August 28, 2010

Cleaning Out The Closet

Ahhh!  Late Saturday Night!  Nothing could be better ... unless you find yourself thinking that tomorrow is Sunday, which makes it only 24 hours or less until you have to get up on Monday morning and face another week of soul-sucking work.

But I'll try to keep that out of my mind for the moment. As usual on a late Saturday night, I'm listening to The Midnight Special on WFMT here in Chicagoland.  And I've just spent about 15 minutes listening to five different versions of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds".  Hard to believe that anyone could make that particular piece any more sucky than the Beatles did, but all five of the artists did their level best.

Anyway, while I'm listening, I'm trying to organize my photo collection of late 19th century pornography, but it's difficult with all of these junk pictures that I tend to add to iPhoto for no particular reason.  So, I'm going to share them with you and then blow them into the ether.

In no particular order, here we go ...

C'mon, that's just an empty thread spool!

This one's for Libby

And for all of you who have stayed with it this long, take a look at "Boob Apron"

G'Night All!

August 24, 2010

One Too Many Special Days

Before Al Gore invented the internet, I'm dead certain that none of us knew how much relevant information simply passed us by.  We were, by in large, a whole passel of ignoramuses.  As an example, we wouldn't have had a clue that tomorrow, August 25th is ...

Kiss and Make Up Day.

According to the official National Kiss and Make Up Day website, this day was dredged out of the muck for the sole purpose of making money created because "All too often people can get wound up with each other and suddenly the smallest problem becomes a major issue. Often this leads to major rows and arguments.  When you have calmed down and look back at the issue, you often realize that you have totally over reacted.  Kiss and Make Up Day was created to celebrate such an event."

So take heart, all of you couples who have grown to loathe your significant others due to a mounting heap of real or perceived grievances.  Dirty underwear on the floor, not putting the toilet seat down, atrocious table manners, farting in public, bad hygiene ... and a host of other atrocities.

Instead of burying the hatchet literally in your mate's skull, you can bury it figuratively tomorrow by giving your soul mate a lovely gift or card.  Why bother sitting down and hashing out your differences, making amends and planning for a better life together when you can just "Kiss it off".

Who knew that almost all of life's problems can be solved by just creating a "special" day for each of them.

So, I don't know if I've been more or less of an insufferable prick than usual this past year, but just in case, thank God that the people at Signals catalog (purveyors of fine internet trash merchandise) gave me an idea for the perfect gift to make up for all of my shortcomings.

Jan will immediately forgive me for every rotten, shitty thing I've done in my life when she sees this:

A Battery Operated Plush Beating Heart

Yeah, that'll work.

August 22, 2010

Against All Odds

One morning a couple of weeks ago, God poured himself a cup of coffee and strolled out on his balcony.  He stared out at the distance and suddenly muttered to himself "I think I'll fuck with Rob today.  Nothing bad ... I'll just see if I can rattle him".

And so it was spoken.

One evening I rolled into the garage after work.  Jan was busying herself with something in the kitchen and greeted me with "Hey, you want to go to Applebee's?"  She's had a twenty-five dollar gift card from Applebee's forever and once in a while, she'll remember and ask me if I want to use it.  When one says "Applebees's" to me, it conjures up thoughts of chirpy hostesses, balloons, whining kids and mediocre food.  I have to be in a special mood to be able to endure all of these things at one time, and that night wasn't it.  So, I told her thanks, but I'd just rather stay home and fix something.  She seemed to take this well, and followed me upstairs, where I changed clothes.

"So, you want to hear the bad news?"

I eyed her and asked what bad news.   As I had feared, her car was "acting funny".  This can mean tens of things, most of which aren't good, but the first thing I asked her was why the hell she wanted to go to Applebee's if the car was acting up.  She just shrugged and asked me if I'd take it out and see if I could figure out what was wrong with it.  It took a while, but the car was obviously hesitating and the acceleration stunk, so I wheeled it back into the garage and told her we'd better take it over to the repair shop that evening so they could work on it first thing the next day.

Which we did.

The next morning, I toodled off to work in the truck.  All was well until I reached about the midway point. While going up a slight incline, I pressed the gas, but nothing happened.  The radio started sputtering and every light on the dashboard lit up.


I'd driven out of the commercial district, so I spotted a residential street and coaxed the dying hunk of metal into the entrance, where I parked at the curb and felt the truck shudder and take it's last breath.  My first thought was to call Jan and tell her to come and get me.

Uh-oh.  I sat for a minute in stunned silence.  How many people does this happen to?  One vehicle in the shop and the only other one dead on a side street, 15 miles from home.  At the same fucking time!  Not too many I'd venture.  So, I sat in stunned silence for a minute and then told myself I'd better do something.  So, I called work, to tell them I wouldn't be there.  I called Jan, to spread the misery.  And I called the auto club, to tell them to send me a wrecker.

I've had a variety of experiences with my auto club ... BP ... Most of them less than satisfactory.  So, after calling and being told it would be an hour, I settled in to wait.

Shit, I sure wish I hadn't had that half-a-pot of coffee before I left.  Maybe if I just ignore it, I'll forget how much I have to pee right now.  I'll never make it an hour.  Are there any bushes around here?  Shit, just yards.  Well, I'll worry about that in a minute.

A minutes passed.  My bladder spoke up ... "Hey, shithead!  Think you can ignore me?  No fucking way!  I'm filling up on you, and Mr Prostate isn't too happy either." I started looking around the cab, knowing I was going to have to do the unthinkable.  Why, oh why didn't I buy that portable urine bottle that I saw in that catalog a couple of weeks ago?  Let's see, what do I have?  Well, there's the diet Coke can, but it's only half empty.  Better drink the rest of it ...

Before I could stop myself, I had killed it.

Stupid, stupid, stupid!  You may have an empty can now, but you just put more liquid into you.  Now you've done it!  Ten more minutes passed.  My bladder spoke up again, this time however, the smart ass attitude had disappeared ... "Hey!  Buddy-boy.  C'mon, I'm really feeling uncomfortable.  I might burst!"  Yeah, yeah, tell me something I don't know.  Shut up for a fucking minute and let me think.  Let's see.  What if I just go up to one of these houses and just knock on the door and ask them if I can use their bathroom?

Yeah, right.  Maybe if I were a cute girl.  No ... I'm going to have to pee in the can.  Let's see if I can set up the logistics.  I'll have to sit here.  Then unzip.  Then pull it out.  Then stick it in the can.  That's it ... simple.  Now, how do I do that without looking like a perv?

But I did ... manage to do it, that is.  In fact, because it took 3 more phone calls and a total of 4 hours to get a tow truck to me, I had to do it THREE more times!

I did make it home, where my first act was to call BP and cancel my auto club membership, which I had held since 1975.  I'll give someone else a chance to fuck up.  Thanks for nothing BP.

By bed time that night.  I had both vehicles back.  And I was a thousand dollars poorer.  It's a shame.  But I did persevere ... and I learned a few things.  Aluminum cans transfer the heat from urine very quickly, and urine ... by the way ... kills grass very quickly.

That evening, God sat back in his armchair and put his feet up.  He swirled the drink in his martini glass and popped the two olives in his mouth.  "Enough for you today my boy ... enough for today."

And it was good.

August 15, 2010

Pizza Par-Tay

A couple of Saturdays ago, we were stuck for what to make for dinner.  If we had been a young couple, we would have said the hell with it and went out to eat.  But being the 35 year wizened duo that we are, we decided to go cheap and make a pizza.

When I was a boy, in the late 50's, my parents didn't have a lot of money.  And for about a two year stretch, we really didn't have much money.  This is still almost to surreal to me, but for a long period of time, we didn't eat anything but navy beans for dinner.  I can still remember the 50 pound burlap sack of dried beans stored in the furnace room.  For variety with our bean dinner, Mom would cut up an onion or some lettuce to throw in it.

But once in a great while, there would appear a box of Chef Boyardee pizza mix and my sisters and I would salivate all day like a trio of Pavlov's dogs, waiting for Mom to make the pizza.  Granted, she never bothered to get anything else to put on it, so it was mostly just what came with the box, but she might throw some more onions on it, and maybe a couple of chopped up slices of bologna.

To us though, it was haute cuisine.  And today, I still have a taste for a homemade Chef Boyardee pizza from time to time.  Not so navy beans.  I can't stand the sight or smell of them.  Even going past a church or social club advertising a "Bean Supper" turns my stomach.

So, on this particular Saturday night, we whipped up a pizza by the "Chef", turned on the oven and let it bake.  Several minutes later though ...

Me:  What's that smell?

Jan:  What smell?  Pizza?

Me:  No ... it smells like gas.

Jan:  Gas?

Me:  Yeah, like from the stove.

Jan:  Stove?

Me:  Yes dear ... stove.  The range.  That heated up box over there.

Jan:  Oh, you mean the oven.  Where the hell did you get "stove" and "range"?  Are those hillbilly words?

Me:  Shut the hell up.  I'm serious, don't you smell gas?

Jan:  Now that you mention it,  "sniff" yes.  Is it coming from the oven?

Jan and Rob:  "Sniff", "Sniff", "Sniff"

Jan:  Maybe we'd better turn the oven off.

Me:  But the pizza's only half-way done.  "Sniff".

Stove/Range/Oven:  BOOM!!

Pizza:  SPLAT!!


Fortunately, there was no fire, but I had never seen a stove door blown open before.  I approached the appliance slowly, armed with a fire extinguisher.  I nudged the device with my foot and then quickly gave the inside a couple of squirts of foam and turned off the gas at it's source.

The next day, we went out and bought a new stove, and of course, since we had planned to buy stainless steel appliances some day, we started with this particular piece.  And, of course, it now doesn't match any other appliance in our kitchen.

Funny, we've had the new stove for a couple of weeks now, and still haven't used it.  Maybe we're still a little gun shy.  So, it sits there in all of it's stainless glory, mocking us ...

Hey, You Pussies!  Light Me Up!

August 11, 2010

I See Dead People

I like to think I'm not much of a "Fad" person, which is probably just as well.  By the time I hear or read about some new trend, it's usually way around the bend on the way out.  When I was a kid, I was too late for the Davey Crockett coonskin cap fad.  And then I was too young to appreciate the Beatles fad.  When the Disco fad hit, I was hidden away in the backwoods of Southwestern Pennsylvania, where they had not even heard of Canadian Bacon on a pizza for God's sake.

Fads have always been with us and always will be.  Some are more puzzling than others, like the one I stumbled across the other night while galloping through the ethernet.

In the late 1800's, the camera was coming into popularity, however it was available to only a few people. Those with the money and the skill used both to their advantage and the "family portrait" industry was born.

I say "skill", because early cameras required quite a long shutter exposure time to take adequate pictures.  You had to be extremely patient to be not only the picture taker, but the picture takee too, because you had to stand perfectly still for minutes at a time so your image wouldn't blur.

Using this annoying glitch to their advantage, some photographers began to specialize in taking portraits of dead family members, since their stillness was guaranteed.  Somehow, this trend took off, and soon thousands of families were hiring photographers to take pictures of their dearly departed, which given the skyrocketing death rate from disease around the turn of the 20th century, gave them plenty of business. Sometimes the dead were photographed alone, but soon, the whole family joined in.  It is speculated that because of the cost, many families would have only this one picture to commemorate their existence on earth, and so they did a sort of "two-fer".  A dead family member and the rest of the crew in one shot for posterity.

There are quite a few of these pictures available.  In fact, I'll bet it would make a great party game if you got a whole group of people together and had them guess "Which One Is The Corpse?"  Better yet, a TV game show. Why, it might even be bigger than "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?".  I've included a few below so you can play along ...

This one's pretty easy

The one in the middle doesn't look too robust

  A little harder to tell

The snoozy slouch kind of gives him away

The "blur" gives the still kicking one's away

I'd give that last one a "10" on the old Creep-O-Meter, but extra points for prying her eyes open.

As fads go, this one had quite a run.  It started in the 1880's, peaked around 1900 and was all but gone by the early 1920's.  Facebook should only hope for this type of success.

For those of you out there who are scratching your heads and saying to yourselves "Hey, I thought Rob had a job! What's he doing home at this time on a work day?"  Well ... Rob has had quite a day, and it isn't over yet!  And I'll be back to tell you about it when everything shakes out.

Wow, remember those teasers at the end of every James Bond movie that said things like "James Bond will be back ... in THUNDERBALL!!"  Well, this is kind of like that.  Rob will be back in ... "Rob has a totally fucked-up shitty day!!"

August 04, 2010

Full Circle

There's a scene early on in the movie "Aliens", where Ripley, rescued after floating around in space for 57 years, sits in her company's boardroom being debriefed by her superiors.  One of her managers, obviously pissed off, asks her why she decided to blow up an "M Class Star Freighter' worth 456 kazillion in adjusted dollars.

That word "adjusted" stayed with me.  I wondered if he meant what the craft was worth at that time vs. what it was built for, taking in inflation, depreciation and what-not, or what it would have cost to build it at the time he was speaking.  That's me ... taking in an action/horror movie and pondering the specifics of economics.

Anyway, I was goofing around the internets the other night and came across this nifty little calculator, provided free of charge by the U.S. Government.  Good for hours of fun.  Go ahead ... try it.  I'll wait.

(Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm, goes to bathroom, makes a sandwich, trims nose hair ....)

Okay, I'm back.  Wasn't that fun?  It was for me too. Plugging in the cost of a loaf of bread today versus the year I was born.  The cost of a Hustler magazine today as opposed to when I was a horny kid.  And so on.

But like most things, I tend to ruin a good time.  Tired of comparing prices of bread and porn, I turned to the darker side.  I compared my salary today against my salary the first year in my new job after I left college.

And although I've often laughed about the paltry sum I made when I first left school, to my horror, I discovered that in adjusted dollars ... I made more then than I make today.

Fucking economy.

But I had my career of 30 years.  And in the last 10 since the first one went bust, I've had a knack of picking companies that appealed to me, but couldn't stay in business for more than a few years at a time.  Jan and I decided a long time back that we'd stay in this area and focus on her career as an educator, as well as keep a stable environment for our son to finish high school and go on to college.

It sounds noble, but maybe we were just too comfortable and too scared to venture on and try something new.  It really doesn't matter now, because in two more years Jan will retire from education and we'll both start drawing our pensions.  Being us, we'll probably still work here and there at this and that.  We'll travel and perhaps even move to someplace we've only thought about in passing.

It is kind of odd that I made more then than I do now, right on the tipping point of retirement.  But I guess it's just an example of how unsure things are and how things change.  Ultimately, you adjust.  And I guess some people are better at it than others.

And even though I'm really never satisfied with things they way they are, I'm pretty happy with them.  And as for the money.  Well ...

I think Powerball is up to 20 million tonight.

August 02, 2010

Even Professional Painters Have Homework

Hey kids, it's the first of August, and guess what?  Well, if you live in the 'burbs of Northern Illinois, "guess what" is that school starts in just a little over two weeks.  So enjoy those ever-so-fleeting last 14 days of carefree summer, because you'll soon be parking your ass on the ready line at 6:00 a.m. waiting for the bus.  I'll wave at you as I go by on my way to work.

Hahahahahahahahaha .... Hah!

Seriously though, I feel your pain.  There isn't a grownup who still doesn't harbor deeply implanted memories of the angst that is the first day of school after a summer off.  And putting aside all of the social anxiety, I'll bet the thing that you dread most is homework.  I'll bet each and every one of you has said to yourself, "Gee Willikers, I can't wait to be a grown up so I don't have any homework!"

Not so fast there little buckaroos.  In today's fast paced business world, homework is the norm.  And even those of us with our fancy little laptop computers are not the only ones with business-y things to do after our 9 to 5 day.

Take my painter for example.

As I've mentioned several times, we're having our downstairs bathroom re-done.  Last Friday, after two long weeks of dirt, dust and assorted crap all over our house, we were near the end.  All that was left to be done was painting two doors.

But as fate would have it, our painter, who was supposed to show up just after noon, appeared just after 5:00 in the afternoon.  He wouldn't be able to paint the doors that evening, but he had a suggestion.  He would take them home with him over the weekend, paint them, and return them this morning just in time to beat the building inspector.

Jan and I thought it was a stupid idea, but after a month of "home improvement", we really didn't give a flying fuck, so off went the doors for a carefree spa treatment weekend.

And this morning, the doors were returned and put up. The building inspector signed off on the job, and we can finally take an inaugural leak in our new toilet.

So remember children, just because you think that the end of school-school will mean the end of homework, "life school" will always find a way to keep your nose to the grindstone after hours for the rest of your natural days.

God help us all.