Archive for June, 2011

Things that drive me crazy:

I was sitting at a stoplight in the right hand lane.  I have two possibilities, I can go straight, or I can turn right.  The van beside me was in the left hand lane which means they have the option of going straight or turning left.  I’m minding my own business when the driver honks her horn.  I casually look over, and using a form of sign language she communicates to me that when the light turns green she is going to pull in front of me and turn right.  I smile and shake my head ‘no’.  She looks at me with her big eyes and nods her head vigorously that she needs to turn right.  I shrug and point behind me indicating that if she needed to turn right then she should be in the right line behind me and not in the left.  She rolls down her window and starts to say something to me.  I smile and shake my head ‘no’.  She starts a new kind of sign language that involves an ugly face and one finger, and lots of words coming out of her lips that thankfully I cannot hear.  The light turns green and she starts to pull ahead of me.  But she isn’t fast enough, the car behind me doesn’t let her in either.  I grin and travel on down the road. 

I’m not the one who got into the wrong lane. I’m not the one who wants to break the law.  I’m not the one who wants to hold up morning rush hour traffic.  Yet it seems from her gestures that I am somehow the bad guy.

I’m getting off an exit ramp and merging into traffic that is not moving.  Everybody is doing the right thing.  One car goes, the other merges, next car goes, next car merges.  Yet three cars behind me the driver does not wish to wait his turn and merge.  No, he is special.  He thinks it is okay to fly past all the other cars and then merge as the road disapears into one lane.  Then he gets upset with me when I don’t let him merge in front of me. 

For the love of all things, do not speed past me, cut in front of me and then slow down.   

By all means turn on your turn signal after you have already changed lanes.

Better yet don’t turn on your turn signal, but by all means slow way the hell down to make a turn without any warning.

Even better, I know you see me trying to make a left hand turn out of the gas station.  I wait because you are moving pretty fast.  Can you tell me why you wait till the last possible minute to turn on your turn signal?  Seriously I could have gone had I known that.  Thanks moron.

Don’t get upset with me when I fly past you at 70 miles an hour and toot my horn and scare the crap out of you because you are too busy texting and driving to realize you are slowly crossing into the passing lane doing 50 miles an hour in a 65 mile an hour speed zone, and had no idea I was there.

In fact don’t get upset with me when I toot my horn to scare the crap out of you because I look over and you are trying to drive and text at the same time.  If you had been driving and paying attention I wouldn’t have to scare the crap out of you in the first place.

When I look in the rear view mirror and you are putting on your makeup while sucking on my exhaust pipe all I really want to do is slam on my breaks.

Go ahead and tailgate me while I’m doing the speed limit or faster.  Depending on my mood I’ll probably go even slower.

If nothing else I ask two things:

A) Learn to use your turn signals.

B) Learn to merge!  I’m talking to you Pennsylvanians.  The people on the highway have the right of way, we don’t have to move over for you to merge.  You are the one that has to do the merging.  And while I am at it.  Don’t stop on the highway to let people in.  You only think you are being nice.  But have you given a thought to the people who have to come to a stop behind you.  It is a highway for crying out loud!

Stepping of my soap box now.

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Me in front of the Avondale Hotel

I would love for you to convince me that ghosts exist. But you can’t. You can tell me stories, you can show me all of your evidence, but unless you show me a ghost I’m probably going to roll my eyes.  

I’ve changed my mind.

The other day my wife and I decided to get some burning bushes for the front of our house.  We ended up in Philipsburg. Philipsburg is the home of Philip of Philips head screwdrivers.  You can even see the original building were Phil made his first screwdriver, rumor has it that it took him three additional years to come up with the screw.   It was a difficult three years, so difficult Philip suffered from horrible chest pain so he came up with a type of milk that relieved heartburn.

Usually when we are entertaining guests and bring them to Philipsburg I start with the screwdriver story, I’ve actually had one or two people wondering. The problem is I never know when to shut up, by the time I get to either Philips Milk of Magnesia or sometimes Philip Magnavox people begin to realize I’m making things up as I go.  Seriously though, this post is not about Philip or his town.  In fact Philipsburg has nothing to do with this story, except that we could not find burning bushes in Philipsburg.

We ended up going to Black Bear Nursery which is in Winburn over by Kylertown. Let me tell you about Kylertown. Population 426, according to the census bureau four hundred and forty two of the people are white one person is Indian the other two are unaccounted for.  As strange as it may seem, one of those 426 people is a co-worker of mine. Winburn Pa, according to the PA demographic Information has an estimated population is 105 people. 

We found ourselves driving deep in the heart of Winburn and there was no sign of anything.  We traveled down the deserted roads marveling at the beauty of the lush green forest that surrounded us.  We turned a corner and came across a building badly in need of repair from the direction we were traveling we could only see the backside.  Some of the windows on the first floor were cracked many on the second floor were boarded up.  Just as we were passing the building my wife saw a sign, “Avondale Hotel, Open for business” “Turn in!” my wife said, “Let’s stop and check it out!” The front of the building was done up for Memorial Day complete with lit up neon beer signs in each of the windows. The first thing I said to my wife was “I hope it is haunted”. The door was wide open and there were two grizzly looking guys sitting out front talking, as we parked the car they got up and headed inside.  My wife jumped out of the car and headed for the door.  I thought it best to guard the car.

Except for the young girl tending bar the front of the hotel was empty.  The girl explained to us that her father purchased the place a year ago and has slowly been restoring it.  They just got their liquor license but the kitchen and upstairs were still closed.  The ‘girl’ showed us a display case that held some of the treasures her father had found.  The Avondale was built about 100 years ago and burned down in its early years, restored and closed in the early 80’s and only re-opened a few short months ago.  The actual wooden bar was beautiful and was part of the original building.  I had fun running my hand over the 100 year old wood and thought about what tales this piece of ‘furniture’ could tell.  The girl showed us a ledger book along with some pictures. This is coal country and I could imagine the workers hooking up their horses to the hitching posts and sitting at the bar after a hard day’s work. 

My wife asked the girl if the place was haunted.  She told us that the contractors have told her that sometimes at night the 100yr old cowbell that hangs above the door will ring even when the door is closed.

I asked if I could meet her father, I just wanted to meet the man who would take on such a wonderful challenge.  She told us he was working and wouldn’t be back until late that night.  I apologized as I thought that one of the men that came inside must have been her father.  She looked at me oddly and asked me, “What men?” I told her about the two grizzly guys sitting outside. I got a blank stare in return.  My wife told her that they came inside just as we were parking the car.  We got the same blank stare.  As we turned to leave I noticed a picture above the bar, it was one of those pictures that was done in Sepia and made to look old.  “That guy!” I said.  “He was one of the men that came in here just as we pulled up.”  She looked at me and said, “You guys are serious? You saw that man come into this building?” 

“Yes” My wife and I answered together. 

“That” the girl said is George Womer!  He built this hotel 100 yrs ago!

Our first view of AvondaleAvondale front, nowMe in front of Avondale HotelAvondale now

Avondale Hotel, 100 yrs ago

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I break for chipmunks and anything else that crosses my path.  We don’t automatically squish bugs when they enter our home, instead we try to capture them and set them free in the great outdoors.  Sometimes however, spiders and ants simply make bad life decisions.

I don’t like it when I see dead critters such as deer, bear, porcupine, groundhogs, possum, etc on the side of the road.  I was especially upset just recently by a suicidal chipmunk.  Both my wife and I have suddenly applied the brakes several times over the last few days to avoid running over this little guy, always in the same place, it seemed to have a fascination with a particular crack in the road.  His luck ran out, we noticed that somebody ran him over the other day.

In front of our house I discovered a bird nest complete with bird and eggs.  I approached the nest and momma bird flew to a nearby branch and yelled at me.  I walked away and avoided that area, but over the next few days I kept my eye on that nest.  I checked on the eggs when momma wasn’t around, carefully avoided the nest while she was sitting on the eggs.  Yesterday momma bird was suspiciously gone.  I checked the nest, the eggs were gone, no trace.  Something got them either another bird, possibly a snake, who knows?  It’s life in the wild.  But still I couldn’t help but be upset about the ordeal and in my own quiet way I mourned the loss. 

Of course it is different when it is a pet, even when it is not one of my own.

Maya was a great Husky who left us way too early.  Maya had a wonderful human family, human mother T and human sister M.  My wife and I consider ourselves extremely fortunate to have these two people in our lives, to have them as friends.  These are two of the nicest people I have ever met and it was Maya who brought us together.

Human mother T and sister M have had a really rough year, a really rough year.  And through it all they have managed to hold their heads high, handled themselves and their situation with grace, strength and dignity. 

My wife was talking with M on the phone a short while after Maya passed away.  M explained how they have lost pets before but with Maya it was different.  During all the upheaval in their lives Maya was always a constant, always there.  Maya would always crawl into bed and comfort M. 

For the longest time our dog Sequoia simply didn’t get along with other dogs.  Sequoia would growl and lunge and just be keyed up for a fight.  However Sequoia liked Maya the two became fast friends with only the occasional arguments.  Since then Sequoia has gotten along with a few other dogs but none I would call ‘friends’.

So how does one say goodbye?

In Maya’s short time she left her mark, she brought us together, she drove us all a little crazy with her constant yipping.  She made us laugh, she brought us comfort and she brought us friendship.

Maya though your time with us was short the paw print you left on our hearts is deep.  You will never be forgotten.  Rest in peace my friend.  Rest in peace.

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Why I Love Google!

Any good sales person will tell you that packaging sells. Any good performer will tell you presentation is everything.  In magic, for example, the only person who really worries or even cares about the method is the magician.  If the performance is there, the rest falls by the wayside.  Sure you need substance, knowhow and skill.  But if you can’t present that skill then it doesn’t really do a whole lot of good, much like having intelligence without wisdom.

Many moons ago when I was working in the bank a co-worker of mine had obviously watched a magician make a solid object penetrate another solid object.  This co-worker came up to me the next day and asked if it was indeed possible to accomplish such a feat.  I performed Perfect Pen. In which you stab a pen through a dollar bill and when you remove the pen from the bill there is no hole in the bill   I had him write his name on a dollar bill and then proceeded to take the pen and punch a hole through the bill leaving the pen penetrating part way through the bill.  When I removed the pen and handed him the unharmed bill the look on his face was priceless, but I wasn’t going to lie.  As I handed him his bill back, I told him no, it is not possible, but as long as I can convince you that I can, then what difference does it make?

I don’t claim to be very smart, but I do believe I can make some people believe I am much smarter than I am.  Google is my favorite weapon.  Google makes me look absolutely brilliant.   I love it when I’m at work and somebody asks me a question.  It can be something as simple as, “Who sings that song?”  Or “How many pounds are in 40 kilograms?”  Or how about, “When did Napoleon die?”  The question doesn’t matter I have (or at least Google has and therefore I have) the answers. 

At work we have so many different types of equipment and for some reason each piece of equipment has a different power cord, (even thought each piece of equipment does the same thing) For example we may carry 5 different types of modems, each one takes its own type of power cord, but we get power cords from different companies so even through two may be the same they look different, worse some look the same and are completely different.  It is a constant battle to figure out what goes with what.  Some will give you the power in amps and others in watts.   I was sitting at my desk and a tech poked his head into the office and asked me what the equivalent of 450 amps was to watts.   I told him I would be right there.  Once he left I quickly typed it into Google and came back and showed him what he needed.  Now the tech thinks I’m brilliant.  The downside of course is now the tech thinks I’m brilliant and comes to me with all his questions. 

Thanks Google.

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We always intend to go to a movie but we rarely actually get up and go.  Today was different because some friends of ours were going and asked us to join them.  Not only did we go, but we went whole hog, rather than sneak food into the theatre we opted to buy some popcorn and soda! (truth be told, we did sneek in some licorice). The best deal for us was two medium drinks and a medium popcorn for $12.00.  Yes I know it is a scam, they know It is a scam, and yet we couldn’t resist.  But wait! For an extra dollar you can upgrade to a large bag of popcorn and two large drinks.  Hey for an extra dollar what the heck?  The nice lady brought us our two pails of soda and a grocery bag of popcorn.  As I was paying, the food lady told us that the large came with free refills!  I paused mid transaction, I stood on my toes so I could look at her over the shopping bag of popcorn while my wife was trying to figure out how to carry the two pails of soda.  “Free refills?” I said, “Just how long is this movie anyway?”

Remember the days when once the credits started rolling the movie was over?  Not anymore, oh no!  Now it is a guessing game.  You can leave before the end of the credits and miss the very last scene, or you can roll the dice and stay.  Sometimes there is a last scene sometimes nothing.  I watch the credits, not so much because I really care about the last scene that may or may not be there, but it: A gives the aisle time to clear out. B For the price one pays to see a movie it is best to suck every last word out of it.  C. My knees already hurt from being cramped, my butt is numb from sitting in crappy seats so I’m in no rush to get up.  And finally, one of my favourite movies is ‘A Nights Tale’ One of the funniest parts of the movie happens after the credits. This time sitting through the credits paid off.  Not only do I know who all the key grips are, I also know who ordered the food for the cast and crew.  And low and behold there was a final scene. But could I enjoy that last scene?  Not really because I had consumed roughly a quarter of my pail of soda, my bladder saw the start of the credits and decided the movie was over. My bladder didn’t care about the possibility of another scene, didn’t care about the stupid price I paid for the soda, popcorn or the movie itself.  In the end I won, sure my eyballs were floating, sure I almost didn’t make it to the bathroom in time. But I sat through the full 20 minutes of credits for the last 30 seconds of the movie. Which only existed to set up for another movie.  But I won.  I got to go to the movies with my wife and caught up with some really good friends.

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