Saturday, October 20, 2007

Oh death, where is thy sting?

As long as I am forced to spend time in a grocery store I know I will never suffer from writer's block. [put on some writing music]
I'm a spoiled guy. The supermarket is right next door (practically) and I spend a lot of time wandering back and forth for a couple of things. I probably use the Express lane more than anyone. [everybody has a skill]
Today, in a fit of spontaneous decision-making, I figured I'd do a proper shopping trip. The old snowbound stock-up on all manner of food, so that whatever peculiar craving might strike me for lunch on Thursday - there it will be in the pantry or freezer. The ancillary benefit of the short trip is that it minimizes my time in the actual structure, so as to be of particular benefit to my overall psychiatric well-being. [So, I have that going for me]
I feel funny buying the "Family Size" of anything, since I don't have a family. I feel like it's a shopping violation. Like I'd be falsifying records or something. Don't they check on stuff like that? I think they do.
The guys who put "Long Lasting" on the cat litter bags evidently have never owned a cat or smelled the potpourri of feces and urine that makes me wish the cat litter would last longer. It's really unfair that such beautiful animals (tigers and lions too) should have such a vile stench emit from their bodies. It's that whole "territory marking" bit, I know, but geez - the cat isn't about to lose his spot. You'd think they would have bred that out of house cats by now.
I spend a lot of money on paper to wipe stuff up with. Paper towels, tissues and the oddly named bathroom tissue - like we're wiping our noses with that stuff. A product like that, you'd figure they could call anything and people would buy it. You have to, right? You could call it Asspaper, Pooper Swooper or Super Pooper Swooper for those really tough jobs. It's one of those things we have to buy, right? Tell me everybody buys this stuff. Please.
I'm brand-loyal to everything except laundry detergent. Whatever name brand is cheapest. There's always one on sale for less than half of the rest of them. That's for me. This week it was Dynamo, so I'm expecting a dynamic improvement over my previous half-off brand. I'm thinking that chemically, there isn't a huge difference between brands, anyway. They get this weird following and people figure that they can only use one brand. Odd.
Cart stalkers. There's always that one person who is going around in the opposite way that you keep running into in every other aisle. By the third time, we've run out of little smiles and nods that it becomes kind of awkward. Sometimes, I'll intentionally turn around and go the other way just to break it up a little. [too much planning?]
I'm really funny about getting my refrigerated and frozen goods home in the quickest way possible. Psychotically, I buy my soy milk and frozen goods last, run to the check-out and race home. Have you ever seen un-refrigerated soy milk? It has a viscosity factor like 20W50 motor oil and smells like something you'd throw cat litter on. I know that can't happen on such a short trip - I'm psychotic, not stupid. I guess it's a form of OCD, but if that's the compulsive disorder that I have, then I'll deal with it. If I start running back into the house to flip the light switch on and off by some prime number, then I'll have to check into someplace run by a former president's wife.
There it is, the exciting (dare I say) dynamic life of a modern bachelor. A modern bachelor with a house full of food and all the paper goods he needs to clean up after himself or his cat in whatever manner necessary.
Extra credit to anyone who can successfully tie-in the image at the top-left to the essay.
... without clicking on it and looking at the name of the image.

Friday, October 19, 2007

For Katie

"You need to post something else ... she's scarin the bejesus out of me!
I can't come back here till you do."
Yesterday's post, featuring an iron clad "female" bodybuilder has freaked out a few people. To soothe your savage breast, here's something a bit softer.
A cat on a sofa.
I'll be back soon.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Girl is a relative term

I think it's a healthy exercise, every once in a while, to be exposed to the extremes of life. Whether you're wandering a city street and encounter a homeless person or visit a hospital and meet some people whose health is getting the better of them.
Our bodies are a great source of consternation. We're either too thin or too fat, too short or too tall - or something in between. Generally, we're not happy with our exteriors, hence the boon in fitness activities like diet books and so-called "health" clubs.
Once in a while, it's necessary to fall back and establish a little perspective. I'm here to help.
The caption below this photograph reads (in part): Professional bodybuilder Dayana Cadeau of Canada poses during a press conference for the 2007 Ms. Olympia in Las Vegas, Nevada September 27, 2007. NO ARCHIVES. NO SALES. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
Editorial use? OK. Here's my editorial. In the words of Eric Cartman, "Dude, this is pretty fucked up, right here." How's that for editorial? Anybody wanna buy this photo? I didn't think so. Just so you can resume your normal daily activities, here is a photo of a real girl.

OK, so maybe "real girl" falls somewhere in between, but I'm guessing it's a lot closer to the one in the little white skirt than it is the one with her hands over her ... um ... breasts. And now, for my own benefit, and because we haven't mentioned golf around here for a while, here's what we'll call, just for today, a "happy medium".

There it is gang, your daily perspective. Thanks, Christie. You may now resume your activities.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Maybe you shouldn't bother saving for retirement

Remember the flesh-eating virus from a few years ago? That was like a head cold, comparatively.
WASHINGTON - A dangerous microbe that has been spreading around the country causes more life-threatening infections than public-health authorities had thought and is killing more Americans each year than the AIDS virus, federal officials reported yesterday.
The "
superbug," a strain of a once-innocuous staph (Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA) bacterium that has become invulnerable to first-line antibiotics, is responsible for more than 94,000 serious infections and nearly 19,000 deaths each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculated. "This is a significant public-health problem," said Scott K. Fridkin, a CDC epidemiologist and one of the authors. "We should be very worried."

OK, I’m worried. Thanks for that. This new strain of virus is impervious to antibiotics. There is hope, however. Among the prevention methods advocated by the CDC: Good hygiene is the best way to avoid infection. Keep your hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
Let’s see if I have this straight. Antibiotics are powerless, but soap and water are going to help you avoid it? And weren’t we told a while ago not to use that alcohol-based hand cleaner? I’m confused. This sounds like the old “duck and cover” stuff they told us when we were kids … well … when I was a kid. Apparently, we could avoid the radiation from a blast of an atom bomb by cowering under our desks. They told us that radiation didn’t penetrate wood and we believed them.
Wash up, gang. The virus'll getcha. This advice is coming from the same government that sells us alcohol, tobacco and firearms. They even devoted an entire division of government to it, and didn't even have to think up a catchy name. Eventually, something is going to kill you, and if you listened to every health advisory telling you to "eat more of this" or "eat less of that", you'd need a beer and a cigarette to calm your anxiety.
Every week it's something else. Drink a glass of wine, but not too much! Chocolate is good for you, just don't eat a lot of it. Pork has less fat than chicken, unless they're hot dogs. Guinness has fewer calories than Miller Lite, but Guinness fills you up faster. You can have cigarettes, but they'll give you cancer. Buy a gun, just don't shoot it at anyone.
Click on Yahoo News any day of the week and I'll bet you there's a story about something that you're supposed to do to be more healthy. If I ate the variety of foods that they tell us to eat, I'd have to eat constantly all day to fit them all in. Eat, just don't get fat, cause that'll kill you.
For God's sake, wash you hands, you’ll be fine. And wear a helmet...

The NFL has fined New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady $7,500 for not having his chin strap buckled during last week’s game against the Dallas Cowboys. Brady makes $10 million a year in base salary. $7,500 is 0.00075 of his yearly salary. To put it in perspective, that’s like a $30,000 worker being fined $22.50. Literally, pocket money.

My question to the NFL: What’s the point? If the guy doesn’t want to buckle his chin strap, do you think a twenty dollar fine is going to get him to change?
The NFL said it is to prevent concussions. If that’s the case, isn’t Tom’s noggin worth more than 20 bucks? Get serious.
Tighten up that chinstrap, Tommy boy. Or else your brains will be just like those helmet snack chips - crusty and full of air.
The top part (to the left) they'll screw on.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Post 655

Thanks to those of you who, either by e-mail or blog comment wished Happiness on me for my birthday. Otherwise, it was "just another day on the calendar", and it's back to business as usual around here - whatever that means.
So, I'm watching the ALCS baseball the other night (I'm the one) and the Indians pitcher put his fingers in his mouth, which strangely enough is illegal. I think, if you want to put your fingers in your mouth, you should be allowed to. But in baseball, the umpires freak when that happens. They wave their hands in the air and scream, "Ball!" so that the batter knows he got a "free" ball on that little indiscretion. How ironic, I thought. They have such trouble finding players who are using steroids (or so they say), but let a guy put his fingers in his mouth and they're all over it. Let's establish some priorities, shall we? Taking steroids? Maybe. Mess with the baseball? You're screwed, buddy. Ball one.
As for steroids, I think they should be legalized and let them all use whatever they want. If the same people who are making the steroid rules believe that abortion is right - because a woman's body is hers - then why are athletes held to a different standard? All we want to see are baseballs flying over our heads. We don't particularly care how, just make it happen.
Besides, does anybody think it's wrong for Pamela Anderson or Cher to have two hundred surgeries to make themselves look better? No. Isn't that "performance enhancing" too? So, why do steroids operate under a different set of standards? We just want to see big cans and full lips. Whatever they have to do, just make it happen. Put athletes on the same standards. Get a doctor to prescribe the drugs and let them go. A hundred home runs in a season. That would be my goal. They make millions of dollars, so let them take on some risk.
For ten million bucks a year, maybe you'll be horribly disfigured or risk a heart attack from steroid use. That might even-up the income disparity for all the people making minimum wage who pay 80 bucks to watch you hit a ball.
Hell, they're already doing it, so why not make us all feel better about it?

18,262 days in the belly of the beast.

"Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings, not the great goals achieved. The real milestones are less prepossessing. They come to the door of memory."
Jesus Horatio Christ, I'm fifty years old. Today. At 5:30pm EDT if you're doing a zodiac chart. Don't do a zodiac chart.
I've never been 50 before. Part of me figures, "what the Hell?" and dismisses it as a meaningless number, while the other part is starting to feel like a geezer with fewer days remaining than behind him. Lucky for me, the geezer part is only about one-tenth.
I still feel younger than my age, and judging from what I see, I'm running at a higher speed than most 50-year old's I know. Those are good things. Of course, we're living in a world where obesity and cardiovascular disease are more common than a head cold, so the comparison is losing its value.
I don't want to develop into one of those Lincoln Continental drivers with the ballcap and brake addiction. I like my little car and I haven't yet felt the need to be safe and inflict that feeling on the rest of the world by taking up more space and doing it slower than everybody else. I'm still shopping at American Eagle and take a certain measure of pride out of screwing up their demographics. I have no idea of knowing whether or not I look ridiculous, but from what I see I'm not dressing any differently than any 30-something. Khaki pants, polo shirt and casual shoes. Standard stuff, right?
I'm a little insecure about that and I slowly realized that my fashion sense was paralyzed from the brain down when I was in my 20s. I feel like I'm fashionable now, but I truly won't know until 2012, when I see a picture and wonder, "How could I have worn that?" [Hint: I'm wearing it now]. The other part of me doesn't give a fat rat's ass what anybody thinks. That part is about nine-tenths.
So, here I sit. Half a century old. I remember The Beatles original Ed Sullivan appearance and the Phillies 10-game losing streak in 1964. I watched every rocket launch starting with the Gemini program, and stayed up really late to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon in 1969. I watched The Monkees, I Dream of Jeannie and F Troop before they were on Nick at Nite. By the way, I wonder if there was ever a porno flick called F Troop? It's a good name for one.
I voted for Jimmy Carter, drove a Pinto, have listened to and owned every format change of recorded music (except the Victrola), saw The Odd Couple in a movie theater and watched my father be buried before he reached the age I am now. Lucky for me, mom is 85.
Those "milestone" numbers annoy me. We assign some vital importance to something because its number ends in a zero. Really, how much different am I from when I was 48? Not much.
Younger women stopped looking at me when I got to 42, so it's been downhill for a while now. Meeting someone younger and starting your age with a '4' is tough. '5' is impossible. I'm seeing ads for 50s Plus Singles clubs. Egad. Am I reduced to that? Do I want to meet a 58-year old? It ain't right. Itaint. I'm not anxious to join a "50s Plus" anything, and that includes the AARP membership offer I got last week. Fourteen bucks a year to have a constant reminder of my advancing age. I'll wait on that one.
Meanwhile, the days pass and they somehow seemed to slip away. I guess we can't concentrate on absorbing every moment, but it sure seems like those things are more important now than they were then. Once we realize we lived through history we develop this weird perspective as though we have a unique viewpoint because we saw something that at least half the people alive didn't see in person. That's a little haughty, but it's that 'old-timer' attitude that usually is accompanied by a waving finger.
I'm turning into one of those old-timer's. My younger co-workers will have some idea or approach that is historically wrong, and I feel it's my duty to give them the benefit of my experience. Usually, it is accompanied by a story about something that I screwed up. "Don't do what I did, kids."
I think I've screwed up more than I've not. If I hadn't, I wouldn't be where I am now. Of course, I could be at Broad and Chestnut with a paper cup and a tarp, but I could also be something more than what I am. Perspective is good, but it is usually accompanied by harsh reality. Unless you're a happy and successful person, the reality ain't all that colorful. Itaint.
But, like losing streaks and the Carter presidency, we can't go back and change anything. So, in the words of George Costanza, "Onward and upward."
Fifty years old now.
It's a sad state of affairs,
but better than dead.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

My little Sunday

Sunday was interesting, which is good, because Saturday was dull. Saturday, I rummaged through my clothes and found 4 full trash bags of clothes that I no longer wear, do no longer fit me or that I never really wore in the first place. It freed up a lot of closet space.
On Sunday, I went to Erwinna, PA with some bike shop buddies to ride something called the Covered Bridges Metric. [63 mile rides are called "Metric" Centuries because they're a hundred kilometers.] It wasn't the ride so much as it was the temperature that almost made me decide not to go. I don't like to ride in anything colder than 50 degrees, and our ride-time temperature was a sparkling 39 degrees, so the part that controls common sense was wondering what the other part was thinking. But since I had kinda promised to go, I figured I'd use that. I wore lots of layers and tried not to think about how cold it was.
It didn't stay 39 for long, and as the sun came up it got more into the 50-degree range. We wound up doing the 50-mile loop (that's still a lot of kilometers) mostly because we didn't want to do 51. Fifty miles is plenty, and I had such a good day that I didn't want to screw it up with an extra 13 miles. Quit while you're ahead. Plus, as it was it took 3 hours plus food stops to do the thing, and that's long enough on a bicycle in hilly northeastern Pennsylvania. Some of the hills are challenging, but the downhills are fun, too. I got up to 42mph (that's 62.5K) going downhill on one of them. That's a blast!
When I got home, I had to reward myself for such a splendid effort. My choice? Pringles Select Szechuan Barbecue potato chips. It says Rice Crisps on the package, and that's another problem. WTF is a rice crisp? They put the "rice crisp" thing at the bottom because they want us to think they're chips.
A more horrible snack food was never invented. They call it a "unique taste escape". I was looking for a unique way to escape the taste. Pringles makes some good chips, but I think this one falls more in the category of Food as Torture than Food as Snack. The biggest issue now is that I have a mostly uneaten bag of chips that I have to throw in the trash.
And what is it with all the exotic chip flavors? Pringles has four of them and those Herr's Kettle Chips come in some chemically-induced flavors that really have no place in a potato chip. There's a Cheesesteak flavor. Wouldn't I just eat a cheesesteak if I wanted one? It's harder to find regular potato chips than it is some of these odd ones.
Perhaps the bigger question is, why would I buy Szechuan Barbecue chips - excuse me - rice crisps in the first place?
That's questionable judgment.