Thursday, October 11, 2018

Circling The Awareness Wagons

Yesterday’s post ended up with quite the discussion on Facebook. I learned something outside my scope of narrow understanding. But the greatest thing about it… It was a civil discussion. Yes! A civil discussion! Something that’s as rare as finding a Mickey Mantle rookie baseball card. Finding an Amazing Spider-Man number 1. Finding a Yugo that still runs.

I was waiting all day for things to go screaming off the tracks and crashing into a house of rescue puppies. Because as we all know… People just cannot be civil to each other on social media. If folks disagree they simply cannot let someone be entitled to their opinions, they must get angry and throw civility to the wolves. If a differing opinion arises, it must be tracked down, hunted, and gutted.

I experienced that with a friend in real life on Facebook when I wrote about the first time that I walked into the room to see Dr. Ford before the Senate Committee to give her statement about Kavanaugh. Until I read the crawl on the bottom of the TV screen, she looked like Dana Carvey with a Garth wig on. I prefaced the post with all kinds of disclaimers, but that didn’t stop the rage with my particular friend.

She said that I attacked her looks, her intelligence, her achievements, and called her names. Which I clearly did not, but in her mind I’m guilty because she believes that I disagreed with Ford’s testimony. Which I did not. She deserved to be heard. But that didn’t keep my former friend from insulting me. Well, she tried to insult me. As a Scorpio, I appreciate good sarcasm even if it’s directed towards my thick radio skin that repels insults like hail stones bouncing off pavement. I’m used to being insulted for entertainment. Nice try though. I responded in kind because I was misunderstood and I just couldn’t let it pass. Don’t poke the bear unless you want the claws. I found it amusing and I found it rather disconcerting.

We have known each other for 18 years and I thought that she knew me better than what she misinterpreted. She had no desire to discuss. She was right in her mind and unfriended me… I love the ol’ cheap hit and run tactic… I took a few moments to think about her feelings until it clicked. She rarely “likes” my posts or even comments on them. We’ve only been friends simply because we worked with each other for over 8 years. It didn’t take long for me to realize that it was her problem and no big loss. I don’t need a sorehead friend that gets angry with my stupid observations that they misinterpret.

So to quote the great Cheap Trick… “Buenos noches o senor, Senorita see ya later, Buenos noches bye-bye”

But to get back to yesterday’s post… Ladies, get your mammograms. Everyone is trying to make you aware of the importance of getting them for the whole month of October. And that’s the part that eluded me. The “awareness” isn’t for all of us. It’s for the ones of us that just keep chugging along with the “it’ll never happen to me” mindset. Get those mammograms!

And guys, it can happen to you too! Peter Criss, former member of KISS, is a breast cancer survivor. So, give yourself an examination the same way the ladies do. I do it. There’s a history of breast cancer in my family. And my wife will occasionally supplement my own self-examination with her inspection. If you let your significant other give you an examination, chances are good that you’ll enjoy it. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

I Am Aware

Let me be upfront here… This may upset some of you.

With that being written… I’m aware of breast cancer.

I get it. Breast cancer exists. It has been around for as long as I can remember. I’ve been fully aware of breast cancer. We lost my Aunt Penny to breast cancer and the complications. I became painfully aware seeing the woman on her death bed in her home. I became so upset that I couldn’t stay the night in the house when she was begging someone in her family to put her out of her misery. I called up a cousin from the other side of my family that lived nearby to see if I could crash on his couch. He obliged. She died in the early morning the next day. I was a pall bearer that carried her casket to the grave.

The family met her the week before to bid their farewell, but I couldn’t make it. I believe that she waited a week longer to see me before dying. I could be wrong. She had a last request of me that will remain private.

It was one of the most unpleasant things that I have ever dealt with. Losing a friend or family member is tough, but to hear them begging to be put down is heartbreaking.

I was aware of breast cancer before my mother was diagnosed with the disease. She had a double mastectomy and occasionally still has problems associated with the surgery and disease. I still wear the shirt that we made to support her and her fight.

I was aware of breast cancer when I saw some friends posting on Facebook about themselves or someone else with the disease. I’m happy to say those women have kicked breast cancer’s ass.

I was aware of breast cancer when my sister was diagnosed with the disease. She had a mastectomy. And just recently, she was proud to “show off” her replacement breast to which I replied, “I never thought my sister would ever ask me how I like her breasts.” Now keep in mind, there were no baring of the breasts… You pervs! And maybe “showing off” is the wrong term. I don’t know. If you believe that I’m guilty of being insensitive, so be it. Our mother got a chuckle out of my comment. People condemn folks quite easily these days so, condemn me if you must. I believe that she felt confident in beating breast cancer and proud of what she regained through the miracle of modern surgery.

It is not my intention to make fun or put down anyone with breast cancer, breast cancer survivors, or otherwise.

I’m just aware of breast cancer.

Ask ANYONE within your space right this second if they’re aware of breast cancer and I’m 99.99% sure that they’ll say, “Yeah. I’m aware of breast cancer.” Or something to that effect.

So… Who ISN’T aware of breast cancer? Where are these people? Are they in the deepest jungle hundreds or thousands of miles away from civilization? Can we fly over and drop pamphlets onto those unaware of breast cancer to make them aware? Why aren’t the Susan G. Komen folks organizing walks through those jungles to bring breast cancer awareness to those that do not know?

Instead we have football players wearing pink. Newscasters are wearing pink dresses and pink ties. NASCAR even has some pink races cars, pink painted walls, and pink painted curbs at Martinsville. Folks are taking walks all across the country to raise money while wearing pink. I see pink ribbons on vehicles on the roadways. Lots of folks are saying that it’s to make people aware of breast cancer.

You know, the people that are ALREADY aware of breast cancer. So, yeah… I don’t get it.

Can we drop the “breast cancer awareness” bit?

Can we just make October the month for the Breast Cancer Pledge Drive?

Make people aware of the Breast Cancer Pledge Drive. That’s the ticket! We’re ALL aware of breast cancer. And folks have been using the word “awareness” instead of “asking for donations”. Lets just call it what it is… We KNOW about breast cancer already. I know it’s a way to increase the funds for researching a cure by saying “breast cancer awareness”. There’s nothing wrong with raising money for such an endeavor. But I have grown sick of bringing awareness to something that we ALL know about. It makes me jaded. It makes me unsympathetic to the cause because “awareness” is constantly being shoved down my throat when I KNOW that it’s all about raising money.

Again, I know my thoughts on this are going to upset someone. Everyone seems to have an exposed nerve just itching to get offended or outraged over something. Did it occur to anyone else that bringing awareness to something that we’re already aware of kind of insults our collective intelligence?

Perhaps we should be upset with the marketers that use “awareness” as a nice way of hitting the population up for donations.

Of course, I know that I’m spitting in the wind here. October and pink ribbons will most likely continue to bring breast cancer awareness to the masses that are already aware long after I’m gone.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

The Rough Road to Snoozeville

My wife Jamie, AKA Chigger, AKA Chigs, AKA J.R., has been having some issues lately when it comes to sleeping. I hate it for her. I hate it for anyone. I’ve taken A LOT of things for granted, but sleep is not on that short list. Although I have no idea what insomnia is all about, I have had times when I couldn’t sleep. I have only had small samples of that particular hell, but I know that I wouldn’t want it amplified like The Stones playing a football stadium. I wouldn’t want to have to deal with it every night. And I wouldn’t want anyone but the truly evil people to experience sleepless nights… Like terrorists, AB InBev, and Steve Harvey.

Hell, Steve Harvey probably doesn’t sleep that much anyway. He’s got a lame morning radio show out of Los Angeles. He’s got that horrible syndicated TV talk show airing around the country. Some network TV show where he mines for comedy gold with little kids speaking their minds and doing unspeakable acts like spinning plates or shooting pistols while riding tricycles on two wheels or something like that. And then there’s that horrific ‘Family Feud’ where Mr. One Trick Pony can look into a camera to make his “comedic” reactionary faces along with dropping to one knee as if his heart cannot take yet another idiotic answer from a contestant. Oh yeah, he’s a comedy genius.

My wife has tried turning out lights that I use when walking to the bathroom. I'm afraid of breaking my neck by tripping over something in the dark without the aid of my spectacles. When she does that, my immediate thought is “did the power go out?”.

But lately she has employed a new tactic to get her snoring up to par with mine. She plays music.

Yep, she found some playlist on Spotify and thought she’d give it a shot this past Sunday night. At first, it was kinda new agey, airy, and relaxing. But during the course of the night it got weird… One song sounded as if the digital file had corrupted. It was like someone put on a vinyl record that had been slid on a gravel road for a mile or two. And then there were some Christian hymns that were being played low and slow like “Nearer, My God, To Thee” and “In The Garden”. Of course, hearing the last one actually brought back the first 18 years of my life when I had to attend church every time the doors were open. I know the lyrics and singing along with them in my head caused me to be awake… Just the opposite of what she had intended for herself.

Then last night she found yet another playlist to try. It was better than the previous night’s round of tunes although she did dabble with nature sounds. A babbling brook, the crashing of ocean waves, and one that sounded like a little league game with wildlife yelling at the batter until it was time to “SWING!”. Yeah, that last one had to go. I don’t know if it was her phone’s tiny speaker, but they all sounded rather canned and unnatural.

I really don’t mind, but she’s considerate enough to ask and keep asking even though it’s fine with me. I can fall sleep fairly easy. If falling asleep were an Olympic event I’d be on Subway commercials all the time because of my impressive stack of gold medals. I can fall asleep faster than Michael Phelps can swim ten meters. I can be snoring before Jimmie Johnson can make a lap around the Martinsville Speedway. I can step inside the gates of dreamland before Steve Harvey can make a stupid face on the ‘Family Feud’.

I’m hoping that she’ll get a good night’s sleep real soon and it’s able to continue. She works hard both at her job and around the house. So, if music will be playing during my sleepy time, the dogs and I will just have to deal with it. You know, since the three of us are sleeping like it’s a competition while the Chigs is flopping around looking for some Z’s.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Quirks 'R Us

Have you even known or even lived with someone that has whacky quirks?

The MIL certainly has a multitude of them. And a lot of them I just never really noticed until a few someones pointed them out to me.

I’m not talking about annoying habits. I’m talking about little quirky things that are more amusing than they are annoying. Things that leave you shaking your head and wondering about the whys concerning such behavior.

I am VERY sure that I have a bunch of them too. But being so close to myself, I don’t really notice them. I’m sure that the MIL and Jamie could have a symposium when it comes to my little quirks. I freely admit my OCDs when it comes to TV viewing, my album of the day, and my daily/weekly Spotify habits. I’m sure they top Jamie’s list.

Here’s a daily MIL quirk… For reasons unknown to me, and I don’t ask because all my questions are perceived as criticisms, the MIL gets up every morning with a routine. She gathers the dirty clothes and after that she sprays disinfectant spray in all the bedrooms. It’s always two sprays. I don’t know what she’s spraying or why, because I don’t ask for previously mentioned misinterpretations. Did we all become odorous during our sleeping hours? Did we all wake up smelling like rotting meat?

I’m thinking that she’s using disinfectant spray as a room deodorizer. It’s a common mistake. I know for a fact that she sprays the bathroom with the disinfectant spray instead of the Glade deodorizing spray. I don’t know why. I don’t know if it’s a “cheap” thing or if she just doesn’t realize the differences in the sprays. I purposely purchase Glade because it’s more effective at eliminating odors than the cheap disinfectant spray.

Another part of her morning ritual is the turning on and turning off of water in the bathroom sink. There are usually 4 or 5 times where she’s turning on the water and then turning it off in there. What in the caramelized onion hell is she doing in there??

And then when you visit the same room, there’s water droplets all over the top of the sink. It looks as if she just ran water and violently shook her hands under the running water just to splash it all over the sink. So yeah, I’m a bit perplexed.

Here’s a doozy… She folds her clothes before putting them into the dirty clothes hamper. Seriously, who does that? At times, she can be a bit like Felix Unger from ‘The Odd Couple’ and I find some of it rather bizarre at times. Why fold dirty clothes??? Just toss them bastards in there and worry about the folding when they’re clean.

And cleaning the kitchen IMMEDIATELY after people have eaten dinner is something that she does like a military strike. As soon as the last person finishes eating, usually her, she swoops in like a mad maid. But the other night, there was a problem. Jamie went over to the neighbors for a little Notary work concerning a purchase of a car. And if you know my wife, she’s a talkative creature. She most likely did the witnessing, the checking of the paperwork, and gave her stamp of approval with a few beers at the finishing line. But her taco fixings were getting cold. She was the only one that hadn’t eaten dinner. Jamie was holding up the one-woman kitchen-cleaning strike force. The strike force was at DEFCON 2 and was waiting impatiently. The MIL kept asking questions like… “When is Jamie coming back?”… “Do you think Jamie is going to eat dinner?”… “What’s taking Jamie so long?”… “Do you think Jamie will ever come home?”

And every question was followed by… “I’ve got to clean up the kitchen.” I kept waiting for “I’m forgetting what she looks like” to come out of her mouth.

So, I texted my wife with this… “Come eat before your momma loses her g****mn mind”. And it wasn’t long after that Jamie returned to find that the strike force had indeed pulled a premature jump to DEFCON 1. The MIL was packing up and washing. She even threw away the last of the homegrown tomatoes that Jamie was looking forward to loading up on her tacos. My wife made due by stirring up most of the leftover taco items into a bowl for her dinner.

When it comes to quirks, I think the MIL has certainly eclipsed me.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

I'm Giddy!

If you didn’t realize it, I’m a NASCAR fan. I still keep up with the sport even though I don’t watch every single race like I used to do. I’m not the only one that believes that NASCAR has put themselves into a deep, deep hole. They expanded too fast while alienating their Southern fans searching for fertile markets. I’m not saying that the expansion is the biggest source of the problem. I’m saying that NASCAR could have used a little creativity when building new tracks. Just about all of them are 1.5 mile tracks modeled after Charlotte.

Hell, I’ll never understand why they changed Atlanta. It was fine. But they had to monkey with it.

They also had to monkey with Bristol and they tried to go back. But there was no going back. They ruined it and what used to be a sellout with a waiting list for tickets has now become the “Last Great Coliseum” filled with shiny, empty seats with speckles of people scattered throughout.

Charlotte used to be special, but it’s not anymore since so many tracks have been stamped out using the CMS mold. What was once a race that I looked forward to has become “humdrum” and seen just about every week from a different geographical location. So, if I see that race or not, it no longer matters to me. I’ll try to tune into the last 20 laps or so, but the finishing order will be published almost immediately. So, lots of times I don’t even bother to watch the 600. Here’s a list of the tracks that I don’t really give a damn about watching…

Atlanta – 2
Las Vegas – 2
Phoenix – 2
Fontana, California – 1
Texas – 2
Kansas – 2
Charlotte – 1 (now)
Michigan – 2
Chicagoland – 1
Kentucky – 1
Indianapolis – 1

The only reason that I bother to watch the last race of the season at Miami-Homestead is because it’s the Championship race. If it weren’t for the tension, there would be no real reason to watch. It would be a boring race if some drama weren't involved.

That means out of 19 races, I won’t bother with 18 of them until the last remaining laps to complete the race. And there are 36 races which means that I’m not watching at least half of them.

But Charlotte is doing something this weekend that will most likely shake things up a bit. Not only in the standings, but the possibility for things to change when it comes to the oval-heavy schedule. Charlotte has built a road course racetrack that’s part of the existing track and within it.

Jim and Bait went with me on for one of the open test sessions back in July. Although we never saw any side-by-side testing, the Roval race at Charlotte this weekend is going to be one hell of an experiment. I KNOW this race will be exciting because it’s such a wild card of a race. It’s also a cut-off race for eliminating four of the playoff contenders with only 3 of the 16 locked into the next round. So, we’ve got 13 guys desperately looking for a win, a darn good finish, and back luck for their competition. And oh yeah, there are 24 other drivers that want a win too!

One of the things to look are the double-file restarts. They could most likely end up going into turn one side-by-side. And from what we saw at the open test session, that’s one hell of a sharp turn. Just about every driver had the rear ends of their cars kicking out during the exit of that turn. And when they come back around through the dogleg front stretch, they carry in so much speed that brakes will become an issue.

This race has a lot of potential to ruin someone’s day. And it also has the potential to ruin a Championship run for 16 of the competitors. I couldn’t be more excited!

The Roval race at Charlotte will have excitement. It may have angry drivers. There may be brawls in the pits. Tensions will be at an all-time high with drivers, pit crew members, crew chiefs, and spotters. And sadly, I won’t be there in person. Being out of work has limited my ability to purchase tickets to the event. Jamie has mentioned going more than several times, but I haven’t really taken it to heart. The practical side of me says that I must save us the money by not going even though there’s a burning desire to be there.

I have a friend of mine that will be in attendance and it will be his first race. So yeah, he’s in for a doozy of a first race.

I had several firsts at Charlotte. I was there for the first points race under the lights that gave Jeff Gordon his first win. I was there for Bobby Labonte’s first win. But unfortunately, I won’t be making this one. One must be prudent in my current state of under-employment.

The bottom line is this… This race is going to be a damn hoot! Fan or not, I would suggest seeing this one either in person or on the couch.