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    Thursday
    Dec282006

    Enough Joe for One Year

    Did I say incumbent bike? I meant recumbent bike.leiberman.jpgrecumbentbikes2.jpg

     

     

    Wednesday
    Dec272006

    Busting Out

    So many celebrations, so little time. Today it's off to No. Reading, Mass for dinner and presents at my sister-in-law Melanie & her husband Dean. (Brother-in-Law once removed? I can never figure that out.) Friday it's off to Dayton Ohio to visit my folks for New Year's Day. More food and presents. I feel like I put on 10 pounds since last week, but I don't dare to go near the scale. From the family room, the incumbent bike mocks me...
    Monday
    Dec252006

    Stuck in an Elevator

    Boy, Christmastime just seems to get crazier and crazier every year. This year I think I lost a solid three weeks just trying to stay afloat on my personal stuff and fit in all the Christmas shopping, decorating, visiting, etc. At times I'm not just planning my day but my whole week ahead of time, to accomplish everything that needs to be done. God forbid a snowstorm or unforeseen event should strike and disrupt my delicate schedule!

    So naturally I'm at the shopping mall Chrismas Eve, trying to buy last minute presents for my wife. I was in Macy's intending to look at some stemware when suddenly nature calls, or in this case, yells. Christmas hubbub aside, when you gotta go, you gotta go. Outside the store in the mall area, the map said there was a restroom on the Upper Level by J.C. Penney's, but the Buckland Mall has gone through a good deal of renovations over the past year, and when I got to where the men's room was supposed to be all I found was a long hallway with mall offices. I knew there was a restroom on the lower level and the nearest way down was an elevator about a hundred feet behind me.

    Heading back, I could see the glass elevator car rising  toward the second floor. The timing was going to be perfect. The doors open as I shuffled behind the crowd waiting for the upward passengers to disembark, and once the car was empty, ten of us shuffled in, seven adults and three children. I was the last one on. I hit the button for the first floor, the doors slid shut, and the car started to descend. Then it gently slowed to a halt four feet down. None of the buttons worked. I rang the alarm bell but none of the shoppers seemed to care, too busy with their own shopping tasks. There was a phone in the car that called mall security and they said they would send someone out right away. Until then, we were stuck. 

    I'm usually the one to go stir-crazy in situations like this. I've had many recurring nightmares in my life about plunging elevators, and I've seen documentaries on the National Geographic channel about people stuck in elevators in the World Trade Center on 9/11. This was nothing like that. The ten of us were like animals on display in a glass cage at the zoo, with little ventilation and no escape hatch. For some reason, I was surprisingly calm. Maybe it was the two little kids staring up at me like I knew what I was doing.  Maybe it was because the guy next to me was starting to cuss and lose it, or because the woman in the back was complaining because her baby in the stroller was asthmatic, and I knew that if everyone started losing their cool we would all be the worse for it. I think the fact that it was Christmas Eve had something to do with it--at least I would have a funny story to talk about at the dinner table today, on Christmas. Standing befor the doors, I was simply trying to wedge my work badge into the crack to see if I could pop the doors open or, at the very least, get some fresh air into the car.

    To make a long story short, they got us out in about a half an hour. The mall had to call the fire department, and then they had to find the override key. Finally the elevator slowly dropped to the bottom floor and I helped them pull the doors open.  The good news is, I got to the men's room in time. What's more, since that happened, I haven't been back to my bounce-off-the-walls, freakshow holiday mindset. I had a wonderfully peaceful Christmas Eve at home with my wife, wrapped all the presents in plenty of time, watched plenty of exciting football games and How the Grinch Stole Christmas with Jim Carrey afterwards. Today has been serene as well, as I blog between opening the gifts and driving to the in-laws for lunch. I can't necessarily explain it, but somehow getting stuck in that elevator had a positive effect on me. I think maybe it's the "best laid plans of mice and men" thing, that sometimes I get so wrapped up in everything that needs to get done to make it the "perfect" Christmas, I forget that life isn't perfect, and I need something to get me to stop, breathe deeply, and look around at my surroundings. Like a broken elevator.

    There's a song by the group Rush called "Time Stand Still" that I love to play in my truck. The lyrics go like this (forgive me if I butcher them):

    I'm not looking back but I want to look around me now

    To some more of the people and the places that surround me now

    Time stand still

    Summer's going fast, nights growing colder

    Children growing up, old friends growing older

    Freeze this moment a little bit longer

    Make each sensation a little bit stronger

    Experience slips away, experience slips away

    Time stand still

    The holidays are a time to take stock of the ones you love and who love you, and appreciate these moments you have together while you still have them.

    Merry Christmas!

      

    Thursday
    Dec212006

    Super Bowl Idol

    NFLlogo2.JPGLooks like Simon Cowell and American Idol have infiltrated the NFL marketing board room, because we now have this thing called "The Greatest Super Bowl Commercial Ever contest, where fans solicited their ideas for an NFL commercial that will actually be filmed and shown this February at Super Bowl XLI in MIami. "Super Bowl Idol" is down to its 12 finalists, and if I were the marketing executive of a major corporation looking to place a million dollar ad in the Super Bowl, I might want to considering hiring one of these guys (or girls) because there's some really cool ideas for commercials here. I think I've narrowed my vote down to three (and I won't tell you which ones because I don't want you copying me) but the ad told me to tell my friends about it, so that's what I'm doing. Okay, maybe I don't have any friends, but I always do what the TV and the computer wants me to do, so I'm telling you instead!

    Tuesday
    Dec192006

    Paying It Forward

    So I finally have a few moments to catch up on some old links from my blogs, just to make sure they don't lead you off a cliff.

    Here's one from Professor Colin that I liked. Especially the part about walking around with a roll of quarters in your pocket to give to the homeless. It's so true. When I was in Vegas a couple of weeks ago I went to see Styx at the Luxor on my last night. On the way back I was walking toward the Strip because I didn't want to take an hour to walk to a Monorail that was going to ultimately save me ten minutes.

    There's a walkway between Excalibur and New York, New York. (And by the way, New York New York still boggles my mind every time I look at it, more than any other casino.) On that walkway there was a homeless guy--or girl--I couldn't really tell. But he/she was sitting there with a cardboard sign saying, "Please help my family."

    I'm sure it's a ploy. I'm sure the guy/girl is laughing all the way to his/her Mercedes at the end of the night, his/her only fear being exposed by 60 Minutes someday. They breed on suckers like me, I know it. That's why I was so reluctant to give, I guess, and why I waited on the walkway until no one was really looking at him/her and me. Then I walked back and handed this person a few folded dollars. I'm not even sure how much. He looked up to me and said, "Thank you, sir."  Which is more than any slot machine said to me all week.

    So maybe he/she went out and bought a bottle of booze with the money. Or maybe it helped get another hit. I don't know. But maybe he/she was being honest, and it helped her family out a bit. I'll never know, I guess. I'm just a sucker sometimes. But it truly was a lift, like Spiritual Vicatin. Like Ebenezer Scrooge after he throws his lucky coin down to some kid to go buy a turkey on Christmas Day. Try it sometime. You might feel awkward, you might feel like a sucker, but it's not your 401K we're talking about here, it's a buck or two. You might find it was the best money you ever spent.