Monday, November 9, 2009

Culling the Gene Pool

My coworker Vinnie and I were returning back from the gym when he wanted to stop at the supermarket. I just thought he forgot to bring a lunch and followed him in.

He picked a sandwich and a drink then wanted to go to the “health and beauty” section. Once there he stopped in front of the condom display and looked perplexed.
“Hey Vinnie, you’re married and have four kids; what do you need these for?” I asked.“That’s it Ceij, I have four kids and my wife won’t let me near her without one of these” Vinnie replied.“Oh I see; well what’s the problem? Just pick one and lets go or we’ll be late to the meeting” I urged.“But these only have three per package” Vinnie protested.“Three? Damn that’s a ten-year supply for me!” I exclaimed. “It’s a shame you need to use those considering you are married and all. I am single and they are a necessity for me to carry when I date, just in case… but you’re married; you don’t have to worry about STDs! Isn’t there a better birth control method?”

Well Vinnie finally made up his mind and picked a couple of packages to “hold him over” until he could get the large discount box.


A week or so later Vinnie said he talked to his wife and she absolutely would not go on “the pill” and suggested he get a vasectomy.

Then Vinnie asked me
“Does it hurt?”
“How would I know Vinnie? I haven’t had a vasectomy, I’m single!”

Well Vinnie proceeded to ask nearly every male employee in the company in hopes he would find one that had a vasectomy and could reassure him that the procedure was painless.

A week later Vinnie told me he would be out the next day. I didn’t think anything of it; there are a lot of reasons for taking a personal day but Vinnie felt compelled to tell me that he was getting the vasectomy.

He seemed very apprehensive so I said:
“Relax Vinnie, they are professionals and do this all the time, besides it’s not like they are performing open heart surgery!”

Well the next day everyone in the office was talking about it. Vinnie just couldn’t keep this to himself and asked each and every male employee about it and now even the female employees knew about it. Apparently he asked a couple of married women if their husbands had the procedure.

Then Vinnie’s best friend at the company came to me and said:
“We really need to do something to him as a joke, can you make him a get well card?”

I said:
“The heck with that, I’ll make him a sympathy card and even print it out on card stock!”

So I stayed late after hours at the office and made a sympathy card that we all signed the next day. I even thought we should give him an award and print it out on the paper we give after customers pass one of our training courses.

When Vinnie returned to the office we had a cake waiting for him and presented him with the card and the award. Vinnie seemed upset with me and said:
“I thought I could trust you and you went and told everyone!”
“It wasn’t me Vinnie! You’re the one that asked everyone about the vasectomy and then told everyone how worried you were on the eve of your procedure!”

Well, I’ve always made jokes about vasectomies.
One day I was picking up my niece from daycare around the holidays and all the children were running around squealing and screaming in delight because they got presents.

I was standing next to a friend that was picking up his children as an attractive single mother trying to control her three children kept bending over so we could see the tattoo on her breast.

My friend asked me:
“So doesn’t seeing all this make you want to have your own children?”

Watching the frantic children and the mayhem I replied:
“Are you kidding? As soon as I get out of here I’m calling my doctor and scheduling a vasectomy!”

The single mother with the tattoo then walked up to me, handed me a slip of paper with her phone number and said:
“Call me after your operation…”

Maybe I should call Vinnie and ask him if it hurts! ;)

Front of the Sympathy Card (watermarked to protect my copyrights)

Inside of the Sympathy Card (watermarked to protect my copyrights)

The Award (last name removed for obvious reasons)

Text on the award:

"We present this award to you in appreciation for voluntarily removing yourself from the gene-pool. The Human Race, the Darwin Award Society, and your co-workers thank you!"

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Second Mid-Life Crisis?

A month ago my co-worker Max rode his new (used) MV Agusta Brutale motorcycle to work. Max used to own a motorcycle dealership and this is the second MV in his stable (the other is a F4).
I went out to the parking lot and gazed upon the gorgeous example of Italian engineering art as it stirred a memory from a few years ago.

I took a picture of Max next to his MV and sent it my friends and family:

Max and his latest MV Agusta Brutale

The Brutale Sans Max
Max’s MV Agusta F4
My sister and brother-in-law in California are avid riders and I was quite surprised when I told them about the MV and they told me they are selling their bikes. They then said it breaks their hearts but they are even selling their Canary Yellow 1997 Ducati 748 that has only 1,400 miles on it. They said that they bought the bike just before they started having children and didn’t have time to ride it anymore.
Now I couldn’t believe my ears and told them I would buy the Duc. My sister and brother-in-law were relieved that their prize Ducati would stay in the family and I set about searching for a transport company that would bring the Duc to Connecticut. This is not the type of motorcycle suited for a cross country journey by any stretch of the imagination.

Side view of my new Ducati (in California)

Front view of the Ducati

Rear view of the Ducati

The carbon-fiber tank protector
Monday morning I asked Max how he would transport a motorcycle cross country and he asked “what did you do?...” He laughed and said “you’re such a guinea” which is alright especially since Max is of Italian descent as well. Word spread quickly around the company about my Ducati and one person scoffed that I was having mid-life crisis.
Now I’m not sure about all that. I’ve been riding racing bicycles and driving a two-seat sports car (weather permitting) for years. Sure it’s been a while since I’ve had a motorcycle like this one but is it mid-life crisis?

You see, I’ve always said I had mid-life crisis when I was 33 years old.
When I was 33 I had left engineering and was in sales and doing quite well. I lived alone renting the upstairs of a large two family house very close to the beach in lower Fairfield County Connecticut. I had water-views of Long Island Sound from three rooms and would fall asleep to the sound of the buoy bells.
Then I saw a television commercial for a new type of sports car that was radically different than anything on the road. It was love at first sight and I immediately went to the dealership and ordered a bright red, two seat one, with all the options I wanted. The dealer was slightly surprised when I said I wanted to pay for the car in full on delivery with a cashier’s check.
The day came and I took my little red sports car home. My friends then said:
“What are you doing?! You paid CASH for that car?! Are you crazy?!”
They said that at my age I should be getting married and buying a house with the money.
Now at that time one of the great frustrations in my life was that I hadn’t met the “right girl” yet. I felt I had a lot to offer.
I took care of myself by running daily, going to the gym, racing bicycles, and playing on a couple of highly competitive league softball teams. My job paid me extremely well, I maintained excellent hygiene, volunteered in my community, and was growing intellectually and spiritually and I was personable with a positive attitude. Still I did not meet anyone “special”.
So in response to my friends’ surprise at the blatant example of financial irresponsibility sitting in my driveway I simply explained:
“Look. I could take that money and settle for someone that is not right for me, get married, and get a nice house with a white picket fence. We could have 2.3 kids, stop having sex, and finally get divorced. “

“She’d get the house and I’d move into a two-bedroom apartment by the water, buy a sports car, and date emotionally unavailable women, or… I can do it now while I am young enough to enjoy it!”

To this my friends asked:

“But if you have mid-life crisis now what will you have to look forward to when you’re in your fifties?”

I replied:
“Senility! That’s when I won’t remember anything and will be happy all the time.”OK so now I am in my early fifties and haven’t reached senility and have accepted that I may never achieve that goal. When my life-long friends ask about that, I tell them that my new goal is to become a curmudgeon. I could even see myself as the main character in Disney Pixar’s movie “Up”. I mean really, somebody has to take Andy Rooney’s place on 60-Minutes someday, right?
I do understand that becoming a curmudgeon will not be easy for a person like me and I will have to work very hard at it for many years to be ready when I am in my 80s.
Until then I’ll just bide my time and ride a bright yellow Italian “crotch-rocket” really fast.
I love going fast and still fit into my Vendramini racing boots and black Ducati leathers. I am going to get a new black AGV helmet with a tinted shield and should look like Darth Vader getting on and off that bike.
Am I having another mid-life crisis? I don’t think so.
Well at least I am not trying to date emotionally unavailable women that are too young for me!

Picture of the little red sports car (still have it)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Kahless the Cardinal

The northern cardinal is a favorite of backyard bird watchers in the Northeast but how many people realize just how brave they are?

I have been feeding my squirrels and birds for a while now and am fortunate to have a couple of cardinal families in my backyard. In my last post I mentioned how appreciative the cardinals are when they receive their peanuts. Well early last week one of the cardinals began to exhibit a new behavior.

One of my Squirrels with a Peanut

It started one evening when I returned home from work. I had just closed the garage door when I heard a lot of loud “cheeping” and looked up. There on the edge of the garage roof stood a bright red male cardinal that began to sing as soon as I looked at him.“Oh, I know Mr. Cardinal. I’m sorry but all the peanuts are inside. I’ll come back in a little while”
I said as I began to walk to the house. Well to my surprise the cardinal began to follow me to the house, flying from tree branch to tree branch, and stopping atop the fence that encircles my pool.“Just wait right there Mr. Cardinal, I’ll go in and get you a peanut.”
I told him as I went inside. To my surprise he was still waiting on the pool fence when I returned. He immediately let loose a magnificent cardinal song in anticipation of the tasty legume.

I threw the peanut and he immediately swept down next to it then sang his appreciation. Apparently the peanut was a very large one and I had to giggle watching him trying to get a good grasp of it before he flew away. Now I wondered what he was going to do with the peanut. I haven’t seen the females much lately and wondered if he was bringing the peanut to his mate sitting on a nest of cardinal eggs.

The next morning, as I went outside to get the newspaper, I was greeted by the very same cardinal, patiently waiting for me on the pool fence. This has become a pattern and this one cardinal apparently knows my schedule very well.

Last night I stopped at the supermarket on my way home from work so the cardinal was not on the garage roof waiting for me. I did not think anything of it; I arrived home an hour later than usual so I put away the groceries, gave my cats some treats, changed my clothes, then settled down in my living room.
No sooner than I was comfortable in my favorite chair, I heard a lot of very loud chirping and singing coming from the window behind me – yes it was “my” cardinal and he realized I was home. My cats all ran to the window scaring him off to the pool fence but he continued to chirp and sing to get my attention. Of course this prompted the “human peanut dispenser” to restock his sweatpants pockets with plenty of premium in-the-shell unsalted peanuts and proceed to the backyard.

Now I have heard that cardinals are very aggressive but had not witnessed this until this morning. As I poured the water into my coffee maker I looked out the kitchen window to see the cardinal near the pool. Shaking my head I continued on my routine before filling my pocket with peanuts and going outside to get the newspaper.
When I did there was no sign of the cardinal but one of my “regular” squirrels came running over to me for a peanut. I threw the peanut and no sooner than the squirrel picked it up the cardinal swooped down in a sharp fast descent, landed next to the squirrel and began chirping at the squirrel in a very annoyed aggressive tone.
It was like he was saying: “Hey you stupid bushy-tailed rodent – that was MY peanut!!!”

I called out to the cardinal and held up a superb extra large peanut. The cardinal quickly lost interest in scolding the squirrel, flew over to me and collected his prize. He struggled with the size of the shell and pecked at it a few times to create a handle before flying off with it. I then thought I should name him. Considering his aggression and willingness to take on a much larger squirrel, his displays of honor and appreciation, his proud songs, and his leadership amongst my backyard cardinals, I’ve decided to give him a Klingon name. Therefore my cardinal is now Kahless.
MajQa' Kahless! (LOL, I'm such a geek)

Kahless on my garage roof.

Kahless on a tree following me

Kahless immediately after landing

Kahless with his peanut getting ready to fly off

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Bunny Mystery

One day last summer a young rabbit came out from under my pool deck and stared at me.
I was a bit surprised that it came so very close but I stood still and spoke to it in my best soft friendly voice:
“Hello Mr. Bunny, how are you? Are you curious about the human?”

This would happen nearly every time I walked into my back yard in the early morning or evening and each time the young rabbit would come to about five feet of me and stare. Now I began to think that the young rabbit was just curious about me and wondering how to get some food.

This all started with my niece quite some time ago. She started leaving “treats” out in the yard for the squirrels and was particularly fond of one that lost its tail. Well one day there was a squirrel on my back steps that didn’t run away when I was going to work. I went back inside and got some unsalted roasted peanuts for her. I named her “brave squirrel” because she wasn’t afraid of me and would be on the steps when I returned from work as well.
The mystery of why she was so brave was solved by my niece when she noticed that brave squirrel was a new mother.

Brave Squirrel on my Back Steps

Soon the other squirrels learned of the human peanut dispenser and my friends would laugh when I walked out to the back yard followed by quite a few of them.

One day, as I was filling the bird feeders and throwing peanuts, a blue jay flew to a low branch above me and began squawking. Apparently he wanted a peanut as well so I obliged him.
In short order all the neighborhood blue jays knew of the human peanut dispenser. A couple of weeks ago, one of the blue jays actually “sang” for its peanut. I had heard that they can sing but until then all they did was squawk. Now I demand that they sing and will not throw a peanut until they do.

The cardinals are very funny. They will come to a nearby branch and start chirping and singing which of course activates the human peanut dispenser. The cardinal will then swoop down next to the peanut and start singing while looking at me. When he finishes his song, he will pick up the peanut then fly away. It’s as though they are singing “thank you” before taking the peanut and flying off. I’ve found that cardinals are quite polite and respectful ;)

So I just thought that the young rabbit was interested in a treat but he didn’t seem interested in a peanut. I tried baby carrots but without success. Still the young rabbit would come out and stare at me. Last week, the young rabbit once again came out from under my pool deck.
”My goodness, you’ve grown there Mr. Bunny”
I said as I reached for my iPhone to take a quick picture of him.

As I got closer to take the picture; the young rabbit ran off but didn’t go very far. I was puzzled until I looked down by my feet and saw a tiny baby bunny. It was a little over 2-inches long and staying as still as it possibly could to avoid my attention. I leaned over and took a couple of pictures with the iPhone and then thought:
“I really need to get my Nikon!”

I ran inside my house, grabbed the camera and got to my back porch when “The Bunny Mystery” was solved. Just under the pool deck was the young rabbit sitting up with two tiny bunnies nursing. “Mr. Bunny” was actually a Momma Bunny. One of the tiny bunnies was upside-down on its back and kicking its tiny legs as it suckled.
“Ooh, if I get this shot it will make the front page of “Cute Overload” for sure!”
I thought as I stealthy stalked my photo opportunity.

To my dismay Momma Bunny saw my approach and ran about ten feet away. Not to be deterred, I continued to advance on the two baby bunnies for a close-up. I forgot that the camera was in “auto-mode” so when I pressed the shutter button to focus the award-winning shot, the built-in flash sprung open and the tiny bunnies scurried away – “NO, damn it! I want to be on Cute Overload!”

So “the Bunny Mystery” is solved. Momma Bunny’s warren must be somewhere under my pool deck. She wasn’t curious about me – she was trying to decoy me away from her babies.

I’ve started putting a bowl of rabbit treats out near the pool deck and keep my Nikon at the ready. Hopefully Momma Bunny will bring out her babies soon and I can get on the “Cute Overload” front page after all!

iPhone picture of one of the baby bunnies.