August 30, 2011

Angry Birds

As a rule, animals and I get along together.  They stay out of my house and I don't kill them ... usually.  Like most people, there are animals that I tolerate, and those that I don't care for at all.

Of the domestic variety, I don't mind cats, but I generally dislike all dogs.  Cats take care of themselves.  All you need to do is give them food and water.  They even go to the bathroom by themselves.  Dogs are fucking idiots that have to be "walked" so that they can be led to my yard where they can shit on it.  And they startle me.  Just this morning I was mindlessly walking down a sidewalk when I dog raced up the fence that bordered the pathway and starting barking at me.  I used to just keep walking, but lately I stop and tell the mutt in a loud voice to "go fuck itself".  In this case the pastel print robed old bag who owned the dog yelled at me to stop cursing at her dog, so I fingered her.  I think I've mentioned more than once or twice that I'm not the neighborhood's most beloved character.

I don't like any wild animals and give them a wide berth.  But there are three particular wild animals in particular that I truly dislike because they've tried to kill me.  In order of my hatred of them, least to most, they are:

Deer ... In the Fall of 1996, I bought my first truck; a beautiful all black Ford Ranger.  One morning in the predawn hours, I was heading to a meeting about an hour from my house.  I decided to take the back roads and was coming upon a bridge when a deer (it had antlers, so it must have been a buck), lept up on the opposite side of the road and stood stock-still, staring at me.  I figured I could get by him, but for some unfathomable reason, it's little pea brain told it's legs to "giddyap" and it ran right into the side of me.  Not in front of me, mind you, but INTO THE SIDE OF ME.

There was a mighty "WHUMP" and in an explosion of blood and deer parts, it went flying over the cab and pinwheeled on the road behind me.  I stopped, grabbed my iron fishwhacker from under the seat and tore back towards it's carcass, hoping it was merely injured so I could beat it to death.  But, it had succumbed ... and so had my truck.  I'd only had it for a couple of weeks.

I've had a hard-on for deer ever since.  They're almost useless animals, good only for cougar food and killing hundreds of motorists every Spring and Fall.

Less deadly, but much more annoying are:

Redwing Blackbirds ... Every Spring, these little pricks build their nests in the most un-nature-like places and then stake out a territory of approximately one square mile, where they attack anything that moves ... including me.  In the span of one month a few years ago, I was pecked on the head once and shit on several times by these little bastards.  And there is no dealing with them.  Throwing things, even hand fulls of gravel at them, ends in failure, because they're too goddamned quick.

And even though I despise deer and redwing blackbirds, I save most of my vitriol for:

Canadian Geese ... These bully boys of the avian world strut around like they own the place.  In this area, they have a special penchant for strolling across streets and stalling traffic, because for some unknown reason, NO ONE WANTS TO RUN THEIR FEATHERY ASSES OVER!  In my experience, it appears that most motorists would prefer to come to a screeching halt and cause an 800 car pile-up behind them rather than bumper-launch them into the nearest ditch.  In fact, these same motorists do even more stupid things, like stopping their cars in the middle lane of a freeway, get out and try to shoo them off the road, wherein another car bumper-launches them into the nearest ditch while the dumbass goose flies off someplace.  This actually happened on the Tri-State Tollway near my home several months ago.

When they're not busy tying up traffic, they like to hang around in gangs in open spaces, hissing and attacking innocent women and children with their nubby teeth, while they forcefully relieve them of their purses and cell phones.

But, I'm sure that the three of these beasts never set out to be a menace.  The encroachment of man into their living spaces made them at odds with us.  At least that's the line of bullshit I usually run across. I can't do much about my dislike for them, but I can amuse myself for a few hours after I post this.

I'll start with a poem, "Four and Twenty Blackbirds, Baked In A Pie", followed with that beloved children's book, "Garfield Goose Gets Plucked", and end it with my favorite movie ...

The one where Bambi's mother gets offed.

August 26, 2011

Fantastical Blog

"This blog goes up to eleven"

Wow, Friday at last!  This has been one tough week and I for one am really looking forward to chilling out a bit this weekend.  I have some medical transcription to do, but I'm planning on that not taking more than a couple of hours.  I hope!  (ha, ha).
Took my usual 3 mile walk this morning and found that my back is feeling a lot better, with almost none of the spasms that I experienced Monday and Tuesday.  Next time I decide to remove some old landscaping from the yard (that's how I pulled my back), I'll be sure to call my old friend Luigi at Mormino Landscape Services.  He does a great job at a fair price.   And while I was walking through the Forest Preserve, I ran into my old friend, Pastor Dennis, who watches over the flock at Hope Presbyterian Church.  While we were chatting, Pastor "D" gave me a taste of what he'll be sharing with the congregation this Sunday.  If you're in the neighborhood, why don't you stop by.  I'll be there (if I don't have transcription to do, LOL, LOL!). 

Did a couple of hours of medical transcribing this morning (boy, are those Iranian doctors hard to understand) before Bob of Morrison Home Services stopped by to fix that darn leaky kitchen faucet that had been giving me absolute fits for weeks.  He's a pip!  While he was here, we shared a fresh brewed pot of Folgers coffee.  Delicious!

All of that transcribing and coffee drinking made me hungry, so of course, I drove into town in my Chevrolet to have a bite of lunch at Burt's Deli.  The Friday special was tuna on rye with a cup of coffee ... only $3.99!  Filling and yummy.

Since I did a toilet bowl full of transcribing this morning, I was able to take an after lunch nap on my Simmons Beautyrest Mattress.  I was out like a light for a couple of hours.  Very refreshing!  I don't know why Americans can't take a tip from our neighbors to the south and take a siesta after the noon meal every day.

After my nap, I did another furious hour of medical transcribing (those Pakistani doctors are really hard to understand!), and then it was time for a totally self-serving treat.  I'd stopped at Walmart last night to peruse their CD bargain bin, and found a copy of "Sudden Impact", starring Clint Eastwood, for only 3 dollars!  Such a deal ... I love Walmart!  And it was a great movie.  Clint is "da man".

Tonight, I'm meeting my good friend Renee for drinks and dinner at the Country Squire.  Renee is a great person and always has a great story to tell, especially after a few Ketel One martinis! (LOL, LOL!!)

Hope you all had a good week and have a fantastic weekend.  Here's something to get you started:  (Thanks Gretchen!!)

Of course this isn't me ... but there is a guy out there who pens a blog just like this who lives in either Jersey or Philly, I'm not sure which.  I started reading his blog after another semi-famous blogger who lives in Texas did a whole post with nothing but the responses he had sent her, which were pretty fucking funny to tell you the truth.  So, I started reading his posts, expecting the same type of wit.  But instead, it was nothing but him talking about his day.  No stories ... no anecdotes ... just talking about his day, with a million links to local and national businesses.  I should have just moved on after a few days, but I ended up bookmarking his blog, because its like watching a train wreck on a continual loop.  And who knows?  Maybe he gets some free shit from all of the links he puts in each and every one of his posts.  Hey, maybe I'll get something from this post!

Time will tell.

August 23, 2011

Like The Sands Of Time Through The Hourglass ...

"So are the days of our lives".  I wondered the other day if this particular soap opera was still on the air, but I keep forgetting to look.  Anyway, thoughts and observations from the house-husband in his second month of house arrest ...

As a part of my daily regimen, I try to walk three or four miles early in the morning.   Over the weeks, I've found that the maximum entertainment value from this exercise is to be found on Sunday morning before 7 a.m.  Apparently there are a lot of people in my neighborhood who like to stay up really, really late on Saturday night, drinking.  And of this group, there appears to be a subset of husbands and wives that really don't care very much for each other.

One morning, I came across a woman backing her car out of her garage; while her husband was doing his ding-dong damnedest to keep her from it by trying to push the car back in to the garage from the rear end.  However, he was losing.  I stood there for a couple of seconds, watching.  No words were spoken between them.  Just her goosing the car down the driveway in short spurts, and he pushing like hell on the rear of the car.  A moral dilemma on my part ... do I say something, or let her run him over?  Fortunately, just as I was trying to decide what to do, a squad car pulled up and the friendly policeman jumped out of his vehicle and yelled at them to "cut that shit out!"  They did.

Several Sunday mornings later, I was strolling down the street in the same vicinity when I heard someone vacillating between screaming and talking very, very loud.  As I walked closer, I saw a middle aged man pacing up and down his driveway shouting into a cell phone.  Oh, and he was dressed only in well used, formerly white underwear briefs and black socks.  I crossed the street and sped up my pace, but did manage to hear what he was shouting.  I gathered he was talking to either his wife or girlfriend, and he kept repeating "I love you to death", scattered with references to how he didn't like going to AA meetings because there were nothing but drunks there.  About ten minutes later, I was walking through the parking lot of a strip mall, when the same guy, still nattily dressed in white briefs and black socks, roared pass me in his car, screeched to a halt in front of a trash can and deposited a large garbage bag into said can.  Then he sped off again, presumably for church.  I already knew what was in the bag, but I went over to check anyway.  Sure enough, it was chock full of empty beer cans and wine bottles.  I guess that made sense ... hiding the evidence.

Yes, walking is fun.  And so is watching instant streaming movies on Netflix during the day.  Several weeks ago, Netflix announced that they were going to begin charging more if a customer subscribed to both "instant streaming" and their mail service.  There was the usual clamour, but I didn't see where an extra seven dollars a month was going to lower me into the poverty income level.  The instant streaming is nice, but I've noticed that Netflix doesn't really offer the best movies with the service.  I've treated myself to some really awful movies over the past several weeks, including "The Trailer Trash Boys:  Countdown to Liquor Day", the entire "Left Behind" series starring born-again Jesus freak and former "Growing Pains" cast member Kirk Cameron, and ... my personal favorite "4-D Man" with former late 50's and early 60's heartthrob Robert Lansing.

I remember seeing "4-D Man" at the Springfield Drive-In Theatre in about 1959, and I was thrilled to see Robert Lansing again as he was in one of my favorite early 60's television action dramas "12 O'Clock High".  In it, Lansing played fearless Army Air Force pilot, Captain Something-Or-The-Other, who flew his B-17 in approximately four thousand missions over Nazi Germany during the Civil War.  I recall that he wasn't a particularly good pilot, as he was shot down about every other week.

Anyway, there was a lot of stock footage in this show taken from actual gun cameras during the war.  My Dad would study these very carefully to see if there might be any footage of him.  I constantly reminded him that this wasn't likely as he was in the infantry, but this never deterred him and he kept looking.  He did the same thing during "The 20th Century", which aired on Sunday evening.  I don't believe he ever saw himself.

When I'm not encountering self-destructive drunks during Sunday morning walks or watching crummy movies on Netflix, I'm keeping up with maintenance on the house.  Over the weekend, I noticed that the two steps on our backdoor stairway need to be replaced.  Being meticulous, I purchased lumber, cut it to size, painted it and, as I started to install it, realized that instead of 2 inch by 10 inch boards, I needed planks that were 2 inch by 12 inches.  So, a job that should have taken a couple of hours and a few bucks ended up taking six hours and a couple of bucks times a lot.

It's raining this morning, so I'm giving the maintenance thing a rest for a while.  My blood pressure and bank account thank me.

While I'm thinking about it, I need to find out if "Days Of Our Lives" is still on the air.

Next Post:  Stool Softeners:  American Dream or Communist Conspiracy?

August 16, 2011

Dry Run

If you've read any of my posts before, you're probably aware that Jan and I are no spring chickens any more.  In fact, after a successful 37 year run, Jan is now in her last year of teaching school.  A lot of people, including my mother, will insist that I have been retired for the last 37 years, but that is just spite on their part.

Contrary to popular belief, I've had a pretty normal career, complete with its ups and downs.  Nearing geezerhood, I've occupied myself for the last five years or so as an "outside contractor".  This means that I patiently wait for large companies to lay off too many people, and when they realize their mistake, they call me to come in and fill gaps until they can lay off some more people.  In the 1930's this type of employment may have been characterized as being a "scab", but I prefer to think that I fill a need in today's marketplace.

This sort of occupation means that I have periods of employment, followed by periods of un employment.  And, it just so happens that I've been in the latter category for about a month now.  And rather than lolly-gag around, I decided to treat this down time as a sort of dry run for my looming retirement.

All of the experts say that retirement is a time fraught with pitfalls, mainly because an individual has not made plans as to how to fill his or hers newly found independence. They (experts) advise all soon-to-be retirees to know what they want to do so they don't succumb to boredom and depression.

Personally, I thought they (experts) were full of shit.  But, just in case they might be right, I decided to spend the last month or so following some of their tips on how to spend your golden years.

Travel - When Jan and I have taken trips, we've seen more than a few motor homes on the road.  Not the small ones, but the monsters meant to go coast to coast, often seen towing a small car so one can park the whale at some Jellystone Park atrocity and go putt-putting about to see the local scenery.  The whales that these people travel in are fully equipped with kitchens, bathrooms and sleeping quarters.

They also cost about a zillion dollars to own and operate.  We will be on a fairly modest budget, so we experimented with a more thrifty option.  We traveled in a smaller vehicle and camped out at our stops.

$29.99 Per Week (Minimal Breakdowns)

The Tent Was  Super Easy To Put Up And Take Down

However, the allure of the road is fleeting and you must return home sometime.  After decades toiling away in an office, it was time to find out if I had the mad skilz it took to be a handy man.  And what better way to find out than to try a little ...

Home Improvement - Our home has stood for almost a quarter century now with an unfinished basement.  And I've always wanted to have a "man cave" complete with a wet bar to entertain friends and family.  After only 3 days labor and a two thousand dollar budget (just like on HGTV!), I turned this:

How Sad!

Into this:

Welcome ... to "Rob's Grotto"!

Jan was so impressed by the results that she immediately suggested that I put my time and energy into other pursuits.  "And why not", I thought to myself.  What was the one thing that I had always wanted to try during my many years of toiling for "The Man"?  Well, of course ...

Start Your Own Business - Following several hours of studying the needs of the market, assessing my strengths and weaknesses, and writing a two and a half page (double spaced) business plan ...  I launched my very own:

"Traveler's ADE - Lemon That Is"
(trademark 2011 -  Rob, LLC)

Unfortunately ...  due to market forces; including logistics, site selection, failure to obtain a loan from the Small Business Administration, that tricky "license" thing with the village, labor issues and a broken mini-refrigerator; I was forced to shutter "Traveler's ADE" after only one day of operation and lay off all of my employees (sorry Jan).  Damn You President Obama for not supporting small businesses! (Vote Bachmann in '12!)

Secure in my knowledge that my business would have flourished if not for the worst recession this nation has experienced in 500 years, I let my thoughts wander and stumbled across that old adage "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy".

And what better way to play than to:  

Have A Hobby - This was a dicey one.  In my 5-plus decades on this earth, I have only had one leisurely pursuit (drinking doesn't count) that I can remember. Assembling model airplanes.  But, even this had lost it's appeal to me.  However, I must admit that I'm no stranger in the kitchen and I can whip up a pretty mean Lean Cuisine when I put my mind to it.  I decided that I would not only train myself to become a gourmet cook, but a chef.  And not any of that sous chef shit either, but a full blown chef.  And after all, it's a well know fact that men make the best chefs (sorry ladies).  All you have to do is turn on the television and watch Top Chef, Master Chef, Iron Chef, Le Chef, Chef-of -the-Week, Porno Chef, etc. to know that much.

And armed with my trusty whisk and braising pan, I began to conjure up dishes fit for a King ... or Queen as Jan was my dinner partner.  Coming from Rob's Kitchen were such culinary delights as:

Soup Le Boeuf

Prawn Chow Mein

Gastropod En Linguine

I must admit, that each one of my dishes were as edible as the others.  And even though Jan developed a particularly nasty stomach ailment that lasted two weeks and was, alas, unable to partake of these delightful meals with me, I'm sure she would have been impressed.

And so, that brings me to today.  It seems that I've been through a full retirement in only 6 short weeks.  And if I've learned anything from my experiences, it's that ...

I need to go back to work ... soon.

Next Post:  My full and confidential Resume for your perusal.

August 04, 2011

Compliments (And Other Insults)

Instead of being out in the beautiful weather today, I've parked my ass inside waiting for "One of Those Phone Calls".  That's the kind where you've been promised a call that will make a situation that's bugging the living shit out of you all better ... or worse ... depending on the answer you want to hear.

So, besides a splitting headache, I've had lots of time to think about other things that bug me, but haven't had time to figure out, until now.

I'm not overly fussy about my appearance, but try to take care of myself and always appreciate the occasional favorable comment.  However, after visiting with relatives and friends during July, I'm convinced that I need to go back to the drawing board when it comes to my looks.

Here's a sampling:

My Mother:  How long have you had that beard?

Me:  I've had it for four years now Ma ... I had it the last time I was here.

My Mother:  You really should shave.

My Mother:  Turn around, let me see how big your bald spot is getting.

Me:  Fuck you Ma.

Okay, okay ... it's my mother.  She's going to be that way.  But wait ...

My Sister:  Holy Shit!  You really look old!

Me:  Really!  You really look fat!

Okay, my sister really never did like me.

My Friend:  Hey!  I saw your latest picture on facebook.  You know, you really shouldn't wear shorts.

Me:  (Busy un-friending friend on facebook)

Another Friend:  Hey!  Your left eye is all droopy.  Did you have a stroke or something?

Me:  (Too stunned to speak, re-enforcing the notion that I had a stroke) 

It sure is nice to get out and visit with people that you haven't seen for a while.  I think I'll spend August alone in a cabin someplace in Wyoming.   Preferably a place that doesn't have mirrors.

August 02, 2011

Selective Psycho

So, I like to think that I'm a pretty normal, level headed guy; who's led a pretty normal, level headed life.  Except for that time when I was seven years old and my Mom thought I was crazy.

In performing some later life self psychoanalysis, I determined that I had encountered a mild case of OCD, even though there was no name for it in 1959.  While other kids my age were worried about a hydrogen bomb being dropped on their heads, I was worried that I couldn't go to sleep until I had opened and closed my closet door EXACTLY 40 times.  Fortunately, I grew out of it.

And, I think I've been okay since then ... until just recently.  Yesterday, I posted some nonsense about my truck being in the shop again.  Although I appeared to be taking it lightly, it was really eating at my guts.


I can be in extreme pain, have my leg almost cut off by a chain saw, incur brain damage ... and I will not go to the doctor.  But if one of my vehicles emits even the slightest squeak, moan or odd noise, I'm on the phone to the repair shop within 30 seconds.

Yesterday, I paced back in forth, waiting for the call from the Firestone guys to tell me what was wrong with my truck.  And then the call came ...

Repair Guy:  Hey Rob!

Me:  YES ... YES ...  What's WRONG!

Repair Guy:  Nothing.

Me:  What do you mean, NOTHING!

Repair Guy:  There's nothing wrong with your truck.  You can come pick it up.

Me:  Huh?

Repair Guy:  Come on over and pick it up ... no charge.

Me:  Oh, okay.

Jan drove me over, and I felt very sheepish when we arrived, because I felt like the boy who had cried wolf, and I had made these poor guys take their time to look at my truck when there was nothing wrong with it.  So naturally, I tried to make Jan go in and get the keys ...

Jan:  Uh, uh buddy.  I told you there was nothing wrong with it.

Me:  But ...

Jan:  Uh, uh.  Go in and admit your shame.

Me:  Shit.

I guess this type of behavior would be excusable if it only happened once in a while, but a couple of weeks ago, when I had Jan's car in for new brakes before we took the trip to Missouri, the repair guy told me about a possible problem:

Repair Guy:  Hi Rob, you're all set to go.  One little thing though ...

Me:  WHAT!

Repair Guy:  Your radiator looks kind of iffy in places, but I don't think it will be a problem.  Besides, those things cost an arm and and leg, so go ahead and take your trip and don't worry about it.  Just check it when you stop for gas and look at the temperature gauge once in a while.

Me:  WHAT!

Repair Guy:  Don't worry about it.  Have a nice trip.

The next day, Jan and I left on our trip.  I made it a mental point to check the temperature gauge as much as I checked the rear and side view mirrors.  When I-55 becomes I-44 in St. Louis, the powers that be cut rumble strips into both sides of the double lanes ... just to  make sure you would wake up before you plunged off the road into some valley.

And, somewhere in Missouri ...


Jan:  Geez Rob, that's about the 47th time you've hit one of those rumble strips.

Me:  I know, I keep looking at the temperature gauge.

Jan:  Well, look at the road in front of you once in a while.  Let's see what you're looking at ...

Me:  What are you doing?

Jan:  Looking at the temperature gauge.

Me:  Well, it looks like you're giving me a blow job.

Jan:  Look, pull over and I'll drive.

Me:  Then I'll be leaning over and looking at the temperature gauge and I'll look like I'm giving you a blow job.

Jan:  I don't think they call it that.  Just drive and look at the road, will you.

And as it turned out, we finished our trip without losing one drop of radiator fluid.  This morning we were in a shopping center parking lot, when an SUV pulled past us, squeaking to high heaven.  I told Jan that the woman needed to change her fan belt, stat.  Jan told me to shut up.

I'm okay.  Really ... I'm okay.

August 01, 2011

First Of The Month Filler

This morning I'm waiting for the repair shop to fix my truck again.  I had something repaired on it just before we went on our trip several weeks ago, and when I finally got around to driving it again (last Friday afternoon), something else was broken.  I had put an incredible 40 miles on it since the last incident.  If I pro-rate these occurrences for the next month, I'll probably come to the conclusion that I could have purchased a new BMW if I had simply driven the truck off a cliff on July 1st.

So, while I'm cooling my heels, I thought I'd share something that has been making the rounds for the last week or two.  Maybe you've already seen it ... maybe not.  It's just an example of why my loathing of facebook is steadily growing, primarily because of this particular type of moron that uses it.  I'm sure you'll agree.


Too Bad They Blocked Out His Name