Wednesday, October 31, 2007
3WW LIX


HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Hopefully, this week's words will be a treat.

Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything. I'll also attempt to write something using the same words.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:
Phone
Stumbled
Windy


You never realize how ear-splitting the ringing of a phone can be until it rings in the middle of the night, piercing the formerly silent darkness and causing the mind to race and the heart to pound.

Kari fumbled around on the nightstand until she felt the phone. She didn't recognize the number. She looked at the clock. It was 2:18. She sat the phone back down.

Out wasted again, she thought to herself. Needing a ride. Or needing money for bail.

He called again. And then a third time. She fought the urge to answer, then waited for a fourth call. But it never came.

She lied awake wondering if he would get a ride, if he would have a place to sleep. A tree brushed against the house, reminding her the night was chilly and windy. The urge to give in one more time was continuous. But he had gone too far. He had pulled a knife on her. He was out of control.

Still there was no satisfaction in knowing she had made the right decision. She wasn't even sure she had. The only thing she felt at that moment was pain. Immense, unbearable, sleep-depriving pain.

Miles away, he stumbled out of a phone booth and sat down on the pavement. Out of change, tired, weary, but completely sober for nine days and twenty-two hours.

"I haven't had a drink in nineteen days. My eyes are clear and bright without that haze..."

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Monday, October 29, 2007
The ratio of people to cake is too big!
And now for your enjoyment, Bone channels Milton Waddams from Office Space:

Well I was, I was under the impression that I would, I would be getting Sundays off, and that, that I would only have to work occasionally on Saturdays. And now I'm working almost every Saturday and I told, I told Bill that if this continues, then I'm quitting. And I told Jan, too, because, because they've changed my hours. I used to get off in time to see General Hospital, but now I get off later, and I don't have a TiVo. And I still, I still have five vacation days to take this year. But I haven't, I haven't been able to take my days because they keep increasing my daily tasks, but they haven't increased my pay any. But those are my days, and they better, they better not try to tell me when I can take them, because that's not OK. And if they try to, then I'll set the building on fire.

Thank you.

Just know that I was doing my own Milton impersonation out loud as I typed that, and be thankful this is not an audio post.

Yes, I had to work both Saturday and Sunday this weekend. I used to work seven nights a week all the time when I was at the factory. But having at least one day a week off is like urinating with no burning sensation. After awhile you kinda get used to it.

To me, the forty hour work week was instituted as the absolute maximum number of hours that a human being should ever be required to work. I really have no historical documentation to back this up, but I've always believed that is what the framers of the law had in mind. I think they figured most of us would only be working twenty or thirty hours, three or four days a week. Because (I'm sure) studies (somewhere) have shown that a happy, well-rested employee is a productive employee. Or at least a happy employee.

Of course, things could always be worse. I could not have internet at work. Or my parents could cut off my weekly supplement. Or there could be no term limits for the President.

Despite the heavily oppressed weekend, I did make it over to Axl's after work Saturday to watch some football. Highlights included going over to his on-again, off-again girlfriend's house and letting her dog out for a few minutes. Why he wanted me to come along, I'm not sure.

So there we were, just before sunset in the middle of the neighborhood. Axl was bent over baby-talking the dog trying to get him to "go" in this little ravine. Meanwhile, I was standing about fifty feet away, trying to appear as nonchalant as possible.

About that time, I noticed a lone female jogger coming down the sidewalk. As she passed, I smiled, while behind me in a high-pitched voice, Axl was encouraging the dog to "Go poo poo. Go poo poo."

There's really just no way to make that look cool.

"Work, work, work, day after day. Fifty hour week, forty hour pay. No time to get over all this overtime. Yeah, I'm always runnin', but I'm always runnin' behind.."

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Thursday, October 25, 2007
California
One of my blogging friends, Gay, was forced to evacuate her home due to the wildfires in California. She has been posting updates from her cell phone. I would ask that you keep her and others affected by this disaster in your thoughts and prayers.

Someone I hold in very high regard has frequently referred to "blogging communities." And it's true. As we read about each other's lives, we become like neighbors. We laugh when they laugh. When they're happy, we're happy for them. And when they're sad or struggling, we're concerned.

By the same token, I've always thought of America as one big community. When times are toughest, that's when it seems we are at our best. Whether it's thirteen miners in a coal mine or thousands devastated by a hurricane, we hurt, we cry, we pray, we look for ways to help.

We are them. They are us.

It's both frightening and sad seeing the devastation caused by these wildfires and that eerie red glow in the sky. And that's just from watching on TV. I can't imagine what it's like to be there.

The following is something I wrote about California, a place I've visited exactly once. I wrote it over a year ago and it's been stuck in draft ever since. Today felt like a good time to post it.

California is just another place. Until you've been there.

It's just a name. An idea. A shape on a map. The setting for a million stories. It's Hollywood and LA and movie stars and the ocean. Late nights and late mornings.

It can be a lifelong curiosity, or a dream. But one thing is for certain. Once you've been, it's none of those things, and at the same time, it's all of them and more. It's a feeling of free you had forgotten you could feel, or maybe never knew at all.

California stays with you. Maybe not always in the front of your mind. But it's always there, somewhere. It gnaws at you, some days more than others. And you long to return, again and again.


"And it's one more day up in the canyons, and it's one more night in Hollywood. If you think you might come to California, think you should..."

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007
3 Word Wednesday LVIII


Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything. I'll also attempt to write something using the same words.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:
Care
Unexpected
Weekend


Jason stood on the familiar plastic green doormat with the white and yellow flower. He wasn't sure how long doormats typically lasted, but this one had to be up there in the all-time doormat longevity rankings. Finally, the door opened and there stood Keith, with a sheepish look Jason had seen at least twenty times before.

"Uh oh. What is it?" Jason squinted, expecting the worst.

"I... uh... I can't go," Keith stammered.

"What? Why not? We've had this planned for weeks."

"I kinda promised Lauren I'd... take care of her cat," Keith replied almost ashamedly.

"What? When? She dumped you!"

"Well, something unexpected came up and she had to go out of town for the weekend."

"What came up?"

"Ski trip," Keith looked at his feet and mumbled so quietly that Jason didn't understand him.

"What?"

"She went on a ski trip."

"Oh my gaaaaaaa!" Jason slapped his hand to his forehead, covering his eyes and shaking his head in disbelief. He let his hand fall away before continuing. "You need help."

"What?" Keith asked innocently. "She needed someone. Besides you and Troy can still go."

"I can't go with Troy."

"Why not?"

"He's your friend. We don't have anything to talk about."

"So?"

"You don't understand. It's... hard to explain. We need like a third-party mediator to hang out."

"Oh yeah, and I'm the one who needs help," Keith said sarcastically.

"You do."

"Well, you're welcome to hang out here with me and Princess."

Jason looked down to see a long-haired white cat had come to nuzzle itself against Keith's leg.

"No thanks. I think I'll go home and advertise for some new friends."

Stepping on the plastic green doormat again as he left, the symbolism wasn't lost on him.

"I wrote her off for the tenth time today, and practiced all the things I would say. But she came over. I lost my nerve. I took her back and made her dessert..."

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Monday, October 22, 2007
iTunes aNonymous
Last Wednesday evening, a blogger you know ventured into the iTunes store, for the first time ever.

It started off innocently enough, a single, heterosexual, 34-year-old male in search of the song "I'm Your Man" by Wham. I mean, what's more normal than that? A user name and password were selected. An account was created. A search was conducted. The song was located and downloaded.

And then...

Oh my darling, Clementine! Everywhere I looked, songs I loved were calling out to me. Down every corridor were private eyes, naked eyes, or an eye in the sky. It was like Behind The Music and Surreal Life had opened up a Sam Goody!

Yes, I realize I am late coming to this party, but I've only had my iPod since last Christmas. Besides, I never claimed to be on the cutting edge, just the opposite, actually.

By the end of that first night, I had downloaded fifteen songs, including but not limited to Erasure, P.M. Dawn, Steve Winwood, Tabitha's Secret, and yes, even Hanson. (At this point, I will completely understand if you never read my blog again.)

Still, I felt pretty good. I'd told myself I would not surpass twenty songs, and I had stayed within that limit. Then came Thursday. By the time head hit pillow Thursday night, I had downloaded thirty-four songs and may or may not have promised my firstborn to Steve Jobs.

Sure that sounds drastic at first, until you learn there are twenty-six available downloads for Wham on iTunes. Suddenly, I'm like a song-starved Esau in search of musical pottage.

I need help. I'm addicted. How can I not be? Apple just makes it so easy. I don't have to get dressed or leave home. Plus, 99 cents seems like such a nominal fee for cheesy musical goodness. Who amongst us can resist? I'm only flesh and blood, for crying out loud.

People I've talked to say it will get better. That eventually, I'll exceed my credit card limit, be unable to pay my bills, and my internet will be disconnected. Problem solved.

I hope so. Because right now, iTunes, you are an obsession. I can't fight this feeling much longer, and I'm quickly forgetting what I started fighting for.

In closing, I would like to wish a happy 44th birthday to my favorite male figure skater, Olympic gold medalist Brian Boitano. Ooo, I wonder if they have that song on iTunes!

"What would Brian Boitano do if he was here right now? He'd make a plan and he'd follow thru. That's what Brian Boitano'd do..."

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007
3WW #57


Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:
Field
Hide
Second


To most, it's a place that time forgot, with abandoned storefronts and old two story buildings.
To him, it's a bustling town square where a man could take care of any and all business he might have to do in a single day.

To most, it's an overgrown field on the corner, badly in need of mowing.
To him, it's a neatly kept baseball diamond, alive with the sound of kids, including a scrawny but quick shortstop wearing an oversized jersey and a hand-me-down glove that belonged to his grandpa.

To most, it's long overdue for demolition, an eyesore they wish they could hide.
To him, it's the nickel matinee, with all the big stars on the marquee--Gable, Bogart, Hepburn, and Bacall--where he spent every Sunday afternoon for three years.

To most, he's slow and sometimes gets in the way, and he'll talk your head off for an hour if you ever let him get started.
To him, there's no reason to be in a hurry, and the best part of life is the people.

To most, it seems like there will always be plenty of days and years and more time.
But he knows. One second you're ten years old playing shortstop, then you turn around...

"So he walked downtown with his cane pole, looking through the window of what used to be the drugstore. Next to the cafe where he laughed away his life..."

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Taste of rain
I was halfway thru my first lap on the three-quarter mile track when the first drops of rain hit my skin, one on my right arm and one on my face, right in the middle of "Brass Monkey," jarring me from my iPod induced trance.

Within seconds, it was pouring. My first inclination was to throw myself into the fetal position, using every bit of clothing and body mass I had to protect Nan until the rain stopped. But she was in her iPod cover, and tucked underneath my shirt, so I thought she would be OK.

My next inclination was to throw up my hands and scream, "Why! Why does it wait to rain until the minute I start running?" But I refrained.

And then something happened.

I found myself enjoying the rain. I didn't speed up. Instead I continued to run at my usual pace, listening to the quiet noise the rain made falling thru the trees, feeling its coolness hit my skin.

By the time I got back around to the parking lot, I was drenched. My clothes felt heavy. I wanted to laugh. Part of me wanted to keep running.

Slowing to a walk, I looked heavenward and opened my mouth, letting the raindrops hit my tongue. It reminded me of being a kid. It reminded me I was alive.

I don't know when or where my sometimes frustration with rain began. But today I remembered something I knew all along. There are much worse things in life than getting caught in the rain.

Sometimes there's nothing better.

"I hear it talking through the trees and on the window pane. When I hear it I just can't believe I never liked the rain..."

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Monday, October 15, 2007
Holy candy, Batman!
It's that time of the year again! Time for Halloween. And while your newspapers, TV stations, and schools may be flooded with things like Halloween safety tips and other nonsense, Bone is bringing you information you can use. Today I present Bone's Halloween Candy Tips For Kids.

After all, Halloween is not about ghosts, or pumpkins, or the Devil. It's about candy, and Jamie Lee Curtis. The word halloween comes from hallowed, which means holy, and weenie, which when you're a kid tastes just as good as candy. So basically, Halloween means "holy candy."

So here we go, kids. And by kids, I don't mean fifteen year old girls who put on a flannel shirt and call themselves hobos. First of all, flannel is coming back someday, and I'll be ready when it does. Second of all, if you're old enough to bear children and legally drive a motorcycle, you're old enough to buy your own candy.

Tip #1: Quality Over Quantity
While your goal starting out the evening is to fill up your bag(s) with candy, remember this: Every piece of crap candy in your bag means less room for the good stuff.

Make a mental note of houses that give out good candy, and conversely, those that give out things like toothbrushes and pencils with a little ribbon around them. Um, it's frickin' November, lady. I've had my school supplies since August, but thanks anyway. Oh and by the way, don't look for me next year. This house has officially been blacklisted.

Know your 'hoods and maximize your time. You only have a few hours one night a year to amass as much candy as possible. If there are only two good houses in a neighborhood of twenty homes, don't waste your time. Skip it, and double up on the good houses.

Chances are, they won't remember you've already been there earlier in the night. Plus, people like giving away candy. It makes them feel good. So by going to the same house three times in one night, you're making them feel three times as good.

Tip #2: All Fruit Is Bad
Few things are more disappointing in the life of a child than having a bulbous apple or orange dropped into his or her Halloween bag. Actually, I can't think of anything worse.

Back in my trick-or-treating days, my initial thought upon receiving fruit was always the same, Gee thanks. Could I have a can of spinach, as well? And while I'm here, maybe I could recite my multiplication tables for you.

Fruit is bad, no matter what the doctor and your parents say. (Remember these are the same people who give you shots and make you go to school.) Besides its non-sugary taste, fruit is quite heavy and weighs down your bag. Get rid of it as soon as possible, perhaps by slipping it inside your sister's bag when she isn't looking.

And if your parents try to object to you throwing fruit away, just tell them a scary lady with nine cats gave it to you and told you it was a very special kind of apple that she made just for you. That should do the trick.

Tip #3: Choose A Practical Costume
While the thirty dollar Harry Potter costume with the plastic mask might look great, chances are you'll wind up spending half your night tripping over the legs, retying strings, and stepping in holes because you can't see very well out of those tiny eye slits.

I recommend no mask at all. Some face paint or whiskers drawn on will work just fine. If people ask what you're supposed to be, just act really sad/confused/shy and say, "I don't know. Mom said we couldn't afford a real costume." And if necessary, start crying. Remember you're out there to get candy, not win a beauty pageant.

Tip #4: Travel alone
I have no hard evidence to back this up, but I believe that you receive more candy on average if you trick-or-treat by yourself than if you go with other people. I base my theory on two principles.

First, the candy allocators might feel sorry for a kid who is having to trick-or-treat alone.

Second, look at it like this. If a homeless person came to my door asking for money, I might give them $20. But if five homeless people came to my door at the same time, would I give them all $20? Of course not. I would instead not answer the door and pretend I wasn't home.

Summary:
In closing, let me say that every town is a little different. You have to figure out and implement the best strategy for your area. The bottom line is this: Once you realize trick-or-treating is a logical, methodical process of collecting candy and not just haphazardly going around to random houses, you'll be eating Reese's Cups and Mini 3 Musketeers well into early December.

"Candy on the beach, there's nothing better. But I like candy when it's wrapped in a sweater..."

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007
3 Word Wednesday LVI


Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything. I'll also attempt to write something using the same words.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:
Initial
Knock
Weather


at last, autumn
it's initial attempts
repressed by stubborn summer
announces it's arrival

not with thunderous fanfare
or even a loud knock
but instead a familiar breeze

harvest moon, new weather
majestic colored leaves surrender
lazy hammock invites slumber

ere i drift away in dreams
my newly contented heart
whispers with much relief
at last, autumn

"Can't explain, there's something strange about the early fall. Its comfort leaving me without a care..."

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Monday, October 08, 2007
A ten dollar lesson on the things that really matter
I received ten dollars in a birthday card last week. Except it wasn't my birthday. One of my aunts had put the money in Mom's birthday card along with a note instructing her to give it to me.

I found it quite a remarkable gesture. Especially considering this is an aunt I rarely see, Mom's eldest sister, who is widowed and has ten kids and umpteen grandkids of her own, not to mention twenty or so nieces and nephews. Yet here she is sending a note and ten bucks to her thirtysomething nephew she sees on Decoration Day, sometimes Christmas, and maybe another time or two during the year at most.

It really affected me.

It made me think about the alarming rate of the passing of time, and how I need to make more of an effort to see family and loved ones more often.

I thought about my grandmother, how almost eerily similar she and my aunt are, and how so many of her good qualities were obviously passed on.

I thought about how excited I would have been years ago, when I was in high school, or college even, to get ten bucks in a card.

Then I thought about how today, ten dollars won't buy much of anything. But if my six other aunts would get their act together and all made the same gesture... I'm kidding.

I felt guilty that she had sent me any money at all.

I thought about how maybe this is one of those things you don't directly repay, but instead just pass on to someone else. And I made a vow to myself that I would do the same someday for my nieces, nephews, and other loved ones.

I thought about how a hundred dollar bill would not have meant nearly as much. There was something simple and pure and sweet about those two fives.

I thought about how thankful I am for family. Even family I don't see that often. Especially family I don't see that often.

I'm thankful there are still some things in this world you can't put a price on. Things that are worth so much more than money and always will be. Things like a few words scribbled in love on a little piece of scrap paper...

Give this to Bone. And tell him I love him.

"No, I ain't forgot how I was raised, but I'm living way too fast. It's a roller coaster ride up and down..."

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Friday, October 05, 2007
Archie, blow your horn
What do you do when your friend, one of your best friends, tells you a secret so deep and disturbing that even his parents don't know?

It happened when I was in 10th grade. I had gone to the high school football game one Friday night, with plans to go home and spend the night with my friend Archie afterward.

At halftime, I watched Archie march in the band. In his flamboyant bright red uniform and hat complete with festive plume, he seemed to almost be smiling at me. Maybe that should have been my first clue.

After the game, we were on our way over to the band room so that Archie could change. That's when it happened. Archie pulled me aside in the rahter dimly lit parking lot and said he had to tell me something. And he made me vow that I would never tell anyone, emphasizing it with the fact that even his parents didn't know.

My mind began to race. What could it be? How well did I know this guy? We'd really only been friends for a year or two. Not to mention, this was the same guy who had been involved in the John Stamos autograph incident.

I wasn't sure I felt comfortable with any soul-baring confessions at this stage of my life. But what could I do? He was standing there, his band hat under one arm and his heart on his sleeve.

So I promised not to tell, knowing whatever he was about to reveal could very well change our entire relationship forever.

And it did.

To this day, everytime I think of Archie, my mind immediately goes to what he told me that fateful October night:

He wasn't really playing his trombone.

The band director let him march because he had learned the steps so well, but made him promise he'd only pretend to play. Because as it turns out, after two years in band, Archie couldn't play a lick.

I wish I could say Archie's story had a happy ending. But it doesn't. He quit band the next year. I always wondered if the burden of carrying around his secret eventually became too much. Or perhaps someone outed him and he was ostracized by the brass and woodwind sections.

"That's not the beginning of the end. That's the return to yourself. The return to innocence..."

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007
3 Word Wednesday #55


Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything. I'll also attempt to write something using the same words.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:
Feather
Misplaced
Useless


The slamming of doors echoing thru the downstairs signaled his arrival home at least three days out of every week. A bad day at work for him meant a bad night at home for her.

Grace had grown used to his misplaced anger. No, you never got used to it, but she had come to expect it. She avoided him whenver possible, staying upstairs, sometimes pretending to be asleep. But some days it was useless. Some days he was bent on finding an outlet for his anger, and far too often it was her.

She sat upstairs cross-legged on the bed. Everytime another door slammed, her heart would pound a little faster. She picked up one of the feather pillows she had cried into countless times before and buried her head in it. Then silently prayed she wouldn't hear his footsteps on the stairs or him calling her name.

She didn't. Not on this day.

Grace heard the familiar noises of cabinets opening, bottles clanging, and the TV being put on, and she began to relax. Still clutching the pillow, she drifted off to sleep.

Sleep was sound and restful, her dreams happy. And when she woke up, she wished she was still asleep. The room was rather dark. Terrified she had missed supper, she hurried downstairs. First, she went into the kitchen, then to the other rooms. There was no sign of him, and she figured he must have gone out to drink.

Lastly, she ventured into the living room. It was there she saw the empty pill bottle on the coffee table and the body lying limp on the couch.

Grace ran.

As she knelt down beside the couch, she was curiously calm. Gently shaking the listless body, she pleaded quietly, "Wake up, Mommy. Please wake up."

"If you hear something late at night, some kind of trouble, some kind of fight, just don't ask me what it was..."

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Who's bad?
Today is the day!

Occasionally I wonder if people get tired of reading the same old things here on ye olde blog. Especially when every weekend lately is the same old thing: football, girls, and golf. I mean, seriously, anymore golf and I'd have to change the name of my blog to Greenside Chats With Bone.

Besides, there's more to life than that, right? There's video games and Seinfeld and... well anyway. In an attempt to change things up and show another side of this bachelor you know as Bone (but mostly because I was craving something sweet), I added another element to my weekend.

Friday, I attempted to make some cookies. Unfortunately, I was on the phone while making them. Bad idea. Let's see, how shall I describe the end result? Have you ever bitten into a stick? Well, they were dryer than that.

By the way, on a completely unrelated note, did you know peanut butter can go bad? Sure, it might take a few years, but trust me, it can happen. Who knew!

I also went to the driving range Friday, then spent the rest of my evening watching the South Florida/West Virginia game and image googling Hope Solo. Hey, I gotta fit girls in there somewhere.

One might think that would have been the highlight of my weekend. Think again. Little Joe and I went to play golf Sunday afternoon. I was standing behind my car when he pulled up and opened his door. His radio was blaring "Bad" by Michael Jackson.

My first instinct was to say, "Turn that down before someone hears!" You know, because that's what I do anytime I'm jamming to George Michael or Bobby Brown and I think someone might be able to hear. But I kept my mouth shut. I mean, you take away a man's music, you take away his spirit, his will to live.

As we were walking towards the clubhouse, LJ informed me that he had come across an old Casey Kasem countdown on the radio and that's what he was listening to. Friends, at that moment, I wanted to suggest that we skip golf entirely and just sit in the car together listening to AT40 with Casey. But I felt that would be socially unacceptable, so we golfed.

Sunday night, not to be defeated by my earlier misadventure, I tried making cookies again. Except I didn't have enough of the required ingredients remaining, so I decided to halve the recipe.

Well, I'm not sure if I got confused with the fractions or if some recipes just aren't meant to be halved. I mean, do you halve the cooking time, too? Suffice it to say I was 0-for-2 on baking this weekend. I guess lessons learned during my one semester in 8th grade home ec have been forgotten.

I feel much more at home on the patio. So last night, I grilled, trading in my wooden spoon for tongs and an oven mitt. Apparently, the King of Pop isn't the only one who performs better with one glove.

"And the whole world has to answer right now just to tell you once again, who's bad.."

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