Saturday, June 24, 2006

Introducing the new and improved complete spray food post

I was looking through the USA Today site and saw an article about spray-on foods. The writer led with info on new spray-on salad dressings that would help people control how much dressing they get on their salads. I guess that's for people challenged by the basic shake-and-pour method that, until now, has stood the test of time. Will spray-on-foods now be known as the best thing since sliced bread?

I'm a little queasy about all these new fangled ways of food delivery hitting the market. Why can't we just eat food? Real food? I understand some of the science and theory behind bioengineering food to make it possible to grow just about anything just about anywhere, but sometimes I question what it's all going to come to. And now they're talking like we're gonna just be spritzing a few different bottles of food into our mouths and that's dinner.

Imagine what life would be like then. Already families don't eat together as often as they used to. And more and more people are eating in their cars. I can just see it now. A fast-food drive-thru of the future would be similar to today's automatic car washes. Just punch in the code for an appetizer, another for an entree, and maybe a dessert. Hey, why not? It's low-cal! Then wave your debit card, cuz now we don't even have to swipe them anymore. I guess that takes way too much time. You know, cuz you have to fit the card in the swiper slot rather than just pulling it out of your pocket and aiming it at the reader. (Wow, what am I gonna do with all that free time? What exactly can you do in a few hundred nanoseconds, anyway?) So just open the windows and pull into the bay and let Jiffy Food do the rest. Gives new meaning to Applebee's Carside-to-go.

Holiday celebrations would be a little different, too. Some people (like those at the Jones Soda Company) have already jumped on that bandwagon. We don't have to gather 'round the dinner table on Thanksgiving, risking missing the kickoff of the traditional Thanksgiving Day football game. Instead, we can gather 'round the wide screen plasma TV and pass around a six pack of dinner, complete from soup to nuts. You can start with the appetizers. I dare you to kick off your gathering with a splash of smoked salmon pate. (Pretend there’s one of those thingies over the e in pate. You know, so it sounds French. I don’t know how to do that on the computer and, frankly, it’d just be a waste of my time to come to each and every one of you to draw one on your screen. No offense, but it’s just not worth it. Use your imagination!) Follow with the entree (you know the drill with the e thingy) and garnish and end with a little Thanksgiving pie.

The liquid holiday dinner is especially great for the ladies, more and more of whom are becoming avid sports fans. Now, instead of six hours of food preparation, a fifteen minute dinner, and three hours of dishwashing, the gals can just relax with the guys and watch their favorite quarterbacks and tight ends battle it out on the gridiron. As long as they don’t show up in a pink “official” Tom Brady uniform. Not even Tailgating Barbie should wear that stuff.

So, back to the spray-on flavorings. According to the article, there are “more than 150 spray on foods [in] the market” with different purposes. Let’s take them point-by-point, shall we?

Sprays that add flavor. Flavor Spray, a no-calorie spray targeted at dieters who crave flavor

Uh, isn’t that what gum is for?

Sprays that disguise flavor. Can't get the kids to eat their vegetables? …[try the new] candy-flavored sprays … as a way to get kids to eat those veggies.

Great. Just what we need. Cotton candy flavored brussel sprouts. Yeah, that’ll be a big hit. To the bottom lines of the cotton candy sellers of America. Let’s face it. The spray-on is only going to add flavor to the brussel sprouts, not change it. So it’s still going to look like and have the texture of a brussel sprout, but with a hint of pink or blue sugar. And since it’s low cal it won’t be real sugar. It will be the artificial kind. Yeah, that’d be a move in the right direction, healthwise.

So the kids will come to associate the idea of cotton candy with the disgusting vegetables they were forced to eat (or drink!) at Sunday dinner. What kid is gonna want to rip a big, fluffy hunk of cotton candy off a paper cone, knowing it’s now going to taste like a brussel sprout? That’s unfair to the kiddies. What’s a visit to the carny without cotton candy? There oughta be a law. Just like there oughta be a law against Easter baskets without Peeps.

Sprays going organic. This summer, ConAgra's Pam cooking spray will introduce two organic varieties that will sell for 50 cents more than conventional Pam.

Well, of course it’s going to cost more. Healthy food always does. You can buy a twelve pack of Twinkies for less than the cost of a bunch of asparagus. And I’m not sure how eager the American public is for organic oil. I mean, technically, oil is organic, but I just can’t imagine spraying organic WD-40 on my cake pans. “Excuse me, waiter? Could you ask the chef to use the summer weight oil on my vegetables? I really don’t like to use anything heavier than a 10W-20 oil before Labor Day.” And I hear there’ll be a new offering from Ocean Spray. It literally is “ocean spray.” This will not only benefit the spray-on food industry, as well as dieters who can’t grasp the concept of sprinkling the salt on their spray-butter-covered corn-on-the-cob, but it will boost the Discovery Channel’s revenues as well. Now they can add the sea-spray-salt season to their Deadliest Catch series. It won’t be nearly as exciting as opilio crab season on the Bering Sea during an Arctic freeze, but watching fishermen trolling for sea water could be more exciting than you think. The up-to-700-hundred-pound-pots they use to catch their quarry are made of steel and netting. The salt water would mostly sluice right through the netting, resulting in low catch rates, which could cause intense drama on the high seas. I see high Nielsen ratings for this one.

Sprays for pets. Then, there's Gourmet Spray. It targets pet owners whose pets have lost interest in kibble. The $4.99 spray — in pork, beef and seafood — makes dry pet food smell "good enough to eat

Oh, Lordy. Wait ‘til PETA gets a hold of this. They’re gonna have a field day. Spray-on flavoring for pets?

Oh, wait. I get it now. It’s spray-on flavoring for pet food, not for pets! Ha! Haha! My bad. Nevermind.

Anyway, back to spray foods and football…at least now the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger will be able to drink the same foods his teammates will be eating at training camp. For the NFL-challenged among you, Big Ben holds the distinction of being the youngest NFL quarterback ever to lead his team to victory in the Super Bowl, having won Super Bowl XL with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ben recently had a run-in on his motorcycle with a little old lady who drove her car through a left hand turn as Roethlisberger rode through the intersection. Been there, had that done to me. It’s not pretty. Of course, if Ben had used half the sense he was born with, he would have worn a full-face helmet and walked away from his motorcycle accident with a few cuts and contusions instead of a new bionic face. Seriously. If you wear a helmet and facemask on the football field to protect your noggin, what makes you think you can go speeding along on a motorcycle with no head/face protection and walk away unscathed? I speak from experience. Wear a helmet. Doofus.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Okay. It's been awhile since I last posted. I won't bore you with the details now. That's for another day, heh-heh-heh. I was going to add another post to the blog today. Really I was! It was good, too. But I forgot one cardinal rule, one promise I had made to myself. Write it in Word and then cut and paste it into the blog "create a post" window. So I get all the way through the post and decide to double check it. You know, for spelling and grammar and all that other stuff a Catholic school education makes one so anal about. About which one is so anal. About which one becomes anal. Ah, fuggedaboudit. You know what I mean. Check it so it makes some kind of sense. Of course just because it makes sense to me doesn't necessarily mean it will make sense to you. So what's the point in checking it?

Anyway, what I did was double check a hyperlink I had added. There are -were- actually several links in that post. I'll try and recreate them when I recreate the post. I guess I was just in a hyperlink kind of mood. So I clicked on the hyperlink...without saving the post as a draft. I can't believe I friggin' did that. Again! Actually I can believe it but sometimes I like to pretend I don't have ADD and do stupid unthinking things like that. But that's for another post, too.

Well, just to tantalize you, here's what was saved from that post. I'll work on it maybe later today, cuz I know once you get a "taste" of it you won't want to wait to see how it ends. I promise I'll get it out before the week ends.

Here's what was saved...

Okay, I'm going to try and do a better job of keeping this blog up to date. I'm not making any promises but I will try!

Anyway, I was looking through the USA Today site and saw an article on spray-on foods. They led with info on new spray-on salad dressings that would help people control how much dressing they get on their salads. I guess that's for people challenged by the basic shake-and-pour method that, until now, has stood the test of time. Will spray-on-foods now be known as the best thing sinced sliced bread?

I'm a little queasy about all these new fangled ways of food delivery hitting the market. Why can't we just eat food? Real food? I understand some of the science and theory behind bioengineering food to make it possible to grow just about anything just about anywhere, but sometimes I question what it's all going to come to. And now they're talking like we're gonna just be spritzing a few different bottles of food into our mouths and that's dinner.

Imagine what life would be like then. Already families don't eat together as often as they used to.And more and more people are eating in their cars. I can just see it now. A fast-food drive-thru of the future would be similar to today's automatic car washes. Just punch in the code for an appetizer, another for an entree, and maybe a dessert. Hey, why not? It's low-cal! Then wave your debit card, cuz now we don't even have to swipe them anymore. I guess that takes way too much time. You know, cuz you have to fit the card in the swiper slot rather than just pulling it out of your pocket and aiming it at the reader. (Wow, what am I gonna do with all that free time? What exactly can you do in a few hundred nonoseconds, anyway?) So just open the windows and pull into the bay and let Jiffy Food do the rest. Gives new meaning to Applebee's Carside-to-go.

Holiday celebrations would be a little different, too. Some people (like those at the Jones Soda Company) have already jumped on that bandwagon. We don't have to gather 'round the dinner table on Thanksgiving, ris

Monday, May 29, 2006

Practicing the art of digression

So for some reason my mind wandered back last night to a meeting of my Political Economy of Racism class, which I just happened to be taking in September of 2001. The teacher was (is) an American woman of Afghani and Pakistani descent. Members of the class included me, the old(er) white lady, and my groupmates, a young, first-generation American woman whose parents emigrated here from Pakistan – she was doing her semester abroad type of deal only her home school was Clark University in Worcester, about forty-five minutes away - and two young women from Smith College are extremely well-read and typical of the bright, questioning, civically (is that a word? because I was going to say politically but that doesn’t seem to cover anything outside, well, politics) involved students who attend colleges like Smith and Berkeley and yes, even UMass. The rest of the class were students from UMass, Mt. Holyoke, Amherst, and Hampshire Colleges. I must say it was one of the most diverse groups I’ve ever had the pleasure of being involved in. Many of the “kids” were international students representing the Caribbean, Brazil, Niger, Kenya, Poland, and southeast Asia. Some were from red states – like I said, a diverse group.

Anyway, this class was held in the aftermath of 9/11, which made it an interesting time to be learning about, and with, this type of multi-cultural group. Sure, we covered the effects of racism in America, especially the effects of slavery and the civil rights movement, typical standard fare in an American class on racism. But we also discussed religious persecution as a form of racism, and the effects of religion on culture, values, and interactions. While we were delving into the relationships and conflicts between the Israelis and the Palestinians, a question popped into my head that was so basic, so simple, I couldn’t help but ask it. Why can’t these groups find some kind of neutral ground? Both sides lay claim to the same Holy Ground. The instructor’s first reaction was incredulousness at my having asked such a stupid question. Didn’t I get it that ownership of the Holy Ground was what the fuss was all about? Well, sure. I get that part. And yes, I understood that people have been trying to devise a peaceful solution. But if you go beyond the simplicity of the question and take it seriously, it ended up being a good jumping-off point for a discussion. What I really was wondering was much more than “Can’t we all just get along.” What the real question was, and continues to be, at least for me, is why can’t people accept and respect the beliefs held by others? Why can’t the Israelis see that the Palestinians are no more amenable to giving up their hold on the Holy Land than the Israelis? Why can’t the Palestinians see that the Israelis have an equal right to worship and honor their Holy Land?

Part of the problem, I suppose, is that most religions teach that theirs is the one True religion. That theirs is the one True God. All the Jews are taught that the Catholics are wrong in their beliefs. The Sunnis are taught that they are more faithful than the Shiites. The Catholics are so cocksure about their beliefs they barely teach from the Bible. (Disclaimer, I was raised Catholic and did - spent - twelve years in Catholic schools.) The so-called Christian Coalition members are taught that the Scriptures are to be followed to the letter, unless, of course, it creates an inconvenience, and then it’s a matter of interpretation.

Another problem is that religious fanatics can become so overzealous that they can’t allow for different opinions or beliefs. Some are so intent on following the one True path they don’t, can’t, or won’t recognize that the path to religious freedom is actually more like an interstate, with many roads leading to the same “place.” You can get there from here. It just takes a little guidance, kind of like a righteous GPS system.

But that analogy introduces another question. Science and technology versus religion. There’s a lot of dissidence about whether schools should teach creationism or evolution in the classroom. That’s an interesting problem. I’m not sure there’s a solution. Not an easy one, at any rate. Creationism is a theory upon which many religions are based. We all know the basic premise, that there is ONE GOD who created the world and everything, animal-vegetable-mineral, in it. Now we have scientific evidence that the Big Bang Theory and evolution played a greater part in the development of this planet and all the creatures on it. This is where faith comes up against cosmology. Cosmology being the study of the origins of life as we know it. Not that stuff you learn at the local beauty school.

I have very little background in cosmology, but I understand the basics of it and the theory of evolution. It makes sense. I also have faith, despite my wanderings from the Church, that there is a god. Maybe not your God. Maybe not just one God. But some higher Being who gives us something, someone, to believe in. I used to wonder how scientists can reconcile their faith, their belief, their religious truth, with their knowledge and understanding, their evidence, their scientific truth. My best answer to that is, That’s the difference between Belief and Faith. One can believe that there was some cataclysmic event that caused the Big Bang, resulting in matter exploding through an infinite space that eventually developed into planets, at least one of which sustains life as we know it. At the same time, one can have faith in Genesis, that God is responsible for, well, everything. Despite the scientific finality of death, one can believe there is a higher purpose, that there is life after death in some form (and I don’t disregard reincarnation). Faith and Belief can co-exist. At least in my life. Of course I also strongly believe in the separation of church and state, despite the fact that, for the most part, man’s law is based on religious doctrine.

I still have a lot of thinking to do about these issues. I’m not looking for a solution to the world’s problems, just a better understanding of them.

Food for thought. Don’t forget to tip your waitress.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Who's minding the children?

Whoooaaa! Wait just a doggone minute here. What’s up with this judge? Is she nuts?

Check out the following story as reported on

Judge: Man is too short for prison

SIDNEY, Neb. (AP) — A judge said a 5-foot-1 man convicted of sexually assaulting a child was too small to survive in prison, and gave him 10 years of probation instead.

His crimes deserved a long sentence, District Judge Kristine Cecava said, but she worried that Richard W. Thompson, 50, would be especially imperiled by prison dangers.

"You are a sex offender, and you did it to a child," she said.

But, she said, "That doesn't make you a hunter. You do not fit in that category."

Thompson will be electronically monitored the first four months of his probation, and he was told to never be alone with someone under age 18 or date or live with a woman whose children were under 18. Cecava also ordered Thompson to get rid of his pornography.

He faces 30 days of jail each year of his probation unless he follows its conditions closely.

"I want control of you until I know you have integrated change into your life," the judge told Thompson. "I truly hope that my bet on you being OK out in society is not misplaced."

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.”

Why is this judge so concerned for the convicted sex offender’s safety? Don’t prisons have special housing units that separate child molesters -and others who need extra protection- from the general population? Don’t most experts agree that a pedophile is likely to continue to offend when released from prison? But she thinks he can “integrate(d) change into (his) life?” She’s betting on her faith in him not being misplaced. That’ll be small comfort to any children, and their families, he may “offend” in the future. While she’s worried that he may be “especially imperiled by prison dangers,” who is worrying about the children being imperiled by having this guy out on the streets? And she thinks he deserves a long sentence, but only four months of his probation will require electronic monitoring? There’s something wrong here. Maybe a little “prison justice” is what this guy needs to set himself straight. I don’t think making a weekly phone call to a probation officer is going to help him control himself.

And the winner is....

Wow! Talk about a kick in the teeth! I watched the finale tonight of Bravo TV’s Top Chef competition. It’s a kind of foodie reality show where chefs/contestants are assigned challenges to make certain kinds of dishes within given guidelines. It’s actually been pretty interesting seeing how each chef deals with the challenge, and with each other. Each week one chef is named Top Chef of the week and one is asked (well, TOLD) to “pack your knives and go.” Last weeks pre-finale pitted Dave, the highly emotional gay chef who spent the early years of his career in the tech sector, against Tiffani, the lesbian chef with an attitude that does her no good at all, and Harold, the Clark Kent of chefdom. (No, sexual orientation has nothing to do with how well one can prepare a dish, but it seemed important to the chefs to share it with us, and so I share it with you.)

Last week I thought for sure Dave the Underdog was going to pull it off and reach the finals with Harold. But unfortunately Dave’s staccato, helter skelter cooking style caused him to miss one rule of last week’s challenge, to prepare three dishes to serve to the judges. Dave only prepared two dishes and, as good as they were, he lost because of the missing dish.

That left us with Tiffani vs. Harold for tonight’s finale. The Yin and Yang of cooking. The alpha and omega of attitude. And the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of personality. Like most reality show/moneymakers, viewers were encouraged to text a vote for their favorite chef, at whatever the going rate for text messaging is, and despite the fact that smellivision has not yet been perfected and no samples of the cooking were delivered to the viewers at home. So viewers were actually voting for their favorite ‘character.’

The kick in the teeth was the viewers vote tally. There were four judges who made the actual choice, but before they did they consulted with the four sous chefs, previous contestants brought back to help on the final challenge. All four of those contestants thought Harold was the hands down winner. (When Tiffani learned this, she told Harold it was "tough to hear" and that her back had fallen onto his knife, like it was Harold's fault nobody liked her.) The judges apparently felt the same, so Harold was announced as the Top Chef. Tiffani was stunned. Despite numerous admonitions about her high falutin’ attitude and the manner in which she treated her fellow contestants, and the diners she cooked for, she thought she had it in the bag. You could see it on her face. She has perfected the “I KNOW I’m better than you” smirk and tossed one Harold’s way before he was named the winner. But wait until Tiffani gets home and sees the show. I hope somebody TiVoed it for her. I have never seen anything like it. Except maybe back in freshman year of high school when everybody voted for the fun guy, the class clown, for student council instead of the serious student who would actually go to the meetings and make a difference.

Are you ready for this? Tiffani, if you’re reading this I hope you’re sitting down. And I hope you’re far away from me. Don’t shoot the messenger.

The final tally:

Harold 97%

Tiffani 03%

Landslide doesn't even begin to describe this outcome. Unless the landslide is caused by a tsunami which was caused by an earthquake. But even that doesn't describe it well.

Talk about public humiliation! Talk about having the wind knocked out of your sails, your balloon burst, and thunderstorms on your parade! What could be worse than total annihilation on national television? If they ever give out an award for this kind of thing, she’s gonna win hands down. Usually at least something good comes out of this kind of competition and exposure, but I can’t imagine anything positive for Tiffani from this experience. I mean, I didn’t like the way she treated the others, her attitude about how the challenges were so beneath her she was going to follow her own crooked path, and her disdain for some of the diners, but even I feel some sympathy for her. Not a lot, but some. Maybe Dr. Phil is a fan of Top Chef and will have a special show just for Tiffani. But I think it would have to be a mini-series. The girl needs a lot of work!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Where have all the REAL fans gone?

While we’re on the subject of sports, and baseball in particular, here’s another of my gripes. I’m pretty adamant about this one. Not like the DH rule, about which, like I said, I’m kinda on the fence. No, on this issue I KNOW where I stand. I am dead set against it. I don’t know whose bright idea it was. Probably some marketing guru looking for other sources of staggering income for major league teams. I haven’t seen this phenomenon in college sports yet but I’m sure the NCAA isn’t far behind.

Yes, sports fans, I’m talking about fan apparel. Specifically, apparel aimed at the fans among us who think it’s proper to dress like a lady when rooting for your favorite sports team. You’ve seen them, I’m sure. Maybe you didn’t know what to make of them. Those pink hats. Yes, pink. And the shirts and sweats that match. The trophy date taking up, I mean sitting in, the courtside/sideline/baseline seats at the playoffs. The ones who cheer when that big guy hits another thingy over the wall. Or when the cute guy in the tight pants catches the ball after running past those adorable little cones at the end of the football field. The ones who order white zinfandel from the waiter rather than standing in line for beer and brats like the rest of us.

The latest in sports fashion looks like your mother washed your favorite white home jersey in hot water with your official Red Sox socks. It was bad enough when they introduced the green “St. Patty’s Day” Red Sox uniforms. Never mind that the season doesn’t even start until weeks after March 17. Or that few players in American pro baseball are Irish. Then along came the different colored hats. Focusing just on the Red Sox, you can get the traditional (and my personal favorite) red cap with the blue bill and B. Or an all blue cap with a red B. Standard caps. BASEBALL caps. But no, they couldn’t stop there. I’m sure you’ve seen those specialty stores in the mall that sell hats. Mostly hats. Places with names like LIDS and Head Quarters. They market all kinds and colors of hats. There are hundreds of hat color combinations for each team. In fact they encourage the buyer to “Choose hats from the hottest brands and profiles, with the accessories and apparel you need to complete your look.” Complete your look? Remember when the “look” consisted of a team T-shirt and an authentic cap? And the accessory was a Red Sox key chain? Now the fashion conscience fan can wear matching outfits – hey, you wear the away uniform and I’ll wear the home uniform – right down to the Underoos. Or, for “the little lady”, how about a pink hat with a pink Red Sox twinset topping off the pink Red Sox shorts and socks. And of course a pair of pink Nikes with a pink B. Under it all is the ubiquitous Red Sox thong. Yes, that’s right. I said Red Sox thong. You can complete your outfit with a red, white, or blue thong. Yes, you can get a pink thong. Better yet, for those cold, windy Ides of March games, how about a St. Paddy’s Day green thong?

Gawd, Tom Yawkey must be rolling in his grave at the thought of that. Or maybe he’s trying to get a better look.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Asterisk

So the “agonizing wait” is over. Barry (The Asterisk) Bonds has finally hit another ball outta the park, matching George Herman (The Babe) Ruth’s years-long record of 714 homers. The Asterisk still has a way to go to reach -and pass- the all-time home run leader Henry (The Hammer) Aaron who holds the record of 755 home runs after surpassing the Babe with no. 715 in 1974.

Is it fair to compare players from such different eras, who played under such varied circumstances as these players?

The Babe spent the first years of his career as a pitcher, and his appearances at the plate were limited by the reduced number of games a pitcher would play. Once he started playing in the outfield, his at-the-plate numbers increased. The Babe had limited access to physical conditioning (unless you count the Budweiser arm curls) and the equipment in use at the time was a little less advanced than today’s gear. Still, Ruth was able to produce some great numbers as a pitcher and even better numbers as a batter.

The Hammer spent the first years of his career in the Negro Leagues and then battled racism when he moved to the majors. That’s quite an obstacle to face, day in, day out. The people who are screaming FOR him inside the ballpark would cross the street (or make him cross the street) to avoid him outside the park. The conditioning, equipment, and pay increased pretty steadily during The Hammer’s hammerin’ years. Hank kept hitting the homers while at the same time earning several Gold Gloves for his fielding skills. Another all-around great member of the Hall of Fame.

The Asterisk may not make it into Cooperstown. Not without a ticket. The Asterisk is the product of advanced equipment, rules changes, monetary rewards (when he signed with his current team, the Giants, he was the highest paid player ever in MLB), and state-of-the-art conditioning of the last few decades. But that wasn’t enough for Bonds. Nope. He had to take it a step or two further. He “allegedly(?)” used steroids to enhance his physique and thus his power at the plate. Hence the asterisk that will, in my opinion rightfully, follow him around as he sets and breaks records for hitting. It’s really unfortunate that Bonds has to live with this. He has had an incredible career, breaking records for stealing bases, walks, winning a number of Gold Gloves, playing on multiple All-Star teams and being named MVP more times than any other player in either league. But doping is cheating. And cheaters never win. Well, they do, but that’s not the American way. Well, it is, kind of. At least in big business and that’s what professional sports has become, big business.

That’s why I like Cape League Baseball. I like to watch players who play for the love of the game. And room and board. Some of them will go on to make the big bucks when they reach The Show, but most will end up with respectable careers as coaches, teachers, salesmen. With stories to tell their sons and grandsons about the summer they played against the next guy to break the home run record.

Oh, yeah. One other thing. I wonder if The Asterisk will slide over to the AL so he can DH after his real career is over. In fact, he was DHing in interleague play when he tied The Babe’s record. With some of the injuries he’s had recently, he may have to resort to the DH spot to break The Hammer’s record of 755. I’m kinda on the fence about the DH rule. I understand the justification of it and I think I accept it more as other sports develop one-position players. Football players rarely play both sides of the ball. Even the kickers specialize in either punting or tee-kicking. There are few good, all-around basketball players who consistently hit the triple double. It’s all about specialization now, about dominating one part of the game. Of course, without the DH we wouldn’t see so much of sluggers like David Ortiz. But we wouldn’t have to put up with players like José Canseco or Jason Giambi, either.

But that’s what big business has done to professional sports. That and the high cost of being a fan. How many regular folks do you know who can pay hundreds of dollars to bring their average family of four to a professional sports game? A couple of hundred for decent tickets, another fifty bucks for parking, then add in food, the $8 beers and $4 sodas, and a souvenir apiece for the little ones…sounds more like a mortgage payment than a night at the park. It used to be the rest of us could catch the game on TV. Then came ESPN and we had to pay to watch. Now it costs hundreds of dollars to get a full season of your favorite sport on a cable network. At least the parking is free and the snacks are cheaper.

Ah, but there I go digressing again. Somebody stop me.

Click here for a timeline of Babe Ruth’s career. Priceless

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

What's wrong with these pictures?

30 year old New York Firefighter yearly salary

30 year old New York Yankee yearly salary (A-Rod)
$70+ THOUSAND per day

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Vote for Pedro

Yesterday was primary day in Ohio. I didn't vote. I wanted to. I tried to. But I couldn't do it.

I've always been adamant about voting. I have worked, locally, on several presidential campaigns. I have organized voter registration drives and MTV Rock the Vote campaigns. I've complained more times than I can count about people who don't vote but then whine about the state of the union-state-county-city. Now I am one of those people.

I'm not sure my excuse for not voting is valid. Heck, it's not even an excuse, just an explanation. I'm sick of politics. I take that back. I'm not sick of politics, I'm sick of dirty politics. I'm sick of negative campaign ads (attacks). I'm sick of trying to figure out how we've come to such a sorry state that we put up with this crap.

I think we need to abolish the party system and just let people run on their platforms rather than against each other. Yeah, I know, that'll never happen. It's not feasible. It's not sordid enough. It's not even American. But wouldn't it be nice to just be able to hear about what someone wants to do to improve their little piece of the world and be able to reasonably expect them to follow through? Wouldn't it be nice if someone would inject a modicum of decency and respect into their campaign? Wouldn't it have been nice to have had the option of voting for a Kerry/McCain team?

The media pundits don't exactly have a positive effect on politics, either. Most media outlets lean towards one party or another, with few offering truly unbiased information. It seems like journalism has gone completely over to the spin doctors, commentators, and speculators rather than honest, intelligent reporting. And I'm not just talking about Jayson Blair or Stephen Glass, both reporters found guilty of injecting not just their own opinions into their pieces but fabricating the "news" they reported. I'm talking about Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Alan Coombs. I'm talking about Fox News versus CNN versus whichever of your local network channels you get your news from. The traditional town paper versus the tabloid version (which is roughly equivalent to the papers owned by The New York Times conglomerate versus those owned by Rupert Murdoch.) I'm talking about how the news is slanted depending on who is delivering it. That doesn't even begin to touch on the "news" that isn't news but mere speculation. Or projecting. Or polling. That seems to be a whole other genre of infotainment.

Anyway, to get back to voting, I actually researched some of the candidates. I tried to learn about the issues. I tried to separate the wheat from the chaff and I finally gave up. I finally got so disgusted I made a conscious decision (as opposed to an unconscious decision?) to ignore my own sense of duty and skip the polling places. I'm sure I could have conquered the new polling equipment, much of which was reported to have not lived up to expectations of simplicity, at least in my county. And I know from experience that I would have had to wait to get into a vacant booth but that wait would be less than ten minutes. I also know I could see past the familial links between candidates who all seem to be trying to make the point that they are related to JOE Smith but not JOHN Smith, or NOT related to any Smith that has served before. (You think nepotism in politics is bad in Boston, you should check out the incestual local governments in Ohio, including my little berg.)

Instead of just going through the motions I decided to take a stand and refuse to support what I think is a flawed system. Not flawed in its design but flawed in its execution. It probably won't have much of an effect on the outcome of local races, but I kind of feel good about my own little protest. Maybe I'll even write a letter to the editor. It's bound to get published. It seems the whole front section of the paper has been taken over by editorials and essays. I wonder where they put the REAL news.


Monday, May 01, 2006

No Matter How You Slice It

So I was watching Dateline last night and they did a segment on the dangers of eating a bagged salad without first washing it. You know, those bags of salad mixtures you can get at the grocery store. The ones with names like Fresh Express, and variations from American to European to Veggie Lovers. I’m not sure the Veggie Lovers is aptly named, since the only thing that distinguishes that from a regular salad mix is extra carrots. I like carrots, but I wouldn’t consider myself a carrot lover! Maybe they should just call it the American with Extra Carrots. Or the American Mix for Folks Who Like Extra Carrots. Or they could call it what it is…lettuce and carrot salad. That’s probably not good enough for the marketing team. Not too catchy. And heaven forbid they should actually call it what it is. What do we expect, truth in advertising?

Okay, here it comes…drum roll please…Ah But I Digress. Back to the Dateline piece. The “Industry Consultant” (read the guy who’s paid to spin the problem on behalf of the lettuce growers/packers/sellers, everybody but the salad eaters) referred to bagged salads as the greatest food innovation since sliced bread. That really got me thinking. Not about bagged salads but about sliced bread. I mean, really, is it that great that all else pales in comparison to it? I mean, how difficult is it to slice the bread yourself? It’s not like people couldn’t figure out how to slice the bread before the industrial revolution. Knives have been around in some form since the cavemen learned how to make tools out of stone. Granted it’s easier to slice the bread with a serrated bread knife, but the sharp stone was good enough for Neanderthal Man. I’m not exactly sure of this but I imagine slicing bread was popular hundreds of years ago when the Earl of Sandwich decided to stack a hunk of meat between two, well, slices of bread. So I guess people have been slicing bread for a while now.

When you think of it, there have been a few innovations, a few discoveries and inventions, in the past few centuries that are truly better than sliced bread. So why is sliced bread still the gold standard against which all other advances are measured? (And what was the best thing before sliced bread?) How about something being the best thing since the polio vaccine? Or the best thing since moveable type? Did moveable type come before sliced bread, and hence lose its luster and its best ranking? Even other sliced foods are better than sliced bread. Like bacon. Which would you rather slice, a loaf of bread or a big ol’ side of pork fat? I’ll slice the bread and go with the pre-sliced bacon, thank you very much. Oh, and how about cheese? Sliced cheese is good, but I’m not sure it’s better than sliced bread. Although it becomes a tighter race when the cheese is individually wrapped so it doesn’t all stick together. But only if it’s real cheese. I’m not so sure about that cheese food stuff. Who ever thought of calling it cheese food? You don’t feed the cheese. You can cut the cheese. Preferably in another room. You can melt the cheese. You can even slice the cheese yourself. But I have never, in my many years on this planet, seen anybody feed their cheese.

You know what? Since the cheese is individually wrapped, maybe they should individually wrap the pieces of bread. Maybe it would stay fresh longer. That would be the best thing since sliced bread!

Monday, April 24, 2006


This is another installment of previously written essays that I occasionally post here. It may help you understand what "drives" people to ride those infernal machines known as motorcycles. And no, a Vespa doesn't count!

In spite of the dangers that accompany every motorcycle ride, motorcycles are becoming more mainstream than they ever were. Baby boomers are fulfilling lifelong fantasies of posturing as Easy Rider and cruising through town on a customized chopper. Women have long enjoyed riding motorcycles but it’s only recently that it has become socially acceptable for them to be bikers rather than just biker babes. Admittedly, riding motorcycles is in and of itself an inherently dangerous, some say reckless, activity. But there is no other mode of transportation that legally offers the thrills and excitement, the enjoyment of being one with the road, that motorcycling does, and riding in motorcycle friendly California is one of the best ways to experience this.

There’s a new kid in town, Joanie come lately, and she’s rollin’ in on her hog. Whether tooling around town on a customized Harley or riding across the country on a fully dressed Honda Gold Wing, the woman’s place has almost always been on the back of the bike. Fortunately this is no longer the only way for women to ride. More and more women are giving up the queen seats and side cars to ride their own bikes alongside their mates. Many women who have been closet bikers can now proudly leave the mini-van in the garage and bop around town on their bikes. Some grandmas are fulfilling life-long dreams of touring across America on its back roads, meeting people from all walks of life and generally having the times of their lives. Still other women are trading Oprah-inspired book club meetings for group rides, sometimes with no particular justification except the enjoyment of the ride itself.

Out on the pavement, all motorcyclists actually take their lives into their hands every time they hop on a bike. Hitting the open road has a different, even literal, meaning for a cyclist. Regardless of continuing technological improvements, bikes are dangerous just by nature of their design. Because a motorcycle’s tires are so much smaller than a car’s they allow less contact with the road. In recent years improvements in the design, structure, and materials used in manufacturing motorcycle tires have greatly increased their grip; reduced the rate of blowouts; and helped improve bike handling and road traction. Along with tire R&D, new suspension technologies, lighter weight materials, and stronger frame designs have helped enhance handling and drivability. But all the high tech R&D available can’t help a motorcyclist in his battles with inattentive, ignorant, and reckless car drivers. A cycle/rider combination’s relatively small stature makes them less visible to other drivers. Not only do car operators have difficulty perceiving the speed at which a motorcycle may be coming toward them, they have trouble judging how far away they are. Or they erroneously think a motorcycle’s better handling characteristics will compensate for their own lack of judgment. When push comes to shove, in most accidents between motorcycle and motor vehicle, the cyclist had the right of way. Unfortunately the laws of physics supersede the rules of the road, and a motorcyclist who is right just may be dead right. (Wanna know how I know this?)

Despite the risks involved, the lure of the open road joins with the liberation of zooming along free of the confines of a hulking metal cage to entice riders into the great outdoors. Riding in California is one of the greatest ways to experience the fun and challenge a motorcyclist craves. First, to make commuting more bearable, the fine art of lane splitting, once mastered, offers more than enough excitement to satisfy even the most masochistic rider’s need for an adrenaline rush. Cyclists all over the country envy Californians’ ability to legally ride through rush hour traffic, slithering along on the lane markers between the Lexuses and Range Rovers, leaving frustrated drivers in their wake to mutter into their car phones about missing Johnny’s baseball game because they are once again stuck in traffic in the Sepulveda Pass. An even better way to get from town to town in LA is to leave the boring, overcrowded freeways to ride the twisty, hilly canyon roads. Speeding along Topanga Canyon Road to reach the beaches of Malibu beats any amusement park ride known to man. (Of course, the operative word is speeding!) Words cannot describe the divergent views encountered on the stretch of Topanga Canyon from the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) to the 101 (Ventura Freeway). Finally, riders can choose to spend the entire day on the PCH, starting at the Mexican border heading north all the way to San Francisco. Along the way the ride along the coast travels through beach towns like La Jolla, Malibu, and San Luis Obispo, and past the naval warfare installations at Point Mugu, continuing as far north as Carmel and Big Sur before scenic overload necessitates a stop for the night to revel in the wondrous sites just encountered. All in all, not a bad way to explore the coast and take advantage of motorcycle friendly California.

In conclusion, motorcycling offers a unique experience to all who partake while the dangers previously associated with riding have been reduced. Women are coming into their own in a previously male-dominated arena. Improvements in handling, safety, and driver awareness reduce the element of danger, although with the increased popularity of extreme sports, people seem more willing to risk life and limb for thrills, chills, and spills. Finally, it can be argued that traveling by motorcycle, whether customized chopper, touring cruiser, or sport bike, can be the most exhilarating, enriching means to experiencing America at its best.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Deal...or No Deal?

So my phone died the other day while I was talking on it. I have no idea what happened. The call was dropped and when I tried to call back, my phone had become a party line. This happened when I first moved into the house so, naturally, I figured it was the same problem, so I call the phone company. Pretty smart, eh? So they send a tech out the next day, about four thirty. Well they did say they’d have somebody there between the time I called Wednesday morning and the close of business Thursday. I think they schedule it like that simply because they can.

Anyway, he tells me the problem is with my phone or inside line and he can't fix it, so here’s a bill for $71 and call us again if you have any more problems. Hah! Seventy-one bucks and all he did was plug his phone into my outside jack and make a call. And he called a buddy, not the home office! Well, now I know I should take a phone outside and plug it in to test the line BEFORE I call SBC. Or AT&T. Or whatever they’re calling themselves nowadays.

So all this is just a set-up for the news du jour. I’m looking online to decide what phone to buy to replace mine, and I decide to check out, among others, the Best Buy site. Lo and behold, Best Buy is having a HUGE sale on cordless phones and phonesets. If I buy before the sale ends, I can save $1.00 on select models. I kid you not! A WHOLE DOLLAR! Wow, if that isn’t going to bring the customers in in droves, I don’t know what will. That’s an incredible incentive! I just wouldn’t feel right keeping this info to myself. I really feel the need to share this with each and every one of you so you, too, can take advantage of this great opportunity. I mean, how often do you get a chance to save $1.00? Why pay $65.99 when you can get the same phone for $64.99? But wait!!! On further inspection I found a couple of models on which you could save $2.00! That’s twice the savings! You can get a brand, spankin’ new Uniden cordless phone NOT for the low, low price of $24.99 but right now you can get that phone for $22.99. New and in the original box! (I assume, though it doesn’t actually say you get the box. Maybe that’s where they make up that extra $1 off. Maybe they don’t give you a bag, either. Hey, they have to make up the difference somewhere.)

If I were you, I’d act quickly because I’m sure this must be a limited time offer. How could they possibly stay in business offering this kind of savings on their products?

Alas, being the savvy shopper I am – when it comes to BUYING phones rather than repairing them (see the aforementioned unnecessary $71 charge) – I’m going to have to do more research before purchasing a phone from Best Buy. I don’t want to suffer buyer’s remorse if I find out somebody else is having a $3 off promotion!

BTW, at the rate I operate, I probably won’t actually buy a phone until, say, Wednesday. Then Thursday I’ll set it up to charge it. Gosh, I hope it comes with a battery. Maybe it doesn’t and THAT is where they make up for the discount. So don’t bother trying to call me until Friday. By then I’ll have my caller ID set up and I can ignore your call.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Where am I?

Woof! Woof woof woof woof. Woof woof, woof woof woof! Woof woof ARF!!! Woof woof.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Where have all the Red Sox gone?

Oh, this does not look good. I know it's only spring training, but take a look at the box score from the Sox-Yankees game. Take a look at the players....

DHing for the Red Sox....MAnneeeey RaMIRez! The rest of the list - who ARE these guys?

Then take a look at the Yankees' line-up. We KNOW who those guys are. Most of them, anyway.

Here's hoping the new guys on the Sox can play well enough to make us want to know them...and that the next Sox-Yankees box score shows a win for the good guys!

PS - Johnny doesn't look good in pinstripes. Just as we're learning to cope with the Sox roster changes, now we have to find a decent kicker to move into Vinatieritory. Act now and you can save a ton of money on McGinnest, Vinatiera, Givens, and other Pats merchandise at the fire sale at the Pats Pro Shop....

Adam Stern CF-RF5131012.429
Alex Cora SS4010000.273
Trent Durrington 2B-3B1000000.190
JT Snow 1B2000000.308
Ian Bladergroen PR-1B0000000.500
Manny Ramirez DH2000000.370
Enrique Wilson PH-DH2000000.300
Mike Lowell 3B3111000.270
Ignacio Suarez PR-2B0000000.000
Wily Mo Pena RF4120012.375
Ron Calloway PR-LF0000000.227
Dustan Mohr LF3000000.333
Willie Harris LF-CF1000000.188
Ken Huckaby C4011000.286
Javier Cardona C0000000.000
Alejandro Machado 2B-SS3100000.275

Johnny Damon DH4110000.500
Kevin Reese PH-DH1000000.279
Derek Jeter SS3010000.417
Felix Escalona PR-SS0100000.265
Hideki Matsui LF1000000.294
Bubba Crosby CF1000000.182
Gary Sheffield RF2000001.077
Luis A. Garcia RF11100121.000
Alex Rodriguez 3B3000000.000
Russ Johnson 3B0000000.190
Jason Giambi 1B4100000.227
Andy Phillips 1B0000000.333
Bernie Williams CF-LF3131011.364
Kevin Thompson LF1000000.386
Robinson Cano 2B3010001.339
Miguel Cairo 2B1000000.273
Kelly Stinnett C3011000.296
Omir Santos C1010000.222

Keep the cell phone abusers off the planes!

The FAA and airlines may soon allow the use of cell phones during flights. I think the powers that be need to look at security issues other than possible electronic interference. I think they need to consider protecting the passengers from each other! One can only imagine the horror stories that will become all to familiar when we throw unthinking cell phone users into the mix of what is fast becoming the sardine can method of travel. (Allowing the use of quiet, non-intrusive email would be a suitable alternative. I also think the use of laptops and DVD players should be restricted to quiet use - or use headphones.)

I was on a flight recently that was held on the ground for thirty minutes due to weather conditions at our destination. The captain announced that we were free to use our cellphones for a time so we could alert people at our destination that we were delayed. Several people took advantage of this, as did I. Almost all of us had a brief conversation passing on arrival information, hung up, and turned the phones off. Unfortunately the immature, misogynistic medical student with the foul mouth sitting across the aisle from me used this opportunity to regale his far away buddy with his weekend partying experiences and his opinion of "Harvard Law School girls who only want to talk about shoes and purses." Though for now he's stuck in a lab while the others in his class are doing rotations (leaving one to wonder why he's still "stuck in the lab"), he's apparently looking forward to his rotations at the hospital where all the desperate nurses try and hook up the med students with their daughters. He'll "gladly take advantage of it" but he wouldn't want to settle down with any of them. Boy, was that entertaining...NOT! After about twenty minutes of this, as his increasingly loud voice carried his profanity up and down the aisle, I finally asked him to keep his voice down. Yup, that made me the bad guy, the jerk who had the audacity to infer that his behavior was rude and obnoxious (though several nearby passengers thanked me for speaking up. Why did they feel they couldn't do the same?). Had I not had control of my manners, I would have just come right out and told him he was being rude and obnoxious.

There were no safety issues involved in this situation, although I can see the potential for serious harm should cell phone use be allowed in-flight. Imagine if more than one person had been using their phone in the same manner, and at the same volume, as he was. How long will people put up with this kind of boorish behavior before a serious altercation erupts? Will we have to enlist the aid of air marshalls to control the peace? I think that cell phone use in such a restricted, closed-in atmosphere is a recipe for disaster. Cell phone users will claim a right to use their phones as they want, the rest of us will clamor for our right to a peaceful environment. Why are the airlines even considering opening this can of worms? There are few people in this world whose responsibilities will not allow them to be out of touch with their jobs, families, or friends for a short period of time. If you can't bear it, take shorter flights, or better yet, stay home and leave the friendly skies as they are. I, for one, don't want to be subjected to a cacophony of cell phone users, many of whom don't realize the use of a phone precludes the need to yell so they can be heard, as they all try and scream over each other with the detritus of their sorry, can't-survive-an-hour-without-my-cell-phone, what-do-you-care-if-I-like-to-drop-the-f-bomb-three-times-in-each-sentence, my-needs-are-more-important-than-yours, lives.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

How to Pick a Driving School - or not

Remember how I said earlier that my niece is learning to drive? Last week I had to cancel one of her in-car driving sessions with the driving school. Being as lazy as I am, I decided to look up the school’s info on the web. I mean, how hard could it be? The computer was right in front of me, the phone was next to the computer, and making the call was on my list of things to do. While I was browsing the search results for driving schools in the Potomac area, I started questioning some people’s choices when it came to naming their businesses. I know people say the most important thing for starting a business is location, location, location. But you gotta take a little care in choosing a name as well. The names of some of the schools were very professional and instilled a sense of safety and seriousness. Some were straight forward. For instance, the school I needed to call, where kids in Potomac go to driving school, is called, interestingly enough, Potomac Driving School. See? What you want is a driving school. And you’d like one that’s not too far away, probably locally owned. Well, fairly locally since it’s actually located in Rockville but that’s within easy…ummm…driving distance from Potomac.

And, there’s a special advantage the Potomac Driving School offers. It provides instruction in Tagalog. I’m not sure where they speak Tagalog but I’m sure the drivers there must be very good, especially if they took lessons at the Potomac Driving School. By the way, if you want to learn to drive a stick shift at the PDS, it’s an extra $50. I think that’s very reasonable considering if you try and teach your kid to drive your Porsche with the manual transmission it’s going to cost a lot more than $50 to replace the clutch.

Anyway, I feel much more comfortable that the sixteen-year-old is taking lessons at the Potomac Driving School rather than, say, the ELS Driving School. I don’t know what language they use in their lessons but if it’s not English, she’s not going to learn a whole lot. Oh, wait. Nevermind. It’s the ELS Driving School, not the ESL school. My bad.

Now, since she wants to take lessons in Montgomery County, she could have chosen Ed’s Driving School, or maybe Greg’s Driving School. They’ve both been teaching for ten years, and there’s only $9 difference in their prices, but Greg specializes in teaching teen and beginning drivers. I’m not sure how much sense it makes to point that out but it seems to me that’s where most of your business is going to come from. You know. People who don’t know how to drive.

Ed and Greg might both be really nice guys, but when it comes to driving, I’d take the business a little more seriously. It’s not like you’re looking to buy an ice cream or something. Let’s see, Ed’s Ice Cream vs. Ed’s Driving School. Maybe Ed could put a drive-thru window at his ice cream shop. Though I’d prefer to buy my gourmet ice cream at a shoppe. No, you’re entrusting your precious (or, in some cases, and you know who you are, not so precious) child to these people. That’s why I’d lean more towards working with the fine folks at the Maryland Driving Academy. Now doesn’t that instill confidence? I might even consider the Ryden Driving Institute. Sounds kind of exclusive, doesn’t it?

I’m not sure a beginner would be prepared for the techniques taught at the Advanced Driving School, unless the people at Advanced are just trying to BS their customers and really teaching beginner classes. And how do you choose between the Easy Teach Driving School and the Easy Method Driving School? If you can’t make up your mind but still want to go the easy route, check with Mr. B’s Drive with Ease.

Blue Bird Driving School…sounds like a place you’d send your pre-schooler to learn how to drive that Little Tykes minivan that’s just like mom’s. Or where you can learn how to drive a school bus. Actually, I think the classes are taught by a little old lady who only teaches on Sundays and never endangers your child by teaching highway driving.

Great Commission Driving School. Maybe it’s not a bad idea for the instructor to get paid commission. It gives them more incentive to make sure your kid passes the driving test. Though I might be more tempted by the Arrive Alive Driving School. That sounds like a pretty good incentive.

You know, there’s more than one way to learn how to drive. There’s the Nu-Way and then there’s the Riteway. Tough choice. The Nu-Way might just be better than the old Riteway. But do you really want your kid being the one to find out? Plus, if the owner can’t spell Right right, how do you know he’s going to teach right. Right?

I might be tempted to check out the Safeway Driving School. It sounds kind of, well, safe. Until you remember you do your grocery shopping at the Safeway. I want my kid to learn how to drive a car, not push a cart.

Do you want to learn how to drive from the Top Dawg or the Top Driver?

Places I’d definitely stay away from? How about the AA Driving School? Hmmm. Did they pick AA to be at the beginning of the alphabetical listing, or does the AA actually stand for something. You’d have to be MADD to send your kid there.

The AB Discount Driving School is also kinda scary. You get what you pay for.

Even scarier is the 123-ABC Linnell Driver Training School. Again with the pre-schoolers? Sounds like it should be the 123-ABC Potty Training School.

But the number one school I’d stay away from, even if because I just didn’t want to tell anybody the name, is Peggy Pusey’s Driving School. “Miss Pusey says you should always use your turn signals.” “Miss Pusey says you should look both ways before entering an intersection.” “Miss Pusey says…” “I don’t care what Miss Pusey says! I don’t ever want to hear that name again!” (My apologies to the Pusey’s of the world. Just be thankful you’re not related to Gary Busey!”)

Monday, March 13, 2006

Outta town or outta my mind

Friday, repeat Wednesday morning’s wake-up routine. The twelve year old asks if he can wear his slippers to school. I figure he’s not awake yet. When I say no, he asks if he can wear his pajamas to school. I’m worried he’s missing his mom and experiencing some kind of regression and thinks he’s in pre-school. I’ve already gotten the pants/dress shirt/tie combo ready and his jacket is downstairs waiting. Then he tells me it’s free dress day. Well, that explains the odd clothing request. But somehow I don’t think casual dress includes Homer Simpson slippers. Battle ensues. I enlist the aid of the sixteen year old. No, free dress does not mean pj’s. We finally decide on his Yaz shirt and his camo shorts (if you don't know who Yaz is, you're obviously not a citizen of Red Sox Nation). Shoot. Can't find Yaz T-shirt. Schilling T-shirt is dirty. Finally settle on the authentic "Big Papi" Ortiz Red Sox uniform shirt. And no, you can't wear it to baseball practice. It is NOT a play shirt.

Drop the twelve year old at school. Phew! Nobody is wearin' their pj's. Good call. Check the list. We have a busy afternoon ahead of us. Guess what? The twelve year old starts baseball practice tomorrow. He needs new baseball cleats. And while we're at it, he needs some lacrosse gear. Oh yeah, he's playing soccer, too. But first he has to go to the end-of-season bowling party with his hockey team. Did I mention the kid's a sports nut?

Okay, pick up twelve year old at school, go to sports store. Shopping with a tired twelve year old is not fun. In fact it is sucking the life outta me. Which is not a good thing because it’s only 4 and, though I don't know it yet, my day won’t end for another five hours.

Lacrosse cleats…check

Baseball cleats...sorry we only have metal cleats in his size. Metal cleats are illegal for twelve year olds. For good reason. Especially when your twelve year old is the catcher.

Okay. He can wear the lacrosse cleats for baseball. I think. And soccer. I hope.

Baseball pants...check

Lacrosse pads...check


Head home to drop off the twelve year old before picking up the sixteen year old at lacrosse practice at 5:30. Get stuck in traffic...oh did I say traffic? I meant the parking lot...on the beltway. Go one exit. In forty minutes. Realize you can't take the twelve year old home and get to lacrosse practice on time, so head to sixteen year old's school while twelve year old sleeps in the car. Lucky stiff. Sit in traffic going the other way. Get to lacrosse practice at 6:15. Fortunately practice has run late again. Why don't they just change the schedule? No time to take sixteen year old home before returning to downtown Bethesda for twelve year old's hockey party. Try to figure out how to avoid traffic. No mapquest. No GPS cuz we're drivin' the Beemer. Fine time to switch cars.

Somehow find our way to bowling alley, drop off the twelve year old. Drop off the sixteen year old's friend. She had no idea she was going to be driving an hour to get home, which is ten minutes from the school. Take the sixteen year old home. Take a bathroom break. Go back to Bethesda to pick up twelve year old. Hang out in the bowling alley. He's having a GREAT time. And he's bowling pretty well, even if he is wearing goofy shoes. Finally get home at nine. Remember to get baseball gear ready. Everybody stays up late.

Saturday. Get up at seven thirty because the sixteen year old may need a ride to lacrosse. Phone rings. She has a ride. Feed dogs and let them out. Go back to bed for an hour. Go to wake twelve year old. He's already up. The Dad came home late last night and got up early to help him. Tear the twelve year old away from his new computer game (Wednesday's mall trip!) and send him back upstairs to get dressed.

Twelve year old announces the baseball pants we bought yesterday don't fit. He wears last year's pants, which don't fit either, but he likes them better. He wears the Yaz T-shirt. It was in his hockey bag. (YES, I washed it! Sheesh!) Tear the twelve year old away from the computer game. Again. His ride will be here any minute. Tear the twelve year old away from the tv. His ride will be here shortly. Tear the twelve year old away from the kitchen tv. Still waiting on the ride. Ride arrives, twelve year old off to baseball and a sleepover. I miss him already. But I get over it and go back to bed.

Dad has offered to pick up the sixteen year old from lacrosse and take her to the mall to see her favorite tv show's cast. I'm free til seven. I attempt to wash the car. Skip the roof. It's an SUV. Nobody's tall enough to see it anyway. The bed is calling me...

Get back outta bed and take a shower. Wait til seven thirty to pick up the mom and the eighteen year old at the airport. Home. Dinner. Bed.

Sunday. Get up late. Throw everything in my bag and go home.

Make plans to go back again in two weeks. You know what's really sick? I actually enjoy this!

PS - no, I didn't forget about the dogs. But their routine doesn't change much. Let them out. Feed them. Let them back in again. Regain possession of my socks from Scout the Wonder Dog. Take kids to school. Go home and let the dogs out. Go to the park and let them chase the ball. Go home. Let them out. Pick up the kids. Feed the dogs. Let them out. Let them out again before bed. Repeat process each day. They never tire of it.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

sorry about not posting

Okay, so I haven’t posted in a while. Whenever that happens you can be pretty sure I’m outta town. This time, back in Potomac, kid and dog sitting. I was supposed to come down on Monday. The 1:00 flight. At ten am I am awoken from a sound sleep.

“I just wanted to make sure you were coming down…”

“Uhh, yeah. Tomorrow, right?”

Oooh, that’s not good.

After some juggling we got new tickets for Tuesday morning. Whoops! That’s gotta instill a lot of confidence in the mom, right? But hey, my track record speaks for itself. In thirty years this is only the second time I messed up where the kids are concerned. And I’m not sure the first time counts because all I did then was forget to pick up Casey to take him golfing. It’s not like I left him somewhere and forgot to go get him. And I’m not sayin’ there weren’t times I was tempted to “forget” one or two of them somewhere. But they’re all still around. I haven’t lost one. Not yet.

So I get to DC on Tuesday and have a couple of hours before my tour of duty starts. I think I remember getting some rest then. It seems soooo long ago.

Tuesday was pretty easy. Go watch the sixteen year old’s lacrosse game, wait for her to get her stuff, then go pick up the twelve year old at the school library. Pick up dinner (hey, if I cooked that woulda meant I’d have to do dishes too. Not on the first night.)

Homework goes well. Everybody gets to bed on time.

Wednesday, get up at the crack of dawn and start the day. Did I mention I’m not a morning person? Guess what? Neither are the kids! Hmmm. I wonder where they got that from?

Awaken the sixteen year old. You can pretty much wake her and forget her. Despite not being a morning person, this kid’s really got it together.

Gently awaken the twelve year old…
awaken the twelve year old again…
go in and pull the covers off the twelve year old…
go back in and grab the twelve year old’s feet and drag him off the bed. He’ll wake up when he hits the floor. Trust me. It works.

Go downstairs and let the dogs out (Who? Who? Who let the dogs out? I did. That’s right, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.) Yell up to the twelve year old to make sure he’s getting dressed. He has his pants on.

Feed the dogs. Then let them out again. Yell up to the twelve year old. He’s thinking about putting his T-shirt on.

Let the dogs in. Hey, ya let ‘em out, ya gotta let ‘em in again. Yell up to the twelve year old. He’s workin’ on putting his dress shirt on. The twelve year old wears a suitcoat and tie to school. That is soooo cute. But it’s also extra stuff he’s gotta put on.

Ignore the dogs. Yell up to the twelve year old. He’s on his way down. He’s trying to tie the tie.

Check on the sixteen year old. She’s pretty much ready to go out the door. The twelve year old is still workin’ on the tie. I have no idea how to tie a tie. He’s on his own. The tie gets done. He’s actually pretty good at it. And he DOES look cute! Ooops! Don’t tell the twelve year old how cute he is.

Okay, time to leave. The only way I can do this without totally screwing up the kids’ morning is if I have specific instructions. And a timetable. Too bad plans change after the mom leaves and I just have to fly by the seat of my pants. Thank God for the sixteen year old…and the GPS system in the car. Mapquest ain’t got nothin’ on that GPS guy. Mapquest isn’t as demanding as the GPS guy, though.

“In 300 feet, Turn Left.”

“In one hundred feet, Turn Left. At the intersection.” (duh)

“Turn Left.”


“I SAID turn LEFT!!!”

Okay, okay, I just thought I’d wait for traffic to clear first.

Drop off the twelve year old. All the kids are in khakis and jackets and ties. They look so grown up. And yes, they are soooo cute.

Switch seats with the sixteen year old, who is learning to drive. She’s so good I keep forgetting I’m supposed to be watching her. Then she kinda drifts to the right and I remember. Drop the sixteen year old at school. Go home and let the dogs out. Take a nap.

Pick up the twelve year old. Take him to the mall, drop him at home, go pick up the sixteen year old after lacrosse. Go home. Make dinner. Do homework. Wash dishes. Do more homework. Oh oh. The twelve year old has forgotten his science homework paper at school. How can we fix this? He decides he’ll go to school early so he can do it before school. Good decision! I'm very impressed. But not as impressed as I'll be in the morning!

Awaken the twelve year old at 6:45 instead of 7:00. Let the dogs out. Check on the twelve year old. He’s already out of bed and half dressed! Feed the dogs and let them out again. The twelve year old is standing in the kitchen, ready to go with a smile on his face. We leave before 7:15!!!

Thursday afternoon, reverse carpool. Pick up the sixteen year old at lacrosse practice, which has run over a half hour. Change of plans. Pick up the twelve year old BEFORE dropping the sixteen year old at church youth group. Get the twelve year old home and feed him. Start homework. I'm learning a lot about General George Brinton McClellan. I bet none of you knew he was Abe Lincoln's challenger in the 1864 presidential election. Now you know. There may be a quiz later.

The sixteen year old comes home. First crisis of the night…the sixteen year old needs a wristband to see her favorite tv show cast at the mall this weekend. The mall that is an hour away and closes in fifty minutes. Make a deal with the sixteen year old. Help your brother with his homework and get him to bed, I’ll go get the wristbands.

Unbelievable. There’s traffic on the beltway. It’s nearly nine o’clock. There’s not supposed to be traffic on the beltway. Get to the mall at 9:27. Mission accomplished. Get home. Twelve year old is in bed, sixteen year old is done with her homework. She's ecstatic when she gets her wristband. Her happiness is infectious. We chat about the tv show and cast. Time for bed.

I'll let you take a breather and post about Friday another time.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Whatever you do, don't answer the door

So I’m lazing around trying to get over this miserable cold I have, when someone comes a knockin’ on my door. I drag myself off the couch and answer the door to find two, dare I say elderly?, women standing there in the below-freezing cold, one with a Bible in her hands and the other with a folder full of God knows what. Ahhh. Tracts. A lighthouse beacon shines through the fever-induced fog in my head. The indomitable Jehovah’s Witnesses have come to invite me into their, uhh, community.

Don’t you sometimes want to just silence that little Emily Post voice in your head that reminds you to be nice to people no matter what? Don’t you sometimes just want to answer these people truthfully? But you can't bring yourself to do it. Not out loud, anyway. I mean they are, in their minds, representatives of Jehovah come to save my soul. At least that’s what I think they’re doing. Ya gotta give 'em credit for trying.

I’ve never actually held a REAL conversation with a Witness. I’ve had a lot of internal dialogue with them. Like “C’mon in and set a spell. Today’s your lucky day. Normally you wouldn’t get out of here alive but I’ve run out of places to hide the bodies.” Or how about “C’mon in and set a spell. I just got the slides back from my Las Vegas vacation. I can’t remember what I did there but I’m sure the slides will knock your socks off. And maybe we can figure out how I got that red mark...” Or “C’mon in and set a spell. I’m just waiting for my black and Latino and gay druid friends to get here so we can get on with our devil worshipping. We're having a pot luck dinner.”

No, instead I just give a little smile and say “I’m sorry. I’m not interested. Thanks anyway.”

You know, I’ve never actually allowed one of these folks into my home. I already know all I need to know to decide I DON’T want to be a Jehovah’s Witness. First, you have to get all dressed up and go around to strange neighborhoods trying to get others to join your little club. And then, worst of all, THEY DON’T CELEBRATE BIRTHDAYS! How cruel is that? I’d rather repeat all twelve years of the sentence I did in Catholic schools than give up my birthday. What kind of way is that to raise your kids? Isn’t that sacrilegious or blasphemous or something? There oughta be a law.

Oh yeah. I decided to do a little research on the Jehovah’s Witnesses before writing this, so I went to their website. There’s some interesting stuff there. I’m not sure what it has to do with religion, but it’s interesting. And some of it is kinda gross. Like the article with this title/subtitle:
Protect Yourself From Parasites!
What are intestinal parasites, and how can you tell if you are playing host to these unwanted guests?

Then there’s an article about Medical Care and Blood. Apparently Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in or allow for blood transfusions. Now right there is a good reason not to join. If I had, I’d be dead.

Then there’s the uplifting notice that The Bulletin for Atomic Scientists has advanced their “Doomsday Clock” five minutes to 11:51 pm. That was in 1998. I checked the Bulletin and now it’s at 11:53 pm. So we’re two minutes closer to a nuclear holocaust. It’s a good thing they don’t give the day or year. That would take the fun out of waiting everyday to see if we’re going to make it past the monologue on the Tonight show. (Have you ever heard of The Bulletin for Atomic Scientists? Have you ever heard of the Doomsday Clock? Me neither. See what we’re missing?)

I think I’ll stay an indifferent recovering Catholic.