Archive for December, 2010

Possibly the Best Picture I Saw in 2010

Posted in Uncategorized on December 31, 2010 by tom

(from of course)


Ah, Latin: Sola lingua bona est lingua mortua

Posted in Uncategorized on December 30, 2010 by tom

Latin is awesome.  I don’t know why, but Latin always impresses me, both when I read something that uses it (assuming I understand, of course), or when I drop a little dead language magnificence.

And that’s the thing.  It’s a dead language, and yet people who are smart (or wish to appear that way) still use it.  That speaks well of something.

Anyway, herewith are some common Latin phrases, defined and ready for you to utilize in your daily communications.

Ad infinitum: To infinity, without end

Ad hominem: Appealing to ones human urges

Add hominy: Please bring me grits with my breakfast

Annus horribilis: Horrible year

Annus mirabilis: Year of wonders

Anus trumpetus: Flatulence

Bona fide: In good faith (ie, fairly)

Bona fortuna: Good luck

Bona massiva: Adult film actor

Cogito ergo sum: I think, therefore I am

Cogito ergo doleo: I think, therefore I grow depressed

Cogito mammarii: I think about boobies

Cum laude: With praise

Cum grano salis: With a grain of salt

Cum shot: (not touching this one)

Ex post facto: After the fact

Ex officio: By virtue of the office

Ex dinerius: Alimony

Gloria Patri: Glory be to the Father

Gloria in exelcis deo: Glory to God in the highest

Gloria Estefan: Small, wealthy Latin singer

Magnum bonum: A great good

Magnum opus: A great work

Magnum force:  Second Dirty Harry film

Mare liberum:  An open sea

Mare nostrum: Our sea (the Mediterranean)

Mare winningham: Two-time Emmy winner

Sub rosa: Under the rose (secretly)

Sub poena: Under penalty of law

Sub movie: The Hunt for Red October

Tempus fugit: Time flies

Tempus neminem manet: Time waits for no one

Tempus wastedus: You’ve been reading Dispatches from The Tom Zone

(Happy New Anno)

Christmas in The Tom Zone

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on December 24, 2010 by tom

Every year, Christmas glows like a beacon shining at the end of the year.  People save up all year to be able to afford the perfect gifts. Airports are abustle, and roads chockablock with cars, as revelers travel to be with their loved ones.  Halls are decked, eggs nogged, trees festooned with baubles and lights, all because it’s Christmas.

I’m happy to say that I no longer hate Christmas.

It was hard to hate Christmas.  It’s certainly not that I’m an atheist or that I bear Jesus any ill will. Quite the contrary.

During my anti-Christmas snit, I was filled with self-righteous indignation. “All of this bustle and commercialism just sweep the true meaning of Christmas under the rug.  These idiots run around buying presents, then go to church just one night a year. And Jesus was probably born in April, anyway. These people…”

I was kind of a jerk, but I hid my darkness under a proverbial bushel.  I still bought presents, and certainly never refused any–my indignation goes only so far–and it’s not like my fat ass was wearing dents in anyone’s pew cushions.

In my mind, I created a dichotomy between X-mas the loud and frantic, and Christmas, the quiet, hopeful, and simple. 

Perhaps worst of all, I did my best to avoid celebrating people. 

Nah. Drop the “perhaps.” I was so caught up in my anti-X-masism that I immersed myself in pathetically lonely Christmases.

One year in college, I worked 8 AM to 6 PM at WBGM, running a prerecorded Christmas show.  My family was 300 miles away, and I was the only person left in my dorm.  Another Christmas, I went through the celebratory motions with my family, then drove back to St Pete early in the afternoon. I had a pocket full of Christmas money, and my home bar was closed.  I found a small, dingy sports bar that was open. I spent my Christmas drinking double Sapphire & sodas, before my dark cloud and I finally drifted home.

Three years ago, I was in the process of becoming a less dickish person, only to find myself in ICU over Christmas.  I had friends and family visit me (and bring presents, and even a small tree!), and when they scattered back to their celebrations, I still had plenty of nurses and aides around.

This Christmas Eve, I’m home alone, but I’m not lonely.  I saw my family yesterday, had a wonderful lunch today with Annie the soapmaker and her minion (I mean “husband”). My Christmas shopping is done, and I’m at peace.  Tomorrow morning, I’ll drive down to my parents’ house for Christmas dinner and presents, etc. 

I’ve been working a lot recently, combined with days dealing with stabby-feet, and I just wanted Christmas Eve for myself.  I’ll fix dinner, and maybe watch “It’s a Wonderful Life,” or perhaps the more modern Christmas movie, “Love, Actually.”

Mostly, I’m safe in my home. My bills are all paid, my fridge fairly well stocked, the cat litter changed, and I have a full tank of gas. 

To me, Christmas is the little things.  My grandmother used to go all-out for Christmas.  I remember little crystal bowls filled with red, white, and green ribbon candies. To my knowledge, I’m the only one who ever ate them, and it’s a miracle my teeth didn’t fall out.  These candies weren’t as mission-critical as the turkey or ham, or wood for the fireplace.  Somehow, a couple decades or so since the last big Christmas at my grandmother’s, I’m remembering those odd, colorful candies. 

Whether you’re decking halls and fa-la-la-ing, or keeping your own company, I wish you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

And this year, I actually mean it.

Impression: NyQuil Brainstorm

Posted in Uncategorized on December 22, 2010 by tom


(From NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day site

Why I Don’t Freak Out

Posted in Uncategorized on December 21, 2010 by tom

Sometimes, in the course of handling supervisorish fires at work, things can get a bit heated. My fellow supervisors will get frustrated or angry, maybe slam things around on their desks.

I don’t.  For whatever reason–whatever confluence of gifts and talents–I usually manage to remain calm. No matter how angry the client or how stupid our rep, I can usually defuse tense situations, often getting the once-hostile person on the other end of the phone to laugh.

A relatively new member of our supervisory team once asked me why I so rarely “lost it” on the phone. The reason is simple:

I eat 2 mg Xanax like Pez candies.

Okay, that’s not true at all.

Three years ago this minute, I was awakening in St Anthony’s Hospital’s post-op ward.  The nurse told me to cough hard. I did so, and he yanked out a long tube that ran from my mouth down into my lungs.  I was just regaining consciousness after surgery to save my life. 

I’d somehow managed to contract a rare infection called Fournier’s Gangrene.  It was “necrotising fasciitis” on my nardsack. (“Scrotum,” to me, sounds like a sentence fragment uttered in that Deliverance country store: “D’you give them city folks a good deal?” “Nope.  Scrotum.”)

After I was awake for a few minutes, they wheeled me into my new home in ICU.  They didn’t get all of the infection, so I got to have another operation that Christmas Eve.  The dressing changes and wound care treatments were horrifying; the hospital food even moreso.

All told, I spent 5 full weeks in the hospital, and had to regrow a body part I didn’t know you could regrow. It was off-the-chart bad, but I managed to laugh here and there, and I caught up on my TV watching. (I also used my room’s excellent acoustics to perfect my loud belching technique (tmi, I know, but I got good! ;)))

It was damned sure NOT the way I would have chosen to spend Christmas and New Year and the football post-season. 

But it taught me that traffic jams, loud kids in restaurants, even angry people on the phone–these are minor things.  Three years ago, it was 60-40 that I wouldn’t live the four days till Christmas.  Three years ago, I hadn’t met most of you, nor had I met Staceypunkin or the kids. I didn’t have a work wife or a partner-in-crime. 

When Ray asked me why I never seem to get rattled, I didn’t say, “Because I endured scrotal surgery and a month of IV anti-biotics and pain.”

Three years ago tonight, I began an ordeal that taught me how great the simplest things are.

And that’s what I told Ray: “They can scream themselves hoarse, but when I hang up with them, I’ll still have 10 fingers, 10 toes, 1 bellybutton, and a steady pulse. And I’ve been places a hell of a lot worse than this.”

And I thank God I’m still here, polluting the Interwebs three years later.

(If you go back to December 2008, I wrote a few more detailed (and oddly humorous) accounts of that experience; in December 07 and January 08, there are posts from my hospital bed)

Okay, So I’m Kind of a Jackass

Posted in Uncategorized on December 21, 2010 by tom

I’m a reasonably nice guy, most of the time.  I don’t go out of my way to be mean to people. I just live my little life with my little group of friends and loved ones, and mainly keep to myself.

Every now and then, though, the cosmic tumblers click into place, and there’s a golden comedy opportunity too awesome to resist.

Friday night, I was toiling away in the Pit of Constant Sorrows, and my friend Ashley was over chatting with my partner-in-crime Lynn and me. Ashley was excited, because she had an impending OB doc appointment, and she would learn the sex of her baby. (Note: Ashley is currently pregnant, not in possession of a baby with ambiguous genitalia)

I looked up at her and smiled. “Hell, hon. I have an ultrasound app on my phone. I could tell you what it is right now.” She looked at me quizically. “Really?”

“Yup. ‘Ultrasound 2.0 for Android.” I picked up the DorkFone. “Come here.” She moved over, and I pushed a couple buttons, and pressed the DorkFone to her belly. People were watching with rapt attention. After a few seconds of scanning, I looked at the screen and said, “Congratulations, hon. It’s a girl!” I showed her the image, and she cocked her head, trying to make out all the details.

Ashley’s fetus is about 35,000 light years across, which is a little big for 3 months. I’d chosen a lovely photograph of a nebula.

She laughed and handed the phone back to me. “I’m guessing there isn’t really an ultrasound app on your phone?”
“Nope, but I have a killer Yahtzee game. And if I did have an ultrasound, I’d be happy to scan your fetus.”
She’d had a rough day, and she needed a laugh.

Too bad there isn’t an ultrasound feature on the Android. Maybe in version 3.0.

Happy Tuesday.

(This is Ashley’s baby (it does look female to me))


R.I.P. Rapid Robert

Posted in Uncategorized on December 17, 2010 by tom

Bob Feller began playing in the Major Leagues at age 17. 

At age 17, I was just slouching my way through high school, working (and playing) at a golf course, and blowing money on music.  I didn’t have much discipline, but he was 17, playing for the Cleveland Indians, and he struck out 17 batters in one game.  Unreal.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.  On December 8, 1941, Bob Feller enlisted for combat.   He served four years on the USS Alabama.  The Alabama wasn’t a luxury cruise ship, and Bob Feller wasn’t there to sign autographs and conduct baseball clinics.  He was a gun captain, and he missed four baseball seasons till the World War 2 Pacific campaign ended. 

I was just wondering how many of todays multi-million dollar pitchers would enlist in the Navy today, under similar circumstances.  Bob Feller is the only Chief Petty Officer in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Bob Feller said one of the coolest things, in my opinion: : “What kid wouldn’t enjoy the life I led in Iowa? Baseball and farming, and I had the best of both worlds.”

Bob Feller was a tribute to The Greatest Generation.  If he’d played at the same level today, his four years of wartime service would’ve cost him $40,000,000 or more in missed salary. 

I don’t think he’d have cared. 

The guy was a hero.  He played his whole life with one team, raised three kids, was a war hero, and once threw a fastball over 107 mph. 

Just look at this picture–you know he’s going to throw it by somebody.

Bob Feller was a baseball star and a Navy CPO, all this without losing the hard-working farmboy values inside him. 

On Wednesday, he died of complications from pneumonia, following leukemia treatment.  He was 92. One of his last quotes was, “Nobody lives forever.  And I’ve led a very blessed life.”

RIP, Bob.  And thanks.

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