Saturday, September 22, 2007

On Thursday I worked at home because we had a repair man coming and to "touch base" with the painter who is painting the exterior of our home. While indisposed I got a phone message from the painter about "Were we sure about the fluorescent green color we wanted the stucco?"

Ahh, yeah were going for a color scheme like that friendly lizard with the English accent in the GEICO commercials. Did you get the Red and Orange for the trim?

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa? I called them back immediately to clear this up since my neighbors and the dreaded home owners association clearly would have something to say about fluorescent green stucco on chocolate truffle trim and "Montage" T-111 siding.

After all that, the painter never showed. He is like a ninja. We come home after work and more of the house is painted but we never see him. I don't think the kids have seen him either. There are ladders about so I guess they are not grappling down from the roof on those ninja ropes.

The repair man came to look at the new dining room set we purchased on Labor day when I bankrolled my NFL family capital account for month of September by spending the day furniture shopping. My hundred pound wife and I were have a hard time closing the new table without the leaf in it and I was sure it had something to do with poor Chinese workmanship and nothing to do with the fact that I was pushing her backward across the Pergo floor like a tackling sled in football camp. The repairman came and opened it right away and closed it no problem and then looked at me like I had three heads. Just to be sure he tried it again and then it got stuck on him too. He found a metal filing in the mechanism for the leaf.

And what is the return on my Labor Day investment? 0-2. I finally have Sundays with no Travel Soccer to watch the Eagles and they suck. This Sunday the Detroit Lions come to town and the Eagles are wearing "throwback" uniforms. This is a genius idea since if they do lose, it's like it wasn't the Eagles at all. It was the San Diego Chargers.

They should do this every week this season. Next week they are dressing the like Bengals of 1984.

On Thursday I also got a bike ride in. It's getting harder and harder to get rides in with the decreasing daylight during the week and weekends being so busy. I set out a little after 5:15 and nearly got killed right in my own neighborhood. I was fiddling with my iPod when this huge brown Chevy Suburban whooshed right beside me from behind. I never saw it coming and it scared the crap out me. Traffic was just horrible the entire 10.91 miles but I did it in 46 minutes despite feeling a little weak the last mile or so.

Some drivers are OK with bikes and others are just unbelievably rude. They pass you as fast and as close as they can.

On Tuesday I had a vendor presentation in Conshohocken and decided to swing by my parents to surprise them for their birthdays. Their birthdays are two days apart and Tuesday was the day between the two. Dad calls this "holy Saturday" as in the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter.

So I took them out to eat on holy Saturday. We went to a favorite new restaurant of theirs Trattoria Giuseppe in Edgemont.

We had a terrific dinner and headed back home for coffee and cake.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A weekend in Lititz

I am not really sure how we ended up deciding to spend the weekend in Lititz, PA. I know we started out trying to spend an early fall weekend in Cape May with two other couples to celebrate anniversaries but when we could not find anywhere to stay at the shore we ended up in Lititz. I'm confident this is not exactly what the Lititz tourism board had in mind "When the shore is full, come to Lititz"

So here we were in Lititz in Amish country in Pennsylvania.

We checked into the hotel about 4 and headed out into "town" to get "snicker-snacks" as K calls them. "Snicker-snacks" are potato skins and such and we wanted a beer to go with them to hold off dinner until 8. I am not sure what we were thinking, trying to get "snicker-snacks" and beer at the same time in Lititz.

First we wandered down the main drag and saw lots of little knick-knack stores, which is exactly what the guys and I was hoping for. If they would have had a Hummel store, it would have been a perfect weekend.

Finally, our little team of suburban explorers found the Parkside hotel and bar. The Parkside is a shot and beer place where some of the more colorful locals were getting a good running start at Saturday night. They had a few pool tables in back but the closest thing they had food was a rack of Lance toastchees that I am sure were from 1978.

This is not exactly "Snicker-snack" material.

We left there and headed to the "Toy Soldier" which looked like it was last inhabited in the Nixon administration. We tried the front door but it was locked and then we sort of milled about in the front of the place saying "now what?" when we saw the side door.

It too was locked and we headed back towards our hotel. On the way we found a restaurant that we had mistaken for an ice cream place the first time through town. This place has some serious, corn-fed, Amish style "snicker-snacks" but no liquor license. They had homemade pretzel rolled fried cheese and homemade skins. They also had an excellent view of the world famous Wilbur Chocolate factory where for some reason they had a security guard out front. We named the guard "Willy Wonka" and we are not sure if he was keeping people from getting in or out.

One of the guys decided to go back to the Parkside and get a few six packs. I went with him for some reason. I am sure it wasn't for protection. It was really worse than I remember from a half hour previously some how. I now noticed a sign that said "If you are visibly intoxicated you will not be served". I thought of Coach Jim Mora Sr at the podium saying "[Playoffs,] are you kidding me?"

So we ended up putting two bad places together to get our snicker-snacks and a beer.

Here a local tells us about the "hideway", a bar we apparently missed along the way.

We had an excellent dinner at the General Sutter Inn where we staying and in the morning it was off to the Outlets in Lancaster.

All in all it was a nice weekend.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Quote of the week

"Everybody is watching. I mean everyone. You don't even have to have cable to watch this."

Philadelphia Eagles Linebacker Takeo Spikes Speaking about his first appearance on Monday Night Football in his 10 year NFL career.

Someone should tell Takeo that ESPN is on cable and MNF moved there last year.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Life to Eagle

Oldest son has his work cut out for him. He has been a Life scout, the rank eligible for Eagle Scout in Boy Scouts, since 2004 and has procrastinated getting his project together for the past few years. Now he has until his 18th birthday to plan and complete his Eagle project and finish 5 merit badges.

The rules for Eagle state that a boy must complete all the requirements before is 18th birthday.

This is typical for boys in scouts. The boys get tired by time they become 16 or 17 and tend to relax. I can't blame them, I'm tired too. Oldest son and I used to make just about every camping trip and now I haven't been on a trip in a year and Oldest Son hasn't been on a trip since June of 06. We got tricked into camping by the weather the first year when we were in a drought. We loved it.

On his project, last week one of the ladies in the troop started pushing him to get going on his project and he seems genuinely interested in the project.

So now he has Marching Band, College search and Eagle Project all packed into one 6 month period.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

TopTen Ways the Philadelphia Eagles are Preparing for the Return of Reno Mahe

10. Teaching the other special teams players to run really slowly in practice so that Reno thinks he running really fast.
9. Make him seem faster by lowering his jersey number to 25.
8. Having IT find the backup tape with Reno's stats. (click on Career Stats).
7. Having a big sale on all those "Mahe" 34 Jerseys.
6. Bringing back Mike McMahon to complete the 2005 backfield.
5. Having a "Race Reno" contest at half time of the next home game. Winner gets to return punts.
4. By starting Brady Quinn.
3. Finding Mel Gray's cell number.
2. Buying him a Segway.
1. Releasing JR Reed.

Monday, September 10, 2007


This is the view outside my office that I share. I have been waiting for a parade for the Philadelphia Eagles in February ever since I started working here in 1999.

You notice that street is relatively parade-free at this moment.

It will look like this on the 5th of February in 2008. All Day. Bet the house.

This is because the Eagles have fooled me again. I thought they might have been a contender but after yesterday's performance against a mediocre Green Bay Packers team I now know there will be no parade.

I thought that they would have be an offensive powerhouse with a healthy McNabb and Westbrook back in action. I thought they would struggle on defense with the loss of Jeremiah Trotter. I thought that special teams might be an issue.

All wrong. Defense looked OK. Offense never clicked. Westbrook dropped passes, McNabb looked slow and Reggie Brown was the invisible man.

Yesterday's game was one they should have won. Woulda-Shoulda-Coulda.

Oh they might make a play off run again but the window of real opportunity has closed. There will be no Donovan McNabb smiling a waving from a flat bed truck in the chilly February air. No Westbrook holding the trophy. No Reid dressed like Santa.

Not. Gonna. Happen.

I can't believe I waited 239 days for that. What a disappointment.

Don't worry, though I am an Eagles fan and I am used to disappointment.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

First Day of School

Today marks the beginning of the end for oldest son as it is his last first day of school. He's a senior this year and his younger brother is freshman in the same High School. This is the rare time in their school years that they both are in the same school.

This morning was the usual chaos associated with the first day getting back into a schedule, who took too long in the shower, who needs lunch money, you are not wearing that are you? etc etc.

And so it begins, again and for the last time.

Twelve years ago on first first day of school, my wife and youngest son brought oldest son to the top of the street to wait on the bus that would take him to 1st grade while I recorded the entire event on the world's largest video camera. We waited for what seemed a lifetime and finally the bus came down the street, drove right past us and onto the next corner at the top of the next cul-de-sac. We all ran for the bus while shouting for the driver to wait while I rumbled down the block lugging the huge video camera like paparazzi chasing Brittany. As we approached the bus there wasn't really any time for anything but "goodbye" and oldest son hopped on the bus.

Just then youngest son started crying. At first we thought that he had gotten hurt during the run for the bus - but he thought the bus was leaving without him.

It was.

He was too young for school still but He didn't know that and we didn't think we needed to explain in advance that the bus was coming only for his older brother.

So there we were watching the first school bus leave with our oldest. It was strange feeling. It was the first time he would be on his own and now here we are some 12 years later. This morning I snapped their picture and they headed off for the first day of school together at last. They pretended not to know each other.

The first day of school also brings two things on the first night after school: panic school supply shopping and filling out stacks of forms and "class room expectations".

The boys and I did the panic shopping at Staples tonight. It was a zoo. It was like Christmas shopping. We threw things in the cart and got out of there as quickly as possible. Ka-ching.

Next, I was filling out forms like a mad man. Here are some of the highlights from the classroom expectations and acknowledgments:

  • Notebook check can be announced anytime and without warning. (I'm sure that the teacher is after a surprise here but I'm not even sure this statement makes sense: If you announce it, doesn't that negate the surprise?)
  • No chewing gum is permitted in class. (You can always count on the standards)
  • Work hard but don't forget to laugh and smile. (You know I feel like I'm forgetting something here in the gulag... now what was it? Oh yes, smiling)
  • No Makeup or Spray during class. (Is there a big problem with mace or pepper spray that I wasn't aware of?)(Does this teacher mean applying makeup or do all the girls have to remove it before this class?)
  • Student may only use PENCIL on a test or any other assessment. (OK when you get 35 10 page reports all written in PENCIL, remember - you asked for it).

So these are kind of scary since they come directly for the people responsible for my kids education.

And so we are off and running.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Fading Summer.

Yesterday I was food shopping and noticed that all the Vidalia onions have vanished from the shelves. The fresh corn should be the next produce MIA due to Summer being OVER. It sure seemed to go by fast this year and goes by faster and faster each year.

Maybe it's a function of my age. The older I get, the faster each passing year seems to go by. My theory is that this why old people drive so slowly. Maybe, by the time you are 80, time rushing by so fast that you are convinced you are driving at 75 MPH when really you are doing 35 on the interstate.

Here in New Jersey this means that the sunlight is just a little weaker, the air at night is cooler and in the morning you can be guaranteed that your car will be covered in thick dew. The kids are have resigned themselves to the inevitable and have started to get off the their nocturnal rhythms and get one more in line with school which is unfortunately for them traditionally held during daylight hours.

The pool has been safely covered with the solar cover, giving it a warm blanket for the night time air to hopefully retain some of the summer energy it has built up. It was a comfy 77 yesterday and I haven't checked it today but without the cover I would expect it to lose 5 degrees over night. A couple night of that and the pool is Titanic cold in less than a week.

The crickets start slowing their night chirping as well.

It's also time for football and the annual ritual of the 53 man roster cut. It's pretty brutal. How would you like it if every year your company brought in 3 younger guys that could do your job and had a very public competition for the job for the year? Well, that is exactly what happens in Pro Football. Every summer about 80 guys are contracted to compete for 53 positions and Saturday of Labor Day weekend is the day that all the teams need to get down to 53. The Eagles officially announce theirs Saturday at 4 after "accidentally" releasing a dummy list the day before.

I'm still baffled by the Jeremy Bloom cut by the Eagles. Isn't this the same team that kept Reno Mahe for three years to return kick-offs and punts? Half the people in the stands were faster than Reno and yet he stayed. Yet the word on Bloom was that couldn't make the first guy miss. It was even easier to tackle the statue-like Mahe.

(BTW: I always thought the Eagles PR guys missed an excellent off-season Reno Mahe contest. They should have picked people at random to have a foot race with Reno. If you win then you win a prize sort of thing. ).

The other big news from the Eagles cuts was that the incumbent punter, Dirk Johnson was cut in favor of Australian Sav Rocca. Sav is the anti-Bloom and looks like kind of guy Philadelphians are going to love - a 33 year old rookie punter that is 6-5, 265 lbs. Look for the 70 yard punt on Sport Center in November (he has already made Sport Center for the hit he took in preseason). You have to love a guy that can take a hit like that and walk away like it was nothing.

Football Season also means Fantasy Football time. This year the Fragile Porcelain Mice will compete for the coveted New World of Fantasy Football crown at work. We held our draft last week and the Mice picked up McNabb, Javon Walker and Willie Parker for the first three picks. I also picked up LJ Smith cheap in the last round.

This is the time of year for hurricanes as well and Felix is building in the Caribbean as I write. It jumped out to category 4 almost in hours