What if I could “clear the mechanism”?

There was a Kevin Costner movie a few years ago called For Love of the Game. It starred Costner as an aging MLB pitcher for the Detroit Tigers nearing the end of his Hall of Fame career. He was pitching what might be his final game in enemy territory at Yankee stadium. Anyone who follows baseball knows that Yankee fans are very loud, especially on their home turf. Costner’s character was able to free his mind from any of the outside distractions or noise using a technique I always admired and sometimes wish was an ability I possessed.

Pitcher Billy Chapel (Costner’s character’s name) would lean down before his pitch, take a moment and close his eyes while thinking to himself the phrase “Clear the mechanism”. When he reopened his eyes the only thing other than himself that was on the field was the catcher. There were no other players, umpires or even a batter. Also there was no noise. The fans were not a part of the equation any more. It was just him throwing the ball wherever he wanted and the catcher catching it. It didn’t matter how loud the fans or opposing players were, they had no effect on his effort.

What a wonderful thing this could be if I could integrate this into my daily life. There are times when I just need a little quiet, a little peace. Problem is even when I have a chance for it, there is always something that breaks the silence. A dog barking, a child screaming or a radio blasting.

At home I have dogs of my own and the neighborhood is full of them. I live close to a major highway and have for the last twelve years. during a normal day it is not uncommon to hear sirens, car horns, breaks squealing, radios cranked to extreme volumes and possibly even a crash. About once a month we hear the crunch of cars connecting at the stoplight just a block away and once even had a car flip across the street into the neighbor’s yard.accident-151668_640

So it seems it is never quiet at the house and even though you get used to it, you still wish for just a few minutes of silence at least once in a while. The neighbors, animals and travelers do not feel the need to cooperate. So maybe at least when I go to work and enter my office I can take a minute to myself and enjoy the quiet, right? Nope, that doesn’t work either.

The workplace has never been completely quiet, but since the hiring of a few new workers it has become a noise filled box from which there is no escape. Two co-workers seem to never stop talking, whether it is with each other, to me, or others it is constant. The chatter becomes overwhelming after a full shift and especially so after a six day workweek. I cannot wait to get out the door and home to my noise filled residence.

Please, please can someone teach me this “clear the mechanism” ability. I could really use the ability to tune out the unwanted noise and distractions. Maybe then I could concentrate on my blog topics and write a little better. Maybe I could finish my first novel. Maybe I could be a little less agitated and moody. That would probably be better for everybody.

Anybody have any suggestions for me? A technique you use to have a little peace of your own. Maybe a way you handle your own world of noises. By the way, screaming to the top of your lungs doesn’t work and seems to annoy the wife, the pets and the neighbors. Also attempting to drown out the noises by making even more noise yourself doesn’t work either. It again annoys those around you and can eventually lead to harm. Sometimes the harm can come from others who are aggravated and sometimes you can do it to yourself by your noise making techniques.

At work I have attempted a new concept and it is helping a little. I will go around and talk to myself then randomly shout out odd, senseless, confusing topics. Every so often while in my office by myself I will shout “purple dogs make great poets” or “skanky skunks scare rhinos in trees” or “my alien and bigfoot are making out again” . Sometimes I will just mumble for minutes incoherently.

I bet you are wondering how this helps with the noise levels at work huh? Well you see now the co-workers are still talking, but it is usually in whispers about me and the random things I say. They are a bit scared to talk out loud thinking I might try to join the conversation. So for at least a little while I have figured out a way to have a quieter workplace. I just hope as long as my work is still good, the powers that be do not decide to send me for evaluation.job

I’m sure I am the subject of a few after work conversations and that is fine with me. I’ll be the crazy gut at work as long as I am also the less aggravated and a little better tempered guy at work and home. Sometimes you have to take the crazy with the good. My philosophy for the day. You can do with it what you will.

What if we had a 24 hour Good News Network?

Welcome to AGNN, the all good news, all the time network!agnn

How often do you hear someone say “I don’t watch the news. It’s always depressing.” or “They never report anything good, only the bad things.”

I have even been known to utter these phrases myself a few times. Still I find myself tuning in, hoping they finally found that lost airplane or a few survivors from that terrible landslide.

I listen as the anchors talk about the latest killing or drunk driver running down a pedestrian. I’m still there when they mention the latest deaths from a bombing in a country I’ve never heard of and again when they relay the story of a malnourished child whose parents had locked in their room for days all alone.

I’m only partially paying attention by the time they tell us about the politician who was using his position as a means to illegally extract money from those around him or when they talk about the arrest of a teacher who was molesting students at a local school.

Of course they always mix in an aspiring story or two. A tale of someone overcoming every obstacle when they were told they would never walk again and now they are running in the local marathon. A story about a local pet adoption fair where every animal found a new home. These are usually fun stories to watch and talk about but are too few and far between. I think its time for a new news network dedicated to only the good news and inspiring stories.

It’s time for the All Good News Network. Anytime of day you can turn it over and find a story that will make you tear up or swell with pride at the thoughtfulness of humanity. Every story a tribute to the kindness of strangers or the miracle of life. Even the commercials will be regulated and only ones fitting the networks motto will be allowed. There will be no sad music playing behind hurt animals or starving children.

If you had a long day you can turn it over to hear about the world’s largest birthday cake or Easter egg hunt. Listen to stories about lives changed for the better, a local charity event that raised well more than its goals or the anonymous stranger who paid an injured child’s medical bills. Watch live feeds from carnivals or festivals instead of war zones and hostage standoffs.

Tune in for the latest on communities working together, improving their neighborhood. Share in the newest developments of the local pie eating contest. Breaking news reports will only be about a found animal or a family reunited and never be mentioned until the outcome is positive.

We currently have all day networks for news along with ones dedicated to sports, music, cartoons, weather or shopping. Why not add one more for good news only? A place to go after watching all the depressing news.

Anyone else think this could be a great idea?

What if you were invited to Foolishlandia?

mvchallengeThe what if writing challenge has been suspended, but the new Multiverse Fiction Challenge is just getting started. This month you are invited into the universe of Foolishlandia, a place just as crazy as the name makes it sound.

Come on over to the new challenge site and follow, comment or add your take on the latest challenge prompt. Twice a month we will be hopping to a new universe and seeing the way other worldly beings spend their lives.

With your help we can explore the multiverse together. What secrets will we uncover and what exciting stories will we tell? Come on over and lets get started on our journey!



What if I could travel through time?

"The Time Machine!" by Chaotic Good01

“The Time Machine!” by Chaotic Good01

The concept of time travel is anything but new. It has been a subject of countless stories, books, tv shows and movies for many, many years. My childhood would have never been the same if not for the likes of Land of the Lost, Back to the Future or Quantum Leap. These stories helped to spur the creative genes inside my soul and made me believe most anything could be possible. This week time travel is the subject of the weekly writing challenge from the daily post. They are calling it time machine and want to know our take on the concept of traveling trough time.

I for one have always been amazed at the creativity involved in the show Quantum Leap. The idea of hopping into the lives of others, having to become a completely different person while trying to maintain or better their lives without losing yourself was amazing to watch. On the show Sam had Al to help him find his way and hope for the eventual leap home, but it always seemed lost.

Well I have decided to create my own Quantum Leap experiment. To make sure I can leap to where I plan and always find my way back I will be making a few tweaks to the concept. It starts by connecting my being to that of my late father and using his lifetime for travel destinations instead of my own. There are a lot of amazing things that have happened during my lifetime, but there are so many more moments of his life I want to experience.

I have also decided that the ability to alter events of other’s lives would be way too much responsibility for me to handle. For that reason my experiment is as an observer only and I will have no control over the events that will be unfolding around me. I believe this will be better for everyone involved and will take away the desire to better any situations I find myself observing.

The first place I want to observe is boot camp. My dad spent a few years in the army not too long after the world was at war and when the pride of being a soldier was probably outweighed only by the terror of it. It would be a joy to see the man my dad was before he became a husband or a father.

Next I would travel to that first dance. The one where my uncle introduced his sister to an army buddy. Did he have a clue this buddy would become his future brother who would marry the woman later known by me and my siblings only as mom? Just imagine being able to observe that look of love on the very first night your parents met. You could find out if that first conversation was awkward or did they have instant chemistry? Was dad a true gentleman or did mom go after the bad boy? How wonderful it could be to find all the answers to these questions.

Next stop on my travels would be when the news was broke that my oldest brother was on his way. Was it a time of great joy or tremendous fear? Did dad say all the right things or did he trip over his words? How much was mom glowing? How did their families handle the news? More and more questions could be answered about the start of our amazing family and it would be astounding if I could be a witness to it.

"Korean War Memorial" by Interactive Wander

“Korean War Memorial” by Interactive Wander

I would want a full day to spend with dad while he was stationed in Korea. I want to experience the atmosphere with him. Find out how he handled the tension, the fear and how he handled missing his family back home. I want to sit with him during those long moments of silence and contemplation and then be there when he gathers with other soldiers to play poker, drink a few beers or talk a little trash at the end of a long day.

There are many more moments I want to be there to see. A few I want to relive from my adult perspective and a few more I want to cry through again.

There is the day my parents exchanged vows, my very first day of school, the day I called to let them know I wrecked my first car, the first time I got a hit playing baseball, the day my brother nearly lost a toe riding his bicycle, the day my sister told my parents she was pregnant, the day my dad drove his motorcycle off the truck ramp, the day the family went all in and purchased dad’s first big screen tv without him knowing, the day he received papers to serve in desert storm and later the papers he received finding him unfit for duty because of his knees.

So many times I could find joy in seeing or reliving. Experiencing the moments without the haze of years gone by or memories faded, but reliving them in the moment.  If only I could find one of those days when dad was on a roll and telling his jokes or being the silly man we all adored. A day when mom was yelling at him to shut up while all of us kids laughed and rolled in the floor. Those days I could play over and over again.

There are times when I would really want to break my own rules and interfere with the moment. The final days before he became sick and we lost him are first and foremost in my mind. I would want to break through the memory and place myself more prominently in the scene. Tell him how much he meant to us all and that we could have never been the people we are without his guidance, his love and yes, even his money. He taught us to work hard, care for the right things, and never stray far from the path. We know what’s right and what’s wrong because he showed us everyday with his decisions and his love.

“Our family is the amazing bunch we are because you were so strong, mom is still strong and we have memories to last. Mom hurts everyday along with the rest of us but she survives because its the only way she knows, the way you would have done it and the way you would want it.”

If only I could tell him all this and more, but I cannot interfere. Besides this is all just a way to write an answer to a challenge. The leaps are not possible no matter how much I wish they were. Time travel, leaps into the past and observation of past memories are a bit of science fiction I don’t have the ability to make come into fruition.

I can however maintain the memories I have and share them with the rest of the family. I can remember the good days, the bad days and the final days. I can be an even better man and carry on his legacy. Those are all items well within my power.

"Dinosaur" by Will

“Dinosaur” by Will

If time travel becomes reality my goals may not be as lofty as some. I don’t care about seeing the dinosaurs, the signing of the declaration of independence or the moon landing. I just want a little more time to spend with family. A little more insight into my own life based on others who shaped it. I’ll let others be the T-Rex’s next meal while I enjoy my time hanging out with loved ones. I think most everyone could use a little more time for that.



What if you could choose a birthday present for me?

recreation-25737_150You have two days to make your choice. If you could think of anything to give to the blogger who brings a little humor and entertainment into the world through this site ,Okay, What If?, JED’s Playhouse and the recently launched Multiverse Fiction Challenge what would you choose?

I expect something really nice, especially since it is going to be a blogging world gift only and its for the big 4-0. I don’t think I have ever revealed my true identity (or should I say alter-ego or maybe secret identity to make it sound even cooler) so you don’t need to worry about shipping charges or where to send it, just tell me what you think I deserve. Please be nice about it though. I am a bit stressed already from gaining a new number at the beginning of my age and not just the end.

baby-25388_150A little about me to help you choose. I have a loving wife I enjoy spending lots of time with and our family includes a total of three dogs and a cat. I’m a guy who likes a lot of silly things including comic books, horror movies and cartoons. You will probably never catch me on a motorcycle or in a speed boat but I enjoy the occasional nature walk. I love watching sports and am a pretty big Red Sox fan and NASCAR enthusiast.

The big birthday bash is going to start tomorrow night at about six. The get together will include hamburgers, hotdogs, chips, ice cream, cake and a few alcoholic beverages. Please be prepared to watch me stumble around drunkenly after the 9 o’clock hour. Bring your own barf bag if you are unable to maintain your composure.

So let’s hear it. What do you think a good fortieth birthday present is. Remember, these are the last days I can truthfully say I’m in my thirties. After Sunday I’ll have to lie about it, which I’ll probably do for a while.present-147168_150


What if I’m never old enough to know better?

I grew up with two older brothers and watched on many occasions as mom and dad would tell them “You’re older, you should know better.” It was my being younger that was like a get out of jail free card every time we did something to get into trouble. I would sit back and watch, giggling to myself as my brothers were reprimanded. Every time one of them would point at me or mention that I was involved then we got to here my favorite line “He’s just following you, you are old enough to know better.”

head-148207_150I’m not sure how many times I heard this as a child, but it was probably in the double, maybe even triple digits. Of course the downside of this was my brothers resented it and didn’t want me involved in anything they were doing. They knew even if it was my fault I would never get punished as severely as they did.

Now I am much older and the thought occurred to me recently “What if I’m never old enough to know better?” What if by not getting into the same trouble as my siblings I never learned when I was doing wrong? I know that robbing a bank is wrong, but sometimes the little things I’m not as sure of. I seem to never know when to just keep my mouth shut. I sometimes have the worst timing when it comes to saying certain things.

It’s built into me to constantly try to annoy anyone else in the family. Whether it be by making an annoying noise, a silly gesture or joke or just repeating something someone else says. I continue to do it even once I’ve annoyed the other person all the way to anger. It’s still funny to me even though they are fuming. It feels wrong but I guess I’m just not old enough to know for certain.

So when is it going to happen and how will I ever be sure? Am I destined to always be the younger brother who is not old enough to know better? Is this a curse I must always bear? Why did my parents do this to me? What I once thought of as a useful tool of my youth is now a hindrance in my adulthood.

Of course the more I think about it, the more I realize that maybe I never want to be old enough to know better. Maybe it’s my way of holding onto my youth. Besides, I’ve made it this far. A few more years of not knowing any better shouldn’t be a problem.

What if you accidentally let a killer fart slip out?

gas-mask-149159_150I knew I should have never entered the store so soon after eating that large helping of broccoli, but I needed to be first in line for the new Scatter Shock video game. Now I find myself standing in the middle of the store, all alone. The only living person to survive the ordeal. My cheeks were not strong enough to hold it in and the bodies surrounding me have paid the price.  Soon I will be known only as Kill-Fart and take my place among the evil super villains of our time.

But seriously, has anyone ever been in line at the front of one of these super center stores when the old lady in front of you just lets one rip? You are standing there looking through the impulse items on the shelves when a foul smelling odor loudly releases itself from the person occupying the space directly in front of you in line.

You stand there thinking “My goodness lady, you couldn’t wait till you got outside to do that?” when you look up at the lady and she is staring at you, almost in tears. That’s when you realize you didn’t just think it but you said this statement out loud. Now you feel terrible about hurting this other person’s feelings.

But why should you feel bad? They are the one who released a toxic gas in your immediate vicinity and could have contaminated the fresh veggies in your buggy (okay, it’s really cake and some chips but let’s pretend I might buy some fresh veggies). They are the one who started it!

Sometimes you might walk past one of those individuals with the walking farts. It’s step one, poot-poot, step two, poot-poot and so on. You can’t help but giggle as you pass and realize they are giving you a dirty look. Again you hurt someone’s feelings but again they started it.

I mean a fart is giggle worthy. When there is an attempt to hide it and it still becomes known it makes it even funnier. There is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a natural bodily function that happens to everyone. Well, everyone except teenage girls or women before marriage. After marriage it’s like a dam burst or something cause all those backed up farts start sneaking out, especially in the middle of the night. Sometimes they are so bad the covers fly off the bed and land on the opposite side of the room.

And of course then there are the farts of your best friend. There is just nothing quite the same as having your dog cuddle up beside you nuzzling himself all up against your leg while you pet him. Everything is right in the world during that moment until you realize the most foul odor you have ever smelled just hit your nose and made your eyes begin to water. I swear I saw my dog smiling and giggling the other day when this happened. Sometimes they are just too smart for their own good.

I myself am a sharer. If I need to let some flatulence out I want everyone around to know about it. I’m like “Hey everybody, listen to this one” then I cock my leg, pump my fist and out comes a poot. Just a little poot. Then a few minutes later while I’m in front of a client going over the latest figures suddenly a massive thundering poooooooottttthhhhrrrrrr comes blasting out.

Okay this one isn’t so giggle worthy. Plus now I think I need a new pair of undies. Dang broccoli for lunch. What was I thinking?pullmyfinger