Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sun Toasted Robot

As a robot fiend myself, I am always on the lookout for that next hunk of technology that is plotting to invade my life in one way or another. Oh you may think your cool, immune and un-geekified still. But the truth is that cell phone on your belt, laptop on your desk, and GPS in your car give you away.

I cannot tell you how long I have been waiting for a breakfast robot. My wife does not like bacon at all so right away, a REAL breakfast is out of the question. She can make a pretty good pancake but in truth all she prefers is a bowl of cereal and some fruit to start the day. I know technology is not perfect but all I want is my breakfast bot to milk a chicken, serve me my pancakes sunny side up, and put a dab of jelly on my bacon!

It may be awhile before I get my wish. It seems most robot designers got stuck on the idea that robots are supposed to help in emergency situations not just be there for my convenience. Who decided this? I do not remember one of Asimov’s robot rules saying that robots are just for ‘do-gooders’. I love real robots that do real jobs like that vacuum robot. I know it barely can sweep up more than a few errant cookie crumbs and the dead flies along the baseboards of my tile floors, but hey - it’s a start!

Today in my technology search, I came across yet another SERVICE robot. This one does the work of lifeguards and is essentially a giant bulbous remote controlled raft named ‘Emily’ . If I was drowning I’m not sure I would want to see a fat inanimate ‘plus sized’ lifeguard ready to run me down in the name of safety? Anyway, you can judge for yourself by linking HERE. I guess I understand the need for technology to concentrate on saving lives over making my breakfast. But can we compromise here a bit and get an upgrade on this Emily the lifeguard boxy-bot? I was thinking maybe something a little more sleek, along the lines of let’s say a ‘BAYWATCH BOT’!

A Toast To Truckers

I was driving around today doing some errands and I came across a local soda bottling plant that bills itself as the ‘Billion Bubble Company’ or something like that. I also noticed that hunkered up to the dock bay at the billion bubble company was a giant 18 wheeler tagged as a load of ‘Carbon Dioxide’. So if the building has a billion in it, how many bubbles do you think might be in that big truck?

So I wonder what it is like essentially being a truck driver for stuff that people ‘Burp’ all day long. In fact what is it like to truck any of that oddball inexpensive stuff that nobody thinks about? I gotta believe that there is probably a trucking hierarchy for such things mandated by a 100 page long union contract. For job protection, the old timer truckers probably get the Kleenix shipments since every place you go, there are at least ten different pastel colored boxes of this stuff. In fact in grade school now, every parent is expected to send 3 boxes with the kid and the ten-ply puffy moisturized ones are priced like gold.

The truckers that have been around a few years, well they get the paper towels. Those are mostly just used in kitchens and as napkins at BBQ joints so not as popular as ‘nose tissue’ but pretty universal still. All the greenhorn truckers get the toilet paper loads. Yeah everyone uses the stuff, but nobody really wants to admit to it much less haul it around. For most things and people in life, you gotta believe that things will end up ‘OK’, but NOPE not for toilet paper. Everyone knows that there is no future there because when the END is near, you are heading for the sewer - no doubt about it.

So here’s a toast to the truckers who move all those bubbles , rags, and seemingly worthless stuff that all of us use every day. Tonight after a big pig-rib dinner, wipe your saucy face, then smile for a nameless trucker. Blow your nose and snort a laugh or two for our cowboys of the open road. And don’t forget to raise a glass of bubbles, and bellow a belch for freedom to our tanned and hairy diesel heroes. You’ll have to move around for an hour or so and wait before you’ll be able to offer up your final trucker salute. But remember, all good things are worth the wait, so you are just going to have to ‘Grin and Bear it’!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Only GIRLS use candleabras!

I have picked on decorator candles before but usually for their pungency and not so much their ‘look’ because everyone knows ‘looks don’t matter ‘ right? Well pretty platitudes aside, some of these jars of wax, even at places like Sears, have some awfully weird stuff mixed in and glued onto them. I’ve seen buttons, bows, sand, and even REAL bee’s mummified in all things wax.

I am kind of wondering what kind of drugged-up, Vincent Price ‘wanna be’ started sticking wicks in wax molded doll heads and bloody hands under his house? I have seen a candle in the shape of a cartoon bomb where the wick sparks and spits like a fuse. I almost bought my Mother in Law a White Castle burger box candle holder. When lit, the thing even SMELLS like one of those little steamed gut-busters.

Probably everyone has seen paint can candles or at least one weird candle built into an odd-ball container. They can reverse engineer almost any smell now, so then it is just a matter of finding the appropriate and unique delivery method for the goo. I thought a ‘jar of paste’ candle might rekindle some fond memories of my youth – I used to eat that stuff by the pail-load. I have seen a urinal cake candle which is classless when lit up, but probably a bit better than a ‘port-a-potty’ version under full flame?

I actually think I could become quite good at finding distasteful things to put a light to if I set my mind to it. Fortunately I lost my mind long ago and it was rarely on fire anyway. Don’t worry there are plenty of other folks who have burned their candles at both ends to come up with even weirder waxy decorative clutter anyway. Link here if you have been paying attention and want to see more. As for me, I’m off to squeeze the Bee barf out of my ears – if I'm lucky I might be able to dig out enough to make my wife a nice comfortable 'CandleaBRA'!

Don't Sweat It!

So it is summer now and honestly nobody is safe from the evils of perspiration. Since I am basically anti-social by nature, it really is not a problem for me. I figure if you like me and aren't a Mastadon, you had better like my 'Pits' too! But oddly other people, including my daughter, don’t embrace their sweaty side with as much gusto as I.

Awhile back I mentioned that my kid loves this ‘Adidas 3’ sport stench-stick that apparently is not made anymore. She not only thinks this stuff is the BALM but she thinks it’s the FUSE as well. I’m sure my daughter has begun to finally accept the sad fact that she must face life without this stuff, and needs to find a replacement and QUICK.

So we ventured back to Walgreens to essentially window shop for deodorant – OOOH What Fun! Now if you have not had the pleasure of going up and down a WHOLE aisle in a drugstore sniffing EVERY STINK STICK in the store, you clearly have never shopped with my kid. She does not discriminate. The kid just grabs Men’s, Women’s, Dog - any deodorant , you name it, and then she sucks in a big whiff. Everything is too manly, too powdery, too sticky, silky, skinny, spicy, spongy – well you get it, the seven “TOO” dwarfs of dumb deodorant.

When we leave, we are both frustrated – this whole ‘out of production deodorant business’ STINKS! So at home, the kid starts to search Ebay and low and behold, she finds a couple of sticks of her favorite ‘Deod’ for a price that smells right. Now clearly that does not solve our long term ‘sweatroversy’, but at least for now it may buy me some time. You see, I just want the kid to smell good while she’s wandering our halls over the summer. When we ship her back off to the RANK and file in her college dorm, no matter how she smells, I’m not going to SWEAT it!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

McBlogger Pilot

Ok just so you don’t think I am a lifeless vampire who never leaves the confines of my bat cave to blog, I actually took a little road trip yesterday. Yes I drove 160 miles one way to track down my wife who is flying all over the ‘right’ half of the country in an air race.

I am not complaining as it was nice to get away from my hutch and see some of the countryside in full summer bloom. Fortunately the air conditioning in the car was working though as it was just plain sweaty hot everywhere I went. I found the wife under the plane studying bug stains or something pilots have to worry about. She was airing out the cockpit and herself as the crew flies ‘ventless’ to increase airspeed. So that’s why all those egocentric pilots think they’re so ‘ HOT’.

I took lots of photos and we got a chance to chat for an hour or so while the airport fueled the beast and the crew waited for favorable tailwinds between Chicago thunderstorms. It was actually a pleasure to pay $250 for fuel this time since the credit card company midway through the race DECLINED the card. They had suspected fraud because how could somebody be using the same credit card in 4 or 5 states in less than 24 hours? It is not so hard to do when life literally ‘flies’ by!

After the wife and her partner took off and buzzed the tower to officially start the race clock, I got back in my much slower and delightfully chilly car. Shortly thereafter, I drove to a local McDonalds to upload my pictures and post to the air race blog. I kind of liked the different atmosphere of sitting in public, looking out the McWindow while I typed. It feels strangely liberating to be free and wireless in a foreign place but doing very familiar things – sort of like a pilot only a lot COOLER!

My towels are Marooned

We have stacks of towels in our house but none of them seem to match. Don’t normal people usually have matching ‘sets’ of linens in their bathrooms? I am almost positive that we have always bought the standard body towel, face towel, and washcloth combo … but where are they?

Do you think the towels have some kind of ‘cotton’ club or union membership that includes the unmatched socks that I stack over the dryer? I am not sure why these various sewn things are so hostile towards my lifestyle. I give them a nice comfortable place to hang around all day and they repay me by running off and getting lost.

I know my wife notices this too and has recently tried to combat the problem by buying all SOLID maroon towels. The idea is of course is, if you are missing something from an older set of towels, you simply fill in the spot with the new stuff. That would be great but who knew there are at least five different shades of MAROON that towels come in. My daughter who is admittedly OCD about such things, will notice immediately if the towels are shaded, feel, or even if they hang slightly differently from each other.

So sadly the real solution is to take all these dumb towels and haul them out to the garage and simply start over. Yeah, every garage bay can use an ‘island-sized’ crate full of soft cotton towels to dry off the car, or knock down spider webs from the garage door. That is at least one area of the house where it is more than OK to have a beautifully matched set of ‘UNMATCHED’ rags and nobody cares if they are marooned!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The antiquated Library

I love books. However, the truth is that I do not read as much or as many anymore these days. I have the time mind you, it’s just that I choose to do other things instead of finishing my books. Yes I have two half-read books in process now and a couple of more in que.

Beyond my failure to stay educated, I have to laugh though at the immense racks of books that I store in my house. I have not read all of these books nor do I really know where they all have come from. Yes, I still have a few cutting-edge text books from college from a quarter of a century ago. I’m sure those will come in handy as a reference if I had a time machine.

What will I do if I have to move? Who can lift a tiny box with more than 4 books in it. Forget the idea of a normal size crate of books because it will take a crane to hoist the thing onto a flatbed. I will have to get a moving truck JUST for the plain cardboard boxes required to pack up my bounty of books. I really should clear the decks here and find some ‘lighter’ reading - maybe something like STAMPS or Alphabits cereal.

I don’t know why it is so hard for me to get rid of books. I guess they just are part of a special class as compared to magazines or even computer software. Just like the women in my life, to get the most out of them, books should be treated with reverence, care, enduring compassion. Then once you are done with them, you need to sit them down and lock them up in some dusty library – just in case you ever need them again!

A shuffle-challenged dip

Whenever our tribe has a little down time, they make some nachos and salsa and pull out a deck of cards. Now that would be fine if it was just ONE deck, but I kid you not, my daughter has 6 decks of cards with which to torture me. My sophistication in cards is limited to staring at the pretty patterns on the back of the cards, but beyond that, and the tasty bean dip, I am stumped.

Both my wife and daughter have limitless memories when it comes to advanced card games. All of their games seem to involve playing with stacks upon stacks of those stupid little waxy cards. These games all involve some type of sorting of multiple threes or twos or some other meaningless number. I was born in a day when Aces were king and only the Jokers were wild. What discriminatory ‘DECK raiser’ decided that today, the RED threes are the bees knees of card ‘deck-dom’, while the black threes are cast- offs?

My other issue with any large quantity of cards is holding them. I literally am the ONLY adult at the table who requires a special card gripping device to fan all those cards without playing 52 pick-up with myself. I can count just fine if I can actually see what’s in my hand. It’s just these fancy ‘Canasta based’ games have too many slick little cards to hold unless you are some kind of a card-shark octopus.

Oh and did I mention shuffling yet? Yes, that is where the real fun begins. You can imagine with 6 decks of cards, a whole card table of deck-hands are required to mix up the stack. So for someone who is first, more interested in stuffing my face with beans n’ salsa , and second, incapable of shuffling well anyway – I’m like Rainman on a first date. The family just gawks in disbelief, obviously aghast at my virtuoso performance. They think they are so superior just because they can chew gum and shuffle at the same time. But I ignore their rudeness because I am nothing if not well mannered. So whenever our gang plays cards in the future, I will continue to lean side to side, silently shuffling, flap-folding, cutting, and fanning - only next time I will just do it with the deck of cards and skip the dip!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Be'n Gay

Oh no, it’s happened – I have officially crossed over to the dark side. No don’t worry, I have not ventured into moral oblivion or declared jihad upon the world’s only remaining superpower – Wal Mart. No this pain that I feel, is deeper, much much deeper, so I finally broke down and bought a tube of mentholated ‘geezer’ rub.

Well actually it was a two for the price of one, ‘double-tube’ deal so on the plus side my aging brain is still value conscious, even if the rest of my sagging sack of achy flesh is in a vegetative state. Yes, I have some tennis elbow action going on in the right arm even though my personal game of choice is badminton with the emphasis on the ‘BAD’. I don’t think this is truly arthritis or carpal tunnel issues since I know I strained the muscle doing work in the garage. But nonetheless, it is clear that I don’t heal as fast as when I was a spry young pup. So after two weeks, I finally resorted to the big greasy, pungent warmth of my GAY friend, BEN to heal me.

Ben Gay is actually an odd name for any product despite the modern connotation. Supposedly it is the Americanized pronunciation of the French doctor’s name who invented the stuff. Beyond the ego thing of naming your pet science project after yourself (remember Frankenstein?), the label says nothing about the properties of the goo inside the tube (or at least I hope it doesn’t). The other brands brag about their ‘deep heating’ qualities or ‘icy hotness’ but Ben gay – well maybe it just makes you happy?

In fact my tube of ‘Geezer Schmear’ does make me happy. I seem to be starting to warm up to the idea of living a life where the fresh scent of menthol permeates the air, chairs, bed and car. My arm is feeling better already. In fact I now have some amazing dexterity with my wrist and elbow that I don’t remember? Look at that, my hand looks like a pecking bird head when I flex it rapidly back and forth. OH MY GOSH – the Ben Gay really IS WORKING . . . I can feel my wrist getting ‘ more limp’ with each passing minute!

FIRST LOOK – Air Race Postcard

To the three or four of you who actually visit my blog daily, you may remember that my wife T, was about to embark on a 2100 mile air race this week. Yeah this little buggy ride will take her and her partner on a circuitous jaunt from Central Florida to the Western Missouri border and then back to Eastern Maryland.

Well RACE DAY IS HERE and begins today at 0800H EDT from Ft. Meyers, Florida. The plane is prepped and the routes are planned. Now everything depends on weather and a healthy dose of GOOD MOJO. I know my wife is serious about this thing because I got a note today, that to reduce weight, she is shipping a bunch of clothes back and an empty computer case. I wisely did not mention that if she stopped eating and went to the gym once in awhile, she could have reduced weight too.

So what’s the deal, are the pilots and their laptop just going to fly around naked for the next 4 days? No I doubt it as I am sure my wife kept a few duds that she can wash the stink out in a hotel sink along the way. Oh sorry, you probably thought flying small planes was all about the romance of soaring in open blue skies as free as a bird. Well forget it. Not only in an air race, but for most of the time in little planes, somebody or something is always in your way these days. You always have to be mindful of the weather if not now, a half hour down the route and it can be VERY unforgiving. Particularly in a race, the pilots will probably close their cabin cooling air vents to decrease drag and will run the engine to peak performance – both are ‘hot’ propositions but not in the ‘cool’ sense.

So yes, unless Mother Nature steps up to throw a monkey wrench in our plans, this should be quite a show over the next few days. The pilots will post live during the race to their blog, and I will post photo updates regularly during each day of the race as well. By tradition whenever ‘T’ flies in one of these charity races, we produce a postcard for the team to carry, sign, and give away in the host cities and airports. As you may remember we had a late plane change this year, so I am very behind in my media production duties.

So consider this your back stage pass into air racing, because other than the pilots, you are the FIRST to see this postcard artwork as it heads to press. Enjoy, and if you have a few extra nickels left in your piglet bank for charity, please consider donating to Wings of Hope. Uh,yeah we borrowed a few hundred gallons of their fuel and it's my guess, they are hoping that we might pay them back? Cheers!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Faux Fireplaces and Santa

I know it is the wrong time of year to be thinking about this kind of stuff but today my fireplace caught my attention. Other than Santa, I think I am the only one who uses this thing? Even at that, I bet it is about twice a year at best, yet I invested so much cash into having the big rectangle built into my house.

To make things even weirder, I cannot really even get to the fire because it is behind glass. We live in a cold winter area, so supposedly these gas fireplaces will keep us warmer than having cold air rush up the flue. Though my wife does not miss the ashes or smell at all, I kind of think a fire loses something when it is all cooped up like a ‘bubble boy’.

Usually by now, I sit around with incredulity and wonder who thought up the need for all of this fireplace ’fal de rah’. Nope not this time because I know the old fireplace in the corner of your cave or in each room of your Victorian mansion was the only thing keeping chamber pots toasty warm. I actually think Santa had something to do with it too though. You know the white bearded one tends to the husky side, so I’m sure he wanted to make those hung stockings more accessible than the laundry room. So, with the help of a few ‘facebook-savy’ elves and a viral ‘Youtube’ video or two and ‘Bam’ the world hangs dirty socks on the fireplace mantle.

I think my Aunt has the right idea. She spent a couple of hundred bucks for a fake fireplace surround which includes a nice mantle. She decorated the inside of the hole to look like old tile and then put down three slabs of marble for a hearth. Now what could be easier than that and CHEAP TOO! Just make sure to leave a post-it note for Santa though. Nobody wants to see that enormous velvety ‘pratt’ of his get CRACKED by your new faux fireplace.

NEVER go to the light

Right off the bat, I really want to know who started this popular sentiment that ‘going to the light’ is a good thing? What if a raging fire is making all of that light, did you ever think about that? Unless you are the Devil, I just do not think it is responsible parenting to tell your kids to walk into fire. As far as I can tell, every time I personally have undergone a police grilling or got near brightly lit and shiny stuff, it always has cost me one way or the other.

I mean look at jewelry stores. They are filled with fancy little hot lights and shiny shimmering stuff. I have to be buzzed into these places which are surrounded by bars and video security. I don’t know about you, but that feels like JAIL to me, not a luxurious and relaxing shopping experience. Even if I do make it out without physical pain, there still is that little matter of a pricey trinket or bauble I will have to pay off in a month. Just like Sterling Silver, $7.99 plus tax doesn’t grow on trees you know.

I think this notion of going towards the light was probably started by an antisocial ‘flim-flam’ gnat up to no good. Yeah, like some lame senior prank, that rogue bug spread the word that the closer one flies to the light the better your buggy-life will be. But just as Icarus of legend learned so deftly, even when over-confident and giddy bugs cozy up to those hot lights, they often get burned too.

So I think it is safe to say, regardless of what anyone tells you, NEVER go to the light. I know we’ve all been taught to see the glass half full and Pollyanna is perhaps the greatest movie of all time. But I must urge you to even avoid that tempting ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ philosophy. More often than not, once you make to the end, you’ll find just a bunch of lost illegal aliens with a really bright Maglite flashlight . . . and a lot of dead bugs stuck to it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers Day

Well I originally intended to lampoon this “Day of the Dad” with the memories of all the horrible gifts that I had tortured my Father with over the years. Clearly as the spawn of my Father, I can never buy enough garage sale ‘rolling rulers’ or ‘extra wide’ ties to ‘thank’ him enough for my existence. How can I (or even should I) EVER pay back my Dad for his obvious indiscretion and poor choices of so long ago. Why am I responsible for my Father’s momentary lapse in judgment - after all, I did not ASK to be born.

But today I feel different. Yes, today I feel like maybe I should have put in a little extra effort beyond those unused monogrammed hankies that filled my Father’s dresser. Maybe I should have just ‘FORCED’ him to do something that he would not do for himself, but would still enjoy just the same. If only my own kid would have been around when I was a youngster, then she could have showed me the right way to honor my father.

As you no doubt have guessed, my daughter greeted me this glorious Father’s Day morning with only a declaration that I should be dressed for public and ready to go at either 10:20 or 10:25AM. I was not told any details or given any warm and fuzzy cards with hearts and kisses – just my marching orders. I pondered what was in store for me? I have been a reasonably good father. I drove the kid everywhere when she was young so that should count for something right? I embarrassed her frequently I’m sure, but what Dad doesn’t to a teenage girl – it is our JOB! You don’t think she would hold that against me do you?

My quandary was the time thing. What memorable event, other than a firing squad or slow boat to China, requires precise scheduled time with nary a five minute window. This concerned me greatly – oh why did I ever have a kid at all – this is all so stressful? I dressed and shaved and soon THE time loomed over me like – well a really BIG loom. I was really worried now because my daughter was DRIVING! What does that mean – is this my last look at the house, my life? Am I being put out to pasture so early?

If only I had bought my Dad better gifts on HIS Father’s Day, he might have warned me of this moment of treachery. But NO! He remained silent all those years – plotting and planning for my eventual comeuppance and not so hot ‘pasteurization’. Well fear not, the grass is actually GREENER on this side of life. My daughter rolled up to a theater and handed me two tickets for us to enjoy the TOY STORY 3 movie in 3-D together! I am clearly a lucky Dad – my kid LOVES me and my solid parenting has taught her to be so considerate, responsible, and … hey wait a minute – these crazy EXPENSIVE tickets were charged to MY CREDIT CARD? Happy Father’s Day everybody!

Unlike babies, M&M’s don't need changing

One of my favorite candy treats for ‘ME’ time is a little yellow pack of peanut M&M’s. Few candies can match the triple threat of a peanut center surrounded by chocolate bliss , then followed up by a colorful hard candy shell. They are so compact, and pleasing to hold, throw, stick in orifices (preferably anybody’s other than your own) and of course to even EAT!

As a bonus when you consume these gems, your breath is left with that fragrant choco-nut stink too. Even though you attempt to grind up every flavorful ‘m’, your mouth is invariably populated with a rainbow of tiny un-digestible fragmented candy coated bits. Next to those really orange powder-coated ‘Cheeto fingers’, ‘M&M’s mouth’ is probably not a great characteristic to be proud of in a job interview.

But recently I have noticed that there are dark forces afoot at Mars Candy Company with my favorite chocolate nut balls. It seems the familiar yellow packages are being pushed aside for bags featuring only ONE candy coating color. I also bought a bag recently with a DARK semi-sweet chocolate coating rather than the traditional milk chocolate.

Why are these people messing with a perfectly good candy? If I just want a nut, covered in ONE color of chocolate I will buy a box of GOOBERS at the theater. I actually like dark chocolate better than milk chocolate for most things but not for my M&M’s. Let’s hope whoever is in charge will come to their senses and stop experimenting with my candy. Call me a baby if you want but I know these choco-changers are not done yet though. Why just today I bought another yellow bag and guess what – every color-coated candy shell had a little ‘W’ painted on it!