Friday, August 29, 2008

I Brake for Sausage McMuffins

On one morning last week, I found myself in a traffic jam almost immediately upon entering the Mass Pike to make my daily journey to Cambridge. After creeping along for 20 minutes, I arrived at the accident scene.

Automobile accidents always concern me and I shamelessly gawked. As much as I complain about other drivers doing this, what was I going to do while driving 1.5 mph?

What I observed was fascinating. Please don't get me wrong. Car accidents are horrible. Horrible. A tragedy, I say. But, I witnessed a family of 5 huddled beside a state trooper's car while they stared at their Ford Focus in the middle lane facing the wrong way (as in facing Albany). The front of the car was wrinkled like an accordion and steam escaped from under the crinkle-cut hood. But, what was fascinating was what I noticed a few minutes later. A dozen more accidents almost occurred as drivers swerved to avoid a full McDonald's bag also in the center lane. From the grease streak that connected the breakfast to it's former transportation, it was clear that these McMuffins were *ejected*. The bag skidded about 100 feet further than the car. Only breakfast with that mass and natural...I mean unnatural...lubricant could get that mileage.

In that moment, my stomach growled. I was only driving 1.5 mph. I thought, "If I could just slow down a bit more, crack my door open, and REACH....."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Brake Retarders Prohibited

This was the sign that I noticed while driving through my hometown in Pennsylvania recently. Although I'm not certain of it's meaning, I'm sure that it falls into the same category of rude signs as "Slow Children".

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Keno Anniversary

Keno marked a milestone on Thursday. I can't remember what it was exactly, but it was one of the following:

1 millionth game
1 millionth winner
1 millonth convenience store to close as the result of loitering Keno addicts keeping normal people from ever reaching the front of the line to purchase their tree-shaped car fresheners and Skittles.

To celebrate, I plan to carve out 10 hours of my day to visit a packie and try my hand at Keno. I would sit hunched over a small card table between the stale bread and chewing tobacco. I'll chain smoke. Well....ok, thanks to Massachusetts laws, this is not going to happen. Instead, I will simply talk as if I have been a chain smoker since the age of 5. Every now and then, I'll mumble to myself and occasionally slam my hand on the table and yell "Damn Keno! Back in '82 I won $100 and they've been screwing with me ever since! Today is not my lucky day. NOT MY LUCKY DAY!!!!"

Okay, so maybe I won't. But, wouldn't it be fun?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Noisy Cars

On NPR this morning, there was a segment about how electric and hybrid vehicles are dangerous for the blind. I completely understand this and can see how this would be true.

But, what struck me as humorous is that the bill passed by the CA legislature provides that a committee will be established to determine ways in which the vehicles could be made noisier. I'm imagining sound machines strapped to the hood of every Prius. Not white noise though - that could be even more dangerous. Perhaps a recording of Sam Kinnison screaming or Gilbert Gottfried talking to make sure nobody steps off the curb within a mile radius. What's safer than that?

No, really. How will they make cars noisier? I recommend creative financing allowing for early payoff. For these cars will almost certainly make more noise (probably from the engine or transmission) the day after the last payment is made.

Hotdog Sauna

Laurel mentioned that there is a hot dog stand for sale around the corner from our house. This is coming at a perfect time as I explore other careers. I'm tempted to buy this carnival relic and setup a hot dog stand. In front of my house. I'll get early morning motorists that don't shy away from morning meats. I'll rake it in everytime there is a little league game. And I think every weeknight stroll isn't perfect until you've stuffed a frankfurter in your face.

In all seriousness, I could sell hotdogs. Don't you think? I have always been mesmorized by the steamy box from which the hotdogs emerge. My own personal sauna. With hotdogs.

Defending the Nation

While driving to work on the Mass Pike this morning, I noticed the Newton Armory. This particular armory has dual purpose. The first reason that this small castle still serves as the home base for the Army National Gaurd. Respectful. The second purpose for this armory is recreational volleyball. Also respectful and equally important to the nation's status as a world super power. Let me explain.

According to the often inaccurate Wikipedia,
"An armory (Armoury) is a military depot used for the storage of weapons and ammunition. The term may also apply to an area within a building, used for the storage of weapons. In the United States, armory may refer to the building from which a military reserve component trains during peacetime. In a typical armory, ammunition is stored under separate lock and key from weapons to minimize the potential for misuse and improve safety. Very sensitive alarm systems are also extensively used."

Every night there is a volleyball league. I think that the armory should provide these weeknight warriors with access to weapons and ammunition. If the Garden City were ever to come under attack, they will be prepared. They will lock the doors, climb the turret, and fire away! Okay, so perhaps it's not a good idea to provide these weapons to these Tuesday night athletes with the desire to kill (volleyball term, peeps). Instead they will lock the doors, climb the turret, and bump-set-spike to the bitter end.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Ladybug Heaven

[I wrote this a few years ago in our first house]

Do ladybugs see a bright light when they meet their end? They certainly do in the moments leading up to it.

Every autumn, these red helmet insects descend upon our home and live there for a few weeks before it gets too cold. They crawl on every surface, pretending to look for an exit. But, these intruders don’t fool me. It’s clear that they are pacing, reflecting on their short lives, before they die, fall to the floor, and stick to my slippers each morning.

Apparently, the bathroom is a fun place to live for these few weeks, for many of them congregate there. Although I am uncertain of their activities in the dark, they become quite distracted when the lights go on, forgetting everything to wander towards the light. Perhaps stories of near-death experiences have led them to believe that the light represents the path to ladybug heaven? I think they are quite disappointed when they find out that the stories are wrong. In fact, they are quite angry when they realize that the bare light bulb onto which they just mindlessly crawled is clearly hotter than the sun’s surface, which they have also heard stories about. This disappointment results in displaced anger as the ladybugs then fly berserk about the room, ramming their bodies into the light bulb with great force. I can’t imagine that this is helpful, unless they desperately want the light to literally represent their ultimate destiny.

Recently, I discovered that one hearty ladybug is still boarding in our bathroom. It lives on, despite many obstacles: reckless flying, extreme heat, natural death, and hairspray. The bug spends most of her time on the window, keeping her feet cool. But, occasionally when the boredom is even too much for this bug to handle, she indulges in her favorite pastime on the vanity lights.

In light of my obvious affection for these annual visitors, one might be surprised to know that I have a tremendous bug phobia. Actually, I am most effected by the bugs that I imagine are climbing up my back or landing on my head. I cannot walk in the woods without swatting imaginary bugs that climb up my back and land on my head. My flailing arms are more justified, and result in less laughter from family members, when I can see the bug landing on me.

I come closest to my own death when my early morning companion attempted again to accomplish the impossible landing while I was shaving. This morning ritual became nearly fatal when she landed on my forehead while in mid-trajectory towards the vanity. Her timing, however, was quite unfortunate for me as my bug-swatting hand was wielding a razor. The gash on my face was a week long reminder of my persistent housemate.

She still lives with me. She is old now and her friends have all passed. In the past few days, she couldn’t even bring herself to fly. I have wondered if our early morning light ritual is now a sad reminder to her. Therefore, I shave in the dark so as not to be the source of any ladybug disappointment.

I imagine that my friend will leave this earth soon. In the meantime, I wonder if there is a lesson to be learned. Perhaps we should all follow our instincts, set a goal, and be relentless in achieving that goal. That is, unless we reach our goal and burn our feet, in which case we should leave immediately and try again tomorrow.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Beans Before Bathtime

I once entered an essay contest to win a spa jacuzzi. They asked for 30 reasons why we should win a spa. Here is what they received from me:

"Description of 30 Reasons why you want a Caldera Spa:

1.Please accept this entry for a free portable CD player and stereo receiver with the additional bonus of a built-in spa!

2.This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a Caldera spa and, if I win, I will never take it for granted. I would be forever grateful and consider it a lifelong investment for both Caldera and my family.

3.*Why* would I like to own a Caldera spa? Comfort, performance, and style. I have learned a lot about your spas and am truly convinced of your company’s dedication to exceeding expectations in all of these areas.

4.My wife and I have celebrated our most special occasions by searching out hotels with nice spas, but we have only been successful a couple times. I want to make every day a special occasion worth celebrating with my family.

5.The Caldera “Spa Steps” that I got for my last birthday look silly without the spa. So does the Spa Enclosure.

6.My recent obsession with energy efficiency has resulted in the acquisition of as many energy efficient appliances and items as possible…it’s a building year….

7.The advertised “free brochure” on your website sounds interesting and I hope that this entry would increase my chances of winning one of those, too.

8.We entertain a lot and parties have been a bit dull since “the lawn dart incident” a few years ago.

9.We just bought a house and part of the deck was designed and built, by the forward-looking sellers, to accommodate for the addition of a future spa.

10.We are moving into our new house soon and we would like to give the neighbors something to talk about.

11.I believe that few things sell a good product than word-of-mouth and when I enjoy a product, I tell everyone.

12.I will give my Caldera spa the best 30th Anniversary party *ever*.

13.I am dying to know what exists in your website’s “Owner’s Corner.” I didn't think I could look yet.

14. Spas improve circulation in the body. That's a good thing, right?

15.My wife is an amazing wife, a wonderful mother, and a genuinely great person. I would love to surprise her with a gift that would be forever remembered.

16.On the rare occasions that we have been able to enjoy a spa, we have noticed the physical and mental health benefits. With the reliability and quality of Caldera workmanship, winning this spa offers us the amazing opportunity to experience these benefits for a lifetime.

17.Our family vehicles consist only of a station wagon and a minivan. Please help a guy out- at this rate, I will *never* again have the chance to experience surround sound. In all seriousness, the aforementioned house we bought is wired for surround sound in one room but sadly I had to cover the wire connections because our budget doesn’t have room for speakers, not even to mention ones that turn 360 degrees.

18.Hot Tub Circuit Therapy sounds amazing, truly relaxing, and unlike anything that I could experience with any other spa.

19.After many years of babies, college loans, and mortgages, my wife and I have not had much left over to treat ourselves to a vacation or indulge in any personal relaxation.

20.One word: EcstaSeat. The beauty of this feature will never be overlooked by this particular contestant.

21.You have one of the *best* websites I have EVER seen. And has anyone ever told you that shirt looks *great* on you? Humor aside, I have found that your website sells your product well and I have fallen in love with your spas.

22.My wife and I are expecting a second child in April and would love to have a daily retreat from a busy day with two infants. The only alternative is reality television in which most seasons often feature a hot tub scene. Please save us from this horrible fate.

23.I moved to Boston from Pennsylvania many years ago. It is finally time to prove to locals that a “Spa” is not a mini-mart nor the true pronunciation of “spar,” which is what they threaten to do when I make comments like that.

24.Your virtual showroom is so realistic that every time I log onto your website, I end up naked with a glass of wine and at least 10 friends “on their way over”. This has to end.

25.My wife and I need a spa to prepare for the next casting call for the role of the “Caldera Couple” in future promotional videos.

26.Spas with hot water and jets get my wife in the mood and a Utopia spa will probably be more seductive than our usual “Beans Before Bathtime” events.

27.As a manufacturing professional, I can genuinely recognize and appreciate the value of a reliable, high quality, and well-manufactured product.

28.A Caldera spa would be a wonderful addition to a wonderful home.

29.We do not deserve to win this spa more than any other qualified candidate. However, we will be forever thankful and our gratitude will show in our constant care, praise, and use of our Caldera spa.

30.I need more personal relaxation time, because lately I only have enough time to write 30 fragmented thoughts before my son sees me on the computer and starts to press the computer ke333lkj;wefa;ewjlpliwyoe[jjjjjjjjjjjwafiofwaieoaijfwa1118,,,s"

Friday, August 1, 2008

Formaldehyde Bomb

Last Saturday, my daughter's skin broke out in a rash. The rash was a random pattern of raised bumps as opposed to a contiguous patch of irritated skin. I'm not sure exactly when the bumps arrived so quietly, but it was soon after a lot of suntan lotion, rolling around in the recently cut grass, and playing in the baby pool full of said cut grass. We weren't worried about it, until it didn't go away but rather showed a little blood on the surface of the bumbs.

So the doctor wanted to see her and her bumps yesterday. The doctor wasn't too concerned but ordered lab tests anyways. We went to one lab where they unsuccessfully attempted to draw blood. They sent us down the road, three rights to make a left, to another lab where we left 1/2 a tube of RBCs lighter. But, while drawing the blood, the nurse asked if she had a fever or was "it just warm outside"? "Warm outside", was my reply.

After a caffeine addiction refill at Starbucks and on the way home, Shea vomited in her car seat. It was a Poltergeist moment, for sure. We got home only a minute later. I was quite efficient in getting her undressed, out of the car, upstairs, into the bathroom dripping chunks along the way. Nice. After the bath, she reloaded with more milk, and fell asleep in her crib.

While she napped, I cleaned her car seat and the back seat of my car. Her car seat was obviously the most affected by the GI assault. I took it apart with two fingers and a wrinkled nose. I carried the pieces into the house, through the kitchen, to the basement dripping chunks along the way. Nice. Washed, scrubbed, rinsed and loaded the fabrics into the washing machine. Filled a bucket for the little pieces and hosed off the bigger pieces in the backyard. Chunks in the grass, breakfast for the birds. Nice.

Then, I returned to the car. Only a little had oozed through the strap holes, down the strap, onto the carseat. I wiped it up with a paper towel and dish soap. Yet, my car still smelled this morning.

I need a self-cleaning car. One in which I could have left the whole mess (toddler too if it were FDA approved) and initiated a self-cleaning cycle. I realize that this might not decontaminate the biological hazardous materials, which is why I really needed a formaldehyde bomb.