A Bit About Me

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Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".

28 June 2008

No Brainer?

I was watching the NBC national news Tuesday night and they had this story about a guy who buys our trash from recycling places and then turns right around and sells it back to China for a WHOLE lot more than he paid for it. Our trash, it turns out, is their treasure. Apparently China hasn't had enough manufacturing going on to generate enough garbage to make it worthwhile for them to go into the "recycling biz" themselves - so they rely on us...literally the U.S. - to hand them ours. Why? Well, it costs a lot less to turn our aluminum, paper and plastic back into products such as cans, boxes and plastic bags than it does to mine the materials, such as fossil fuels, and start from scratch. Then the real irony begins...ready? Wait for it...

China turns around and sells us the by-product of our waste right back to us!

And this enterprising fellow is capitalizing on this...in fact he had a banner year selling our trash to them...making more money than you can shake a recycled plastic stick at. All I could do while watching this news tidbit is think to myself, "WHY didn't I think of this first?" Sure, he needs to go out to recycling places and buy the stuff, load it all up and ship it to them (super cheaply as the cargo containers that just unloaded our "reformulated goods" need to return to China anyway)...but still, it's pretty darned ingenious if you ask me.

Hearing this got the gears in my head turning faster than my little fingers flipping through the pages of my handy-dandy blog notebook looking for the first unwritten page so I could write this all down on before I forgot all about it. What other people could I possibly think of who have gotten rich on things we ordinarily take for granted...and then, more importantly, what HASN'T anyone thought of I could parlay into fast cash without much input involved?

Like the "Unclaimed Baggage" people in Scottsboro, Alabama. Who would have thought airlines and airports would sell all the stuff people forgot, lost or otherwise never saw again...to you - if you were the first to ask. And, undoubtedly, some guy in Alabama thought of asking. I can envision it going something like this: "Hey, y'all wanna jus' git ridda all that there junk takin' up space in Hangar #4? (Spit tobacco juice here.) I could maybe see my way fit to buyin' it all from y'all fer a coupla bucks." (And all the airline "tie-men" laughed at the supposed 'country bumpkin hick from Alabammy' as he loaded it all on his truck with his two kids.) Then he sold it for a few bucks more at his store until Oprah told everyone about it on her show and then the prices skyrocketed...so now it's not really worth the trek to Scottsboro anymore...so I don't go anymore. But that doesn't stop countless others from continuing to make this guy rich beyond his wildest dreams...and just like the movie says, "If you build it they will come"...he did and they did...and they still do. And what became of those "tie-men" from the airlines? Oh, I suppose they're still kicking themselves because they didn't think of it first.

Now, how easy was that?

My reply to the above query, "almost as easy as eBay"...which, of course, was a BRILLIANT idea. And I was even around when it first started...and well into my adulthood. WHY didn't I think of this??

But what's even easier than that?

Sitting on your butt back when the "Internet" was younger...thinking of domain names - you know, those "www.BlahBlahBlah.com" things? Back in the day, every single one was NOT taken - and people who were willing to sit on their butts all day and register all the OBVIOUS ones turned around and sold them at a profit later on. And what a profit! Do you have any idea what Drugs.com sold for? Well, a LOT. But not as much as Business.com. That one went for a whopping $8 million. Drugs.com sold for a "paltry" $800,000+ (see the list here) - almost not worth the time to send that domain registering place that $20 a year check to register it...NOT! Certainly there is ONE name out there that isn't taken yet which I can gobble up and then promptly sell to some "daddy-bought me as a present for my 20th birthday" lunatic fringe company for the equivalent of what Bill Gates pulls in for one minute...which I could then subsequently retire off of and live out the rest of what's left of my pathetic little life. But EVERY single time I look for anything...ANYTHING...it's always taken. Hmmmm...in fact, THE only one that ISN'T taken is www.HumorMeOnline.com. Well, actually - it IS taken, but it's taken by ME.

So if someone out there has a bunch of money they'd like to be separated from...I've got some primo Internet property for ya...and I'd be willing to sell it "cheap". Hey, China! I've got a website you might be interested in...even comes complete with some recycled comedy ideas and everything. ;)

21 June 2008

"Security" Issues

Here's another office story...brace yourselves.

I knew I had to do this eventually. Whoever it was who came up with the saying "there's only two things in life that are certain: death and taxes" forgot to factor in "sitting in a Social Security Administration office at least once in your lifetime."

Well, I've been in there a few times...mostly taking my mother there (she swore she'd never drive as long as my father were alive...she kept that promise...so I had to drive her) - so I knew all too well what awaited me behind those doors.

The "take a number...we'll be with you sometime before you die" mentality. The chairs all sitting in a big lobby as if we all came to watch some movie on a screen...only there never was a screen, not even a television. The same inevitable talk that you'd either be privy to overhearing or initiate yourself...which kinda goes like this: "...if I would have known it was going to take this long, I would have gotten something to eat first. How long? I've been here since 11:00..." The requisite squirming and subsequent straightening out in their "more uncomfortable than sitting on a cinderblock" chair, like a school kid seeing the teacher oogling them as they just walk in. "Well, I guess I'm in here for a while." Long pause...long sigh...long wait.

Then the "deli-style" barking of the numbers..."Number 31". You know your number isn't next and it conjures up images of that scene in "Beetle Juice" where Michael Keaton is sitting there with an 8-digit number and the headhunter guy next to him has '3'. You know '31' isn't your number...you know your number isn't even next, but everyone still looks down at theirs just the same...hoping their number will somehow magically turn into the next one to be called. It never happens.

The three numbers in a row they will call to which no one responds. The first...you look around and scan the room, as if you have some vested interest in this somehow. You do in a way, I guess. They call the number after...again, no one shuffles off in their direction to be claimed like the waiting baggage we are all meant to be felt like...and by this time you start getting this wickedly ingenious plan in your head. "I COULD say I had that ticket but lost it somewhere on my way to my 'hard as a brick' seat...and by the time I realized it was gone, I had to take another." But you don't...as you have visions of being pummeled by four 75-year-old women sporting muscles as buff as Schwarzenegger's in "Conan the Destroyer" from carting their eco-friendly car-sized purses for years. Years, like it seems you've been waiting for your number to be called. So, you sit...steadfast, hoping this calling of absent ticket-holders will continue but you know it can't - there were 47 people here before you - and more coming in who have to lean against a counter or wall because the people who brought their kids aren't courteous enough to tell them to "double up" in a seat or sit on their laps so the frail 82-year-old guy with the oxygen tank could sit down. "They" were, after all, there first...why should they relinquish their precious chair?

So, now the next form of "entertainment" commences. You look around the room and make a mental note of everyone who has been there before you and everyone who came after...but most of all, you make that all-important "pen on ink" permanent mental note of the people who came in just two steps before you did. You HATE these people...if only you would have leaped out of your car faster, walked a little quicker, parked instead of circling around three times, or didn't hold the door open for them thinking they would gallantly let you pick your number before them when you both got inside. But they didn't. They never do. All's NOT fair in love and war and waiting in any type of line.

One by one people get up and new ones take their still warm vacant seats...but you have them all memorized. You know there is some order in this chaos...you could retell this order by rote to anyone who asked...you know it so well by now. You might not remember your kids' birthdays or where you put your car keys...but by gosh, you know every single person's ranking in this theatre-sized room. And with each passing call and disappearing voice which mumbles "finally", you know it's only a matter of time. Too much time...but time, nonetheless.

Cut to present-day....

My dealings with this antiquated system of yore was pleasantly replaced with a computer that sported "choices"...unbelievable as it may seem. Yes, the Social Security Administration was actually allowing ME an option. Were they serious?

I quickly eyeballed the candidates as it were - laid out before me on this germy computer touch screen...and as I only needed a replacement Social Security card, I pushed that button. Out came a ticket with not only a number, but also an assigned mysterious sub-category letter. This surely was going to put some serious strain on my mental tracking ability now. I was no card counter in Vegas...this was impossible...I was way beyond my element. But I had one more trick up my sleeves: I brought my notebook and pen to write all about my ungodly wait, my "certainality" of catching something along the lines of Ebola by the ubiquitous unruly children who were NEVER taught to cover their mouths or turn their heads when they spewed out a volcano of toxicity rivaling anything any baking soda and vinegar experiment - each and EVERY time they sneezed. Their equally disaffected parents who did the same, smearing nasal drippings of their own on the same exact seats they wouldn't give up just minutes before...and minutes after. They surely weren't going to care if you caught some nasty contagiant-type crud from them, let alone their kids - that even the CDC would feel reluctant to swab wearing a hazmat suit. My daughter and I moved seats twice.

So, pen in hand, I started writing, confident this was still going to take the better part of the afternoon...even thought I had already printed and filled out their handy online forms the night before.

And, just as always, people's number were called who never responded...people walked in and leaned against the counter and walls for lack of a given up chair from the seven kids who had laid stake to them but never occupied them...as any and all public places are undoubtedly a playground to them...complete with "dining facilities" on the floor. Go ahead...pick up your cracker or pacifier...it only fell on the dirtiest, nastiest germ-ridden floor since, well, since that gob of stuff you sneezed out all over Mrs. Simms and her kid when she was sitting near you just a minute ago. Never mind the sign which clearly states "No Food or Drink Allowed Inside". A person who can't decipher a Bingo-style number such as "A23" spat out by the computer when they first arrived - can't be expected to read signs that must be made for OTHER people than themselves anyway. Sigh...that's a whole other blog there.

But...imagine my delight, when in a roomful...and yes, I mean FULL of people - I only made it to the second paragraph of this lengthy story before I was called.

I proceeded to turn in my ready-at-hand paperwork and was literally "out the door" before the bottled water in my car cup holder turned that undrinkable lukewarm temperature...not unlike the reception I received from the office worker; but then again, in all fairness, I was probably the 309th person he waited on that day...and it was only 1:00 p.m.

13 June 2008

Tim Russert

I had finished writing a blog at the doctor's office which I started a week or so ago...and was intending to post that up tonite. Usually my blogs are tongue-in-cheek, hopefully somewhat amusing and/or funny, often times cynical, and more or less of the "lighter" variety. This isn't one of those blogs. I HAD to write this...I have been crying now for the last hour or so after coming home from another trip to the doctor and about the 7,019th trip to Fresh Market. While in line, I remember the two older ladies in front of me having a conversation...one said something to the other which went something like this: "Today's Friday the 13th...I don't believe in that 'something bad is going to happen today' thing they say...nothing bad ever happens on Friday the 13th." So, after I came home and put away the groceries I signed online...and she just couldn't be more wrong.

Tim Russert has died.

I, like many others, was completely shocked upon reading this news. My heart just sank...tears welled up in my eyes, my daughter asked what was wrong...I told her. She, having seen him a few times on television...well, I could see her hold back her own tears. Whether they were sympathetic tears because I was crying or because she understood what a hole this man leaves behind - I don't know.

This man was so down-to-earth, so witty, so patient, so incredibly humble. I remember each time he would relate a story of his father, his face just glowed...he loved him so...he was never more proud as when he spoke of the book he wrote for and about his father, Big Russ & Me. This affection wasn't an act...he loved his family - he was beaming each time that subject came up...you could tell these people meant the world to him, it was conveyed in his words and his whole body language also told it.

I could go on and on with adjectives to describe this man - intelligent, caring, sympathetic, empathetic, compassionate, passionate...the list literally does not stop...and there are no bad adjectives that come to mind. Seriously, how many times can you think of someone and not think of ONE unfavourable word to describe them? I would say, from my own personal viewpoint, it's very rare indeed...but this is one of those times and he was one of those people.

He was, without a doubt, a class act.

I always remember, in cases such as these, a quote from Al Stewart's song, "Post World War II Blues" in which he sings, "I can still remember the last time I cried...The day that Buddy Holly died...I never met him, so it may seem strange...Don't some people just affect you that way" - and that about sums it up for me. I never met the man, I would have loved to have known him...the world is a much better place to have had him in it. What a legacy he leaves behind. He will be missed by so many.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. God bless you, Tim.

03 June 2008

Blogs Transferring Over

I am going to start moving the blogs I do over at the Montgomery Advertiser's new website over to here as, over there, you have to log in and register in order to read and comment on my blogs. While I would appreciate it very much IF you did that, it's the only way they see if (and how many people read these things) - I feel that I have lost readership because people cannot search and find my blogs as they are in a whole different blogging system.

So, I am going to try (I stress TRY) to remember to post one new (old) blog up here from there each nite.

Please feel free to comment, nice or negative things, as I really would appreciate the feedback. Yes, I live on feedback.

Thank you...