Hell of a Guy
We didn't lose the game; we just ran out of time. - Vince Lombardi

Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year’s Resolutions and Other Fecal Matter


It is time to formulate the Resolutions, which in truth is nothing more than the lies we make up at the beginning of a New Year, and almost as quickly as we make them up we (translates to “I”) break them or simply disregard or merely forget them.  This year will be different.

In just about fifteen hours 2006 will come to an end.  This year for me has been one of wonder, excitement and joy.  The reason for this is that this is how I created my year.  There have been moments of sorrow and disappointment, but I chose to honor them and learn from them, and then to move beyond them.  I do not dwell on the past and I refuse to allow it to alter my future.  Now I get to look forward to a New Year of more of the same, but first I have to Resolve to do something…it’s the rule.

I could very easily create a Resolution or two that will allow immediate results, like I Resolve to quit smoking.  That will be an easy one because I haven’t smoked in a very long time.  I could Resolve to reduce my consumption of red meat.  Inasmuch as I have not eaten meat of any kind since August 11, 1995, this will be pretty easily accomplished.  I may be on to something here.  But, alas!  I chose to go for the gusto and Resolve to do other crap. So here goes. 

My first Resolution will be to lose weight and get into shape.  This may sound familiar to some of you: It may be one of your own.  I have made this one probably each year for last three decades.  Last year I dropped about fifteen pounds in the first three months.  I put it back on in about two and added a little for good measure.  I now weigh in a couple of pounds below the 243 I carried in 1989, just prior to my mid-life crisis.  This time I mean business.  If I am true to this one and lose the twenty-five pounds I need to shed, then all the larger clothing I have purchased this year may need to go into storage.  It was much easier to buy bigger stuff than to stop shoveling French Fries in my mouth.  A quick side note in the form of a prayer: God, please don’t let this one be a lie?

My second Resolution is to finish, which really means start, the ever growing list of jobs to be done around this house, such as complete the painting of the basement walls.  I need to clean up some of the tree that fell in a storm back in summer.  I began cutting it in firewood lengths back in August, but got bored and quit about halfway through the job.  I never got back to it – and that supports the saying “Notice how easily ‘not now’ becomes never.”  There are more, but we don’t need to dwell on my shortcomings and procrastinations.

My third and final Resolution for 2007 is to do a better job with my job.  January 17, 2007 will be my twenty-fourth anniversary with my company (http://www.virco.com).  There are times when I wonder if I really couldn’t do a better job – you know, do a better job so I feel like I earn what they pay me.  I need to work smarter, but not necessarily harder or longer.  I plan to keep working at least another four years…that is if my boss doesn’t make the decision that I’ve decided to retire early.  I have also committed to playing more golf in 2007.  Keep that part a secret.  What the Boss doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

Three is probably more than I need to declare.  This is a lot of pressure to put on this Hell of a Guy, especially for someone like me, the former poster child for under-achievers.  Perhaps I shouldn’t overburden myself.  I wonder if I should go back and just have one? 

I will have to evaluate the progress toward these Resolutions as the days of 2007 pass.  In my sixty-three years I have made more than a few Resolutions.  I have kept a few of them for a while, made good on…well, none that I can recall.  My track record is not good, except to make Resolutions.  Yoda said, “Do or do not, there is no ‘try’.”  The success of my Resolutions will be in proportion to my intent and commitment.  Again, given my track record, my results this time will be exactly what I make them.  The intent is there along with a commitment, all that is needed is “action.”  Hmmmm!  I may be on to something here.  Think about it…Intent and commitment with the proper and sustained action will garner the desired result.  Wow!

And that is all I have to say about that…

Friday, December 29, 2006

A Mr. Handyman, I Ain’t


I have spoken, I believe, to my innate mechanical acumen once or twice before.  As most of my family and friends already know, and that of which The Nancy is certainly very familiar, I have little or no mechanical ability.  In fact, my mechanical disability is only surpassed by my technical inability.  Examples of this are neatly listed below and not in any particular order:

1. My first real foray into the world of things mechanical probably began with my purchasing and installing an oil pressure gauge in my first car…don’t laugh, please?...it was a 1957 Volkswagen Beetle.  Ah!  What a machine is was!  It had a red vinyl interior and was painted a steel blue color.  I bought it in June 1963 and it had over 100,000 miles on it, but what the hell could you get for $600 in 1963.  Long story short: the gauge never worked as it was supposed to work.  I think it was to show the internal oil pressure of the engine?  It never moved off the zero point, ever.

2. Sometime around 1980 I decided I could tune my 1974 Chevy Impala.  I had seen some of the dudes working in the auto garages around Richmond, Virginia and decided if those bozos could tune a car, someone of my superior intellect could do it with no problem.  No so, Zoo Breath!  It cost me over $300 to undo what I did.

3. I once decided to paint the house I was living in, at least the woodwork.  I climbed a ladder and immediately knocked over a can of white paint.  Funny how quickly white paint can run down the side of a house made of brick.  It spreads from side to side almost as quickly as it runs down.

4. I was washing some clothes one time.  I pushed the button and the washer did not start.  I just knew something was really wrong, and I called the Maytag Repairman, he didn’t have anything else to do that day.  He was in my house for about fifteen seconds when he found the problem; the washer was not plugged into the electrical socket.  Did it need to be?  I found out for a small fee.

5. Here’s a good one.  I was needed to drive a nail into a stud in an unfinished room in a basement to hang something on.  There was a hole already started in a stud and I decided to use it for my nail.  I got the hammer and drove the nail into the existing hole, and, you guessed it, right through the water line that was clearly visible on either side of the stud.  Water shot out about four feet from the wall.  I needed to shut off the water, but before I did I quickly ran upstairs and took a shower and then I cut the water off and called a plumber.  I got to mop up the water that had sprayed all over the room.

6. Not long ago we had guests at our house.  The Nancy and I have a Jeep Wrangler that lives in our garage.  Occasionally we let it out and go on some of the trails on the 115 acres of farmland that surrounds our house.  The grandkids love it.  This day I allowed one of our guests to take the Jeep out with his two boys.  I hadn’t cautioned him about a low area in front of our house.  It’s pretty wet, and the wheels of the Jeep left ruts in the lawn.  We have a big riding mower and it has some wide tires on it.  I thought if I ran the mower over the ruts it would smooth them out somewhat.  So I drove the mower over the ruts.  Thirty minutes later The Nancy and I were able to extract the mud-covered mower and the mud covered David from the nice much larger rut I designed with my incredible stupidity.  The Nancy has told this story to nearly every resident of Berkeley Springs.  She loves to tell tales on me.  I have had complete strangers asking me if I really cut the grass naked. 

This is just a few examples of my mechanical dexterity, the absence of technological awareness, and cerebral malfunctions.  These pale in comparison to my latest feat.

The Nancy and I live on a farm (a non-working, just-for-looks farm) near Beautiful Downtown Berkeley Springs – aka the Town of Bath, West Virginia, population 711.  We have a 30’X30’ garage.  The garage has two doors equipped with remote controlled garage door openers.  When we bought the place we were informed only one remote could be located.  After living here for over a year we decided to purchase another remote, a universal model, and program it to operate the door we didn’t have a remote for.  Yours truly, the mechanical whiz kid, read the directions, I opened the little box on the opener and synchronized the new remote with the existing garage door opener’s code.  Nothing to it, piece of cake.  I followed directions explicitly.  I read and re-read.  I pressed the appropriate buttons at the appropriate times.  The lights on the new remote blinked as they were supposed to blink, indicating the programming sequence was complete.  It was time to test the door opener.  I aimed the remote at the box containing the receiver for the door on the left.  I heard the whine of the opener and the creaking of the door.  When I looked up I noticed it was the door on the right opening and not the door I programmed.  Undaunted by this minor glitch, I put the remote down, went into the house and opened a beer – I can operate a bottle opener…no programming necessary.  I may have to call a door opener specialist.  God only knows how much this one will cost me.

And that is all I have to say about that… 

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas 2006….


This is nuts!  It is just 6:45am on the big day.  Christmas 2006 and at this early hour the Massie children have been up for over two hours.  All the presents are opened and scattered throughout the living room and in varying stages of assembly and disarray.  The children are sitting on the floor aggravating one another, which is what children do on Christmas - at least in this family.  Most of the trash is now in bags and removed from the house.  The Nancy has gone back to bed, and while I would truly love to go with her, I know it is just a fleeting thought.  The reality of my falling asleep now is about slim and none.  The sun is not up yet and won’t be for another thirty minutes or so.  Breakfast is at least an hour down the road.  In a little while we will all prepare ourselves for the other part of Christmas, a house full of company.   

The kids ripped through their presents in about fifteen seconds.  Paper was flying everywhere.  Boxes lay around, the tops over here and the bottoms over there.  Tissue paper and other packing material was torn to shreds and tossed in little piles and big piles.  The gifts - Santa wrapped every one - included lots of electronics and other stuff.  Each got a cursory look and was laid aside for the next to be opened.  I would lay money on the fact the kids couldn’t tell you what they got without looking at the “pile” of their stuff.  But that is what kids do on Christmas; get them open and move on.

Mom is on the floor with Jon-Luke piecing together a toy.  She has just asked for a screwdriver and the AA batteries.  The Massies go through batteries like most people do ice cubes. 

But this is Christmas; it is now a little after 7am.  The sun still lay beneath the horizon.  The gifts are all opened.  Mommy and Jon-Luke are playing a game.  Jared ran off crying after firing off a Nerf gun rocket into daddy’s face.  Justin and Jessica are in the next room also playing a game.  Ken just went to the basement to clean up something the one of the kids broke earlier, and, of course, The Nancy is back nestled in her bed - most likely snoring.  As for me…I couldn’t be happier.  It’s Christmas and I am with people I love.

And that is all I have to say about that…

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Shopping for Two


The Nancy and I made an agreement.  The Nancy is not much of a shopper, she does not enjoy it.  Getting her in a store is a chore.  Getting her to actually purchase something is like attempting to put a worm back in an apple.  So, after about a minute of serious conversation on what to do about Christmas, we decided it would work this way.  I would go shopping for gifts from me to The Nancy, and I would shop for gifts for The Nancy to give to me.  Her job is to be surprised about what she got me when I open the boxes.  We did the “high five” gesture of agreement, and it was settled, I would do the shopping.

I got to go Christmas shopping for The Nancy and for myself yesterday.  It didn’t take that long to do the actual purchases, but to really get the most out of a shopping excursion, one has to spend nearly the whole day doing it.  It’s the rule.  I had a ball.  I visited four stores in four cities.  In these parts, West Virginia, that is, a “city” can be contained on a plot of land about the size of a postage stamp.  It can be a couples of houses, a trailer or two, a church, a Walmart, the requisite McDonalds and a bar (which will most likely be a VFW or a Moose Lodge), and, baby, it’s a city.  Anyway, the job is done.  The Nancy will be surprised to find she is giving me exactly what I want.  She, on the other hand, will get exactly what I want.  Life is good…thank you very much.  In the immortal words of George Bush, “Mission Accomplished.”

Now a dilemma arises.  With all the gifts we have to take for our girls and their families, the Jeep Cherokee is going to be packed rather tightly, leaving little room for The Nancy and me.  Fortunately, we will offload some of it early on, as we make our way to Richmond, Virginia and then on to Bridgeport, West Virginia.  This is going to be so cool!  About 2pm tomorrow The Nancy and I will get in the line of traffic heading south on I-95, and as we attempt to remain unstressed weaving our way to Richmond – we don’t do Carols, there will be no singing – I will refuse to give anyone the Bird no matter how obnoxiously they are driving.  I won’t exercise my four-letter word lexicon, nor will I think poorly of or judge my fellow travelers.  I shall remain clam and in control of my emotions.  Promise!

So, to all of you who have hit on the website – now over 27,000, especially to those of you off on a Christmas travel adventure at $2.39 a gallon or so, here’s to your safe and joyful travels, and most of all have a Happy and Joyous Christmas.

And that is all I have to say about that…


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