comment and accompanying photo just came in from our reporters in the field.

For fair and ethical reporting, I present it as is without edits or rebuttal.

10 Reasons Chuck Is Not Gay

10) He does not wear pink.
9) He drinks domestic beer.
8) He likes boobies - on women.
7) He does not use hair products.
6) He does not shave anywhere.
5) He thinks that Babs is not a talented artist.
4) He listens to country music.
3) He eats at truck stops and not for the "hawt" truckers that frequent such places.
2) He doesn't own a flower shop.

and the #1 reason Chuck is not gay:

1) He spent most of his time in army bases while enlisted in the navy.

Now these ten items may not be enough to convince you, however, when the "gay" guy has groped more women on the MARC train than the collective group of heterosexual males, one has no choice other than to conclude that Chuck is NOT gay.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Top Ten Reasons Skidmark's Gay

This is not an 'outing' or a message of disapproval of a lifestyle.

Because the commuters clamour for it,

and because Skidmark likes to push my buttons


10) Active participation in a conversation on women's shoes.

9) He was very interested and made knowledgable contributions to a conversation regarding women's hair products.

8) He was very embarassed (perhaps even devastated) and extremely self-conscious for an entire day when he discovered his shoes didn't match his belt.

7) Hair products, hair products, hair products.

6) He squirms the most during beer bottle tricks.

5) Even his wife calls him Man Bitch, Mangina and Munt.

4) He shaves his stomach

3) He asked everyone "Can you tell I lost 6 lbs.?"

2) He's envious of the sexual habits of a gay household.

And the number one reason why Skidmark is gay:

1) At multiple times and with many witnesses, he has said "I'm gay."

Do you need more?

A) Oddly enough, he always wants to sit next to me on the train - even though I've told him "No, means No."

B) At times he's been known to put his crotch up very close to my face (ostensibly to look out the window of the seat behind us).

C) Like a bitch in heat, he's often turning his ass in my direction--presenting, if you will.

D) He likes to make small talk - endless small talk - almost like a nervous chatter - and always about nothing important. Picture shy school girl and varsity football player - "So, um, do you like chewing gum?" only his small talk is about the speed or timeliness of the train.

E) Even his wife, perhaps sensing that Skidmark needed an 'outlet,' has sold his ass to me for a cigarette.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Prissmas Recap

It's been a month since Prissmas. I believe we've all healed enough emotionally from the humiliating 'told-you-so's' to post an account of our annual event.

Lighting the fire was much better planned this year. I'm very suprised. Lady Prisspott gathered all of the guests in a pen well enough away from the intended blaze. The Lord Prisspott was nowhere to be found. Apparently he wasn't feeling well. In hindsight, I don't think it's impossible that Lady Prisspott put something in the Lord's food to keep his disapproving stance away from our use of gasoline as an accelerant.

Wearing BDUs (battle dress uniform - camouflaged outfits) Ivy and Thorny prepared the projectiles (bottle rockets) and the long metal tube, while Hydrangea doused the burnable heap with gasoline.

Acquire the target!
Target Acquired!
Load the projectile!
Projectile Loaded!
It's Lit!
Shove it in!
It's in!
Confirm Target!
Target Confirmed!

Fwoosh! and .... nothing.

Repeat 11 more times - redouse with gasoline (at which point we yelled "Acquire the target!" again just to make Hydrangea nervous - then fired two more times (after Hydrangea was clear) and.....THWOOM!

Arr arr arr! - we make fire - arr arr arr!

Applause and happy dance.

On a side note, we had planned and practiced this lighting ritual in our backyard (next to the firehouse) before actually attempting it. We were a little bit nervous about the safety of this experiment. We also had a firefighter at Prissmas. (We'd invited her, then realized "Oh crap! She's a firefighter - will she rain on our parade?")

By far it was the ugliest Prissmas tree ever. We really outdid ourselves. I do believe it was the biggest bonfire ever too. How very cathartic. We burned lots of stuff. The 'ladies' brought a box of things that MUST be burned. Sort of a letting go type thing. Unrequited love letters, ransom notes, compromising photos and the like. If it can be burned, it never happened.

The two sets of Prisspops were a big hit too. Individually packaged and colorfully labeled they fit the requirements: looks yummy, taste like poo. Don't take my word for it, just look at these satisfied customers.

At the opposite end of the edible spectrum, the dessert burritos we cooked in the bonfire took a feat of courage. Even though the talented Lady Prisspott had welded some very nice platforms on poles, still the fire was too hot to get close enough to insert, flip and retrieve while keeping your eyebrows. Plus there was no temperature control. So you didn't know when it was done. (Mine was still cold in the middle.) Great idea too. It met the Prissmas requirements for food. Looks like poo. Tastes yummy.

I don't know who brought it, I think it may have been the 'ladies,' but there was some truly horrendous Spitting Liquor on hand. I was completely amazed - very much awed - by Cat's spitting ability - boy, could she take a lot in her mouth. Now, how could that be practically applied to other events? I'll have to think on that.
Pro: Quantity.
Con: She spits.

Somewhere in the middle of the bonfire ballet, we sang Prissmas Carols around the fire. Apparently T doesn't like to sing in the key of Chuck. "Too low. Too high." she would complain. Through experimentation and trial and error, I think we finally found the right spot when we let her take control. (I imagine it's similar to being married to her-but I'll keep my fantasies to myself.)

I'll write more if it comes to me, but will also let the Prissmas revelers chime in with comments.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

From Fox 5 to Prohibition

Okay, here's the deal. Just pay attention to what people say. Don't let yourself be moved to any kneejerk responses. THINK MAN! Think for yourself.

Which sounds better? Advocate or Activist? An advocate for abortion is an activist to anti-abortionists. Even the name "Pro-Life" lends you believe that people who believe otherwise must be Pro-Death. PETA is an advocate to animal lovers and an activist to furriers (who aren't animal haters).

Politicians, News Writers, Preachers, Car Salesmen, Actors -- it's their job to get you to believe and agree with them. Their words will paint a picture and evoke a response in you.

Now, can anyone tell me the difference between the afternoon shock shows (i.e., Springer) and Fox 5 News?

Fox 5 Investigates did an expose of commuters drinking on the MARC Train.

Using a long list of alarmist phrases they attempted to move the viewer to believe that drinking alcohol on the train must be stopped. Take a look:

-. . .commuters boozing it up. . .
-A scene so troubling it's got lawmakers calling for changes right now.
-"wastin' away again in Margaritaville."
-All aboard this Margaritaville express.
-A free flowing happy hour on the rails. . .
-The rush hour drinking fest even more widespread than FOX5 first exposed last year.
-. . .full party mode. . ..
-. . .doublefisting the booze. . .
-. . .a bizarre Maryland state law which allows eating and drinking --even alcohol -- on the MARC trains.

In the first few seconds of the 'report' they try to create in the viewer an emotional response: terrible ongoing problem, bad drinking, danger.

The law that allows alcohol on the train is not bizarre and drinking on the train is not a troubling scene. What is troubling are people who drink, then drive.

We can all agree, I'm sure, that drinking and driving is a danger to everyone, but what kind of a news report does that make?

"This just in, drinkin' and drivin' is bad, mmmkay? Back to you Maureen."
"Thank you, Bob. VERY informative."

Nope. Not going to sell advertising space, is it?
Let's dress it up and make it marketable.
First, let's call it an expose.
Hmm, needs more alarming phrases.
Which sounds worse? 'Drinking' or 'Boozing it up?'
Add some hippy drinking music! Everyone hates hippies!
Now, add some grainy, concealed camera footage.
No, I'm still not alarmed enough
Okay, blur out some faces and YES! That's perfect.
My, how seedy and underhanded that looks.

Okay, this just in to JUST CHUCK'S BLOG

Shock Jock Fox is seeking prohibition of drinking on the train, If this unending war on your personal freedoms is successful, how long before Fox attacks family owned neighborhood restaurants that serve alcohol? Then how long before Fox supports statewide Prohibition?

Then...obviously...witch hunts.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

From Baltimore Outloud

If you ever wonder why the rights, benefits and privileges of marriage are important to same sex couples, here is one reason.

From Baltimore Outloud

Baltimore man struggles to keep late partner’s gravesite
By Steve Charing

For Kevin-Douglas Olive of Baltimore’s Seton Hill, the battle only began once his partner Russell Groff died from staph infection in November 2004 at the age of 26. Groff was buried in a rural Tennessee cemetery that the partners had agreed on in a will and burial agreements. Both were from Tennessee.

But Groff’s parents, Lowell and Carolyn Groff, have challenged the burial site and the right of Olive to be executor since July 2005. The expensive legal battles that have ensued and are continuing to strap the finances of Olive to the point he must sell his car and try to raise funds to ward off the Groffs’ challenges.

Russell Groff’s parents have been virulently anti-gay, which is ostensibly motivating them in their pursuit to deny their son’s expressed wishes. They even did a Fred Phelps-like protest during Knoxville, TN’s lgbt "Come Out Knoxville" celebration.

According to the Knoxville Metro Pulse, Carolyn Groff blames the "destructive gay lifestyle" for the death of her son, an aspiring playwright. "He wasn’t like that until he got involved in the theater group at Maryville College," she explains. Several other members of her Bible Baptist Church brought signs denoting that gays are destined to hell. Their brand of Christianity drove Russell away from the Christian church and joined Kevin as a Quaker after they met.

Conversely, Kevin-Douglas Olive parents were active in the Greater Knoxville PFLAG chapter where his mother served as treasurer. Kevin, too, was active in the chapter. But his family does not have the financial means to help Kevin in his the series of lawsuits.

Although he is facing financial ruin, Kevin, 35, a French teacher, is determined to win for Russell what he had wanted. "He was the most important person in the world to me," he told Baltimore OUTloud. "I owe it to him that his wishes are carried out."

The legal battles, which are sapping his funds, are a two-pronged approach: one to impeach Kevin as an administrator of the estate and the other to overturn the will. He had won the initial round in a Baltimore City Orphans Court but Groff’s parents have appealed the decision so that they may move their son’s body to a family cemetery. During the appeal, the entire case must be presented from scratch.

Kevin says the legal fees are currently running $22,000. Thus far, he has raised only $5,000 to meet those obligations. He can use whatever financial help is available.

Contributions can be made to: Kevin Olive Defense Fund, c/o Homewood Friends Meeting, 3107 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Happy Anniversary !

Three years ago there was a great hue and cry for defense of the sanctity of marriage. From what did it need defending? Apparently...me.

Three years ago today, I stood in line at the town hall to apply for a marriage license. After a three day waiting period Mike and I were married.

So tell me -- Please, PLEASE tell me . . . in the three years that I have been living in blissful (but unrecognized) domesticity - almost paying bills, filing taxes, cleaning up cat vomit and dog poo, doing laundry, killing plants and making our house a home (just like you), PLEASE tell me -- how has the sanctity of your marriages been compromised by our marriage?

And what the hell IS the 'sanctity' of marriage ANYWAY?

I'll tell you what it is. 'Defending the sanctity of marriage' is a turn of phrase that strikes an automatic emotional chord. So, without thinking, your brain clicks:

"Sanctity" is a good word, yes, yes, yes. Clear, pure, gooooood.
"Marriage" is a good word, yes, yes, yes. Love, commitment, gooooood.
"Defend" is a good word, yes, yes, yes. Keep safe, goooooood.

But how many stop to think about it?

What is threatening the sanctity of marriage?
Obviously, it's the gays! (Confident exasperation)
But, wait, how are they a threat?
Because they want to get married! (Rolled eyes)
Again that's a threat, how?
Uh . . . well, my religion says . . .(Self righteously)
Wait. Your religion is not a basis for laws.
Well, then. Marriage is for procreation. (Smug smile)
Explain how my NOT procreating is a threat to YOUR marriage - and then please explain the concept of unwed mothers and childless couples.
It's not natural! (Worried exasperation)
It appears in nature all the time, birds, antelope, bison, the list goes on - and it's still not a threat.
.... (Silence)

Right, now run along and ruin someone else's life.

Here's the point.

Because of the illogical, emotional response of (dare I say it?) idiots, I am denied over 1100 rights and benefits of marriage that protect loved ones and surviving spouses.

Can ANYONE explain why?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Good Mourning

Dead today at 73.

Let's look at some highlights of his career.

On The 700 Club, talking about the terrorist attacks on 9/11 Falwell said "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"

I will not mourn his passing.

Jerry Falwell's National Liberty Journal had published a "Parents Alert: Tinky Winky Comes Out of the Closet," alarming parents that the Teletubby, Tinky Winky was presented as a gay role model because:
-"He is purple -- the gay-pride color"
-"his antenna is shaped like a triangle -- the gay-pride symbol"
-Tinky Winky, who is played by a male with a male voice, carries a red bag described by Falwell as a "purse"

I will not mourn his passing.

Jerry Falwell supported Apartheid - a system of racial segregation in South Africa.

I will not mourn his passing.

He called Nobel Peace Prize winner and Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu a phony.

I will not mourn his passing.

He was the public face of the Moral Majority which sought to cram an extreme religious agenda down the throats of America.

I will not mourn his passing.

Monday, May 14, 2007

I Lived, Mrs. Burnside!

This past weekend, Mike started working on the last room that remained in the previous owner's eclectic sense of style -- the downstairs bathroom off of the kitchen.

So now, every room in the house is unfinished.
Many of the rooms have only a couple things left to be done.
For instance, the guest room needs crown molding and a different color trim paint.
The living room needs crown molding and paint.
The parlor needs touch up paint and work on the door frame.
The kitchen needs a few more coats of paint, the counters finished and the cabinets either stained or painted.
Just some trim work in the bathroom, sand the plaster and paint.
Crown molding in the hallway - and better curtains.
And the exterior needs the fourth side painted, then a bunch of trim work.

This partial list of very little things, add up to an overwhelming 'honeydew' list.

Why, oh why, don't we just DO them? We do, actually, just not as intensely as some. (Perhaps because there're no harpies in our household to nag, prod and whine.) Because after a bit, the same old job seems tedious and it's always fun to start something new. (Our household is made up of two Geminis.) AND - we have other stuff that's far more distracting to do on the weekends.

Just last weekend I was tie dying with some friends. Made a couple t-shirts, curtains for the kitchen and a tarot cloth. Look at the pictures!

Besides, life is far too full of things we DON'T want to do. In the immortal words of Auntie Mame "You've got to LIVE, Agnes!" So, damn it, I'm going to more than live, I'm going to THRIVE. Too many people go through their days simply existing and surviving from moment to moment. You'e got to fill up those moments with fun stuff!

For example:
Repugnant Raiment with Riparian Entertainment : That was the weekend that a group of us tried to locate THE ugliest dress ever and wear them water skiing. (Still wondering what to do with that bridesmaid dress?)

Pah and Punch Weekend : That was the weekend where every dish was pie and punch. Shepherds Pie, Pot Pies, Pumpkin Pies, Mimosa, Bloody Mary, and a truly awful concoction we called Hair Pie (yes, it involved tuna). For dinner Saturday night, guests were to dress in their interpretation of the theme. One came as a pie bird - which took me forever to fully comprehend.

Cards with friends: All the time. We actually have to retire some cards from overuse. (I've never done that before.) We attended a birthday party recently where the theme was "Play-Cards-Until-Someone-Beats-Chuck-So-Badly-He-Cries." (Which of course, didn't happen.) Here's me dipping my cookies in T's tears.

Crap (Craft) Festivals are marvelous events at which anyone can feel superior. We impose a $2 spending limit and send you off in search of the crappiest piece of crap. All items are judged Best to Worst (by someone who doesn't know the objective) and the Worst winner gets to take home all of the crap.

So in spurts, I work, I knit, I paint, I create, I plant, I play guitar and cards, I love, I live, I thrive. And after a week of WORK and housecleaning and TV - I'm going to do it all again THIS weekend. (Four friends staying over Friday, two on Saturday.)

AND - I have THE most amazing friends with whom to do all these things (I only have quality friends). I refuse to simply exist. I want to LIVE, Mrs. Burnside!

"You've got to learn to make your own music.
You've got to hear the orchestra inside your head." -David Friedman

What are YOU going to do this weekend?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Strip Club Epiphanies III - Final Chapter

The stage is set, the announcement has been made . . ."Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome to Legs, . . . . Little Sisters !"

[I know, the place is called 'Legs.' How ironic is that?]

Cue music ". . . He met Marmalade down in old New Orleans . . ."

And onto the stage they strutted. Wow.

Pristine white mini Las Vegas showgirl outfits. It took only an instant for our eyes to travel the whole yard (I may be exagerating) from the tips of their feathered headdresses all the past the g-strings and down to the tiny spike heels, but there's no way you can take it all in.

The crowd around the stage cheered and watch and stared and gave their "O" faces.

Little did most of them know, that "Today individuals with short stature generally prefer to be described as 'Dwarfs' or 'Little People.' However, it is more important to respect the human choice, and ask them their preference, or better yet, just use their name. The term midget is very offensive and no longer used."

So, if you would like more information about this topic visit Little People Online.

Many will ask, so I'll try to relate, there are two categories of Dwarfism: Proportionate and Disproportionate. These women were mostly proportionate but had some difficulty with graceful movement. And though they didn't walk fluidly, boy could they crawl and strut and vibrate around the stage.

Each took a position at opposite ends of the oval stage and worked their respective crowds. One of them (the woman nearest me) would approach those sitting by the stage and indicate you should put your bill in your mouth, then she would push her, um, Little Debbie's together with her hands to take the dollar bill from your face. She'd then move to another person, letting the dollar bill flutter to the stage floor - apparently forgotten.

I had to show my appreciation, so as soon as a chair by the stage opened up, I swooped in and sat down. So there I am watching, spellbound, these women who on a raised platform are only slightly taller than I am with my knees at stage level.

But still, I'm watching their faces and what they do. The little person at my end of the stage really did seem to be enjoying herself. She smiled and moved from person to person and lavished attention on everyone who came to the show and there appeared to be a light of mischief in her eyes.

I get the impression that she is a very nice person.

But of course who knows? When she turned away from the crowd, she could've gone to that mental grocery list place. Yes, she was THAT good. Either she was truly having a wonderful time, OR she was a fantastic actress. More so of an actress than the other woman who simply walked, crawled and jiggled around taking dollar bills.

But as much as I wanted to show my appreciation (and equally as much dreaded the "little debbie" trick), the Little Sister may have sensed that in this meat market, I was a vegetarian. So she never came close enough to take my bill. (Next time I'll wear a hillybilly rock t-shirt!)

But it didn't matter ! It was GAME TIME ! They put their g-strings back on (with only a little difficulty) and wedged a clear plastic Dixie cup down there between string and uhm . . . (how do I put this delicately?) . . . down between string and Brazilian wax and began to gyrate near center stage. Apparently, I was the only one new to this game. Immediately the other patrons began wadding up bills and tried to toss them into the constantly moving Dixie cups. If you got a bill in the cup, you won a picture of the two beauties. So here's my chance to show some appreciation.

Wad, toss then miss. "Okay, I'm done."
(Where for hetero's it's Toss Miss then wad, "Okay I'm done." But I digress.)

One of my friends did make the shot (no pun intended), and she shared her prize photo with the others on the train. They girls looked better in the photo, but unless it's a driver's license, photos - especially promotional - always look better. I mean, heck, look at my Blog photo then look at my haircut photo. Bleh.

Okay, so I'm done. I climbed the mountain - so to speak - and had seen all that I came to see. So back to our table and one more beer.

My apologies for the late arrival of this final missive, but there really was a lot to share. And I do think that if you've never been to a gentleman's club, go. It really was a learning experience - and it gives me a great pool of knowledge from which to draw. It even helps me relate better to some of my commuter friends.

One my earlier epiphanies was that you, the client, mean NOTHING to the jiggling girls. I was talking about this to one of the guys on the train, and he said "Good!" And I'm like, oh. Oh yeah. You're right, it really shouldn't have any sort of emotional commitment or obligation. It's all strictly a mechanically physical thing--pretty much like a video game or pinball.

Insert money, press play = here's money, you jiggle.


Pronunciation: (ub-jek'tu-fī"), [key] —v.t., -fied, -fy•ing.
to present as an object, esp. of sight, touch, or other physical sense; make objective; externalize.

Huh. I guess it really does objectify women. Now, my question is, why do some complain that it's a bad thing? And do we ever here as much about men being objectified? (i.e., sexy firemen calendars, Chippendales, shirtless, chiseled underwear models, and ...wow, is it hot in here?)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A man of my word.

What can I say? In my quest for college funds...I set a price list - oh, the things I'll do for money. One of the items was "$500 and I'll cut my hair." Well, someone has met my price.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Cheerleader and the Quiet Car

.""You haven't heard about the Cheerleader?" Skidmark asked with obvious glee.

"Oh no, not that story again." Jokeman whined.

"No, tell it!" Jamaica begged "It's a good story and she doesn't know. She wasn't ridin' den."

Skidmark assumed storytelling position, "Alright, alright. Gather 'round."

"Wait, wait." Jokeman opened a beer, "You want one Pahl?"

"No, I'm good."

"Okay, I'm ready."

"There was this guy...." Skidmark started in a timid voice.

"Fez!" everyone cheered.

"With a 23 inch . . . No, seriously, there was this girl about two years ago, who..."

"No it was longer than that," Pahl interupted "because Mitch was still riding when it happened and he hasn't been . . ."

"It doesn't matter! Who's telling the story anyway? Come on. So, anyway, a while back -- is that okay?" Skidmark glared -- "A while back there was this hot, hot, hot girl riding the train from D.C. All the guys noticed her because she was wearing THE classic sexy cheerleader outfit."

"I noticed her too!" Insisted Jamaica.

"Okay, all the guys and you."

"I didn't notice her."

"Okay, Jamaica and all the guys except Jokeman."

"Jamaica, I thought you liked the Amazon-type women." Jokeman asked.

"I can like more than one type of girl." She defended, "As long as dey're breathin.'"

"Well this chick was no Amazon" Skidmark continued "-- more like your classic helpless female type. You know, the kind you see in horror movies. So, apparently, she'd spent a long day in the city and decided to sleep in the quiet car on the ride home."

"Horror movie, helpless Cheerleader." The newbie summed up, "Okay, I can see where this is going."

"Nobody knows if she knew it was the quiet car 'cause we'd never seen her before. All we have are sightings of her there, draped - rather indelicately - across three seats.

"I almost got sat on once when I did that." Pahl threw in.

Skidmark plowed on, "These are confirmed sightings, because the way she was laid out provided quite a view. And when we heard about it, some folks had to make a few trips to the restroom in that car just for, uh, exploratory purposes."

Pahl continued, oblivious, with his own story "It was by Big Joan - the one who wears the pink coat all the time - looks like an elephant from a kid's show? I would've died, I know it. You ever see the cartoon of the big woman putting up posters for her lost dog and you can see him stuck in . . ."

"Anyway . . ." Began Skidmark impatiently.

"Sorry, but she really is . . ."


[Eye roll.]

"So anyway, her bag and stuff was stowed up on the overhead rack, and she's laying across the seats asleep, which was already earning her some angry looks from the quiet car folks. But then her phone went off."

A gasp of disbelief escaped the lips of the regulars with a good mix of "No!" and "Oh my God."

"But wait! There's more. She was asleep and didn't hear the first couple bars of her ringtone. Some obnoxious pop song, I think. Everyone else heard it, though. ALL eyes in the car were instantly open and shooting daggers at her. And a few of them started to stir and groan, like zombies rising from the graves."

"When she finally heard it, it was too late. It was in one of the overhead bags. It really was like one of those horror movies. The phone music was still going off and she was fumbling with her bags trying to find it, and she doesn't notice all the while that the quiet car zombies had started moving toward her. Slow. Menacing-like. Groaning and reaching for her."

"And I think" Skidmark reflected "that if she had just turned the thing off when she found it, things might have gone differently."

"What?" Asked the newbie nervously, "What did she do?"

"She, are you ready for this?" Skidmark paused and looked around. "She answered the phone."

Again, the crowd gasped, this time mingled with cries of disbelief, "No!"

"Yes!" Said Skidmark. "She answered the phone. 'Hello? Oh, HI Susan!' or something like that, and THEN she noticed all the zombies were closing in and she stopped talking. I don't know if she stopped on purpose or 'Susan' was talking then or if she suddenly understood the danger she was in. But she's not talking, she's backing up, because zombies are crammed in the aisle and pushing toward her while others are climbing and reaching over the seats to get at the cheerleader with the phone."

"They sort of herded her to the little alcove at the end of their car next to the engine. A witness on the scene . . ."

"Who?" Asked Pahl.


"Who was the witness?"

"Andy." Said three or four regulars at once.

"Andy?" Jokeman looked around in disbelief. "Kwazy Andy, the guy that quacks to himself under his breath?"

"Yep. And this is probably why he's 'Kwazy Andy' - because he used to be a quiet car regular. He saw the whole thing."

"Wow." Whispered the newbie.

"Yeh. He said he only caught a final glimpse of her through the mass of bodies and reaching hands and it looked as though she was about to scream but then the train whistle blew and he couldn't see her anymore."

"Wow" came the wide-eyed whisper again, "What did they do to her?"

"Nobody knows and Andy never said. She just...disappeared. We didn't see her get off at any of the stops. And we've never seen her since

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Partial Scholarship

Scholarship n. Finanical aid awarded to a student.

I got a phone call yesterday from the University.

25% of my tuition has been waived because of my outstanding GPA !

Woo hoo!

There's still a long way to go, and you can still help.

Click on the PayPal logo over on the right and send a donation to the Chuck Walker Scholarship fund at poizniv@gmail.com.

You can also send some positive energy my way. I've been going in circles with the admissions office.

I'm transfering quite a few old credits to complete my English/Education degree. (The goal is high-school to adult English teacher.) With the transfer credits, all but a couple of the oddball general requirements are done. Now I've only got to take English (Lit.) and Education classes.

That makes it tough to fill up to the max on per semester credits. (Usually a schedule is dotted with core classes then fleshed out with general requirements.) This coming Fall there are only one or two ways for me to get an 18 credit load out of the courses being offered because of conflicting schedules, limited sessions offered, and so on.

What makes it even tougher, is current continuing students are registering NOW for seats in the pitifully few classes from which I have to choose. (Studies in Chaucer and Milton has already closed! AAAGH!)

Transfer students don't even get to talk to anyone until JUNE! That's when I'm assigned an advisor (a harried stranger who glances at my case for the first time) and (I think) can register. So, I'm sitting here watching the available seats dwindle and there's NOTHING I can do about it. Grrrr.

Must . . .relax . . .

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Quiet Car

As I have said previously, regular commuters tend to find and use the same car of the train every time they ride. These cars, then, become known by a certain name and by its own peculiarities. I, for example, ride in the Loud Car, also falsely known as the Party Car. The actual Party Car is another portion of the train who perhaps used to party hearty, but not nearly as much as the Loud Car does now. Logically, if there is a loud car, there is also a quiet car. This is actually a train-approved practice to designate one car as THE quiet car. There are signs and announcements and everything.

"Welcome to the ssskkkrtttch train headed to skrtttackleshh will stop at shhhkreetech. There are two restrooms osshhkererrtrain one is in the last car one shhshrt next to the motor. The quiet car is the car next to the motor. Once again thsskehrkt....."

Now the kinds of people who ride in the quiet car have an AWFUL reputation. It's quite probable that they are very nice people but you wouldn't know it. A simple sneeze or audible (albeit unexpected) passing of gas is enough to get the most evil of looks from the sweetest of ladies. A whispered conversation will get you a "SHHH!" from fellow passengers and, oh, you'd better hope you remembered to turn off your cell phone. It's like the library, only in Hell.
I've ridden in the quiet car a couple times - just when I'm feeling anti-social - and I don't find it very relaxing at all. The hostility is palpable and it's not really that quiet being right next to the engine and whistle, and with the announcements at each stop and the constant stream of people coming through to the restroom. "Is someone in there?" "SHHHHH !"

For the most part, the folks in that car tend to quietly glare or sleep with their heads back against the seat and mouth agape. (I often wish I had the nerve, the aim and a little toy gun to shoot Tic Tacs in their mouth as I pass by.)

Picture it--The Quiet Car Regular sleeps fitfully, mouth agape, dreaming of the next mob riot, and all of a sudden ZZIPP!! "GACK! HACK! COUGH! I think I swallowed a minty bug!"

Coming soon, the story of the Cheerleader in the Quiet Car.