Friday, April 30, 2010

Let's Play!

The Game – Stun ‘Em

The Venue – Any place with a fairly decent-sized crowd

Equipment Needed – One stun gun

Players – Two and up

The Objective – To stun random people publically without drawing attention to yourself

How to Play – Players alternate wielding the stun gun. A target is selected and assigned a degree of difficulty. The player with the stun gun approaches the target and zaps him without being observed. The player then immediately hands off the stun gun to another player, thus eliminating any possibility of being caught with it. Style points are awarded based on the target’s fall and landing with extra added for unusual injuries sustained. Bonus points can be earned based on the stunning player’s proximity to the security staff while aid is administered to the target. Maximum points are given for taking an active role in assisting security in determining what transpired.

A player is automatically disqualified and will be left to fend for himself upon being caught red-handed. The player with the most points at the end of the day wins the round.

Good luck and happy zapping!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What Did I Do?

Mangled memories and twisted truths
Altered to make life bearable
History rewritten to avert insanity
Yet I remember still
Deep inside reality lurks
The knowledge that I was never wanted
And once here, never chosen
Left to fend for myself
Not caring if I thrived
Not caring if I even survived
No attention paid
No notice given
Heart so cold no love extended
Overlooked at every turn
Abandoned without a thought
Left behind – a gouged out shell of confused sadness

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Today's Lesson

Alright kiddies, today we’re going to talk about tea. Why? Because I recently rediscovered Taylors of Harrogate, one of the oldest independent family run importers of tea in Britain. A million years ago I spent some time in Harrogate and stumbling across their tea brought back a slew of memories. (Some of which can be found in my book, All Roads Lead to Ripon.) Taylors has been around since 1886. They began as tea importers, expanded to cafĂ© owners and now handle coffee from around the world as well as tea.

There are thousands and thousands of varieties of teas but they all fall into three basic categories. Black, green, and white. The difference? They time of harvest and the way the leaves are processed.

Tea leaves are plucked from a hardy evergreen bush, camellia sinensis, by hand. Only the bud and top two leaves of a branch are used so this task is still performed by hand. For black tea, the freshly picked leaves are withered in warm room to remove much of the natural moisture. Then the leaves are rolled through machines which crush them. Next the leaves are permitted to ferment. This oxidization releases the essential oils and enzymes which darken the leaves and allows the flavor of the tea to develop. Finally, the tea is fired in very hot ovens, turning the leaves black, after which they are ready to be sorted and packaged.

Green tea starts out the same way but is not fermented. Because of this, the leaves are lighter and the flavor is milder. Taylors uses green tea leaves as a base for many of their blends because it mixes nicely with various fruits and herbs.

White tea also comes from the same bush but is plucked very early in the spring, always before the end of April. After that time the leaves are considered too old and will become either green or black tea. White tea only withers for twenty-four hours before drying and packing.

Tea is graded based on the size and coloring of the leaves and whether they are whole or broken. Each has its own specific characteristics that make it desirable to Taylors for use in the wide variety of products they offer. Charles Taylor, the company founder, noticed that variations in water supply could affect the quality of the brew and made it a priority to supply the most suitable blend of teas for each area in Britain. The family has carried on the tradition ever since.

I’ve sampled a wide variety of Taylors tea and have enjoyed it all. If you have the chance, pick some up and try it for yourself.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Bit Off

Sorry. You’ll have to forgive me. I’m feeling a bit out of whack today. I’ve been having nightmares again. Last night’s were very disturbing and they’re still bothering me. That happen to you too? Dream something hurtful and then have a difficult time shaking off the feeling it leaves?

I woke up from round one and was very afraid of slipping right back into it as I do far too often. I might have had someone not chosen that moment to start shooting in the alley behind my house. Yeah, nothing like gun shots to distract you. It sounded like they were standing right at my fence. No, I didn’t get up to check. There wasn’t any yelling or sirens so I think they were shooting just for the heck of it and not at anyone in particular.

It took a long time to get back to sleep after that but I did. And then there was round two of the nightmares which were just as unsettling if not even more so as round one so I gave up trying to sleep. I’m tired but I survived. No one killed me last night. Not sleeping or awake. I suppose that’s a good thing.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Yep, It's Monday

I had a banana for lunch today. I eat them now and again because they are so good for you. But the truth is I hate bananas. I can sometimes tolerate them if they’re green enough to be crunchy. Then they don’t have much flavor, nor are they squishy. Today’s was closer to yellow than green and it was awful. I don’t mind them in banana bread. And I can even manage a piece of banana cream pie on occasion as long as there aren’t any sliced bananas in it. Plain though, they’re disgusting. I’m going to need something ultra yummy for dinner tonight to make up for it. A Cuban sammich might do it but there’s no place in Reading that makes really good ones. Oh, would anyone like a banana? I have a second one that I intended to eat tomorrow but there’s just no way.

I went for a walk in the cemetery yesterday. Other people go to visit friends and relatives. I go to wander among the trees. It was a perfect day for me, cool and misty. Okay, raining mostly but I enjoyed myself and my sneakers should be dried out by next weekend. I picked out a tree that I’d like to have, should I ever have a house with a yard big enough for a tree. Hopefully by then I’ll know what variety of tree it is. And I found some pretty flowers too.

I tried to go to the kite festival but as I said, it was raining. There were only a handful of people there, mostly standing around not flying their kites so I didn’t stay very long. Perhaps I’ll have my own kite festival. Anyone want to join me? Bananas will not be available so if you want one to snack on while you’re flying your kite you’ll need to supply your own. Maybe it’ll be a kite and barbecue event. Yep, I think grilled stuff would go well with kite flying, don’t you?

Friday, April 23, 2010


They come from the mist
Spawned in the shadows
Passing unseen by all save their next victim
Teeth bared
Snapping and snarling
First one
Then two
Followed by the hoard
No one knows what exactly they are
No one’s ever lived to tell
The legends have an idea though
Innocent children catch an occasional glimpse when they stray too close to the darkness
They are always, well, almost always, spared
The targets of choice are those evil to the core
Or so the legend goes
Or perhaps a balm?
One to lessen the sense of impending doom for those on the fringes who must venture forth on certain dark nights
Fear not for there’s nothing you can do once they have you
Did you encounter them as a child?
Maybe they marked you then
Tagged you for future sport
Or have you done something?
Something secret?
Something so vile they can’t help but scent your tainted soul
Are your heinous deeds calling out to them?
Drawing them?
If so, beware
Your time is coming
Once you are within their sights there is no escape
They will track you
Maybe toy with you for an instant before they pounce
But when they get you, you are a ghost
They will tear you limb from limb
Shred your flesh
Crack open your bones
Feast upon your organs
Driven to a frenzy by the iron stench of your life blood
And the sounds!
Oh the sounds they make
There are no words
They are so petrifying they send anyone within hearing distance scurrying away as fast as their stubby legs can go
They’ve even been known to stop weaker hearts
Secondary victims dropped on the spot as they soil themselves in terror
So take care
Before you go out on that next dark and dreary night ask yourself
How tarnished are you?
Do you deserve to live?
Or would the violent death those of the mist hand out be a fitting end?
Listen closely
Do you hear the soft swish of them coming through the bushes?
The faint clack of claws on the pavement?
The gentle snorting as they pick up your trail?
They’re coming
Oh yes, they are coming
And you are next

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Go Fly A Kite!

This Sunday. At the Berks County Parks Department’s official Go Fly A Kite! day. This event takes place at the Berks County Youth Recreation Facility on County Road from noon until five.

There’s a contest open to all ages with prizes for outdoor fun, most colorful, most imaginative, best ground display and best overall. There’s also a newspaper kite division in which all entrants must be constructed entirely of newspaper.

The local kite club, the Sky Pilots will be on hand to demonstrate all variety of kites both on the ground and in the air. There’ll also be refreshments and a hot air balloon appearance provided by Bloomin’ Balloons.

If you don’t have a kite already come out anyway. There will be stands with kites available to purchase plus people on hand to help you assemble them. Or you can just wander around and gawk at all the pretty kites floating above you. Either way, it’s sure to be a fun day!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


In the wee hours this morning a strike by the New York City doormen was averted when the union that represents them and the building owners association reached a last minute agreement. You’ll be as pleased as I am to know that the city’s most privileged tenants won’t be forced to take out their own trash.

The union president, which represents 30,000 workers at 3,200 buildings, is quoted as saying a fair agreement has been reached. He expects union members to sign the new contract within the next few weeks. So what does he consider fair? A four year contract with a nearly ten percent increase in wages and no benefit cuts. Um, yeah. Damn fair if you ask me.

I keep reading how the recession is over and things will begin to improve. Perhaps the doorman contract is indicative of that. From my standpoint however, it hasn’t trickled down far enough to make any difference at all yet. Here’s hoping…

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Customer Service Lives

While I was out and about last weekend one of the places I stopped was an official T-Mobile store. Yes, I know. Hard to believe, considering how I’ve ranted about them in the past. But my experience in the store made up for a lot.

The salesgirl, Tameka was honestly helpful. Quit snickering, I’m serious. She was a very pleasant young woman who miraculously understands the concept of customer service, real, old-fashioned, assist the customer type customer service. She asked intelligent questions, made informed recommendations based on the answers and was knowledgeable about both the products and services offered by T-Mobile.

And later, when I returned to the store later for something else, she didn’t cringe or run away when she saw me. Yes, I admit it. I was misbehaving just a bit as we all know I do from time to time. But this charming individual handled it extremely well and was truly impressive throughout the entire time I spent with her.

I sincerely doubt that T-Mobile appreciates the treasure they have in Tameka and that’s too bad for them. She’s an asset to their company and trust me, they truly need her.

Monday, April 19, 2010


…to go, people to do, places to see. Wait, that’s not it. But you know what I mean so it’ll do.

Busy, busy, busy. Back tomorrow. Until then, look at the pretty picture.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Local Issue

There’s a local park, Bernhart’s, that’s been closed since 1996 due to lead contamination from a nearby battery manufacturer. In 2000, the EPA ordered the current owner, Exide, to do a massive cleanup – 200 yards in the surrounding neighborhood plus the park. It’s taken until last week for Exide to come up with what I think is an unacceptable proposal. They only want to remove the lead from certain parts of the 25 acre park which includes a lake with a dam. There is a semi-steep wooded section that they think only needs a wandering clean path at the bottom of the hill. Also, they only want to deal with a portion of the dam instead of the whole thing. That make any sense to you? It doesn’t to me.

I grew up at Bernhart’s. It’s the only place I ever remember going for cookouts with other families. When I was a kid there were huge trees, benches, picnic tables everywhere, two sided glider swings, stone water fountains, stone fire places and a second, smaller pond with a really cool bridge where it flowed into the main lake.

I went for a walk there last weekend. Yes, I kept my shoes on so I didn’t absorb any lead, didn’t drink any water or catch any fish. Hmm, did all those things as a kid as the park was being contaminated though. Perhaps that explains some things. But as I was saying, I wandered around. The upper pond is reverted to nature with a three-branched stream running through it. The beautiful London plane trees are mostly dead. They seem to have suffered more than the other varieties which didn’t look all that healthy either. Now I know trees age and need care but this was different. Even the younger trees seemed sad somehow. The bridge is gone. The wall that used to lead up to it is deteriorated tremendously. And the benches are being claimed, moss on the stone, wood slats rotted and missing, trees and vines growing up through them.

The city, which owns the park, is hoping, once the EPA is satisfied with the cleanup, to reopen the park. The mayor strongly opposes the partial lead removal. He’s realistic about this one. He says kids will climb all over everywhere once the park is open again. Um, yep. I sure did as a kid even though the bank was steep. He also doesn’t want the lake to be catch and release only which it will need to be with a partial cleanup. And there’s concern from the mayor and city council about whether or not people will actually return which makes sense.

Personally, I hope they do make Exide remove all the lead even though the contamination occurred before they took over the battery company. Hanging out at Bernhart’s is one of the few fond childhood memories I have and I’d like to see future generations of kids enjoy it too.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It Figures

Well I can cross another potential job off the list when I finally make my escape from Reading. That of sardine canner. Not that I ever had any real desire to do such a thing but it’s always good not to limit your options.

This week marks the closing of the last U.S. sardine cannery. There will, in all likelihood, never be another. The first opened in Eastport, ME in 1875. Since then it’s estimated that there have been 400 some canneries operating along the Maine coast. At the time of peak production in 1950 there were 384 million cans of sardines produced. Last year, the total was a mere 30 million.

The decrease is blamed partly on quota cuts in herring catches, down to 91,000 tons from 180,000 as well as shrinking consumer demand, foreign competition with lower labor costs and low profit margins. Sardine consumption in American has been on the decline ever since the invention of canned tuna. What was once a cheap lunch box staple is now something vastly ignored by just about everyone.

So the Stinson Seafood plant will now be closing, leaving another 130 workers, mostly female, unemployed. Why women? Because according to the Stinson plant manager women are better qualified for the job than most men. They have stronger backs and better dexterity for stuffing the machine cut sardines into those tiny cans. See? Something I was even qualified for and now the opportunity is gone. Sigh.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bring Chocolate or Get Out

It’s Tuesday. I’m very proud of myself for knowing that. This is day ten of my current migraine and although it’s faded somewhat at the moment, it’s far from gone. Other people have seasonal allergies in the spring. I have migraines. Oh joy. Aren’t I just the lucky one?

Yep, being just a tad sarcastic here. If you’ve ever had a migraine or something similar you’ll understand, forgive me and be impressed that I’m functional. Well, make that marginally functioning. I made it to work today but everything I did was in slow motion so I didn’t accomplish quite what I’d hoped to. There’s always tomorrow. Maybe by then my eyes will cooperate and focus on the same thing at the same time. Yeah, I know. I’m asking for a hell of a lot with that one but it takes a lot longer to do things with one eye closed and all that extra swiveling about started getting to me after a while.

The biggest problem, I mean other than the never-ending pain, nausea, sensitivity to light, sound, smells and temperature, is that my normal ability to filter and censure myself is impaired. Greatly some of the time. I know you’ll have trouble believing this but at work I’m generally well behaved and down right boring. Yeah, I really am. Stop laughing!

My current coworkers don’t know me well enough to know if I was kidding or not when things slipped out. Made for some interesting moments over the last week but I suppose it never hurts to make people wonder. Oh, by the way, if anyone I work with is reading this, yes, I was dead serious when I said you can no longer have any sort of office supplies without an offering of chocolate. That’s how it always should have been anyway, that’s how it’s going to be from now on and don’t even think of bringing the inferior stuff.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I Was Bad

I went for a little wander early Saturday morning. What’s so bad about that? Why nothing really. Except that I happened to be wandering around in the former Reading Railroad yard. But don’t blame me. Nope, it’s Kerri Messner’s fault. What? You don’t know who Kerri Messner is. And you accuse me of living in a void. Kerri is absolutely hysterical. And she takes awesome pictures which she then posts on her blog. She can be found here, on Facebook and MySpace. If you don’t already read her, you should!

So why is it her fault I was roaming where I shouldn’t have been? Because she went exploring a new path Friday and shared it on her blog. Okay so she was on open to the public state game lands but I don’t have any of them available in my immediate vicinity. And, though her pics of the wilderness are uber cool, I have a fondness for bleak desolation at the moment, think urban wilderness. The closest thing I could think of was the train yard so I followed the tracks in from my end of the city. Yep, it really was that easy. I went late enough that any criminal activity from the night before would be completed and early enough that the new day’s had yet to begin. No, I think I’d rather not get into how I know that just now if you don’t mind.

Yes, technically the train yard is not abandoned. It’s part of Norfolk Southern these days. But they aren’t using the Reading Railroad buildings that are left standing. Apparently they repair their trains elsewhere. I did find piles of spare track parts, rails, ties, plates and spikes. Not sure if they’re actually there to be utilized as needed but it was interesting to see them scattered about.

Of course once I got that close I had to poke around in the closet building too. One side of it is open. There’s a track running through it but I can’t tell if the rest of the building’s been torn down or if it was never enclosed. But isn’t it cool looking? There’s another building at the other end but I didn’t want to go too far since right beside there is where all the office trailers are. And I couldn’t really go around at that point because the yard was starting to get active and I thought it best to leave.

But I will be going back. Earlier than I was there Saturday. Perhaps one day before work. Hmm, I wonder if that would be an acceptable excuse for being late? I was exploring the abandoned building at the old train yard, lost track of time and was then detained by the current security staff. Yeah, I’m sure that would be just fine.

Right near the end of the tracks I followed is a set of steps that lead nowhere. Reading used to have a trolley system back in its heyday. The buildings nearby are fairly new so I wonder if there was a stop at my end of town before they were built.

Oh by the way, if you’d like an authentic souvenir spike from the original Reading Railroad, contact me. We’ll talk.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Two Worlds

There’s a world of make believe
Where people care and I matter
A fantasy land where plump is perfection
Where shyness is recognized for what it is – acceptable
A place I am at peace
Where I am happy
Back in reality
I belong no where
Not even among the misfits
Aloof is seen as haughty
Softly rounded equals rotund
I am less than nothing
And made to feel worse every day
So I don a suit of toughness
Shielding my true nature from those who would use it against me
And become someone so far removed from who I am
That those who might have loved me
Have no chance at ever finding their way to the real me

Thursday, April 8, 2010

This, That and Then Some

I feel like a flat-footed snerd. Migraine meds’ll do that to ya. That is after the screaming nightmares where the ceiling fan morphs into an attack gizmo with pointy spikes at the ends of razor-sharp blades to be released on a whim, looming above my head, swirling closer and closer and well, you get the idea. Yeah, it was one of those nights and no the meds only help with the migraine about thirty percent of the time. Last night was not part of that thirty percent.

So I have a question. Barophobia is the fear of gravity, right? Just agree. It really is. It is not a fear of bars or prisons or barometric pressure, trust me. How does one go about developing such a fear? And how do you know you have it? Better still, once you have it, what do you do to get over it?

Alektorophobia is fear of chickens. Now that’s just plain silly. Yes, chickens can be nasty little suckers but little is the operative word here. As long as you’re not wearing flip-flops you can drop kick them across the yard no problem so what’s the big deal? Unless they gang up on you which they’ve been known to do. So if you’re going somewhere where you might end up in a swarm of bloodthirsty chickens better be safe and take along your trusty hatchet because it’s well known that all chickens everywhere understand the significance of a hatchet and will steer clear of you.

Now something that sounds the same but is vastly different is electrophobia. Yes, it’s what you’d guess it is and I have a mild case of that. Oh, I can turn on light switches and such. I have a little trouble replacing outlets even after I’m sure the power is off to the entire house though I have managed to do it on multiple occasions. I just haven’t been happy about it. Isn’t that funny, considering my absolute love of electrical storms? Hmm, wonder what that means? I adore raw electricity with a passion and have no qualms about standing on a high roof in the middle of a non-stop thunderstorm but can’t bring myself to test a 9 volt battery on my tongue?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bitch, Bitch, Bitch

I was gonna call this Grumble, Grumble, Grumble but decided the other fit better. If you're offended go away. Today I just plain don't care.

Ninety freakin degrees at the beginning of April. Hell no, I’m not finding this at all amusing. My head’s going to explode.

It just so happens I had my biannual appointment already scheduled with my favorite neurologist this week. Nope, nothing new invented since the last visit. Too bad, he hasn’t designed the pressure relief valve for my skull yet even though I volunteer to test it every time I see him. And he was very disappointed to hear that the big scary drugs he gave me to try did absolutely nothing.

This time he emptied his sample cabinet for me. Gave me all the stuff that has little success with anyone else. His reasoning was that I’m odd so maybe something will work on me. As I was leaving he made one parting comment. He offered to do away with me should it become it become necessary. Yeah, how cool is that! A highly trained professional willing to admit defeat. Or perhaps he’s just getting prepared to hide the evidence of his lack of success with me to save his track record. Either way it’s always nice to have options.

Monday, April 5, 2010

So Many Questions

I hang my head in shame
Doing what I must to hide the direness
For no one can ever, will ever know
I am a misfit among even the freakiest of freaks
Among the normals, the average humans, oh they have no idea
And now that my carefully woven world is unraveling it’s that much harder
My spark, now just an ember, is about to go out
I am sans hope
I can’t find the energy to continue to care
To hold it together
To pretend
And I’m wondering why I ever bothered to begin with
Was there a point to this game at one time?
Or was it always as empty and meaningless as it is now?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

All in Good Time

I am the collector of dreams. I slip inside while you’re asleep and take all I can. Ah, I see the total confusion on your startled face. I’m not there to cause harm. Rather simple really. It’s because I need them. I use them to fuel my own. Still don’t understand? Sigh. Alright, I’ll attempt to explain.

Dreams contain vital energy, energy upon which I thrive. You see, I don’t just dream as you do. No, I visit while I sleep. Curious? I’m not surprised. Whenever I’ve collected sufficient power from the lot of you, I slip away from my form and land wherever I choose. Why? To make that dreamer’s dreams come true in the most spectacular fashion. Trust me, it is like no pleasure you can imagine.

When you wake, sure you’ve dreamed but not able to remember, know that I stopped by and made you a donor. I’ve been there to absorb the vibrations your mind releases. I take all the sexual energy from your fantasies, all the adrenaline from your chases, all the attitude from your confrontations, all the sighs from your cute and fuzzy bunnies and convert them into raw voltage that, once I have enough, will catapult me from within and make it possible for me to skip through the mist, unobserved, until I reach my destination, you perhaps.

If you’re the lucky one, I will seal you into your dream while turning it into a reality. Oh how good it will be. Everything will be magnified. The softness of my skin, the scent of my desire, the sweetness you taste in my arousal, the shivers as I caress you, the feel of all I touch you with, the strength of your climax.

So the next time you find yourself stuck to the sheets, don’t curse for having a wet dream like a randy teenager. Lose yourself instead in the sensations I leave you with. Run them through your mind over and over again for I know the release you find will be almost as good as that which we found together. What’s that? You’re still not sure how you’ll know for certain that I visited? I understand. You need to experience it before you become a true believer. Okay, tell you what. Once you’re spent, check your chest. If you find a small, bite-shaped bruise over your heart that wasn’t there when you went to sleep, know I am responsible.

Ooh, there’s my next encounter now, off to bed. But no, don’t envy him. Your turn will come.