Monday, October 30, 2006

WE'RE MARRIED

Hey folks,

Val and I are IN JAMAICA, enjoying our honeymoon at the Couples San Souci resort in Ocho Rios.

Thanks to all who attended, all who sent well wishes, and thanks to everyone for your support to make this the wedding we always dreamed.

Here's a picture of the lovely couple from Saturday, courtesy my best man, Steve. Click on the link for more of his pictures. More from us to come, but be patient because, well, we have other priorities right now ...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Mind of an Engaged Man

Here we go! At 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, an airport shuttle van is picking me up at my apartment and carting me to the airport, where I'll fly to Memphis and into the waiting arms of my fiancée. From then on, we'll be nearly inseparable, spending every day together - finally.

I don't think non-long-distance couples realize how good they have it, being able to see their loved one every day, do all the little things together. Five out of seven days a week during normal weeks, Val and I pined for one another and talked about how we wished those five long days were over and we could be together again. That era is over. Thank you Lord!

Starting at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon in Millington, my life as a single man ends. For those of you who have followed my site, you know how thrilled that makes me. I've been ready to marry the woman of my dreams for many, many years, and it's finally happening!

No more blog posts for the next eleven days, at least. Between the pre-wedding celebrations and the honeymoon, I'm going to be a teeny busy. But I'll leave you with a new column, my only Mind of an Engaged Man piece, though you know the past four months I've had plenty to say on the subject!

THREE days and counting …

(Oh yeah, by the way, I know I’m a little late with this, but I finally posted and captioned the pictures from Jacksonville, which was well over a month ago. Oops! Hopefully the wedding pictures won’t take that long to post!)


-------------------------------------------------------------

THE MIND OF AN ENGAGED MAN:
MY FIRST AND LAST COLUMN ON THE SUBJECT


I spent so much time over the past 15 years or so ruing the single life, and writing my Mind of a Single Man columns that it seems a shame that this will be my only Mind of an Engaged Man piece.

Okay, that’s a lie. No shame at all. Engagement is just a means to the ultimate end, Mind of a Married Man columns!

To put into perspective how much time I spent thinking about being single, the Word file I compiled of notes for Single Man columns ends now with 17,418 words. That’s 32 pages worth of material that will be trashed. Thank the Lord!

You won’t be reading such humorous and insightful analysis *cough* such as, "’Please check your Playbill for the slip of paper that informs the audience that ‘the part of Jeff tonight will be played by a spineless weasel,’" or "Sure, I could go out to a club, museum, and bookstore looking for potential dates, or I could stay home and surf the Internet for dates while watching Battlestar Galactica."

Yes, I’m sure you’ll miss those self-deprecating years. Now get ready for 80 years (give or take a decade) of analysis on marriage that you’ve never heard before, such as, "Why do I have to lower the toilet seat?" or "What’s up with wives and their nagging?" You know, fresh material. I’m sure you’re thrilled.

Just wait another year or two (or nine months from Saturday) when you get the Mind of a Family Man, with even more astute prose like, "Changing diapers stinks!"

I know marriage is a time-honored tradition by conservatives and liberals who aren’t trying to hook up every breathing person on the planet, but it feels like we’re the only ones who have ever gone through this. Did all of you married folks feel the same way?

I mean, I’ve attended lots of weddings, and enjoyed them all, but I never thought about how thrilling and stressful they were for the stars of the show, or how much time and attention went into their ceremony.

Every day there are 100 things that happen, are said or thought about, where I sit back for a second, take a deep breath and smile, "I'm getting married. WE are getting married!" You know, like standing in line at the bank. That’s all it takes, thinking that soon we’ll have a joint checking account. And she’ll have her own debit card with access to my money …. Wait, is that really a great idea?

You may have noticed that for the last, say, eight months, my mood has been consistently upbeat, as if I not only won the $10 million Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes but also had the Boardwalk and Park Place Monopoly pieces on the same box of oversalted McDonald’s French fries.

How much have I been swooning? I can't even listen to sad love songs anymore. That's not my mood. In fact, I wish XM radio would split their Heart channel into two different channels, one for affectionate songs, another for depressing "drop the radio in the tub" songs that I now avoid. These are songs I used to love, but now mean nothing, like U2's "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." I've found it her. I'm good to go, but thanks for ten years of making me feel bad about singlehood.

Val always dreamed that one day she'd meet her true soul mate. Thankfully she finally gave up that stupid fantasy and reluctantly settled for me.

(Okay, that's one last self-deprecating remark for nostalgia.)

Before I finish, a warning that I’m about to get all gooey on y’all. This is my blog, I’m in a lovey-dovey mood and really, it can’t all be fart jokes and cracks on crazy Tom Cruise, right?

I can only marvel every day that I found a woman who is beautiful, smart, sweet, charming, funny and altogether wonderful who loves ME. Wants to marry ME. Wants to spend forever with ME.

It's not just that I love Val, I need her, now and always. I mustn't neglect to mention, also, that’s she's so cute she takes up two syllables (cue-yoot!)

After attending my needs for all these years, I never knew how incredible it feels to do something for my fiancée and see her face nearly burst with joy, that making her happy and calming her fears and making her feel loved is the my number one priority in life. I don't need to eat, I don't need to sleep; I only need to spend time with her and talk to her and give her a hug.

I never had nor enjoyed chocolate desserts until I started dating Val. Now, one of the top five feelings in the world is having a chocolate dessert with her. All the little things are my favorites, like holding hands with her while driving (only one hand, I mean, not both, ‘cause that would be dangerous), how it still takes several minutes to say goodnight on the phone, how she sighs when she’s full, how when we would chat online we always started and ended with a "kiss," never forgetting to tell each other just how truly, madly, deeply in love we are.

There’s little that is more satisfying than curling up on the couch together to watch "Project Runway," and my darling Valerie looks deep in my eyes, then shifts her glaze to the left, and laughingly says, "Oh my gosh, look at these gray hairs!"

Oh well, at least if I'm going gray now, I've found my soul mate first, and she's locked in for life!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Love on the silver screen

Seeing as how as of today I am four days from getting married, you could say all things love is on my brain. Last week on my birthday, Val and I watched The Lake House. While it wasn’t one of the better love films in recent history, there’s no question that it can set a passionate mood for a pair of starry-eyed lovers.

What movies have made this macho man swoon? Let’s take a look at Jeff’s Top Five Lovey-Dovey films:

1. The Princess Bride - Every child of the 80s should recognize this magical tale that introduced us to what true love really means, even overcoming death. Barely a day goes by that I don’t reply to a request by Val, “As you wish.” Those three words convey all the devotion and adoration one can feel towards another.

2. Casablanca - The best of the classic romances, even if the good guy doesn’t get the girl in the end. The dialogue is the most memorable in the history of talking pictures.

3. The Quiet Man - Many of you wouldn’t expect a John Wayne movie to make any list of romantic films, but he and Maureen O’Hara sizzle in this tale of an American boxer in Ireland.

4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet shouldn’t spend ten minutes together, and yet they seem so perfect for one another. A quirky love story, but completely fascinating, engrossing and visually stunning.

5. Mannequin - A nostalgia pick. Great cast, Kim Catral was so cute, and as a youngster this was one of my first movies that centered on an extraordinary love story about overcoming the odds. After waiting 30 years to meet the woman of my dreams, you could say I’m all about celebrating overcoming the odds.

October 28 - Best. Day. Ever.

As a public service announcement, here's what y’all are going to happily miss by being at my and Val's wedding this Saturday:

World Series Game 6 - St. Louis at Detroit (if necessary)

College football games include: Tennessee at South Carolina, Memphis at Marshall, Georgia at Florida, Auburn at Ole Miss, Kentucky at Mississippi State, Miami at Georgia Tech, Texas at Texas Tech, Florida International at Alabama, Vanderbilt at Duke, Notre Dame at Navy, Texas A&M at Baylor

NASCAR Busch Series Sam's Town 250 at the Memphis Motorsports Park

PGA Chrysler Championship

Tennis - St. Petersburg Open (men), Generali Ladies Linz (women)

Memphis RiverKings vs. Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs at the DeSoto Civic Center

"Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" at The Orpheum

"Debussy and Dvorak" by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra

"Classic Broadway (A Musical Revue!)" at The Millington Civic Center

"Little Shop of Horrors" at Theatre Memphis

10-week Painting Instruction with Marilyn Wannamaker at Memphis Botanic Garden

The Art of Deception: Waterfowl Decoys from the Private Collection of Paul Tudor Jones II at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

New movies: Catch a Fire, Saw 3,

How has the date fared in history? Let’s go to the tape:

People born on October 28 include:

1793 - Eliphalet Remington, American firearms manufacturer
1903 - Evelyn Waugh, English writer
1914 - Jonas Salk, American medical scientist
1936 - Charlie Daniels, American musician
1939 - Jane Alexander, American actress
1944 - Dennis Franz, actor
1949 - Bruce Jenner, athlete
1955 - Bill Gates, American software pioneer
1956 - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iranian president
1963 - Lauren Holly, actress
1967 - Julia Roberts, actress
1972 - Terrell Davis, American football player
1974 - Joaquin Phoenix, actor

Events on October 28:

312 - Battle of Milvian Bridge: Constantine I defeats Maxentius, becoming the only Roman Emperor.
1492 - Christopher Columbus lands in Cuba.
1538 - The first university in the New World, the Universidad Santo Tomás de Aquino, is established.
1776 - American Revolutionary War: Battle of White Plains - British Army forces arrive at White Plains, attack and capture Chatterton Hill from the Americans.
1868 - Thomas Edison applied for his first patent, the electric vote recorder.
1886 - In New York Harbor, Grover Cleveland dedicates the Statue of Liberty.
1918 - Czechoslovakia gains its independence from Austria-Hungary.
1919 - The U.S. Congress passes the Volstead Act over President Woodrow Wilson's veto, paving the way for Prohibition to begin the following January.
1922 - March on Rome: Italian fascists led by Benito Mussolini march on Rome and take over the Italian government with the assistance of the Catholic Church; pope Pius XI declares that "Mussolini is a man sent by divine providence."
1940 - World War II: Italy invades Greece through Albania and is the selected anniversary of Greece's entry into World War II. It is celebrated in Greece as Oxi Day.
1943 - The Philadelphia Experiment supposedly occurred.
1950 - The Jack Benny Show, starring Jack Benny, premieres (it ran for 15 years).
1958 - Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli becomes Pope and takes the name Pope John XXIII.
1962 - Cuban Missile Crisis: Soviet Union leader Nikita Khrushchev announces that he had ordered the removal of Soviet missile bases in Cuba.
1965 - Nostra Aetate, the "Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions" of the Second Vatican Council, is promulgated by Pope Paul VI; it absolves the Jews of the alleged killing of Jesus, reversing Innocent III's declaration from 760 years ago. In short, Pope Paul VI announces that the ecumenical council has decided that Jews are not collectively responsible for the killing of Christ.
1965 - In St. Louis, Missouri, the 630-foot-tall parabolic (catenarian) steel Gateway Arch is completed.
1970 - Land speed record set by Gary Gabelich in a rocket powered automobile called the Blue Flame
1981 - The heavy metal band Metallica is founded in San Francisco.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Wedding Announcement

Hey folks!

Our wedding announcement is in The Commercial Appeal today! I won't be able to see how cool it looks in print it until I get into town Wednesday, but the online version is available, too!

It's FAN-tastic!

LESS than a week! Six days! Good times!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Best. Birthday. Ever.

Birthday No. 31 was the one I'm going to remember when I'm old and gray in five years and my memory isn't like it used to be.

First, here are the pictures from our weekend.

Val's last day at Union was Wednesday, though she had to go home in the morning with a migraine, as I rushed to Jackson after getting out of work following the early morning shift. She was better by the time I arrived, and certainly better by the time we drove an hour south to Chickasaw State Park where we had a cabin reserved for Wednesday night and Thursday night.

(You might remember Chickasaw is the official Howell vacation spot every summer, and next year Val and I get our own cabin for the week, but it's a lot quieter in autumn, and we had the place nearly to ourselves.)

All the better for our stay, Val's team, the Cardinals, were playing for the World Series against the hated Mets. Okay, so it didn't go so well Wednesday, and Val couldn't watch most of Thursday's game seven for fear of having a stroke, but yea there was much rejoicing after the good guys won. The key is that we both have been ancitipating the chance that the Cardinals could be playing game six of the Series the day of our wedding. Which is next Saturday. In case you forgot.



We didn't do much at Chickasaw other than relax and take time away from thinking about anything other than ourselves. For my birthday Thursday, Val got me a gift card to the local golf course in Atlanta, and we got a cake and ice cream with lots of candles. It takes a while to ignite 31 candles, so many of the first ones we lit were nearly burned out by the time we got to the last ones!

Thursday we had dinner at Arnold's Steakhouse, which has a very good buffet, and in the afternoon we watched The Lake House, that time-paradox flick starring Keanua and Sandra. If you are capable of suspending disbelief in the whole time difference, the movie is sweet and romantic. Otherwise you're going to have complaints. Val says that if we'd seen the movie in a theater and weren't talking the entire time, we wouldn't have nitpicked at as many of the potential paradoxes as we did. As usual, I defer to her wisdom and judgment.

Friday was a busy, busy day. We checked out at 10, lunched at Cracker Barrel, went to the jeweler to ask why they hadn't mailed the appraisal for Val's ring like they were supposed to nearly two months ago, then met her Dad at the apartment to move Val's furniture to Millington and as much as possible in the Aztek for transport to Atlanta.

Among the three vehicles we were able to get Val officially out of Jackson so we don't have to make any more trips, but we'll be making return trips to Millington after the honeymoon to pick up all of her clothes, lots more boxes, Christmas bins and oh yeah, our wedding presents, to take them to Atlanta and our new home. It should work out fine, since I'm working the election coverage team Tuesday the seventh, so I'm off Wednesday through Friday, giving us an extra day to drive back and forth. And especially no worries since I don't have to drive alone ever again on those overnight drives!

Friday night, Val and I were treated to dinner at Casa Mexicana, their favorite Tex-Mex establishment, and as you can see from the pictures, they surprised me with a birthday song and I got to wear the sombrero, not to mention a gift off the registry that was for me (a cordless screwdriver). Totally sweet. The we went back to her parents' home where we had cake and ice cream, and then I found out that I also got our luggage! Wow! Naturally, me and Val are eagerly looking forward to repacking our things for the honeymoon.

So who wants to party? It's time to celebrate, folks! Come on over to Millington and watch me get married to the most amazing woman I've ever met, which says a lot considering the quality of my family and friends.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Turning 30, saving marriage, saving OUR marriage

Make sure you have enough plutonium and a flux capacitor, because we’re going back in time … way back to the year 2005 …

Not that this need be said, but I’ve come a long way since last year. Specifically referring to my birthday this Thursday. Last year I spent a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth lamenting my 30th birthday sans a wife, kids and villa in Tuscany.

This year? My 31st birthday will be spent at Chickasaw State Park with my fiancée, whom I’m marrying nine days later.

(understatement) Big difference. (/understatement)

Not only that, but apparently we can almost single-handedly save marriage as an institution! Just by getting married! Then again, it’s not for wont of trying that we were among the 50.2 percent of households led by singles.

We certainly led the charge for marriage around our sphere of influence (a.k.a. Val's family and friends. My family and friends have long since abandoned my influence.).

Since our engagement four months ago today, Val’s roommate Meredith got engaged, her co-worker Stephen and cousin Will, and last weekend, her friend Melanie finally got the proposal she’s been on a quest to receive for several months.

This will come as no solace, however, to Sara Evans. No doubt she regrets participating in “Dancing With the Stars” since it made her three times more famous than she was as a country star, and now every pop culture viewer knows that she’s divorcing her husband because he committed adultery, was verbally and emotionally abusive, drank excessively and frequently watched pornography in their home. The oddest bit? The p0rn was of himself, and of him cheating on her. "Eww" doesn't come close to saying how I feel about that.

Back to the Land Of The Giddy …

Today’s pre-wedding duty wasn’t really wedding related, but marriage related. I went to a sleep clinic to see what they could do about my snoring, lest Val and I begin our lives together sleeping in different rooms. I’m not exaggerating. Ask anyone who’s shared a room with me. I’m that bad. Usually the reaction is, "I didn’t know if you just took your last breath, and wanted to shake you to make sure."

In comparison, Val doesn't snore, she purrs. It's adorable. Let's move on. (If you're from Union and reading this, we only nap together when we keep one foot on the floor and only between 1 and 5 p.m. every other Saturday. Pinky swear.)

After filling out a 20-page packet, I sat in a room with three other people, all of whom are big fat snorers and should be ashamed of themselves. Good thing I'm so perfect or I'd feel bad for being there.

The doctor lady weighed us (same as the last few months - take that Chinese takeout place at CNN with your yummy orange chicken!), took our blood pressure (normal-ish), showed us a video on obstructive sleep apnea, and showed us how to use a CPAP, a device that fits over your nose and sends air to clear your passageway and prevent me sounding like I’m gasping for my last breath as the guillotine drops on my neck. Which Val wishes she could do sometimes, I'm sure.

The lady doctor seemed to think I only have onset apnea, because she couldn’t believe that I snore so badly and yet I wake up refreshed and don’t get tired during the day, and never need a nap. Then again, with my work schedule who can tell when I’m tired from sleeping five hours (like I’ve done the last two nights while working the 5a shift), or from restless sleep?

She's like, "do you ever get tired driving?" Me: "You would too at 4 a.m. after being awake since 11 a.m. the day before, every weekend for the past five months." Apparently there's no box to check for that in the forms.

After the video the “real” doctor (a.k.a., the one with the accent) comes in to go over our information, makes me "aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh" while shoving a piece of wood in my mouth and tells me I have inflamed tonsils and never revisits the issue, then recommends me for a sleep study. Problem is, it’s over a month to wait to be able to use one of the “bedrooms” where they hook you up and monitor you for several hours.

Instead I opted to try the home study, so I’ll have to learn how to hook up the wires to my body, with a little computer strapped to my chest as I sleep all night. Only takes one night, at least. Until I have a nightmare about being turned into a Borg, that is. (See, I can make that reference and Val still wants to marry me. I'm a lucky guy.)

Hopefully I can get this done before next week, meaning after Val and I return from the honeymoon they give me one of those CPAPs* and Val and I can sleep in the same room without her smothering her head with a pillow, turning the fan on high and humming the theme from “Gilligan’s Island” to drown my snoring out.

Not that it’s happened exactly like that yet.

She usually hums "Battle Hymn of the Republic."




*It looks like I'm a jet fighter pilot, so that's kind of cool. Stand by Val, it's time to buzz the tower!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Short and Pithy

The latest quotable Vents posted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (registration required - use this):

- What gene makes a cat come into a room, walk straight to the paper you are reading and sit on it?

- My husband is always on the computer. He’s a real mouse potato.

- Nothing says it’s a month from an election quite like the manufactured outrage of the liberal media over a Republican scandal.

- I’ve figured out how my anti-virus program works. It takes up so much space on my computer that there’s no room for any viruses.

- The left-leaning candidate in the Mexican presidential election loses, doesn’t like the results, demands a recount, and claims the only way he could have lost was by voter fraud. Who says Mexicans can’t assimilate into American culture?

- Is it even possible to watch Pamela Anderson on a flat-screen TV?

- Air for your tires used to be free at gas stations. Now it costs money. That’s inflation.

- I just saw a commercial for a birth control method that “should not be used by women who are pregnant.” Yeah, that would be a little late.

- My husband needed deodorant and shampoo. He went into Wal-Mart and only bought deodorant and shampoo. How does he do that?

- There are two types of next-door neighbors: the ones you point your leaf blower at, and the ones you don’t. I have one of each. Works out kind of nicely.

- My wife said it was breast awareness month. I replied that every month is breast awareness month. She’s not talking to me now.

- Too bad Mark Foley isn’t married. His wife would now be qualified to be a senator from New York.

- Actual announcement heard on a recent flight: “Ladies and gentlemen, we know you have a choice of bankrupt airlines and we want to thank you for flying Delta.”

Party time!

New pictures are up of Val's Nashville Night Out with her Jackson girlfriends! Click on over to the wedding site and the photo album!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

New furniture


Rooms To Go said my and Val's new furniture would arrive between 1 and 5 p.m. yesterday. The truck pulled in about 4:50. I guess that's technically between 1 and 5, even if it meant I had to stay up all day after being up since 11 a.m. Friday. And I still have to put together our end tables in the living room.



Unfortunately, this kind of sleigh doesn't come with a bag of gifts or cute little people in pointy shoes (though I could get latter and not pay interest until 2010).



In case we're too tired to make it to the bedroom after a night of yelling at "Lost" and the Red Sox/Cardinals, I like to have alternative solutions.



A nice big mirror, so that every morning I can see just how lucky I am!



I have to get used to realizing that as a husband in this big apartment, I will have all these drawers in the room and a spacious walk-in closet, yet I don't get to use any of it!



I made sure to get a "low" box spring so that the bed wouldn't sit so high that my 5'2" bride wouldn't need a stepladder.



It would appear that my front door isn't made for easy delivery or removal of large furniture. The guy in the foreground wanted to quit and declare that they couldn't bring in the couch. My look told him quickly that he would get that couch inside, that I'm way too tired to deal with furniture delivery quitters, and he decided that they might, after all, be able to squeeze it in.



Dangit, man, get your feet off the new couch! What's wrong with you? Dude, you need a wife to train you. Get on that in the next 13 days.


UPDATE 3:30 p.m.:

A better look at the chester drawers. Just who was Chester, and why does he get credit for this furniture?



The living room setup now that I've put together the end tables. Well, at least until my new wife interior designer arrives to show me the correct way!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Definition of "routine" soon to change

As per my routine the last several months, it's 8:30 a.m. and I've been at work for four hours, having driven straight to Atlanta from Jackson where I spent a few great evenings with the lovely Valerie.

But get this. I only have to do this ONE more time. After next weekend, my next trip is to get married. Me! The guy who once wrote, "You know what they say, once you go Jeff, you go back quickly to whatever you had before." And that was the least of my self-deprecating humor.

Yep, one more long Friday/Saturday and it will be my last, since I won't have to drive six hours every week back and forth to see my fiancee. Instead, my new bride will be at home and I'll get to see her every single day. Imagine that!

If there's one thing Val and I can say about our long-distance courtship, it's that we have never, ever, taken each other and what we have for granted. With only a few hours to spend together every Thursday and Friday, and sometimes Wednesday, there's no time!

No time to sleep when I get home, either. Today, I'll be cleaning up and organizing to make room for our new furniture. Rooms 2 Go tells me they should be there between 1 and 5. Which, of course, means 5:05. Val, meanwhile, is going to Nashville with her Jackson girlfriends for her first bachelorette party. I have nothing to worry about, I'm sure, but I just hope she brings enough one-dollar bills. Hate for her to be caught short-handed.

(Kidding. These are good Christian girls, of course.)

Instead of driving in the week of the wedding on Wednesday night the 25th, I'm taking the day off and flying into Memphis in the afternoon. Sure, I'll have to hitch rides from everyone, but who won't want to help the groom get around? The main benefit is being able to drive Valerie's car back to Atlanta after the honeymoon. Otherwise, I had the option of a) Valerie follows me back to Atlanta, meaning the day after we get back from our honeymoon we drive separately for six hours; b) Val's dad drives the car to Atlanta and we fly him back to Memphis, or c) Spend over $300 on buying a hitch for my Aztek, getting it installed and renting a car trailer from U-Haul.

In comparison, my one-way flight cost $75. Yeah, not a tough decision. I could always get a rental car if I want my own auto for a few days, and it would still be a lot cheaper.

Friday's good times included Valerie's passport arriving in the mail, our announcement in the First Baptist Church newsletter, and in our "things we never thought we'd be doing seven months ago" fun act of the day, we made arrangements for our announcement to run in The Commercial Appeal next Sunday the 22nd.

Next week, after her last day at Union on Wednesday, Val and I are taking a couple of days on our own at Chickasaw, and then her dad is driving up Friday to help pack up her things to move out of Jackson. This wedding, it just keeps advancing!

TWO WEEKS and counting!

Stay away for your own safety

I can't decide if this woman is the luckiest or unluckiest person on the planet:
A woman whose apartment was burned in the high-rise crash of New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle's plane was the victim of another frightening, bizarre and high-profile Manhattan accident years earlier, when a lamppost knocked over by a parade float seriously injured her.

Kathleen Caronna and her family were unhurt in Wednesday's crash, which killed Lidle and his flight instructor, Tyler Stanger. But the engine of the Cirrus SR20 landed in her bedroom, which went up in flames minutes before she would arrived home, her relatives told the Daily News in Friday's editions.

"How do you go through two major things like this?" Caronna's sister-in-law, Lisa Brown, told the paper. "It's spooky. It's very spooky."

Caronna was critically injured during the 1997 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade when the mammoth Cat in the Hat balloon went out of control and knocked part of a lamppost onto her head. The then-33-year-old investment analyst lay in a coma for nearly a month.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday Stuff

Our listing for getting a wedding license was in the Commercial Appeal last week, but even though we'll both be 31 when we get married, in the official record I'm 30 and she's 31 since my birthday isn't until next Thursday. Sorry, sweetheart. Just be proud that you've landed such a strong, attractive younger stud!

The over/under on how many times the cable networks (CNN, Headline News, MSNBC, CNBC, Fox) blame Friday the 13th for crazy stories: 125.

Times they define "triskaidekaphobia" (fear of the number 13): 12.

I hate, hate, hate, these newfangled napkin dispensers that only give up one at a time.

Every time a cashier hands my change to me on top of the receipt, the change either slips off onto the floor or I have to make a quick save to prevent my change from pinging the floor.

Today's headlines:

Rushing will share joy of gardening on Saturday
Come learn my secrets of growing proper sticker bushes!

Hearing will involve child rape, domestic assault
Note to self: Do NOT attend this hearing.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Life is a highway

Jeff's thoughts while driving into work during a particularly heavy rush hour this morning:

- Do the hundreds of cars in the four/five lanes beside me even care that I'm listening to Star Trek movie scores?

... that I'm getting married in 18 days?

... that I'm enjoying a peanut butter/chocolate chunk granola bar?

... that North Korea testing nukes will change the entire Asian foreign policy by the U.S. for decades to come? And that the Democrats will say that it's all Bush's fault and he's a big stupidhead and they won't ever propose their own solutions?

... that when you change lanes ten times in a half-mile, not only are you not getting anywhere faster, but you look like a moron. Leave five minutes early tomorrow.

... that they're all dressed up for work, and I get to wear jeans to my job?

... that I pity them because they're all in a big hurry, but I'm not since my schedule today is flexible, so I can take my time and not care about the heavy traffic?

... that now I feel like an idiot because when we hit the brakes hard a minute ago my gate remote and mailbox keys went flying and I can't find them on my floorboard in this stop-and-go traffic?

Monday, October 09, 2006

So ronery and sadry arone



Now you see, the changing of the worrd is inevitabrel!

North Korea announced it tested a nuclear bomb today. Man, that Karl Rove will do anything to get Mark Foley off the front pages and distract America from the Democrat agenda!

Dumb Yankees

Might I just say that as a Red Sox fan, I will be particularly excited if the dang Yanks do indeed fire Joe Torre and hire Lou Pinella as manager of the worst "best lineup in history."

Seriously. I'm giddy!

More pictures!

Head on over to the Val&Jeff Wedding Site for new pictures! These are from her lingerie/bath shower on Sept. 30th.

Cooking for two

A couple of weeks ago, for the first time in our six month love affair, Val and I took on one of the most important of aspects of the impending marriage: Cooking together!

Okay, we started simple. Spaghetti. But with meat sauce!

Val handles a spatula like Annie got her gun:



I have a potentially unhealthy adoration of spaghetti noodles:



Not only does it look tasty ...



It was so good I had to lick my plate to finish it off!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

License to wed

Going down to Millington City Hall on Thursday to get our marriage license ...





Friday, October 06, 2006

A license to wed

In one of the bigger examples of "Things I Never Thought I'd Be Doing Six Months Ago," today Val and I went down to Millington City Hall and got our marriage license! It's hard to believe that for just $38 the state will recognize us as husband and wife. (Well, it's normally over 90 bucks, but there's a discount for those who go through pre-marriage counseling as we did with Bro. Ray this summer. We also get a free carpet cleaning and oil change. Okay, I made up the last sentence.)

We're legally obligated to wed in the next 30 days. Or at least able to do so. But wouldn't want to waste that $38, would we? Which means we can go anytime and get hitched, right? Why wait for the 28th?

Okay, self-preservation, for one reason. Our parents and family and friends would kill us if they couldn't be there to celebrate the ceremony! I'm not kidding, either. You think those parents were nuts to drive that girl from Utah hundreds of miles to prevent her wedding? Our family would do the opposite to make sure neither I nor Val get cold feet. I'm thinking the pictures of her being carried down the aisle by her dad would be pretty funny in, oh, 30 years or so as we look back!

Just a quick note to those of you with good intentions who planned on "decorating" the vehicle that Val and I will be leaving in after the reception. We are taking a limo from the church as we begin our honeymoon. I know, I know, it's hypocritical, seeing as how many of your vehicles I helped "decorate" over the last 12 years of attending weddings, but this wasn't meant to spite y'all and prevent such wonderful art, I promise! Just something I wanted to do for my new wife as we walk out of the church and begin to share a lifetime together. (Where limos will probably be in short supply, so maybe I'm getting her hopes up instead!)

Cingular's good cop/bad cop routine

I give lots of respect to people who work phone help lines for big national businesses, especially since both my little sisters do and have worked at these locations. They get some truly belligerent and odd calls, I'm sure. But I still require that these helpers actually know what they're doing. The right person makes all the difference in the world when trying to fix a problem. I had both ends of the spectrum in less than a day through Cingular.

Wednesday night I was having problems getting the voicemail to work on the second line of the new phones I bought for me and Val to use with our family rate plan. This was Val's phone, so I was intent on making sure it was set up correctly for her.

The lady, though, had no clue why the voicemail wasn't working, and after 45 minutes she pretty much gave up and told me to call a number from a land line and that should fix the voicemail. You might say that I was a little skeptical.

All during the call, I asked her if the voicemail number I was calling was correct, because that ended up being the problem when my own voicemail wasn't working last weekend when I was setting up my own phone. The lady had no idea what I was talking about, based on the fact that she a) ignored me the first time I brought it up, and b) told me that she was taking care of the problem and she'd contact tech support, meaning, "I don't know what you mean and I don't care enough to check."

So Thursday afternoon I call Cingular again to fix the problem with Val's voicemail. This time I got a guy who was spot on in his work. And let me tell you, we were clicking. He'd do something, I'd say "thank you" and he'd make a point to say, "you're welcome." He used "utilitarian" in a sentence and I gave him the "good word" credit. I tell you, we had a relationship. We were a team, and we were going to settle this once and for all.

What do you know, when I brought up the idea that the phone was calling the correct voicemail number, we went through the steps, found out that indeed, that was the problem, and Val's voicemail was fixed in less than five minutes from the start of the call to the end of the call. It's so simple when a competent person is helping on the other end of the line. Almost like it should always be like that, right?

Nah! Then what would customers have to complain about?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I'm guessing the father didn't give the bride away

Note to my future in-laws, whom I am very fond of and have nothing but respect, this isn't necessary, just in case you were thinking of taking Val on a "trip" to Mississippi the morning of October 27:
A pre-wedding shopping trip for a 21-year-old bride ended with felony charges against her parents, who she says kidnapped her and drove her 240 miles to Colorado, trying to talk her out of the nuptials along the way and holding her until she missed the ceremony. ...

The Redds told their daughter they were taking her on a shopping trip Aug. 4 and then drove from Provo to Grand Junction, Colo., according to Provo police Capt. Rick Healey. Myers, 23, called police when his bride didn't attend a pre-wedding dinner with his parents that night.

The Redds spent the night in Colorado and drove back to Provo, about 40 miles south of Salt Lake City, the next day, Healey said. They arrived after the young couple was supposed to have been married in a ceremony that day at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Temple in Salt Lake City. ...

"I was totally confused and manipulated," Julianna Myers told KTVX-TV in Salt Lake City. She said she supports the charges and hopes her parents get help.

"They had their concerns, their reasoning," she said. "Honestly I don't understand. It had nothing to do with (my fiance)."

Don't blame Foley

The Mark Foley Excuse Train chugs along, with the Congressman-turned-national-pariah-sex predator just happened to reveal yesterday that he was molested by a priest as a teenager. This, after declaring himself an alcoholic earlier, all obviously to make the "Oprah" crowd feel sorry for him rather than call for his neutering.

What excuses can we expect Foley to offer in the next several days? Let's see:

- Given atomic wedgie at church camp.

- A page stepped on his foot and didn't apologize.

- Bet money on Seattle to win the Super Bowl and blames the officials for losing.

- His mother breast fed him until he was seven.

- Ate some bad oysters on his boat, the Monkey Business II.

- Can't figure out what the heck happened at the end of "Lost" last season.

- Tailor made his crotch too tight, so he had to relieve pressure by opening his fly all the time.

- Falsely fined 30 cents by Capitol Hill library, even though he turned in that Hardy Boys book on time.

- Rooting for the Cubs during the "Steve Bartman game."

- Big fan of Dumbledore.

- Good rule of thumb? The "suicide" method of making fountain drinks never turns out well.

- Deeply disturbed that Britney Spears and K-Fed have TWO children.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

“Howdy-Tooty”

The latest quotable Vents posted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (registration required - use this):

- I don’t understand the problem with the Alaska pipeline. Are they out of duct tape?

- She told me we couldn’t afford beer anymore. Then I caught her spending $65 on makeup. I asked how come I had to give up stuff and she didn’t. She said she needed the makeup to look pretty for me. I told her that was what the beer was for.

- Hezbollah claiming victory over Israel is like a boxer saying he wore out his opponent’s fist with his face.

- The news said the Chinese are trying to develop ways to slow or stop or otherwise disrupt the Internet. They could just call Comcast.

- Why do banks charge a fee on “insufficient funds” when they know there’s not enough to pay it?

- My wife is taking a creative writing course and her assignment was to compose a story with few words covering three things: religion, sexuality and mystery. So she wrote, “Good God, I’m pregnant. I wonder who did it.”

- My wife recently left me for someone she met online. And that was with dial-up. If we had high-speed, she would have left two years ago.

- About six weeks ago I subscribed to a magazine. So far I have not received the actual magazine, but I did get an offer to extend the subscription for another two years.

- If I was a polygamist, I would marry sisters so I would still have only one mother-in-law.

- Life lesson from the coast: Never go home and remove your contact lens immediately after a meal of buffalo-style, wild Georgia shrimp.

- I think I’ll skip the “Swimming with Stingrays” tour on my next cruise.

- I just got back from a seven-day cruise and it’s been hard adjusting to just three meals a day.

- I thought I was anal-retentive for alphabetizing my spice rack until a friend admitted that she arranges the clothes in her closet according to the colors of the rainbow.

- Someone needs to invent a “Howdy-Tooty,” a softer-honking car horn for more polite driving moments such as, “Hey, your coffee’s on the roof.”

- My neighbor named her identical twins Juan and Ahmal. If you’ve seen Juan, you’ve seen Ahmal.

- Have you heard about the new book on podiatry? Nothing but footnotes!

- As I approach retirement, I consider my life to be a success. I’ve never committed a serious crime, caused physical harm to another human being, been fired from a job or voted Democrat.

- When will our media and the Demo-leakers uncover a secret al Qaida program?

Monday, October 02, 2006

This is why I don't gamble on sports

I'm not going to say that my predictions for the 2006 Major League Baseball season back in April were off, I'll just say that Barney from "How I Met Your Mother" has a better chance of getting elected president of NOW than I do of becoming a professional analyst.

Let's start positively, though. What I got right:

- Oakland winning the AL West. I actually picked correctly the final standings of the entire division. Yeah, not entirely difficult with just four teams, but throw me a frickin' bone here, mkay?

- San Diego winning the NL West. Again, I even had the right finishing order of the entire division.

- St. Louis winning the NL Central. Please ignore the prediction that "The Cardinals will win 110 games this season." Losing eight games in a row three times during a season has a way of negating such a possibility. Their pitching staff was far worse than anyone could have predicted.

And now the negatives ...

- I'm obligated to note that I predicated my Red Sox would win the AL East. In it, I was very optimistic about Josh Beckett. I apologize. I was wrong. Beckett stunk. In fact, I think he just gave up another home run to a rookie for the Royals.

- I was a mess with the AL Central, picking the White Sox to win the division again with Cleveland on their heels. Division champs Minnesota? I picked third. Wild card Detroit? Fourth.

- You can't fault me for picking the Braves to win the NL East, right? After all, this is the first season since 1990 (excluding the strike year in '94) that there isn't postseason baseball in town. Besides, I wouldn't pick the Mets anyway.

Looking ahead to the postseason, I picked the Cardinals to beat the A's in the World Series. While there's a chance that could happen, I'd believe that Mark Foley was emailing that page out of the kindness of his heart first.