Thursday, August 7, 2008

the Latest Ring of Hell

Ok, I normally don’t like to complain…especially about something that one can do nothing about, like the weather. But God Almighty, it’s hot here in the Middle-Of-Nowhere. 105 F. 41 C. Not just your average, run-of-the-mill heat wave, where plants wilt slightly. I mean an all-out assault on the senses….”Africa Hot”…”Make-you-take-a-deep-breath-before-you-exit-the-house-and-sprint-to-your-car-so-you-don’t-have-to-breathe-in-the-searing-atmosphere-hot”. A “red-Georgia-clay-pulverized-into-dust-and-covering-everything” hot . So hot you don’t want to stand or sit near a window because you can feel the heat radiating through the pane of glass. So hot the rain hits the patio and immediately vaporizes. An “oh-God-why-did-I-leave-Scotland-where-I-was-freezing-three-weeks-ago” hot….A “why-am-I-here-when-I-have-friends-in-Sweden-and-Norway” hot. A "ring-of-hell-Dante-never-envisioned" hot.

If I think I’m up to my ass in alligators in heat at the moment, there are 34 people fairing worse. The Brentwood Varsity Football Team. Boy and his teammates. He has football camp this week. Three-a-days. From 8am to 8pm. His team drank 41 gallons of Gatorade yesterday. He went to sleep at 9pm last night, he was so drained. But he’s young, and fit, and most of his brain cells haven’t been killed off by alcohol.

And speaking of alcohol, there’s only one solution for the heat….I’m going to make a pina colada. As Scarlett O’Hara said “tomorrow is another day”—maybe cooler. A wine cooler.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Godfather's Message

Whilst (I've picked up the Britishism for "while"--sounds so much nicer....) we were in London, Boy's English Godfather came up from Bristol with his partner of 12 years to visit. We had so very much fun, and it was great catching up with them both.

He gave us a letter to deliver to his godson. It was so wonderful, I asked it I could post it here for everyone. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Approaching my half century, you would think I might have learnt something useful, something worth passing on, wouldn't you? I mean I haven't died, so I am clearly getting at the least the basics right: But I am already assuming that you can handle the basics-you seemed pretty competent at that when I saw you as a six or seven year old and I have no reason to assume you will have deteriorated much from then (and you may even have improved- here's hoping, anyhow). So my challenge is not to offer 'stay alive' advice- you clearly already know which end to point away from yourself before pulling the trigger.

If not the mundane then, I must offer the more advanced: Not Life 101, but maybe a master class if not quite doctoral thesis. I have drawn upon some famous and some entirely unrecognised geniuses and distilled the product for you.


1. Oscar Wilde said that the only thing to do with good advice was to pass it on: It is never any use to oneself.

2. The old saw 'Never Put off 'til Tomorrow What You Can Do Today'. This is actually and irritatingly true. Sometimes you will remember this but most often you will just put things off anyway and for a wide variety of reasons, all of which will seem like valid (self) justification at the time. You will then be somewhat peeved when you do come to complete the task and discover it now costs more, or they have sold out, or you have missed the closing date or whatever. Sadly, the outcome on this one seems pre-ordained. There are those who do not put off until tomorrow and then there are the rest of us and I don't think I have ever met anyone who moved from Group B into Group A. On the small off chance that you are a Type A who will finish things first time, please prepare yourself for the relative frustration of spending your life haranguing your Type B life partner into doing whatever it is they aren't and should be.

3. Wallis Simpson (divorcee, socialite and some-time Duchess of Windsor) reportedly said "You can never be too rich or too thin". She married David Windsor, who would have been crowned King Emperor Edward VIII within a few months, but who was forced to abdicate because she was a divorcee, a commoner, and, unforgivably, an American (only kidding- I don't think they really minded about the American thing- maybe). Anyway, having married one of the richest men in the world, she watched as he was forced to give up the money, position and status, and the pair of them were shuffled off into a series of non-jobs and generally sidelined for the rest of their considerable lives. She was still pretty rich and certainly fairly thin, but she was permanently frustrated, perpetually ostracised and, much to her chagrin, largely ignored (Oscar Wilde said "There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about "). My message is, be who you are and be happy. It is not that you can not improve yourself, you can: But don't spend your life chasing someone else's ideal- when all is said and done, it is theirs, not yours.

4. Victorian children in Britain were introduced to a literary character called "Mrs-Do-As-You-Would-Be-Done-By". It is easy when you are fit and smart and good looking and rich and popular to poke fun at those who are not all those things. It can also be amusing- cruel, maybe, but damn funny. Of course, there is always the risk that you will meet one of those people who is fitter and smarter and better looking and richer and hugely more popular than you with all its attendant risks, but that is not the reason for exercising caution. Exercising humility and magnanimity is good for you, it builds character and you will frequently disarm people, reduce opposition, encourage co-operation and team work and engender a spirit of trust which will carry you on to great things. And of course the beauty of being nice first is, if it isn't achieving the results, you can always put 'em in their place later. Going to DEFCON2* is far more impressive to people who are used to seeing you at DEFCON 4.

5. Don't eat yellow snow.

6. Benjamin Franklin said "Write injuries in dust: Benefits in marble". It is really only another way of saying forgive the times they got it wrong and remember them for the times they got it right. A classic example of this is a certain GodParent, who has been significantly useless for 17 years (all bar one England Soccer strip and a leather soccer ball) but is proving much more worth while just at the moment.

7. As a popular guy, you probably already have a hundred buddies and a thousand acquaintances. As you pass through college and on into work, you will make thousands of extra acquaintances, maybe 10,000 plus over your working life. In your whole life, however, you will only ever have a couple of dozen real friends and rarely more than 10 at any one time. Think about it, about 10 of all the people you know (other than family) who really treasure and value you and who you can rely on; 10 or so people who could command your assistance on a whim- or you, theirs. They are the most valuable possession you have and you should treat them as such.

8. Smile a lot. It'll make some people happy and it's not a bad thing to be known as the guy with the smile on his face (note, I am not talking Village Idiot here- just a genial grin) and for people who wonder what you have to smile about, it'll drive 'em mad wondering, which is just a bonus.

9. From time to time you will argue with someone you care about. There is lots of relationship advice out there (ad nauseum) but it can ALL be summed up as follows: If you were in the wrong, apologise: If they were in the wrong; apologise- and buy flowers.

10. Famous New York theatre critic and wit Alexander Wollacott said "Everything I enjoy in life is either illegal, immoral, or fattening". This advice not withstanding, remember that Aristotle said "Everything in moderation"- mind you, he died of hemlock poisoning, so maybe not actually everything. On the other hand, Oscar Wilde said "Moderation is fatal: Nothing succeeds like excess!" (He died a pauper in Paris-although not of hemlock, at least. Reportedly, his last words were "Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.") Mind you, Wilde also said "you should try everything in life except incest and Scottish country dancing" so he could be contradictory. What does all of this mean? Well, you will make your own mind up, but as far as I am concerned, it means no-one knows so you might as well make your own mind up: What, you expected wisdom?? Sorry, I can only offer encouragement; you will have to plot your own path otherwise.

Good luck and enjoy the ride.

-AJ Killoran

*DEFCON- a measure of the activation and readiness level of the military. Increasing number indicates increasing severity and direness of the crisis.

She's Back!!

Hello everyone! And that includes family, friends, bill collectors, vacation time-share sellers, politicians, and fund-raisers! We're back from holiday.

I guess I should have blogged that I would be gone most of the month of July. CruiseGran (as Girl's BFF had dubbed her) took the whole family on a cruise around Great Britain, followed by a near-week in London. Much to share, pics to post and mirth and merriment abounded. More anon.

But first, I must play catchup with bill paying, or we won't have any electricity...and therefore no computer, and no blog updates!!