I was subjected to many things during my time in the USMC but one of the worst was the dreaded hearing test.

The yearly visits to the pool to end up half drowned during swim quals were a Saturday afternoon picnic. The visits to the gas chamber were like a walk in the park. Rifle ranges actually were an enjoyable experience.

The hearing test though, that was a different animal all together.

It starts with signing in. Then you wait for an eternity for an available seat in this bomb shelter looking room. Finaly it’s your turn and you and about five other guys go into this soundproof chamber where you put on headphones and get a little clicker put in your hand. Soundproof must equate with comfortable room temperature proof too because I have never been in one of these contraptions that was not freezing or hotter than the bowels of hell.

Once everyone is inside the door is shut and the lights go out and it is down to you and those infernal little beeps. The beeps come in groups of about three and they go from very high frequency down to very low. They are in the right earphone and then the left. Your supposed to click the handheld button every time you hear one. They are faint. Barely audible.

You sit in the dark with eyes clenched tight focusing on the beeps. It is so silent. Before the beeps even begin you notice that you can hear your own heart beating and you get nervous because it might interfere with hearing the beeps. This makes your heart beat even faster. You realize that you have had every muscle in your body clenched tight for the last five minutes in anticipation of the beeps. When you try to relax you hear your own neck creaking and the bones all over your body make sounds similar to blue whales calling to each other over vast distances of ocean. You begin to breathe faster because of the tension. These breathes further clutter the aural spectrum to the point that nothing can get through.

There is sweat pouring down over your brow by this time and the dark and the silence and the anticipation have all led you to a point where you half expect the door to be flung open at any minute and someone to spray the room with automatic weapon fire. God, you almost wish for it. This is the punishment that the devil reserves, in hell, for those who have been extra bad in life. He commits them to an eternal hearing chamber where they perpetually wait for the series of beeps that will never come.

Then, what was that? Was that a beep? In these situations your mind really does play tricks on you. I can’t honestly say how many beeps I really heard and how many I thought I heard. I always seemed to pass the test, or at least no one ever said anything to me about it. What a stressful way to go about it though. There has got to be a scientist out there somewhere that recognizes the placebo effect in this. You just can’t get accurate results this way because everyone starts to hear beeps because that’s what they’re supposed to be hearing.

I vowed I would never complain about this again after a Navy Corpsman told me that all the Marines gripe about this simple, harmless little test. And he thought they were all supposed to be tough and everything. But I don’t care anymore. This test sucks and it should be done away with.

I have never understood those people who are natural born jerks. What kind of a plan is that?
Maybe, just maybe, I could see someone doing a jerkish thing if they thought some gain might come their way because of it. Oh it would still piss you off and probably be low down or underhanded, as jerkish things most always are. But if they thought they would gain something from it then maybe you could understand their reasoning in doing it. This kind of a jerk is not a natural born one though, this is more of an “Opportunity Jerk”. They seize the opportunity to be a jerk if they see that it can benifit them or maybe a friend or someone in some way. This is NOT the kind of jerk that this blog is about and was only mentioned here in order to more clearly define the type of jerk that this blog IS about. So we shall leave the Opportunity Jerk (OJ) here and move on to the heart of the matter.
Natural born jerks, from here on referred to as NBJ’s, are the kind of people who go around pissing you off for no real gain to anyone. These are the most loathsome people on the face of the earth.
Most people have a sort of neutral starting point, or even a positive starting point, from which they recieve new persons into their life.
Think of it like this, let’s say that you just started a new job and you’re getting to know your new coworkers. Most people are friendly and helpful and will go out of their way to help you out. These people have a positive starting point. They remember when they were in your shoes and how much it sucked and are willing to help you have a better time of it than maybe they had.
Then some people aren’t over eager to point things out or give advice. They won’t sit with you at lunch when they see you sitting all by yourself. But, if you ask them questions or for their opinion on something they will then open up a little and, usually in a friendly enough way, help you out. These are people who have a neutral starting point. They could become friendly or they could become real bastards but that depends on you and if they like you or not.
Then you have the NBJ. These are the people who remember how much it sucked to be in your shoes and are determined to make it one hundred thousand million times worse for you. They don’t show you how to do anything and when you do it wrong they point out to everyone, at a meeting for example, how pathetically helpless and obviously stupid you are. When they see you sitting by yourself at lunch they not only don’t go and sit with you but loudly make comments like, “I see you’re sitting over there with all your friends!” or “Maybe if you would acquaint yourself with some soap and water you wouldn’t be so lonely!” or they will wait for someone to enter the room and say “Don’t sit with the new guy. Man, we were all over there a minute ago and he let one rip that would have choked a skunk!”
Now one must ask ones self, why would anyone act this way? What possible benefit is it to a NBJ to do these things? I myself always look at things from what effect they may  have in the future. If I’m a jerk to everyone then why would anyone be willing to help me out if I ever needed it? So do NBJ’s never need other peoples help or do they just assume that people will lend them a hand no matter what?
I have used the new employee example here, to illustrate, but NBJ’s take on many, many forms.
They are the people who nearly run you off the road while talking on their cel phones or they continue chatting on their phone while walking through a construction site and then glare at the jackhammer operator like he is a jerk for making so much noise while they’re trying to talk on the phone. Oh boy, cel phones bring up millions of possibilities.
They give waiters and waitresses a hard time simply because they are the customer and they can. Even at Friendly’s or Denneys they act like they’re at some high end place and complain about the service.
They pull up to a drive through ATM at 4:30 and commence to inserting and reinserting and then rereinserting their card and once a receipt gets spit out they won’t go to a parking space to try and figure out what’s going on, because then they would have to go to the end of the line, they just sit there balancing their checkbook and reconciling their bank statement and then they rerereinsert their card and by this time you have gone so you don’t know how many more insertions were actually carried out.
They go to the grocery store and leave their cart right out in the middle of the aisle where no one can get around while they walk over to the shelf and begin perusing the items. Meanwhile you’re trying to get around their stupid cart and finaly have to push the thing to the side and they whip their head around and glare at you for having the audacity to lay your dirty, stinking hands on their cart. The thing is obviously too inconvenient for them to have in their way over at the shelf but how dare you act like it’s inconvenient to you sitting in the middle of the aisle.
Well that should be a good enough description to get my point across. I’m sure you’ve all ran into them and thanks for letting me get this off of my chest.

Come On, Be An Adult

April 11, 2007

I am all grown up now but I’m afraid I’m no where near being an adult. Does anyone else feel this way? Or is it just me?

I remember this one time I cleaned up the living room everyday for like a week or something and it felt so adultish. There have been other times when I would do something and think to myself that it was a very adult thing to do. Usually those things involve planning something, doing that something and then feeling very adult about it. Because usually I know I want to do something and the best I can plan on doing it, is that I’ll probably get around to it sometime between right now that I thought about it and next week. Then, at some point, I just go and do it. This doesn’t feel very adultish but it feels natural.
One time I gathered up all the dishes after dinner and washed them right away instead of just throwing them in the sink to sit forever which is still a step better than just leaving them sit right where I finished eating… forever. I felt very adult about this.
While growing up, I guess I just assumed that when I turned thirty or somewhere around then, I would just be an adult. You know like when you get to be about 12 or 13 you just start liking girls more and more. You don’t make that decision. It just happens because of your age and all that crap. I honestly couldn’t wait to be an adult because I thought life would be so much easier because I would always plan ahead and be squared away and be so mature about stuff. I am none of these things and do none of these things.
In high school I got an F in Art class because the teacher told us to look through these stacks and stacks of magazines and find a picture to draw and turn it in at the end of the week. While looking through one I found a Minute Rice ad with a huge, heaping bowl of rice in it. I spent the rest of the week drawing little eyes and mouths and stuff on each and every piece of rice in that bowl in the magazine. It was pretty funny because it made it look like it was a bowl of writhing, twisting and turning maggots. Some were happy, some were sad, some were surprised, some were pissed off, some were tired, some were bald, some had an afro, this one had a black eye and this one way, way in the back just looked like your generic, run of the mill maggot. I got an F for that week, which combined with all the other F weeks gave me an F for the year. As soon as I realized I had gotten an F for the week, I remember thinking to myself that soon I would be an adult and wouldn’t do this kind of stuff anymore. It relieved me to think that I would soon be beyond all this immature behavior that eventually got me into trouble. Heck, I thought I could feel something changing in me already. Then, when I looked at my final report card at the end of the year this is what I saw:

C Math
B Science
C English
C Social Studies
C Physical Ed.
F Art

I started laughing like a loon because the F in art looked like it said Fart on my official report card. Then I caught myself and thought that I shouldn’t be laughing at such a thing because it really shouldn’t be funny that I failed a class. It really wasn’t a very adultish thing to do. But, the first friend I came across I couldn’t resist the urge to show them that my official report card said fart on it.
Once, I was coming out of a store and there was this old man in front of me. I don’t think that he knew anyone was behind him because of the way that we exited but when we had walked a few steps out into the parking lot he let loose the mother of all farts. I started laughing because I still think farts are pretty funny. Not the fart as a whole but the fart sound is what is so funny. Sometimes I laugh when someone’s shoe or something makes a fart sound. So it doesn’t have to be a fart sound generated by the forceful expulsion of hot gasses from the anus, it could be generated by any means and I would find it funny. I wasn’t trying to be rude to this poor old guy or anything, I just couldn’t help but laugh at the tremendous roaring sound that this fart made. But still, very, very unadult.
When my daughter was born, which was the first of two kids, I went to pick her and my wife up at the hospital on the day they were to be released. We got everyone together and a nurse brought a wheelchair for my wife to ride down in. We were strolling along the hallway down towards the nurses station. We passed by it and got on the elevator. We exited the elevator and started heading for the main doors leading out into the parking lot. Panic started to rise in me as I realized that that was it. They were just going to let us walk out of here with this baby! Can you believe it?! Just like that, they were going to wheel us out to the car and let us go! I thought surely we would stop at the nurses station where they would give me a shot or some pills that would make me a mature and responsible adult. At least give me some papers that when I read them over would explain the secret of mature adulthood that I had apparently missed somewhere along the way. I felt like calling a timeout and yelling at the nurse wheeling my wife along that they didn’t understand that they were sending this little girl home with someone who wasn’t mature, wasn’t responsible and had gotten an F in art to prove it. Then, just before the outburst, I thought that maybe I should keep my mouth shut because if I told that nurse the truth I would never see my daughter again. So I didn’t say anything and we went home. I was nervous and wondered if I had done the right thing for the rest of the year.
Then I began to hope that maybe everyone else out there feels just like I do and the whole adult thing is just a facade that people put up in the presence of others.
Maybe when they’re at home they still really, secretly, way down deep, like buying their kids neat toys as much for themselves as for the kids. That they laugh at fart sounds too but they’re better at concealing it or can stave it off long enough to get to their car. That when no one is looking they squirt the Hershey syrup straight into their mouth until it almost runs out before gulping it down. That when they’re alone in the house they fill up the tub and take a bath instead of a shower and when they’re done washing, but before draining the water, they turn the shower on and pretend that they’re in a sub that’s just been hit by a torpedo.
Am I right? Please, lie if you have to, but please tell me I’m right. It’s the last chance I have to feel OK about not being a real adult.

Criminally Insane?

April 10, 2007

Imagine, if you will, a person with no concept of good or evil. A person who does not know right from wrong. A person who will act in whatever manner pleases them at the moment even if it strongly displeases those around them. A person who you can assign the simplest of tasks and they will just ignore them. A person who will act like a lion all day long and only respond to you in growls and roars, if the mood so takes them.
Can you picture a person who would urinate in the middle of your kitchen floor and just laugh about it?
They have places for people like this. Places with softly padded walls where you get to wear pajamas all day long every day.
What I’m getting at here is that I have to live with a couple of people who act this way. That’s right. Not just one but two. The girl has the mind of a three year old and the boy has the mind of a one year old. Of course, that’s only to be expected seeing as how the girl is three years old and the boy is one year old.
Living with kids this age is exactly like living with crazy people. Not that I’ve ever lived with anyone crazy but I can imagine. They do mirror every bad thing that a crazy person does it’s just that it’s normal for kids because that’s just how kids are.
My daughter learned how to pray in Sunday school and came home to teach me. She told me to clasp my hands and then lower my head and close my eyes. Then she began to pray.
“Dear God, thank you for the (Disney) Princesses. I watch them every day. Amen”
Then she opened her eyes and looked at me and said, “Now dad you pray for Batman.”
My daughter likes to put on lip gloss like every two minutes. We got her a couple of tubes of Princess lip gloss that were cherry flavored and bubble gum flavored. She liberally applied coat after coat right up until my son ate it. That’s right. You heard me correctly. He ate the lip gloss. Sure it was cherry flavored so I could see maybe taking a bite but he devoured the entire tube.
I have a Ford Ranger that does not have an extended cab. It’s a tight fit for me but it gets me around. I had to go pick the kids up from the sitters one day around Christmas time because my wife was running late. They had spent the night with their grandparents the night before so when I got there to load them up I had two car seats, two overnight bags full of clothes and toys, various odds and ends from preschool work and two gingerbread houses. We were so packed into the truck that I  had to hold one gingerbread house in my left hand and shift with my right hand and drive with whatever I had available at the time. I could only use first, third and fifth gears for the trip because the car seat was in the way of second and fourth. My daughter is holding the other gingerbread house and then starts trying to reach something on the floor, an action which was disturbing everybody involved. I told her to knock it off and wait until we got home but she just would not give it up. So I was forced to do what every responsible parent does when in this situation. I made up a story about how I had a turtle that lived in my truck and if he sees her dangling fingers down there he will most likely think they are worms and bite them because turtles love to eat worms. She snatched her hand back so quick that it knocked the breath out of the rest of us.
Problem solved right? Well, not exactly. The immediate problem was solved but now I have created this mythical turtle that lives in my truck and am bombarded constantly with questions about it.
Can I see it? What does it eat? Why does it live in my truck? How did it get there? What color is it? How old is it? Is it a boy turtle or a girl turtle? Where did it come from? Does it use the bathroom? What’s it’s name? Does it like pink or purple? Does it have a mommy and daddy?
I bought my son a ten cent Tootsie Roll, you know one of the big ones that’s about three inches long? I handed it to him and started doing something else and when I glanced at him a moment later there was this perfectly outlined bite taken out of the Tootsie Roll, paper wrapper and all. He just bit into it like an apple or something. When I tried to take it from him to unwrap it he got mad because I guess he thought I was taking it away for good.
These kids spend every waking moment plotting how to get their hands on chocolate milk and Tootsie Rolls. I’m convinced that they spend every sleeping moment plotting ways to trick me into letting them watch cartoon DVD’s all day long. That’s all that matters to them.
If you put a glass, oh no, no never a glass. If you put a plastic cup with a tightly closed spill proof lid on it, full of chocolate milk in their hand, put on Dora or Diego on the TV and fill a bowl with pre unwrapped Tootsie Rolls you would never hear a peep out of them. Of course, I can’t let them waste their day doing this sort of vegetable activity. My wife yelled at me for doing it last time so I can’t let them do that anymore.
Why can’t kids just act like people? It would be so much easier if you could just tell them to do something and they would just do it. Or, more accurately, tell them to stop doing something and have them just stop.
Who thought it would be a good idea to make kids act like the criminally insane? Except you can’t put kids away because they’re just kids.
I must admit though that I have more fun with the kids than I would be having living with an insane person.
At least they’ve never tried to kill me. On purpose anyway.

I would like to use this forum to come out of the closet about something that I have been keeping secret for about seventeen or so years now. It is not my intention to cause a big scene about it or to humiliate my family and friends although both of these are very real possibilities. If either of these possibilities were to play out then let me apologize in advance but it will not change my feelings.

Most of you probably have no idea how hard it is to do something like this. It’s easy in the sense that I don’t have to speak the words face to face with people but the luxury of just typing it comes at the price of telling the whole world.

I’m willing to pay that price though because I have concluded that this is a part of me just as my elbow is a part of me and I’m not ashamed of my elbow so why be ashamed of this?

All right. Enough alluding. I have been and am now and will probably always be a huge Ernest fan. You know Ernest? Ernest P Worrel. Know what I mean, Vern? That Ernest.

Most people hate Ernest because his only audience was five year olds because they were the only people who could find that stuff funny. I think that people feel that way about all kinds of things, not just Ernest, because they are worried about what people will think of them if they admitted that they liked it? I don’t care anymore. There’s the difference.

I also believe that humor comes in many forms. Dark humor. Intelligent humor. Whimsical humor. Physical Humor. Adult humor. Political humor. The list goes on and on. I know that life is a little less dreary when you can find the humor in things. That means looking for it in some pretty strange places though.

I found a source of humor that I can share with my two young children. A humor that we can all laugh about with no nudity, no foul language and no violence. Well, no violence any worse than Three Stooges type violence anyway. I love to laugh and I love the sound of my children’s laughter and I can have both whenever we watch an Ernest movie.

I was recently watching the Antiques Roadshow (yes, I know I’m a bore) and saw an interesting item that made me long for the good old days.

This person had brought in their grandpa’s ashtray which had been given to all passengers on the Hindenburg to commemorate their flight on this iconic airship.
Now most of you probably know this but for those who don’t, the Hindenburg was a zeppelin from Germany that made trans Atlantic flights until bursting into flames and crashing.

This ashtray had an arm like half an arch sticking out over the tray and hanging from the arm was a glass replica of the Hindenburg. Here is the best part of all. The glass replica of the Hindenburg hanging out over the center of the ashtray was filled with the fuel that the airship’s engines were burning to get everyone to their destination.

Only in the 1920s would you be able to get away with that one.

We are supposed to live in a free country but since everyone is so worried about what everybody else is doing, or not doing, you can barely move without breaking some law, regulation, statute, code or getting sued by somebody.

I have to put my two kids in a child seat to transport them in a car and I had better be wearing a seat belt myself while doing the transporting, or I’m breaking the law. In a “free” country shouldn’t one of the simplest freedoms, that should all but be taken for granted, be choosing for yourself how you are going to ride in a vehicle that you own. Whether I’m wearing a seat belt or not concerns not one other single living being but myself and presents a hazard to no one but myself.

Man when I was a kid we used to jump back and forth from the front seat to the backseat. We used to lay up on the back dash (cars actually had those back then) and wave at the people behind us and just stare up at the clouds. A really good time was standing behind the driver seat while your brother stood behind the passenger seat and taking turns jumping so that you rocked the car from side to side while going down the road at 50 mph. Never do that while dad was driving though. That was too dangerous for us.

We used to sit in the bed of a pickup truck. While it was moving! GASP! We even sat up on the side of the bed and the wheel wells! Sometimes we would take the tailgate off and dangle our legs out over the back bumper!! OH STOP THE TERROR!!

Our swing set was an old metal tube contraption that when you would get swinging too high one leg would rear up into the air because it wasn’t cemented in the ground. No one died from it.

Oh sure, you would almost shit yourself sometimes when you really pushed it and you thought for a split second that the whole thing was going over like a sinking ship, keeling up to begin it’s final voyage to the murky depths. But that was what made it fun. Without that little moment of terror, swinging would be boring and you would lose interest in it. That little bit of sheer horror proved to you that you were alive. You learned that it was fun to push yourself. In the occasional instance where you did get hurt, you learned to pick yourself up and carry on because who knew what other delicious little terrors awaited your discovery and you would miss out on them if you just lay there.

Unsecured and or improperly secured swing sets are probably in violation of our towns code and even if they weren’t, if someone saw our kids swinging like this they would most likely sue us, thus depriving our kids of the chance to prove to themselves that they really are alive.

Twelve kids died from improperly secured swing-sets in 1972 (I’m just making these stats up to be facetious) so therefore no other kid shall ever have the privilege of swinging on improperly secured swing-sets ever again. No matter how fun it may be. Being a parent myself, I could not imagine the loss someone would feel to lose a young child, or any aged child for that matter. In the course of living our lives though we face certain dangers and must deal with them and not become locked up from fear of them. We can’t forgo living life for fear that life will end. Because it most definitely will one of these days. It’s unavoidable.

You have to live your life in a “best case scenario” mind set. Sure people have accidents and are killed on our roads and at their jobs everyday but if you lived what amounts to ninety-nine point nine percent of your life in fear and terror of what might happen in that last point one percent, your life would be dull and terrible.  Your life would be summed up as existing solely for that last point one percent which you had lived in fear of and which may or may not happen.

Why don’t we just pass one big law that says no one is allowed to live? That would pretty much sum up all the laws that dictate to me what I can and can’t do in and with my own home. What I can and can’t do with my own body. What I can and can’t teach my kids. Etc. etc. etc.  The ultimate irony though, would be that in a world so restrictive as to not be worth living in, with living it’s self illegal, it would still be murder to kill someone and suicide to kill yourself.

I believe that much anger and argument in today’s social issues revolves around some childish need to force others to admit that you’re right. For instance, the tired old Creation Vs Evolution argument. I personally feel that there is an intelligent design to the universe but if someone else believes that evolution is the ticket, I’m not going to make it my goal in life to get Evolution declared illegal or sue them over it. It all comes down to an intellectual ego that needs to be superior to the other. After all, if someone proved beyond a shadow of a doubt one way or the other, the sun will still come up tomorrow and my kids would still need food clothing and shelter and neither theory has done anything towards helping me or anyone else get through our daily lives. Yet some people get really pissed when they hear on the news that some school is teaching this or that. Neither way helps them in the real world. Proof of their way proves their intellectual superiority.

It’s the same if my neighbor decides to paint his house electric blue and orange. I would have to consider that it was his adult decision, that appealed to his particular tastes, applied to his home that through his labor alone became his, that led him to do this. I would never paint my own home in such a fashion but it is not my place to demand that others adhere to my tastes.

Do you believe in Evolution? I don’t care. Do you believe in aliens? I don’t care. What I am not saying is that nothing is important. What I am saying is that if you have followed some course of logic that has brought you to the conclusion that Bigfoot is gay and thinks that the Easter bunny is a bad influence on kids because L Ron Hubbard was the real savior then you are more than welcomed to draw that conclusion and I still don’t care.

I would be happy to hear your opinion and share mine with you but if you go home still believing the old L Ron Hubbard gag then more power to you. I’m not going to go out and try to get a law passed forbidding you to believe it. I definitely won’t lose any sleep over it and I probably won’t even try to sue you.

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Yes, the Earth is getting hotter. Yes, mankind is to blame. Not for the reasons you’ve been led to believe by the media though.

The popular belief, portrayed by the media, is that we humans release too much carbon into the atmosphere through our burning of fossil fuels blah blah blah.

How stupid is that explanation? Very.

The real reason the Earth is getting hotter is because Satan is stoking the fires of hell in preparation for our arrival. And yes, mankind is to blame because we have given satan cause for ramping up the hell fires.

Let Al Gore make a movie about that.

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