Ernie you were a Kid?

Ernie you were a kid?

Fuck YEA! – for better or worse.

I grew up in Woburn Massachusetts – I was ten when I lived there. How any of us survived baffles me to this day.

Don’t be a pussy they said, impress Ellen Foley they said … Crap

There was nothing resembling today’s world – We had no bicycle helmets, and made jumps for our Big Wheels with bricks and boards – we did everything we could to shorten our life span.

My daughter thought it funny we didn’t have a computer – Well, we also didn’t have cable, cell phones, microwave ovens, remote controls, car starters – the list goes on and on – not that we were poor, that stuff just didn’t exist yet.

Our first microwave was the size of a Subaru, and my parents found great joy in how it heated water as the lights dimmed in the house, and christian broadcasting could be heard on our fillings. It was the perfect device for turning a nice pork chop, into a gray one.

Fact is, technology consisted off ‘turn that to Channel 5’ because we had EIGHT channels – yea EIGHT. They went off the air at midnight, with a giant Indian Head test pattern, only to re-introduce the channel each morning at six to start their broadcast day

It used to be blue … my childhood home … Howard Tree intact (you can’t kill it)

A typical day in the life of ten year old Mike, Tommy Skeffington, and Johnny Lundine was a pile of bikes in the front yard – Johnny’s Mom had the best frosted pop tarts so I always targeted her kitchen. We didn’t have video games, hell, the TV was black and white in the homes making enough cash to own one, and weighing several hundred pounds (console television)

During the week, we walked to School with bread bags over our feet to keep them dry in the Winter, and handmade mittens – you know, the ones that made snow stick to them so your friends could nail you with snowballs stuck to the yarn?

Our parents used to make a lot of our things – was it an issue of money or old values? Who knew, not this Kid – and it didn’t matter.

Why am I growing a second head … I don’t know, shut up and drink your fucking water!

We would catch Crawfish in the creek, only to find the Woburn Water was part of the Tannery cover portrayed in “A Civil Action”.

My Parents would move us to Billerica in the coming years, only to find out the Rail Yard we played in (Iron Horse Park), and the town dump were highly toxic – both would later to be declared an EPA Superfund Sites in my late teens.

During weekends, we caught frogs and snakes, made go-karts out of scraps of old wood with nails as axles, and threw things off of Blueberry Hill Mountain. That was a Quarry with walls about 400’ high, and barely a fence to keep you off the edge. I collected Blueberries there, and Mom would make Blueberry Buckle (an amazing sugary coffee cake loaded with blueberries)

Blueberry Buckle – except it was my Mothers, so it always tasted BETTER

The cliff was awesome at ten years old – not as much fun as the busy railroad tracks in Winchester, but what can you do. We would make little planes and throw them from the ledge. They always crashed, but at the bottom was a Breyers Plant (or something along those lines) and they, on schedule, used to dump the ice cream bars that didn’t pass muster into the Dumpster. You can imagine who was waiting patiently with his friends 😀 (and how I ended up looking this way)

Our swamp with blown cattails in winter time – awesome torches for ten year olds

Things for us were NOT safe. No seat-belts in the cars, smoking in public places (meaning on planes, and everywhere else), fighting for the back seat of the beach wagon – my Dad used to collect Cattails (or “Cat OR Nine Tails” as we called them) from the swamp nearby, soak them in paint thinner, light them and hand them out. We would run around the neighborhood unsupervised with burning Tiki torches until the top burned off, and then grab another.

When Woburn sprayed for mosquitoes, it was a pickup truck with a huge buzzing sprayer off the back – THICK clouds of insecticide would make the streets impassable for 5-10 minutes at a time. I mean it literally looked like thick fog (it was DDT that was later banned). Every kid in the neighborhood would go play in the ‘fog’ until it looped back and ran over Johnny Boggs.

Johnny was a dick from Spring Court who stole my sisters jump rope, and set it on fire at the Green Street Pool – but that’s history now – I kicked his ass for that one, weeks earlier. NOBODY screwed with my Sisters.

Horn Pond, Woburn Massachusetts (Thank you Joe Nicosia)

With no electronics, games, or the like, we played cops and robbers, baseball, climbed trees, and ate dirt. Nana Penny lived down the hill, she would give us snacks and we would sit with her a while. Sometimes we ventured to Horn Pond – Dad’s friend Joe Nicosia would take us for long walks with a tennis ball to throw. We played ‘King of the Mountain’ at the Green Street Pool, made a mess with Super Elastic Bubble Plastic, and turned every cardboard box we could find into a Spaceship.

My Dad introduce me (and sometimes my friends) to model trains, rocketry, the wonders of carbon paper, bee keeping, wine making, and the Post Office (he would take me to work sometimes).

My Mother was a Nurse with three young kids and a limited budget – she would make us Porcupine Meatballs, American Chop Suey, and a once a month treat – that’s right, Chinese Food because we were convinced the Chinese ate that way. I’m pretty sure my blue collar parents didn’t have a lot of money, but damn, we ate well,and had a good place to live.

Street lights coming on meant Dinner time, and you better be running – shoes off at the mud porch, and the entire family talking about their day together without TV, phones, games or other distractions. Sometimes that was a good thing – other times *shrug* meh not so good. We had a habit of wandering MILES from home, and sometimes, we were spotted. It happens.

Still, with all that, times have changed – yes, we survived, and we all moved out of the neighborhood eventually. My parents would buy their dream home in Billerica, and I would never see my friends again.

Decades later, seeing the neighborhood, I’m just as happy they did leave Woburn – nothing is ever as good as you remember, and this was no different. I still sometimes wonder what ever happened to Ellen Foley, and JoAnn Piezo. I was in love with them, but I was ten, I didn’t know why.

Que Sera Sera … every day is a chance at new memories. Good times – fingers and toes intact, no helmet, pass the bowl of carcinogens please …

THREE YEARS AGO TODAY …

This is messed up, three years? where did the time go??

I’m sorry if I see this as somehow amazing, or any different than the things others go through, but right now, exactly three years ago to the date and time, I rolled into Austin Texas for the first time (I only knew where Houston was … OK I only knew where Bimbos in Tomball was – whatever)

In Austin 4 minutes – the Eagle had landed – now for a Margarita!

I had left Lowell Massachusetts on January 03, 2016 – light snow here and there, 15 degrees out with NO plan except to get to Arizona someday, to court my old girlfriend.

In the 18 months preceding this, I had gotten divorced, sold my first house, and took a package to leave my employer of 23 years. I remember a friend stopping traffic in front of the Club so the bike  could get out, as I waved over my shoulder saying ‘I will be right back’ – I never did go home, but I never saw that coming either. Home became the Road.

It took hours for my balls to descend again after this little jaunt

A few months later, scorched by the sun and hung over, I was standing in a parking lot in Sedona, gearing up for Death Valley when the phone beeped. It was Facebook, with a friend making me an offer I couldn’t refuse – except I could. It would be another two months before I signed on to IBM, but the offer wasn’t about the money – it was about finally realizing something started years earlier at Verizon. I was told it was in Austin Texas, and everyone in Tucson told me how lucky I was – time would tell.

I pulled into a little ghost town way the hell out in the desert to look at the offer on my phone – sitting there in what must be a terminal sand storm, I sheltered up against the wall of the blown out gas station and slowly started signing. Day one would be May 09, 2016.

Kamp … what a story (2 Guns Arizona)

I had a few weeks to kill, so I went to the Gulf Coast and partied with the Radisson Staff in New Iberia. Hijacking the hotel courtesy shuttle with staff members for a booze cruise on my last night would remain a hell of a highlight (the hotel was under renovation so it was just me, a few contractors and the staff … and a terrified 16 year old local driving the drunk bus)

It was this time, on Saturday May 07, 2016 that I rolled down Burnet Rd for the first time – I accidentally hooked a left into a shopping center here called the Domain, and experienced my first skinny pant wearing man bun boy sauntering through the lot with his Abercrombie shopping bag, and a sour look like someone just messed up his double decaf half cafe triple mochaccino.

Fucking weird

C Hunts … cold beer, beautiful women, motorcycles – Welcome to Texas

My first night would be when I met the first girl here, and several people who would become conduits to my current group. I asked SIRI ‘Hey SIRI find me a dive bar near me’ and VIOLA! I found C Hunts Icehouse, a home of great women, cold beer, and a leaky roof.

I also found Gina, in her little shorts and Kentucky accent – this was a place anyone would feel INSTANTLY at home. You had UPS Paul, Mechanic Mike, Bagger Scott … the list goes on and on.

So, I get to my first day at the IBM Campus … and it’s raining sideways – I mean cats and dogs living together, wrath of god stuff. I meet Kat looking like a drowned rat (oh, YOUR Mombo … and I’m thinking “yea super”).

Happy Monday morning.

It would rain like that for the next three weeks, you couldn’t build an Ark big enough for this bullshit, until I bought a huge golf umbrella and …. YES!, Sun from that point on.

In three years, I’ve actually used that golf umbrella maybe 6 times.

I said to Kat “I’m not made of sugar, I won’t melt” and with a wry smile she looks back and says “you know with the right amount of water, even shit melts” – we became instant friends, which is good because she controlled the coffee.

Three years later, I’m STILL here. This was supposed to be a year stint to get the lab going (yes, Thunderdome), but it was fun, so I renewed my lease and settled in for a bit. I was careful not to get too close to anyone, or let anyone get close to me, because I was leaving – that is what I told myself, but the people here are amazing (like everywhere I guess), so why not do two years.

Yes, there really is a corner in Winslow Arizona

Year two absolutely flew, with a blown motorcycle motor, trips to Dirty T and people traveling here. I learned to butcher steak, put salt on watermelon, sharpen knives, ride a horse (NOT a good look for me OR the Horse), and shoot feral hogs on my friends Ranch south of here. The weather seems to always be perfect, except when it’s not, and you can ride year-round in a t-shirt unless you are from here, and then it’s parka time at 65 degrees.

Will there be a year FOUR? I honestly couldn’t tell you at this point – I thought I was going somewhere, and maybe I will, but it’s been a hell of a run since riding out from the club years ago, a half bottle of Wild Turkey in me, and the clothes on my back.

My next stop would be Upstate Maryland after blasting through a snowy NYC on a Saturday Night. Never look back – Tucson, see you on the Monsoon Run in August. Have an amazing week my Friends and thank you for the good times.

A Physicist at your Funeral?

This is great – nice job to the original author credited below – So why have a physicist speak at your funeral?

You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen.”

-Aaron Freeman

So you got the Interview?

You may ask, why didn’t I choose you for the job –

It’s always a great question. Perhaps, your interview simply sucked. When I ask you to tell me about about yourself, and why you are a good fit for the position PLEASE don’t go off about your qualifications. I read your resume.

I already know your qualifications, schooling, professional certifications etc. and frankly I don’t want to hear it again – I’m looking for your work ethic, personality, ability to be a team player, and how you get along with others.

I would so much rather hear things like –

“Well outside of the qualifications I outlined on my resume, I am a roll with the punches kind of guy/girl especially when things get hectic – I take care of my myself, work well with others, and don’t air issues in public – I won’t sugar coat it in private however, when a real issue needs to be addressed.”

“I think ahead, and yes if something goes south on a Friday at 4:49pm, be aware I am proactive, and already ahead of the ball. If I screw up, and we all do, I will admit it – I don’t throw people under the bus. I am a self-starter, run with things, and simply ask the tools to do my job”

Basically, tell me about YOU, what you bring to the team – your personality – If you are sitting in front of me, you are selling yourself at that point, so take advantage of it, not everyone made it that far. Let me get to know you, not your resume alone, instead of just reading your resume and saying ‘thank you for coming in’

Sell yourself, and make sure they see you are value added, you have one shot, make it count.

Hired

Random thoughts on Star

I’m sitting on my balcony at 3am, thinking about Star Island. I touched on where it was, what it was, and why it was fun being a groundskeeper there, but really, the Island is so steeped in history and interesting stories, you would never be able to record them all.

Yea that’s it … Star Island

Nothing on the Island made sense to me when I was younger – everything from Lovers Cave to the Poop Plant. They shot for a wind turbine, only to have it blow up, and treating their own poop was interesting for a while – Which was fun, because when the poop plant overflowed, it overflowed into Gosport Harbor.

You know those cool streaks of luminescent animals glowing green as the waves hit the rocks? you betcha, poop lights! Flush the toilet (they used seawater) and little green lights would communicate with you from their advanced civilization forty thousand years beyond the Sun.

I must have stood there shit faced for a half hour one night, staring at the toilet trying to figure it out, when Dave Browns voice was heard in the darkness ‘They light when you agitate the water – now go to bed – tomorrow I will explain magnetism’ – except he never did.

The poop plant guys were actually some of the few people out there I liked – I mean the guy walks into the chow hall at lunch, gives you a big hearty handshake and introduces himself as the guy running the plant. I never asked if the gloves were clean, I was honestly afraid to ask.

So there you go, walking by the exploded wind turbine, and hoping you are upwind, not downwind from shit tank central, and you spot another thing both beloved and hated on Star – Yes, I speak of the Sea Roses.

Doing anything on Star was a act of Congress, so sometimes we pulled a Ninja trick or two. I wasn’t joking about the fucking grass – it’s an ISLAND – the grass has snakes, rodents, bugs and other things, the grass should be manicured. It IS a convention center after all but nooooooooo ….

Every year without fail I’d run into some soul who was just impossibly happy – you know, the one who sees beauty in everything.

The one you just want to throat punch, if you could only figure out a way to get away with it. The one who looks with great disdain at the lawn tractor and bitches at you for cutting the lawn. ‘Oh how could you? just look at it will ya? so wavy and beautiful … wavy grass, just so wavy …. look how it waves’ and meanwhile I’m wondering if I can run THEM down without clogging the mower.

It worked the same way with everything else on the Island – The Sea Roses were a fire hazard and everyone knew it. Super happy people would remark how pretty they were, but they were never native to that rock. They were an oily variety, and how they never had a brush fire in my years, I never knew. We sprayed and cut back where we could, but it was no use.

Seagulls? nasty dive bombing shit machines – rats with wings – gull pucky everywhere. You would have to carry a long stick to go to the back of the Island, as they would attack the highest point and let the turds fly. It was their way of protecting their nests, that always seemed to be conveniently placed in the middle of a trail.

Fucker

Want to have fun? tell your friends ‘gulls are afraid of red’ and pass out some red shirts, for your walk (YES, the dreaded Smuttynose Death March but more on that later). The hilarity of watching former friends running for their lives cannot be truly told. How some of us actually made it back to the mainland on the supply ship without being tossed overboard, truly baffles me.

So, I’m rambling about the things that lived on Star, the things we tried to kill on Star, and general Star things but the story isn’t over without talking about the pigs. Yes, you and I call them dinner, but remember, this is Star where I once overheard the cook state ‘What do you mean, of course this counts as meat, see, right on the label ‘Meat of Walnuts'” – and you wonder why Lions eat their young?

The Island kept pigs out behind the Oceanic. The idea was to keep them, and feed them scraps from the Kitchen. Who didn’t love the Pigs? However, I don’t think they thought this one through. You see pigs eat, pigs poop, pigs become tasty pork chops – and you had one very large carnivore roaming the Island.

Didn’t anyone stop to think about what to do with the pigs after the season was over? Did they really just think they went away to a special place where they would live out their lives in a cage free environment, eating non GMO and gluten free veggie diets. I can’t take ownership for any of the post season shenanigans, but I can tell you that they are a bitch to get on a boat, they DO get seasick, and word on the street is they were tasty – or so I’m told

Next time, it’s ghost stories because before the modern day Star, people were dying all over the place, from haunted caves, to winter life in a fishing village, to the Beebe Cemetery. Pass the Apple Sauce


You thought you were a Mechanic, 8 miles out …

Earlier I discussed the Island, and what got us out there initially – yea, they would give us housing, unlimited fishing, food, and we had to mow the lawns – simple – we could handle things they couldn’t, and we wanted to help – it’s a cool place with a ton of history (including us, because we are history *in more ways than one*)

However, that is when the true challenge at Star raises it’s ugly head.

Cash flow was not something the Conference Center had out there, so preventive maintenance was always an issue. It also ate equipment alive that hadn’t been winterized – and it never was. Some just left out for the season.

So cold, we would be keying cars back in Rye with our nipples

So, because of that, we often had to beg, borrow, or steal parts from one machine, to fix another – or even take two or three machines, and build one from the working parts – hence the ‘stone tools’ comment. The supply ship only went into Rye once a day, and even then you had to drive to the Store, so often times it could take a day or so, if you could even locate the part. Everything had to be planned in advance.

On Star, nothing happens quickly except the shits when you ignore the faucet that says ‘not drinking water’ and drink it anyway.

Another issue was donated equipment – now, why anyone would donate a clapped out 64 Ford Stake Body is anyone’s guess – did they really need the tax break that badly?

Carolyn and I were sitting on the deck one day, getting gooned on the Kahlua we had spiked our coffees with, when that truck died at the end of the dock. I just looked at her with a smile, and wandered on down to take a look – I found a few kids under the hood – they had no idea what they were looking at but at least they were trying.

I jumped up (yes not my first time working on this one) and popped the air cleaner. To my amusement, the kid helping exclaims “whoa there is the problem, it has oil in the air cleaner!’ (which was normal since it was an oil bath air cleaner) but whatever. A little fuel down the choke, a screwdriver holding it open and BOOM a big old backfire through the intake, as it came back to life. (this was a day of carburetor’s and mechanical pumps – they ran it out of gas)

Later that night, the Pelicans got together to discuss their day – things like ‘why walnuts are meat’ etc and one states ‘Did you see that guy earlier? He put gasoline in the carburetor – He almost blew the truck up – and there is still oil in the air filter!’ – Carolyn and I just quietly smiled at each other watching the sunset. One thing you have to give Star is the beauty of the place. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I kind of like it and the funny shit that went on.

Night time was always the best time to check out the back rocks – no explanation needed

Star was a place of good lessons for all of us, including the Pelicans.

The Universalist Unitarians who manage Star, actually stocked huge pickle jars with condoms, available in the bathrooms on each floor. They knew shit was going on, so why not address it.

Working Star gave the kids a purpose, a schedule, and a work ethic – which made it particularly fun to fire up the un-muffled tractor at sunrise and wake the little bastards – rise and shine campers, it’s GROUNDHOG DAY – oh they never looked happy, as I mowed big giant crop circles into the wavy grass (the wavy grass, so pretty, wavy grass, WAVY grass … as I’m thinking ‘lady get out of the way’)

I’d say the only time people were more upset, was when we all dressed as ghosts and attacked the Folks coming out of Mass one night – horry sheet!! run Phil, run Dave! YES, there may have been alcohol involved. Luckily, the ghost count on Star didn’t increase that night.

At some point, the equipment and vehicles beyond salvage started to pile up, and everyone knew of it, but nobody spoke of it – talk about an elephant in the room, except this one was a Chevy, maybe a GMC.

It eventually led to Seamus, and “We came, we saw, we torched” – to this day I won’t get into specifics, but we spent weekends on the backside of the Island slicing bread trucks into plate sized pieces with cutting torches, and the borrowing the little harbor boat would make them go away.

If you knew how paranoid the Island was about a fire, you would have been asking ‘They let you do what?’, but again, I think most just wanted that shit gone. No open flames are allowed on the Island, and there we are cooking a steak tip with a cutting torch, as we slice up cars – figures.

Fire out there was NO joke, and the ground scrub made it worse than it had to be (read all the pretty ‘Sea Roses’). We used to discretely spray defoliant along the trails when no one was looking, only to have people notice two weeks after we made our escape that somehow the trails just look much larger than before. Someone had to do it – and to this day we are all questioning that new mole on our shoulder.

Yes it is haunted as fuck – bad news is they are noisy – good news is they don’t eat much

In the end, we brought what we could to work with, used parts from several sources to make one good tool, ran over the tulip beds with the sickle mower (seemingly year after year), sliced my own face open with an industrial weed whacker as I fixed it while it was still running because I was pissed, disrupted angry sea gulls who shit relentlessly, complained that walnuts are not meat, and that it isn’t dinner if it didn’t have a face – the back rocks had the best fishing, the caves each had a nightmarish story including one of a woman suffocating her own child to escape detection by people trying to kill her, and lovers cave where you occasionally saw more than you wanted (and sometimes saw everything you had hoped for)

And there was Jack quietly digging with his backhoe – “leg” he says, and up comes a thigh bone, hopefully a cow, I think the dog stole it.

So where to go next? I’m thinking the Smuttynose ‘Death March’ … for now, here is a great article on Appledore Island, right across from Star.

If you love History, you will enjoy this read. Star itself is beautiful, as Star’s Sister should be —

Welcome to Star Island – We came, we saw, we drank beer

Looks quiet and innocent right? … Hold my Beer

I spent the weekend, wondering how I could structure the stories I had on my 6-month getaway back in early 2016. Riding every day, meeting new people, doing cool shit, and I thought …. Nah, let’s start with the basics.

The place that got it all started, the place where I had sex  in a monsoon delivering a lawn tractor on a Lobster Boat more aptly named the “Vomit Comet” – The place with the Ghosts, Lovers Cove, the Vegetarian Pelicans, Blackbeard’s Hidden Gold, and blood thirsty Indians in a fishing Village named Gosport. A place ready to burn to the ground, giant chests of delicious meat burning just right, so everyone knew we were savages – Cute little muskrats, because nobody wanted to admit we had a rat problem, and a VERY busy Jack Russell Terrier.

Where Sea Roses were a death sentence, drinking alcohol was forbidden, despite the fact the cases of beer outnumbered suitcases for our crew, and why the toilet sparkled green when flushed at night. You see, eight miles out of Rye NH Harbor is … THE ISLE OF SHOALS.

So, this may take a few postings, actually more than a few, so I am going to categorize them under STAR ISLAND. It’s been more than seven years now, and the statute of limitations has run out – that being said, I’m pretty sure if the Universalist Unitarians caught wind of my return, they would burn the dock down to the waterline (I mean *I* would)

To start, I belonged to a small group of guys and girls named the LRA (Liberal Religious Adults) – Yes I am NONE of those ^^^ things. My buddy asked for help with the computer systems on the Island back in 2000. The Universalist Unitarians ran a Conference Center out there, and in reality, it was open to anyone. The joke UU meant “anything goes” was pretty much true – but super nice people.

When someone looses a flip flop, we didn’t screw around – it’s about saving the turtles

The LRA was the Adult Conference, but early each year before the Oceanic Hotel opened, a small group of us would go out in early June, fix all their equipment, help with whatever was needed, spray toxic weed clearing mixtures from jugs with skulls on the sea roses, widen the paths before anyone accused us of destroying nature (because look at the wavy grass – so pretty filled with snakes and ticks – waaaaavy grass, look how wavy, so pretty) Jesus, just fucking shoot me.

We would freeze our asses off in our unheated cottages, and steal all the blankets from the surrounding rooms so we didn’t drop dead overnight from hypothermia. We generally stayed a long weekend, and just before Island Management saw the damage (I didn’t know that was a tulip bed I ran over with the mower), we were back on the boat having cocktails.

This went on for years, and in many ways I’d love to go back, but I’m sure the Island Manager never forgave us for the liberties we took – que sera sera – or Joe screaming across the dinner table, that it’s not dinner unless it had a face – good times.

The first year gave birth to the work group getting a formal name …. Hmmm LRA ZERO? We came, we saw, we mowed? Sounds legit – it would eventually become “We came, we saw, we torched” – no comment. Phil Stanway, would perch over the bow of the ship with his Bud Light, sailing into Gosport Harbor looking all Pirate-y and such, glorious to behold actually, to the chants of the Pelicans.

Now the Pelicans were the “slightly more conscious than a bowl of pudding” crew who worked the Island Staff while on Summer Vacation from College (i.e.rich kids)

So what about that chant? You see, there was a tradition based on superstition here, and once you read all there is to read, you may want to go explore this haunted little gem yourself (yes it was featured prominently on Ghost Hunters).

When coming in to dock, the rope handlers will chant “S,T,A,R,S,T,A,R you DID come back, you did come back, you did come back” and with that the ship will return the chant saying ‘S,T,A,R,S,T,A,R We did come back, we did come back, we did come back”.

When leaving the Island it was a little different – the ship would chant “R,A,T,S,R,A,T,S we WILL come back we will come back we will come back” and the dock personnel would return it as “R,A,T,S,R,A,T,S you WILL come back you will come back you will come back”

You can’t just still a Virginians Cocoa – not cool

Why the chant you may ask? Well legend has it Blackbeards Wife, Mary Ormond would walk the rocks near East Rock at night, calling out to sea “He will come back’ – of course he never did and she was left abandoned. At that point in time Captain John Smith had declared the Isles of Shoals as the “Smith Isles” and his monument? At the top of the original obelisk were three carved faces, representing the severed heads of three Turks that Smith lopped off while in mortal combat during his stint as a soldier of fortune in Transylvania (now really, I want to party with this guy) – Blackbeard? He was in deep shit for capturing two French Ships full of sugar and cocoa. The Governor of Virginia, who wasn’t a gutless turd, ordered Blackbeard (Edward Teach) captured and took his head. On moonlit nights on Star, Mary is still reportedly seen walking the rocks in white, waiting for Blackbeards return.

In any event let this serve as the primer for the stories that follow – from working with Stone Tools, to using the hot shower in the Nurses Station (because screw that cold, collected off the roof out to sea water – shower in it you peasants, but the Nurse is letting me use her private shower and I’m not saying no – at least my soap foams up in this water) It was nonstop hilarity with a serious purpose. Just file it under ‘Someone had to do it’ – more to follow …

Did I mention we had a Radio Station?

Getting Older In IT

I was sitting there thinking what a great cook I was, when I decided canned chili WITH BEANS is a good idea – and then dumped a half a bag of sliced pepperoni, anchovies and chunks of Velveeta into it …. BETTER

For whatever reason, the thought of being unemployed crossed my mind while I was contemplating the existential meaning of Bacon

It’s high tech and ageism is a very real thing – as is discriminating against white males in this workforce. Why pay the rate they do, when they can hire two kids with PHDs at half the cost? It’s a real problem, and the older you get, the more likely it is to affect you.

I work in a world where 35 is old, and I’m well aware of it – they are also.

So I thought “What would happen?’ – it wouldn’t be the first time I’d been laid off, I’ve actually been canned three times before – they always paid me a big chunk of change AND then I would be hired back by the same employer each time. People say if I got laid off on a Friday, I’d have a job by Monday, and maybe that’s true.

Like everything else, I usually step into shit and come out smelling like a rose. So maybe it’s not a bad thing.

Money is important, but it’s not everything – So let’s say the worst happens (and really, considering the worlds real issues, is it anywhere near ‘the worst’? … the short answer is of course NO) – outside of food and fuel, time is what I have. Nobody wants to fall behind on their bills, but then again no one has ever died because they couldn’t pay a bill, or found they couldn’t live like they were before – you just modify your life and move forward.

I imagine, life would be a blank canvass – starting over from scratch – Hell knows it wouldn’t be the first time I looked over my shoulder riding out of town to a new life I didn’t know yet. Maybe go to Northern Arizona and raise horses with a girl I know there. All I need is my bike and gas money. Or back to Tucson, getting a job as a civilian contractor at Davis Monthan AFB that perhaps isn’t in my field but allows me to try something new while generating some money for other things

Do I really need a lot of money to be happy in life? All this talk about leaving Austin someday, and I realized last night I never really contemplated the whole ‘What if I just got up and left someday’

Who is getting younger? Not me, but then I’m not my Dad yet – and why not chase someone, SOMETHING, and learn a new skill? Why not get the enthusiasm back for my job?

The Russian once barked at me – She said ‘You need to love your life, none of us have forever, dance, and dance some more until you can do it right – nobody gives a shit if you aren’t good, you will be – and you will have great fun along the way.” SHE WAS RIGHT She literally gives zero shits about things that aren’t important and is far happier for it.

So, am I going anywhere? NAH … not for at least another 13 months and even then, who knows – I can’t decide what I’m doing 24 hours from now, never mind next year. I still laugh at the thought of being all gung ho to go – being sidetracked by some pretty lass at the gas station, who will put me in a hole 40 years from now. Not that I have a choice, fate is everything. Like I said, it was just something to ponder out on the balcony.

So Your CPAP Mask Sucks

Ahhhh time for one of the most ‘UNSEXY’ posts ever … my review of the Phillips Respironics Dreamwear Nasal Mask (yes, a mask for a CPAP machine – because it’s not always glamorous being a Sasquatch).

I will tell you this posting is a year old, and since then I’ve lost weight, allowing me to use other alternatives. However, I still use my CPAP here and there, and this is some pretty good information for some of you that feel like crash victims with that thing hanging off your face, like some hideous chest burster from Alien.

A year old, but I figured I’d post it anyway, because I know I’m not the only one – as a matter of fact, the number of friends who use a CPAP, whether all the time, or just during allergy season, consistently amazes me. And let’s face it Folks, who DOESN’T want to sleep with Darth Vader? … so onto ‘The Review’

Now if you are the average user, you don’t need the damn thing all the time, but if your significant other enjoys a partner who sleeps through the night, doesn’t snore or toss and turn, doesn’t sweat and get up to pee constantly AND isn’t always wiped out, this thing is great. The upside (as if the previous ones weren’t enough) is an increase in energy … which usually manifests itself in someone being late for work 😈

So, CPAPs are what they are, but the damn mask … I mean come on … it looks like something you administer oxygen with at an accident scene. Add to it, a goatee doesn’t allow it to seal properly, and you have a blue gel emergency room looking thing with gaps, allowing it to burp, fart and hiss in your partners face all night. If I’m going to crop dust, or pull an easy bake oven, I’m not going to do it with a piece of medical equipment. Additionally, the overflow vent is in the front (blowing in your partners face again), the straps leave marks (like you have been sleeping in the dumpster all night), and the tube connects in the front which is wildly inconvenient for side sleepers like myself.

So there you are in bed, eating mac and cheese at 3am in your work boots, and a ripped bathing suit, watching porn, thinking ‘what to do?’ … WELL …

I love the back of your head

Enter the Respironics Dreamwear Nasal Mask. This thing is the meat and potatoes – OK WHY? The mask, instead of covering your whole face, simply sits under your nose. Yea! No straps to wear out, adjust, or replace. No dumpster marks on your face. The air intake is at the TOP of the headgear, so no more hissing in people’s faces – this also makes it a snap for side sleepers. The super soft nasal pillow seals perfectly, so no more burps, farts, and whistles. No more having the dog leave the bedroom because he/she simply found you annoying.

This thing allows you to use your CPAP when you need to, while still looking like a sexy mother fucker with a piece of plastic stuck to your face …. attached to a hose … attached to a little machine … plugged into the wall … eh whatever.

The kit was under one hundred dollars and contained everything needed for any head size. Just use the little nose gauge and attach the correct pillow for a perfect seal.

My first night was a bit of an adjustment period, but last night? VIOLA! Slept like a rock – no issues, no waking up to a bad seal, nobody glaring back at me floating ping pong balls in the air stream, no worries about being smothered with my own pillow (because she is going to kill me eventually anyway) NONE of that.

So in the end, if you have a CPAP, and find the dog has disowned you and your mask is driving you crazy …. Check out this one, you won’t regret it.

https://www.thecpapshop.com/respironics-dreamwear-nasal-cpap-mask-1

The Day I left the Nest

How the hell did you end up in Austin?

Well I started this blog to capture some of the past few years, so while it won’t be in chronological order, it should be fun anyway.

It all started with my boss, after 23 years of stellar service giving me a hundred grand, and a year’s benefits (not to mention unemployment). I’m pretty sure he wasn’t amused as I jumped for joy, entering his office to be laid off (for the third time in my career at the phone company). This was old hat – they lay me off, wait thirty days, bring me back. He’s currently my boss again at IBM – small world. There it was though, my career over, and a really uncertain time ahead – the phone company was supposed to be what I retired from, but alas it wasn’t meant to be.

The months preceding that, I felt like Bill Murray in Stripes – I lost my wife, my house, and my job just like that. I was renting a room in NH, thinking about my next steps, and no it didn’t involve joining the Army. I had said months before the layoff that if it happened, I was going to explore the world on my motorcycle. And I did, but that’s next.

I was at the Pawtucketville Social Club in Lowell Massachusetts, the following Saturday morning, with the bike fueled, and my little camper on the back. A half bottle of jack later, and I rolled away in light snow saying, ‘see you in a month!’ – except, it would turn into years. The only one who knew was Ellen, because I certainly had no clue. It was 20 degrees out.

Where was I going? I HAD NO CLUE

I sometimes wonder about my mental health – 6 hours later, blasting through Saturday Night traffic in a snowstorm on 93 South in New York City, the temps had dropped to ten, and my balls nowhere to be found – at least I’d have had a good explanation had I just been in the pool.

What the fuck was I thinking?

Playing Frogger in NYC on a motorcycle puling a camper in the snow with hypothermia can be fun – hey I ALMOST made the length of the Jersey Turnpike without a traffic jam due to some inattentive cow in a minivan, but no – not this time – pretty much not ANYTIME.

Stopping in upstate Maryland proved to be my first taste of “Dude you aren’t in New England anymore”;

M: Hey can I get a Margarita?
F: Sure
M: What kind of Tequila do you use?
F: We can’t sell hard alcohol – we use flavored wine
M: Huh
F: Yea
M: But there is a Packie right there?!

Strange shit I would find in my travels – she was nice though. I would be in my room for the night shortly – standing there feeling cold air stream off my body due to the hypothermia I didn’t know I had, while the hottest shower ever brought my extremities back to life was amazing. It was perhaps 20 minutes when I heard a loud clang. Like someone dropping an anvil – IT WAS MY BALLS! Hey kids welcome back – yea they descended, which is kind of important.

Looking back, my first 18 hours on the road went well – my compensation wouldn’t hit my account for another month, I was worrying about money, it was winter, I had no idea where I was going or why, and I was wearing a t-shirt in the parking lot. Not to mention of course, what was I going to do for work?

I’ve NEVER had, or needed a resume, and pretty much kept to just two employers my whole career. I had no idea of how to do a resume, look for work, interview – I mean I’ve never had to do any of that, things just always fell in place.

I was hoping to hit N Carolina tomorrow, for now, just a quick check for bed bugs at the local truck stop Motel and suffering through someone banging a lot lizard through the headboard in the next room over. Time to get some rest for sure (more to follow)