Wednesday, August 31, 2005

My Fiance can beat up your Fiance

It's standing room only on the train today. SEPTA does a good job durning rush hours, so it's pretty uncommon to have this many people locked in the traincar with me on the way to work.

It's hot out.
It's humid.
It's monday.

I dont have a seat and I'm crammed into one of the standing areas by the doors. It's crowded enough that I dont have to hold onto a steel railing when the train moves, the press of the crowd keeps me in place.

In uncomfortable situations like train cars and elevators I have found that there can be an inverse relationship between noise and misery. Example: 20 people on a spring day will smile, chat and enjoy the ride. 100 sticky, hungover commuters wont make a damn sound when they are pressed up against each other. I dont even breathe.

So it's early on that I hear the magic word....


They are both good looking, late twenties and dressed in business attire. Undoubtably headed to office jobs as analysts, secretaries, project managers, or account reps...yeah, account reps sound right. Each has put on 10lbs since getting engaged, and hopes to loose it and more by the big day. I know that and so do you.

They shatter the collective silent misery with a conversation that has the dynamics of people talking on cells phones in a wind storm. Commuters completly unable to turn their heads look for reflective surfaces to see who the hell is talking so loud. These girls are face to face and talking loud enough for every member of their captive commuter to hear their story.

"Well MY finace is taking three weeks of vacation after the wedding."
"Oh, your finance is so lucky, my finace can only get a week off...but I did ask my fiance to take a couple days off this week so we can work with the wedding planner. My finace's mother wants to go to, does your finaces mother want to be involved in your wedding?"
"my finaces mother has been great with the plans and helped me pick out the Brides Maids dresses.."...blah blah blah

I turn up the ipod, but those magic words keep coming through...."finace finace finace". I can feel the tension in the crowd, apparently I'm not the only one annoyed...unfortunatley we are polite suburbanites just trying to get on our way to work, and not loud mouth city people with the balls to say:
'hey, shut your hole before kick your finaces ass'

The train is now underground and I'm anticipating my stop. They are speaking of poor dress choices of the past. One of my options is to kick the one in pink squarely in the chest at the next stop, sending her backwards onto the platform.

Suddenly, the train stops midtunnel. The engines shutoff and so the airconditioner...the lights dim. The air gets close and my sunglasses fog, everyone is concerned but these bubbly women. They are oblivious to their surroundings, and without the tracks and engine noise, they become louder and louder to my ears.

There is an elbow in my side, and someones foot upon mine. My white shirt is damp and stuck to me. One of the fiances is laughing like she's being tickeled...things are weird.

Out of desperation I close my eyes and try to make one of their heads fails. Why does it always fail?

I realize that I've come to my own own hell. One is recounting a funny story about a wedding where the power went out. These happily engaged reapers have come for me...them and their fiances....I lower my head in defeat and try to imagine the faces of those I love...

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
The baby is laying on my bed with me. He had his first day of First Grade and he's emotionaly drained.

"When you're ninety will Grand-Pa be dead?"
"Yeah. Yeah, Probably"
"And when you're nintey, I'll probably be dead too."
He rolls into me and pushes his face down into my belly.
"You dont like that do you.." I ask.
He keeps his face in my stomach as he shakes his head.

The baby lifts his face with a hopeful smile. "But we'll see each other in Heaven, right?"
We high-five.
He's concerned again. "Dont walk around, I wont be able to find you"
"Dont worry boy, I'll wait for you...."


i hate everyone.....

Friday, August 26, 2005

justice delivered

A few weeks ago a mentally ill man in my town stabbed both his parents to death, then killed a neighbor and severly wounded his wife. It's incredibly horrible and has saturated the media tv and newspapers.

Yesterday I found a tiny tiny article in a local paper that the murderer was found dead in jail. The excuse was that he jumped off of the top bunk into the wall in the middle of the night....riiiiight....

Point and laugh at the geek

Every morning as Larry takes a leak in the backyard and the first drops of blessed coffee drip into the pot, I sit down in front of the computer and get my first dose of the days news. I read Yahoo News, I like how they list 'Top Stories' and then 'Popular Stories'.

Today one of the Top Stories was:

Earth's Core Spinning Faster Than Crust

sitting there in my underwear I grumble at the screen "No Shit Sherlock, how the hell else to you think we have a Magnetosphere?"

nail this upon the wooden door

* i havent slept in weeks
* my cell phone is busted
* my email is busted
* my f'ing ipod is busted
* i finished my book
* my 45 minute commute is taking 2 hours each way this week
* my zuccini plants died
* my socks dont match
* i desperately need a haircut
* i forgot to eat breakfast
* work coffee sucks
* my paycheck is already spent

Thursday, August 25, 2005

None but the Brave

An awesome song by Bruce Springsteen. It's been rattling around in my head all day, I recommend that you listen to it....


Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
Another football photo that I really like, this one of Son Number 2.

Google, why hadst thou abandoned me?

I have a bunch of email accounts. The best one by far is my gmail account. The interface is fantastic and the way they thread conversations makes it EASY to find anything and manage your mail. Google give you 2 GIGS of space so I use it to upload files so that they are accessable to me anywhere.

For some reason my account has been busted for a day and a half now and I'm going crazy! Tear my clothing, rub dirt in my hair as i gnash my teeth...GMAIL come back to me!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Change of Heart

Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
The Steakbellie's have not been playing football for a very long time. In fact it can be said that 'We've always not played Football' I was not allowed to play nor was my Father. Thousands and thousands of generations didnt play, all the way back to Steakbellie Erectus(Beavis Laughs).

My Grandfather once answered the front door to find the High School Football Coach begging for some of the 4 sons to be allowed to play. (all of them 6'2"-6'6")


It's such an easy word to say.


I adore the sport, but too many of my friends have permanent damage from it. Sure you can get hurt walking down the street, but you're ahell of alot more likely to get hurt running into each other from 6pm to 8pm 5 nights a week. Crack Crack Crack.

I did something I didnt want to do. I gave in. My 11 year old has been asking me for 4 years. Sitting on my doorstep, begging. Maybe I got tired of saying 'no'. Maybe it was time he makes some mistakes on his own. He knows how I feel about it, and he never complains when he comes home with bruises, and I dont say 'I told you so' when I put the ice on him. He's got only seven years before he's cut loose on his own, and i gotta loosen the grip enough so that he's ready...

I'm very proud of how they are playing (I let all three join), but I'd be happier if they decided on their own not to come back next year....

Armstrong and Doping

I've had a very long article on Armstrong and the tour that I have been meaning to write. The holdup is a photograph of him that I took in 1993. I think I know where it is and I intend to scan it tonight. I feel very passionate about my argument, but I feel I can back it up with a rational statements. I expect to be exhausted when it is completed.

Yesterday the French paper L'Equip says that it has proof that Armstrong used a banned substance in 1999. The Director of the Tour itself has also said some irresponsible and infamitory things. To the casual reader these people sound fully credible, but I'd like to point out that there have been some serious political issues and confrontation going on for the last 7 years, and that some of that will be more clear in the coming days.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Secret Mission in Pennsylvania

Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
The place we go on vacation every year is actually a Christian Retreat Camp. The people who go there are mostly from the Midwest, and are the very same people Garrison Keillior might conjuor up in an episode of Praire Home Companion. Beautiful families of Norweigon decent, with strong sons and tall tall daughters. Everybody is blonde. These are not the Neo-Conservative Corporate Christians of late, these are the hardworking, firm believing, quiet suffering Christians of a different time. They are understanding and compassionate and softspoken. They are hopeful, but careful not to smile to often.

On Sunday morning the newly arrived campers gather in the auditorium for Sunday Worship. The auditorium is built into a mountainside over a lake in the Adirondaks. The orginal wooden portion of the Auditorium is nearly 100 years old, and it has been expanded to house over 1,000 people in recent years. It has stadium seating, and wonderful acoustics. Most of the staff at the camp have been selected because of their musical abilities. They play traditional Orchestra instruments like Flute, Trumpet and Chello. They are nearly 60 players strong and they play with skill and passion.

On this particular Sunday, I am seated with my wife, sons and parents in a row. My Father is visibly proud to have his grandsons with him, and he gives each of them a pocketknife to fiddle with during the service.

The music starts and the first few hymms are belted out by the packed crowd. This is not like a typical Sunday Service. These people are the most passionate singers from their own churches, they know and love these songs and sing them to feel good inside.

Finally the audience is warmed up and it is time for the presentation of the Flags. One thousand faithful begin 'Crown him King of Kings' and it is wonderous. Non-believers will have difficulty verbalizing the feeling in their bellys. The words thunder throughtout the sunlit auditorium. If God has been hiding, he can be found in this place, during this ancient hymm. My spine is chilling as we approach the final verse.

Everyone stands for the last verse, and the flagbearers enter the auditorium from the back. They are beautiful twentysomthing blonde men and woman, dressed in all white. Each of the 16 carries the National Flag of a country that has Camp Missionaries stationed there. The only time I recall seeing my Father cry is during this ceremony. It one of those fantasticly moving human experiences. He's not crying this time.

The flagbearers reach the stage below before the verse is done and take their positions facing the crowd. The last note rings in the enourmous room, and in a line one at a time the flagbearers dip their flags and Announce the name of the country to the completely silent crowd standing at attention. The roll call continues accross the stage in a measured pace....the final few flags are announced...
"The Bahamas!"
"South Africa!"
"Costa Rica!"
and the last one...
"Hong Kong!"
My Father adds in exact timing from the crowd....
My jaw wants to drop and laugh out loud as the perfect silence of one thousand sphincters tightening surrounds us. It is the most enourmous awkward moment ever and the poor people on stage have forgotten what to do next. There is a silent count of three before anyone moves. Not one of these good hearted people turn to see who has ruined this ritual. They roll with lifes punches and are not angry. I can feel them offering prayers up for the old man who must have some mental ilness...I can feel their love and forgiveness for him as strongly as I feel my Moms heated embarrassment. She has 3 blonde Grandchildren blocking her from throttling my Dad in the Aisle.

Its moments like these that I realize how much I love that man....

Friday, August 19, 2005

Haiku's in the workplace

In the last year I've written some Haikus on this blog. A Haiku is a simple poem that is 3 lines. The first line is 5 sylables, the second line is 7 sylables and the third line is again 5 sylables. You dont have to rhyme. Officially you are supposed to allude to the season. (if you mention cherry blossoms...spring) I havent followed that part.

I have a co-worker(Cubicle Ninja) that understands (well I hope he does anyway) my sense of humor. When I email him, I configure the information into a haiku. This is much more challenging but is very funny. I forbade him from sending me anything but Haiku's as well. He was able to 'one up' me and he composes his Haiku's in Japanese.

Cubicle Ninja and I had a very important meeting today with the CEO, the new CFO and a vendor of ours. It was to discuss the new accounting software we are writing and will have a profound effect on the success Company.

My goal for the meeting was to write and speak a Haiku to the vendor, in such a way that noone (especially my boss) but C.Ninja would know that I was doing it. I was completely tripped up when the Vendor turned up with the most amazing hair. Actually I dont know if it was hair, and I spent all of my time trying to determine if it was a wig or weave or was incredibly distracting. I'm not knocking baldness or anything like that...I'm qued for my own...I'm just saying that if baldness was the problem, this guy doesnt have the answer.

I did however manage salvage the meeting and write a Haiku, but it was unspeakable at that venue:

Wiggy hair-hat man
Wrinkly eyes and a gold chain
Please write my software

My Poor Wife....

this is what my wife has to deal with at the start of every serious conversation we've had for the last 15 years

Wife: "Honey, we have to talk about something:
Steakbellie: (eyes darting) "What are you Ig-nant?!?!" (Ignant is Steakbellie's cutesy way of saying pregnant)
Steakbellie: (relief)"ok, what's on your mind then?"

That being said, I am doubly proud to anounce that I am a true Uncle for the first time. Between all of the siblings me and my wife have, none of them have bother to 'get busy' until now that my kids are almost a million years old. Austin is 9lbs 1oz and about to be very spoiled.....

How to Make Yourself Sick

Write in Blog
Repeat (many many times)

Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intellegent Falling' Theory

this is from this weeks 'The Onion' which if you dont read, I dont like you. I'd typically just link to the article but they take them down.
KANSAS CITY, KS—As the debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools continues, a new controversy over the science curriculum arose Monday in this embattled Midwestern state. Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held "theory of gravity" is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling.

Above: Rev. Gabriel Burdett (left) explains Intelligent Falling.
"Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down," said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.

Burdett added: "Gravity—which is taught to our children as a law—is founded on great gaps in understanding. The laws predict the mutual force between all bodies of mass, but they cannot explain that force. Isaac Newton himself said, 'I suspect that my theories may all depend upon a force for which philosophers have searched all of nature in vain.' Of course, he is alluding to a higher power."

Founded in 1987, the ECFR is the world's leading institution of evangelical physics, a branch of physics based on literal interpretation of the Bible.

According to the ECFR paper published simultaneously this week in the International Journal Of Science and the adolescent magazine God's Word For Teens!, there are many phenomena that cannot be explained by secular gravity alone, including such mysteries as how angels fly, how Jesus ascended into Heaven, and how Satan fell when cast out of Paradise.

The ECFR, in conjunction with the Christian Coalition and other Christian conservative action groups, is calling for public-school curriculums to give equal time to the Intelligent Falling theory. They insist they are not asking that the theory of gravity be banned from schools, but only that students be offered both sides of the issue "so they can make an informed decision."

"We just want the best possible education for Kansas' kids," Burdett said.

Proponents of Intelligent Falling assert that the different theories used by secular physicists to explain gravity are not internally consistent. Even critics of Intelligent Falling admit that Einstein's ideas about gravity are mathematically irreconcilable with quantum mechanics. This fact, Intelligent Falling proponents say, proves that gravity is a theory in crisis.

"Let's take a look at the evidence," said ECFR senior fellow Gregory Lunsden."In Matthew 15:14, Jesus says, 'And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.' He says nothing about some gravity making them fall—just that they will fall. Then, in Job 5:7, we read, 'But mankind is born to trouble, as surely as sparks fly upwards.' If gravity is pulling everything down, why do the sparks fly upwards with great surety? This clearly indicates that a conscious intelligence governs all falling."

Critics of Intelligent Falling point out that gravity is a provable law based on empirical observations of natural phenomena. Evangelical physicists, however, insist that there is no conflict between Newton's mathematics and Holy Scripture.

"Closed-minded gravitists cannot find a way to make Einstein's general relativity match up with the subatomic quantum world," said Dr. Ellen Carson, a leading Intelligent Falling expert known for her work with the Kansan Youth Ministry. "They've been trying to do it for the better part of a century now, and despite all their empirical observation and carefully compiled data, they still don't know how."

"Traditional scientists admit that they cannot explain how gravitation is supposed to work," Carson said. "What the gravity-agenda scientists need to realize is that 'gravity waves' and 'gravitons' are just secular words for 'God can do whatever He wants.'"

Some evangelical physicists propose that Intelligent Falling provides an elegant solution to the central problem of modern physics.

"Anti-falling physicists have been theorizing for decades about the 'electromagnetic force,' the 'weak nuclear force,' the 'strong nuclear force,' and so-called 'force of gravity,'" Burdett said. "And they tilt their findings toward trying to unite them into one force. But readers of the Bible have already known for millennia what this one, unified force is: His name is Jesus."

Thursday, August 18, 2005

"Because thats what you wanted to do..."

A year ago I was reflecting with my Parents about how everything turned out. How we got to where we are in life...and I asked them something that had been bothering me.

When I was in High School I was in a special medical sciences program. It taught me that I didnt want to be a Doctor. It also gave me access to sciences classes that no-one else could take. Classes on Research Methodology, College Level Biology Chemistry Physics, Ethics Courses...great stuff.

Logically, I enrolled in Art School. I was going to be a painter. My parents paid my way.

Steakbellie: "Why the HELL did you let me do that?"
Dad: "Because thats what you wanted to do"
Steakbellie: (aghast)"I thought you guys were Republicans?!?!"
Mom: "I dont know....are you hungry?

Now, I dont regret how thing turned out. I'm honored that they let me make my own mistakes. They thought I had 'a good head on my shoulders' and would figure it out. They were willing to invest thousands into my dream...thats impressive.

Ironically I forbid my own children from studing art as a major...for several reasons.
1.It's a great way to ruin something you enjoy. The commercial art is about pleasing other people. Very few of us get to do exactly what you want. Better to keep it as a part of your personal life.
2.It's a brutal occupation to break into. 'Talent' is only part of what you need to make it. Most of what you need is 'Gumption'. The only people from my graduating class who made it are: Birdy, SRV(F), JuneBug and me. I've seen the other people at UPS or waitressing in Atlantic City.
3. I figure if they are willing to go against me, they might have enough hunger give it a serious shot.

If they HAD to study the arts? then I'd give them some awesome advice. Go get a Business Degree...while enrolled for that degree take as many art classes as you can. Minor in it if they let you. The Business degree will teach you about the Business of Art which I found out the hard way is so much different than doing art. Someday, 10 years down the line, you're gonna wanna move up the ladder wherever you landed (Ad Agency?). They're gonna promote the guy with the Business Degree who can also draw.

Here's another reason: No one has EVER asked to see my diploma. Not once in 15 years. They only want to see what I can do...

Happy Birthday Dad

Today is my Fathers 65th birthday. I'm going to tell some stories about him over the next couple of days to memorilize the event. I'm really fortunate to have him as a Father and I hope I can create an acurate of what a unique person he is.

Anytime you see someone with a gun, it changes your perception of them, but I really like this photo.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I think I could be happy at Home Depot

I was in a meeting the other day and somebody was talking about a document that would be sent to us to read, nod our heads and sign. They called the document 'The Memorandum of Understanding' and all I could think of was...'What the HELL am I doing with my Life?' Why am I listening to this bullshit?!?!

It reminded me of riding an elevator in Manhattan with a girl from Sales and I was smiling through all of her jabbering, nervously watching the lights move accross the brass panel....until she said 'I'm trying to think outside the box about this'. I was so instantly revolted for some reason, I coughed and considered throwing up on her.

I couldnt be in the same room with her again.

Words can strike me like a hammer sometimes....i know, I'm crazy....

Stupid People

The last few days I have been plauged by a rash of:
stupid people on the web, at the bank, on the street, and at the office.... seriously, is it a full moon or something?

I guess thats it's not that they are exclusivley stupid, it's that they wont listen to anything you tell them no matter how simply you lay it out. I can accept that my argument may be wrong, but shutup for a minute and hear it.

I just had it out with a bank Manager and the Manager at a UHAUL at lunch. The bank manager didnt want me to deposit a check a certain way. I have my own freelance business and it complicates my banking alittle. Today was the 333rd deposit I made this way at this Bank for my business. What was different about all those transactions and this one? He was. He followed the letter of the law rather than the spirit. He wanted me to know that he was in charge. I told him what I thought of him, walked 2 blocks to the next branch and deposited it the way I wanted to with a smiling young girl.

Why dont people think about getting things done instead of getting in the way? Why be the hall monitor? Do they really feel glory in that? Cash my freaking check, numbnuts, I look better in a suit than you do....

I have like 5 examples of this over the last 2 days, and I pissed about it

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Sex, Beer or Toblerone

Originally uploaded by -Birdy-.
Forget everything you've learned in Sub-Atomic Physics class. Sex is the most powerful force in the Universe. Stronger than Gravity, stronger than Magnetics, even stronger than that guy with the battery on his shoulder. Time after time, it has brought down and melted men and women of power. Albert Einstein was just as stupid as the rest of us when his pants were down.

What is it about a beautiful woman that triggers such insanity in men. You probably are reading this far just because of that picture that's posted here. Hoping somewhere in the next paragraph, I'll mention her name, phone number and that she loves fat accountants. It is disheartening that potentially a man (or woman) of zero substance can attract scores of women purely on some amorphous 'appeal' while the rest of us had to develop personalities and careers.

How much of attraction is learned? How much is programmed? Sure some of it the collective unconscience, during the Renaisaince, 'Fat' was hot! What about the remaining factors? Are there ratios in our heads that we are programmed to lust for? Someones Smell....How long are you willing to rub your wife's feet for sex? If I didnt have sex to think about, what would be left in my head?

Lets imagine a world without sex for a moment. There would be no video recorders and probably not much of an internet. We'd have crappy clothes (probably parachute pants or something) and cars that looked like volvos but actually worked. Think of the dumb dumb things you have done for wouldnt have done them! Your hand would not be broken, and there would still be money left in the account. There would be no Howard Stern, no Viagra/Cialis Spam, and no Football. No Britany Spears, no Fabio, no William H Macy(just kidding we'd still have him) We probably wouldnt have wars either, but thats debatable...I mean we can still fight over Chocolate.

This is not my photo, it's Birdy's. You should check out his Flickr Site for his interesting photos and photo-manipulations.

Revelation at the YumYum Palace

D.K. Said....." I see people signing on the metro every day. I've been told it's rude to watch - sort of like eavesdropping, so I try not to look, lest they think I'm prying..."

When I was sixteen I worked at Six Flags Great Adventure. Most sixteen year olds were smart enough to work in the Concessions Department, the Games Department or the Rides Department. For reasons unknown, I applied for Foods.

Foods was the Department you transferred from. They had the biggest need, and those who did not get the easy jobs wound up doing here. They took me with open greasy arms and didnt let go for three summers.

The people in the Marketing Department had the duty to fill the Park on days that noone would come. Spring and fall weekedays were extra dead with everyone in school. They would have 'Physics Day' and High Schools Science classes would bus in to ride 'Freefall' with a sign posted in the que describing gravity. They have days for various religeous groups and also a 'deaf awareness' day for Deaf Community Groups.

On Deaf Day I was working in YumYum palace. It was one of the larger indoor restaurants that sold overpriced hamburgers and ice-cream. The outside of the building was made out of Molded Fiberglass Colums that looked like stacks of hard-scooped ice-cream. The roof was made out of Fiberglass Whipped-Cream and cherries. In between the scoops was thick plate-glass windows that went from floor to ceiling.

I was wiping Ketchup and Goo from the tables that I realized that the restaurant was 1. Packed and 2. Completely Silent. All around me whole families we having wildy animated conversations with their hands. People stood in a line that went out the door, placing their orders with handwritten notes. Tiny chidren signed frantically for "ICE CREAM!, ICE CREAM"

One conversation I remember in particular was between two men who stood a foot and a half apart. One was outside and the other inside of the plate-glass wall. Their body language was comletely relaxed as they joked and pasted the time (no doubt waiting for somebody in line). Had you removed the glass they could have been at a BBQ or Cocktail Party.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Walking through the Park

Jason: This city sucks compared to New York
Steakbellie: Yeah?
Jason: The Buildings, the hot chicks, even the Homeless and Street People in New York are better.
Steakbellie: Better homeless huh?
Jason: Well, more talented....

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Everybody wants something....

I want a tuna and cheese hoagie with lettuce, tomato, onion and Hot Pepper.

Skin Deep

Seven PA Guardsmen were killed in Iraq this week. This memory surfaced.

Joe sits across from me at the table eating a slice of pizza that looks and tastes like cardboard. We're at 'Chuck E Cheese' for my sons birthday party. The noise of arcade machines, music and screaming little ones has brought on our retreat back to the table.

Joe's 10 years older and a foot shorter than me. His head is balding, with his remaing hair, grey and cropped short. He's got bug eyes.

"Whoa, check her out!" He says alittle too loudly.

This particular Chuck E Cheese is located in one of the richest towns in the US. The room is full of stay at home Mom's who have Nanny's and time to go to the gym.
"Ya know Joe, I'll bet she needs a man who will pay attention to her" I tease him. We joke abit about becoming BoyToys for the rich and famous. Using our kids as bait to meet women.

Joe's grew up in south Philly and fully plays the part. He's brash, only knows dirty jokes, and tells people that he wants to sleep with their wives to see how they'll react. His own wife is tiny and shy, and he's madly in love with her.

Today he's wearing a bright red Phillies Jersey. All of the letters are stitched on and it looks like something that costs $200. The jersey is far too big and goes down to his knees. Joe's sweating.

Our kids run by the table at top speed, none of them have shoes on. I'm drinking warm cola from a clear yellow plastic pitcher. Joe's admiring the kids and mentions 'Situational Awareness'

I crack up at him and he laughs too. It's one of his Army words and you can see worry behind his eyes. We talk about the Army for awhile.
"How soon do you go?"
"A couple of weeks"
"How long will you be gone"
"At least 18 Months"
"Yeah...." he kinda trails off into another world for a moment. I have many questions about what his wife and kids will do when he's gone, but I dont ask them. I can see he's got the same questions.

Joe was a career Army guy who got out during the Clinton Administration. He owns his own company now and is very successful. He's been to conflicts all over the world, and now has been called up with his PA Guard unit.

Joe speaks Pashtu. He's an experienced Interrigator. He's also a Colonol of some kind. We have a conversation on the differences of breaking a New York Street Thug and an Al Queada Militant. Somebody in a furry Mouse Suit walks by handing out yellow prize tickets to 5 year olds.

Later that night Joe will leave three increasingly drunk and angry phone calls on my answering machine. I call him the next morning and tease him, he intended them for someone else, but kept hitting redial on the phone to my house.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Island Swim

Island Swim
Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
The competition in the Steakbellie household can be fierce. My sons gauge each other by who is older, who's taller, who has more trophys, wins, A's, and money. They fight over who the Dog will come to when called. They fight over who can eat the most Hot Sauce. My wife and I are very aware of these contests and try to minimize them without completely stiffling it. We want them to be able to cheer for each other.

My sons listened to my father brag about how I had swam the 1.25 miles from the island in the middle of Lake Pleasant to the campsite when I was only 12. Almost everyone in the clan has done it but not that young.

My 11 year old decided he would attempt it this year. My Dad and I took him out to the Island in a rowboat and then acted as his 'spotter'. There was a strong wind and current that day, and to my fathers surprise the boy did it...probably swam more than 1.5 miles with all of the extra swimming from the side current.

Upon reaching the shore breathless, the 9 year old announces that he will do it the next day, and he will do it faster. I spend the night telling him what a big effort it will take just to complete the swim and that he should focus on finishing not beating. The current is less tough when he attempts it and by some wonderful grace, he duplicates the time down to the minute....60 Minutes. Nobody at the camp ever heard of a 9 year old making the swim.

Upon reaching the shore breathless, the 6 year old announces that he will do it the next day. I had to do some serious soul searching on this one and chose not to let him. He's an excellent swimmer, but I'm not sure that I want to set him up for failure....he's unhappy about it but will have to wait till next year to age 7

Sunday, August 07, 2005

and begin

lake pleasant
Originally uploaded by steakbellie.
I always consider the week after vacation, the begining of my year. We go to the same place every year, and I wait all year long for it.

My Grandfather started camping on the shores of this Lake in 1923. A member of my family has been there every year since then. This year marked my Moms 63 year there. I've been there 35 years, my wife 14 years, my oldest son 11 years. I figured that because I once spent a full summer there, when I'm 44 I will have spent a full year of my life there. That was akinda freaky.