This, too, shall pass

I am....distracted.
At work, at home, there’s a fog that’s rolled over. I can’t relax. I can’t sleep. I’ve got way too much to do.
My eyes itch and my throat’s dry. I’ve got the nervous legs going (you know, the bouncy, jittery movements much like a crack addict). I have no patience. My brow is scrinched up.
I am in a world of hurt.
It’s hard to write, since it’s not what I should be doing. I have all these little bits and pieces to connect – well before I get on a plane next Wednesday for Italy. Once there, there’s nothing I can do but make the best of it.
I’m looking forward to that.
Last night, my new rolling duffel was delivered. It’s sleek, compact (and comes in a quarter-inch under the airline’s excessive baggage size. Trouble is, I test-packed the thing last night and it has to weigh like 90 pounds (empty, it weights 14, so...). Delta says keep it to 50 pounds (really 55) or pay extra. I’m seriously looking to pay extra (or do my most charming best to bullshit that bag onto the plane).
There is not a lot I can do to trim the weight. Really, I’m packing for two trips. I’m going to be living in the Italian Alps for 20 days; the town sits at like 7,000 feet in elevation and I’m covering all mountain events. That means thermal boots, ski pants, parka and synthetic layers.
It also means I’m going to need some dressy clothing for going out on the town; these clothes will follow me through a two-week vacation after the Winter Games.
What do I toss? Or do I just eat the extra charge?
My laptop is nearly finished, but other than wireless, there’s no way to connect (bummer if the paper needs to talk to me).
For the vacation portion of the trip, we don’t have a rental car booked, nor a hotel picked in Tuscany.
Who’ll water my plants at work?
The boy’s carpool fell apart this week.
Who is going to remember to scoop the cats’ litter box?
This is why, at 1:38 a.m., I woke up with a mouthful of acid reflux.
Everyone asks if I’m excited. Yeah, I’m excited. You just can’t see it through the anxiety.

There's never a cop around when you need one

Road rage is all the rage these days.
I watched a potentially dangerous situation for my rearview mirror the other day that shows the absurdity of road rage incidents.
To get home, I take a back road off the Interstate that goes from four lanes to two just past a bridge over the river; people generally jockey for position on the bridge, before the right-hand lane disappears.
There’s a Dodge diesel truck in the right lane, I’m in the left. There’s maybe four feet of open space between us and I’m closing. This dick in the right lane speeds up to tailgate the Dodge and looks like he’s going to try to hit the gap between us.
He’s got an open tallboy in his hand, a cigarette in his mouth.
The Dodge brakes in time – obvious he doesn’t like being tailgated – and I charge ahead, followed by two kids in a beat-up Toyota Tercel.
They’re passing a pot pipe back and forth, between bites of red licorice.
The guy with the tallboy squirts by the Dodge and is now, from what I can assume, about four inches from the Tercel’s bumper.
Pot Boys are not amused; they start brake-slamming maneuvers, laughing each time Tallboy has to slam on his brakes. Then the fingers and F-bombs start flying. Red licorice is tossed out the window.
I’ve got nowhere to go; traffic on this stretch of road ebbs and flows with rush hour traffic. I’ve got a sinking feeling these assholes are going to somehow involve me in their turf battle.
My uneasiness is rewarded when Tallboy passes the Pot Boys on the right shoulder, where there is a walking trail.
He’s now inches off my ass.
I slowly brake as traffic slows ahead; I’m two car lengths from the car in front of me. Tallboy flips me off, but backs off.
And is passed on the left by the Pot Boys.
Between more bites of licorice, Pot Boys resume their brake-slamming maneuvers.
Thankfully, my left-turn lane arrives as the road goes back to four lanes; Tallboy takes one lane, Pot Boys the other – and they both run the red light.
There’s never a cop around when you need one.

Shame on me

Nothing says shame than having the orthopedic surgeon who spent two-and-a-half hours in your knee tell you you’re fat.
OK, he didn’t come out and say it, but...
“How’s the knee?” he said as he looked at the boy’s wrist x-rays. “You need to loose a little weight.”
Uhhhhggg.
Yes, I am carrying waaaaaay too much weight on a knee that basically has no meniscus left (meniscus is the soft, spongy stuff that acts like a shock absorber). Yes, if I do not fix the situation, I’ll be looking at a total replacement. Soon (rather than later; it is inevitable).
I’m going to be 43 in like two months. You can have two replacements in your lifetime (and I plan on living a way long time).
Like I don’t have enough to worry about.
I know exactly what to do. I know, from years of triathlon training/races, how to eat efficiently, exercise proficiently. Damn if I can get it done.
When I was a triathlete, my day – my life – centered around working out. Now, it had many, many centers. And they all need immediate attention.
But he’s right. I need to loose some weight.
I like to daydream of my retirement years, walking hand-in-hand with my wife, across a white-sand beach (or any number of international locations).
Shame is a terrific motivational tool.

Sticky with filth, the sequel

The boy broke is wrist Friday, which further muddies an already sketchy hygiene regimen.
Fourteen hours removed from his last hot-water rinse in the shower (actually, he is using some soap these days) and eight hours removed from a sweaty game of basketball (where the injury occurred), we’re in the emergency room getting a splint wrapped onto his left hand.
“Don’t get this wet,” the ortho tech warned, “’cause it’ll just come apart.”
He smelled (which made him fit right in at the E.R. at 8 p.m. on a Friday). He needed as soak.
Trouble was, the boy went over to his father’s for the weekend. By the time we got him back at 8 p.m. Sunday night, he was humming.
You could actually see the waves of stink coming off him, like heat rising from summer blacktop.
“He’s got to take a bath, or a shower,” my wife said, wrinkling her nose. “Anything.
“And the next time I go to the dry cleaner, I’m taking that hat in. It reeks.”
I looked at her, dumbfounded.
“Yeah, his beanie is dry-clean only,” she said. “Go figure.”
The boy wears one of those stylish beanies with the little bills. And it’s dry-clean only. Like this is a good fashion option for 14-year-old boys.
Amazing.
(I think it would be cheaper just to burn it, and buy a new one, but no one is asking my opinion.)
But I do get put on bath duty. Nothing beats duct tape and a plastic garbage sack for waterproofness.
“That’s going to take the hair on my arm off,” the boy realizes.
“Yep, and it’s probably going to hurt,” I said. “Just pull it off fast.”
It’s now Tuesday and he’ll have gone another 48 hours without showering.
“We’ve got to do something,” my wife said this morning.
The gel in his hair just....keeps....building.....a......life......of.......its.......own.
“He’ll have to shower at night, with supervision,” she said. “That cast can’t get wet.”
He’s in the thing for three weeks; I leave for Italy in two.
I feel a catastrophic failure, or just plain wretched stench, will doom the cast way before I get on the plane.
Luckily for us, the nurse said she’d recast it, if there were “issues.”
“You just have to ask, really, really nice.”
It’s an ass-kissing of major proportions - we’re already preparing for.

Oodles of sperm, all for a low-low introductory price

Normally, I don’t get much spam at the ol’ personal email box. But when mail arrives with a subject header that reads, “With Spermamax you will have more sperm than there is water in the ocean” you stand up and take notice.
You open it up.
And you read.
Because, I think we can all agree, more sperm than there is water in the ocean is a whole helluva lot of sperm.
I looked it up; there is – at any given time – 326 trillion gallons of water on Earth.
And if you were to take Spermamax like the spam indicates, you’d reasonably end up with 326 trillion gallons of sperm in your nuts.
I’m not a medical doctor, but I’m quite sure that most men do not have that kind of storage capacity in their testis. Nope, not even if men were able to ejaculate once a minute, for like five billion years, would we have any chance at producing that much sperm (yes I looked this up too; men can ejaculate between 2 and 15 milliliters, or between a teaspoon and tablespoon, at a time. Oh, and it contains like 2 calories per ejaculate, just in case you wanted to now that).
The email goes on to say that:
“Spermamax improves 0verall $perm production.”
“Spermam@x improves your sperm integrity (we need our sperm to be honest?)”
“Problems with fertility function? Before adopting a child, think of taking Spermamax.”
I wanted to call bullshit. I wanted to lodge a complain about false claims and fraudulent advertising.
Alas, the link went nowhere. Now I’ll never know if taking Spermamax would give me all the sperm of the world’s oceans.

It's none of the government's Goddamn business

I am so busted. I just know it.
In the news now is the fight between Web search engine giant Google and the Bush Administration. Google is ignoring a federal subpoena to turn over a week’s worth of search information to the government (Yahoo, those fucking pukes, already have acquiesced, as has MSN - so don’t use them, ever) so they can see what people are searching for.
The government wants a list all requests entered into Google’s search engine during an unspecified single week — a breakdown that could conceivably span tens of millions of queries. In addition, it seeks 1 million randomly selected Web addresses from various Google databases.
Obtaining the subpoenaed information from Google “would assist the government in its efforts to understand the behavior of current Web users, (and) to estimate how often Web users encounter harmful-to-minors material in the course of their searches,” the Justice Department wrote in a brief filed Wednesday.
OK, first, it’s none of the government’s fucking business what we search for.
Second, Google is the largest single purveyor of porn on the Internet (ironically, when they burst on the scene in 2004, Google's motto was “Do no harm”) .
Not that I look at porn on the Internet (I don't. Really).
But yeah, we did have fun at work one day putting in names into Google’s image database (safe filter off) just to see what we’d come up with.
Type in female and you get all sorts of nekked women (ditto for male). Type in sex and you’ll get an eye-full (third-most requested image is a chick with a dick, so go figure).
Sure, it’s immature, but we started putting in ex-girlfriend’s and ex-wives first names. Type in just about any woman’s name and - you guessed it - nekked pictures.
We snorted and giggled our way through other words as well (anatomically correct names).
Then the novelty wore off.
And I just know, if Google finally bends to the will of Bushie, that will be the week they’ll pick to give their records to the government.
I use Google every single day (for noble reasons, purely). I have installed on my browser the Google search bar. It keeps a history of what you search for. Yesterday, for example, I searched for “Nordic combined history,” “Italian Alps,” “Ish Monroe,” “Mike Iaconelli,” “Italy plug adapters,” “biathlon history” and “biathlon events,” just to name a few.
They won’t pick this week to give to the government, I just know it. It’ll be the other week, which also just happened to be the week our computer tech came over to my desk _ and as a joke _ Googled butt.
Just try it for yourself and see what you come up with (ohhhh, it’s very bad).

The Teen Wars

My wife is not ready for the drama that is a pre-teen girl. Our pre-teen girl. She who is 10 _ and will not go quietly into her teen years. No, it will be bad. It will be ugly. My wife will cry.
I, however, am prepared.
As long as there’s a nearly-full bottle of Rebel Yell bourbon in the liquor cabinet.
In the space of 24 hours, our little girl got into an argument over a text message to my wife’s cell, got called a bitch, cried, decided she wanted to invite the little girl who called her a bitch to lunch, had an issue at daycare (more tears) when another little girl told her she “had problems,” came home, pulled her patented “my food can’t touch” stunt at dinner and then caused my wife to scream _ a ghastly, half-moan, half-scream that caught both kids off-guard _ when she related the trials and tribulations of her very long day.
“I am just not ready for this,” my wife said, after she banished both kids from the kitchen to have 15 minutes of “adult time.”
These moments are too few _ and too far in-between. But I digress.
Here’s how the latest trauma started: At 10:40 p.m. the other night, my wife’s cell gets a text from the cell of my daughter’s little friend (why anyone would buy a cell for a 10-year-old, and not supervise it, I’ll never know). “Who is this? Your number was on my fone” was the text.
I was all for not having this particular friend call the house _ or any telephone linked to it.
“Ever?” my wife asked.
“You betcha.”
I settled for telling my daughter the she was to tell the little girl that she could call the house once a day (not the five or six hang-up calls we got last all last week). The girl denied that she had texted my wife’s cell in the first place.
“She lied right to my face,” my daughter said. “Then she called me the B word.”
“And how did you handle this?”
“I told Miss Morrison.” Ahh, squeal to the teacher, how typically girly.
Our conversation took place at 5 p.m.; at 3 p.m., our daughter called my wife to see if she could take both girls to lunch.
“I swear, you’re going to be a battered wife, if you can’t learn to stand up for yourself,” my wife said.
I can’t even begin to explain the trouble at daycare. All I know is I walked in the door and the owner pulled me aside to tell me there were “tears, and many issues.”
“I finally had to tell them to get out of the bedroom and come play a game.”
Mostly, I take an active role in all this _ the role of being mildly amused, and somewhat detached (that whole plausible deniability thing). My little girl does know, however, that shit runs downhill at my house. She’s still afraid to cross me (“Your punishments grow exponentially,” she said).
That _ and bourbon _ should keep me set for the teen battles.
At least for another few months.

TSA: Total Spazzes & Assholes

Air travel isn’t the fashionable adventure it used to be. Not in the U.S., anyway.
It has a lot to do with airline deregulation (name one airline that isn’t in Chapter 11 bankruptcy) and plunging profit margins. The excitement of flying also suffered on Sept. 11, 2001.
Because after four aircraft came tumbling from the skies at the hands of terrorists, we became ultra-anal about security.
No more pocket knives on planes (the terrorists, it is known, used box cutters). Ditto, for several years, corkscrews, tweezers, small scissors and cuticle removers.
We also came to know the TSA - the Transportation Security Administration.
Also known as Total Spazzes and Assholes.
I’m trying to board a flight from Sacramento to Omaha last week (the reason while this blog isn’t as fresh as it could be) and the TSA is helping to protect me (one minimum wage worker at a time). Think I’m kidding? There’s one person checking boarding passes and I.D.s before we can ride the escalator up to the gates. There are at lease 50 people in line.
Once I’ve proved I’m who I say I am, it’s time to go through the metal detectors; that is, as you remove your shoes, unpack your laptop and send everything through the scanners.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out the shoes thing. We can put two robots on Mars, but we can’t figure out how to tell is someone packed C4 into their Keds?
It’s 4:50 a.m. and the kindly TSA worker is yelling at me.
“That’s going to beep.”
I’m in the process of emptying everything in my pockets into the little bin.
“You’re going to beep”
Shoes into the bin (Why the fuck did I wear my hiking boots?)
“Sir, you’re going to beep.”
“Could you complete your sentence and tell my why,” I said.
“You’re belt, that’s going to beep.”
Off goes my dangerous leather belt. All the while this is going on, the TSA employee on the other side of the detector is trying to wave me through.
“Right this way, let’s go.”
It’s too much, too early in the morning. I’m now half-nekked, hopefully sans metal and I walk through the gate. I’m somewhat scattered.
“Dude, how much do you bench press?” the guy asks.
“I dunno, 325?” (always lie on the side of big).
“That’s what I thought. Here’s you stuff.”
Then it’s on to the cattle cars, or coach class. The 757-300 has room for 243 passengers; only 12 of which will have any sort of room in first class. The rest of us are squeezed three to a row, with two rows running down the length of the plane. I go like 58 inches across the chest; broad shoulders. I feel like mooing.
There’s a big guy in the window seat; I have the aisle (where my shoulder will be smacked numerous times by the stewardess’, who will never say “I’m sorry” or “Excuse me.”)
We cautiously wonder - out loud - is the flight will be full. It is.
A hefty older gal walks up, looks at her ticket, looks at us and says, “Looks like I have a first-class ticket between two hunky guys.”
Before she can make small talk - she and Mr. Window Seat chat the entire time - I slip on my iPod ear buds.
And spend the next hour and 34 minutes with my elbow in this lady’s tits.
Moo.

New wounds from a familiar source

For the umpteenth time this morning, I’m asked why I look so nice. It’s not often you see me in a suit and tie _ maybe three times a year _ and people in the office are inquisitive.
“How come you’re all dressed up?” another co-worker asks.
“I’m going to a fucking funeral, OK?”
Jesus Christ.
It’s been almost two months since my mom died, now I have to go to a funeral for the mother of a co-worker and good friend. That scar tissue that started to form over my heart just got ripped to shreds.
The foul clouds of remorse/pain/sorrow/loss began to form last night, when I decided I needed to be there for my friend at the service. I had a fitful night of sleep. I hopped all over my kids for being in my way this morning and glared at my wife when she didn’t iron my shirt fast enough (to her credit, she did iron it; I suck with an iron).
Then everyone keeps asking why I’m wearing a fucking strip of silk. Maybe I should put up a sign that says, “Going to a funeral, so don’t ask.”
But this ain’t about me. This is about a friend who is going through something I just went through.
Maybe it is about me, a little. Again, I feel completely fucking helpless. Useless.
I couldn’t stop the cascade of problems that finally led the doctors to shoot my mother up with 40ccs of morphine (where she slowly slipped away, quiet like and asleep, not the way she quite wanted to go out, I’m afraid).
Now, I can’t fix my friend. I’m not doing nearly enough to try, either. I know intimate details of how he feels, what his brothers and family have had to do since she died on Thursday. I know the smile you’ve got to put on, when a sympathetic soul brings a casserole to the door. The handshakes and hugs that come from everywhere. The weird questions at the funeral home, the church, the mortuary company.
I’ve called him once; I talked to him yesterday when he stopped to pick up his paycheck. Not nearly enough.
But all I can do is be there for him. Offer my support by just being at the church, within reach of my cell. Standing there, not really knowing what to say in my suit and tie today _ but to continue to stand by tomorrow and the days that follow _ in my boots, cargo pants and cowboy hat.
Misery loves company. John Ray, the British naturalist, said that. He also said, “If wishes were horses, beggars might ride.”
I’m certain my friend and I will talk about how we want our mom’s back; we’ll ride our pain together.

Not guilty? You've got to be kidding

Just once, I want to see a criminal head into court and proclaim his (or her) guilt.
A guy shot his wife to death here last week _ shot his son in the stomach, too _ and yesterday at his arraignment, he has the nuts to say it was “accidental.”
James Millner, 48, pleaded not guilty to the charges that he murdered his wife, Ila, 44, and attempted murder of his 16-year-old son Adam (who Millner plugged in the abdomen). Millner told the judge that he took exception to the prosecution charging papers that claim Millner acted with malice.
“There was no malice aforethought,” Millner told Superior Court judge Wilson Curlie. “It was an accident.”
Millner said the gun went off when it was grabbed from his hands.
Several times, apparently.
Millner fired the semi-automatic pistol seven times.
(Accident my ass).
Ila Millner died of several gunshot wounds (of course it was an accident, too, that the gun spun around and hit Adam in the stomach).
Adam was apparently shot “accidentally” when he tried to intervene in his parents’ dispute. Nothing comes between the love of two parents _ unless it’s a slug from a Glock 9mm pistol. Adam is in satisfactory condition at a local hospital.
Millner is in jail _ he actually had the balls to ask to be released on his own recognizance _ on a $1 million bond.
But he’s innocent, doncha know.
“It was an accident.”
“The gun just went off.”
“I dunno what the fuck happened.”
“I blacked out.”
“The sun was in my eyes.”
“There was an earthquake, a terrible flood, locusts! It wasn't my fault, I swear to God!"
Here’s one I’d like to here: “I’m guilty, your honor. She pissed me off. I shot her, like a bunch of times, the lousy bitch. Popped the boy, too, lousy little bastard.
“I’m ready to go to jail. Twenty-five to life? Sounds about right to me.”

The best defense is a good offense

From my front door to my office door (via my daughter’s school), it’s a drive of about 14 miles.
Easy, right?
Some days, it’s a siege, a gut-wrenching traverse on highways and residential streets where every other driver is a fucking idiot.
A block from my house, I’m traveling down our quiet residential street _ the speed limit is 25 mph _ and a Chevy Tahoe screams past me in the left lane. It’s the third time in two months the same SUV has passed me on my street.
Another two miles and I’m getting ready to access the Interstate onramp when a Honda minivan screams through a red light to get on the onramp just before colliding with the pickup in front of me collided with her (the pickup driver _ who had the light and the right-of-way _ laid on the horn).
Three miles after that, we’re in the business district when a blue-hair in a Chevy Suburban (I call little old ladies blue-hairs; my buddy calls them raisins) starts weaving through lanes, looking for something (not sure what, but she had the seat pushed up so that she was about two inches from the steering wheel to help her see over the hood).
She finally turned right _ from the left lane of a two-lane blacktop _ and I had had it.
I turned to my daughter and said, “If I ever catch you doing any of the bone-head driving offenses we saw this morning, I’m revoking your license until your 21st birthday!”
She said OK.
It’s not enough to be a defensive driver anymore. Sometimes, you have to go on the offensive.
Since we had some pretty good public comment at a city council meeting about speeding in residential areas, I started setting my cruise control for 27 mph in my neighborhood. It drives my wife nuts (“Why are you driving so slow?” she’ll ask) as well as nearly every other driver. Since I’ve started setting the cruise (and thus avoiding the frequent speed traps on my street) I have been passed a total of five times. I’ve been setting the cruise for two months, tops.
One was a kid who screamed by me in a red lowered pickup. I was in just the right mood and followed him home.
“Hey,” I said, “Your parents home?” I confronted a severely freaked-out 17-year-old.
“Ahh, I dunno.”
“You passed me on Sacramento Drive, the same street my 10-year-old daughter rides her bike,” I said.
Blank look.
“Let’s just see what your parents have to say, shall we?”
I was pleasantly surprised; the mother was genuinely concerned that her little boy was tearing through the neighborhood. He got dished some punishment, I’m sure. He probably thought (and still thinks) I’m an asshole.
So be it.
Tonight, I’ll take the dogs for a walk through the neighborhood. I’m going to find that fucking Chevy Suburban. While the urge would be to slice up all four low-profile tires, I just want the license plate. And the chance to talk with the cop who routinely patrols my neighborhood. You can run, but you can’t hide, not from me.

Ready or not, here I come

Thirty days from today, I leave for Italy to cover the 2006 Winter Olympics; afterward, I will travel the countryside with my wife for another two weeks.
I don’t feel as prepared as I should. That has thrown me into a funk of major proportions.
I am anal retentive. I am a planner. I don’t much enjoy “flying by the seat of my pants” unless I am in the mood.
And I’m going to have to be in the mood.
The Olympics are one thing. I know that I’m covering alpine, snowboard and freestyle skiing events; luge; skeleton; bobsled; Nordic combined. I know who my roommate will be and that we will stay in a mountain apartment some 62 miles from Turin.
I do not, however, know where the apartment is located. I don’t know if my laptop will work, or what I’ll need to make sure it works at the various media centers in the Alps. If I want cell phone service, I need to rent a phone (which I have yet to do).
I figure my editor will tell me when I need to know these things. So I’m not really sweating the coverage. I know, since I covered the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, that I will work 16 days straight. I will file at least two stories a day, plus blog for my newspaper (www.redding.com)that will double as a column for the front page of the print edition.
I know that Turin is 10 hours ahead of the West Coast. I know that I’m going to adjust my coverage to more columns and features, and have been saving interesting bits and pieces of trivia for weeks.
I know my wife will arrive in Turin on Feb. 26 (“I’m going to be in Paris, at the Paris airport for how long? You mean I don’t get to see Paris?” she asks).
No. Two weeks in Italy and we’re not going to see all that we (I) mapped out. In the past 36 hours, I have come up with a plan: Take the train from Turin to Venice and stay a couple of days. Pick up a rental cad and drive to Tuscany. Spend a week kicking around the countryside. Drive to Rome, get rid of the rental and spend the last four days taking in a city that became an empire.
I did empower myself more today. I got an International Driving Permit and bought really good maps. I’ve been emailing B&Bs in Tuscany seeking out the best rates.
Still, I’m uneasy. There’s so much to do _ my wife will have to make arrangements for the kids, the business, the house and dogs by herself _ that I just have this ache in my belly. Not dread, but certainly fear and loathing (the self kind).
So tonight, I’m going to cook dinner, pop a bottle of wine (Chianti anyone?) and pour over my maps. Listen to my Italian language CDs. Get into the spirit, the joy of playing it fast and loose in a foreign land.

Stressed out

For the first, oh, 10 minutes of each and every morning - save for weekends and vacation days - I dry heave as I think of all the things I need to accomplish the rest of the day.
Now that’s stress.
It’s going to kill me, I know. Unless I get a handle on it. I’ve been trying for the last 14 years or so.
Not that it’s so hard being me, I mean, I pretty much get to screw off at work - yet still, I’m responsible for three completely open newspaper pages a day. Each page can hold 1271/2 inches of copy. And I have to fill them all.
And be fun and creative and tell a story. That’s pressure.
Then there’s all this pressure to be a great step-father and a great husband. Be a role model, but be a friend, lover and confidant. Run a tidy, loving home; cook delicious and nutritious and creative meals; check homework, deal with teen and pre-teen drama.
Ack, Pffffblt. Urk. Every single morning.
I searched the Web to look at stress-relieving remedies. Mostly, I laugh. Here’s one:
“Eliminate meaningless deadlines: Our life is full of them. Arbitrary and unrealistic time constraints imposed by ourselves and others that serve only to make us more pressured, anxious, stressed out. For no worthwhile reason. Avoid the trap of assigning time frames to everything you do, especially if you have little idea how long it will take. Instead, make your goal one of completing a project in a careful, professional, satisfying manner. In other words, as long as it takes to do it right. Save your nerves, and your energy, for the few real deadlines we face . . . like April 15th.”
I’m a journalist; my life is one big deadline (and I’m one of those who does better work the closer the deadline gets).
The site also lists breathing and meditation techniques I’m supposed to engage in to relieve the stress. Who has that kind of time?
Yeah, I’m supposed to make time for the things that will help me in life. But you try, and before you know it, the wife has to work late, which totally throws off the pork chops you’ve got on the grill and the roasted red potatoes in the oven, the dog just had diarrhea in her kennel, your daughter has a 102-degree fever and your son just brought home a progress report with five Fs - and you can hear the cat coughing up a hairball in your bathroom.
I could drink, I suppose. Drown the drone in endless bottle of bourbon. But that just makes you a loser - and zaps your chance at the six hour of fitful sleep you were getting.
I really don’t have an answer for this one. There’s no ending here, no nuggets of wisdom.
My life is stressful. It will continue to be for the foreseeable future. The best I can do is to not think about it, push myself physically on the mountain bike or in the kayak (or just lace up the boots and hit a trail) and tell myself everything is going to be OK.
Ernest Hemingway defined guts as “Grace under pressure.” Then my life is pretty gutsy.

Who'll stop the rain?

It won’t...stop raining...and I’m getting...very irritated.
No, it’s hasn’t been biblical-like rain, but it’s been close. There was a time last week where we were trapped in our neighborhood by flooded roads. The little nine-hole golf course near the house became a lake (we tried to get the boy to take the two-man raft out with my clubs for a photo-op, but he wouldn’t).
I took vacation last week, and it might have been the worst week of vacation I’ve ever spent in California.
I’m not an indoors kinda guy.
But there’s scant little you can do when the wind is blowing the five inches of rain our neighborhood got Dec. 30 in vertical torrents. No amount of rain gear, fleece and furry knickers can make a torrential downpour seem like a trip in the park.
All my outdoor-type friends were in the same boat (in fact, one took his boat out on the lake – and ended up getting rescued somewhat by a 911 call). A few of my fanatical friends (more fanatical than going to the lake for a paddle?) managed to get in a few mountain bike rides in-between raindrops, but I didn’t.
The rain certainly spoiled the debut of my daughter’s big Christmas present _ a Giant MTX mountain bike (complete with front shock _ lucky). She’s yet to ride it.
With the kids on vacation as well, we hunkered down, watched movies and did what we could to keep occupied. Home improvement projects; I actually cleaned out the garage one day, kept me from screaming.
Rain is depressing. Not seeing the sun for a week is depressing. I’m depressed. Ack.

Yummy

I'd just like to give a big shout-out to my sister, Paula, who sent me three packs of Black Jack gum for a New Year's present.
I've yet to break into any of it - I'm trying to figure out how to make it last the longest - but I will. I love Black Jack gum.

Resolute

See, I can’t even honor my pledge to keep this blog updated every day; how the hell am I supposed to come up with a whole bunch of New Year’s resolutions?
Resolutions are for losers anyway. I mean, if you have to wait for the first day of a new year to start something good in your life, what’s the point? Mondays are good starting points, too, but I don’t see a lot of people making Monday resolutions.
Yeah, I can do better. We all can. At least I know the areas I need to work on. And I will be resolute to work on them in 2006 (like I worked on them for the last few years).
I’m fat. I’m like 50 pounds over where I’d like to be and 30 where I need to be (and wher ethe wife thinks I should be). I don’t need to make a resolution to lose weight. I just need to hunker down and do it.
I know how to eat right. I know how to eat well. I just need to put it into practice. Eat at least five times a day, and healthy, too (no processed shit). Try to eat small meals every two hours or so. Good stuff, complex carbohydrates, low-fat proteins and good fats (yes, fat is good – you need it _ but not all at once like a Big Mac). Drink a gallon of water a day (pee clear, pee often is my mantra) and move your ass. There are no diet pills or potions that will melt fat. The only way you’re going to melt that sizable ass of yours (and mine, too) is to move.
But you won’t see me at the gym with all the other dopes who made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight. Well, maybe you will _ to catch a shower on the way from working out and going to work. I live in an area that is blessed with outdoor activities in spades. I’m going to hike my ass off, mountain bike and paddle that ass down. I’d like to think once summer hits _ and the temperature here rises past 100 _ I can get into a swimsuit and not be self-conscious.
I also know I have to be a better husband and father. I’m good, yeah, but I can be better. I don’t tell my wife enough that I love her. I show her every day, but she’s one that likes to hear me say the words. Pretty fucking simple, right?
I need to hug my kids every day (OK, the 14-year-old boy will flinch, but that’s his problem). I need to make sure that the role model I’ve become continues to be a good one. I want them to follow in my footsteps (Sure, I’m confident enough to know that I’m following a good path that they can too) and do great things. I also know that if they don’t go to college than that’s OK too. Some people aren’t meant for that path _ and they need to know that. I want them to travel and see the world _ like I have _ and be whomever they want to be.
I need to be better at my job. I’m good (confident again). But I can be better. And I need to stop walking into the office with a permanent scowl on my face (it scares the natives).
Most of all, I have to reduce my stress level by at least 75 percent (which will, in turn, make me a better husband, better father, better person at work and will allow me to shake off the 30 pounds clinging to my belly).If I don’t relive the stress, I’m going to be a fat, scowling jerk who has few friends, a seriously screwed up sex life and kids who hate my guts. And that is where I am resolute.