Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Miami Road Trip - 2016

Last weekend was the highlight of our football season so far, with our family’s trip to South Florida for the Steelers/Dolphins game.  We used to take these destination football/family reunion trips all the time, but we haven’t done it since 2010.

My mom and dad drove out from the panhandle, my sister and her husband came in from Cincinnati, and I flew down with my brother and his family.  We booked rooms at the Ft Lauderdale Hilton Resort and man, was that ever nice.  My brother and family had adjoining rooms with the parents which functioned like a huge suite.  That was where we hung out in between eating events.

I had a King Studio room on the 23rd floor and just loved it. 

The balcony wrapped around the corner.

I mean, look at this view from my balcony!

The place was oddly outfitted, though.

I suppose this is here in case I have a sudden urge to perform a bongo solo.

Once we got ourselves situated and carried up to the room the crates of booze that Dad brought, we had time to mix a few drinks, watch some college football and shoot the breeze.

For dinner, we went downstairs to one of those fancy schmancy “small plates and sushi” restaurants.  Might have been a mistake on our part.  We’re more of a Steakhouse/Italian/Chinese/Sandwich the Size of your Head kind of group.

I did see one interesting menu item…

The Pan Roasted Scallops come with “Forbidden Stir Fry Rice.”

I wanted to try it but I’m pretty sure the waiter would refuse to serve it to me.  I mean, I could see the whole conversation:

Bluz: I’d like the scallops with the Forbidden Stir Fry Rice.

Waiter: I’m sorry, you can’t order that.

Bluz: Why?

Waiter: [furtivelyIt is forbidden.

Bluz: Then why is it on the menu?

Waiter: Ask not a question for which you are not prepared for the answer.

Bluz: Yinz got a big fish sammich n’at? And maybe a Klondike?

We ended up mixing and matching enough small plates that everyone got their fill.  Afterward, we returned to home base for more drinks and an evening of Ohio State football.  Buckeyes beat Wisconsin in overtime, which put a nice cap on the night.

Sunday started out ominously.

There’s a big one brewing…

I hoped it was going to be more of a coastal storm than anything further inland, where the stadium was.

After the breakfast buffet, which didn’t make a bid deal about the size of the plates, we loaded up the car for the tailgate party.  My brother-in-law, the Dolphins fan, and I carried the beer cooler and headed for the elevator.  As we were going down the hall, he said something like, “Isn’t this a shining example of what happens when two opposing teams come together in the spirit of cooperation?

Then we got to the elevator lobby.

And here we have today’s metaphor for the current political atmosphere.

After eventually summoning an elevator, we took off for what is now named Hard Rock Stadium. 

I swear, this is my fourth Dolphins game in Miami and every time there’s been a new name on the facade.

Anticipating that the Dolphins would wear their white jerseys (to better cope with playing in the hot sun) I geared up with my black Antonio Brown jersey and classic Terrible Towel.

My vintage 1996 Battle Towel.  This one has been with me to every Steelers game since the day I bought it in the Pittsburgh airport.

All things pointed to there being a huge Pittsburgh contingent at the game and we weren’t disappointed.

If you didn’t know better, and there weren’t palm trees, you’d think this was a Steelers home game.

But because it was South Florida, it had to rain roughly every 20 minutes.

You see all those little portable gazebos?  Those mark the experienced South Florida tailgater.  We had one right beside us; a small group of Dolphins fans.  Luckily, they took pity on us and let us duck under their shelter.

I told them, “If this had been Baltimore, they would have made us stand out in the rain and laughed at our wet black and gold asses.”

Once we went in, we took our seats in the club level in the end zone.

They ought to rethink their logo design, or else everyone will think it’s called “rd Ro” Stadium.

They just put the roof extensions on this season, for which we were grateful.  It kept us nice and cool in the shade.  And it also would have kept us dry, if it had rained again.

Inside the facility was nice too.  In fact, the bartender was so nice, she let my brother buy beers for himself and his two boys.

Disclaimer: No underage boys were given beer in the stadium.  It just totally looks that way.

Then onto the game.

The game sucked.  The Steelers got their asses handed to them, but good, despite the valiant efforts of me and my Battle Towel.  It was too bad because the place was crackling with Pittsburgh energy.  When the Steelers scored early, the towels were everywhere and they almost tore the new roof off the place with the roar.

But after that, there was nothing left to roar about.  My brother-in-law got so wound up with excitement, he bought this ridiculous hat.

Fins up!

And I got so discombobulated that when we left, I walked off without my camera, which I’d left in the cup holder (for easy access).  All the pictures you see today were shot with my iPhone.  It’s a shame, not only that I have to buy a new camera now, but you’re being deprived of all the incredible action shots I had lovingly composed and framed.  I might have gotten the Nobel Prize for Amateur Sports and Food Photography.

But all told, it was an incredible weekend and we all had a ball.  I highly recommend this particular Hilton, if you’re ever in the area. 

Just bring your own plates.

To quote the Denny’s breakfast menu, this is “The Moon over My Hammy.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Second Debate

This week, my blogging schedule worked out so that I can talk about the second Presidential Debate without it being hopelessly behind the times.  Because most of the reaction came out last night and this morning, it’s only marginally behind the times.  But I play the hand I’m dealt.

I have a weird way of “watching” political debates now.  I pretty much just listen to them, because my nose is buried in my Twitter feed.  I’m either posting a reaction or rolling through other people’s reactions.  So excuse me if this post ends up a little Twitter-centric.

I have to give the Republicans credit for not stepping on their dick coming out of the gate, like they did during the VP debate:

Nothing like letting your hack-dom shine through by announcing a winner before the debate even started.  Not that everyone doesn’t know it’s a foregone conclusion.  Pence could have thrown up on the stage, crapped his pants, slapped Kaine with his dick and then collapsed in a puddle of his own waste, and they still would have called him the winner.

But back to last night…

The opening credits included a family shot of the wholesome Trump boys.  I noticed this even during the old Apprentice shows:

When Hillary was talking something about the innate goodness of people, I had to wonder about her judgement, or at least if she’s ever seen the internet:

It didn’t take long for the moderators to bring up the news of the day; that being Trump’s new “Who Wants to be a Millionaire Molester” videotape.  Over and over, he said it was just locker room talk, and claimed it should be dismissed because it wasn’t as important as the atrocities committed by ISIS.

Kind of a low bar to clear, don’t you think?  Is that the new rule now?  Anything goes as long as ISIS is doing something worse?

Here’s the part that I didn’t see being addressed.

The issue isn’t a bunch of empty words; he was talking about things he did, in real life.  It wasn’t speculative, he was talking about his M.O.  And it’s reprehensible.  So no, it’s NOT just locker room talk, it’s the celebration of abuse.  Yes, it is relevant.

If he can criticize his opponent for the actions of her spouse, he should damned straight own up to his own faults.  But then it’s only a big deal when Democrats do it, right?

For a while, I actually thought this town hall format would keep the interruptions to a minimum, but as the night wore on, we were right back to the family argument over dinner.

A number of times, Hillary tried to “debunk” Trump in real time, but time constraints made that impossible.  To the TV, I implored her to take my advice:
Director’s DVD Commentary: Man, I have GOT to remember to review before tweeting.  “Holliry?”  But come to think of it, that would be a good one if I were a Republican looking to come up with a campaign pejorative for her… “Hollery.”

And honest to God, I think she heard me.  She didn’t use all of the Gambini Defense, but she was there in spirit, when she said, “Everything he just said is absolutely false and I am not surprised.”  I expect a job offer from her campaign any minute now.

For someone who’s supposed to be a tough guy, Trump sure whines a lot. How many times did he complain to the moderators that she was getting more time than him, or that they were all against him?  “Three against one,” he said.  He sounded like a little boy complaining that his sister got a bigger piece of cake than he did.

In his renewed attack on Obamacare, he actually went after the Canadian health care system. I don’t understand why the guy is harder on our friends than our enemies.

He went on to proclaim what a disaster the ACA is and how he’s going to repeal it (as if he can do so without Congress doing it first).  The one thing the GOP never acknowledges about Obamacare is the great lengths they’ve gone to, to ensure it doesn’t succeed.

You don’t get to obstruct every effort at success and then complain that it doesn’t work.

Another thing that pissed me off was all the stuff about how Hillary “had 30 years” to do this or pass that.  It tells me that Trump has no idea of how our government actually works.  Or more likely, he does know but is counting on his supporters not knowing.

Again, he criticizes the Clintons and a couple of big donors for doing exactly what Republican donors do; take advantage of every tax break.

As Trump went on about how disciplined he is, I tried to feed Hillary another line:

Alas, she didn’t pick this one up.  The moderators tried to keep a lid on the interruptions, but I think they were just too polite.  Next time, there’s a better solution:

Interrupt me again.  I DARE you to interrupt me again.”

Because I wasn’t really “watching” much of the debate, I missed one of the biggest talking points for the next morning: the way Trump seemed to stalk her around the stage, always seeming to be looming over her shoulder.

I’m sure it was purely intentional; a way to imprint in everyone’s subconscious that he is large and powerful while she is small and weak.  I just hope people could see through it.  But I doubt it.

Some memes today were comparing it to that famous scene in Alien 3 where the scary monster puts his slimy, dripping face right up beside a terrified Sigourney Weaver.  But I had a different image in mind.

The night HE came home… to an empty mansion.

All night, Trump kept hammering on alleged Clinton misdoings, like the deleted emails, which AGAIN, is something that only outrages Republicans when it’s a Democrat’s emails.

All I can say is that Hillary must be a lot better at covering shit up than Donald is because as far as evidence goes, they ain’t got shit on her and he’s up to his eyeballs in alligators.

People were talking last week about how Trump might bail out on the last two debates.  In my mind, that’s what Hillary should do.  I don’t see how one more debate can do anything else to help her.  I think there’s enough evidence from the last 18 months of who Donald Trump is and what he’s all about.

No matter how many more proven fabrications put forward, or feet put in mouth, his supporters won’t care; they’re locked in.  So why continue this dumpster fire of a campaign at all?

Don’t go low, go high, and go bye bye.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Homeless Thoughts - The Political Edition

I don’t have enough to say on any one of these topics, today, so let’s just do a drive-by and see where we end up…

I’m having a hard time believing that Trump and his surrogates are trying to make an election issue out of Bill Clinton’s marital infidelity.  I mean the candidate, himself, is on his third wife after having cheated on his first two.  Giuliani and Gingrich?  Both of them are on their third wives as well, with Gingrich being a big enough piece of shit that he had papers served to his wife while she was laid up in the hospital, fighting cancer.

And since when do you hold the wife responsible, by default, for the sins of the husband?  It’s Loony Toons out there.  Believe me, if she’d dumped him, instead of sticking around, they’d be criticizing her for that too.

Just goes to show there is no lengths the GOP won’t go to call the kettle black.

I am singularly unimpressed by all the “patriots” who are still fuming about athletes kneeling down during the National Anthem.

I’ll tell you what; standing during the Anthem doesn’t make you a patriot.  And neither do putting ribbon magnets on your car or posting Up With Police/Up With Military memes every half an hour.  That's the easy stuff, which requires nothing of consequence from you.

Want to show patriotism?  Support the First Amendment.  Welcome immigrants to this country, which is a nation founded by people whose ancestors weren’t born here.  Stand up to people trying to subvert the First Amendment by substituting the Bible (or any other “holy” book) for the Constitution.

THEN I will be impressed by your patriotism.  

I’m glad the edges are starting to get chipped away surrounding Trump’s tax returns.  So now we know, thanks to the New York Times, that Trump likely hasn’t paid a dime in taxes because of an almost billion-dollar loss he accrued in the mid-90s.

Conservatives are already washing over this issue because there was, in fact, no laws broken and he was following a legal tax strategy.  

That's true, but it's not really the point.  He’s made such a big issue of how good a businessman he is and how wealthy he’s become.  How does that square with losing so much in one year that you never earned enough to turn that red ink to black?  Is that his solution for the country too?  Just default on your debts and pretend you’re solvent again?

At this point, with this “known” out there, we can determine one of two things.  If he promptly releases his taxes, then this was the big enchilada.  But if he doesn’t, that means there’s something else in there that’s so repugnant, he’d rather take this PR beating, (which he can stonewall, deny, evade and transfer blame) than let his tax return confirm our worst doubts about him.

I think Hillary got him pretty good about it during the debate.  She pulled the Fox “News” gambit, in which all she did was ask questions and said “maybe this, or maybe that…” (which are meant to lead us to the obvious conclusions, while giving the ability to say, “I don’t know, I was only asking…”)

Speaking of the debate, can someone tell my why the GOP is so afraid of fact checking?  Never mind answering, I’ll tell you why.  It’s because their entire campaign (especially this year) is based on complete bullshit.  They want to be able to make up anything they wish and spin it as true, regardless of the dark, smelly cavern from which they pulled it.

A competent fact-checking moderator would keep both participants in check, but that’s what they’re worried about.  They’re trying to brand Hillary as the liar when their own candidate would embarrass Pinocchio.  If lies were tallied, the public would keep score, wouldn’t they?  And then their house of cards might come tumbling down.

Oh, who am I kidding?  They’d just call it proof of a biased media and claim it was fixed.  And their supporters would believe every word of it.

The biggest problem with having a headache is that there are no outward symptoms.  Best you can do to garner sympathy is make a few distressed expressions and whimper.

Have you seen how Congress has now over-ridden their first Obama veto, and now have buyer’s remorse?  Even funnier, they’re trying to blame it on Obama.  (Obviously, because that’s their default reaction to anything that happens in Washington (or the rest of the country, or the world).

The bill was the infamous 911 bill, that allows victims to sue the Saudi government for damages.  The President vetoed the bill because of the damage it could cause to Americans abroad, in general, and servicemen abroad, in particular. 

But Congress, from both parties, in their desperation not to appear to kowtow to Muslims, Arabs, or filthy foreigners during an election year, over-rode the veto.  Now Mitch McConnell just blamed Obama for not explaining the bill (which Congress produced) and his objections more clearly. (I presume in order to understand the issue, Obama would have to use 4th-grade vocabulary, like Trump does.)

So remember the next time a Senator or Congressman makes a statement about how those protesting athletes should be more patriotic; they voted to allow legal harm to come to our current soldiers and public servants abroad, rather than damage their chances for re-election.  Because they’re so very patriotic…

And speaking of that 4th-grade vocabulary, a lot of people assume that Trump speaks that way because that’s the limit of his education.  I believe they’re incorrect.

Trump has a perfectly serviceable vocabulary; he just knows better than to use it on those whose support he’s trying to gain.  He’s dumbing down his speeches so that his under-educated followers will understand.  He’s aware that there are more uneducated than educated, and they are more easily swayed by simple solutions to big problems, described in simple language.  (It’s no accident that college-educated citizens are overwhelmingly against Trump and those with a high school education or less, support him.*)

*The exception being all the rich, corporate fucks who are just trying to keep their massive advantages, like the ability to write off billion-dollar losses.

You know you work in a classy place when you walk in out of the rain and they have these…

Umbrella condoms.

I put this on Facebook last week and the best comment said, “If it leaks, do you end up with a bunch of little drink umbrellas?”

Monday, September 26, 2016

Double Stuff Orioles

I know you’d think that I’d write about the big First Presidential Debate tonight, but for one, it’s tonight and I’m writing a post now.  I’d rather see it first before commenting.  The other thing is that I got to do something this weekend that I’ve always wanted to do.

No, I didn’t get to throw out another First Pitch.  I’m pretty sure I only get one of those per lifetime.  It was actually a much humbler goal.

Now, I’ve known I was going to the Orioles game on Saturday since before the season started. The Arizona Diamondbacks were coming to town and they were the last MLB team that I haven’t seen play in person.  Figures that they’d be here for the last home series of the year.

In addition, they were having a good giveaway that day: an Orioles hoodie.  But not wanting to take chances with unpredictable weather, I waited until last week to actually buy a ticket.  Found an “orphan” in the first row of the upper deck, looking down the 1st baseline.

Then on Thursday, Sitcom Kelly let me know she got her mom’s company seats for the Sunday game.  I hate to pass up a chance to sit in the Mom Seats, so I figured I’d do a back-to-back, to finish out the year.

But then I remembered that this was the perfect situation that I’d been looking for all year.  I’d been looking for an opportunity to see back-to-back weekend games and stay downtown at a hotel in between.  I never seemed to find the right set of circumstances throughout the year, and then BAM, it drops in out of the blue in the last series.

So I promptly booked myself a room at the Eyesore Hilton, right across the street from the ballpark.

Director’s DVD Commentary: That’s how I refer to this particular hotel because before they built it, there was a very nice view of downtown Baltimore, from the stadium.  Now the only thing the entire 1st base side of the stands can see is that damned hotel.

I figured it would be a nice change of pace from taking the subway home after the game (only to return the next morning).  Plus, I could use some of the credit card points I’ve been stockpiling, so it wouldn’t be much more of an expense than if I’d come home. 

So I checked in around 4:00 on Saturday and got my room. 

That orange jersey is one I bought new at the beginning of the year, but this was my first chance to wear it.  I usually match what the O’s wear and they only wear orange on Saturdays.  I’d only been to a couple Saturday games this year and they were in late July and August when it was too damned hot to wear a jersey.

In addition to just the room, I chose the option that provided a breakfast buffet for Sunday morning.  So I was surprised to see that they gave me a card for two breakfasts.  Damn, now I have an option for if I get lucky in the hotel bar after the game.

Come with me, honey, and I’ll buy you breakfast…” 

Yeah, right.  Instead, I texted Sitcom Kelly and asked if she wanted to meet me a little earlier, for breakfast.  She accepted, citing her love of free stuff.

Around 4:15, I headed over to my usual pre-game stop, The Bullpen.  On my way, I could see that the front entrance was jammed with people lining up early for the hoodie giveaway.  They wouldn’t even open the gates for another 45 minutes.

Was pretty bad over at the side entrance too, which was visible from my perch at The Bullpen.  So I had to choose between a giveaway hoodie and a couple hours of drinking cheap beer.  It wasn’t exactly “Sophie’s Choice.”

This was going to be the last times I’d see my regular bartenders until next spring, so before leaving (on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday), I’d tell them as I paid my tab, “You know, everybody says this to military guys but no one ever says it to bartenders and I think they should, so let me just say, Thank you for your Service.

The line outside the ballpark started to die down around six-ish, so dismounted my barstool and headed over.  Lo and behold, I got a hoodie after all.  There weren’t many left; they were working on the end of one box and had only one more box left.  So, SCORE!

It got chilly by the end of the night, so the hoodie came in handy.

So yeah, I finally get to see Arizona play, and whaddya know?  You can hardly see them play.  Look at these uniforms:

Not really liking the gray over gray.  They looked like they’re in their jammies.

I spent most of the night talking with a couple from Los Angeles, who were on a stadium tour.  Had been to Boston and Philly, and was going to The Burgh the next day.  It’s fun hearing outsiders’ opinions of the place, and I got to play ambassador.  Makes me feel somewhat useful.

After the game, I made for the bar at the Hilton, but it wasn’t the experience I’d hoped for.  There were plenty of people, but most were grouped up and talking among themselves.  The only way to break in would be just to dive right in and join the conversation, but that’s just not me.  Nor is paying 8 bucks for a 12-oz beer.

But I had a fallback plan:

I brought my own hootch.

This is practically a family heirloom.  It’s one from a set of three flasks, which we used to use back in The Day, to sneak booze into Cleveland Stadium for the Steelers/Browns game.  One year I killed this whole flask full of brandy, by myself.  I don't remember much of the day after that.

Being older and wiser now, I just poured myself a nightcap and watched a little college football before bed.  Alone.  Sure had a lot of room, though!

Sunday morning, I met Sitcom Kelly downstairs for breakfast around 10.  It was a really nice buffet, which included an omelet station.  I love those! But we had to be careful; we couldn’t get too full for beer.

After breakfast, we eased back over to the Bullpen, to commence our final Cheap Ass Beer session of the season.  Sunday’s Orioles giveaway was an O’s flag hat.  This is one I’d have passed on, but they were for all fans in attendance; there was no escaping the ugly.

The Oriole Bird just doesn’t coexist peacefully with the schizophrenia of the Maryland Flag.

But the Mom Seats were great. 

Featuring the Eyesore Hilton in centerfield.

It dawned on me that, once I took a couple of game pics, we’ve never sat there for a day game before.  The sunlight allowed me to get much better action pics. Like this”

And this:
Usually the relatively low lighting gives the ball a tail, coming in.

The other thing I learned, this weekend, is that Arizona has some serious names on their ballplayers.  Saturday night, they substituted in a guy named Socrates Brito.  All I could think about was:

So-crates, the bodacious philosophizer.

Director’s DVD Commentary:
“True knowledge is knowing that you know nothing.”

“Dude, that’s US!”

Then I looked at the rest of the first names:

They got Welington, Yasmani, Socrates, and Tuffy.  Tuffy Gosewisch. Seriously.
The night before, they pitched a guy named Silvino.  Now that’s a diverse group of dudes.  Contrast that with the Orioles lineup:

These names look like the whitest fraternity on campus.  (Although Manny could be the old guy who runs the deli.)

We only stayed through the 6th inning, because I wanted to get back to my other bar, to see the Steelers/Eagles game at 4:30.  Probably should have stayed at the baseball game, though, because the Steelers got their asses handed to them.

I’ll have to make a note of that for next year… no combining baseball and football!  But that wraps up my Orioles season.  I went to 26 games this year, which is a new personal record.  I saw all but three teams that came to town.  I missed the Rangers because I was in Ohio that week, the Indians because it was in the upper 90s that weekend, and the Yankees because, well, eff the Yankees.  (Although I did see them later in the season.)

Now I’m just going to have to settle for football.

But don’t worry about me.  I’ll survive.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Odd Bits - The Sweatshop Edition

If you’ve been around here long, you know I have a thing for game jerseys.  I religiously track my jersey-wearing as it relates to my team’s won/lost record as I try to determine the best mojo.  Because it wouldn’t be much of a challenge if I only had one or two jerseys to choose from, I tend to have a steady influx of new jerseys to try out.

And because I am not filthy rich, I can’t afford to spend $300 a pop on sports jerseys, so I usually go through one of those “cheap jersey” websites, featuring unlicensed wares from the finest sweatshops of the Far East.

As I’ve documented before, it’s hit and miss as far as the quality goes.  But you have to know that going in.  That’s why they’re not $300.

So periodically, when I’m down at the sports bar, a friend or acquaintance will ask me where I get my jerseys, and when I tell them, they ask if I can get one for them.  I’m usually happy to help, as long as I know how to find them when the bill is due.  But I’m happy to front the money via credit card, and reap the points.

At the end of the last football season, I had a couple people ask me to get them a jersey.  I said I’d probably do my next order in the fall, right before the new football and hockey seasons start.  One guy wanted a Washington Capitals hockey jersey and another guy wanted a Ravens jersey.

Now, normally I’d want nothing to do with outfitting more purple maniacs, but they’ve made me feel at home at this particular bar and I felt it best to be helpful and appreciative, so I agreed.  I placed the order a couple weeks ago and included a couple of things for myself.

The jerseys came in this week and the first one I saw was a problem.  I’d ordered a white #48 Bud Dupree jersey for myself and while the “48” part was fine, it was another detail that was amiss.

The guy’s name is Dupree, not White.

Well, there’s nothing I can do with this jersey, short of taking it to a sports apparel place and having a new name or number put on it, which would cost more than the jersey did in the first place.  But I certainly can’t wear it like that.  Who knows what kind of mojo disturbance such a thing could cause?

I kept going through the jerseys… the two hockey jerseys were OK, then I got to the Ravens jersey.  Name and number were fine, but they sent me a Youth Large instead of a Men’s Large.
(Flacco pic)

Very few “Youths” hang out with me at the sports bar.

So now I had to start emailing with the sweatshop people, which is aggravating.  You know how American retailers almost always correct their own mistakes?  Not so much with these guys.  Their solution was for me to send them another $10 and keep the Youth jersey, and they’d send me replacements.

I lobbied for them to send me a pre-paid return sticker but that didn’t go over too well.  Ultimately, I really didn’t have much choice.  I was already into them for about $160 and only got half the jerseys I needed. They just better make sure they send the right ones this time.  I can live with shoddy stitching or an off-center patch, but the name and size have to be right.


Back in the 90s, while spending a long weekend in New York City, I went to the Warner Brothers store, where I picked up a Bugs Bunny drink stirrer.  The stirrer was glass, with a gold Bugs head on top.  I loved that thing and used it all the time.

Shortly after moving to Baltimore, it broke.  Bugs’ head came off.  I blame gang violence.  Rabbit lives matter.

Flash forward about 15 years and I find myself making more drinks that I need to stir, and wishing I still had my Bugs stirrer.  Lately, I’ve taken to putting a couple of maraschino cherries in my whiskey on the rocks, with a splash of the juice.  My Grandpa D used to give us kids maraschinos in our “drinks,” and I kind of missed them.  So now I add the cherries to honor my Grandpa (and because they’re yummy.)  There were two “C’s” in his family name, so I add two cherries.

A nice stirrer would come in handy because I was getting tired of using my finger.  I mean what if I had guests over for drinks?  I only have so many fingers.
You can see how my V&T needs a good stirring, to diffuse the cherry juice at the bottom.  My finger is just not long enough.

In a long overdue moment of clarity, I decided to find another Bug Bunny stirrer online. I checked Amazon, E-Bay, whatever, but I couldn’t find one.  I found a few pictures where I thought I had a match, but they were for items that had already been sold.

Anyway, I figured if I couldn’t find Bugs, I’d see what else there was.  I couldn’t find anything else quite as kitschy, but I did find a nice set with red glass shapes on top.  I have a lot of red in my kitchen so I think they’ll be nice.

Because I’ll want them nearby when I’m at my drink-making station, I thought I’d put them in a small decorative vase.  Only problem was that they went almost all the way into the vase and didn’t look very decorative at all.

I solved that problem by ordering a package of glossy red rocks to put in the bottom of the vase.  (I actually wanted glass pebbles or marbles, but couldn’t find a package of less than a pound, and I only needed so many.)

It’s weird… I don’t know if these are the actions of a grownup or a bored housewife (or househusband).  Next thing you know, I’ll be trolling through Etsy, looking for matching stemware.

LATE UPDATE: Here's the finished product:
Eat your heart out, Martha Stewart.


I’ve been going to an awful lot of Orioles games this summer, I just haven’t been writing about them here.  Been to 23 so far, which is a new personal record.  But last Friday I saw the best game of the year and I have to tell you about it.

I had seats in the 3rd row, just past 1st base, which was a good spot from which to take pictures, so I brought the good camera. (Instead of just using the phone.)

Right off the bat, the Orioles gave up two 2-run homers in the first two innings, go fall behind 4-0.  Solo homers by Pedro Alvarez and Chris Davis made it 4-2 midway through the game.

Crush Davis crosses the plate after bombing one.

Seventh inning, O’s load the bases and first-year Korean player Hyun Soo Kim crushes one over the centerfield wall.  Unfortunately, the center fielder leaped up two feet over the top of the wall to knock it back into play.  Instead of a grand slam, only one run scored.  But still, the place was rockin’.

The comeback continued into the 8th inning when the O’s scratched out two more runs to take the lead.  Top of the 9th, they sent in the closer, Zach Britton, who has not blown a save all year.  He got an out and then gave up a fly ball to deep right.  It was caught on the warning track, but not before giving a heart attack to the hometown crowd.

With two outs, the next batter hit a grounder up the middle, but before the second baseman could make a play on it, the ball ricocheted off the base, putting the tying run on first.  Next batter laces a shot into the left field corner.

The outfielder hit the cutoff man with the throw, who then spun and threw the runner out at the plate.  Game over.

It was one hell of a ride and a great ending.  Plus, I got these socks.

My only problem is I can’t decide whether I should wear these with my charcoal suit or the gray one.  You can wear argyle with pinstripes, right?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Who Knew I'd Rue a Lack of Hot Air?

The end of summer has been a bit of a slog.  Things just seem unsettled with me.  Granted, a lot of it is work stuff, but I know that will work itself out eventually.  But the home stuff has been dragging out too.

Yes, I know, I live alone and have a simple life with just me, myself, and I.  But shit happens.

Like, a couple of weeks ago, my dryer died.  (The laundry dryer, not a hair dryer.  Like I would use a hair dryer where a soft cloth would do.)

You may remember, I had to replace my washer about a year and a half ago and argue with Best Buy about buying their required but not really required hoses.  Well, the dryer lasted only this much longer before it stopped heating up.  The drum would spin, but there was no heat, so the clothes never got dry.  I had to hang stuff up all over the house, so it looked like I lived on a sock farm. 

I can’t complain, though.  I got almost 19 years out of that dryer so I got my money’s worth.  So back to Best Buy I went.

I got a cheapish dryer; I only wanted something simple.  I mean damn; some of the control panels on the upscale dryers looked like the dashboard of a 747.  I just needed a cycle dial and on/off button.  Also got free delivery, and 12 months same-as-cash.  I did have to buy a new vent hose and connector, and get this: an electrical cord for the dryer.

When the saleslady told me that, I was like, “I have to buy the cord to plug it in, separately?  WTF?”  She explained that there are different kinds of electrical systems in different areas and the manufacturer (Whirlpool) wanted maximum flexibility.

OK, fine.  Whatever it takes, you know?  So we got the deal done on a Saturday and I asked them to deliver it the following Friday when I’d be working from home.

Cut to Friday, they show up right on time, swap out the dryers and all was well and good... until I went to do a load of laundry the next day.  The dryer didn’t heat up.  I tried all the different cycles and settings, and let the damned thing run for an hour and a half, but no go.  Back to the sock farm I went.

I called Best Buy the next day and spent 23 goddamned minutes on hold before I could explain my situation to someone, who then transferred me to another department where I went straight to voicemail.  I left a message, but no one ever called back. 


I was about to go down there right then, but I remembered that on Monday (Labor Day), I’d be in the neighborhood anyway when I made my annual trip to the State Fair.

Now, I’m notorious for going off and forgetting to bring things I need.  I combat that by laying everything out in my staging area, where I gather my shit before leaving the house.  That Monday, I had to be sure to bring my receipt and paperwork from the dryer, and a functioning pen to use at the track (at the Fair). Bastards charge you 50 cents for a stubby pencil at the gate.

So I got my dryer documents and pen laid out with my wallet and the hat I wanted to wear for the day, so I was all set.  Then after getting showered and dressed, I came out of the bedroom, made sure I scooped up all my shit and went out the door.  About a millisecond after the door latched, I realized I forgot my keys.  I was locked out of my apartment on a weekend.  On Labor Day.


I was so concerned with not forgetting the other shit, I forgot to go to Part Two of my staging area, the Key Rack.  It was just like back in 2014 when I did the same thing.  Only this time, I had my cell with me, so I wouldn’t have to bother my neighbor, Daryl (Licht).

Last time, after I got Daryl to call for help, I found that the back bedroom window had been left unlocked, allowing me to slither in.  This time, I figured I’d check things out before I alerted anybody and almost immediately I remembered something else I’d forgotten.

It had been a really nice morning, so I had my kitchen window and back patio sliding door open for some cross breeze.  I closed the slider before I left but forgot all about the kitchen window.  So there was my “in.”

I raised the screen, raised the window higher, and ninjaed my way in.  The bottom of the window is at ground level, but is 3-feet off the ground on the inside, so I probably shouldn’t have gone in feet first, facing up.  Next time, I’m going to have to remember to go in feet first and facing down.  It’s much easier to bend that way.  At my age, I’m lucky I didn’t end up in traction.

So, I had a nice day at the races… bet nine races and lost about $25.  Hit two exactas and a daily double, but none of them paid much; I think eight bucks was the biggest one.  But it was fun.  I also took this picture:

Caption: I was curious what the effect would be if I went down to the rail and take an iPhone Panorama shot while the horses were running by.  This is it… Kind of trippy.

After the races, I headed over to Best Buy to talk about defective dryers.  At least they were nice about it.  I figured they’d want to send someone to look at it, or question me on what I had done.  But they just said they’d replace it right off.  We scheduled it for the next Friday when I’d be working from home again.

Friday came, they swapped dryers (again) and the dryer did not heat up (AGAIN).

I’m like, “What in the holy fuck is going on with these stupid dryers?

Because we had tested it before the delivery guy left, I was at least able to discuss the situation with someone this time.  The guy said that while it was possible that there was a bad batch of dryer elements floating around, it was more likely that there was something wrong with the electrical outlet or the fuse box.

I thought that was weird, and said, “If the outlet was bad, how come the barrel turns at all?

He said he’d seen it before where a breaker had flipped and cut the usual amount of juice needed to run a dryer.  I’d never heard of such a thing, but hell, I’m no electrician.  And because I’m an apartment dweller, I can call the landlord’s office and have them send someone out to have a look.

I also told the driver about my experience on hold the previous week and expressed my reluctance to get on that train again.  He then gave me an “inside number” that would fast-track my call the next time.  (No, I’m not telling.)

By this time, it was late afternoon on a Friday and even though I called the landlord as soon as the delivery guy left, there wasn’t enough time in the day to get someone out before the maintenance staff went home for the weekend.  I knew I’d be off on Tuesday (following a Steelers Monday night game) so I asked for them so send someone out then.

At least I’m on a 2-week laundry cycle, so it wasn’t like I was running out of undies.  I had time to play with before things would get serious.  But still, I’m uncomfortable when things are left up in the air.  I still didn’t know why my kitchen was becoming the Bermuda Triangle of Dryers.

So this afternoon, some maintenance guys came out, I explained the problem, and they checked the breaker box.

One-half of the dryer double-breaker was tripped.  They reset it and the dryer began producing heat.   

I had them show me which one it was and what to look for in case anything like this ever happens again.

I’m glad my household is settled again, but of course, I still have one regret…

I probably never really had to buy a new dryer in the first place.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Tale of Two Stories

Two stories surfaced in the last week or so; one that everyone is talking about and probably shouldn’t, and one that no one is talking about, but probably should.


Even people who don’t follow football know who this guy is now, and probably have an opinion about him.  Colin Kaepernick is the player for the San Francisco 49ers who decided he will no longer stand during the National Anthem any longer, to protest the treatment of minorities in this country.  And people have lost their minds over it.

The usual battery of old white people and life-long military apologists and police fetishists have gone ape-shit over this display of disrespect to the nation.  (Translation: to the nation’s white overlords.)

I’m pretty sure if any of the people loudly taking offense were ever treated the way minorities get treated in this country, the place would be in flames by now.  It’s funny how so many people have opinions about how much crap other people should take, and how they should be allowed to react to it.

Remember the riots?  Yeah, everyone was like, “That’s no way to register complaints and induce change.  You have to do it peacefully.”

Now you have a guy basically just sitting down or taking a knee, and they don’t like that either.

There have been several main avenues of hostility.  One is that he’s not really black, he’s biracial.  (Biracial just means a person has to take shit from two races.)  Another is that he’s been privileged; raised by white adoptive parents, sent to good schools, and now makes big bucks playing football.  So where does he get off complaining?

I’ll tell you why… empathy.  And that’s why there’s a disconnect.  Conservatives don’t really empathize with anyone.  They don’t understand the selfless protest.  The only other persons’ shoes they can see themselves walking in are those experiencing “reverse discrimination.”

It’s always “Lower MY taxes.  Worship MY God, in the manner with which I am comfortable.  Have that baby because of MY beliefs.  Not in MY backyard.  And no one ever gets to receive a benefit that I don’t get too.”  The concept of “common good,” is just another name for Communism.

Now, what do I think about this story?  Like all rational people, I support the right that every citizen has to protest, regardless of their socio-economic status.  My only observation is that maybe he could have found a more efficient outlet, because by picking this particular mountain to die on, the means overshadows the substance.  No one is talking about why; they’re too busy complaining about how.  That’s not effective communication.

I also think he should have defined his terms better.  I mean, what are the criteria for ending the protest?  Solving poverty and race relations nationwide?  That’s kind of a tall order.  He’ll be protesting for the rest of his days.

So I basically give him credit for taking a stand, at great personal expense, regarding an issue larger than his own self-interest.  But I think he might have been more effective via another route. 

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the country, the Supreme Court upheld a lower Federal Court ruling maintaining that the new voting law in North Carolina was unconstitutional and ordered it scrapped.  It was a 4-4 tie which by default, upheld the lower court ruling.

The issue here was that the Federal Court found that the legislators purposefully created the law to reduce minority voter turnout, noting that it was done with “surgical precision.”

That’s no joke.  They had emails in evidence, showing lawmakers requesting data on minority voting patterns and what IDs they most often used, and then used that data to create a law to have the greatest impact on that target.  They disallowed certain IDs, closed particular voting areas, reduced early voting and eliminated on-site registration and cross-precinct voting.

There is no plausible way that any of this was done to prevent voter fraud.  The only fraud was this “monster law,” requested, designed and implemented to keep prospective Democrats from voting.

And STILL, the lawmakers involved swear that it’s all about preventing voter impersonation.  They said they requested the racial data so they could better protect minority voters.  Seriously.  That’s like the fox saying he’s saving the chickens from the farmer, by eating them himself.

North Carolina is exactly why the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was necessary.  And it’s no accident that as soon as the South came off “probation,” where the Feds no longer had to clear any changes to voting laws, this monstrosity was unleashed.  In fact, they had it ready to move through the legislature, but held it back until the Supreme Court decision was announced, that gutted the Civil Rights Act.  They knew it wouldn’t pass that kind of muster, but then they overshot and made the racism so blatant, it couldn’t be overlooked.

Well, it WAS overlooked by the four Republican-appointed justices.  That’s another crying shame.  How is it possible that four of our highest judicial officials thought it was perfectly fine to research and develop ways to keep minorities from voting?  The evidence, smoking guns and all, were right there in the case files.

That right there is why the Democrats need to win the White House in 2016.  As I said in July, Hillary’s emails don’t matter. Trump University doesn’t matter.  Her health allegations don’t matter.  His insults don’t matter.

The Supreme Court matters.  It’s the last line of defense against the dark arts of systematic, legislated discrimination.  If Trump wins, we can look forward to another decade of the Supreme Court allowing the rich to step all over the rest of us.

And THAT is why guys like Colin Kaepernick should be protesting.