A Bit About Me

My photo
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".

27 February 2011

I Got Fired the Other Day

When I was working civil service years ago at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey there was a lady who used to, like clockwork, "coincidentally by accident" manage to do something which put her out of commission for 120 days. Paid leave...workers compensation...the kind you need to have a documented injury on the job and then a documented statement from a doctor saying why you can't return to work for 120 days and why it's job-related.

She had a file, no kidding, about two inches thick. Two inches thick and she hadn't worked a summer during her 28 or so years of working there. Nice. Some actual excuses were that the crock-pot of chili she, herself, brought to work - managed to "accidentally" fall on her foot when she was scooping out some food...for herself. Another year she managed to slip on a patch of ice on the steps of the Base Commander's building although there had been no temperature at or below freezing for at least seven days prior. But, that's how her luck was...she managed to slip on imaginary ice and had a doctor substantiate her claim. Another few months off courtesy of Uncle Sam.

One day the people in the civilian admin office decided enough was enough and instead of paying out this time...they aka "we" were going to haul her butt over to the federal courthouse to testify in front of a farce known as the "people who apparently don't have their act together enough to win against a lawyer who looks like he never passed the bar (without going inside to get good and drunk)".

We all piled into a government station wagon and made the odyssey to Newark. No one voluntarily goes to Newark as much as no one voluntarily moves to Wetumpka. There has to be some pressure involved in the process somewhere...and somewhere sometime someone actually managed to fire a civil service worker for skimming off the system for years; but this wasn't going to be that time. Yes, her lawyer, who looked like he had been sleeping in his car for the better part of a month, managed to have the charges dropped against all the plausible evidence against her and she probably went on to milk the system for God knows how many more years.

To make a long story short...with all the stuff we had on her...she wasn't fired. I've always heard you can't fire anyone from civil service work...but I thought it was just all hearsay. Well, I'm here to say...that rumour is true.

But what does that have to do with me and my present day situation?

As Mr. Doolittle said in "My Fair Lady", "I'm willing to tell you. I'm wanting to tell you. I'm waiting to tell you."

And as the master said in "Kung Fu", "Patience, Grasshopper."

I consider myself a nice person. Pathetic maybe...totally lacking self-esteem and prone to reading too much medical stuff and, well, I sometimes "question authority". They tell you to write your questions down when you see your doctor...well, I do. I usually have a nice handy dandy notebook with me as sometimes doctors I've seen don't have a clue. (Ten points extra for that silly reference if you caught it.)

Notwithstanding all the medical terminology I do know, I am still nice. I sit there nicely, I'm polite to everyone, I'm overly polite to everyone actually, and when I do question authority...I do so in a gingerly manner and, as my mother always said, "You catch more flies with honey than you do vinegar."

And honey, you can bet that I shower on the compliments when deal with any doctor's office. Oh, I don't lie. I've never given anyone a false compliment...and I've told on a few people who were overly nice (I believe in telling on the exceptional workers more than telling on the bad ones)...so, typically, I get a very good reception with people.


Then, one day it started. It started quite innocently.

I was fired by my gynecologist.

I was floored. This was a man I highly respected, had a great rapport with and whom I had seen for about 15 years. Fifteen years of out-of-pocket fees as he didn't accept my health insurance...but I trusted him implicitly and when I had to have an emergency hysterectomy back in 2007, I was forced to, quick like a bunny, find a new gynecologist who accepted my insurance to do the procedure. I didn't want to...I was forced by my HMO to do so. There was no way I could pay the cost of a hysterectomy and I reluctantly went to another gynecologist to have it done. Then, after the six week check-up, or as I like to refer to it, the "tell your problems to someone who actually gives a damn" period, I returned to my regular gynecologist.

He wasn't his usual self...and when he stepped out of the office I overheard his phone conversation to the place which did my hysterectomy..."She's YOUR patient and she's here. I didn't do her hysterectomy. Blah blah yadda yadda." Then he came back in and basically washed his hands of me. I asked if I was being "fired" and he acknowledged I was. I was dumbfounded - he was upset I didn't get my hysterectomy done by him and as such couldn't deal with the issues I had afterwards...to take it to the other doctor even if that doctor didn't want anything to do with me after the six-week "fly little birdie" release of me. I asked if I could come for non-hysterectomy issues and he stated he no longer wanted to be my doctor...period.

I was devastated. That was shock #1.

A little while after this happened, I was then "fired" by my base doctor and sent to an off-base physician who I'd rather chew my arm out of a bear trap than to ever see again in my life. A physician who asked me "Why do you even want to live?" A physician who told me that "God put HIM on this planet to be a doctor and didn't give me the knowledge to be a leader; he was the leader and I had better do everything he told me to do...without question." Yes, I'm serious...he said that and many other things. It was like a "Twilight Zone" episode gone horribly, horribly wrong.

I called up the base the following day. I cried and cried and, luckily, they let me come back. Afterwards I was diagnosed with heart issues - which would substantiate the things I was complaining about before I was fired for "coming to see them too often without any reason".

Then I was fired by a neurologist. A neurologist in town who assured me if I didn't get the answers to my questions he would gladly refer me to Birmingham, the Mayo Clinic, Atlanta, and so forth. He would get to the bottom of my issues...and I was happy.

After a couple tests and a screw up by the appointment clerk who insisted I come that day although I had just seen the doctor two days prior...they fired off a letter stating they were "downsizing their practice" and were "letting the newer patients go". This letter was supposedly written a few days before the clerk set me up with that appointment. Not only did they not tell me any of this when I phoned up to make sure I had to come in...they made me wait a good two-plus hours to tell me I had already seen the doctor earlier that week and didn't need to be seen again so quickly. Well, duh. When I brought this to their attention - they didn't bat an eye. Of course they didn't, they did the same exact appointment mix-up thing to the elderly lady who was waiting before me, so perhaps it's standard practice there to not care too much about inconveniencing other people.

After I received the letter in the mail, I called the office manager about being booked for an appointment after they supposedly "downsized" and considered me their "former patient"...and why they'd want me to come in a couple days after being seen anyway...especially since I was their former patient. I mean this would all be known to them, logically, if facts were facts were correct and dates were correct. She gasped and grasped and concocted a convoluted story about when and why I was "released". I'm sorry but when dates don't match and things are supposedly MAILED before they are TYPED...I kinda wonder about your story. Call me suspicious...but hey - if you're going to make up a story, at least make up a plausible one.

Then, after I finally found who I thought was a fabulous replacement gynecologist, I was fired yet again. I was fired for canceling two appointments due to my daughter having a science competition out of town and being sick. One was canceled two days before - the other the day of...but as soon as they opened. The appointment clerk asked if wanted to speak with him about my issue, I agreed, and then I was sternly spoken to regarding how I was just making and canceling appointments and expecting them to answer my questions without ever being seen. That was not at all the case. I didn't specifically ask to speak to him - the clerk asked and said it wasn't a problem at all - I took her up on it. Apparently it was a problem after all. And just to let him know, in case he's reading this, the office lady you have at your "East" office...is the most offensive and obnoxious person I've ever had the displeasure to talk to. She's an arrogant twit and she's ignorant to boot...and she talks about you to the office staff when you are out of earshot and it's not remotely complimentary. She also does this about patients who have just left the building. She's totally unprofessional and she's a brute and a bore.

Whew! Like I said - I don't like to report the bad people so I've never said anything about her before now.

But the reason I'm writing all this, and I know it's long, is because I was "fired" yet again the other day. But I think I'll stop now and take up where I left off tomorrow or Monday. This is getting a bit longer than I originally imagined it to be and I fear I'm going to be a whole different kind of bore if I don't stop at this point.

(End of Part 1)

(Everything in this blog is true and accurate...nothing has been blown out of proportion and I will not name names here as I still have respect for the doctors and people out there who do a fabulous job.)

11 February 2011

Pony Up the Cash for Valentine's Day

Ah, the age-old yearly dilemma is about to rear its ugly head again. No, I'm not talking about Punxsutawney Phil - he reared his ugly head earlier this month...I'm talking about something even more newsworthy and guaranteed to make most people wish they could crawl back inside and hide out for another six weeks:

It's soon going to be Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day, which according to the radio station I was listening to this morning, is the day most divorce papers are filed (or something like that)...which makes you wonder why the word "man" is even IN "romance"...but I fear I'm doing a bit of digressing, so I'll take this opportunity to digress a little further.

Valentine's Day, when I was a kid, was all about going to the store to pick out Valentine's Day cards and carefully picking out which of the nicer ones to hand address (first names only - this was grade school after all) to your best friends. The ugly ones were always relegated to the kids you didn't like much at all and had less sentiment than those "Be Mine" candy hearts the richer kids could afford to package up in their envelopes.

We weren't rich, therefore no one ever got candy from me...and we would wait until the cards were marked down and all the "neato" ones were always gone and I was left with the social embarrassment equivalent of wearing "last year's favourite cartoon character" underpants in gym class.

In a word, I learned to hate Valentine's Day early on.

Besides having the fanciest Valentine's Day cards and candy treats, the rich kids in my class always seemed to have ponies. I never had a pony and only once came remotely close to riding one - I think it was too old to do anything except stand there when I was placed on its back. So much for my exciting pony ride as a kid...the imitation "nickel ride" ones outside the Acme grocery store at least moved. But that didn't stop every single person who didn't have a real one...from wanting one.

So, I was thinking today about Valentine's Day and how I'm not going to get anything yet again - as you kinda need a "loved one" banging his head against the wall thinking what to possibly get you to get the most out of his dollar investment..."more bang for his buck" so to speak.

But that didn't stop me...

...hmmm...let me think...horses buck. So do ponies. How about giving your loved one a pony for Valentine's Day? Chances are, if they weren't a spoiled little rich kid growing up on a sprawling piece of land, they never had one, either...but I bet they always wanted one. Now...that type of romance can't be printed on any card...that, I bet, will REALLY move her.

And I know just the place to get a pony. And, I would figure by the looks of the sign, you can save a little cash if you don't want the primo ones. Yeah...why shop for cards and candy weeks before when you can get them half price the day before? Why pay top dollar for a brand spanking new pony - when you can get...a USED one???

Yeah...you heard me. A USED pony.

What they used it for is anyone's guess. I'm kinda thinking it's several years old like the one whose back I was on as a kid...and headed off to the glue factory any day now. And what better time of year to tug on those heart strings of yours? I think the discussion would go a bit like this:

You: "Uh...could you tell me a bit about the difference between a new and used pony, sir?"

Seller: "Well, the new ponies haven't been used. The used ones have."

You: "For what?"

Seller: "Well, they've kinda served their purpose in life. They're old. But since they are ponies they'll never get any bigger as they're ponies. Ponies don't grow into horses, did you know that?"

You: "Uhhh...I thought ponies were baby horses."

Seller: "Nope. Ponies are a smaller variant of horse...and as such they don't fetch as much at the glue factory...or so I've been told. Yep...these here used ponies are headin' there tomorrow if they don't get bought. Just like with aluminum cans, the glue place bases it all on poundage."

You: "You mean this pony here is going to the glue factory tomorrow???"

Seller: "Well, I don't exactly take them TO the glue factory, sir,...I just sell them to the guy who does. I'm not exactly HEARTLESS, here."...

So, just like with the guy who keeps sawing the legs off the next puppy and giving prospective pickers the sob story about how "that one's destined for the pound if no one chooses him" - the used pony man probably doesn't even have any "new" ponies. I mean, who among us with half an iota of sentiment...would choose a "fresh outta the gate" new pony over the one that's destined to make the sticky stuff you lick on that very Valentine's Day card you just bought?

I mean, seriously, could you live with yourself knowing where the glue from next year's card is going to be coming from?

So, I say...pony up the cash...get her something she'll remember - and something she's always wanted since she was a kid. Diamonds are nice...but a used pony lasts...well, however long a used pony lasts.

(Yes, that's a real sign - I've been passing it for years when I drive "the back way" to/from my house. It used to be hand-made...now it's a "proper" sign. I don't know which was funnier...I think maybe the way it is now. And, I have you know, I risked my life to take this photo nearly standing in 55 mph traffic. The things I do for three people to read and comment, I tell ya. And, yes, I blurred out the phone number but left the website name - which makes no mention of ponies, btw...a fact I found quite odd.)

05 February 2011

Planning Your Super Bowl Party

Okay, truth be told - I did indeed run this last year...but it is timely, so I thought I would dig it out and post it again.

I am a sucker for cookbooks.

I must have...oh a couple hundred; I've never counted them, but I know it has to be over 100...or close to it. I get the majority of them dirt cheap at TJ Maxx, the library here in town, or the Thrift Shop on base. I'd never pay regular price for them - these things are always outrageously priced, and to be honest with you, I use Epicurious.com for 98% of my recipes. I just must be hungry when I buy them I guess.

Take for instance my newest one: "Seriously Simple Holidays". It's a handful of recipes I'd probably never make - I don't have access to a bevy of duck legs and the odds of me getting 8-10 pounds of standing rib roast at like $8-10 a pound...is pretty nil. Plus it's just me and my two kids (if you don't count all the cats).

But, nonetheless I bought it - one recipe must have looked tasty and it was less than $4.00 and it had all these lovely photos, and did I mention I usually am hungry when I go into TJ Maxx?

Now, I've never hosted a Thanksgiving dinner - no one ever comes here and I have no friends within the driving vicinity and, even if I did, they probably have their own family. Anyway, this holiday feast preparation which they suggested seemed a bit excessive if you ask me...and I was likening it to hosting a Super Bowl party (which I've never done either). But my little gears started turning and I thought some side-by-side (or underneath-by-underneath as it were) comparisons might be fun. This is modified and condensed...as they have two pages devoted to proper hunting/gathering etiquette. And, just so there won't be any confusion, all comments in parenthesis for their "Thanksgiving" prep are mine, not theirs:

Thanksgiving: According to this book you should start preparing one MONTH prior - making pate, pie and turkey stock and then popping them all in the freezer.

Super Bowl: One month prior - still paying out bets you lost as your team didn't make it.

Thanksgiving: Two weeks before you should start planning your menu.

Super Bowl: Two weeks before you should start cleaning your house (you should; but you won't).

Thanksgiving: One week before - order turkey, plan your table settings and decorations, make grocery list, and shop for "essential holiday equipment" (whatever that means - I'm figuring a new turkey baster as you threw away the last one as there's no possible way to clean the bulb doohickey that you suck the raw turkey juices up with when you baste.)

Super Bowl: One week before - buy lots of chips and salsa. Last year there wasn't any on the shelf when you waited until the nite before.

Thanksgiving: The Saturday before - make caramel sauce for pie, choose dishes, glassware, tablecloths...blah blah Martha Stewartish crapola. Sharpen carving knife. (Seriously - it says that...heaven forbid you have to do that in front of your guests...big...BIG faux pas.)

Super Bowl: The Saturday before - You are too late to buy anything from Walmart. They already sold out seven days before to the people who knew better from last year. But for the purposes of this blog - we are going to assume the "Saturday before" really means whatever Thursday subtracted from Saturday is.

Thanksgiving: Monday - Complete shopping lists. (Apparently you need to pen in "cranberry sauce" because you forgot to add it to your list you made a few days earlier. Even if you don't like cranberry sauce...add it to your list. It's mandatory. Don't worry - you have a few days left to actually type up or hand-calligraphy your list. Perhaps you need to buy a new calligraphy set? Stupid you...it was right there NEXT to the turkey basters at Williams-Sonoma.) Begin shopping for produce, organize refrigerator - cleaning out to make extra room for turkey. Defrost turkey stock.

Super Bowl: Thursday before - buy more chips and salsa as you ate it all last nite. Eat everything in fridge to make room for beer.

Thanksgiving: Tuesday - Reheat stock, make gravy, cranberry relish (told you that you needed to add it to your list) and put it in glass jars (why? No clue - just do it - the book says so), chop all your vegetables and put them in zip-lock bags (this sentence brought to you by whoever makes zip-lock bags), clean and chop parsley (again - more kickbacks from the zip-lock people) then zip-lock it away. Remove chicken liver pate from freezer and transfer to fridge (you will later feed to cats as no one eats that pompous crap plus it already LOOKS like Fancy Feast cat food).

Super Bowl: Friday - buy lots of beer now that you have all that room in the fridge. Beer tip: Buy Budweiser, Miller Lite and Michelob...no one's going to drink those fancy beers with rabid dogs or old guys on the label (at least not in a room full of other guys)...plus they are expensive. Put stack of coasters on the table to appease your wife.

Thanksgiving Eve: Pick up turkey and then do dumb things like buy flowers, arrange flowers, chill wines and water, put more things in zip-lock bags, set the table already (unless you have cats...trust me on this one), put Post-it notes (yeah...another product placement book deal here) on each platter designating what it will hold (again, I kid you not - this book says this), organize coffee and tea, plan a schedule for the next day (typed or maybe you have time to get them embossed by a professional if you hurry).

Super Bowl Eve: Clean toilet. Pick up underwear from bathroom floor. Put out dainty hand towels no one will use anyway. Gather all the clutter lying all over the house and toss it in the back bedroom; close the door (remind people NOT to go in there). Get your football phone out of the closet ( you know...that you got free with your subscription to "Sports Illustrated" 10 years ago) and hook it up. Look at it fondly as it WILL go back into the closet tomorrow after the game because your wife will make you do it. She does every year. This year will be no exception. Buy chicken wings and hot sauce. Buy the hottest, bad-ass-est one you can find - look for words like "hotter than hell" and "butt burning" on the label. Call dog over...while wife isn't looking, toss coasters at dog, Frisbee-style, ensure dog chews up each one. When wife comes into earshot - reprimand dog loudly. Chuckle silently behind her back.

Thanksgiving Day: Unzip everything you put into zip-lock bags, cook turkey, fill water glasses, defrost pie, put out pate with crudités and water crackers, arrange the bar...yadda yadda...carve turkey with knife you sharpened the other day (thank God they reminded me). Laugh with an air of superiority at the fact you will use the word "crudités" 47 times during the course of the evening...when all they really are...are chopped raw vegetables you took out of zip-lock bags. Practice this sentence, "Help yourselves to some lovely crudités over there on our vintage Louis XVI sideboard we picked up in a quaint little shop on one of our shopping jaunts to Rouen, France."

Super Bowl Day: Put out dip in giant football platter you picked up when you bought salsa and chips. Put chips in plastic team helmet you also wasted $40 bucks on. Throw away burnt wings you forgot about. While you're in the kitchen, phone your house from your cell phone so you can pick up your football phone in front of your friends. Feign conversation, "Uh...you got the wrong number." Hang up, now use it to order pizza. Marvel at the look of awe on their collective faces...as all THEIR football phones are at home in their closets.

03 February 2011

No Small Feet to Accomplish

I want to believe.

I want to believe so badly that I spent another two hours (or was it one hour - with TiVo...the time drags out sometimes) of my life watching another bogus show talking about things like Bigfoot.

It was one about Bigfoot, in fact. It was something on "The History Channel" and seriously, I hate the shaky camera technique and I really hate, in fact I'd go as far to say I despise, Brad Meltzer.* I never knew who you were before "Decoded" on "The History Channel" - but you are more than annoying and you, as my father used to say, "Don't think your own s*** stinks". I've never before said this about a person...but I'm saying it about you: You are a pompous ass who makes the late William F. Buckley seem like "Snuggle the fabric softener bear". You and your shaky camera technique can go take a flying leap off the cornerstone off the White House...or better yet, bale out of some airplane like D.B. Cooper. That's what I think of you and your annoying program. Your annoying program wouldn't be so annoying if it wasn't for the fact that: 1) You're an annoying pompous ass; 2) The shaky camera technique makes me think I'm going to have aneurysms and seizures, and 3) I've heard this all before - if you are going to have an exposé-type of show - at least give me stuff I didn't read in the same book I am sure me and Chris Carter (of X-Files fame) both checked out of the county library in the 1970s.

Now enter any show regarding Bigfoot, UFOs, Loch Ness-type monsters, or ghosts in the past three decades.

I, like Fox Mulder in the "X-Files" want to believe. I seriously want to believe. I really do. Not in the Peter Pan fairies way...but I want to believe in these things. I want to believe anything in Erich von Däniken's book "Chariots of the Gods" - was indeed alien-inspired and alien-made. I want to believe they've found some new evidence - I want to believe in crystal skulls and Nessie and "The Jersey Devil" (no, not Snooki), Chupacabras and the scariest of them all: Spontaneous Human Combustion.

I want to believe it all exists and I want to believe they are going to show me new evidence each time I fall for one of these shows on television. I am, sadly I feel, way too naïve.

I mean, what are the odds they found some skeletal remains of some Yeti and we didn't hear about it? What are the odds Houdini made it over and is finally getting a message across because he had to wait his turn in line patiently? What are odds I'm going to watch yet another show about some secret society or pyramid builders or lake monster next week if they show one?

I'll tell you: Pretty damned good.

But they NEVER find anything new. They might add something inconsequential I never heard of before - but no one ever saves a piece of a Bigfoot or takes photos of a giant squid...or has a new photo of some floating debris which six people now sitting around a lighted table can't argue 'yea or nay' about.

I have lived through the early 70s - and everyone had a UFO and Bigfoot in their yard then. Yeah, sure, there was also a show on television called H.R. Pufnstuf - and if you puffed enough stuff you'd be hearing lights and seeing sounds, too. But still...

...where's my monster?

I want some proof.

After all these years and countless programs - I'm beginning to believe the best place to put fake Bigfoot footprints IS 20,000 feet up. If you put them 20,000 feet up...who the heck's going to argue with you. "Yep...that's a footprint of something for sure...brrrrrrrrrrrr...now get me off this God-forsaken mountain!" If I'm going to fake something I'm going to fake it where no one is going to go to in order to "unfake it" later on.

But yet...I am starting to believe I don't believe. After all these years - all these people who believe sound more like the kids we sold oregano to in high school and less like the kids we made fun of for wearing white belts and pocket protectors.

I am sorry, not to be overly judgmental, but if you are professor of something or other in some prestigious university and you have a streak of purple running through both sides of your jet-black 'straight as a bone' hair, it's harder for me (and I'm sure at least five others) to take you seriously when you talk about how conclusive the evidence is to support the "X-Woman" theory. I'm just sitting here wondering if that's really your accent or if it's just a stud in your tongue and envisioning where all your tattoos are. I'm also wondering how many times you participated in naked Druid ceremonies...and if you've ever boinked Brad Meltzer.

I do walk away from these programs more inclined to believe more people have seen a UFO or Bigfoot than have ever boinked Brad Meltzer, but then again...I really want to believe some things...and some things I just don't EVER want to see.

*As far as I know, this show didn't actually have anything to do with Brad Meltzer other than running previews of his next show during some commercial breaks...but, as he REALLY IS a pompous ass - I wanted to take the opportunity to mention it yet again.