It has been a few years since I have worked in a large, corporate environment. Most of my jobs have been in small shops where everyone is on a first name basis and the need for badges is nonexistent. One of the peculiarities of an office with several thousand employees is the whispered greeting. I had forgotten about it until I returned to the employ of The Man but I can report it is still very much a part of hall culture. The whispered greeting happens when you pass someone that you do not know in the corridors and the pleasant culture that has been fostered in your workplace necessitates that you smile and offer up some form of greeting. Since you don’t know their name, a generic salutation is all that can be expected so you squeeze out a “hello” or a “hi.” And for some unknown reason it comes out quiet and barely audible. The implied expectation is the greeted will read our lips and, since making no noise would be rude and possibly awkward, we throttle everything back, offer up the minimum and all criteria will be met. This does not apply if you know the person; it is only accepted if you have no idea who the person is and desire to be polite. The whispered greeting seems to be an accepted practice and I do not see it ending any time soon since there is no way I will get to know everyone in this building on a first name basis. (But wouldn’t it be amazing if I did?) The whispered greeting is one step above the head nod but way less cool.


As promised...

Here is another drawing from an old sketchbook. Now that I examine it I am not sure if it is any less troubling than the previous entry. This one is less depressing, a bit more disturbing, but once you figure it out it's fairly harmless.

Or is it?

"Even my fantasies are disappointing..."*

*(Misspelling corrected in caption)

Blast from the Sketchbook Past

Here is another drawing I found in an old sketchbook. This one is interesting because it was created during my first stint as a state employee several years ago. We can safely assume that I am in a much better emotional state this time around than I was the last. This is called "Waiting for Anything" (in case you can't read the emotionally unstable handwriting on the original). I will post some happier drawings shortly to take the edge off this one. Until then... enjoy!


Thought Combinations

I was at church and overheard a mother telling another mother about her son's plans for the summer. The conversation ended roughly like this: "And then he is going up to Virginia to visit his grandmother for a couple of weeks. Every summer they have a revival and bring in a child evangelist--and he is ventriloquist!"

I will let you think about that for a second.

Now, I don't know about you but I cannot think of anything I would rather not do as a child than spend a week in a revival led by a child evangelist with a dummy. Heck, I'm not sure I could be polite and fake two days as an adult, much less a week. But just as I start to get all snooty and obnoxious about the whole scenario, I am reminded of the end of the book "Diary of a Country Priest" and the final words of a dying man of the cloth. He has spent his entire, short, adult life working in a small French town and by all indications, he was a failure. But as he lies on his death bed and reaches the end of his life, he has an epiphany. His last words were, "What does it matter? All is grace."

And that stops me from judging, at least for a little while. And it reminds me that God can work through anyone. A child evangelist/ventriloquist. A flamboyant faith healer on TV. A quiet lady behind you in line to buy coffee. A middle-aged graphic designer working for the state. "What does it matter? All is grace."


Entry One Hundred Six: Adam Mahoney, You Just Won!

[This entry is the current story I am working on. This is thirty-six of who knows how many will be posted. Enjoy it while it lasts...]

Chapter Fifteen
Adam embraced his new diversion with the same enthusiasm he had for his workouts. He developed a routine of getting up early, making sure the house was in order and then sitting at the kitchen table to work on a kit until it was time to go to the gym. His first attempts at putting together the cars and planes were shaky, revealing the unsteady hands of too much coffee and too many cigarettes, but with practice, he gradually became more skilled and the results improved with each finished car or plane. He loved the detail work best of all and found that, when he was concentrating properly, time would get eaten up and he wouldn’t notice how long he had sat in the kitchen working. He had to start setting an alarm to let him know when he should stop and do something else.

He continued his trips to the high school gym and after his workouts he found himself more and more drawn to the cafeteria and its crude map of the United States. He made sure and visit it every day before heading home. It was his personal pilgrimage to an unusual meditation spot. Besides the cafeteria being a great place to smoke a post-workout cigarette, something about the enormity and scope of the map painted on the wall calmed him down. He had no idea why and didn’t try to figure it out; self-analysis seemed such a waste of time. Very few things affected him deeply so he had learned to accept it and enjoy it while it lasted. The trip through the halls to the bowels of the school became part of his schedule and, to that point, the routine was working for him although he suspected it would run its course eventually, just like everything else. All the activities in his life seemed to be working off a cosmic timer, offering relief but only for limited amounts of time. He made efforts to ignore that or at least send it to the edges of his mind, preferring to live in the moment. Any part of the future was too much to grip and any hint of it crawling into his mind caused the chasm in his belly to awaken and remind him of the reality of his situation. He realized it was a form of denial, all of the stuffing and ignoring, but his main motivation was survival and he had made it this far utilizing the Adam Mahoney methodology, which he considered an achievement considering the odds.

It wasn’t long before Adam became proficient creating the models. He built enough of them that he soon discovered a rhythm in the creative process that, when immersed in it, allowed him to finish two or three models per day. His kitchen became a model factory with one part of the table set aside for a completed car, plane or tank to firm up and the breakfast counter reserved for a painted model to dry. All within view of Adam’s current work in progress, scattered in pieces around the rest of the table. His proficiency fed his obsession and he returned to the hobby store weekly, filling the back of his car with saran-wrapped boxes of plastic narcotics. This soon caused an unforeseen problem. The completed arsenal of miniature cars, tanks and planes were beginning to overrun his house. Most of the flat surfaces were covered with his creations and he had resorted to setting some on the floor, out of traffic lanes but still not safe. It was important to him that his work not be cast off and relegated to marginal status, collecting dust and in the way. After all, the models, no matter how small and plastic, were the only things new being created anywhere on the earth. They deserved to be displayed with respect and honor.

All words and images ©2007/J. Colle


More Ebb and Flow

This morning, my youngest child began his senior year of high school. This represents a lot of milestones for all of us—my son, my wife and myself. One more year of public school to navigate. One more year of required, supervised education to check off the list. One more homecoming dance. One more prom. One more year of club meetings and fund-raising. One more graduation ceremony. One more year required to live at home. For once, “this time next year” has no shape or form for me. There are myriad possibilities but nothing is in concrete and that is a little bit weird and lot bit exhilarating—for him and us. Of all my children, this one has been shackled by school more than liberated. He has been tugging at the chain for 12 years and he’ll soon get a chance to run free. Sure, there will be new walls, new ditches and new obstacles to navigate but maybe he’ll have a little time to let the chaffing from the collar heal before those become too real.

Lord, I pray blessings on him during the next ten months. May he catch a whiff of the perfect mixture of responsibility and fun. May he find teachers that admire his gifts and encourage their growth. May his heart remain pliable but not too vulnerable. Let there be good surprises along the way and let him know they are from You. May he write new songs that touch Your heart and ours. Reveal a glimpse of his future, a taste that will motivate and inspire. And in the midst of his busy and important schedule, provide him the time (and inclination) to sit and watch a game with his dad a few more times.


Casual Friday Freebee

Constantinople is a mighty long word.
Got three more letters than mockingbird.

Artist: John Prine
Song: Morning Train
Album: Fair & Square


Splainin' Scripture

In an attempt to add to the myth that a picture says a thousand words, I am providing a couple of drawings straight out of my sketchbook for you to study and admire. Inspired by teachings I heard in church, it is up to you to determine whether I was actually listening or not. I tell you what: let's not put the pressure of a thousand words on these mini masterpieces, lets just shackle them with 75 or 80. That would be a total of 160 for both, max. Seems fair. After all, this site is free so you should be feeling generous. Enjoy...


Venting on Vending

The building here at HSMV has several strategically placed soda and vending machines on every floor as well as a cafeteria on the second floor. I don't pay much attention to the machines because they don't tend to offer the sort of things I like to eat. But they are pretty diverse considering the common denominator of all of the snacks offered is some form of preservative. How diverse? By golly, I am glad you asked. Listed here for your edification and wonder are the contents of the snack machine near the elevators down the hall from my office. (I wonder if it is a coincidence that the snack machines are near the elevators and not near the stairs? Just thinking out loud...)

Top Row: Crunchy Cheetos, Nacho Cheese Doritos, Honey BBQ Frito’s Flavor Twists, Cheddar and Sour Cream Ruffles, Baked Crunchy Cheetos

Second Row: Lays Classic Potato Chips, Garden Salsa Sun Chips, Hot Fries, Munchos, Knotts Berry Farm’s Raspberry Shortbread Bites

Third Row: Mac’s BBQ Chicharrones (Pork Rinds), Elfin Crackers, Cheez-its, Snyder’s Pretzels, Lemon Crème Cookies

Fourth Row: Snickers, Peanut M&M’s, Twix, 3 Musketeers, Reeses, Chocolate Almond Hershey’s Bar, Original Hershey’s Bar, Kit Kat, Wildly Cherry M&M’s, Spree

Fifth Row: Toastchee Crackers, Nekot Crackers, Malt Crackers, Captain Wafer’s Cream Cheese Crackers, Butterfinger, Baby Ruth, Lorna Doone Cookies, Salted Peanuts, Beef and Cheese Sticks, Granola Bar

Sixth Row: Strawberry Pop Tart, Rice Krispie Treats, Kiwi Danish, Jumbo Honey Bun, Fruity Snacks

Bottom Row: Dentyne Cinnamon Gum, Dentyne Spearmint Gum, Juicy Fruit, Breathsavers Peppermint, Breathsavers Spearmint

Between Wiggly Man and this list I sense a food theme today. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Another Blast From the Past: Part 2

The following is the second poem and drawing of Wiggly Man. I spent some time trying to figure out if the Wiggly Man poems held some deeper meaning, some hidden gem that would enlighten and speak to us on a latent, spiritual level. Alas, I think they are just nonsense. Sorry about that.

Wiggly Man Redux

Oh, Wiggly Man is
Back in town,
He’s stoppin’
Cause he almost died
From wigglin’ his way
‘Cross the land
And eatin’
Chickens, whole and fried.

His face is shiny,
Belly slack.
Eyes are red
Sorta’ watery.
He spots my hot lunch,
Thinks, “A snack!”
Then eats it
Sans apology.


Not sure if I should post this...

... but, dang it, true life can be rather amusing so I present this for either your enjoyment or a personal sociological study on the dangers of undergarments. Today I decided to spend my lunch time downstairs on the Reading Porch here at FLDHSMV. It's not really a Reading Porch but more of a screened in room that is not air conditioned (but has ceiling fans) and is officially called "Smoke Free Room." I don't know if it is because people are allowed to smoke in there although it neither smells of smoke nor has ashtrays. All I know is it is usually empty and I can read a book during lunch undisturbed by the incessant TV's blaring in the cafeteria. After my reading time had ended, I began making my way back to the fourth floor via the stairs (Reading Porch is on the second). About halfway up the stairs I started getting a disturbing sensation that there was something extra in my pants, a wad of something in my underwear. I stopped and tried to retrace any bathroom decisions I had made (or forgot to make) over the course of the morning but nothing came to mind. I slowly made my way to the fourth floor and gingerly stepped into the men's restroom and secured a stall.

I have to admit, I was a bit freaked out about following through with the next step. What in the world was I going to find? I used all my mental powers to keep my imagination from running wild but knew I had to follow through regardless of the outcome. I unbuttoned my pants and started the examination. Much to my relief I found a single sock wadded up in the seat of my boxer briefs. Black on black, hiding but creeping, entirely missed when I pulled them on this morning. I supposed they started in the leg and went exploring as I walked up the steps. Fortunately it was one of my socks which is important since it keeps it in my clothing family. There is no point to this story and no moral. Just a slice of my life real time, shared as it happens. Discuss amongst yourselves...


Another Blast From the Past

The year was 2000 but that probably has nothing to do with what inspired the poetry that bubbled out of me about a dude named Wiggly Man. And it happened on two different occasions. They say all good (and bad) things happen in threes so, since there was never a third poem about Wiggly Man, I will have to assume he is neutral. I share him with you, my dear reader(s), because I ran across these in an old sketchbook recently and I smiled. Figured that made it worth sharing. One today, another one later. Enjoy…

I am the Wiggly Man,
Doin’ my wiggly dance.
Don’t have much of a plan,
But I got’s a wiggly stance.

Wiggly’s a way of life,
It takes a lotsa skill.
Or maybe not becuz
My dermis just won’t stand still

When I starts to giggle,
And grossin’ out the throng,
I wiggle and I jiggle,
And break out in a song.


A Final Word on the Family Reunion (Maybe)

On the drive home yesterday, Hope made an interesting observation. She pointed out that of all the grandkids, only our two boys currently have the opportunity to carry on the Colle name within our branch of the tree. All of the male grandchildren with our last name have only sired girls and all of the boy grandchildren have parents with another last name. I found that very interesting for some reason. And I thought it was incredibly interesting that Hope was the one who noticed. Here’s to William, Jordan (and Kyle!)… good luck!


Family Reunion Trip: Day Four

Monday, August 04, 2009

Numbered List (using letters)

  1. Breakfast at 8:30 am
    1. Outstanding once again, plus it is cool having everyone in one room. It gives us all a chance to mingle.
  2. Tour the property with my parents
    1. We got a chance to drive up to the lot my parents want to purchase one day. It was a brief tour but it was nice to see the possibilities. Plus the view from there is very impressive.
  3. Helped serve lunch at our apartment
    1. Our residence was the lunch room. We had all the fixings for sandwiches, chips, fruit… all in our kitchen which made for a lively couple of hours each day. But a nice chance to chat with everyone as they ate lunch.
  4. Spent the majority of the day sitting around and visiting
    1. It was way too hot to do much of anything outside. Hope walked down to the pier to take a ride on the pontoon boat but she walked back because the wait was miserably sweaty.
  5. Memorial service for Grandy at 5:00 pm
    1. It was a nice chance to get everyone on the Oaks/Minnich side of the family together and reminisce. We buried her ashes in the garden next to the chapel. She died right before her 103rd birthday last spring.
  6. Dinner at 6:30 pm
    1. The kids were so tired of sandwiches that they borrowed a car and went into town to eat at Wendy’s (which is technically a sandwich but... whatever). Hope and I were not very hungry so we volunteered to baby sit some of the little ones and allow parents to have a quiet dinner at the farmhouse. It was easier than it sounds.
  7. Praise, worship and sharing time in the chapel 8:30 pm
    1. Dad led a short time of singing and sharing to cap off the day and the reunion. It was a nice capper.
  8. End the night playing Wii and enjoying each other one last time before departing
    1. Kyle and Shannon were last to leave which was a pleasant and fitting ending to the day.

Family Reunion Trip: Link to Photos

Here is a link to my Flikr site with a few pictures. This will have to do until I can finish the updates from the rest of the trip. That may be as soon as tonight but I ain't promising nothing...

Go see the pictures...


Family Reunion Trip: Day Three

Monday, August 04, 2009

Numbered List
  1. Breakfast at 8:30 am
    1. Our family was late but there was plenty of food.
  2. "Family" meeting at 10:00 am
    1. There are over 50 of us so it is always interesting when we are all in the same room. Lot's of little kids but it is fun energy.
  3. "Get to Know Random Family Members Better" Games 10:30 am
    1. Run by William and Jul and it provided many, many comical, awkward moments.
  4. Lunch 12:30 am
    1. Laura and I skipped lunch and borrowed one of the canoes for a 1.5 hour tour of the gigantic lake. William and Jul were out there in a kayak and so we were not alone.
  5. Free time all afternoon
    1. We basically laid around and tried to stay cool. The weather is Africa hot and a bit uncomfortable. Even hanging around we get a chance to chat up different relatives we haven't seen in a while so it is the equivalent of a quality at bat--even if we walk.
  6. Begin the video's, talent and no-talent night along with bar-b-que dinner 5:30 pm
    1. Lots of tears, sweating, laughing, displays of talent and semi-talent, more sweating, a few more tears and a quality night for mom and dad. They were pleased which means it was a success.
  7. Back in the rooms for adult beverages and cigars on the porch
    1. Finally.


Family Reunion Trip: Entry Two

Sunday, August 03

Bulleted List:

  • Started with breakfast in the lobby of the hotel along with a few hundred of our closest friends.
  • Rolled north around 11:30 am and the GPS said we will arrive at 2:30 pm
  • We had to stop at a nasty convenience store so that Hope wouldn’t pee in her pants. We were almost too late but she was able to bend over and take baby steps so she made it.
  • We voluntarily stopped at a nasty Arby’s and tried to eat healthy. William refused to play and ordered three Arby Cheddar Melts. His girlfriend was displeased.
  • We arrived at Whitestone at three and were greeted by my parents, the 50th anniversary couple. The grounds are beautiful and our room is really nice, large enough for all six of us to hang comfortably.
  • Lot’s of hugging, hand shaking, laughing, eating. And more to come.
  • Dinner tonight was five courses and really good. More laughing. Loud. Silly. Fun.
  • Everyone from our clan is now in our room. Laughing. Loud. Silly. A little wine. A few cigars. Fun.

Family Reunion Trip: Entry One

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Today can be divided into Good and Bad.

Good: Car was packed and we were ready to leave on time.
Bad: Hope wanted to wait on a blanket to finish its cycle in the washing machine so she could put it in the dryer before we left. We left thirty minutes “late.”

Good: The rented van had an auxiliary input which meant I could play my iPod through the stereo.
Bad: No one wanted to listen to my music.

Good: GPS got us to Turner Field in time for the Braves game.
Bad: Traffic around the stadium held us up so long that we didn’t get to our seats until the second inning.

Good: I thought ahead and bought a parking pass on line to save us time.
Bad: The spaces were so tight that it took a group of five people to guide me into the parking space. It didn’t help that the owner of the car next to us stayed to watch me back in and make sure I didn’t scratch his car.

Good: Our friend Ben turned our six dollar bleacher tickets into prime seats, 12 rows behind the Brave’s dugout.
Bad: It was one of the hottest days of the summer and there is no shade in the prime seats, 12 rows behind the Brave’s dugout.

Good: GPS told us that, from the stadium parking lot, we were only 5.2 miles from the brand new H&M store.
Bad: GPS was more confused with the pervasive road construction in Atlanta than we were and our meandering route ended up doubling the ETA.

Good: Found a Chipotle and enjoyed a chicken burrito along with chips, guacamole and a Barq’s root beer.
Bad: Can’t think of anything negative about that.

Good: Hope had accumulated enough Hilton Honor’s points for us to get two free rooms for the night.
Bad: The hotel is hosting three family reunions, one with over 200 people involved, and the entire hotel is hopping. And they are all wearing matching t-shirts. And there is a table in the lobby selling Obama shirts.

Tomorrow: Tennessee