Thursday, September 21, 2006

sh*g no more

Tomorrow, it will be two years to the day since I started this blog. What better a time to finish it.

I chose the title “A Bit Of Pampering…etc” because I thought it was funny, because I thought it was different, and, ok, I’ll admit it, because it began with the letter “A” and I hoped it would rank high on other blogger’s alphabetical link lists.

Once a week on my “bitesize bullets” post I do a thing where I show you some of the funnier google searches which were used to create a hit on my blog.

What you don’t see are some of the sick permutations using the word “sh*g” that get here. And some of those posts are about members of my family. All it takes for the searches to get here, as I’m sure most of you know, is the numerous words to be there somewhere on a particular page, in no particular order.

Even so, I don’t like people like that finding their way here that way on a regular basis, so it’s time to call it a day. Sorry, but putting the asterisk in won’t cut it.

But if you think a few sick bastards are going to stop me blogging altogether, you can sh*g off ;-)

Thanks for all your hits and comments up to now. Long may they continue wherever I may end up in the Blogosphere.

Monday, September 18, 2006

bitesize bullets


SUMMARY : Last Wednesday I blogged about a ludicrous protocol at the US Embassy. Then over on my Irish-specific blog, I commented on the new leader of the PD party, then I praised Gay Byrne for doing his job. Over the weekend I did two “sports shorts” posts to catch up.

PRAISE: A highlight of my recent wedding celebration was my new brother-in-law John’s excellent depiction of the dance from the FatBoy Slim video “Praise You”. It must have been the cocktails that inspired him. We all tried our best to join in.

RADICAL : As I suggest in my pre-amble, prepare for things to start looking quite different in JL Pagano BlogWorld. It’s high time I mixed things up a little. Hopefully it will all work out ok.

QUESTIONABLE: Considering how well the Catholic Church handled his accession from a PR standpoint, I’d be very surprised if Pope Benedict XVI made a mistake by causing offence in the extremist Muslim community with his recent comments. If I’m right, I can’t for the life of me see how it helps.

“Lots of girls and lots of boys
Lots of smells and lots of noise
Playing football in the park
Kicking Pushbikes after dark”

Who sang that? Check comments for the answer.

SPEECH: Thanks to everyone who complimented my wedding speech. I gave a sneak preview of the text, publishing it before I went to the church. Here’s a pic of me getting through it. For the record, the best man’s speech WAS very funny after all, in fact everyone did well.

OSSIFIED… : …is the Irish Slang Word O’ The Week. You know the way the Eskimos have about twenty different words for “snow”? Well the Irish are the same when it comes to “drunk”, with ossified, langered, fluthered, twisted, locked, stocious, pallatic, legless, pissed and rat-arsed to name but a few.

COMPLETE: “A weekly marvel. A brilliantly written hour-long fantasy about what The White House might be like if honour and intellectual brilliance ever trumped cupidity and mediocrity” An excellent description of The West Wing taken from the DVD cover of Series 4, to commemorate the release of the final Series 7.

STATWATCH : During my little break from posting, my various blogs passed the 35,000 hit barrier since May 2005, and the total now stands at 38,179. I’d trade them all to know who was reading my blog from Los Osos, California! I’m intrigued to find out if it’s someone I know!

GOOGLING : Latest phrases to lead people here include …

“frank lampard wedding September 2006”

“odd looking bullets”

“my fiancĂ©e is a bigot and a racist”

“lyrics of fairytale of roy keane”

“there’s a hole in the bucket, video, muppet”

I hope they all found what they were looking for.

“Google phrases of the week” and “Statwatch” courtesy of

“Irish Slang Word O’ The Week” courtesy of “The book of feckin’ Irish Slang that’s great craic for cute hoors and bowsies”

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

it’s SO not about the money

First I’d like to thank everyone who has offered both congratulations and commiserations over the past few weeks; it has meant a lot to me.

Trust me, I would really like to resume to normal posting as soon as possible, but I have had problems with my broadband since the weekend which have only just been resolved. I’d like to post about something unbelievable that happened to me the other day.

All I had to do was call the US Embassy here in Dublin and report my grandmother’s death so I could stop her Social Security payments. I really honestly thought I was doing the right thing. Well, of course I was, but I still get angry when I think about the conversation that took place.

I chose my title for this post very carefully. This is really not about the money whatsoever. I hope having read what transpired you will see where I am coming from.

After reporting my grandmother’s passing to the Federal Benefits Division, the lady very kindly expressed her condolences, and after calling up her Social Security Number on her computer she remarked that she had reached a grand old age, which at 97, of course she had.

Then I was asked for the date of death. August 31st was my truthful reply.

Immediately I was informed that since she had died before the end of August, even though it was a matter of hours before, she had to forego ALL of her Social Security benefits for that calendar month, and since it had already been paid by direct debit, this lady on the phone had to inform me that in a few days her office would be reaching into my grandmother’s bank account and taking the money back.

Once again I must stress, it’s not about the money, nor is my annoyance directed at this lady in particular for I understand she was just doing her job.

Surely, in this day and age, in the 21st century, considering that you are dealing with what is supposedly the most powerful and civilized nation in the world, you would expect some kind of protocol in place whereby people reporting the death of family members can be treated with a bit of compassion?

Already I have thought of several different ways it the situation could have been handled, and I have received absolutely NO training in this area.

OK – if it was about the money, how many civil servants would it take to get a calculator and work out the differential to the day? But it isn’t about the money, like I said.

The one thing that really annoys me is that I know someone else out there with a bit more knowledge of the system would be able to declare the first of the month as the date of death and not have to go through this at all.

So why didn’t she ask me for a copy of the death certificate? You can be sure if my phone call was to claim money back off Uncle Sam she would have asked for it!

Even if reclaiming the money for August were absolutely necessary, what she could have done was request that I mail in or fax a copy of the certificate, THEN outline in a letter the reasons why the money needs to be reclaimed. This way, a phone call that is difficult to make in the first place isn’t made ten times harder.

Or alternatively, they could allow for a two-week waiting period when payments begin, which will mean they cannot be paid in advance and thus need not be reclaimed, unless the death is reported long after the fact.

Any beaurocracy worth its salt should appreciate my timely notification, no matter what the subject matter.

I was left feeling like it was the stupidest thing I could have possibly done.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

the month of remembrance

Please forgive me for this post – it is not my wish to bring anyone down, it’s just that I want to continue my blogging hobby and I don’t want to do so while pretending nothing has happened over the past week.

I suppose it would be wise to inform those who may not know that my grandparents brought me up as their son.

The month of August, particularly the end of it, will always be one of remembrance for my family.

August 20th, 1936

My grandparents are married in Nashua, New Hampshire.

August 21st, 1913

My grandfather is born.

August 22nd, 2004

I propose to Sandra.

August 24th, 1977

My grandparents and I say our last farewells to most of our friends as we make final preparations to emigrate from the Bay Area of California all the way to Ireland.

August 26th, 2006

On the happiest day of my life, Sandra and I are married in front of friends and most of my family.

August 27th, 2004

My grandfather passes away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 91.

August 28th, 2002

My grandmother writes the above note and leaves it by her bedside. Please note the impeccable penmanship for (at the time) a 93-year old lady.

August 29th, 1992

I married my first wife.

August 30th, 2006

That same first wife, the only other person* I had in Ireland to be a contact person for my grandmother’s nursing home, has the unenviable task of calling me while on my honeymoon in New York to tell me she had deteriorated much over the previous 24 hours, and that we should change our flights if I wanted to be with her at the end.

August 31st, 2006

My grandmother passed away quiety and painlessly at the grand age of 97. We successfully changed our flights, but touched down 45 minutes before she was gone, so we did not quite make it to her bedside. At the very least, she was not unattended.

The funeral was yesterday. As much as my grandparents both loved me and were proud to carry out the challenge of bringing me up, because of the generation gap, it could be said that they never properly understood me, and of course vice versa. For me, the silver lining of recent events is that I know now they both understand me perfectly, and will watch over me and my family for the rest of our own days on this earth.

May they both rest in peace.

* = I must note that Sandra’s immediate family would have been more than willing to be available for my grandmother, but we felt it best to ask MyX because hers was a face that would be recognized more readily, plus she is mother to her two great-grandchildren.