Friday, January 31, 2014

A Helping Hand

There are many things we take for granted in our daily lives.  For example, I can get in and out of an ATM in about thirty seconds even if I have a complex transaction.  However, there are still some people who might not be well-versed in a technology that we've used for the last 20 years.

So, today, I stopped to order some Chinese food, then headed on over to the bank to get some new cash to add to my wallet.  It was late, after nightfall, so I waited outside the ATM while someone else was using it.  The person inside seemed to be making a number of transactions, which is always annoying.  However, after a third transaction, the lady in the ATM opened the door and offered to let me in.  As I had taken my gloves out of my jacket to head to New York today, my hands were starting to chill and I accepted the offer.

Inside, the woman let me know she had other plans.  She needed help.  Now, for a moment, I was suspicious, but here was a woman, clutching a few dollars in her hand.  She asked if I knew where the money was inserted into the ATM to make a deposit.  I showed her that one of the slots said Insert Cash and said the cash needed to go into this slot.  I also tried to helpfully point out the money needed to be face up and all in the same direction and stepped back.

However, the woman needed more assistance and I talked her through the whole process.  I explained each step of the process, but was a little worried the woman was not literate.  I tried to use location on the screen with each word, since I was uncertain, but did not want to cause the woman any undue embarrassment.  She was able to finish her transaction and check her balance, leaving me the opportunity to complete my transaction in about fifteen seconds. 

The woman thanked me and off I went, knowing that for once, I managed to help someone, which goes against my traditional, Switzerland-like resolve in the face of people. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Times

There are times, especially when I am driving in the morning, when I am struck by this thought, "Am I the only person in the world currently listening to this particular album or song?" 

As a musical luddite, I still hold strong to my CD collection, though in recent months, I've moved to Spotify for listening to music in my home.  I would say about 75% of my CDs are available on Spotify, which beats the whole getting up, walking across the room, flipping through the CD book, finding what I want, walking back across the room, waiting to burn the CD to my computer, then returning the CD before listening to what I want.  However, there are times when this must be done. 

It seems the biggest disconnect between my CD collection and Spotify is Moon Ska.  Except for bands like The Slackers, Hepcat, The Pietasters and Toasters, who all re-released their music on another label, most of the Moon Ska catalog is not available on Spotify.  Given all of their problems over the years and the paucity of bands still active not listed above, it is not a surprise that this monolith of the 1990s ska scene is underrepresented on Spotify.  I look at some of the bands whose work I really enjoyed and see like 300 people favorited their work. 

For some reason today, I had a real hankering to listen to the Skoidats, who are one of the few third wave bands who toured the East Coast who I never saw back in the 1990s, and one of the very few bands crossing over ska and oi, which is a pretty limited offering, but really hits my sweet spot.  I've seen their songs played live by Inspecter 7, but until today never saw them live.  Thanks to the magic of YouTube, I was able to watch them perform a thirty minute set in Seattle in 1998. 

But I still wanted more.  I managed to find my copy of Cure for What Ales You in my archives and took it in the car for a ride before.  While I enjoy a Cure for What Ales You, I really wanted to listen to The Times, which is their first album.  So, I came home and went back through the books, worried it was one of the CDs which was misplaced in a CD case, which would take significantly longer to find.  Fortunately for me, it was not. 

Since I needed to go to the store, I copied the CD into my computer and then headed to the car.  As I was listening to the CD, I was thinking, is it possible that I am the only person in the world listening to The Times right now.  Does no one else have the same appreciation for Still Standing or Whirlwind that I do?  Am I the only one crazy enough to push the speakers of my car to the limit to listen to this very niche CD?  And I think the answer is yes.  It's strange to think about, but how many copies of the CD are there out there and then, how many people are having a real desire to listen to ska and oi mixed together. 

So, here I am, perhaps the only person on Planet Earth with Still Standing blaring in their face and that feels good, a sort of perverse uniqueness which fills my sad, sad soul.  But I do know that I won't give up and I won't give in. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Brier Rose Books

There is little better than a great used book store.  It is a literary trip into the past, filled with books you didn't know existed or even wanted, but sitting there on shelves, just asking for you to take them home and hopefully read them. 

Too often, we are losing our used book stores, as people read less and the internet gives us access to large volumes of reading material, in addition to cheap and easy ways to search for the books we know we want.  To be honest, it scares me that the average mall seems to have two baseball cap stores and nary a place to purchase a book. 

Even sadder is the poor quality of some of the local used bookstores.  I went to the Cranbury Bookworm a few weeks ago and was saddened to learn they moved from a house to a small store across the street.  The selection was far less and the atmosphere was wrong.  Princeton should have a great used bookstore, but it has a decent bookstore mixing old and new, not unlike the Strand, but with none of the charm.

However, I had occasion to travel to Bergen County this week.  Having spent most of my life there, I was intimately familiar with Brier Rose Books in Teaneck.  The store has been there since I was in high school, which was a generation ago.  I remember going there every so often in my youth and walking the four or so miles from my home each way, especially in the dead of summer, because for some reason, there were just times you needed to buy books...and avoid the bus. 

And despite not having a website, this is by far the best used book store I've been in.  When you enter, the store just smells like books, which is either your thing or you are an ill-bred, illiterate mongrel.  Visually, all you see are walls and shelves just filled with books.  Knowing the store, I headed right through the stacks to see what was for sale.  In the back are metal shelves filled with $1 paperbacks, which I perused and found a copy of American Gods by Neil Gaiman and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. 

From there, I avoided the main area of the store with the chess set and couches and moved to the history section.  I found a book on the War of 1870 and a shelf of books on the Spanish Civil War, which is exactly one shelf more than I've found elsewhere.  Moving through the war books, I found a book on World War I, which I surprisingly have not previously read and added it to my stack. 

By this point, the proprietor came around and offered to take my books to the front, so I could use both hands.  The proprietor genuinely cares about books and unlike every other bookstore I've been to, actually adds to the experience with his knowledge and his understanding of customer service.  After my first batch of books moved to the front counter, I managed to refill my arms and make way to the counter, where all of the books I purchased fit into a grocery store bag, instead of having a single volume to carry out of the store.

Should you ever be in North Jersey, Brier Rose Books is by far the best place to go to buy books and I highly recommend you head there and leave with your own grocery bag of tomes. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Until today, I had never seen the original Terminator.  To be quite honest, I have no idea why I had never seen this film, since I enjoyed Terminator 2 back in 1992.  I wasn't surprised as there are definitely some large movie gaps, especially from the years where I just didn't watch movies.  However, Terminator, as a science-fiction movie, where I watched the sequel on multiple occasions is an odd omission for me to correct today.

The original Terminator is an excellent film and far superior to the original.  What is most striking about the movie is the darkness.  Not just in mood, but in the night scenes and even the day scenes are not what I would call bright.  Despite the presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger in a career defining role, the cinematography is what really shines.  The filming of the scenes was tremendous, especially once you account for the fact the movie is thirty years old.

Watching the Terminator as a mechanical being toward the end was fantastic.  It made me think part of why Battlestar Galactica worked in the 2000s, but not in the 1970s.  In the 1970s, you could never make the robots scary enough, but by the 1980s, they were getting there.  By the 2000s, you could really get the robots scary and then added a great plot and scripts.

Most importantly, I thought they don't make movies like this anymore.  A cross between science fiction and horror, the movie was plot driven, but used special effects well.  Nowadays, I feel we only get blockbusters like Pacific Rim or the Transformers movies.  There is not that niche where smaller films of this kind seem to exist.  Well, they probably exist, but not in a way that they get filtered to me. 

Monday, January 27, 2014


I live in a town with a large Jewish population.  In fact, when I moved here, that was a big draw for me when I moved here.  I've always appreciated Jewish culture and there is a great deal of great Kosher food, which I thought I might find in town.

Fast forward four years and my disappointment knows no bounds.  The best local deli doubles as a convenience store, which is fine if you want basic cold cuts, but not so much if you would like hot pastrami or corned beef.  Challah bread, tastes like mediocre white bread.  Pickles, I need to go to the Amish Market two towns away...actually, they sell a good challah bread as well, so I should consider moving to Lancaster and eating like a king. 

And then there are the bagels.  While not just identified with Kosher food, I've often found that good bagels are often found in proximity to Jewish communities.  In fact, if I look out my window right now, I can see the closed bagel shop.  There is a kitchy poster of Rosey the Riveter and some of the worst bagels you can imagine.  Now, I suspect part of it is the water, which in this town is not exactly first-rate.  But still, the bagels manage to be dry on the inside and odd tasting at even 7 AM, so they should not be stale. 

But yesterday, I was out for a bit of a drive, not of my own volition.  And as I drove, I found a bagel store two towns over.  Making a hard right into an icy parking lot, I head into the bagel store, expecting to be disappointed.  Well, on my second entrance, as the bagel store had an odd rear entrance I did not feel comfortable entering, since it felt like I was about to enter their kitchen and thought better of it.  I go to the bagel counter and wait for two people to finish their orders, which surprisingly takes about five minutes, as someone seemed perplexed by the task of ordering 13 bagels.  I reach the front of the line, get two everything bagels in about 4 seconds and head out.

The bagels were good and this filled me with a sadness that I need to drive ten minutes to get a decent bagel.  Later, as the first bagel was used immediately, I decided to make a sandwich out of the second bagel.  And as I take the knife to the bagel, I am shocked that it is already dried out.  It's bread...yet, has a shelf life of less than six hours.  Despite knowing this, it always bothers me about the bagel.  You should be the best bread there is, yet you have the same lifespan as a fruit fly. 

So, today, there were no bagels, because I'm not driving that far for bagels every day, as even I have some standards about how long food should last. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Three Barbershops

For most of my life, I've suffered with the inability to find a good barbershop.  Growing up, there were two barbershops in town, the one where they cut my ear when I was two and the other barbershop, which was reputed to be a front for another business.  Now, I just went there for the haircuts, which were perfectly acceptable, though not worth writing home about.  However, he never cut me, so that was a big checkmark in his column.

Also, whenever you can go to a barber who has a Corvette, always has new stories about his crazy fishing adventures, wore more gold rings than anyone I've ever met and managed to make those half-height leather boots look cool, you really have to consider it the right choice.  Also, he kept a selection of adult magazines in the store.  This barbershop was perhaps the most male-specific environment I've been in and to be quite honest, one of the coolest places you go.  It even seemed cool at 10 AM on a Tuesday, also during football season, it was unseasonably busy at that time, so take from that what you like. 

But eventually, I moved away.  Which meant finding a new barber.  Since I have a certain fear of letting strangers take a sharp object near my head and face, this can be challenging.  Fortunately, I've gotten a lot steadier in my old age and since leave my original hometown, I've only had one haircut involving blood, which was the hair dressers, as she cut her finger with the scissors.  Thinking about this, I think the feat is more impressive than I initially thought, since you are working both hands and the scissors, so most any rational person would have a good sense of where all of the sharp edges and soft flesh would be. 

A little over four years ago, I moved to a new town.  A town with three barbershops, which I was thought was amazing.  At first, I just kept going to the Supercuts near my old job, because the best time to get a haircut was like 7:30 PM on a Wednesday.  However, I still longed to find a barbershop again, since that is the key to a good least that's what I tell myself.

The first place is about two blocks from my apartment and pays to be affiliated with the local university.  They were even an "Art of Shaving" institution for a while, as they tried to create that cool vibe.  Unfortunately, they failed miserably at that.  The haircuts were acceptable, but nothing to write home about or recommend to a friend.  And the vibe was always off, since the cool barbershop is not where you have conversations about beating your son at Call of Duty, but it is where you charge $10 more for a haircut than your local competitors, because you talk about the time you spent in New York.  Judging from the haircuts and atmosphere, I could see why you were forced to move out to the suburbs. 

At the far end of the main street, there is a barbershop, where I never saw a white person other than myself.  In fact, on the outside, they indicate they do flattops and fades and I learned more about modern rap music there than anywhere else I've been in the last five years.  However, it was always worth it, as this was the only place I ever felt I got a great haircut, a haircut you could set your watch to.  One of the guys could get you in and out in under 15 minutes with a great haircut and used a straight razor at times.  A virtuoso of hair.  The price was also great.  Aside from the vibe, which was not really me, it was all you could want in a barbershop. 

Sadly, they recently added a pitbull to the team.  Now, I've gotten a lot better about dogs, but I'm not at a stage where I can close my eyes for 15 minutes and have a pitbull running loose beneath me, while someone who is a stranger takes sharp objects near my head. 

This led me back to Supercuts, which is the Russian Roulette of haircare.  Sometimes, you get a decent haircut, sometimes you think...I could just shave my head.  But the other day, walking through the downtown, I saw a third barbershop.  I was vaguely aware of the institution, but usually just lumped it in with the Pitbull Palace.  However, I saw an old guy cutting hair and realized, I could give this a whirl. 

Today, desperately needing a haircut, I braved the elements, walking four whole blocks in the driving snow.  I didn't have to wait, as the woman who cuts hair there was available, who was also the only other person there under the retirement age.  The haircut itself was satisfactory.  It took a bit longer than I like a haircut to take and she might have been using a mace on my skull to comb my hair for cutting, but more likely it was the heaviest, meanest brush I've ever encountered.  Once finished, the haircut was a little tighter in the front than I like, since it makes me look older and harder for me to hide my highschool scars.  But I suspect I will take the fairly good haircut with no pitbulls over the great haircut with pitbulls, so I likely found a new barbershop.  Hooray me!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Old Man at the Library

For once, the old man in the story is not myself, but an actual old man, a man, who still wears a hat and a sportscoat to go to the library.  He had grey hair and enlarged ears and nose.  On a normal day, he would've been just another codger waiting to die at Internet Terminal 4, but today this man took the leap.

So, I, foolishly deciding to return my two day overdue library books at 3 PM on a Friday nearly hit a car, two children and was almost reversed T-Boned by a car backing up as I stopped to avoid the children who believed it was their god given right to stand in the middle of the parking lot, oblivious to the fact that someone might drive and park a car in this lot.  Sadly, if this is the future of America, we are right, truly fucked.  Not just because of the incompetence and corruption necessary to run a government, but because future generations may lack the skills to tie their shoes or hold jobs to pay taxes.

Entering the library, I return my overdue books, find a book I want to take out to sit in my apartment for the next two weeks, unread, so I can return that in a few weeks and decide that I would prefer not to play pinball backing my car out of the lot, so I head toward the back of the library to pass some time. 

On the right hand side of the library, there is the ubiquitous line of computers allowing patrons to access the internet.  Usually, I walk right by without even noticing these fine machines.  However, today, the elderly patron at Internet Terminal 4 caught my eye.  He seemed happy, which in an elderly person is either frightening or an early warning sign of dementia.  He was so happy, that I looked at his screen.  Now, let me warn you, there were no pornographic images on the computer, which would've completed his smile with a simple story. 

Instead, there was a news headline, Nintendo Wii Made Me Nympho!  For a brief moment, I thought perhaps I was wrong, but underneath the man had a print out which he was furiously scribbling on, with the headline, Wii Fit Injury Made Me a Sex Addict.  Now, let me tell you, I braved the internet to read these articles for you and can tell you there was nothing titillating about either of these articles, but here was our older codger thinking this was the best thing that ever existed. 

Part of me is glad Internet Terminal 4 kept it in his pants, but the rest of me was chose to look this up at the library, on one of the internet terminals facing the entire library, rather than a back window used by no one, around 3 PM, when there were to my estimation, 20 to 30 children between the ages of 6 and 14 around?  Sir, while I think your pursuit of knowledge is noble, I would prefer you perform your video game nymphomania research to a more private space.  I'm not thinking of the children, but I'm sure someone else was. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

World Cup Soccer

If you had asked me a week ago what pinball machine I wanted to own, I would have emphatically said, "World Cup Soccer", without missing a beat.  In college, we had an arcade, which contained a few arcade and a few pinball games.  While there was always the more popular pinball machine, such as Attack from Mars or Medieval Madness, there was also the massive unloved World Cup Soccer. 

The concept of World Cup Soccer is pretty simple, it is a soccer themed pinball machine tied to the World Cup played in the United States in 1994.  There was a giant dog who might have infringed on Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddie, bonuses for each city and even a chip shot which was unmissable if you had any sense of timing, which was called a penalty kick. 

I often think back to that machine and think how wonderful it would be to have a generation old arcade machine weighing half a ton taking up space in my dining room.  (For example, I have a dining room table where I've eaten exactly two meals in 4.25 years.  Wouldn't I play World Cup Soccer more than once every two years?  Goodbye dining room table!  Hello Pinball Machine!!!)  Of course, I've never been serious about finding a pinball machine and to be honest, I'm not sure it is an apartment item.  But in my casual glances, there are days I think...well, it is only $3,000 and I can neither move it nor repair it should something happen.  And seriously, I would own a pinball machine. 

So, as I drove to Boston this weekend, I stopped at the first rest stop in Massachusetts.  After having a quick slice of god-awful pizza due to not having eaten by 4 PM, I use the facilities.  Upon leaving the men's room, I see it, like a ray from heaven.  World Cup Soccer.  In retrospect, I remember seeing this basically every time I go to this particular rest stop, but since my traveling for pleasure was significantly curtailed for the past few years, I eagerly approach the machine and hope there are quarters in my pocket. 

Fortunately, I had a fistful of quarters and a handful of restraint, as I only deposit two quarters to play one game.  And for two minutes, I remembered why I do not own a pinball machine.  The game was a disappointment.  It felt tilted high and the center was a ball magnet.  I think I hit about three good shots in three balls, lasting those two minutes.  After which, I thought to myself, did I really enjoy playing World Cup Soccer all of those years ago.  I thought perhaps not, though then again, perhaps I was much easier to please at 20 than I am at 35.  In reality, a broken pinball machine in a rest stop is no way to reclaim anything from your past, though it is a good lesson that the past exists as that for a reason. 

Of course, this also means I need to find a new pinball machine that I want to purchase, but I'm just not ready for that yet. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Caffeine Crash

There is certainly a downside of caffeine, which is stopping.  It is hard to remember times in my life where I was not drinking four or more caffeinated beverages a day.  What I do remember is most of the times that I stopped with caffeine. 

There are two possible reactions to stopping caffeine for me.  The first is nothing happens and life presses on.  This is by far the best scenario.  It usually happens when you are unaware you are giving up caffeine or have the decency to slow down, rather than hit the breaks and stop cold turkey.  You tend not to have caffeine at 11 PM and say, what a fine choice this is.  Instead, you go from 4 to 3 to 2 to 1, in a nice, safe decline.  You eventually start back, either unthinkingly at a restaurant or knowingly, because something just has to be done and back on the horse you are, blissfully unaware your detoxification failed.

The other possible reaction is the dead stop.  Rather than go to the store the last few days, I said, maybe I'll just give up caffeine again.  A sound plan, except for the part where I was up until 4 AM on Monday night, restless.  So, Tuesday, caffeinated beverages gone, six inches of snow on the ground, I go about my business, I was a little tired by the end of the night, but thought nothing of it. 

And then tomorrow comes.  I wake up early, but with nothing specific to be handled, I take myself from the couch to my bed and decided to sleep some more.  Barely awakening to a confirm and take a phone call, I set about my day.  I take a second phone call, get ready to take care of a few errands and the wall comes crashing down.  I was ready to leave, but my mind checked out and said, "NAP TIME!!!"  I actually dropped my computer out of my hand at an awkward angle, which led to the power cord reaching its end time, requiring me to either find the spare or make this one last until early next week. 

At which point I dragged myself back to bed, woke up three hours later with a splitting headache and the sensation I should not have given up caffeine and this very unilluminating blog post. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Shifting Perspectives

Searching for something in my E-Mail yesterday, I came across one I wrote to a good friend many years ago.  During this period of my life, I used to write very, long, somewhat jaunty narratives to many of my friends.  Reading them was actually quite interesting, as I briefly wondered what happened to that person and what it is taking to bring him back.  More important than enjoy the quality of my own work, was reading an accounting of an event. 

The accounting was at the time present tense and without a doubt completely factually accurate.  However, reading it, if I had not lived the event, I would never guess it was the same as the story as one I often re-tell.  All of the elements which make the story amusing were stripped away in this accounting.  It was sparse, where this story is often full of detail.  It read almost like a newspaper accounting of a throw-away event, rather than one of the best bad date stories I ever lived through. 

Reading this E-Mail again, it brought up a lot of thoughts about both truth and objectivity.  The truth exists in many forms, made worse by the fact that each of us has our own unique perspective and life experiences which color each moment of our lives, from meeting a person for the first time to going to the grocery store to living through a traumatic moment.  Each moment exists for us, with what we think is the truth.

At a later point in life, I was given another perspective on the story, when I met this person again in a very different context.  What I picked out as important and often the crux on which my story is based was forgotten by the other party, while I never remembered talking about my topic of choice, which was far more mundane, but ended up being equally as boring.  And there is even a third version, sparse and containing neither viewpoint, which was also the truth and factually accurate.

When I think about these times, I think about all of the different truths and realities which exist in the world and what they mean to each of us.  When assessing a situation, you need to not only know what you know, but what the other person does not know.  It is so hard to see a situation where the pieces are not your own, yet this experience is real and dare I say, valid.  To think, all of this from reading two lines in an E-Mail.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Thin Line Between Public and Private

I've started this four times.  Each time a good idea was rattling around in my mind, but I had a hard time converting the idea into something that was public-friendly.  Going on a long drive makes you think about things and this weekend was no exception.  Driving back, I took the slightly longer, less shell-crater scarred path back to my house.  An extra 30 minutes is worth not seeing if you can rip the axle out of your car and sometimes, seeing places you haven't been in years is mentally refreshing.

But with some of these thoughts, it is hard to turn it into something I would willingly share with a stranger or even in some cases, people I knew without the right context.  The written word is very powerful, but on its own, it can create an illusion about a situation or a person which has the potential to be damaging. 

For example, I realized which day I would want a chance at either reliving or influencing, but to explain it would require an intimate knowledge of people I haven't spoken to in at least a decade and I ended up down a rabbit hole as to whether I could make the day better and what the impact of the day on my life and psyche was.  The short answer is yes, I know what one moment I would want to change, but think I would have a hard time riding the luck I did that day to get to that point if I tried to relive it. 

Oddly enough, we all have our set piece stories, which we tell people.  Most people do it casually, knowing which stories say something about them or get a good reaction from people.  My set stories are big, not because the events are big, but because the stories take on a life of their own.  They don't stray from the facts, but the telling moves from casual to bombastic.  Thinking back on the day, it is one of those stories which should be a big set piece, a core part of my repertoire. 

The day in question involves something of a life event, well, as life event as college gets, a familiar cast of characters, a protagonist with strong motives, an improbable chain of events, backstory which can be referred to make the moment bigger, someone getting cut down to size, a huge payoff to end the story and a sad coda involving bagels.  Yet, I seldom re-tell the story, not because your faithful narrator fails, unlike how fiction teaches us life goes, but I seldom tell the story, because the failure that comes from it supports a narrative about myself I hate. 

I think after it happened, I dwelt on the day for about three months, mixing in some of the happiness that was Dresdened by the close, but mostly focusing on seeing that finish line and it getting moved miles away, taking the redemption I often dreamed of.  In fact, I even have a hard time telling another story around that time period, because it just crowds the rest of the picture out. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Surviving Week 2

I have miraculously survived week 2, currently exhausted from surviving my thirty minute workout.

Now, for the vast majority of my life, there were few dirty words, but exercise was one of them.  I managed to go 33 years without doing anything more strenuous than being mediocre at dodgeball and avoiding all sorts of non-walking physical activity.  I feel one of my life accomplishments was being able to neither perform a push up nor a pull up, which I believe is still true. 

About two years ago, I had an illness, in part, aggravated due to a lack of physical activity...and sleep and eating.  So, during my second day of recovery, we went to the gym, because that was what we did that day.  Entering a gym for the first time since high school, I thought maybe, just maybe I should do more than sit in a chair, wait for the next horrible crisis and on some level, wait to die and perhaps do something. 

With time as my friend for a rare time in life, I joined a gym.  Sadly, the only decent gym was about 12 minutes away through a terrible four way intersection.  So, I would go three or four days a week and spend 30 minutes on a treadmill.  While it was probably good for me on some level, I found myself backsliding all of the way out in under two months.  Of course, I waited another year to cancel the gym membership, but it would require me driving the whole way there...which I finally did.

With time currently being a friend and an enemy, I convinced myself to start DDP Yoga, since the primary benefit was I could do it from home, without purchasing large equipment I had no room to store.  And the first five days, I made it through.  But today was another story. 

Today, I went for my walk and even took a nap in the late afternoon.  After waking up, I honestly thought I wasn't going to do it.  An easy backslide, which I am exceptionally well qualified at.  But as the day passed, I realized I needed to go forward and do it.  And afterward, despite my trepidation and initial lack of desire, I was happy I sucked it up and spent 30 minutes trying to improve myself. 

Most importantly, staying in a routine makes it easier to keep up with things.  So, no backsliding today and I suspect I feel better than if I hadn't, but that doesn't make it any easier to change a life of inactivity. 

The Beggar

I live in a middle class town known for having a large Jewish population and being near a major college campus.  Despite this, I cannot find a decent loaf of challah bread or pastrami without driving 20 miles and having spent my childhood next to a similar town, this often depresses me.  I even gave the pastrami another chance yesterday, driving clear across town to the kosher "deli", where I was just saddened to find they had nothing more than packaged pastrami rounds for sale, not even having the decency to offer first cut pastrami. 

As an aside, first cut pastrami and corned beef are flat pieces of meat and often served on a fine sandwich in both kosher and non-kosher delis.  The rounds are little more than a poorly prepared sandwich found in a school cafeteria or that deli you only go to by accident or because you work in a heckhole.  A pee-pee soaked heckhole.  Even I would pack my lunch if that was the only deli in the area and I live in a cured and other meat backwater.

So, with pastrami out of playbook and all of this fine Amish rye bread begging to be eaten, I venture out into the unseasonable warmth to procure a box of chicken noodle soup.  To be honest, I am well aware that soup in a box is not exactly the finest food to be eaten with its ridiculously high salt content and limited nutritional value, but it is enjoyable every so often.  After purchasing the bread yesterday, I was actually shocked there was no instant soup in the house and I was forced to make do with other, sadder foods for dinner last night. 

Taking my own hand, off I strode toward the supermarket.  The walk was refreshing and I covered the distance of the downtown in short order, realizing that despite living here for years, it still didn't feel like home, since I seldom walked the downtown I lived on and instead, usually drove everywhere to foreshorten the time spent away, usually due to work constraints.  It almost felt alien, which your hometown should never feel, but there it was, gnawing at the back of my mind as I walked. 

Passing the combination drug and liquor store, which to this day amuses me to no end, I start walking past the post office.  As part of the town beautification project of the last two years, the town installed benches along the downtown so people can rest and enjoy a faux slice of small town life.  Actually, benches is slightly factually inaccurate.  The benches are more two metal chairs cemented into the ground.  Actually, they are utterly ridiculous and I've never had any desire to sit in one. 

But as I walk passed the post office, a blond woman in a jacket is sitting in one of those chairs.  Not expecting anything, I am surprised as the woman begins to aggressively call, "Sir, Hello Sir" as I pass.  Trained in the arts of walking through a large city unscathed, I neither break stride or turn my head, as nothing can be gained from interacting with a beggar.  I was surprised, as I have never encountered a beggar here before and was somewhat disappointed, since you would expect a town that strongly enforces their traffic laws to also enforce quality of life issues, but there was the beggar.

So, I purchase soup in the market and begin my journey home.  I decide to go the same way, since I am not worried about confrontation of this sort, but the beggar has left.  Of course, walking down the same street, I make it four more blocks, nearly at my apartment, when I hear again, "Sir, Hello Sir", in that aggressive tone that states I might owe her something.  Well, I owe her nothing and move on without confrontation, as right behind me I hear, "Miss, Hello Miss" as she tries to lure another person to an unwinnable situation. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Oatmeal Whoopie Pie

God's true gift to dessert.  Two, soft, oatmeal cookies filled some mix of sugar, egg whites and shortening.

Oatmeal is really the unsung hero of dessert.  Often paired with raisins, which aren't healthy enough to make me feel better about dessert or tasty enough to make me forget that this could be filled with chocolate chips instead, the raisin takes oatmeal down.  However, freed from raisin's terrifying grip, oatmeal can be the star of any dessert.

Now, the whoopie pie was not a staple of dessert for me for many years.  Essentially, the non-fresh bakery version of the whoopie pie is the Devil Dog.  The Devil Dog is a terrible product with a dry cake and a weak cream.  I think years of eating Devil Dogs on and off prevented me from even trying this until last year.

I was working in Philadelphia and went to the farmer's market one lunch hour in search of a Lucky Old Souls burger, which was both worth the 12 block walk and 25 minute wait, as nothing beats home cured bacon, pickled tomatoes and what were at the time the best pickles I'd eaten since the 1980s.  However, once I finished waiting for my fine burger, I took a stroll through the half block of farmer's market.  While the vegetation was not exciting, there was a fine bakery stand.  Looking around, I saw an oatmeal whoopie pie, which with its cream-filled center and oatmeal cookies, I made the plunge.  And once I finished eating my overly delightful burger, I ate the whoopie pie, even though I didn't need that much richness in one meal, I was hooked.

Of course, the downside of being hooked was not the delight in enjoying them, but my frustration in not being able to find them.  Well, today, at the Amish Farmer's Market, they were sitting there, six of them in a package, just in front of the register, leading to their purchase and my enjoyment of one this fine evening.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Music Merchant

Looking back at my teenage years, I find it hard to believe that I was part of the last generation who grew up in the record store.  In high school, I remember going to lunch in town every day and at least once a week, adding a record store to the list of places we would go.  The town I went to school in actually had two record stores, a Sam Goody and the Music Merchant, which actually moved in town if my memory serves from the last time I was there about eight years ago.  Sometimes, when I look at my CD collection, I think not only about CD, but when, where and with whom I purchased it. 

For example, my favorite purchase from high school is my copy of More Songs About Anger, Fear, Sex and Death, which is one of the best samplers I ever purchased.  My best friend had purchased Punk-O-Rama a few months beforehand, which in the common practice of the day, was meticulously taped in a slightly edited format and given to me.  In fact, when I bought the CD for the first time I was shocked when I heard Don't Call Me White by NOFX for the first time, because it was not on the tape.  A tape, which served me well for twelve years, until it was lost in the great Nor'easter of 2007, as my second car had a tape deck, well, until the creek behind my apartment rose and destroyed my car and everything inside. 

With both Rob and I aware of how much we enjoyed Punk-O-Rama, it was only a matter of time until one of us sprung for More Songs.  On some level, I want to say it didn't matter who bought it, since we shared music as a group, but there was something special about owning the CD.  I think it boiled down to being able to listen to the CD on the bus ride to and from school and for me, being able to put the CD into my music rotation, which was far more likely to be listened to than a cassette.

So, one day after eating lunch, which consisted of either a bacon, egg and cheese on a bagel, pizza or a burger which was not a pizza burger, we went to the Music Merchant, where I went straight to the end of the row and grabbed the CD.  The store was a classic type of music store, with glass cabinets along the walls filled with CDs and some cassettes, which by the mid-1990s were on their way out.  But there were walls of new CDs organized by name and you could flip through the used CDs, which sat in tall, wooden bins in the center of the store. I can tell you that I spent hours at the store, either with my friends or by myself on occasion. 

I have a hard time reconciling that today, this behavior would be abhorrent and unusual.  Nowadays, it is hard enough to find a record store, let alone one you want to browse in and find new music.  A few good record stores still exist, but as time marches on, I find them far less frequently and realize that it is just another piece of my youth gone for forever. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Time, Always Wrong

Time is an oddity.  It is not necessarily a thing, nor does it have any corporeal form, but it exists and is measurable.  Despite being measurable, all seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years and even decades have vastly different feels, which explains the word moment, which is understood by most people, yet not fully quantifiable. 

When I think back upon the last two decades, I'm surprised at how slow I think two decades ago went, but how fast the last decade burned through the sky.  In fact, I would say, aside from the last few months and a few months in 2012, I cannot imagine a time where I said to myself, time feels slower, almost as if each day was covered in molasses.  And even 2012, time moved fast, just not as frantic as 2011, which I'm fairly certain consisted of six minutes and 800 tasks, all of which required significantly longer than six minutes.  But when you feel time blowing by you at that rate, any sudden change will feel slow and drawn out. 

Thinking back, I think I prefer when life moves too fast rather than too slow.  When life is amped up, you are forced to make choices or try harder, but when things slow down, you slow with it and find ways to make 10 minute tasks take 30 minutes or six hours or wait on the list, so tomorrow feels like it has meaning.  As time slows, I start to think wistfully of days gone by where I used to make choices between sleeping and eating as my days were otherwise consumed.  Now, in all honesty, those days were horrible.  There should never be a point in your life where a good day at work means the local adult video store is open when you drive passed on your way, as this means you are well aware the only places open as you drive home are gas stations and convenience stores.

In fact, I still remember the night that I discovered that Pathmark was no longer a twenty-four grocery store.  Working seven days a week and leaving after 11 or Midnight most days, this greatly limited my grocery shopping options.  I could usually find an hour some early weekend morning or late weekend night, but you don't always remember everything as your mind begins to atrophy from the long hours and the lost desire to eat.  Best diet ever, but otherwise not much to offer.  Regardless, needing to supplement the meagre amount of food I was keeping at home, due to never being there, I stopped at the store.  There was plenty of parking in front, but that didn't strike me as odd. 

But when I got to the door, I was deeply saddened the store was closed.  It told me that I would not be acquiring groceries this fine evening and that I once again was out far too late.  Life was whirring past me and for a brief second, I cared about something.  Something trivial, but I cared.  And I was anguished by this.  But I cared, and that mattered for like 20 seconds, before I dragged my tired carcass back to the car to drive home empty-handed.

I suspect there is someone out there with the power to always view time correctly, who never feels that their life is moving too fast or too slow and I think if I met them, I might be envious of that person.  Mostly, I would envy that their life made sense to them on a regular basis, though I suspect most people feel the same way, even if they don't want to admit it. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Not for Forever

Something I often think about is the permanency of our actions and lives.  For example, as a society, we've grown significantly more capable of chronicling every action we take.  In 200 years, we've went from paints and canvas to handheld devices capable of recording full motion video and can then be stored in our pockets.  It's marvelous on some level, but frightening on most others.

Being part of that last generation that grew up without fear of our every action being recorded in public and private, it makes me wonder whether I was missing something from my past, whether my life was properly chronicled, so I could always look back and see who I was and not just who I am. 

This is my third serious attempt at chronicling my life in a public or even private fashion.  In my youth, my real youth and teenage years, I often thought about trying to keep a journal, not a diary, which is a device best saved for fashionable ladies, rather than rugged gentlemen and unrugged scoundrels.  However, I would usually write something for a day or two, feel a cramp in my hand and feel content to let my life bleed away, which should be my emblem or motto, depending on your iconographic preferences. 

However, with the advent of the internet, it became much easier to keep your thoughts organized in a semi-public/semi-private kind of way.  Early computers were unreliable and tended to self-destruct with amusing regularity and I've never been one for actually saving something on a disc like a responsible person.  And my early internet days were spent reading and playing simulated baseball.  At one point, during college, I dabbled with a blog.  Well, really I dabbled with a blog and webpage coated in lime green at the behest of a girl I met on the internet.  We had one date, which I alone thought went well and was left with a terrible webpage, black tips on blonde hair and more knowledge about childhood sexual abuse then was really pre-first date worthy sharing, but that is how life goes. 

And to be honest, I kind of regret not chronicling my college years, since I had some interesting stories to tell and lived life more than most times of my existence, but I suspect it would be more boring than I believe it to be.  High school would have been a horrifying and maudlin tale that no one who was there or wasn't there would want to read about.  I suspect 800 pages of self-pitying prose about something resembling wrong-minded love mixed with the occasional spark of violence is not a story anyone needs to read. 

However, in law school, we found Easyjournal.  I hated law school and in fact, still hate law school.  I finished at the top of my class, but never enjoyed a moment of it and spent most of my time as a pariah of the first order, which I was well-equipped to handle.  But I commuted to New York most days for three years and had stories, mostly due to my amazing capacity for seeing things and have the necessary sense of deprecation to get something to the page. 

As I started writing again after what was largely a six year, self-imposed ban, mostly to quote The Slackers "I pushed aside the things that meant so much with the hope that you'd be happy someday."  Not you dear reader, since I plainly care not about your feelings, but others.  Well, with that on life's fail list, I have returned to write and to chronicle and to express myself.  And I wanted to read what I previously wrote.  I knew my Livejournal still existed, but I wanted to see what I wrote back in law school, when I was full of vim and vigor and engaged in a relationship that I couldn't explain to anyone if I tried without eliciting looks of incredulousness. 

But I discovered it was gone.  The internet, designed to store all thoughts ever made by every useless human being who lives or lived in the last decade, had erased the vast majority of these thoughts.  I will never know exactly what I thought of people who never became part of my life or what observations I made that day, except for those few saved in the Internet Archive.  Fortunately, one of the best pieces I wrote survived, a callous observation about justice and the law, two concepts wholly unrelated.  Go on, click the link.  It is better than what I wrote here, wryer and full of youth and contempt.  Sadly, the entry before is missing, which is Injury Timeout, which involves me going on a date covered in blood and nearly breaking my wrist.  I still remember that story well and perhaps someday will regale you in it glory. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Pickle Jar

Grocery shopping is a full contact sport.  You have to push the cart through countless aisles and through those tiny gaps that every inconsiderate shopper leaves for you to get through.  Then, there is the desperate struggle at the deli counter, where invariably some older woman "forgets" to get her ticket, but insists that she should have your number.  And we won't discuss the produce section, which is the equivalent of the American Wild West, but with fresh fruits and vegetables.  Of course, I am assuming that one horse towns were not swimming in fresh tomatoes and apples, but could well be mistaken. 

So, amongst the other items I purchased at the grocery store yesterday was a jar of pickles.  A reasonable item to purchase at the grocery store and one of those items still sold in a glass jar.  So, shopping alone, I buy just enough items to use the express line and and get about four bags worth of items.  Uneventfully, I drive home after spending 45 minutes in the grocery store or about 5 minutes an item. 

Leaving the car, a mistake is made.  I hate carrying bags with my hands, since the bags can dig into your fingers and leave those creases.  To combat this phenomenon, the very ideal of a First World problem, I usually slide the bags up over my hands and use my wrists to carry.  For some reason, I decide to just grab the bags and head inside, a decision I would soon regret. 

Walking through the concrete floored parking garage, one of the bags shifts.  As it shifts, it occurs to me, "Self, you didn't secure the bags."  Now, I could drop the bag with the meat in it, soft and unlikely to explode or I could drop the jar with the thin-glassed pickle jar inside.  Since this isn't titled "The Meat Bag", you can guess which bag falls.

As the pickle jar bag falls and hits flat on the concrete, I hear a pop.  To this point in my life, I've never cut myself cleaning up broken glass.  A secret skill, which is a mixture of malleable skin and an overabundance of caution.  Looking at the pickle jar, I see a light green fluid start to move out, but the jar appears to be in the same shape as I left it, barrelesque.  So, I reach toward the back of the jar...the back of the jar, which unbeknownst to me just exploded into the bag.  Sharp edge protruding, I lightly nick my finger, the same finger I already cut this week slicing a cucumber. 

Expletive uttered, I slowly open the bag to see what else was in the bag.  Looking inside, the first thing I see is a tomato.  Tomato, I was leery about how pink you were when I purchased you, but once glass exploded near you, unprotected from the outside world or shattering glass, I wrote you off.  Behind the tomato was a pound of butter.  Factoring in both the box and additional level of wrapper, I decide the butter was safe and gently removed from the bag for further inspection upstairs.  Finally, we have the pudding cups. 

Wegmans makes a generic pre-made pudding using only whole milk.  Go to the grocery store and look at the rest of the pudding, skim milk, or white water if you prefer.  The pudding comes in sturdy plastic containers surrounded by a paper carrier.  The carrier was soaked with pickle brine, but the containers appeared unimpacted by the shattered glass.  So, I carried both the butter and pudding inside separately, where a thorough rinse and a cautious eye was provided to both before declaring them safe for my consumption. 

Of course, as I looked at the pickle jar one last time before tossing it into the dumpster, I realized I purchased the Polish pickle spears, rather than the Kosher pickle spears, which is the greatest insult of the story. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Who Wants to Go Clubbing in Vancouver Tonight?

My Gmail account is almost ten years old.  I happened to acquire my Gmail account in the early, invite-only testing phase, in large part to running a simulated baseball league during my law school years, as one of our league owners knew someone and gave us invites very early on.  I know, scintillating and nearly scandalous.  This would not be important, but for the fact that I have a Gmail account, which includes my first initial and last name, which you dear reader almost certainly do not.  You might have your full name and a series of numbers, because Gmail became the dominant form of free E-Mail and it is easier if everyone is on the same network. 

And for many years, I had this treasured name and never used it.  In fact, I have 21 E-Mails from my first year with the account, that's received, not sent.  Aside from a few activation E-Mails, my first E-Mail was baby pictures...for someone else.  Someone who is now disturbingly almost ten years old now.  And from here, the cycle begins. 

I would say every so often, but that would be dishonest, but actually fairly regularly, I get E-Mail for other people.  All sorts of strange E-Mails intended for other people.  Once I even managed to get a series of E-Mails for someone who was intentionally forwarding materials to themselves.  But the sexual predilections of Southern Middle School Vice Principals is a story for another day. 

So, today, while running my errands, I was added to a guest list...for a Vancouver.  Now, to be fair to you, dear reader, I live on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, many miles from fair Vancouver.  I'm sure Vancouver is a very nice city and likely has some excellent nightclubs, not that I would be interested in them, as they are full of loud sounds which I find somewhere between distracting and disorienting.  But I do have an invitation.

Seriously, how hard is it to use your correct contact information when registering for something you want for yourself?  There are a fair number of people who like to use my account for their various activities, moving between standard, like the person who has my E-Mail for their Playstation account to the absurd, to the people who want access to a dating site without any of the commitment of people being able to contact them.  Perhaps, they are just specialized voyeurs who love headshots, but can't let anyone like their significant other, commanding officer or local newspaper men know. 

Of course, until then, I will know when other people want to go to clubs, join dating sites or split the purchase of an airplane in the United Kingdom.  True story, someday when I get some fresh material on that one, we can discuss it in greater detail.

Friday, January 10, 2014


There is something about a television show by Ronald Moore on a Friday night on the Syfy channel which excites me.  Thinking back, I think the first and second seasons of Battlestar Galactica are some of the finest television I've ever watched and I actually enjoyed seasons three and four, which really suffer only in comparison to the first two seasons and a clear lack of plan for the show..  And Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was also a favorite of mine, since it did have strong narrative throughout the entire show.

So, I sit here, excited that one, Helix is finally on the air and two, has an extra jaunty theme song.  Also, anytime you start with a two part episode, you seem to be building toward a story arc and the best science fiction always has a story arc.

My one trepidation is the references to how much the show is like Lost in the early trailers.  I liked some of Lost, but the show ran long and trying to watch the entire show in order is difficult, since characters seem to die randomly and plot points move as quickly as time in the show.  However, if the show is half as good as Battlestar Galactica, I will be quite pleased until it is moved to different time slots and ended prematurely. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Daily Content

When I started writing again, I convinced myself I wanted to write everyday.  Once I started writing everyday, it would be easier.  My life would have more structure and I would have a creative outlet.  The first few days were easy, not because the effort wasn't needed, but because there was something to say. I have a lot to say today, but a public forum feels wrong. 

Today was a difficult day in many ways, but also one of clarity.  I think I understand for the first time in a long time where I want to go, but don't believe I have the will to explain where that is yet.  And anything else I have to say feels trivial...except I started exercising today and learned I am in some quite poor shape, but think in time, I can at least get myself to just below passable. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Solving the Baseball Hall of Fame Problem

For those of you over the age of 50, you might have known today the Baseball Hall of Fame results were released.  The Baseball Hall of Fame is a hallowed institution designed to bring people to bucolic Cooperstown, New York, which the institution has done.  Of course, recently, baseball, alone amongst all major American sports is receiving scrutiny over its drug testing and stars, leading to campaigns to clean up the game, while scads of nimble 300 pound behemoths perform every week for the NFL or stars have their blood recycled to improve their healing in the NBA.

Personally, I am not opposed to performance enhancement.  It is all about entertainment and it is far more entertaining to watch genetic freaks play games at the highest level than maintain a level playing field.  Life is many things, but a level playing field is not one of them.  We all know that being born to rich parents or having exceptional gifts make life easier and rewards richer, why shouldn't sports be the same way.  If someone is willing to have their legs repeatedly broken to be taller or inject themselves with human growth hormone to play better, then it should be allowed.  Heck, if we can strap rocket packs to humans and let them run track, I'll watch.  I don't want fairness, I want spectacle and choice for these brave young men to maim themselves for my entertainment.

Which gets us back to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are two of the best players in baseball history.  Any objective standard holds them up as potential candidates for the greatest of all time at their positions, yet here they are, stuck at under 40% of the ballot, as the guardians of the game, writers who wrote about baseball for at least ten years, withhold their entry into the museum in the name of morality.  Of course, as reporters, they largely turned a blind eye towards investigating as this was happening, but the money wasn't there, unlike with outsized offense and home run records.

Because of this, some writers now submit blank or nearly blank ballots to protect the sanctity of the game, because steroids are evil, though the amphetimines used by many of the heroes of the 1960s and 1970s were perfectly acceptable.  Morality being what it is, it will always slide to where you want it to be to get the optimum result on the issue, but that is a story for another day. 

To take the process back, something needs to change.  Now, it could be the balloting process, but that would mean taking something from people loathe to give it up, since the joke goes four writers at Golf World vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame, which is the most exposure golf writing ever gets.  However, what needs to change is the perspective on performance enhancing drugs.

What I think the ideal solution would be is for someone like Greg Maddux, presumed by the sportswriters to be clean and elected with nearly 98% of the vote to come out and say he used performance enhancing drugs during his career.  I have no reason to suspect he did, but doing so would likely end all of the speculation about who is clean and who is dirty and likely have the same effect as Ted Williams' Hall of Fame acceptance speech where he expressed his disappointment with the lack of Negro League players in the Hall of Fame.  If someone who was thought to be clean and beyond reproach came out and said he used, then wouldn't everyone else then be allowed in. 

Of course, since we are talking about old, white guys who want to save something long gone, it might also lead to no one ever getting elected again and a new balloting system put into place, because that's how things roll.  But I would like to think that something like this, brave and on point, would end the madness and restore a new normalcy.  And perhaps, just perhaps make baseball relevant for the right reasons again.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Kitchen Safety

I do try to be safe in the kitchen, mostly because I love having fingertips and uncharred skin, two underrated aspects of daily life.  This week, I took my life into my own hands and nearly managed to handle both kitchen safety issues in a single week. 

First, the flame.  For Christmas, I was given a Toas-Tite Sandwich Maker, which is the finest sandwich making machine in history.  For those of you too lazy to click the link and see this machine in all of its simplistic glory, the Toas-Tite maker is product of the 1940s and 1950s.  Made in the finest aluminum, the simple clam-shell shape allows you to make a sandwich on an oven, which should be perfectly cooked and sealed in about three minutes.  Growing up, my mother used one to make grilled cheese and grilled cheeseburgers, which were always delightful, with a shiny crust and perfectly cooked insides. 

Being the adventurous sort, I decided to take the grilled cheeseburger to the next level.  Not content to lightly coat some bread with butter, insert a little cheese and meat, I made a whole cheeseburger inside, including pickle chips, cheddar cheese, tomato slices and organic ground beef from the farmer's market this autumn.  On well buttered bread, the ingredients went, following a careful trim for that perfect seal.  Three minutes later, I should have a great meal.  Instead, chaos ensued. 

Toas-tite maker placed on the hot burner and it begins.  The seal failed.  And something, maybe butter, maybe pickle juice begins to gently leak out near the open flame.  Dilemma was staring me in the face, do I abandon my meal and accept safety or go forward, grab a towel and roll the dice.  Prayer was a thought as well, but having no religion made prayer impractical.  So, I grabbed a towel and waited one and one half minutes.  Once the original liquid slowed, cheese began to pour forth, like an oozing nightmare that would not stop.  After the time passes, I flip it over and fortunately, no more liquid escaped.  Cooking finished and crisis averted, I open the sandwich maker and the bread begins to tear on one side.  After some cautious jabbing with a steak knife, I scrape away all of the filling and about 75% of the bread, which made for a delicious, but visually unappealing sandwich. 

To compound this, I was making a salad today.  A simple act of slicing cucumber led to folly as the knife went cut, cut, shoot out of the cucumber and graze my finger.  Fortunately, years of watching cooking shows taught me to keep my fingertips curled underneath, avoiding more than a slight nick around the first knuckle, but boy did it hurt as I ran around trying to find the bandages in the back of the linen closet.  So, hopefully, I can avoid further crisis in the kitchen this week for my own safety. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Shape Up Or Ship Out

To be honest, I've never taken the best care of myself.  I have a weakness for brown, sugared carbonated water.  I once joined a gym, about two years ago.  For the first two months, I went, maybe three times a week, more at first, when it was new, but could never stay motivated to go. I mean the gym was 10 minutes away by car...and there is a four-way stop light.  FOUR WAY, each side takes a turn, which drives me crazy.  But basically, I drove to the gym to walk on a treadmill to come home.  Never did I feel it was worth it.

However, I'm getting older...or old if you prefer.  Not just spiritually, which I've been since I was four, as an old soul has always lived here.  But physically older.  I unscrupulously avoid the stairs, as if they are lined with poisonous snakes which spit glass.  I do like walking, but its cold outside, I mean really cold and that really discourages walking or leaving the apartment.  Regardless, the walk to the store is not going to prolong my life or leave me feeling old and soft. 

So, watching RAW tonight, because at heart, I am a wrestling fan and have been for over thirty years, I saw DDP.  Now, Diamond Dallas Page was late to the game and one of the few workers to go from manager to World Champion, especially into his 40s, but he was motivated and while never a favorite wrestler of mine, someone with a good story and can work the microphone.

And DDP is now best known for DDP Yoga, which is an exercise program, which along with lifestyle changes, allowed Scott Hall and Jake Roberts, two wrestlers many were surprised were still alive, to get a second chance at life in much better shape.  So, seeing an advertisement in RAW, I head over to the website, not committed to buying it, but to just look. 

And look I did.  Not just at the site, but other reviews off-site.  And slowly, over the course of an hour, I convinced myself, I could do this.  I could change my life and take better care of myself.  Honestly, what will likely happen is a strong surge up front, followed by a slow tail off, not really changing anything.  But in life, sometimes you have to take a chance, even if you think you might not commit or follow through. 

So, I now have DDP Yoga en route to my apartment, waiting to see if I can affect some positive change in my life. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Fly in the Ointment or Bakery Case

With the frozen rain receded, I needed to venture into the cold to get a newspaper and potentially a roll for a hamburger.  Tasks which would fill anyone's Sunday afternoon with delight, but life being what it is, sometimes you need to handle the mundane tasks as well.  With the car safely ensconced in the garage and hill behind my apartment complex a crazy Q shape currently one lane where there should be two, I decide to take a walk.  The convenience store is but two blocks away and an easy walk, even in the worst of conditions.

Of course, arriving at the convenience store, I see nary a roll for sale in the store and convince myself, it is perfect weather for a six block walk to the grocery store.  Now, aside from the closed gas station where no one shoveled and the icy path leading to the grocery shrouded in the shadows of a rickety wooden fence, the walk was uneventful.  The path gave me pause, because I was concerned about falling on the slick, shattered ice.  Surviving this, I entered the Stop N Shop I'd been to many times before.  Newspaper identified, primarily for the lining of a guinea pig cage, I move to the bakery section. 

Behind the previously shattered door, identifiable by the cracks and tape along the hinges, stands a whole host of baked goods.  Removing a bag from the roll, which I dropped on the floor and to be quite honest gave me pause, because we seldom think where something was before we use it, I take one of those tissue paper and look at the kaiser rolls.  Almost selecting one, I spy onion rolls, which are always hard to find, but always add flavor to any sandwich.  I move in, selecting an onion roll and while contemplating a second, I spy it.  A bug, a fly more correctly, small and black, going about its business walking up the wax paper lining the onion roll basket.

For one fleeting second, I nearly convince myself that it is only a bug and not likely to impact my life or impart any illness to me.  However, this quickly fades as no apocalyptic event has impacted the ability of other stores to provide me sustenance and I leave, vowing never to return...inside my head.  Which is true.  One bug is not a problem, but where there is smoke, there is likely a colony and more correctly, a failure to keep sanitary conditions in the store.

So, despondent, I walk all the way back to the initial convenience store to at least procure the necessary newspaper.  Inside, I find not only the newspaper, but kaiser rolls previously unseen by me in the store.  Had my eyes worked correctly and allowed me to identify and purchase the kaiser rolls, I would still be willing to shop at my local Stop N Shop.  Fortunately, my own failings allowed me to learn something important and perhaps saved me from a worse fate later on.

Were I a spiritual man, I would say it was god's will that kept me safe.  Fortunately, there is neither a god-fearing nor a spiritual bone in my body, so instead I have a story worth telling due to my own incompetence.