Sunday, May 30, 2010

New Math

We've been enjoying all things Flyers related for the past month and a half. Part of it is the HBO documentary The Broad Street Bullies and part is how today's team fought their way into the playoffs, through a 3-0 hole and into the finals.

Yes, it's all very bandwagon-ish complete with new Flyers T-shirts. On Tuesday morning all of this Flyers business reached The Chancellor's purview when Fox 29 was on location outside a Modell's Sports gear store a 6 AM. She declared there and then that she wanted a shirt "before they ran out". I'm pretty sure she meant I should stop before work and buy Flyers T-shirts.

I procrastinated until Thursday at lunch when I finally headed to the Center City Modell's to buy 2 shirts. I had picked out a standard Orange model for both of us when I ran into my friends John and Phil. Phil was actually visiting from the UK while John was on the same mission as I - get me a Flyers shirt. 

John had enlisted the help of sales clerk who suggested a fitted T-shirt for the women. I like fitted and so I hung up the baggy orange one and got the white fitted one.

John also had a coupon for $10 off $50 dollars or more but we had only bought $42 worth of Flyers shirts each. This is where it gets a little complicated. Phil made the seemingly reasonable suggestion that we go in together in order to get the $10 off.

I paid $73 on my credit card and John gave me the cash he had at the time, $30 and we were done and quite proud of ourselves I might add.

Until I brought the shirt home. Apparently we had a conversation where she wanted an orange one. I had a white one and it had to go back.

On Friday I picked out a orange fitted one and headed to the counter to exchange them. Now at this point I should point out that the white one was $22 and the orange one was $20.

Ladies, what happens when we return something for a cheaper version? We get money back, right?

Not this time. Enrico Fermi behind the counter did his cash register magic on the exchange and the oracle of electronics determine that I OWED THEM 60 CENTS. To his credit, Enrico immediately knew this was an incorrect answer and called a supervisor over where they did some sort of override and then poof! I owed nothing.

I was just sort of scratching my head thinking "really?".

While he was putting all the receipts together and bagging my new shirt, I asked the question. It was simple question really. I asked "How is it possible that I returned a shirt that cost $22 and exchange it with a shirt for $20 and not get any money back?"

He was literally frozen behind the counter, speechless.

After a minute he composed himself and started defending what the machine had come up with. It seems the $10 off coupon is distributed evenly across all the items purchased so a $22 item becomes $19.39. blah blah blah.

He kept trying to explain this to me and I kept asking stupid questions like "and this makes sense to you?".

I had become "that guy".

Three of them where now huddling behind the counter and listening to me rant about how "this one is $22 and that one is $20". Lines were building. No one was being checked out. Tension was growing.

All I wanted was a little logic. Just nod your head up and down that you agree this is stupid and we can move on. But they just kept saying how the coupon wasn't a percentage discount, blah blah blah.

It was as if I had asked them a riddle of some kind.  As yet a third young genius was tying to solve this unsolvable puzzle, I gave up. I just said "nevermind".

It was my own "No mas". I figured out it wasn't worth a dollar and change to figure this out.

In the end $40 worth of shirts end up costing me $43. Oh and she still just wants the Orange baggy one like mine.

I'm blaming Phil.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

An unexpected turn of events

I was driving home and I was listening to a particularly sad episode of This American Life. Dan Savage was telling a tale of his experiences around the time the death of his Mom when I got the text. It was from my wife and it was incoherent.

Recently I'd noticed her text messages had become increasingly perplexing, like "What is the PIN", "What is that movie about the windshield wipers" and the ever popular "How would u rite an app for antitexting when driving when they pass a
law also how could you text if not drivind.
". They were usually out of context and were the kind of thing that would make sense later, like Bible prophecy.

This one said:

"2 xray $$$$$ beathing 160 breath a min noramal 120. Temp 103 normal 101/102"

I just sort of stared at it.

At the red light I sent back


In retrospect, this was very insenstive but I had no idea what she was trying to communicate. She was off on that particular Wednesday and she had a 5:30 appointment at the Veterinarian that she had to cancel because she had been called into a meeting at work.  It was 6 pm so I thought this was about the meeting at work.

She's a CAT scan and X-Ray tech and there had been recent drama at work. There was always drama at her work that's why the make TV dramas about working in hospitals. There's built in drama.

I was convinced the "2 xray $$$$$" part was about work. The rest made no sense what so ever. Maybe it was a misdirected text, meant for someone else?

She texted a more direct and clear message to follow up the prophecy.

"We have to put him down now"

I guessed the meeting at work was canceled and she was at the Vet after all.

I had never wanted a second dog. I wasn't sure had wanted a first either but She had said "I'm turning X and I'm getting a dog". There are worse mid life crises and so we picked out our first Schnauzer, Shadow, from a local breeder. We had her about 18 months when we were planning a vacation to Williamsburg for the July 4th extended weekend.

We needed someone to watch the dog and so we called the breeder again. She said she had no problem watching Shadow and somehow I must have missed the "and we have a litter of puppies" part.

The critical mistake I made was sending my Wife over alone to pick up Shadow from the breeder after vacation. She came back with not one, but two dogs and said "Don't worry, we're not keeping it and it's just for today". The kids, then 11 and 9, fell in love with the puppy as it played with Shadow in the back yard. After an hour they asked the inevitable "Can we keep him?".

When my wife said "Well, it's up to your father" - I knew I had been played.

The kids named him Apollo after the roller coaster Apollo's Chariot which was fresh in their minds from Busch Gardens. I'm sure there were politician-like enthusiastic promises of feeding and walking involved too. 

I raced home to pickup Youngest son and after a series of logistical comedy of errors that can only happen in a situation like this, I had him in the car. You would have thought I would just phone him, find out where he was and then pick him up, but no I rushed home like a mad man only to find Shadow there alone. After leaving I decided to phone him and found he was on his way.... home. So I turned around.

I explained we were headed to the Vet and we had to put Apollo down. He was as shocked as I was. We knew he hadn't been eating and he slept the last few days away but put him down? It seemed like a bad dream.

We arrived at the Vet and were directed to an examination room where Apollo and my Wife were. They already had his collar and leash off and he was laying in my wife's arms breathing rapidly.

My wife insisted we take pictures with Apollo. It was very difficult to try and look happy for these pictures and after viewing them I can say without hesitation that outside of my security badge for work where I look like Tony Soprano, they are the worst pictures ever taken of me.

Then she showed me the X-Ray.

His lungs were nearly completely covered in tumors. The Vet was amazed that he could even stand.  As an X-Ray tech, she knew all too well what the scan meant.

It was a death sentence and it was only a matter of time before he would simply starve himself.

The next thing I knew we were discussing what we wanted to do with his body. I think she wanted to bury it in the back yard and I told her I would do anything she wanted but .... is that safe? I was thinking through the steps required. Dig a deep hole etc. I would do it but what the hell did I know about burying a dog? They make it look so easy in the movies but they don't have the logistical concerns I have, like, where is the shovel? What happened to the good shovel, did anyone see the shovel? I can't keep anything nice around here, etc.

I knew it would end badly and by the look in my eye, she knew to choose cremation.

Did we want the ashes? She surprised me when she said no but Youngest son suggested we could bury those instead. She didn't want the ashes but wanted the body? I was confused.

We elected to get the ashes.

Apollo turned out to not be the smartest dog but made up for that with hockey goalie quickness. If I thew the  two of them a snack, Shadow could snap it out of mid-air but Apollo watched as it bounced off his head and then chased it on the ground. Then he picked it up and ate it. If either one of them were coming back with a bird, it was Apollo. He was the squirrel chasing king. It was mean, but if you wanted them out of the house all you had to say was "where's the squirrel" and Apollo was gone through the doggie door like a shot.

Shadow let him know that this was her house and Apollo lived in Shadow's, well, shadow. She was in charge. If you started petting Apollo, Shadow would edge her way in there. The two of them would mock fight all the time when Apollo was younger. Apollo was Kato to Shadow's Clouseau and attack when she was least expecting it. Apollo would wait for her to squeeze her way through the doggie door and attack her when she was the most vulnerable. 

On a walk Apollo would have his ears pinned back and the leash taunt as if  racing through the walk while Shadow just enjoyed being out. Apollo enjoyed watching over the back yard from the deck like the sheepdog in the cartoons.

If you opened food of any kind in the kitchen, Shadow was directly under foot but you would have to call for Apollo to keep things fair.

They were a perfect pair.

The Vet asked us to pay the bill before going through with it. I guess that's easier. It was then that we figured out that getting the ashes cost us another $173.

What are you going to say at that point? No?

The Vet assistant gave her a sedative and I was perplexed that they used alcohol before the shot. Why? He fell asleep with his eyes open and tongue hanging out. They gave him the second shot while all three of us were still there. Again, it bothered me that they used alcohol.

The Dr came in to listen for a heartbeat and then just nodded silently.

We headed for the cars and left. Youngest son was with my wife in the van ahead of me and I followed them.

Half way home at a stop sign, I noticed that for the first time in 8 years the singularity of the magnetic sign on the back of the van was true. It says:

"I love my Schnauzer"

Monday, May 10, 2010

Voir Dire

The Chancellor was summoned for jury duty last month and of course I thought this was the funniest thing I had heard in a long time until I got mine in the mail a week later.

I've always been registered to vote but never had my number picked for jury duty until today.

I was to report for the afternoon session today and was part of a group of 40 jurors escorted to a court room in the County Court House. It was a civil case involving an individual vs an American affiliate of a large recognizable automobile maker and 7 were selected for the initial panel.

The judge went through some preliminaries and then went juror by juror through a series of canned questions:

Do you have any prejudice against the plaintiff for bring a case? Any against the defendant?  Have you ever been the plaintiff or defendant in a case? Are you or any members of your family in the law business as judges, lawyers etc? Have you ever been an auto appraiser? Have you ever been in the auto repair business.

Blah, blah, blah.

The one question that caught my attention was: Have you ever owned an automobile of the make in question?

No one ever owned one of these cars. No one. I had seen these on the street, I knew someone owned them, they just weren't present in the court room. I almost felt bad for the representative of the car maker. Your getting sued AND no one owns your cars.

He also asked a standard set of questions:
Full Name
Marital Status
Magazines? Newspapers?
Serious Accident?
Drivers License?

Then after all the public questioning, there was a secret question that they brought the juror to a back room to answer.

7 jurors went through this and then one at a time the Plaintiff's attorney dismissed a juror followed by the Defense. The juror would be replaced and then the whole process would repeat.

This went on for about ten people and then I was selected to be a juror out of the 30 or so who were left. 

I went through the whole line of questioning while only looking at the judge. When he asked my hobbies I answered I was an Amateur Meteorologist.  The judge laughed and said that was a first.

When I finished the public part they asked me to the back and asked the secret question. It was a question on my opinion on Tort Reform.

Are you kidding me? I had to go in a separate room to answer my opinion on Tort Reform?

I answered, returned to my seat and the lawyer for the defendant said something I hadn't heard up to that point:

"The defense is satisfied with the jury as it stands"

I thought that was it, I was on for the trial and then just as quickly, the plaintiff dismissed me.

I was out. 

I have to admit I was a little disappointed. What question didn't they like the answer to? Why was I dismissed? I'll never know. 

I left the building knowing that the next juror selected was probably the last.

Monday, May 03, 2010


The Busy weekend started with a little civil war era dental surgery followed by a trip to the DMV. Could you think of a worse day?

The trip to the DMV was for a license renewal and after having a drill and pliers in my mouth all morning, I was dreading what the my new picture was going to look like as your face tends to look a wee bit puffy after that sort of thing. After filling up on Advil and waiting for almost two hours (oh, did I forget to mention it was hell day at the DMV? yes, the final day of the month) it was my time at the counter.

The state of New Jersey had mercy on me and allowed my old picture to be used. The DMV minion flashed my four year old picture and asked "was this ok"?

I nodded up and down and that was that.

Someone on facebook suggested the only way to have a worse day was to have a colonoscopy scheduled for the next day and having the "prep" ahead after the DMV.

Saturday was the annual powerwasher day. It starts simple, powerwashing the deck and then it's the EP Henry and then the car to clean up the mess the powerwashing of the EP Henry caused. Next thing you know it's dark and you are on the roof with the wand in your hand.

That's the way powerwashing goes. If I didn't run out of gas I would have powerwashed everything that wasn't nailed down.

Sunday was Church and then a $200 trip to Lowes for plants and sand to replace the sand that was blown out of the EP Henry with all the powerwashing.

Sunday night was the terrific Phillies game. 3 of us went in on 5 Sunday plan tickets because we wanted to get better at fractions. Last night it was the Mets in town. The games against the Mets are always a good time especially with pissy Mets fans in attendance.

I called an old friend because through the magic of fractions, I had two tickets to this game. I hadn't seen JD in 12 years but I called him out of the blue when the Chancellor and youngest son bailed on me.

The first thing JD and I did was to head off to brew line  and while there we witnessed the newest fad in Phillies fans: The young drunk girl.

This is my third Phils game this year and I've seen them everywhere. Two weeks ago it was drunk Margaret, singing into her hot dog:

Now the girls in the brew line wanted to know if this is the line for Rum. No, this would be the "brew" line and do you see any pirates?. Next she wanted to know if we would "like to buy some young ladies a drink".

We just laughed and thought this never happened to us 25 years ago. We also noted that girls that like the Phils 25 years ago weren't all that good looking.

Pics here.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Scarlett Letter

Talk about irony.

Yesterday after returning from food shopping at 11:30 AM, I was informed by the Chancellor that both our cars now needed a Graduated Drivers License sticker on the car when ever Youngest son was behind the wheel.

The GDL was supposed to be on the cars starting today. It was a little late since Youngest son had already taken the car to go to the SATs. We were a little late. Again.

The ironic part was that now the DMV closes at noon at it was 20 minutes away so I'm not sure if this is was legislators had in mind when the bill passed but here I was driving like a mad man to get stickers that would warn the general driving public that a less than 17 YO was behind the wheel.

Talk about stupid. The stickers are something I could have made at home. They are literally a piece of red reflective tape with a sticky side and velcro in between. It cost me $4 for a pair and I needed two pair.

So here I was racing to the DMV to buy something I could make at home, that would warn drivers that a 17 YO was behind the wheel.  Well it would warn them if they had eye sight like the Bionic man. The stickers are 1/2 inch by 3/4 of an inch and are supposed to go on the upper left of the license plate of the car - only when Junior is behind the wheel. When I am behind the wheel, I am supposed to yank at the Velcro and put them aside (i.e. lose them forever) so that I am not mistakenly pulled over at 11:05 PM some evening.

This is brilliant. If you were 17 YO and found yourself out at say 11:10 and needed to drive home, what would you do? Leave the stupid sticker on the car so that a eagle-eyed cop might see it or rip the Velcro and put them in the glove box where daddy keeps them? Hmm.

The real irony is that I was at the DMV YESTERDAY in order to get my license renewed and could have bought the stickers then if I had known they were due the next day.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Manayunk Brew Pub Festival

Last weekend the Chancellor and I went to the Manayunk Pub Brew fest with a couple of friends. This is kind of funny since we aren't really beer people. Beer people know the differences between a lager and pale ale but to me they all sort of taste like mucilage with a hint of something like strawberry or  boysenberry. For us it was social event.

I'm sorry but I'm just an occasional Coors Light drinker, which I'm sure the brew fest people consider beer heresy.

The crowd was a younger set but not enough that we stuck out. As I looked around I could help but think they they have so much ahead of them like dental issues, major diseases and such. They have no idea and every day is a brew fest.

Later in the day we found a table were relaxing on the deck by the Schuylkill River and a waitress came around and asked if we wanted anything. The Chancellor was curious about a ribbon of pretzels she had around her neck and of course wanted to take a photo of it with her iPhone because that is what she does. She bent over and let her take a photo of the pretzels hanging at her low neck shirt.

Hers was a picture I would never be able to get away with.   It was shot like the St Pauli girl label, only with pretzels. This of course lead to numerous jokes about the size of her, um, pretzels.

The day was hot but cooled off as a cold front moved in. It seemingly went from 75 degrees to 60 in an hour. By time we got to the car it was raining.

From there we headed to the Chancellor's sisters for dinner and then off to see our niece in a High School production of "Crazy for You". The niece was in the chorus and looked great made all deck out in her 1930's garb.

It was a day with a lot of driving especially given that we took the little car so that we could park in Manayunk. By time we got home my right leg was asleep from driving the little Civic for an hour. There is another thing those young freshed faced Brew Fest attendees have to look forward to.