Saturday, May 31, 2014


This week I came across an interesting article about a particular method of leaving a party or gathering, called “ghosting.”

Ghosting, aka “The Irish Goodbye,” aka “The French Leave,” aka several other names, is where at a time of your choosing, you just disappear without fanfare or goodbyes.

My old buddy Brill used to do this all the time at our Barn Parties.  I used to call it “The Brillhart Fade.”  One minute he’d be there, carousing with the rest of us, then he’d just be gone.  It used to drive me nuts because anything could have happened to him. 

Brill was pretty frail, so we wanted to watch out for him.  He lived a couple of houses down so he was on foot, and given the dark country road on which we lived, and the 55 mph speed limit, I would have preferred to know he was leaving.  For all we knew, he could have been eaten by bears, while going out for a pee.

I used to yell at him about it, and he’d always say, “I just want to go, and not make a big deal out of it.

I’d say, “It doesn’t have to be a big deal, just let me know… give me a signal or something.” 

Cut to many years later, and now that I know what it’s called, I can say that ghosting is my favorite way to leave an event.  Usually it’s at a moment where I’ve already had conversations with the people there whom I know, and find myself standing by myself.  My choices are to try to graft myself onto another group’s conversation or stand there feeling sorry for myself, hoping someone comes up and talks to me (which never happens, ever).

I try to stop drinking at least an hour or so before I want to leave, so if the timing is right, I just ease my ass out the door.  It’s not like I’m sneaking around.  I move through the room as I normally would, and just keep going.  I think it helps to leave my coat or briefcase somewhere near the exit.

As far as I’ve ever heard, no one mentioned my stealthy departure.  I can only assume that they never really noticed I was gone. 

So I agree with Brill now.  It’s just a hassle to start going around announcing your intent to leave.  Who do you tell?  The host?  Everyone you talked to?  Everyone you talked to, who you actually like?  To me, it’s so much better just to vanish.  It adds a layer of mystery about me... IF, anyone gives a rip, that is.

Obviously, this is not a tactic I would use with a small group.  That’s would be rude.  I’m talking about a party with 30 or more people, or a workplace happy hour out at a local bar.  The last thing I want to do is interrupt someone else’s conversation, just to say goodbye.  Plus, by that portion of the night, I’m not at my most articulate, I’m sure.  All I want to do is get home and go to bed.

It also doesn’t work as well if you’re there with someone.  It’s much harder to be inconspicuous as a pair.  To pull that off, you have to create some kind of diversion.

OK, the curtains are on fire… let’s get out of here.”

So what do you do when you want to leave a party or event?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Veteran Affairs

It’s been sickening me, what’s been going on with the VA.  Lengthy wait times covered up by altering stats?  These guys should be doctoring veterans, not the books.  Everyone involved with this dishonesty should be canned immediately.

The entire organization needs a full top-to-bottom “reimagining,” because the way things are set up now, just isn’t working.  Everyone gets all flag-wavy when we talk about The Troops, right up until they’re home and in need of help.  They upheld their end of the bargain, so now we, as a country, need to uphold ours.


I have to laugh at the GOP trying to make a political scandal out of this.  These are people who are desperately trying to conceal their own involvement in the current state of affairs.

Now, I’ve never been in the military, but even I know that the VA has been a CF for years… predating Obama, predating Bush, and predating Clinton.

When Bush opened up two wars, he and his posse should have had the foresight to know that these guys were going to come back sometime…  There should have been an overhaul of the VA before all the Johnnys came marching home.  (I could also make note of how they should have known what kind of equipment they’d need as well, before sending them off without proper body and vehicle armor, to be blown up by IEDs, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.)

When Obama acted to bring the wars to a close, he should have known there would be an influx of servicemen in need of VA support, and geared up back then.  He should have had someone… an efficiency expert, a panel of medical professionals, anyone but a politician, look at the overall system and provide guidance.

Granted, the Democrats did try to pass a veteran’s medical support bill, but it was voted down by 41 Republican senators.  I don’t know if it was because it would have added to the deficit, (funny how they never kill big business subsidies for adding to the deficit), or it was to kill the chance of Obama succeeding at something.  Or maybe it was because they weren’t able to sneak in any goodies for themselves.

I know I shouldn’t be surprised.  After all, this is the same crowd who in 2010, voted down and medical aid bill for 9/11 first responders, just to protect a tax loophole used by big business.

Bottom line, just a few months ago, they shit-canned a bill that would have helped thousands of our nations veterans.  So they don’t get to pretend they just noticed the problem.  And they certainly don’t get to blame the other party.

There’s plenty of blame to go around here.  Our soldiers did their job.

Now it’s time for our political leaders to do theirs.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Long Weekend Bluz

So, what does a single Bluz do on a 3-day weekend?  Whatever he damn well pleases!  Ha!

I had activities on Friday, Saturday and Sunday this weekend, so today is my day of rest.  The Orioles were in town over the weekend, so with the weather forecast stuck on gorgeous, I figured I’d knock out a couple of games.  I still had 3 tickets left over from the Pirates rainouts, so I cashed in two of them for the games on Friday night and Sunday afternoon.

I mainly wanted to go on Sunday, but since, A) I had to go to the box office in person to swap the tickets, and B) I was already wearing an Orioles jersey and jeans, for Jersey Day, I thought I might as well go to the game on Friday too.

One thing I hadn’t really considered was that on the Friday before a holiday-Monday, we usually get let out of work early.  So by getting off at 3:00 instead of 5:00, for a 7:00 game, it a solid four hours of pre-game festivities.  I got to The Bullpen right as they were opening.  I was excited...

(I’ve been trying to cut back, since I returned from vacation.)

Because the street vendors weren’t set up yet, I opted for wings.  And hit a “jackpot” of sorts.

Because one of the tickets I traded in was higher in cost than the others, I used this opportunity to sit in a new place.  I was in the 5th row, under the middle deck, just to the 3rd base side of home plate.  I’d show you the view, but I forgot to bring my camera on Friday.  But I can still show you where I was…

I was right beside the top of the concrete entrance wall.

It was an entertaining game, marked by homers from Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis.  O’s won 8-4.

On Saturday, I decided to go see the new X-Men movie.  Loved it.  It was a bit complicated, with lots of time travel and random space/time portals (don’t ask) but it was nice seeing the old/new casts blended together.  (I also saw Godzilla the previous weekend.  I do love my monster movies.  This one was pretty good too, if you like that sort of thing.)

After the movie, I had some errands to do.  Like flowers… I needed to go buy some flowers; some for work, some for home.  So I picked up my favorite torrenia (AKA Clown Violets) for work,

and a pot of New Guinea Impatiens for home.

I was going to buy it just for the leaves, before I realized they were actually my favorite kind of impatiens.

After the flowers, and requisite stop at Wendy’s, I had to do some scoping out.

See, after 17 years of dedicated service, my washing machine started giving me problems.  I bought it in 1997, right after I split up with the ex-wife.  Was a cheap little GE unit, which I’ve carried around with me ever since.  But now it started to drip (into the basin) and won’t go through the usual cycles.  Rather than trying to get it fixed, I figured I’d just get another one.  Eventually.  First, I wanted to see what was out there, and more importantly, how to get one delivered at a workable time.

Because I’m a one-man shop now, I have to be here whenever something big is being delivered.

So I went to Best Buy to have a look around.  I talked with the appliance guy there and told me they can deliver on Saturdays.  He showed me a couple of models, and I picked one.  Done.

That’s another up-side to living alone.  I can go buy a new appliance in about 10 minutes.  No muss, no fuss.

On Sunday, I had to get up and going fairly early.  (That’s “Sunday early,” as opposed to “Weekday early.”)  The game was at 1:30, so I wanted to be down at The Bullpen no later than noon.  It was a beautiful day for baseball; sunny with a temperature of about 77.

After knocking down some “cheap-ass beer” and a bratwurst, I eased on over to the ballpark for a quick mosey around.  And promptly got irritated.

I was standing at the rail overlooking the (actual) bullpens behind the outfield wall, and this usher comes by telling me I have to move along.  I was standing right smack beside a line of other people, who apparently did NOT have to move along.  Turns out, I was overlapping the railing alongside two stairs.  I wasn’t allowed to be “blocking the stairway.”

I took about a half step to the left and said, “Is this better?”  It was.  But I was still a little pissed off.

Here’s what they made such a fuss about.

Earlier, I had been standing in the space beside the brunette with the white blouse, with the purse on her left shoulder.

That’s the usher, in the middle, coming back to move that dude on the step.  Now look, there are two freaking steps, and the aisle is about 8 feet wide.  Is someone standing at the railing really blocking anything?  I know the guy is just following orders, but those orders are stupid. 

Anyway, I soon went up to my seat in the club section.

My view.

It was a gorgeous day for baseball, but I made one slight miscalculation.  I thought I’d be sitting much further into the corner.  I was counting on being shaded for most for most of the game, so I never put on any sunscreen.  Unfortunately, the shade didn’t reach me until the 6th inning, after 2 and a half hours of sun.  I would have just moved over, but too many other people had the same idea, and got there before me.

I did my best to combat the sun, by turning the bill of my ballcap to the side.  I managed to keep my face from getting burnt, but I got a little red on the side of my neck.  Next time I go to an afternoon game, I need to sit one section further down, and a couple rows higher.

All in all though, I can’t possibly complain about getting to spend the afternoon drinking beer and watching baseball.  (Manny Machado homered, and Nelson Cruz hit another one, as the O’s won 4-2.)

So, how did you spend YOUR weekend?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

An Early Life Lesson

This is one is going to be a little bendy before I get to my point…

As I was walking to the subway today, I noticed the pigeons.  I should say, I see them every day, but I seldom give them much thought, other than how much PittGirl would hate to have to walk this route every day.

Today, I thought back to a time when I was fascinated by pigeons.  See, I was in London…

When I was in junior high, I took a class trip to Paris and London, over spring break.  (And I really ought to do a post on that, some time.)  For this trip, it was the first time I had my own camera.  It was a crappy little 110-Instamatic.  Not that it matters, but it looked like this:

You had to use those 4-sided flash cubes with it.  (Not pictured.)

Anyway, there I was, ambling around the streets of London… I forget where the rest of my crew was.  But I came upon this bunch of pigeons on the sidewalk, by a fountain.  As a kid that rarely spent time in a city, I don’t think I’d ever seen pigeons before.  What I couldn’t get over is how close you can get to them.

My only experience with birds were the usual, garden-variety backyard birds… robins, jays, sparrows, cardinals, etc.  And none of them let you get anywhere near them.

But these pigeons, they were completely ambivalent about my presence among them.  So I did what any budding photographer would do… I took pictures.

I was standing there in London freakin’ England, surrounded by famous landmarks, classic architecture, and statues of famous dead people, and I’m shooting a roll of film on fuckin’ pigeons.  Ha!

To be fair, I also shot a ton of pictures of the ducks and swans on the river behind Ann Hathaway’s house.  (Shakespeare’s wife, not Catwoman.)  I spent an inordinate amount of time baiting a swan into snapping at me, to try to get an “action shot.”

But my point was, I thought it was so cool to see real “wild” birds up close, (as opposed to parakeets and canarys, like my Grandma had), and that’s what I was reminded of as I saw today’s pigeons.  (Yes, I stopped taking pictures of the pigeons long ago.)

But that thought reminded me of a story I’ve been meaning to put on my “Blog Idea List,” but never remember at a time when I have access to my list.  (I swear, I have the useful memory of a goldfish any more.)

Back when I was very young, about first grade, it was the birds that taught me a life lesson about girls.  I just didn’t know it at the time.

When we still lived in Pittsburgh, there was a little girl about my age, who lived across the alley behind our yard.  We used to get together and play, every so often.  I think her name was Linda.  I believe she had a brother named John-John, which I thought was completely ridiculous.  I was 5, what did I know from the Kennedys?

Anyway, one evening we were playing on the swings in our back yard when she came up with a really fun activity for us.  She wanted to torment another girl, a younger neighbor of ours, and this was her plan to do so:

We’re going to sneak up on some birds when they land in your yard, and then kill them and take their guts out.  Then we’re going to sneak into (the neighbor girl’s) house and put them all over her room!

I was like, [blink]… [blink]… “Um, what?

I believe that was my first-grade equivalent of “WTF is the matter with you?

Then, in an exchange that would repeat itself throughout the rest of my life, I tried to use reason and logic to get her to give up this psychotic idea.  (I really just wanted to go back to playing on the swings.)

I said, “But if birds can hear the worms underground, (which, duh, how else do they know where the worms are?), they’re going to hear us coming and fly away.”

She glared at me like she was considering using MY guts, and said sharply, “We’ll.  Be.  Quiet!

Well, knowing there was no way we were going to catch any birds, I went along with her little scheme.  The next half hour consisted of us slowly trying to tiptoe up to a bird and it flying off whenever we got within 15 feet of it.

I said, “See?

She said, “You’re being too noisy.”

I should have known right then that I’d be better off just running away to a monastery or something, because these girls were going to be trouble.  They just weren’t wired the same way as boys.

It’s good that we moved away from that house when I was 6, so I was never tempted to go out with her and try to “fix” her.  I never knew how the girl turned out.  I can probably assume that she’s either living in a 2-room shack, making some dude miserable, or is under heavy quarantine at the local women’s prison.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Bald Truth, Part 2

I apologize for taking so long to come out with this post.  It was over a month ago when I asked you for your opinion on whether I should shave my head or not.  I’m sure you can guess what happened so far, because you know me… if I’d have done it by now, it would have been front page news.  (Right here, not on, say, USA Today.)

While there were only 7 people who responded on the survey tool, I also tallied up those who left comments, and those who I asked personally.  These are the results of my highly scientific poll.  [snork!]  Also included are my translations of what your vote means.

Shave head in stages: 4 (Translation: So we can get used to another goofy look, gradually.) 

Shave head immediately: 2 (Translation: The sooner you stop looking so goofy, the better.)

Might as well shave head, because it will grow back: 6 (Translation: No skin of OUR butt… We don’t really care how goofy you look.)

Don’t shave head, just cut it shorter: 0 (Translation: Doesn’t matter, you still look goofy.  Pool or pond.)

Don’t shave head, do nothing. 5 (Translation: You look goofy enough already.)

Naturally, I opted for the option that no one voted for.  (Apparently, I am one contrary bastard.)  I got my hair cut before I went to Florida, and instead of them using a “3-guard,” I had them use a “2-guard.”  So it’s a little shorter than I usually get it cut.  Once again, I was amazed by how much gray hair there was, lying on the floor behind me.  I never know what’s going on back there.  It looked like someone shaved a calico cat.

But I wanted to at least get a short cut, to better visualize what I may look like later.  I guess the longer I stewed on it, the more comfortable I became with what I had, and then the inertia set in.

I must admit though, the people what weighed in with the “Do Nothing” votes were fairly influential people in my life, including several who have to look at me on a regular basis.

Next month, I have my annual trip back to Ohio, to go visit the CFO and VP of Hell No.  Perhaps they may be able to sway me, so that we may make up a matched set of three.  If so, I will suggest some kind of ceremony, complete with photographic evidence.  We could do it right there in the Dad Cave.  (The garage.)

I don’t know… I guess I’ll just have to see how the beer is flowing…

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Vacation Recap Pt 2 and Photo Dump

Once Saturday was over, we finally got some decent “pool” weather, so we took advantage of it.  Of course on Sunday, we had to go and visit Lowes and Walgreen’s first.  If my folks don’t show up at Walgreen’s on Sundays, they send the EMTs to the house.

One of his neighbors tipped my dad off that Lowes had a big sale on mandarin orange trees, and since Dad recently had to scrap his old one, (which hadn’t yet yielded much of anything,) it seemed like a good time to replant.

We found one with the five or six future oranges on it, and away we went.  Of course, I had to move a little slow… when I bent over to look at the tag at the bottom, my lower back went out.  Had to baby it for the next couple of days.  (Luckily, it worked itself out by the time I had to leave.)

Anyway, we retreated to the pool, for a little splash and float.  Who knew we had spies among us.  Aside from the blue jays, cardinals, doves and other various birds, there seemed to be a meeting of lizards and reptiles around the pool.

This guy wanted to sell me insurance.

This guy also hopped on over for a visit…
Froggy love daddy?  Daddy loves froggy.  Ribbit.  Ribbit.  Ribbit.”

No need to go to the zoo, when you have a pool in Florida.

Sunday night, AKA Mother’s Day, we had homemade ravioli.  I apologize for not getting any pictures.  I was too busy scarfing them down.

What?” you say, “Making your poor mother cook on Mother’s Day?

Well, it wasn’t my idea, but Mom already had the ravs all made up in advance.  She just had to mix up the sauce and toss the salad.  We went out for the Big Mother’s Day Dinner the next night, when there would be plenty of tables and no crowds.  My parents are retired; conventional schedules are meaningless to them.

Sunday night was another Penguins game, and despite my hand-selected game jersey, the Pens lost another one.  My problem was that I selected the jersey that had worked while I was at home!  Next time, I’ll need to account for being on the road.  What can I say?  The Mojo Arts are an evolving discipline.

When I booked my return flight, it was long before the playoff schedules were announced.  It was just my bad luck that my flight wouldn’t land until 7:30, with the Pens playing Game 7, starting at 7:00. 

I also didn’t realize that taking my to the airport would cost my dad a lunch with the ROMEOs.  (Retired Old Men Eating Out.)  They’re still getting press, from time to time.

Somehow, Dad ended up front and center again.

Anyway, my flights were smooth and uneventful.  I got home just in time to see the Rangers take the lead, about halfway into the 2nd period.  Oh well… now I don’t have to worry about scheduling around hockey, until October.

So, it wasn’t a vacation full of adventure, but it was the kind I like best… just sitting around with good people, eating, drinking and talking.  It’s a chance to unwind and just “be.”

Still, there were some other little bits I thought I’d share with you.  (Here comes the “photo dump” portion of the post.

When I first got there and dropped my stuff in the guest room, Mom had left a newspaper clipping for me that was a bit startling.

I totally don’t remember being at any Mullet Toss!

That’s because I wasn’t… that’s just some dude that looks a great deal like me, when I’m visiting.  (Because I wear a hat like that to the beach and around the pool.)  But I know what you’re asking… “What the hell is a Mullet Toss?

First of all, it has nothing to do with hair, although it’s a good bet the crowd was teeming with mullets.  No, this is a competition wherein people throw fish for accuracy and distance.  No shit!  Apparently it’s a big deal in Pensacola.

When my folks first moved down to Florida, my mom swore she wasn’t going to go crazy on the flowers again.  But when you have a place that’s so perfect for cultivating them, it’s hard to say no.

This is the back yard, including the pool and lanai.

Dad has a grapevine going now.  Four years in, this is the first year he’s going to get any grapes.  New bunches are starting everywhere.  I just hope the birds leave enough to make some jelly.


Pretty red ones, out front. (The name of which, escapes me.)

Don’t be such a pansy!

 As I took the shot, I told Mom her hat is like a cross between a mushroom and The Flying Nun.

Dad and I toasting with some margaritas, the logical companion to my Vacation Feet pic.  Life is good.

Dad has sole decorative custody of his workout room.  Most of the stuff is related to family, the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins.  Except this:
 Careful… that’s from Fra-gee-lay.

Now THIS is no joke… Dad was at this game…
Game 7 of the 1960 World Series; Pirates against the Yankees, where Bill Mazeroski hit the series-winning walk-off home run.

Get a load of the ticket price… Wow.

Lastly, Dad pointed out this really cool view of the full moon, through their skylight.

 Goodnight, Moon.

And this is as good a time as any, to put this post to bed.  Many thanks to my mom and dad, AKA, The Elderlies, for rolling out the red carpet and letting me hang out for a couple days.

Director's DVD Commentary: Extra credit to anyone who knows the source of the Froggy quote.  Mom and Dad, you don't count.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Vacation Recap: You Can Stop Hating Me Now

Wow, now that’s what I call ‘resting up!’  Still, I’m glad I took another day (Wednesday) to get my shit together before starting my 2-day work week.

As you saw from the last two posts, I obviously got into town OK, save for the minor annoyances of fellow air travelers.  The folks picked me up and we went directly out to breakfast.  Upon returning, I unpacked and we set about setting about.  The weather was beautiful, and the Weather Stick was in its full, upright, “Glad to See You” position. 

We spent the night doing what we always do on my first night there… sitting on the porch, drinking the good stuff, and yapping like magpies about everything that’s happened to anybody, since our last visit.

Friday, the weather was much poopier, with clouds and threats of rain all day.

The Weather Stick is looking unhappy.

Friday afternoon, we went out to lunch, then on to visit the Pensacola Pier.  It’s always good to go for a walk after a big lunch.  Of course at my parents’ pace, it was more like a nice mosey. 
 As usually happens when we go there, I found some interesting things to photograph.
Mr. Blue Heron was working on his own fish sandwich.

Then there was this guy, who was wondering where the heron got the catfish.

The rains had really kicked up the waves in the Gulf, so there was a crowd of surfers having at it, just off the pier.  This is how you know you’re in Florida…

…Even the surfers are in the AARP.  I think that’s George W. Bush.  I guess he's tired of painting.

That looks like a screen cap from the first part of a Viagra commercial.

There are a lot of pelicans that fly around the beach, and they always crack me up.  They remind me of a squad of bad ass bikers cruising around.

In my head, I hear the old “Peter Gunn Theme.”  (And I apologize for the ancient reference.)

We returned home for a few hours to monitor the weather and pour a couple of pre-game drinks.

 As you can see from all those pier pictures, that it was pretty gloomy out.  We had spent the day worrying whether the rain would affect our trip to see the Pensacola Blue Wahoos baseball game, but after much examination of the weather maps, it appeared the storms would stay to the west until long after game time.

The last time I was there, we had a time-consuming mix-up at the snack stand, wherein I had requested “The Big Wahoo,” aka the biggest hot dog in the lands.  Instead (after 20 minutes of waiting) I was given some kind of fish sandwich, which was far inferior to the massive Pittsburgh fish sandwiches, to which I am accustomed.

This time around, I went to one of the satellite food stands, and finally acquired my prey.

Behold The Big Wahoo!

If someone could splice the DNA from The Big Wahoo with a Weather Stick, you’d probably get arrested for putting one up in Florida.  But I’ll tell you this… as hot dogs go, it was pretty damned good.

We had nice seats… second row, between third base and the LF wall.  They were almost exactly where we sat last year, only one section closer to the infield.  We were right behind the visitors’ bullpen area, which wasn’t so much “bullpen,” as it was “little pitching area squeezed into foul territory.”
 She must be the Southern League equivalent of “Annie” from Bull Durham.

While the Chattanooga Lookouts were warming up, their centerfielder airmailed a ball that sailed about 3 rows over our heads, whizzing by a guy’s ear and landed in an empty seat between two other dudes.  I guess that’s where their name, the “Lookouts” comes from.
Oddly enough, it wasn’t the guy with the rubber arm there.

The player was very apologetic, and came over to toss the “ear-buzzed” guy another ball.  (And this time, not at 85 mph.)

Once the game began, this was our view:
They announced it was a sellout, but I think a few people might not have shown up.  Or maybe they were all at the concession stand, waiting for a Big Wahoo that never arrives.

You have to love minor league ball.  The security is so lax, anyone can get run on the field.

You can see the grounds crew, rounding up the juvenile delinquents, for a mass tasing.

Actually, that was part of a promotion for a pest control company.  A guy in a bug costume came running across the outfield, being chased by every kid in the park.  I was only able to get my camera out and shoot in time to catch the very tail end of the spectacle.  But trust me, there were about 100 kids out there, chasing some poor guy who must be seriously reconsidering his career choices.

We ended up leaving the game around the 5th inning.  The ballgame was directly opposite the Penguins/Rangers playoff game, so we really wanted to get back and see that, even though we were getting cellphone report from the Pittsburgher who sat next to Dad. (They’re everywhere. You can't throw a dead catfish without hitting someone from The Burgh.) 

We probably should have just stayed for the baseball game, as the Pens went down in flames.  It was obviously because I wasn’t dressed for hockey mojo, so I was confident the Pens would rebound for Sunday’s game, when I would be wearing the correct jersey.  (Cue the ominous foreshadowing music…)

Saturday was kind of gloomy too, so we mostly stayed in all day.  I worked on fixing some things on my parents’ computers, like installing a new print cartridge, and finding some files my mom “lost.”

Seven seconds later, I was done for the day, and went on to start drinking beer, and awaiting Dad’s grilled steaks.  (Picture of which was in the preceding post.)

But seriously, it went just like this:

Dad: I spent 20 minutes trying to get this bastard in.  Here’s the cartridge.

Bluz: {Flick… Snap.} Done.

Dad: Fuck.

I’ll bring the back end of my fascinating adventures in the next post… The March of the Vacation Reptiles.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Post Where You All Hate Me

As per the apparent Social Media Requirement that anyone on vacation must post a Vacation Feet shot, here's mine:
"So sorry all of you are at work on Monday... I'll think of you while I'm out by the pool, with something cold in my hand."

So, I know you hate me because I'm rubbing my leisure in your face. But try not to hate me because I'm daring to wear Crocs, in this day and age. 

Crocs are perfect for pool/beach wear, because they keep your feet from burning on the scorching-hot cement or sand. You can wear them right in the water, so you don't step on some scuttling, pointy-shelled, pincer-wielding crustacean, or discarded condoms.  

Also, these particular Crocs have the Steelers logo on them, which means they're appropriate for any occasion, from beach-bumming to baptisms.

It's going to be a shame to have to leave, tomorrow.  I'm trying to convince my parents to take me on as a pool boy, but Dad says "That's MY job."  

I would audition for a cooking job, but Mom has that nailed down...

Dad fills in too, as needed...

So it looks like I'm going to have to come home.

On the bright side, at least I can get Pop Tarts at home...

Friday, May 9, 2014

Parental Supervision

Greetings from Gulf Breeze Florida. Just flew in yesterday, to spend a couple days with my parents.  It's supposed to be a vacation, but I've already been put to work helping Dad put in a new printer cartridge. Seven seconds later, my time was my own again.

The flights were uneventful but for two things, both of which I captured in tweets.

@DarwinfishBluz: Attn people of the airport. Get your faces out of your fucking phones and watch where you're walking. Thank you.

People walk through airports like drunken zombies, because they don't look where they're going. Next time, I'm going to walk up behind each one and give them "flat tires."

@DarwinfishBluz: I am never flying without headphones again.

I always travel with my MP3 player, but didn't this time. Naturally, I sat in front of two women, one was 64, the other was 57.  I know that because THEY NEVER STOPPED TALKING THE ENTIRE FLIGHT.  Yap yap yap yap yap, for an hour and a half.  And the woman across the aisle was transporting a cat in a carrier, under her seat.  Poor kitty let out a scratchy, feeble meow every 5 seconds.  So between the yap yap yap and meow meow meow, it was enough to make me tear my hair out, which I would have done except its so short now, I can't get a handhold.  I should have asked the flight attendant for some glue.

When we were prepping for landing, the pilot came on and said we had to circle for a few minutes, because of a disturbance at the airport.  I said to my seat neighbors, "Oh God, what has my dad done now?"  They just looked at me funny, because they were teenage girls, and they look at all grownups funny when one speaks to them.  But I knew what my dad was capable of. I figured someone tried to tell him he couldn't stand somewhere and he went all AARP on them.

Anyway, I got in OK, and a night of eating and drinking the Good Stuff, ensued.

Big day today... We already had lunch and a walk down on Pensacola Pier. Tonight we go see the Pensacola Blue Wahoos game, (home of the legendary Big Wahoo hot dog... I'll post pictures), then home to watch the DVRed Penguins game. (I'll have to maintain Twitter silence.)

For now, "let the Wild Rumpus start!"

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Walking the Walk and Locking the Lock

As I mentioned a few posts back, I was considering actually going on the March of Dimes March for Babies.  Because I couldn’t really come up with a legitimate excuse not to do it, short of complete sloth-like lethargy, I decided to do it.  The big event was last Saturday.  Mostly, I was happy that in the March for Babies, you don’t actually have to “march.”  An hour of Sousa is enough to break even the strongest among us.

I felt like I was in good enough shape… nothing was hurting me at the moment, and I’d just bought some Dr. Scholl’s gel pads for my shoes.  I was ready to mosey!  The route began right outside M&T Bank Stadium, aka the Home of the Ratbirds, aka That Big Purple Toilet.  I don’t know how far we had to walk exactly… it was four miles and change.
There were about 20 of us from my company, and because we were last year’s highest fund-raisers, (and probably again this year), we got to cut the ribbon and start at the front of the pack.  I eased up beside a friend of mine, who was pulling his 4-year old daughter in a wagon.  My friend Jenn was there too, but she and her girlfriend were running rather than walking.  No chance I was going to keep up with them for more than 20 or 30 yards, so I bid them an early goodbye.

It was a nice enough route, out past Camden Yards, all around the Inner Harbor, then back down Pratt St. and straight back to the starting point. 

 Approaching Camden Yards.

My friend and I knocked it out in an hour, without much trouble.  I especially like how the cops would stop traffic for us walkers to cross the street.  Good thing we weren’t all bunched up… our pack was so long, it made a funeral procession look like a tandem bicycle.

We walked between 9:00 and 10:00, which was good, because it was still cool outside.  It was a nice morning for a walk, and the Inner Harbor was a picturesque as ever.
Approaching the Inner Harbor.

Approaching the city, from alongside the harbor.

Ah, my ride is here…

There had been a local band performing at the onset of the walk, so I wasn’t surprised that they had an act for the conclusion.  While we drank our waters and ate bananas and breakfast bars, we were treated to the worst Bon Jovi impersonator ever.

They introduced this skinny guy in a dark 80s-era rockstar shag wig, who went up there to perform a karaoke medley of Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet album.  I swear, when he broke into “Wanted Dead or Alive,” I was hoping they’d bring out a Ritchie Sambora impersonator, to at least try to bring it in on key.

The only people who enjoyed the show were this dance troupe, a squad of about 20 girls from 8 to 15 years old.  I can only assume they thought he really WAS Bon Jovi, and 80s music was worse than they’d thought.

After the fourth song, the aural assault finally came to an end, and shortly after that, I made a break for it.  I went home and read the paper, caught up on email and online news, like I usually do on a Saturday morning.  But then when I got up again… uh oh.

Sharp pain in the back of my right knee!  Now what the eff have I done?  And I thought I got away clean…  I’ve iced it and taken some anti-inflammatories, but it’s still bugging me now.  I suppose it will work itself out in time.  (Yes, if it continues for too long, I’ll see a doctor.  Maybe.)

On Sunday, I wanted to go get a haircut at the local Hair Cuttery.  (No, I didn’t get it shaved, just cut short.)  After getting caught up in the spirit of walking, I decided to walk to the shopping center, a half mile away instead of driving.  I was so proud of getting there and back in 20 minutes.  (The actual cutting of the hair took roughly three of those minutes.)  Unfortunately, the cocky attitude dissolved when I got home and realized I locked myself out of the apartment… without my cell phone.

I’d forgotten I’d given my buddy John my house key last week, for the day I was supposed to go to the Orioles game with Jenn, and I never did put it back on my “spare” keyring.  So Sunday, I had grabbed the spare, because it’s smaller and creates less of a lump in my jeans pocket… I usually take that one when I go out to run errands.  I might have been temporarily homeless, but the line of my jeans looked good.

I probably stood there staring at my door and the keys in my hand for five solid minutes, considering my options.
•           Kick the door in (with my bad right knee).
•           Break a window.
•           Try to knock my sliding glass patio door off the rails.
•           Knock on my neighbor’s door and ask to borrow a phone.

The degree to which I considered the first three options just goes to show how much I hate talking to strangers.  I don’t know my neighbor any more than in passing.  He’s kind of a sad sack, a scraggly white guy whose name, for the point of this post, will be “Daryl Licht”)  Many nights, on the way into my place, I detect the scent of ganj coming from under his door.

I considered knocking on one of my other neighbor’s doors, but Daryl and I are the only non-Jews in the building.  It was still close enough to Shabbat that I don’t think they’d even open the door for swarthy goyim.  It would be justified revenge for my screaming by them in my car every Saturday afternoon, blaring Highway to Hell on the stereo, while they’re walking to Temple.

So facing no realistic alternative, I knocked on his door, and he placed the call for me.  The landlord’s office is closed on the weekends, so he had to leave a message and have them call back.  His place smelled he was hosting a poker party with Tommy Chong, so I opted to wait outside.

While I was out there, I strolled by my windows.  That’s when I noticed that the window for the back bedroom wasn’t securely locked.  The little swivel things weren’t latched under the slot on the upper window frame, they were above it, in other words, not locked at all.  One of the previous girlfriends must have left them like that.  So I pried off the screen (because they’re bendy), opened the window and blinds, and slipped inside.

By that time, Maintenance had called the Daryl back, so I was able to come back out and have him tell them, “Never mind.”  Then I went back in and properly locked the windows.  I just wished I would have looked out there first, before talking to the neighbor.

In retrospect, it’s probably a good thing I only got my hair cut, and not shaved.  No one noticed me going in the window.  But I bet if I looked like a skinhead, the whole Volunteer Neighborhood SWAT team would have descended on the place, shouting “Never again!  Never again!


Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Baltimore Day-Drinking Team

It’s been a pretty draining week, especially this weekend, so let me tell you all about it.  But first, let me answer the question I know is on your mind.  Yes, my buddy John and I did get my special “Watching TV from the Bathroom” mirror set up.

My new view from the can.

The mirror by the bathroom on the left, and the TV is on the right, in the foreground.

That’s American ingenuity, right there.  Multi-tasking is in our blood.

But speaking of ingenuity, perhaps one of you can help a brother out.  I took the flannel sheets off my bed yesterday and put new ones on.  Is there anyone who knows how to fold the bottom sheet, and not have it come out looking like a hot mess?

Top sheet and pillow cases?  No problem.  Bottom sheet? Giant lump of flannel.

The Orioles/Pirates Series
As I mentioned in the last post, I had tickets to see the Pirates come to town and play the Orioles, on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.  Both games were rained out, so they played a double-header on Thursday.

They made it a single-ticket double-header, so I only needed to use one of my four tickets.  I’ll get to exchange the other three for future games, so I’ll make out pretty well.

The games were scheduled for 4:05 and 7:30, so I felt I should take a half day off to attend.  It was funny, because I walked with two of my office mates, as I was leaving and they were going to lunch.  One of them, an older African-American lady said, “What time is the game, 1:00?

I said, “No, 4:05.”

She looked at me incredulously, over the top of her glasses… “So why you leaving now?”

Well, I have things to do, and it could be a mess at the box office, with everyone having to exchange their tickets.”

That was mostly true, although my worries proved to be unfounded.  The main reason I left so early is that I was meeting Sitcom Kelly and her Sitcom sister for a bit of day-drinking down at The Bullpen.  We got there just as they were opening.

The Sitcoms belly up, while our man Doug readies the bar.  We had the place to ourselves for about a half hour.

As we sat there, deep in discussion about Sitcom Kelly’s life, I came to a conclusion so profound, I had to tweet it immediately.

Our original seats were under the upper deck, but with a relatively clear forecast (20% chance of rain until 6:00, then 10% afterwards), we decided to try to move up.  We ended up in the 6th row, halfway between 3rd base and the left field wall.

Our view from section 64.

I wore my black Andrew McCutchen jersey, while the Sitcom Sisters went with Orioles t-shirts.  As with all games where Pittsburgh is visiting, there were a significant amount of ‘Burgh fans in attendance.

Because it was a t-shirt give-away day, I kept getting asked what I was going to do with mine.  One guy asked if I was going to wash my car with it.  I just said, “Hell no, I’m wearing it!

I told everyone that day, “I love the O’s, and I’ll root for them over any team except the one from my home town.

Cutch, being awesome.

The Pirates really need to work on making some new stars.  Out of all the jerseys on display in the crowd, they were almost all for McCutchen and Roberto Clemente.  Maybe it’s different, back in Pittsburgh.

About midway through the first game, the skies opened and generated a 20-minute rain delay.

20%, my ass.

But eventually, the sun returned to shine on the B&O Warehouse, and the game resumed.

 By the end of the first game, I was already starting to feel tired.  I’d only had one beer during the game, so it was probably due to the seven I had beforehand.  It also didn’t help that I woke up at 4:30 that morning, and couldn’t fall back to sleep.

In between games, it started to rain again, hard.  This delayed the second game by about an hour.

This is what 10% chance of rain looks like, in Baltimore.  No wonder the streets are collapsing.

We ended up moving around a lot, during the course of the game.  Mostly, we retreated back to seats under the deck, where we were supposed to be in the first place.  I don’t think we watched more than 3 innings from any one place.

When they finally started up, there was one moment of uplift, as 3rd base phenom Manny Machado came out to play his first game after hurting his knee late last season.

“Man-ny Man-ny”

I’m sure I confused people by standing and clapping vigorously for Manny, wearing my Pirates jersey.

He seemed none the worse for wear, and was up to his old tricks in no time. (Even during warm-ups.)

The second game seemed to drag.  In fact the Orioles pitcher threw over 50 pitches in the first inning alone.  So by 10:00, even though it was only the 3rd inning, I’d had it.  The Buccos were up 4-0, so I took that as a sign that I was free to go.

I figured I’d watch the end of the game from bed, on my new TV.  (I didn’t have the mirror up yet, or else I could have watched from the Throne.)  The O’s climbed back into the game and tied it up 5-5.  But at that point, I was almost comatose, so I cut the TV and went to sleep.  Turns out, the game went to extra innings and didn’t finish until 12:45 AM.  Good call to bail on the game, I think.  (O’s won, 6-5, for the sweep.)

I was going to write about the March of Dimes walk I did on Saturday, but as usual, this post went on longer than I expected. Stay tuned for more Bluz Adventures in the Wilds of Downtown Baltimore.

Special thanks to my brother-in-law, who sent me this over the weekend.  It’s the funniest thing I’ve seen all year.  Click the pic, to embiggen.