Thursday, December 31, 2009

... and on this note

One of my coworkers shared this story with me.

A lady calls him up and she is in a panic.

Customer: "Oh my god. Please help me. The police are going to come get me.

Technician: "What seems to be the problem."

Customer: "I got a message on my computer. I'm going to go to jail. I just know it."

Technician: "What message did you get."

She is almost crying at this point.

Customer: "The computer gave me a message saying that I have performed an illegal operation and my computer will be shutdown. What do I do?"

She has obviously had a few to many run ins with the law.

Have a Happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What a month

The last 3 or 4 weeks have been crazy. I was offered an IT job in Afghanistan. It required hours (no joke) of paper work. I also had to get a physical and a dental exam.

During the dental exam I told the dentist that I had a loose filling. When he looked he said that the tooth was actually cracked and that I needed a crown. Sigh…

The medical exam was almost like a game. Bursitis? Check. Arthritis? Check. Tendonitis? You bet. The list goes on. That was kind of depressing.

There was also some good news/bad news. Heredity finally caught up with me and I now have type two diabetes. It was not a huge surprise, Mom and Dad both have/had diabetes, it was just inconvenient timing. Now I have to get that under control before I can reapply for that job. You may be wondering about the good news. Finding out about the diabetes prior to having a stroke, heart attack or seizure is the good news.

My doctor is great. She set me up with a diabetes class. That took a lot of the fear away. A nutritionist set me up with a meal plan and told me how to manage my blood sugar. I was also shown the proper way to check my blood sugar and how the medication works on my body. I highly recommend a course like this if anyone finds out that they have diabetes.

Now I would like to mention how much it sucks to have diabetes this time of year.

Last Saturday Deb baked cookies and nut bread ALL DAY LONG. It was insane. We have a six foot table filled with baked goods. If that was not torture enough she also made no-bake cookies and brownies. I wanted to slash my wrists when the smell of brownies filled the air. Kick me in the balls or just shoot me in the back of the head. It would be more humane.

I am human and I ate a few cookies. I also had a glass of milk with them. I did resist the brownies, but I absolutely refused to check my blood sugar that day. I will just pretend it did not happen.

Fortunately, this is not as painful as it could be. I had already changed my eating habits. This began last January and I have lost almost 40 pounds since then. This is the first time in 14 years that I have weighed less than 200 pounds (holy crap that sounds a lot worse now that I have it typed out).

So to sum things up I will say that I love my family. Diabetes sucks, but it is manageable. My body is doing it’s very best to tell me I am old. I am responding to my bodies’ message with fingers placed firmly in my ears and yelling “la la la …” at the top of my lungs.

Merry Christmas everyone and have a Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


So one of my coworkers asked a customer to send them a screen shot. A few minutes later we received an email with a jpeg attached to it. The customer had taken a picture of her screen with a digital camera and emailed it to us.


Someone printed it out and taped it to the white board.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

It was a lovely Thanksgiving. We went to a friend's house for lunch. Too much food and not enough football. Had to be at work by 3pm so, not enough football.


I love my job.

Me: "Thanks for calling computer support..."
Customer: (interrupting me) "I need my password reset."
Me: "...may I have your last name please?"
Customer: "...I need my password reset."
Me: "May I please have your last name."
Customer: "Can't you just reset my password?"
Me: "Yes. I can."
Customer: "Well?"
Me: "Which password?"
He tells me.
Me: "OK. What's your last name."
Customer: (exasperated)"Why do you keep asking me for my name?"
Me: "Well, who's password should I reset then?"
Customer: "Oh. Uh... sorry."


Friday, November 13, 2009


Debra had surgery on her shoulder a few days before grandpa’s funeral. She suffered on the long drive to western NY and even more on the long drive home. She has been unable to move her arm (from the shoulder) higher than her chest since around April. Now, with the help of physical therapy, she is able to raise it above her head again. She is still in quite a bit of pain, but she is healing.

About a week after our return it was Dearth’s turn. He was playing football with his friends and for some unknown reason they do this in bare feet. After the game they were wrestling and he cut his big toe on the edge of a brick (partially buried in the ground). I had just gotten home from work and was starting dinner. I hear him walk in and he asks for some paper towels and a band aid. I took one look and told him to get in the car. It was good for four stitches. The highlight of the visit was me passing out in the ER. Blood doesn’t bother me, but watching the doctor pull the stitch through creeped me out a bit. Stack that on top of not eating for 12 hours and down I went. I only phased out for a couple of seconds. When I started to regain focus I hear Deb yelling for help. I would like to add that if you yell for help in an ER there is an immediate (and spectacular) response.

“Yes. I am ok.”
“Only my pride is hurt.”
“Why can’t I just sit here?” (motioning to the three legged stool on wheels)
“Ok. I’ll sit on the gurney. The cold wash cloth for my neck was very thoughtful.”
“Yes, I’m feeling much better now.”
“A nice cup of ice water and crackers would be lovely. Thank you.”
“Debra, sit down. I’m fine.”
“Dearth, don’t try to get up. Your toe is still sore.”

I swear, you have one human moment and everyone panics. I can only be Superman most of the time.

My company picnic was a week after the slicing of the toe. Dearth still couldn’t walk all that well so we rented a wheelchair for him. I pushed him around the zoo for the next 4 hours. It was fun, especially the bumpy areas, but I was sore the next day. They really need to make that place more level. It looks nice, but there are too many hills to be pushing my lug of a son around in a wheelchair.

Not to be out done, a few weeks later it was my turn. We were watching our friend’s three boys at their home. On the way out the door that morning the dog runs out. He was snapping at the kids, when they tried to catch him, so I stepped in. Jesse had a harness on so I feinted with my left hand and snatched the harness with my right. The plan was flawless. The execution was just a little slow. I’m not as fast as a dog and the 40 pound terrier mix gave me a life lesson. Be faster or get a better plan. My feint worked, but it ended up being a sacrifice play. He bit my left thumb. Actually, he mangled it. Three or four puncture wounds. It has been four weeks and it still isn’t fully healed. Debra thought I was going to kill him. Right in front of the kids, but I didn’t. I did slam his head into the van and then I sat him on his head until Deb could put the leash on him. Then we went to the ER. My tetanus shot was overdue so I had to get that. They will not stitch an animal bite, but the doctor did flick the skin (that was pushed down by my thumbnail) out. I didn’t punch him in the nose, but I really wanted to. “Give a guy some warning next time doc.” A nice orderly came down with a wheelchair and took me to get an x-ray. They knew nothing was broken, but they wanted to make sure there were no bone fragments from Jesse’s teeth. A nurse visited me after that and wrapped my thumb up (mummy style). It added another three inches to the length of my thumb and that gave us all a bit of entertainment for the rest of the night. Deb was going to kill me if I had given one more “thumbs up” answer, but for the boys it never got old. It was a solid two weeks before I could leave my hand lower than my chest (without pain). Now I’m wearing a band aid on it because all of the new skin is raw and painful to touch. The puncture wound next to the nail hasn’t completely healed, but it is clean and the scar shouldn’t be too bad. Jesse and I are still friends.

Have I ever mentioned how John and Wendy get me to come out of my comfort zone? It works for them because they usually do it in the form of a question. “Henry, can you help John move the Circe from Newport News over to Hampton?” This was a few weeks after my thumb was damaged and it was better, but still pretty sore. “Sure Wendy, just tell me how to get there.” I made the 40 minute drive and walked out to the dock. I saw the kayak with the dingy tied up to it. The Circe was about 50 meters out. She was too big for the docks. I untied the kayak and climbed in. This was the second time I have ever been in a kayak. My first time was in a two person kayak, so this was the first time I have ever been in one alone. I made it to the Circe (mostly dry). If you have ever paddled a kayak you’ll know what I mean. I grabbed the ladder and stood up. The kayak went one way and I hung on for dear life. I made it on deck by will power alone. There was no way I was swimming with John as a witness. I would have drowned for sure. He would have been laughing to hard to help and I had too many clothes on to swim. It was 50 degrees, windy and raining. Perfect weather if you are a duck. John did suffer a little karma payback for laughing at me. He was securing the dingy and cold water ran off of the dingy and down the back of his pants. It was a very rough 5 hour trip to Hampton, but we had a good talk and managed to stay somewhat warm. I only hit my thumb a few dozen times and I managed to thaw out after about 4 hours. It was fun.

Debra’s mother visited for a little over a week. She left the beginning of this week. We always enjoy family visits (probably because we live so far from all of them). Oops. That was out loud wasn’t it? Hopefully I’m out of my funk and I’ll get back to posting regularly again. I just didn't feel like posting after the funeral.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Saying Goodbye

Yesterday we said goodbye to my Grandfather. He passed away on the third and we said our goodbyes to him yesterday.

The service was nice. The local Catholic priest headed the service. When he wrapped up (about 10 hours later) the local VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) came in and did a military service. I'm pretty sure this is part of an evil plan.

About 10 veterans come in slowly. Each one of them solemnly salute my grandfather and walk back out. One of the veterans is carrying bagpipes and at the end of the line are two active duty soldiers wearing their Army dress blues. The VFW officer stands at the podium and gives a very nice speech. The haunting sound of Taps plays when he is finished. Most everyone has tears in their eyes now. When the bugle ends and the music is fading away we all hear a slightly distant "Ready! Fire!". Seven rifles go off and everyone of us jumps. Later on I hear one of the younger people ribbing an uncle because he jumped so high they thought he was going to land in his wife's lap. There are two more volleys and then the bagpiper plays Amazing Grace. The sound of the bagpipes is fading as the two younger soldiers come in. They fold the flag. The flag and three of the casings (one for each volley) is presented to my uncle Paul, the oldest of the surviving children. They did honor to my grandfather who was a former Marine.

The service was held at the local funeral home. Afterwards we all met at one of the local churches for a reception. There was good company and excellent food.

I missed Grandpa's gravely voice when I came in the door. No one can say "Hey Hank!" they way he could. Of course, he was the only one who ever called me Hank.

Goodbye Grandpa.

Friday, August 21, 2009


What a weekend.

Brenda (Deb’s sister) and her family came down for a long weekend. We rented a beach house down in Kill Devil Hills, NC. It was a blast.

Every one of us got too much sun and we managed to do in all of our cheap body boards. I guess that I’ll have to break down and buy the more expensive ones.

We ate at a few local hot spots. I highly recommend them both.

The waves weren’t especially rough, but they were steady and were going anywhere from three to six feet. They were perfect for Christy and Davey to learn on. The dolphins even made an appearance.

I indulged in one of my favorite activities when we were back at the house. No one complained. I’m a decent cook and when I cook no one else has to. That is probably why no one complained. The best part of cooking was that everyone else volunteers to clean up.

In the evening we all played games and watched movies. It was all very relaxing.

I ended the vacation with a nasty head cold. That was the only down side of the long weekend.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Who says church can't be fun?

We attend a very small church. We first started attending 4 or 5 years ago and there were only about 20 people in entire the congregation. We have grown since then and 30 or so people attend the morning service and 120+ attend the afternoon service.

Grace Harbor is very layed back. They put us off a little at first. When we showed up everyone introduced themselves asked how we were and stayed in touch. We almost didn't go back. The long and the short of it is that we did go back. Now a lot of these people are very good friends of ours.

A few Sundays ago we had hospitality. Basically we make coffee and a large container of lemonade. We sit near the back entrance when we do this. These doors lead to the kitchen and bathroom areas.

We normally use our own coffee cups, but that day I forgot to grab mine and was drinking from a Styrofoam cup. We were three quarters of the way through service and I had just finished my coffee. We were singing and I set my cup on my chair (I had just finished my coffee and I was intending to throw it away). When the song finished we were invited to sit down. As I sit the lady behind me says "Watch out Henry." CRUNCH! I sit right on top of the Styrofoam cup. I stand up like I had just sat on a pin. I hear a snort from my left. Dearth is to my right and he has a hand, clamped tightly around his mouth, stifling a giggle. I look to my left and I see Debra running into the women's bathroom. Both of her hands are on her mouth. As soon as the door shuts gales of laughter echo from the room. No one else seems to have noticed.

Fortunately, we are far enough back that no one really notices except for us and the people right next to us. Deb makes 2 or 3 unsuccessful attempts to leave the bathroom, but she would come out take one look at me and dart back in. More laughter.

I'm just glad that I could brighten someones day. God finds the most interesting ways to humble you.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

All Hail the Bloggers!

An internet friend told me to not bother reading her blog. Her reason was because she just writes any old thing down and it really wasn’t all that interesting. Those were not her exact words, but that was the long and the short of it.

I’ve known her for about ten years and she has been blogging for about five of those. When she told me this I laughed. The reason I read her blog is because she writes that way. She lives in England and her views on life and the way she describes is very refreshing to me.

I read blogs to see what other people are doing. I want to read about something that is different from the life I live. The blogs I link just happen to be people I am friends with. Alice and Jamie I met on the internet. John is a real life friend. All three of them lead lives so different from mine that I love to read about their adventures. In turn, I write about things going on in my life.

Thank you Alice for brightening my days with your musings. Jamie, my days would be boring if I did not have your blog to read. A lot of people dream about the life you live, but do not have the balls to live it. John, what can I say? Leaving your job, selling your house and moving into a large sailboat is one of the gutsiest things I have ever seen.

Keep blogging my friends. Others are more interested than you may think.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Boogey Boarding weekend

We went to North Carolina, with friends of ours, on Saturday. We spent about 6 hours on the beach. Dearth and I boogey boarded until our bodies couldn’t take it anymore. Deb watched and laughed at us.

The water was rough. It was probably the roughest we’ve ever boarded in. The waves were breaking in three different areas. In close (about calf deep), mid way (about waist deep) and about 20 feet out from there. The waist deep area is where we were trying to get to. From there you could hop the waves you did not want to ride and wait for a good one in reasonable safety.

Getting past the close waves was real work. Sometimes they were too high to bounce over and they would catch the board and send you for a ride. If you were lucky that ride consisted of getting pushed back several feet and a face full of ocean. If you were unlucky you got swept off of your feet and you got up close and personal with the ocean floor. I had the wind knocked out of me several times when a wave would hit me in the stomach or back just right.

Once you made it to the waist deep water it was a lot of fun. The waves were averaging between 4 and 6 feet. All you had to do was kick off in front of one of those and the wave did the rest for you. If you kept the nose of your board up, and did not let it get ripped out of your hands, the wave would take you all the way to the shore.

When the nose of the board dipped it would catch in the water and the wave cheerfully launched you right over the top. Dearth has an abrasion on his right shoulder blade from one of these spectacular wipeouts. It was assholes, elbows and an epic yard sale (this is when everything goes in different directions).

I had my boogey board ripped out of my hands when I was close to shore. The wave dropped me a couple of feet and the hard landing pulled the board away. My arm got caught up in the lanyard and it raked up my arm and attempted to pull my little finger off. All of that happened while I was getting a face full of sand, rocks and seashells. That was my first ride and the last time I let the board get away.

Every three or four rides called for about an hour time out. I would throw my board down on the sand and sit in the beach chair (breathing like I just sprinted a mile). Debra would just roll her eyes.

I hate being reminded, by my body, that I'm not as young as I used to be. I felt like I had gone three long rounds with Tyson the next day. Dearth did not reapply sun block to his back so he got a pretty nasty burn. Both of us had numerous cuts and bruises up and down our legs and feet. I had marks on my right arm and fingers from the lanyard and Dearth had some on his back from the pro wipeout.

Someone asked me if we were afraid of sharks. I told them "In those waves sharks were the least of our worries". Heck, if a shark had gotten me out there it would have been a mercy killing.

I can’t wait to go again.

Monday, July 20, 2009

mmmmmmmmm..... Crab

Last Sunday friends of ours invited us over for crab. Being from Western NY we immediately thought of snow crab legs. We were in for a real treat though. They had bought a few dozen steamed blue crab.

Eating snow crab legs is fairly barbaric. Using wooden mallets, shell crackers and some other medieval looking torture devices you hack your way through the shell and get to the meat.

The blue crabs are steamed whole. Like lobster they are still quite alive until the steam hits them. They are served the same way. Eating these fellows take barbarism to a whole new level.

You rip the legs off (sucking the meat that comes out of the joint). You flip the apron up and remove it. Then you stick your finger into the body cavity and scrape out the fat and guts. Pulling the shell off is next. More scrapping of the guts and lungs follow. Now you take a knife and you split the crab from the middle to the where the legs attach to the body (two cuts). This gives you access to all of the meat in the leg area. Here is a video showing how it is done.

The meal was a lot of fun. I will definitely be eating those again. Just remember to get in with both hands, don’t worry about the mess and don’t wear white.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day to all of my friends in the United States.

To my friends in Great Britain, Thank you! I will be enjoying a nice cold Bass pale ale in celebration of the Fourth of July (even if it should be celebrated on the second).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Humor from work

Customer: "I had some work on done on the computer today and now I can't log in."

Me: "What kind of work was done and what do you see on the screen."

Customer: "I'm not sure what they did, but all I see is the Window's logo bouncing around my screen."

Me: "Shake your mouse."

Customer: "Shake my mouse?"

Me: "Yep. I relieves pent up frustration and..."

Customer: In a surprised voice "I'll be damned."

Me: "...has the added benefit of cancelling screen savers."

Customer: "I've never seen that before."

Me: "No worries. That is why we are here. Can I help you with anything else?"

Customer: "Nope that'll do it. Have a great day!"

Me: "You to."

Sometimes the customers are fun to talk to.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Good trips aren't as much fun to write about

I admit it. It just isn’t as much fun writing about a trip that went right.

We went sailing with John and Wendy over the Memorial Day weekend. There were no mishaps. In fact everything went more or less as planned.

We sailed across the Chesapeake Bay and anchored near the cement ships. That night I saw my first wild dolphins.

The next morning I woke up before everyone. I sat on the deck and drank a beer. I drank a beer because there was no coffee and I could. The dolphins swam by (much closer this time).

The cement ships have been converted into break walls and are now homes to millions of birds. I especially like watching the pelicans. They are huge birds and fly so close to the water that you think they will hit it with their wings.

On the return trip the boys trolled off of the back. I kept an eye on them and they almost caught a few fish. We did not have a net so the fish spat the hook as soon as they came out of the water. This was enough to keep the boys entertained for a few hours though. We sailed back with just the main and head sails. We just didn’t have the energy to put the jib up.

It was a great trip. I received a spectacular sunburn. I can not imagine what it would have been like if I had not used sun block. I was so sore the next few days that I did not even want to move. Sailing is hard work, but I’m already looking forward to the next trip.

Thanks John and Wendy.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Dad would be proud

I finally managed to plant a garden. We had to go non-traditional because we live in a townhouse (no real yard).
I drilled holes in the bottom of two 5ft wading pools, filled them with dirt and planted our garden. The plants took nicely and I may have to do it again next year. I call it the spaghetti sauce garden (tomatoes, peppers, onions, and a bunch of herbs).

Here are pictures three weeks after.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I'm back

It has been a busy last month or so. Sorry I have not updated.

My mother visited for a few weeks. Her timing was perfect. The weather was crappy almost the entire time.

We did make a day trip down to North Carolina. We stopped at the Grave Digger (monster truck) garage. Mom picked up a book for my car/truck loving nephew and we got some pictures.
We also hit some of the farmer markets and went out to eat at one of the local breweries.

The highlight of Mom's visit was probably seeing the winner for The Biggest Loser (Season 6) at the Botanical Gardens.

Michelle was very nice. She spoke about losing weight and changing your state of mind. After the presentation she signed autographs and spoke to anyone who approached her. I won't say that Dearth fell in love with her, but he did manage to worm his way into most of the pictures.
We had a great time and we can't wait until Mom can visit again.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Circus

What a beautiful day for a Circus.

The Ringling Bos. and Barnum & Bailey are back in town.

Showing up an hour early and rubbing elbows with some of the performers is a big part of the fun. Of course, you have to watch your back, the clowns will mess with everyone.

You'll be minding your own business and they will play with your hair or bump your arm while trying to take a picture. Poor Dearth almost got in trouble when one of them was bumping my arm while I was getting a photo.

They had a Clown College theme going on and there was a lot of interaction with the clowns themselves. They also had a Clown College chopper on display. It was built by Orange County Choppers.

The highlight of the open house was the the elephant painting. This is given away by a drawing just before the show.

Here are some pictures from the show.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Let there be peace

Well it has been about three weeks and the two cats are finally being civil to each other. Topaz is wandering the house freely. That means she only gets pounced on occasion. She dishes it out also. I’ve seen her bat Athena a few times.

We filled the bird feeder out back again. This provides loads of entertainment. Both of the cats have smashed their faces into the sliding door trying to get the birds. They will sit behind the open vertical blinds watching them. Finally they can’t take it anymore and bam! I could drink a beer and watch that all day. I’m a simple person and easily amused. What can I say?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Throw him under the bus

Last Saturday was our son's birthday. Deb scored some Admirals tickets (a local AHL Hockey team and a farm team for the Tampa Bay Lightning) and we went to get our hockey fix. It was a good game and the Admirals won. Despite the poor officiating.

We received good natured ribbing because Deb wore her Penguins shirt, Dearth had his Redwings jersey on and I had one of my Sabre shirts on. One comment came from a lady in front of us. With a puzzled look on her face "Just who are you guys cheering for?".

"The Admirals of course." I replied. "We only disagree on the NHL teams." I grinned.

When we left the Scope a man was chasing his little boy. The boy ran towards Dearth and he told him "Don't run towards him. We have higher standards than the Redwings.".

I laughed out loud for that comment. Dearth gave me a dirty look, but laughed good naturedly.

After the game we went to Friendly's for a bite to eat and dessert. Our waitress was young, pretty and had a voice that would put a megaphone to shame. She hurt my ears when she talked. Despite this, she was very attentive and an excellent waitress.

Shortly after ordering the wait staff came out singing their birthday cadence. They headed up our isle. Dearth got that "deer in the headlights" look and the entire entourage walked by us and to another table. We had a good laugh at that.

All three of us ordered a meal that included a sundae for dessert. Dearth wanted one of the specialty sundaes and the waitress told us that it would cost a little more.

This is where it happened. The set up was beautiful. Deb grabbed Dearth, by the scruff of the neck and the seat of his pants, and chucked him under the bus (metaphorically).

She said "I suppose we could splurge. Just this once. It's his birthday after all."

She did this with an absolutely straight face and with just a slight twinkle in her eye. The waitress looked like we had just handed her a $50 tip. "Really? Thanks for letting me know." There was a huge smile on her face. Dearth was slowly sinking in the booth. He looked like the witch in the Wizard of Oz. "I'm melting!"

I was reduced to tears. I have not laughed that hard in ages.

Five minutes later the entire staff shows up at the table led by the enthusiastic waitress. The cadence was loud. It was embarrassing (for Dearth) and to top it off they handed him a couple of balloons. I think they do this to erase any doubt of who all the fuss is over. If you ever want to see a teenager just melt away from embarrassment that is the way to do it. Especially when they are trying sooooo hard to be cool.

My sundae was half melted by the time I was able to eat. I was laughing that hard.

The waitress received a generous tip and we laughed all the way home.

Happy Birthday Dearth.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Step away from the humans

We had a cat named Topaz prior to moving in to our current apartment. At the time they did not allow pets and Topaz went to live with friends of ours. The pet policy changed a few years afterwards, but Topaz was comfortable with our friends so she stayed. That was when we adopted Athena.

Our friend’s are now moving and they can not take Topaz with them so she moved back with us yesterday. The next week is going to be interesting.

Deb was upstairs about 30 minutes after Topaz came home with us. She was attempting to pet Topaz and Athena was watching. I was downstairs.

From the noise I thought Deb had stepped on one or maybe both of the cats. I guess she tried to pet Topaz without petting Athena first. Athena is a very docile cat, but if you try to take attention from her humans she will throw down. She drove Topaz under the futon and then kept her there for about an hour. The rest of the day went by without major incident.

This morning (about 15 minutes to 6AM) I hear the cats and then Dearth shouting. Good morning and happy Friday to you. From what I gather, Athena walked into Dearth’s room and saw Topaz sleeping next to the bed. It must have been too close because Athena had Topaz hiding in the closet this time.


They should get the pecking order straight in a few days. Until then it will be exciting.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy Monday

It is 9am and I am enjoying a nice hot cup of coffee. I have laundry in the dryer and the washer. I am still catching up on the wash from last week. The dryer died and I was too cheap to go to the coin laundry.

The doorbell rings. It rings again. It was the kind of ring that speaks to you. “Answer the door now or there will be a price to pay”. I scowl, get up and answer the door. Two firemen are standing there. By the white uniforms I guessed that they were probably officers.

Officer 1: “Good morning sir.”
Me: “Good morning.”
Officer 1: “We had a call from a person, driving by on I164, of a possible structure fire here.”

It is 45 degrees and has been raining since last Thursday. My dryer vent is just above my door and is billowing warm exhaust. All three of us look up at it.

Me: “I’m doing laundry and I’m pretty sure I haven’t burned anything up yet.”

Both of them are grinning now.

Officer 1: “Ok. Have a nice day.”

All three of us laugh.

Deb had an appointment and saw them on her way out. She said there was a rescue truck and fire engine parked out by the entrance to our apartment building.

Part of me is grateful that someone was concerned. Another part of me is annoyed because some person (sitting in traffic) decided to waste the time of the fire department.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


We went to our first Thai restaurant last weekend. This was a bit of an adventure for us because Debra does not eat spicy food. I love it and Dearth likes it, but not quite as spicy as me. Thai food is spicy.

The place was called Bangkok Gardens and is located in Virginia Beach. None of the dishes are over $15 and the staff was very friendly. The friendly staff is a treasure all by itself. I've found that customer service can be a bit lacking in this area.

When we entered Bangkok Gardens it had a very relaxing effect on me. The decor was dark woods and reds. It was warm without being uncomfortable and the staff greeted us quickly. They were busy, but not packed and we were ushered to our seats without feeling rushed.

It was pretty obvious that English was the second language for many of the staff. This enhanced the experience for me (their English was very good). Drinks were brought to us and we were given enough time to browse the menu.

The menu gives you the Thai name for each dish and a description of the dish under it. They also have a pepper symbol next to the dishes that are spicy. At the bottom of the page they show the various degrees of hot with 1 to 4 peppers (mild, spicy, hot and Thai hot). Oddly, none of the dishes had more than one pepper next to them. I read some reviews later and found out that each dish is seasoned by the cook and the spiciness may vary.

Deb ordered crab fried rice and Dearth played it safe with shrimp fried rice. I tasted both and they were excellent. Both dishes were presented, "upside down bowl shape", in the center of a white plate. The fried rice was not spicy at all and was basically rice, meat, onions and soy sauce. Neither Dearth or Deb could finish all of their meal and I had it for lunch the next day.

I couldn't even tell you the name of the dish that I ordered. It was a shredded cucumber and sliced tomato salad with a dressing of some sort. It had one pepper next to it on the menu. My first taste of the salad was eye opening. The cucumbers were freshly shredded and very crisp. The tomatoes were very ripe and complimented the cucumbers nicely. I dream about this kind of salad on a hot summer day. The salad was ice cold and very refreshing. I was about a third of the way into the salad when I was reminded of the red pepper symbol. My mouth started to burn, my nose start to run and my eyes teared up. Holy crap! What was that? The tip of my tongue was burning enough that I asked Deb to look at it (there was a big red spot on it). I took a closer look at my salad and I saw pieces of red pepper in it. That was sneaky. I had been ok until one of those little buggers stuck on the end of my tongue. I'm as human as the next person so when my mouth began to burn I took a drink of the nearest liquid. I was drinking hot tea. Ouch. Hot drinks increase the pain of a spicy hot mouth. I took a sip of ice water. That helped until I swallowed the water. I took another sip and held it in my mouth. Better. I'm still suffering a little bit here. Maybe a bite of nice hot fried rice will help. This was not my day of Einstein like thinking. This was much worse than hot tea. I had to chew and swallow. It made a good attempt at burning my tonsils out as I accomplished this. Everyone had a good laugh. Debra and Dearth being everyone. I'm glad someone enjoyed it. I did finish as much of the salad as I could. It was huge and I was full before I could finish. It was still spicy, but I was watching for those pieces of pepper now and I was ok. I would order that again.

For those who have never been to a Thai Restaurant I recommend going. There are plenty of none spicy dishes if that is what you are worried about. If you like spicy food you will enjoy yourself. Go easy though. The Thai people like their food spicy and Thai hot will make you cry.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Yep. It's officially cold.

I blame my friend John. It seems like we get snow/cold weather whenever a person from up north (that I know) visits. Technically he lives here with his family now, but he makes a good scape goat. So I'm running with it.

Yesterday it snowed. As usual all of the schools closed and anyone not used to snow called off due to the natural disaster. All one inch of it.

Virginians are funny in the snow and not in a "ha ha" sort of way.

There are two types of drivers. The first one is terrified of driving in the snow and you will probably see this person doing 25mph in the passing lane (65mph zone). I think they are hoping to cause a serious accident and not have to go to work.

The other person drives a four wheel drive vehicle and is indestructible. What they forget to realize is that the four wheel drive helps move the vehicle, but does jack to stop it. This person is not trying to cause an accident, but is the one who will ultimately hit the first type of driver.

I didn't look up the numbers, but I'm sure the accidents in the immediate area were over 100 for yesterday. I would have called off from work, but I could not do it in good conscience.

I left an hour earlier than I normally do for work. They had closed the tunnel I usually take to work and I had to find another way in. I wasn't sure what the traffic would be like so I ended up getting to work about an hour earlier than I normally do. Oh well, better an hour and a half early than half an hour late.

At least the customers were their normal rude selves. It is always good to be appreciated when you have a shitty drive into work.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thanks for the ride

I grew up in a small town. There are high schools, in the area I live in now, that have more students than the entire population of my hometown.

I work downtown Norfolk, VA and it has been an adventure. Sometimes I reflect back on my childhood and wonder how the heck I ended up here.

My drive to work is like a scene from a cityscape Jurassic park. My entrance to the city begins with a long bridge overlooking a large bay and passes by one of the shipyards. If my windows are open I can smell the sweet scent of the saltwater mixed with the industrial smell of diesel and oil.

The bridge moves right into a tunnel. It passes under the waterway and leads to the city beyond. If I am lucky a ship will be passing over as I enter the tunnel. These ships range in size from small tugboats to the huge cruise ships. It is a strange sight to watch one of those behemoths pass over your head as you enter the tunnel.

Exiting the tunnel plunges me into the tangle of roads leading to downtown. Moving from single lane, to triple, to double lane (because of construction) and into stop and go traffic. The road guides me through an industrial jungle of tall buildings. Some of these are skeletal with huge cranes and excavators working around them. Others are glorious with their shiny new windows and paint. At certain points the construction equipment is almost close enough to touch (if you reach out of the window). The Neanderthal looking construction workers discourage any thoughts of this. The roar of the mechanical monsters, the smell of the exhaust, the thumping of jackhammers is all a bit overwhelming. At the same time it is fascinating and I am glad that the traffic is slow. This allows the country boy to rubber neck to his heart’s content.

What a strange journey life has taken. It makes me look forward to the rest.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Here is one for the foodies

We tried one of those Butterball precooked/smoked turkeys the other day. It was pretty good, but a little dry. If we find them on sale again we may just cut it up cold and heat it up that way (it may not come out as dry).

On the plus side, the turkey salad it made was outstanding. I used onion, granny smith apples, sweet relish, yellow mustard, horseradish, mayonnaise, turkey salt and pepper. I diced the apple and soaked it in water with half of a lemon squeezed into it. The contrasting textures and flavors is amazing. I like it as it is, but I toyed with the idea of adding raisins and/or dried cranberries as well.

If you are interested these are the approximate measurements (sorry I eyeballed the whole thing). All I can say is if it doesn't look like enough add more.

1 small onion (diced small)
2 small granny smith apples (diced)
4 to 6 cups of diced turkey
4T yellow mustard
6T mayonnaise (enough to cover everything)
2T horseradish (two big spoonfuls is what I used)
4T sweet relish
salt and pepper(freshly ground if you have it) to taste

Dice the apple first and soak it in lemon water while you get everything ready. I squeeze half of a lemon into a small bowl of water. Add all other ingredients into a bowl. Drain the apples and add those to the rest. Mix well.

Like all salads of this nature it tastes better the next day.

If you can wait.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Arena Racing

The company I work for sponsors a local Arena Racing car. The driver of this car is a son of an employee. So they bought tickets for a large group of us to go watch some Arena Racing.

Arena cars are souped up go carts. They top out at about 50mph and run around a track. The track is portable and is set up in whatever arena/coliseum they happen to be in at the time.

This was the first time I have been to race since I was about 10 years old. Now I understand why it is popular. The whole race is a huge adrenaline rush. Tempers flare on the track. Fights happen and sometimes spill over to the pit crews. Oh, and don’t forget the wrecks. It is very entertaining. It is almost the same feeling you get watching a hockey game live. Wait, circular arena 90% of which is filled with white people, fights, beer, wrecks...

Maybe this racing thing is for warm temperature hockey fans.

Here is a picture I got to give you an idea of the size of these cars. They squeeze in through the top and buckle in. The lid just snaps shut. This picture was taken prior to the race. They allowed the fans to go down and get autographs from the drivers. Joe Gibbs was in the house (former Redskins coach) so there were a ton of people down there to see him. Too many for me to want to go down there.

One set of pictures I wished I could have got involved the Hooters' girls. A little boy (maybe 6 or 7 years old) sat between the two girls and had his picture taken with them. Then he took the camera and slowing walked off of the floor ogling the pictures. Go him.

They finally cleared the floor of spectators and began the race. We were cheering for the number one car (it is blue and white and has Charger on the front bumper).

When it was all said and done our ears were ringing, our throats were sore from yelling and we had enjoyed ourselves immensely.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

So much snow... not

South Virginia is funny.

Last Thursday school was cancelled. Not because it snowed. Nope. It was cancelled because there was a strong chance that it was going to snow.

It didn't snow.

It is hard for me to understand. I grew up in western NY. Ten inches of snow didn't even slow us down. It just meant we had to go outside sooner (to shovel).

I guess, if I look at it from the city's point of view, it is easier to shut the place down than to rely on your snow removal equipment. Ten guys with shovels, a pick up truck and a bag of rock salt doesn't remove a lot of snow fast.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Too much caffeine...

Recently I’ve been cutting back on caffeine. I think that is where my trouble started.

I woke up Saturday morning (around 8am) and had 3 cups of black coffee. I left for my friend Bill’s at 11am. I hit Arby’s and grabbed a sandwich and a medium (something like 24oz) diet Mountain Dew.

On a side note, the three cups of coffee exceeded the amount of caffeine I have been drinking in an entire week. I was beginning to twitch by this time.

At Bill’s I helped him move a couple of dryers and then had another cup of coffee. My eyes were getting a bit wide now.

I jumped in the car and headed home. This is where I started the next mistake.

I popped in my favorite heavy metal CD. It is a mix with Dragon Force, Epica and Within Temptation. This is not easy listening. In fact, it is a bit primal. The music was cranked to a satisfyingly window thumping volume. It was awesome.

I hit the throughway and this is where it got nuts.

I went across the Hampton Roads Bridge tunnel I was going the other way though (bridge first and then the tunnel). It was not very busy so I had a lot of room to play and I was up to 60mph when I exited the tunnel.

I shot out of the tunnel like Buck Rodgers (in the old TV show). I was coming up on another car (fast).

Too close for missiles. Switching to guns. Damn. I’m closing too fast. I take a quick glance over my shoulder and look in the mirror. I zip around the slow mover.

Stupid. Doing 55mph in a 55mph zone. How dare they?

I’m doing an easy 80mph. The music is louder. Something to drown out the adrenaline rush. I feel like a damn teenager.

I was such an ass.

I looked at my hands and they were shaking.


Go caffeine go.

I made it home safely and only a few hundred people were cussing me out by the time I arrived.

Note to self:

Stick to green tea and Enya.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Take it back!

Prior to our visit at Fort Story we stopped at a little Mom and Pop seafood restaurant for lunch. It was pretty good. It was a shack that had been standing since the Civil War (the English Civil war). The bathrooms had no heat. The servers were large white women with annoying laughs. The place mats were paper and had pictures of several species of fish. One of these pictures was a Wahoo. Dearth asked me why it was called a Wahoo and I said (without pausing or batting an eye) "It's the sound they make when you catch one and bring it on the boat". This discription was followed by a reasonably loud "WAHOO!!". Debra was not amused, Brenda rolled her eyes, Dave smirked and Dearth hit me. I'll count that as a success.

The food was good. With five at the table there was a pretty good sample of food. Crab cakes, fried trout, blackened tuna sandwich, various veggies and one hamburger (teenagers).

During the meal I set the camera on the table. Yep you guessed it. I left it there. It only took us about 10 minutes to figure this out.

When we returned I went in and one of the kitchen staff was up front and he found the camera for me. We saw this worker during our meal. He was a little person. For some reason this made Dearth nervous so I wanted to tell Dearth that he was the one I spoke to.

Have you ever said something that started going in a direction you did not intend? It was like a terrible train wreck. "Hey Dearth. I went in there and that little person helped me out. He's a nice guy." Here's where it happened. I tried to stop it, but when I realized what I was about to say it was too late. "I had a short conversation with him."

Groans, laughter and smacks to my head followed.

That's not what I meant!

Monday, January 12, 2009

My legs are burning

My sister-in-law Brenda and her husband David stopped for a visit this weekend. On Saturday we took a drive out to Fort Story and visited the light house there.

Fort Story is an Army base, so you have to stop at the gate for security. We had to get out of the car and then they checked for bombs/terrorists/nuclear waste and other things that might be dangerous. The guards were very entertaining and made the experience as pleasant as possible. One of the men was very helpful.

First guard: "Do you know where the lighthouse is?"

Us: "No. This is our first visit."

Second guard: "Follow this road. It is the large building with a big light on top."

Us: "..."

First guard: [smiling] "That is correct, but there are two lighthouses. The one you want to visit is on the left. The other one is an active military lighthouse and if you go too close you will be detained."

Second guard: [evil grin]

Us: "Ok. Thank you."

I love military humor.

Below is a picture of Brenda and Dave with the new lighthouse in the background. The two lighthouses are across the street from each other and you can get some beautiful pictures overlooking the new lighthouse.
As you can see, the weather was gorgeous. The air temperature was in the high 50s to low 60s and almost no wind. Brenda and Dave left Sunday morning and the temperature dropped 15 degrees by that evening.

We paid our $4 and climbed to the top. Well, everyone but Dearth. He isn't a big fan of heights.

I'm not sure how many steps were in that circular staircase, but it was somewhere between "Are we there yet?" and "Please pass the oxygen.". Even Brenda and Dave were breathing hard at the top and they are runners (I was the one asking for oxygen).

I was in lighthouse style this day. I went for the short round look rather than the tall thin look. You may also notice that D-man finally got a haircut.

On a side note, if you decide to visit Fort story, their is a minimum height requirment for climbing the lighthouse. Children must be 42 inches or taller. The spiral staircase is easy to navigate, but there is a steep ladder just before the very top and small children will have a very tough go of it.
We enjoyed the visit. So, if you are in the area, it is worth a stop.