Offtheshelf's blog

Memo To All Employees


TO:                All Employees

FROM:        Office of the President & CEO

DATE:        March 13, 2007

RE:              Existence of God

This morning, while reading the Wall Street Journal in my large corner office (with private bathroom, wet bar, and billiards table) as the rest of you were slaving away doing whatever it is you do in your pitiful little cubicles, I was suddenly visited by thoughts on the nature of a Supreme Being and what His intentions might have been in creating the universe. In fact, you could say I received a vision - not unlike Saul on the road to Damascus.

The more I considered the subject, the more I became convinced that a Supreme Being must have created the universe - just as my late father, God rest his soul, created this company and kept it running throughout good times and bad for half a century. The universe could not have just come into being. It must have had a moment of initial creation. The laws of physics that brought about the universe must have been created by some "one" or some "thing." For if there was no Creator, then the appearance of the universe and everything in it is nothing more than an amazing stroke of dumb luck.

So with that said, and my vision of God as the Creator now revealed, it is my happy duty as President and CEO to inform you that I have just sold the company so that I may spend more time contemplating the nature of the universe. I will, of course, be retained as a part-time consultant -- at a six-figure annual salary with stock options and other perks -- but the rest of you are all being laid off effective immediately. Not to worry, you will receive a severance package, which includes one week's pay for every five years of service, up to a maximum of two weeks. Please have your pitiful little cubicles cleared out by 5:00 pm today.

Thank you for your years of service. I could not have amassed my fortune without the efforts of all you wonderful working class slobs.



ClamTalker (registered user) writes:                                                                 03/13/07 @ 11:45 pm

I must protest in the strongest terms to the tone of this blog ... I mean memo ...  I mean whatever you want to call it. It is insulting to God, CEOs, and all common working class slobs, of which I am one. Well, I used to be one ... I'm sort of between jobs right now.


MuffinHead (registered user) writes:                                                               03/13/07 @ 11:47 pm

I must protest to the earlier comment. I'm a pitiful working class slob and I'm in no way insulted by the blog entry as presented. I do have a concern with the use of the name "Saul," though. Wasn't it Paul who saw the vision of Christ on the way to Damascus?


BornAgain (registered user) writes:                                                                 03/13/07 @ 11:48 pm

Read your Bible, MuffinHead! His name was Saul, but he changed it to Paul after he had his vision and adopted Christianity. You idiot!


ClamTalker (registered user) writes:                                                             03/13/07 @ 11:50 pm

When I say I'm between jobs right now, I mean, of course, that I'm out of work. But I've got my resume out there, so I'm expecting something to come through any day now.


MuffinHead (registered user) writes:                                                           03/13/07 @ 11:52 pm

Are you sure on that Saul/Paul business? I mean, why would he change his name? It makes no sense.


BellyacheLunch (registered user) writes:                                                   03/13/07 @ 11:53 pm

It's like I always say ... eat lunch with a Democrat, play golf with a Republican.


BornAgain (registered user) writes:                                                              03/13/07 @ 11:54 pm                         

MuffinHead, your idiotic name fits you perfectly. You must have blueberry muffins for brains. Oh by the way, BellyacheLunch, you're an idiot, too!


ClamTalker (registered user) writes:                                                           03/13/07 @ 11:55 pm

So, when I say I'm between jobs right now, I'm really saying I'm looking for a job, preferably in middle management. I can email you my resume if you're interested.


MuffinHead (registered user) writes:                                                         03/13/07 @ 11:56 pm

If his name was Saul, why did those folk singers call their group Peter, Paul, and Mary? Huh? Huh? I've got you there!


BellyacheLunch (registered user) writes:                                               03/13/07 @ 11:58 pm 

Or was it eat lunch with a Republican, play golf with a Democrat? Or maybe it was the Green Party?


BornAgain (registered user) writes:                                                          03/13/07 @ 11:59 pm



Jack Sheedy 

Ahead Of Its Time

Musical accompaniment for this blog: The "inspired" music of Hildegard von Bingen ("O Quam Mirabilis," "O Euchari In Leta Via," etc ... you know, those old chestnuts!)

The subject of this blog entry is "time," which is timely since tonight/early tomorrow we turn the clocks ahead one hour. We lose an hour. Let me break down that sentence, as it is important in terms of understanding what's happening on a celestial/sidereal level:

The word "We" means all of us. "Lose," in this sense, means to take away. "An" represents a unit of measure equaling one. And "Hour" is a manner of representing time, corresponding to 60 earth minutes or 1/24th of the earth's daily rotation. So, in its simplest terms, "All of us are having taken away a unit of measure equal to one of that which corresponds to 1/24th of the earth's rotation during a typical solar day." Savvy?


This time of year we refer to the process of turning the clocks ahead an hour as "Spring Ahead." In this case, the word "spring" has a dual meaning - 1) to leap forward, and 2) the season of "Spring" during which the time change occurs. Well, this year we are turning the clocks ahead early, in Winter, not Spring. So the catch phrase "Spring Ahead" is a misnomer, it no longer applies. Perhaps it should now be changed to "Almost Spring Ahead" or "Nearly Spring Ahead" or "It Used to Be Spring Ahead" or perhaps "Winter Forward" or more to the point "Get Your Taxes Done! It's Daylight Saving Time Already!"


For the past six months, since the clocks were turned back one hour last October, my car (a '91 Chevy Lumina affectionately called "The Gray Ghost" for various spiritual reasons) has been operating ahead of its time. It has nothing to do with the performance of the car itself. After all, it has a number of ailments, the latest of which I repaired yesterday using duct tape and some words of encouragement.

Rather, the Ghost is ahead of its time because I never turned back its dashboard clock last October. Frankly, I don't know how. You see ... I'm not good with gadgets and/or things with buttons (as my children refer to me - I'm "Technologically Impaired," which I think makes me not only inept, but "cute" in their eyes). I'd rather just live for six months with a clock that's one hour ahead than sit down and read the owner's manual. Anyway, come 2:00 am tomorrow morning the rest of the world will catch up with my car ... all will be right with the universe ... and then I'll have to remember not to mentally deduct an hour when I refer to the time while driving.


On a wall in the living room is a clock that keeps ship's time. Ship's time is different from "normal" time as the chiming means absolutely nothing to the typical landlubber. Not that I'm some master mariner ... I tend to get seasick ... in fact, I once got "seasick" years ago rocking my son to sleep in a rocking chair. But regardless, I have this clock that keeps ship's time.

For those not familiar with ship's time, it operates on a four-hour cycle as follows: 12:30 (1 bell), 1:00 (2 bells), 1:30 (3 bells), 2:00 (4 bells), 2:30 (5 bells), 3:00 (6 bells), 3:30 (7 bells), 4:00 (8 bells), and then it repeats the cycle for the next four hours - 4:30 (1 bell), 5:00 (2 bells), etc. It's a riot to see the expression on visitors' faces when they hear the clock on the wall chime four times at 2:00 in the afternoon, or twice at 9:00 pm. I tell them it's ship's time and they just look at me like I'm from another planet and ask, "Okay, Jack ... so what time is it really?"

Anyway, the clock is strategically positioned right above the couch, which is helpful at midnight after I've fallen asleep watching the Bruins game or reading a book. By the eighth chime I'm usually awake enough to drag myself off to bed.


Tempus fugit. Time flies.

When you break down time into small units it seems to go by slowly. Think about a typical day. You wake up, you take out the dog, you eat breakfast, you shower, you brush your teeth, you drive to work, you work, you eat lunch, you work some more, you come home, you eat dinner, you read a book, you watch TV, you fall asleep on the couch, you wake up to the chiming ship's bells, you take out the dog one last time, you go to bed, you wake up the next morning and do it all over again - and that's just 24 hours! One day! You have to repeat that procedure six more times to fill up a week!

But when you step back, and look at time from a distance, it seems to go by at a rapid pace. I can't believe nearly a quarter century has gone by since I graduated from college. Now my daughter is 18 and is headed off to college this fall. My son, whom I used to rock to sleep in the rocking chair, is now this gigantic "man" living down the hall! Time ... it's comprised of minutes that when added together quickly become a lifetime.


One final thought on the subject of time. That being, that time eventually runs out. Some day - hopefully some distant day - my time will run out. My clock will chime its last. A lifetime will have amassed. Which will be fine with me, so long as there is a decent restaurant or two on the other side.

Jack Sheedy    

Officially Unenrolled

Suggested musical accompaniment for this blog entry: "Hail to the Chief" ... or else "Power to the People" by Lennon.

A-negative - that's my blood type. Roman Catholic - that's my religion. Irish-Italian - that's my ancestry. 212 - my cholesterol level. 190 pounds - my weight. 5 foot 10 inches - my height. Unenrolled - my political party affiliation.

It wasn't always this way. My cholesterol used to be up around 260. My weight used to be as low as 160 pounds (10 years ago) and as high as 208 (last March). My height has not changed since high school. And as far as I know I've always been Irish-Italian, Roman Catholic, and A-negative.

My political party affiliation, though, has recently changed. After the November election I decided to make a switch to "unenrolled," a/k/a Independent. Why? Because I really have no great love for either political party. Actually, I'm partial to the Whig Party, but at present they appear defunct so I'm now officially "unenrolled." Besides, "unenrolled" sounds a lot like "eggroll" and eggroll just happens to be my favorite Chinese food. See, it all makes perfect sense.

I should have been unenrolled all along. My voting record over the years shows a rather schizophrenic behavior when it comes to selecting presidential candidates. I've bounced from party to party, sometimes voting for the third party candidate, or even a cartoon character, in an attempt to select the "best" man (or the best mouse) regardless of party. Let's take a look at my voting record ... since birth:

1960 - Kennedy vs. Nixon. Not yet born. Regardless, I'm sure I would have voted for JFK.

1964 - Johnson vs. Goldwater. Who cares? Besides, I was only 2 years old at the time, which is just a bit too young to make an informed decision.

1968 - Nixon vs. Humphrey. I was only six years old, though I do remember those times as I was a big fan of "Dark Shadows" - that Barnabas Collins was some creepy gent (almost as creepy as Nixon). Anyway, I would have voted for Humphrey ... if I had known who he was at the time.

1972 - Nixon vs. McGovern. I would have voted for McGovern. Nixon sweated too much and his guest appearances on Laugh-In were painfully embarrassing to watch. Besides, I was a mop-topped kid back then and voting for Nixon would have been rather uncool.

1976 - Ford vs. Carter. I would have voted for Carter except I was still too young at the time. The ghosts of Watergate were still haunting the country. While Carter seemed down to earth with his rolled up sleeves and blue jeans, and I felt the country needed to move in a new direction. Unfortunately, that new direction lead us toward a state of malaise and a prolonged period of utter darkness, dreariness, and despair. Otherwise, the late 1970's were just dandy!

1980 - Reagan vs. Carter. Voted for Reagan. I got caught up in the whole rebirth of pride in America spilling over from the USA Olympic hockey team victory over the evil USSR. Anyway, I think even Herbert Hoover with all his Great Depression baggage could have beaten Carter in '80.

1984 - Reagan vs. Mondale. Voted for Reagan again (sorry Fritz). Fresh out of college. Full time job in the loan department of a stuffy bank. Wearing suits. Getting hair cut regularly. Mortgage to pay. Car payment. High interest rates and taxes to complain about. Trickle down Reaganomics was the ticket! My God, what have I become!

1988 - Bush vs. Dukakis. Voted for Bush. Dukakis scared the heck out of me! Especially that dorky photo op of him in the tank, wearing that oversized helmet! Oh my God, if he gets into office the Soviets are gonna crush us!!

1992 - Bush vs. Clinton vs. Perot. Voted for Perot. Yes, Perot. Oh, despair! What was I thinking? It was a moment of weakness. I was unemployed at the time and I blamed Bush, but I didn't feel good about Clinton either. While unemployed I spent my time practicing placekicks. Kicked a 35-yard field goal once. Unfortunately, that kind of achievement doesn't translate well onto a resume.

1996 - Clinton vs. Dole vs. Perot. I think that was the year I voted for Mickey Mouse ... I really can't remember. The whole mid-1990's is a bit cloudy. At the time I let my hair grow and refused to shave in an attempt to recapture my youthful sense of abandon ... or else in some bizarre attempt to resemble one of the 12 apostles. By the way, who won the election that year? As I said, it was all a bit cloudy.

2000 - Gore vs. Bush vs. Buchanan. Voted for Gore. Buchanan scared me. And Bush really scared me!

2004 - Bush vs. Kerry. Tough decision. Bush or Kerry? Kerry or Bush? Where's Perot? Isn't he running? To paraphrase the junior Senator from Massachusetts, "I voted for Bush ... before I voted against him." Although Bush scared me, terrorists scared me even more. Planes flying into buildings scared me. Anthrax scared me. Dirty bombs scared me. Heck, even clowns scare me!!

Which brings us to 2008. It seems like everyone in running for president. The short list includes: Obama, Rodham Clinton, Biden, Obama, Romney, Obama, Edwards, Dodd, Obama, McCain, possibly Gore, Obama, and Giuliani. (Oh wait, I left out Obama!). So far, nobody in either party has said anything to attract my vote ... although we haven't heard from any Whig Party candidates yet. Which leads me to ask - Does anybody know if Mickey Mouse is running?

Jack Sheedy

The Begotten & the Forgotten

Editor's note: You may wish to queue up your Gregorian "Chant" CD before reading any further.

josaphat__barlaam_400Yesterday afternoon I was sorting through some boxes of books in my basement when I happened upon the Holy Bible. We actually have two Bibles - a Standard Catholic Version and a King James Version, just in case. It was a fortuitous find, for of late I have been plagued by a nagging question, that being whether Josaphat begot Ezechias or whether he begot Manasses (Matthew 1:8-10). It turns out that it was neither ... you see, Josaphat (shown on right talking to Barlaam) begot Joram, who begot Ozias, who begot Joatham, who begot Achaz, who begot Ezechias, who begot Manasses. Phew, I'm glad that's finally cleared up!


In other news, a study has determined that ice cream can actually help infertile couples become pregnant. That's right, ice cream ... I guess you'd call that an Immaculate Confection. Who needs fertility drugs when the secret has been hiding out at the local ice cream parlor all along. Apparently the study shows that 50% of those couples that ate a double scoop cone each day became pregnant ... while the other 50% simply got fat.


Another study has not only discounted the nutritional value of daily multi-vitamins, but shows that they may not in any way help you to live longer or to live a healthier life. In fact, they may actually have a detrimental effect. It is suggested that you instead load up on red meat, fried foods, chips & dip, soda, and candy bars.


This weekend, the local high school presented Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Pirates of Pennzoil" - a highly entertaining musical production about a band of pirates that controls the world's motor oil reserve, thus dictating supply and demand and consequently how much US consumers will be paying for their next oil change. The program included the show-stopping numbers "Away, Away! My Oil Field Is on Fire!" and "Hush, Hush! Not a Word That We Are All Out of 10W 30 Motor Oil and Are Using 10W 40 Instead!"


Perhaps nothing better illustrates our country's misplaced sense of priority than the grotesque amount of media attention surrounding the recent death of a certain centerfold model turned multi-millionairess (notice how I avoid mentioning her name to avoid potential legal action). Since her death just shy of a month ago, 47 US servicemen have lost their lives in Iraq ... yet I do not recall seeing the same in-depth media coverage on each of those brave young men. In fact, I don't recall hearing much of anything at all. Forty-seven servicemen dead! Compared with one former (unnamed) centerfold model. Have we forgotten our priorities? As a society, are we collectively a flock of sheep following wherever the media may lead us? Or am I simply "out of step" with everyone else?! (Why do I suspect the latter to be true?)


It certainly must be the Lenten season because the religious pundits are out there with new claims about the mortality of Jesus. The latest is a Discovery Channel documentary by James Cameron (Titanic director) entitled "The Lost Tomb of Christ," which puts forward proof that the bones of Jesus were buried in a family tomb in Jerusalem. The ossuaries found include one for Jesus' son, Judah, as well Jesus' mother Mary, his wife Mary Magdalene, and his brother James. The concern for Christians is that the discovery of Jesus' ossuary proves that his body did not resurrect, and therefore his mortality discounts the New Testament story about him rising from the dead. I admit, as a Catholic I never took Jesus' resurrection to literally mean "his body," but instead to mean "his spirit." So the discovery of his ossuary doesn't change anything as far as I'm concerned ... except for one thing. I've decided that when I die I don't want to be buried for eternity in a typical casket like everyone else -- instead I want my bones to be reburied in an ossuary! How cool is that?!!


Wait a minute! Rewind the tape! What was that you said about Jesus having a son?!! I guess we'll just have to watch the documentary (tonight at 9:00 pm) and find out. Let's face it, the whole question of the mortality of Jesus, which was recently resurrected with Dan Brown's book The Da Vinci Code, is nothing new. His certainly was not the first book to cause such a stir. When I was a teenager during the '70's I was intrigued by a popular book entitled The Passover Plot, by Hugh J. Schonfield, which suggested that Jesus and his disciples concocted a "plot" to somehow fake the crucifixion, thus leading to a miraculous resurrection - instant Messiah! Which begs the obvious question: How does one actually fake being nailed to a cross?


So, to conclude this latest epistle, the Gospel according to the pundits would have us amend Matthew 1:16 to read: "... and Mathon begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who in turn begot Judah. And Jesus and his family lived in Jerusalem, where Jesus made kitchen cabinets for a living, while his wife Mary (formerly Magdalene) was a member of the PTA. And their son, Judah, was the star quarterback on the Sea of Galilee High School football team and played the lead in the school's production of 'The Pirates of Penzance.'"


Alleluia (Latin for "Have a nice day!")

Jack Sheedy

"Do-It-Yourself" World

I distrust most any machine that requires swiping a card, especially when my bank account is somehow involved.

So there I stood at the "12 Items or Less" line at the local supermarket with three measly items in my hands. I swear the customer at the counter was sneaking 14 or 15 items in, but I wasn't about to cause a fuss over it. After all, it had been a long, cold day on the mail route and I was beat ... too beat to argue over two or three extra items.

The line was long and moving slowly and I was hungry so I starting thinking about a quick fix. I scanned the candy selection ... hmmm ... Milky Way? Snickers? Three Musketeers? What, no Chunky bars?! It was a tough choice. As my mind raced over the options a very nice employee with a name badge that read either "Bob" or "Bill" or "Biff" approached me, asking if I would like to avoid the long line by using the Self Checkout. I hesitated for a moment, looking over toward where the employee was pointing, and then quickly shook my head "No." The employee next asked an elderly woman ahead of me, who was more vocal, saying, "Don't you know those Self Checkouts are eventually going to take away your job!" No takers, so the employee just smiled and walked away to locate another victim. The old woman grunted and shook her head in disgust. I went back to thinking about candy. Three Musketeers, yes definitely Three Musketeers.

I have to admit those Self Checkout lines scare me. I just don't trust them. Or perhaps, I don't trust myself using one. I'm afraid I'll attempt to buy a gallon of milk and somehow manage to completely empty my checking account of all funds by pushing the wrong button. Also, I don't like how the machine announces to everyone in the store each item that you're purchasing. Buying toilet paper is embarrassing enough without putting it over the public address system!

Self Checkout, whether at the supermarket or at the mega hardware store (where you can scan your own 2x4's, sheetrock, and joint compound - oh joy!) is the latest trend in the whole "do-it-yourself" world of the 21st century. Sure, we've been pumping our own gasoline for decades. In fact, so accustomed have we become to pumping our own gas that when we drive up to a station with an attendant on duty we scarcely know the proper etiquette. I was at such a station in Quincy a couple of weeks ago and wondered if I should be tipping the attendant. I didn't. (Was that the right thing to do?)

Some libraries are now offering Self Checkout. I saw one in action out in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Of course, there was an armed guard standing nearby with a license to kill. Hey, library lending is serious business -- especially out in the Midwest.

All this "do-it-yourself" business got me thinking what might be next. Today we pump our own gas, bank at ATM machines, pay our bills online, check out our own purchases, and soon, check out our library books. What's in store for tomorrow? Hmmmm .....

"Do-It-Yourself" Surgery - Why go to the hospital and pay outrageous medical expenses when you can perform surgery on yourself at home. All you need is a sterile knife, a needle and some thread, a rough understanding of human anatomy, and a mirror so you can see what you're doing. Just remember, the image is reversed so the left leg is really the right leg, the left lung is really the right lung, etc, etc.

"Do-It-Yourself" Religion - Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Paganism. It's all been done before. So start your own religion! Invent your own god(s), write your own holy book, develop your own dogma, come up with your own psalms, and schedule your own holy days. Your religion can be as strict or as liberal as you want it to be. Just whatever you do, don't go around saying your religion is the only true religion. That's how the Crusades got started!

"Do-It-Yourself" Government - Who needs legislators when you've got ... YOU! Start at the local level, then jump up to the state level, and when you think you're ready, move on up to Washington, DC - the House of Representatives, the Senate, who knows, maybe even the Oval Office! Raise taxes on your friends and neighbors, install renegade Supreme Court justices who don't believe in such things as evolution and inside-the-park homeruns, devaluate currency, reinstate the military draft, attack other countries "just because," maybe even drop the big one on some poor unsuspecting souls! Who knows, play your cards right and someday your face may end up on a coin!

Oh heck, maybe I'll try the Self Checkout line. After all, it is the 21st century. And besides, what's the worst thing that can happen. It's not like one of these buttons will launch a nuclear miss... oh, darn!

Jack Sheedy

Life From A to Z (and sometimes Y)

Consider a library. A library full of books. Books full of words. Lots and lots of words.

Think of all the libraries in towns and cities located across the country. Lots and lots of libraries, full of lots and lots of books, all adding up to lots and lots and lots and lots of words.

Now consider that all these words are made up of the same 26 basic building blocks that we call letters. Everything we read is as a result of these same 26 letters arranged into different patterns to form thoughts as random as "kitchen" and "chair" and "scarf." Like verbal atoms, letters form the very root of everything we know in terms of written and oral communication. And like atoms, letters cannot be subdivided. They cannot be split apart. They simply are what they are.

Open up any book written in the English language and you'll find only the usual 26 letters. Over and over again these letters are used and reused and reused again in a seemingly endless string of permutations. The same old letters, recycled over and over and over again. You won't suddenly find a new letter mixed in there ... something coming before A, or after Z, or somehow wedged between M and N. You won't find any new vowels beyond the typical A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y. You won't find a new letter to accompany Q - that job unequivocally and unquestionably belongs to the letter U. Let's face it, membership in the League of Letters will forever stand at 26 - it's all spelled out in the alphabet bylaws.

We learned the alphabet at an early age. As an adult, I still "see" the alphabet in my mind's eye as I did when I was a child. I see it as a progression of some sort, growing in value from A to Z. I refer to the "A" end of the alphabet as the "low end" of the alphabet, and the "Z" end as the "high end." In that sense, the value of Z outweighs the value of A. (The board game Scrabble will back me up on this.)

There are "obvious" groupings of letters - well, obvious in my mind - letters which belong together as if they exist as subsets of the whole. I group them as such: A thru D (subset 1), E & F (subset 2), G & H (subset 3), I thru K (subset 4), L thru N (subset 5), O thru R (subset 6), S & T (subset 7), U thru W (subset 8), and X thru Z (subset 9). Does any of this make sense? Or by now have I completely lost my readership ... and my mind?

I envision life as sort of like the alphabet. A, of course, is birth (A for Adam, the first man). Z is death (Z for Zzzzzz, the eternal sleep). I would say that at age 44 my life has entered the letter L stage - based on my plan to live to 100. I have achieved middle age: graying about the temples, developing crow's feet, supported by creaky knees, and suddenly humming sappy 1970's ballads.

All the greatest words ever written or uttered can be found in these simple 26 letters. Jefferson didn't invent any new letters when he wrote the Declaration of Independence. Lincoln didn't invent any when he wrote his Gettysburg address. Parish didn't invent any when he penned the lyrics to "Stardust." Nor did the Gershwins when they wrote "They Can't Take That Away From Me." Nor did Torme when he wrote "The Christmas Song." Nor Lennon when he wrote "Imagine." They simply took the available letters and came up with a new order.

Which leads one to finally ask ... what the heck am I getting at? I guess I'm just fascinated with "stuff" like this. You see, it amazes me that all the high-level discussing and arguing and debating and rebutting done each day by the movers and shakers that make the world go 'round is done using the same 26 letters, over and over and over again. There's nothing new to it. In fact, it's probably mankind's single greatest recycling effort, and yet we're not even aware that we're doing it.

So next time you open your mouth to talk, or take pen in hand to write, don't be too concerned. After all, there are only 26 letters. In some way it's probably all been said or written before.

Jack Sheedy

What Time Is It?

Time. It really doesn't exist. It's a manmade unit of measure. According to a noted anthropologist, the notion of "time" was invented by primitive peoples to explain the interval from the point when the waitress takes your order to the point when the food actually arrives at your table (not counting the rolls and butter).

Time. For some it goes by quickly. For others it drags. And for still others it tap-tap-tap dances along at just the right pace (lucky dogs!). But for most of us, we just go about our business and let the clock on the wall take care of all the ticking and turning and time keeping. As some poet once said, "Time and the tide, it waits for no man." Well, neither does the Logan Shuttle.

Actually, I have no problem with time. We have a mutual agreement. Time dictates that I was born at 10:44 am on September 4, 1962. I plan to expire somewhere just north of 10:44 am on September 4, 2062. In between those two points it's a tug of war. So again, I have no problem with time. That's why it really bugs me when people start messing around with the mechanics of what makes up "time." Can't they leave anything alone? First Pluto and now this! (Let me explain.)

Have you looked at your wall calendar lately? I mean really looked at it? By that, I mean have you flipped ahead to see what's in store for us in the coming months. It's okay to flip ahead ... it's called planning. Well, I've recently examined two different calendars and, strangely, they tell two different stories.

The first calendar shows the most remarkable convergence happening on, of all days, April 1, which falls on a Sunday. On that day, according to the first calendar, three things were to occur: April Fool's Day, Palm Sunday, and the beginning of Daylight Saving Time. That's quite an agenda for one little ol' Sunday. In fact, I can imagine the combination of the three events probably culminating in some dastardly trick involving an incorrectly set alarm clock causing you to arrive late at church service - right at the point in the Passion reading when Judas kisses Jesus. Oh, and by the way, you'd be wearing a "Kick Me" sign taped to your back.

Well, don't worry. The folks at Calendar Central must have huddled and determined that it's against some timekeeping bylaw to have three significant events scheduled for one day - that and the fact that it's difficult to fit all that type into one measly calendar block. So voila, my second calendar correctly shows Daylight Saving Time as March 11.

Wait a minute, March 11? That's early. (Double take) Yes, March 11 - Daylight Saving Time - by Federal government mandate! Good God, I haven't even finished boxing all the Christmas decorations yet!

Daylight Savings Time begins March 11 at 2:00 am. And it ends even later this year - on November 4, which is after Halloween and let's face it, that just goofs up everything. That means it will still be light outside when the little kiddies start arriving at the front door wearing their Hillary and Mitt costumes! Where's the fun in that?

Daylight Savings Time has been the bane of humanity since it was first introduced by the Germans back in World War I. The year was 1916. The Germans figured that by turning their clocks ahead one hour they could have their troops on the battlefield an hour before the allies. This worked to their advantage until the Brits got wise and turned their clocks ahead one hour so both sides were fighting on the same schedule. The Germans then turned their calendar ahead one day, which didn't seem to make any difference whatsoever. They then began calling Monday "Friday" (or Freitag, in their language), but that only confused their own soldiers. After the US joined the war effort we eventually turned our clocks ahead one hour, which helped greatly in getting our doughboys to battle on time. After all, there's nothing more embarrassing than arriving late to the battlefield and finding that all the good trenches have already been taken.

But all this really means very little when pitted against a tall glass of water with a slice of lime and Jo Stafford playing on the turntable. I'm sorry ... what were we talking about? Ah yes, time. Time really doesn't exist. It's a manmade unit of measure. For some it goes by quickly. For others it drags.

Jack Sheedy

The 32 1/2 Hour Stomach Bug

I awoke at 3:15 this past Saturday morning feeling as if an alien life form, which had been secretly gestating in my belly, was about to come bursting forth. Thinking that perhaps it had just been a momentary case of food poisoning, I figured I would be "good to go" for the mail route I was scheduled to deliver that day.

By 7am I was somewhat showered (though unshaven), dressed (though sloppily), and with teeth brushed (well, most of them). Corpselike and gray, I dragged my Lazarusian carcass out of its tomb and headed down to the post office. For an hour I sorted mail with one hand while I held myself steady to the table before me with the other as if I was trying to keep my balance upon the deck of a rocking ship. By 8:10 I was back in bed - moaning as I am accustomed to doing when faced with a seriously upset stomach, or a severe headache, or while doing my taxes. All day I remained in bed, except for the occasional recon mission to the bathroom. I lapsed in and out of sleep, unable to get comfortable, rolling this way and that, sometimes finding myself sideways on the bed. Perhaps I was on the deck of a rocking ship after all!

Evening came at some point. I awoke to find darkness and figured I was dead. Thank God! Then I felt that nauseous feeling and I remembered ... no such luck. Nope, I'm still alive and I still have the stomach bug! Maybe an asteroid will strike Cape Cod in the next minute or so and this will all be over!

A night of strange dreams, as is typical for me when I'm ill. It's always the same thing - I'm at war under heavy fire in some God forsaken place and people are getting killed all around me and it's my mission to drag the wounded soldiers to safety. Since I just finished reading Flags of Our Fathers, I spent this particular semi-sleepless night on Iwo Jima. Boy, if war is anything like the stomach bug it must truly be hell!

By mid next morning I awoke, feeling somewhat better and by noon I was taking nourishment - Jello (cherry flavored). The 32 1/2 hour stomach bug was largely over.

What is it about a stomach ailment, or a major headache, or the flu that can turn a guy into a weepy bowl of milk toast? I often wonder how I would hold up under torture. All the North Koreans would have to do is threaten to inject me with the 24-hour flu and I'd be spilling the beans. I've often thought that if the male of our species were the ones responsible for reproduction we would have gone extinct long, long ago with the very first bout of morning sickness. Instead, reptiles would now be ruling the planet, which would be just fine with me.

So, today is Monday. The sun is out. It's President's Day. I'm listening to Mel Torme  - "The Velvet Fog" - the perfect soothing voice for my stomach's tender mood. Today, I'm thinking I might branch out from my diet of Jello and Gatorade. Maybe segue into a soup. Perhaps tiptoe toward a tomato. Mosey over to a meatball. Suddenly I have a craving for a strawberry shake! (Not so fast ... perhaps stick to Jello for one more day ... try the orange flavored.)

The good news - I'm down about four pounds! To heck with the Popsicle diet. A dose of the 32 1/2 hour stomach bug. Now that's the ticket to a trimmer waistline!

Jack Sheedy (a/k/a Lazarus II)

13 Billion Years Isn't Enough

The universe is something like 13 billion years old. Try to imagine that - 13 billion years. That's a long time. It's hard for us humans to grasp such vastness of time. The closest you might come to understanding such a concept is to recall the last time you were at the RMV waiting for your number to be called - it's sort of like that.

Thirteen billion years ... think about how much you'd be able to accomplish in 13 billion years. All your laundry would be folded. The dishwasher would be emptied. The house would be vacuumed. The windows would be cleaned. The gutters emptied. The cars washed. The yard raked. Heck, I might even find time to get a haircut.

Think of all the reading you could do in 13 billion years. Everything by Mark Twain. Everything by Charles Dickens. All of Shakespeare. War and Peace. Moby Dick. The Bible (Old and New Testament). The phone book. The dictionary. The IRS tax code. The US Postal Service's Domestic Mail Manual. Every cereal box in your local grocery store. Even all those mailings you get from credit card companies telling you "You're Pre-Approved!"

Think of how many places you could live. Of how many people you'd meet. Of how many times you'd celebrate your birthday. Of how many times you'd pay your auto excise tax, and your water bill, and your real estate tax bill, and your electric bill, and your gas bill! At least your mortgage would be paid off in the first 30 years, so you'd be living the rest of your 13 billion years free and clear of a home loan. Of course that means you won't have a mortgage interest deduction on Schedule A of your income tax return! See, the IRS always finds a way to stick it to you!!

Once, in an attempt to appear astute, I philosophized on how we intelligent humans live for a mere 75 years or so while a dumb old boulder might exist for a billion years or more. Where's the fairness in that? As sentient beings we have such a short life span. While a clueless boulder that doesn't even know it exists will feel the sun's rays for billions of years. I suddenly find myself becoming envious of boulders, rocks, and bedrock outcroppings that will "live" to see the year 2100 A.D., and the year 21,000 A.D., and 210,000 A.D., and 2,100,000 A.D. and beyond!

We human beings go about our terminal lives -- reproducing, communicating, forming relationships with members of our own kind and even those of other species (such as dogs, cats, telemarketers, etc). As human beings we are able to love, to hate, to create, to destroy, to contemplate the heavens, and to worship the very God that brought all into existence. And yet our lifetime in this realm is a mere blink of the celestial eye. A mere clearing of the universal throat. A starry solitary sneeze. Barely even a full, deep breath in the vastness of the cosmos. (Painfully bad metaphors, huh?)

How can this be? How is it that we, the crown of creation, survive fewer days than, say, an oak tree? How is it that we, as thinking creatures, are so terribly fleeting while dumb old boulders have existed for billions of years and will be here for billions of years to come?

And yet, if we did live as long as the boulders, would it suffice? Would it quench our thirst for living? Or in the end, at the conclusion of our long, long life ... as our candle finally dies ... would we say that even 13 billion years was not enough?

All this deep thinking has suddenly made me (yawn) very tired ... (yawn) ... Goodnight folks ... Zzzzzzzz .....

Jack Sheedy

A Flock of Comments

Laziness? Perhaps. Writer's block? Maybe. Out of Blogitor 2000? Could be.

Whatever the reason, a blog topic escapes me ... besides perhaps an exhaustive dissertation on the theory of a collapsing universe and what impact that will have on my current wardrobe. Let's face it, too much play and not enough work makes Jack a dull boy (or rather, reverse that).

So, I thought it might be a largely futile exercise to look back at some of the comments I've posted to various blogs over the past few months.

Come to think of it ... yes, I believe it is laziness.

When I was a youngster growing up in Braintree, Mass (a/k/a "God's Country") we used to play a game called Fresca Man. Somebody was chosen to be "it" and was handed either a plastic Fresca bottle (empty) or a Fresca can (again, empty). The rest of us would hide, while "Fresca Man" would count to 100, normally by the telephone pole in front of Joe's house. Then "Fresca Man" would go out in search of the hiders, and when he found one he would hit him/her with the Fresca bottle/can and that person would then become "it." Great fun! Unless you got hit between the eyes! 02/06/07 @ 6:00 pm

I just handed down to my son my goalie catching glove (looks like something Gump Worsley once used). Over the years I lost the "waffle" glove (nowadays called a "blocker") so I bought a new one for him a couple of weeks ago at Building 19 for just $19.95 - talk about "good stuff cheap." I'm told there's a big game today on the local kettle pond after school. I'll have to miss it - I've got the library late shift today. Oh well. 02/06/07 @ 8:54 am

I've taken to squeezing my own orange juice lately ... so I can better manage my pulp intake. Gotta look out for those seeds, though! 02/05/07 @ 9:17 pm

I think if I continue to let my emotions out, and continue to eat a healthy diet of popsicles, I will achieve my lifelong goal ... that is, to live to age 100. By that time -- the year 2062 -- we will all have evolved into glowing beings of pure light, which will save us quite a bit of money on lightbulbs. 02/05/07 @ 9:13 pm

Is it natural for a toilet to flush by itself? It just happened about 20 minutes ago, and I'm all alone here except for my dog, Lucy, and she hasn't yet developed the opposable thumb necessary to manipulate the handle! 01/05/07 @ 10:34 am

This country has been blessed with the knack of putting forward the right person at the right time as far as the US Presidency goes. Lincoln is probably the prime example of this. Truman is another. In his own way, Ford was the right person at a key moment in American history - a decent, honorable man who brought respect back to the office of president. Others will argue that Nixon should not have been pardoned, but I see the pardon as Ford's first step toward putting a bandage on the nation's collective wound. His two-year presidency was an important period in restoring trust. 12/27/06 @ 1:58 pm

That Curious George, he always cracks me up. Remember "Curious George Visits Chernobyl" ... what a riot! 12/19/06 @ 6:07 pm

Let's see what we have in the library lost and found ... hmmm ... a tuba, a set of drums, an upright piano, a cello ... hmmm ... sorry, no clarinets. Can I interest you in a set of bagpipes? (comes with the piper) 12/19/06 @ 7:12 am

Boy, the squirrels are looking rather chubby these days. I think they're eating all the foxes!
12/12/06 @ 4:16 pm

Everything I've written thus far has been clean. I have written some really bad poetry ... but all of it really bad clean poetry. 11/03/06 @ 10:58 am

My remembrances of "old" (1960's) Cape Cod was of a place populated by the working class, like my grandfather. In the 80's/90's the place suddenly exploded with a shift toward second homeowners, and the arrival of the elite who had trophy houses built to their egos ... Simply put, the Cape Cod that my grandfather knew no longer exists. It's been gobbled up by big money from off-Cape interests ... The rest of us are ... putting in our time on the job, paying our bills ...  I have a deep affinity for Cape Cod ... or rather ... "old" ... Cod ...  the place ... built around ... money ... is ... frankly... us ... working class ... stiffs ...  (I don't think my feelings could be more clear on this subject) 10/18/06 @ 8:04 am

It's true, I am soft on enforcing late library book fines, especially with our elderly patrons. But I draw the line on late DVD and video fines ... you won't find any waffling there. And don't even try to make a photocopy without paying the 10 cent per page fee. I'll chase you out into the parking lot if need be. Vote Whig! Take Back Maine! 10/12/06 @ 5:00 pm

You mean she was bitten by a 97-year old lady, too?! 09/30/06 @ 10:35 am

I have a phobia of Legos. I once thought I accidentally swallowed one of the smaller pieces (long story) and spent the next morning in the Cape Cod Hospital emergency room. An X-ray of my windpipe showed nothing. Or was that the X-ray of my head?! 09/29/06 @ 10:31 pm

Yes, Mercury is now the smallest planet ... and it also gets the best gas mileage. 08/29/06 @ 5:00 pm

Jack Sheedy