Archive for June, 2008


June 29, 2008

He spiritedly ransacked his life,

Throwing memories willy-nilly over his shoulder,

Searching for the happiness he was sure he’d left somewhere.

“Someone will have to pick that up,” he said distractedly

To the detritus of his life strewn about the floor.

Aware that the responsibility was his alone,

He still issued this subtle plea for help

To the no ones in the room.

Dismayed that the elusive goal remained undiscovered,

He turned a weary, wary eye to an unopened closet in his soul.

The fears and mistakes locked within scratched at the door,

Mewling softly for release to lay siege once more

To his battered and bereft heart.

A hesitant hand reached for the door knob

As he knew in that life-scarred heart

That happiness was hiding amidst those fears.

And those fears must be cast aside,

One by one,

To find it.


My Sister

June 27, 2008

I am emotionally detached from my sister. She seems more like a distant third aunt twice removed, than a sister. Some of that is because she was already a teenager when i showed up as an “oops” child. The rest of the reason? I’m not sure.

There are other things through my life which made me feel detached from her, but the defining moment in my relationship with sis was when my niece, my sister’s only child, got married a few years back. Two events lay etched in my mind—

The first event pissed me off more than it should have, so I’m admitting to some over-sensitivity. Having struggled with being overweight all my life… and at this point in time weighing the most I ever did… I was nonetheless shocked by what happened. After the wedding, when the eleventy-seven pictures were being taken, it was time for the pictures of the bride’s uncles and mom. My sister, always the fussy organizer, was trying to get my brother and me in just the right place for the photo. Just before the picture was taken, she looked at me again and said, none too quietly,

Sister: “Don’t worry, GnuKid, the photographer can photoshop out your double chins.”

Now… smile for the picture, GnuKid. Good thing I’m an actor.

That event teed me up for the quickly following second, which my Boy Child shared with me after the pictures and just before the reception.

It was a small wedding which seemed to have many details left to the last. There were no ushers planned for, so my Boy Child was ‘volunteered’ for duty 10 minutes before the ceremony. A quick instruction was sufficient for him—seat the groom’s family on the right, the bride’s on the left, and ‘leave the first two rows for immediate family, including my sister’s siblings’. After all were seated (the Boy dutifully seating me in the second row), the last in were to be parents of the bride and groom. When my sister came to the door to be escorted in, there was a panicked exchange with Boy Child—

Sister: “What’s GnuKid doing sitting in the second row? That’s for immediate family! You have to re-seat him! Wait… [pause]… that’s right… he’s my brother… he’s my brother… he’s my brother…”.

Funny? Yeah, I can see the humor. But after a life of feeling so distant from her, this just sealed that feeling.

But, she’s family. Do I love her? Yeah… Do I like her? Well… no.

Call Sign Confusion

June 26, 2008

Always in poor weather and often otherwise, when I fly I will put myself in the hands of Air Traffic Control. This puts me on the same radio frequency as airlines and corporate flights.

When talking on the radio, most of us ‘regular’ pilots identify ourselves by the type of aircraft, followed by the plane’s full (or after contact, shortened) registration number. So when talking to Air Traffic Control, I may be “Cessna 7-3-Bravo” (more on the fun of the phonetic alphabet another time).

Airlines and corporate flights are almost the same, but they get to use more fun names in place of the type of aircraft. And the airlines use their flight number instead of their registration number.

Some airlines are proud of their name and heritage, so listening on the radio you’ll hear—“American 4-1-2-1” or “Aeromexico 2-0-7”

Other airlines, no less proud of their name, still use other identifiers for their flights—“Speedbird 2-7-9” (British Airways) or “Springbok 3-9-4” (South African Airways)

Corporate flights vary in the same way—“Ford 1-7-Foxtrot” (Ford Motor Company) or “Air Johnson 3-7-4” (for Johnson Air)

And some relate to individual people—“Shepherd 1” (that would be the Pope’s jet) or “Unicorn 1” (Prince of Wales)

So, on a flight a few years back, I was surprised to hear a call sign I’d not heard before. I had to listen closely to hear it again. Then asked my passenger to confirm what I’d heard. I later looked it up and could not find an official call sign, so the mystery deepened and continues.

So I ask you, gentle reader… who do you think is being flown in an airplane with the call sign identifier: “Cross Dresser”?

Worry Lobe

June 25, 2008

As part of opening up more, I first must take inventory of myself. Sort of like a baseline exercise.

“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened…” — Mark Twain

As you all know, different lobes of the brain control different things. I think my Worry Lobe is oversized… Actually, here’s what I think it looks like… that blue part up front.

I do take solace in knowing I’m not alone. Discussing this theory with a friend a few weeks ago, she immediately added her endorsement and proclaimed herself ‘Queen of Worry’*. She told me she has been known to snap at people attempting to help her by saying, “Do not confuse me with the facts, I’m busy worrying here.” Yep… me too.

Nonetheless, I, like Mr. Twain, often find myself letting my mind’s imagination wander to the strangest and most unlikely of events, particularly when I’m tired or overstressed. This results in added stress and exhaustion from such worry and is clearly not good for me. Anticipating events or evils that will visit me that are unlikely doesn’t help me plan for them. Rather, it makes me fuss more and plan less. And, regrettably, on some occasions I let that worry dictate how I treat people. People who are clueless (and likely innocent) of the untrue forgeries my Worry Lobe has applied to ‘what they’re doing to me’.

To them, I know an apology is in order (I apologize). To myself, I apologize as well and hope I get my own act together to live a less worried life.

Way too much of my time is wasted on stuff that

(a) I can’t do a damn thing about,

(b) isn’t likely true anyway,

(c) nope, still no ‘c’, or

(d) even if it were true and I could do something about it, it’s impact and hurt is likely far less in reality than in my worries.

Life is too short to waste on such. Time should be spent celebrating and enjoying life.

I know of no miracle cures. Temporary ones, for sure (a good roll in the hay comes to mind… hell, even a bad roll in the hay would work… I just need some rolling). It’s just a matter of getting over myself, staying in close reach of reality, and taking on the world a moment at a time. Each moment can be a joy. Stop worrying about the unlikely next moment and wallow in the one i’m in. [deep breath] Okay, let me at it…

“Don’t worry… Be happy.” — Bobby McFerin


*Any of you out there who feel that you are the rightful owner of this title, let me know. I’d be very happy to set up a bikini-clad, baby-oiled wrestling match between the two of you to claim sole title.

Blog Counseling

June 24, 2008

I have lots on my mind.

Sure, the laughter, humor, wry observation. But also some other stuff, too.

Angst. Fears. Worries. Issues.

And here in the blog world I have an excellent venue to vent those same things. So why do I hesitate? Why do I fuss about whether to go “public” or not? I’m sure there are many of you out there that have wrestled with this same question.

The case for staying “private”, meaning I share only with myself—

Private allows you to say any damn thing you want… IF your medium of choice is secure (e.g., 128-bit encrypted and password locked files)

I can fully vent what’s on my mind… in my gut… without fear of rejection or derision

The downside to “private”—

The only feedback mechanism is myself… but, since I’m already jaded and biased by being in those life situations which give rise the angst, fears, issues, et al, of what value is my own feedback on my own thoughts? Other than time (and, to a major extent, attitude), there is no validation process. Nor is there a refutation process. Both processes are needed. I need feedback of whether I’m a raving lunatic who’s going off into space or whether I’m just a tortured soul who’s really heading in ‘more or less’ the right direction, but need help getting there.

The case for going “public”—

Public allows that external validation or refutation.

Public allows me to access insights and opinions (yours) that would otherwise be unavailable to me. I’m guessing many of those, whether I want to hear them or not, would be of value to my resolution process.

The case against going “public”—

Other than raw numbers of comments, there is no assurance of the validity of those commenting on you. Yes, I would tend to believe 10 people all agreeing on a certain thing; but tend to discount a split vote… even 70/30.

People I don’t want to know my secrets could find this site. I do realize I’ve put enough clues out there that anyone who knows me can determine who GnuKid really is. And ‘Family Secrets’ are aired. I’ve not said anything contentious… yet. But if ‘discovery’ of the GnuKid happens, I face the wrath of family. [ed. Note: And is it ‘bad’ that I can share things with the blog, yet not with family members who should have my full confidence?… {heavy sigh}]

And, a true unknown, would I end up losing my internet friendships/readership because I’d gone ‘emo twit boy’ on them and scared them away from visiting my blog? While a blog should be for the writer’s benefit, let’s be honest… we need to feel the love from others.

Yes, there are mid-ground options… seeing a ‘real’ counselor for example. But for the money paid to access those ‘professionals’ (said tongue-in-cheek, having run into a few who weren’t that capable) does not always justify the results achieved. Especially when it seems the only service offered by some of them is the trite phrase, “…and how do you feel about that?” Hell, any of you would gladly do that in the comments block for free.

So, I’m getting to the point where my hesitation needs to be beaten senseless; the need to bare my soul exceeding the need to remain private; and to rely on my nascent internet friendships to help me guide myself to a happier life.

…and off we go… I’ll see how brave I am in the future… or how much Scotch I’ve downed… as to opening up here…

Scottish Kilts

June 23, 2008

Okay, I lied (get used to it)… one more post about Scotland. 

We got a chance to go through a working mill that creates tartan cloth.  We could look down on the automated looms a floor below us and see multiple tartans being made.  Those machines are fast and, yet, it still seemed to be inching along.  I can’t begin to imagine back “in the day” when they did the looming by hand. 

Anymore, the wearing of kilts is reserved for formal occasions—weddings, funerals, NASCAR…  Oh, and the tourist-y stuff—

Even so, there seems to be a pretty good market for the sale of kilts and all the various accoutrements and appendages that go with it.  This mill had lots of those things for sale (yeah, I see all your feigned-shocked faces out there).

Girl Child tried to convince me to buy a full kilt get up.  My brother owns a full kilt and extras, even wearing it at a niece’s wedding. 

Being mildly interested, I looked around the shop to see what was what.  First, I would have no clue what tartan to get.  My family name is not a stand-alone tartan.  Rather, we were a sept (sub-clan) of another Clan.  But the name can also be linked to other Clans as well.  Hmmm…

Second, I noticed that, for the ‘real’ wool kilt in full regalia, I’d have to spend upwards of $1500US.  The ‘cheater’ cotton-polyester blend would cost $500US plus.  And that without the all the accessories.  Owch.  Don’t think it’s going to happen… maybe someday. 

Still hanging around, I nonetheless enjoyed looking at what was on the rack and the walls. 

They had lots of kilts in Clan colors, but also a fair selection of non-traditional kilts – – camouflage, denim, and even leather.  The latter would seem to me to be extra warm and… ummm… clingy, but I still entertained, briefly, the thought of getting one… just for fun, you know.

The extra stuff had lots of options as well.  Knives, socks, belts, badges…  And the sporran, the Scottish ‘purse’ worn with the kilt.  The day-glo orange and day-glo blue caught my eye, but no.

And finally – – The clerk, noticing my interest, came up to me:

Clerk:  Can I help ye, sir?

GnuKid:  I’m just browsing, thank you… but, looking at all these accessories, I couldn’t help but notice—Where are the knickers?

Clerk:  [sly smile, cocked eyebrow, low chuckle]

…I guess “the secret” is still safe…

Nerd Herd Identification

June 20, 2008

I think you’ve all heard the standard warning signs of nerd presence: pocket protector, fashion sense of Helen Keller (???), BCGs*, belts laden with electronics galore…

Okay, let me be honest here. Shhhh… I have closet nerd tendencies myself. But through drugs therapy, I’ve been able to suppress those tendencies.

I’ve always suspected there are “functional nerds” who live among us. Those capable enough to hide their inner nerd-ness in a public environ. I’ve actually run across a few in my daily activities

But I recently had an experience that opened my eyes some to the ability of some of these “chameleonerds”.

At a recent waste of time mandatory presentation, a chart was shown with an obviously defective calendar across the top. Dates were interposed or flat out wrong. While the presenter was scrambling to explain, a fully registered and openly public nerd herd representative hollered out, “It’s not wrong, it’s in the Romulan** calendar format!”

There were clear differences in who responded and the way they responded—

(a) The ‘normal’ people*** either ignored the hollering nerd altogether or rolled their eyes and looked at other ‘normal’ people with that secret ‘normal’ people look they give each other.

(b) The ambiguous…like me…smiled inwardly at the reference, but kept a sharp eye out for the reactions of others.

(c) There still is no damn “(c)”

(d) The nerds, whether open or ‘chameleonerds’ could not hold back a loud, snorting guffaw. For some, this was followed by instant discussions of the merits of dilithium phasers against a cloaked Romulan warship (again, see **).

What surprised me was that some people I had clearly assigned into Category (a) were the most vocally snorting Category (d) kind of people. How do these people assume the demeanor and look of a ‘normal’ person while within beats the nerdly heart of a PeeWee Herman or Ugly Betty? How did I not now they were nerds? They dressed well, communicated without reference to electronics… Does that mean there is no (b) as well, but only more ‘chameleonerds’? Wow…

This opened the eyes for yours truly. The Wilds of Ohio still must have untapped and undiscovered adventures to seek. I must find my pith**** helmet and binoculars and go explore!


* BCGs: Birth Control Glasses. At one time in the military, I was afforded ‘free’ health care. But it was still at a price…BCGs being a high one paid. The only glasses they made available to you would turn 99% of women away in either horror or milk-out-the-nose laughter.

** For those folks with a life who don’t know the ‘Romulan’ reference from Star Trek, check out this site. And, yes, I do realize the fact I could readily find such a site confirms my prior reveal as a closet nerd.

*** I’m sure there’s a blog or seven in discussing what the hell qualifies as ‘normal’…I’m forced to used the term qualitatively for this blog, but fully believe there is no such thing as ‘normal’ (Thank God!)

**** Thorry for the lithp.