Friday, November 27, 2009


I have walked past Superior Shoe Repair and Shoeshine Parlor twice a workday for the past 10 years and never set foot in the place.

With Thanksgiving coming up I decided it was time my shoes got shined and stepped in on my way home from work Wednesday night. It was like walking into another world.

I walked in, set my coat on chair covered in 30 years worth of boot black and climbed up high above my shoe shine man into the stained office chair. My shoe shine man took my feet and placed them on the handy steel footstands and got to work.

He was a personable guy, smiling and joking the whole time and I gathered he had some sort of bet going with the one of the shoe repair guys because they were trading barbs about what they were going to do with the money.

My guy was supposed to get $13 if he won and shoe repair guy was supposed to get $10.

This went on for a while when my curiosity finally got to me and I asked what the bet was about.

She repair guy had bet my guy that eggnog was available in liquor stores year round. I didn't ask about the difference in the bet between 10 and 13. Let's just call it the eggnog offset. They had arrived at the eggnog offset before I walked in.

Apparently my guy was a real eggnog affectionado and of course was confident in his choice saying thing like "I knows my eggnog". He even had the money already spent. On eggnog. All the while he was shining my shoes, rolling up my pants, untying my shoes and buffing away.

The drama reached it's zenith when shoe repair guy called the PLCB Wine and Spirits store around the corner on Broad and asked them if they had eggnog is stock. Then he asked them if they carried it year round, all the while nodding his head like they were agreeing with his side of the bet. He was saying uh-huh,uh-huh and nodding up and down.

Then he got off the phone and said "see?".

My guy wasn't going down without a fight. I didn't believe him and they bantered back and forth for while when a guy that can only be described as Chicken George came in the store. Chicken George didn't work there, I think he just hung out there. Chicken George was decked out in Washington Redskins gear from head to toe. Immaculate Redskins gear. Hat, shirt, satin jacket. All Redskins - all the time. Chicken George mumbled something in authentic urban street gibberish like "gad dag num num hadd blumerly EGGNOG". It was like he was trying to get in on the drama. I had no idea what he said.

Finally my guy had enough and threatened to call the PLCB himself when shoe repair guy relented and said my guy was right. The drama was over, but not for Chicken George.

He started saying the following over and over:

"Da hen lays da egg - eve-ry-day"

Which in his mind, must have meant something about how eggnog should be available everyday or something.

I paid for my shine, tipped my guy and headed out the door.

Chicken George came up to me and said:

"Da hen lays da egg - eve-ry-day".

He followed me out the door.

"Da hen lays da egg - eve-ry-day"

I just smiled and nodded.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Frantic Weekend.

It was a busy weekend. I need a weekend from the weekend. At least it's a three day week.

I was out Friday night, only to come to our female dog outside and barking. The phone rang the minute I got in and it was our neighbor explaining that the dog had been out since 2 PM barking the whole time. Yes, they bark all the time but usually at something. I'm not sure what she was up to and why she didn't just come in her little doggie door but I got her in and calmed down and she was fine. Great! another barking "incident".

Saturday was spent at the wife's Uncle's funeral. Uncle "E" had ALS for the past 32 years so I'm sure it was a relief to the family but it was sad. I must have missed the Order of the Mass pamphlets with the Hymms and Readings on the way in and found one in the pew. I was following along just fine until we got to the final Hymm which was listed as the "Battle Hymm of the Republic". I thought that was an odd choice for Uncle E, but who knows, maybe he was a civil war buff or something.

I then realized I had found a pamphlet from another funeral. At least I didn't start singing "Mine eyes have seen the coming .....".

I was a last minute pall bearer. Actually, we all were. Instead of picking people out at the beginning of the service, the funeral director pulled an audible and picked guys out of the pews at the last minute. I thought it was a recipe for disaster but it worked out.

Sunday was a Orienteering outing framed by food shopping (before) and finishing painting the living room (after). I came in seventh on the Orange course, second for my age group.

We had started painting the living room last week and Youngest son helped with priming painting. He needed the money. It was lesson in learning to pay attention - for me.

He yelled something from downstairs and I responded with a "ya?" as in "Ya, what do you want?" and he took it as "affirmative". What he had asked was "Should I bring the newly opened, full container of 2 gallons of white primer upstairs into the living room, you know the one with the carpet on the floor and all". Well that's what he must have said since the next time I saw him he was spilling paint in the hallway.

Lots of paint.

I spent the next hour cleaning that up. Luckily it all hit the carpet runner and I dragged that right out and hit it with the hose right away. Of course I got all out when the Mrs came home and declared that she hated the carpet any way and she would have just thrown it out.

Wish she were home when the spill happened.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


We are just now ducking out from under a nasty Nor'easter that has been sitting on us for the past three days. No real damage here, 50 miles inland, but the requisite pictures of flooding in the shore towns are showing up. Not sure what the pictures mean since sometimes it looks like that after a summer shower but it sounds like they really did get some flooding and beach erosion.

The weather station didn't really record any thing of significance but it does look like the old rain gauge is sending us a message of some type here in this graph.

How do you tell if you obsessed with the weather? You don rain gear and a head lamp to check your rain gauge in the middle of a Nor'Easter. At night.

Ohh and then because you don't believe that you didn't receive any measurable rain overnight even though when you picked up the Newspaper it was dry, you check it again in the morning before work in work clothes. You never know, there might be something stuck in there.

Last week signs went up in the neighborhood that "Next week: Leaf Collection in this area". Youngest son and I raked the leaves to the front by the curb just in time for our Nor'Easter.

"They" never came to collect leaves.

Of course that only means that more have fallen now and that the once clean lawn is covered again with leaves. At least it's too wet to rake again.

A Nor'Easter is named that way because North East is the direction the winds come from. It wasn't until Ben Franklin that we figured out that these storms come from the South. Judging by the wind direction graph, one looked more 'Easter than Nor' but it's interesting (to me at least) that you can see the winds swing around from North to East back to north.

A few lingering showers today and then some sun tomorrow.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Once in a Lifetime

My Weight Watchers at Work officially ended a week and half ago but I am continuing on my own.

It started with a packed house of 50 women and three men back in August but by the end there were 15 of us and I was the sole surviving male. Needless to say this put me in awkward position, especially in the final session when the leader announced that her boyfriend proposed to her.

The ladies went a little nuts at this news as there was a collective oooh uuhhh from everyone except, well, me. I felt like a stranger in strange land.

This kind of sums up the public portion of my Weight Watchers experience. Me, at what turns out to be nearly a bridal shower and I am not the groom.

Ohh and I can not say this strong enough, THE LADIES HATE ME.

It's true, they actually hate me.

I knew I was in trouble early when after the first official weigh-in when I got on the elevator with one of the female participants and she said the following without so much as a hello:

"You are probably like all men and lost 5 pounds this week"

Her tone was like I had cheated on my wife.

I nodded politely and said "I did OK this week" when I had actually lost 8 pounds. I knew better that to enrage her while I was trapped in a steel cage with her.

Now 10 weeks later and it was just me at the pseudo-bridal shower and the ladies start asking direct questions at my obvious reduced size.

"May I ask how much you lost?" one of them asked. I knew better but I told her anyway.

"24 pounds"

They hate me.

They chalked it up to "Men cutting out junk food loose 20 pounds right away" but it was much more than that. I rigorously charted everything that went into my mouth for 11 weeks in a spread sheet. I would document and then eat. It was like a NASA program of some kind.

The first 8 weeks I did not even use the 35 bonus points per week at all. That sounds like a big deal but I had a lot of points compared to the ladies. The formula differentiates men and women by giving men 6 more points that a similar sized woman.

I also weighed everything I ate so I knew exactly what sized portion I had. By the way, that's something that sounds easy but isn't. I miscounted pasta and rice portions for weeks because I didn't realize that the portions on the box were for the product dry, before cooking. I had to do little home science projects to figure out how much pasta I was supposed to get.

I haven't done so much work with the metric system since Ridley State Park during my High School days, if you know what I mean.

I ate microscopic cupcakes and something called a "Skinny Cow" ice cream sandwich. If you think I am making up the size of the cupcakes, here a 1 point carrot cake. Yes, that's an actual quarter next it.

WWPortions 004

My wife wasn't "officially" on the program but she did it anyway, mostly out of competition. That un-official part nearly did her in. Being new to the program I didn't know there was a minimum number of points that everyone got and when I did here calculation, she was 4 points shy of the minimum.

She did that for a week and then announced she "felt like a poor starving nation". No kidding. You are getting the nutritional equivalent of the diet of someone in Somalia.

She wasn't writing anything down either. She would get to dinner and start adding up points for the day. "I had this and that, how many points is that?" and I would have to add it all up. It was like a math quiz every night while I was documenting every morsel that entered my mouth.

The ladies may be forming another Weight Watchers at Work program but given the love in the room, I may pass and just continue on my own.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Yes, you do need a compass.

I ran into a old coworker on facebook a few weeks ago and discovered he was into orienteering, something I've enjoyed from Oldest Son's time in scouts. On Friday, I discovered that both Oldest Son's Troop and my friend were heading to the scouting event in Washington's Crossing State Park.

I decided to check it out.

If you've never been, orienteering is about finding specific spots on given map in the woods for time.

I signed up and selected the "Yellow" course (second easiest) and headed off to the start. I was behind a couple that was doing the "Orange" course which is the next one up and I couldn't help but eavesdrop.

They must have been on a first or second date because she asked if he had ever seen Seinfeld.

Not a particular Seinfeld episode mind you, just the whole show. In retrospect this is the stupidest question ever since everyone short of Osama Bin Laden has had to have seen at least one episode of Seinfeld, even if they hated it. Just the fact that she was asking it meant they didn't know each other really well. I have never asked my wife "Have you ever seen Seinfeld?".

This is clearly too early to be bringing a subject as controversial as map reading into a relationship. Married couples with years of experience sometimes do not survive a bad map reading experience.

When she asked if you needed a compass, I thought this is really not going to go well.

They headed into the woods one minute ahead of me at 11:07 AM.

I went about finding all my controls but I had done this before.

I was thinking that I should have done the Orange course since after starting, I remembered that I always did the Yellow and really should have challenged myself a bit more. I didn't see the couple ahead of me at all but that may have been because they were on a different course. Or they were really, really lost.

I didn't do bad for not having done it in a few years. After getting started, I neglected to look for a bridge around a creek before heading out and had to double back once and got lost looking for control 5 but other than that, found everything just fine.

I finished at 12:14.

After that I had lunch with the old Troop. It was like old times, eating a ham sandwich in the drizzling rain, watching the boys bite open the milk container and catching up on Troop drama.

After lunch, I hung out and asked around for my old friend. The course director told me he was out on a course and so I waited for him near the finish. While I waiting I spied the couple ahead of me pop out of the woods. They had spent over 2 hours out the woods with a map.

I'm guessing it didn't go well and yes, you do need a compass. I hope there is a third date.

Pictures Here.