Saturday, September 26, 2009

5 Weeks. And Counting.

Quite some time ago, I wrote some comments regarding Halloween costumes. Well, they’re actually more like rules. Yes, they’re definitely rules. And I will not negotiate any of them.

Sometime between now and the blessed event, I will post some more specific rules regarding costumes. For now, here’s a good start, so you can start planning ahead.

As you can guess, I’m a bit excited for the arrival of Halloween. Now, I believe it is a holiday that can be shared by all. It’s a time for fun, and letting the hair down. No Satanism, no evil shit, just people having a good time. For everyone to have a good time trick or treating (meaning, for ME to have a good time), here are some simple rules:

1. You better be wearing a costume. I don’t care if you’re a teenager, if you’re at my house grubbing for free candy, you better entertain me. You, as a trick-or-treater, are obligated to put out some effort in order to get the candy reward. Put on a sheet and call yourself a ghost. Paint your face to look like an accident victim. I don’t care, but make the effort. Don’t phone it in. I will still give you candy, because I don’t want my house vandalized, but I have 2 kinds of candy. The good stuff for kids in costumes, and the crappy stuff for kids without costumes. If you are without costume, you will get root beer ringpops, which are foul, or super sour lemon balls, which are inedible.

2. Don’t ask for a different type of candy. You get what you get and you don’t bitch a fit.

3. Don’t fucking touch anything on my yard. I put in some effort to entertain you. If you violate that trust, you are ruining it for everyone.

4. You may come to my house as many times as you want in one night….but you better be wearing a different costume each time. The way I see it, if you are putting that much effort into it, you should be rewarded. Most kids don’t believe me. One kid, last year, called my bluff, and he was rewarded. I like seeing all the creative costumes as much as you enjoy getting free candy, you mooch.

5. Parents…..stick with your kids. It’s a dangerous world. Many of our neighborhoods have sex offenders living there. I know mine does. Please, keep an eye on them, we don’t want to spoil this day.

6. All peanut butter cups are mine. This is not negotiable.

7. Teenagers too cool to trick or treat….while you’re hanging out in the street, impressing your ugly girlfriends, don’t race up and down the streets in your cars, dirt bikes, 4-wheelers, etc. 2 years ago, I called the cops on you. You know I will do it again.

8. Parents…if you are taking kids Trick or treating, please, if it is a 2-parent home, one of you stay home and hand out candy. I consider this Karma. When you are getting candy for free, you should be giving candy for free. When both parents are gone, the house is dark, and it makes it a lousy neighborhood to T or T in. It’s only fair.

9. Kids, be respectful. People are giving you free candy. When we open the door, yell “Trick or Treat!” When we give you candy, say thank you.

10. Have fun. Don’t be jerks, vandalizing stuff, making loud noises, ringing bells a million times. Don’t make fun of other kids’ costumes, they put effort into them for one reason or another. As Bill S. Preston Esq. and Ted Theodore Logan once said: Be Excellent To Each Other.

Above all else, never, ever forget Rule #6.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

If I owned a fragrance line, I'd call it "Schadenfreude."

As mentioned in my previous entry, Atlanta has received a biblical amount of rain. It started raining last Tuesday, and it rained every day since, until today. Today is the first day I've seen the sun since last Monday. Of course, another line of storms is on their way from Alabama. Proof that nothing good comes from Alabama (to further prove my point, Alabama has produced as many American Idol contestants as astronauts, according to Wikipedia).

I left the office at 3:30 yesterday after hearing reports on the radio that there were several bridges throughout the metro area that, if I didn't get across them now, they would not be there in a couple of hours. Or something like that. So, after wrapping up business, I got in my car and went home. Things went smooth until the last leg of my journey, which was about 2 miles of road on Highway 41, the main artery through Cobb County. Apparently, there was severe flooding north of my side road, so everyone at my side road had to either turn left or right. Thankfully, I had the good sense not to drink anything on the way home.

After about half a mile on Hwy 41, driving in the left lane, I was caught by surprise by a small Toyota 4WD pickup truck driving by me on the left. What shocked me was that there was no actual road to my left, just a grass and mud median with about a 20 degree sideways pitch to the left. I quickly surmised that he had to turn left at the next light, and was cutting in line to get to that left turn lane up ahead. I watched him bounce along for about a quarter of a mile, avoiding obstacles, the occasional drain pipe, things like that. But, after much bouncing along, he made it. For the last couple hundred feet, he was followed by a Jeep Cherokee that got the same idea, both of them going slow and bouncing up to the intersection.

They were about 20 feet from the additional left turn lane being added, when a police car passed them going south. Seeing 2 vehicles drive illegally on the grass median, the cop hit the brakes and turned on his lights. He then backed up on Hwy 41 (all the traffic was heading the road was closed north of where we were, nobody was behind him). The cop pulled off to the side when he got near the intersection, and waved both vehicles over. A Toyota Camry was behind them and thought he got pulled over too, but as the Camry was not off-roading, he was waved past them.

The driver of the Toyota pickup obviously thought he had done nothing wrong, so he got out and started holding up his arms in a "WTF" gesture. I was still a few hundred yards away, but I clearly saw him stop, and turn around and get back in his truck. Clearly the cop was taking no shit on this day, and ordered him back into his vehicle (police in traffic stops do NOT want the occupants to leave the vehicle, and if necessary, a tasing will occur).

Traffic was going slowly enough that I was at first fearful that the cop would issue both tickets and have them on their way before I could get up to them. However, he was clearly taking his time. Probably because douchebags that cut in line in traffic have previous arrests to go through, to make sure there are no outstanding warrants. But, I was rewarded when I finally got to that intersection and they were still there. I was able to have my coveted moment of Schadenfreude by laughing, and saying, "Haha, fuckerrrr!!!" and giving them the "You're Number 1" sign. Oh, and I took their picture for posterity. It's not a good one, as it was raining and the raindrops obscured the view somewhat. But, this is what douchebags drive, apparently.

Here is the view of the scene as I passed them, from my side-view mirror. You can see the cop pulling over both douchenozzles, and the loooooong line of cars behind me.

Needless to say, I had my moment of Schadenfreude. Getting pleasure from the misery of others. This was tempered somewhat when I heard on the radio that about 7 people died in the floods throughout Atlanta. One of them was a 3 year old who was in a mobile home that got swept away in a flood, into a river, and broke in half. This was further encouragement to take it easy, drive carefully, make it home OK, and hug my kids.

Those thoughts, of course, went down the toilet when I got out of my car and saw the mud splatter all over the driver's side from the asshole in the white truck as he drove by me, and again I was thankful that a cop was driving by and ticketed that asshole.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Work Conversation

While at work today, outside my windows (which were behind me), the skies were opening up and unleashing a torrential rainstorm which some of you may have read about or seen on TV. At about 11:30AM, one of my coworkers poked his head in my office.

D: Hey Steve...have you looked outside?
Me: Yeah, it's raining like crazy. Sideways, last time I looked.
D: Did you see your car?
Me: No, why?
D: Take a look. You might want to do something about that.

I turned around and looked out the window. Unable to see anything, I stood and walked to the window, and spread open the blinds so that I could see better, as the rain was obscuring everything. Letting my eyes focus, I could make out my car. Unfortunately, I couldn't make out the asphalt on which it was parked, as it was completely surrounded by a rapidly growing lake.

I realize to some it may seem like another crappy Blackberry photo (taken with a coworker's phone), but it was raining so unbelievably hard, getting it in focus was impossible with a camera phone. What you can't see is the water going up to the bottom of my door. I quickly ran across the parking lot to get in and move it. The water was above my ankles, and while running, it completely soaked my pants above the knees. I didn't bother with an umbrella, as it would only slow me down.

I jumped in, started it, and put it into gear. And it wouldn't move. I gunned it, and I could feel the wheels turning very slowly. I began to panic, until I realized I had, for reasons unknown, put on the parking brake that morning (something I never do unless parking on a hill). I disengaged it and moved across the lot, where it was higher. It was then that I saw the nearby storm drain had obviously clogged up, creating a dam. The warehouse manager parked next to the drain, and the water was above the lower rim of the door, and water got inside his car.

My initial plan was to go home at lunch and change into dry clothes (less than 8 miles away). Unfortunately, every road to get home was closed due to flooding. It was certainly nothing like the Mississippi Valley in 1993, or the Brisbane floods of 1974, but for the Atlanta area, this was pretty damn bad. After 2 miles, I turned around and went back to the office, hoping matters would improve later. On the way back, another two coworkers called me. They had gone out for lunch, drove down the road past a Wal-Mart, and drove through what they thought was a puddle, only to find the water was halfway up their door, and they got flooded out. By the time I got there to pick them up, they got the car pulled out, and the local tire place stuck cones in front of the puddle to block it. Another car came zooming down the road, promptly drove around the cones, and then buried their car in over three feet of water. Clearly, a flooded road with cones in front of it was not enough to stop that dumbass.

My car, thankfully, is dry. It took me 90 minutes to get home, as there was only one road open that could get me there. All of the schools in the county are closed tomorrow, so that kids don't get stranded at schools (unlike today). I'm considering risking the drive in to work, down flooded roads, in order to avoid working from home with a 10 year old and 4 year old with chronic cabin fever.

Friday, September 18, 2009

What's Grosser Than Gross?

Has anyone here ever played this game as a kid? I know it made it further than my hometown, because I knew kids from all around the area, usually at places like Boy Scout camp, school museum trips, etc, where this would be a discussion. It was basically a joke, usually along the lines of the book series "Truly Tasteless Jokes," that would go as follows:

Q: What's grosser than gross?
A: Falling off the Empire State Building and landing on a bicycle with no seat.

Obviously, this would generate loud groans among the male audience (it was always boys telling these, girls seemed to have too much good sense).

Naturally, the ante would be upped, when someone would say:

Q: What's grosser than that?
A: Halfway down, you catch your eyelid on a hook.

Q: What's grosser than gross?
A: Eating a bowl of corn flakes and finding your brother lost his scab collection.
Q: What's grosser than that?
A: Kissing your grandmother and she slips you the tongue.

You get the point. In retrospect, it was really a disgusting way to spend the time. For other people, I mean. I have two older brothers, so I had access to all of their dirty joke books (and dirty magazines), so I often had a distinct advantage when playing "What's Grosser Than Gross?" It's kind of one of the things I miss about childhood, sitting around with friends telling dirty jokes. I see my daughter doing the same thing with her friends, talking quietly and laughing, but I have a hard time believing she's telling gross jokes.

In honor of one of my favorite activities of my childhood, I will now play a blog version of What's Grosser than Gross?

Q: What's Grosser than Gross?
A: My Thumbnail:

Q: What's Grosser than That?
A: The Daisy Sour Cream that expired on June 1, 2009, and is still sitting in the work fridge. You can kind of make out where it's starting to turn blue, and get all lumpy. Imagine that on a baked potato!

Enjoy the gross-out session. I would like to say you've been warned, but that would've taken away all the fun.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Everybody knows that smokin' ain't allowed in school!

I pulled out of my driveway today and went to the end of the street, where I made my usual right turn. As I approached this intersection, I could see the high school-aged boy that lives next door to me (the younger brother of the tramp that likes to throw loud parties). He was sitting in the front yard of the house, presumably waiting for the school bus (I didn't realize that's where the high school bus stop is, I'm usually on my way to work a little earlier).

He was on the side street, his back to me, and as I approached, I could see that his hand was up to his mouth, and a puff of smoke had plumed away from his mouth. As it is still September, I knew it wasn't his cold breath, so I knew right away David was puffing away on a cigarette.

As I came to the stop sign and turned (yes, it was a rolling turn), I saw his arm drop. When he recognized me, he waved, and I returned the wave. I could see that neither hand held a cigarette. So, once I passed him, I looked in my rearview mirror. Sure enough, David reached between his legs, and I saw him pick a cigarette off the ground and continue smoking.

It's been 20 years since I began my senior year in high school, but I can see not much has changed. Many teenagers still smoke, and many of them are still sneaking it. And, amazingly, they think they get away with it. This alone makes it funny. And it's even funnier if young David thinks he can get away with it at home. His dad is not a smoker (which means he has a sense of smell), so chances are his dad knows exactly what David is doing at the bus stop.

And if not, I wonder if I can parlay this fact into a chance for some free lawn care in return for my silence?

Naturally, I'm interested in hearing your smoking stories, and if you got caught. I never smoked in high school, but I did try it 3 or 4 times in college (alcohol was involved, and even while drunk I knew I did not enjoy it).

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Random Thoughts 9/9/2009

Fact: I love free breakroom donuts more than I fear catching H1N1 Swine Flu from germs left on those donuts by unwashed coworkers.

Fact: In the last 3 years, I have seen a doctor on 3 different occasions for soccer-related injuries (broken finger, bruised ribs, sprained ankle). Today, I had to tell a doctor I injured myself while painting lines on a soccer field.

Fact: I cut my thumbnail in half, right down the middle, on a sharp metal protrusion from the paint sprayer. That could be the worst soccer-related injury I've ever had.

Fact: The idea of losing my thumbnail (which is a when, not if, scenario) is probably going to keep me awake at night.

Fact: I'm coaching two soccer teams this year. One, a U12 girls' team with 10 and 11 year old pre-teens. The other, a U6 team filled with kids aged 4-1/2 to 5. This is the first week where both are practicing. I'm not too concerned about which one is worse. I'm more concerned with the over/under on how long my sanity holds out.

Fact: Soccer moms FTW.

Fact: "Leverage" could be one of my 3 favorite current TV shows (on TNT). This is not helping my unhealthy obsession with Gina Bellman, who could be one of the greatest things ever created in New Zealand.

Friday, September 4, 2009

I want to wake up in a city, that never sleeps

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of my baby brother (who isn't so much a baby anymore) in, of all places, New York City. From the time of my birth until I was 18, and again from the age of 22 until 26, I lived about 75 minutes from the city by train, and as far as I was concerned, that was close enough. Trips to the city were limited to museums, planetariums, many baseball games (mostly Mets, and 1 Yankees game on a work-related outing) and exactly 1 circus. Never, until last weekend, have I ever spent a night in the city.

I expected to be kept up all night long with sirens, horns honking, gunshots, etc. Amazingly, the only thing that kept me awake was the hum of the air conditioner in the room. Due to the location of the wedding, we stayed in the Radio City Apartments, which is right near Rockefeller Plaza, Radio City Music Hall, and Times Square, which is not the Times Square of my youth (strip clubs, porn shops, peep shows, etc). It's the Times Square for my kids' youth (a large Toys R Us, an M&M's store, a Hershey's store, Planet Hollywood, Hard Rock Cafe, etc). This was the first time I actually got to walk around the city and just look, as all other previous visits were for a specific destination and then a trip back home to Jersey, so I actually got to do more people-watching.

Between the trip up and the wedding itself I have a lot of thoughts to put down, so I just want to touch on the unusual things I saw or experienced:

-Each morning, outside our hotel, sat a homeless Native American, with a sign that read that he was trying to get back home to Arizona. For the first time in years, I gave money to a homeless person. 10 feet away from him, my daughter found a dime and a penny on the ground, and I made her give the money to that guy, along with whatever change was in my pocket. I probably would've ignored him except all I could think of was the Crying Indian Commercial from my childhood. Remembering that guy crying guilted me into helping out this Indian in NYC.

-I left my cell phone charger in NJ. There was a Verizon store right next to the hotel, and my phone was running low, so on Saturday morning I walked down there to see if I could buy a charger. It was closed. The city may never sleep, but God help you if you need to buy a cell phone or pay your bill on a Saturday.

-My brother works in the Empire State Building, so he was able to get us specially-priced tickets that also enabled us to skip the line and go right to the elevators to the observation deck. I immediately noticed, west of the ESB, Penn Plaza and Madison Square Garden, where the NY Rangers play in the National Hockey League. When I pointed this landmark out to Thing 1, from approximately 2 blocks over and 1058 feet up, she proceeded to boo Madison Square Garden. That's my girl! (Suck it, Rangers!)

-While sightseeing on Saturday morning, during a steady rain, in Times Square, a Latino guy wearing shorts and a t-shirt crossed the road, near 47th Street. I should point out that all he was wearing were shorts and a t-shirt. He was pushing a double-decker hand cart that had cases of soda on the top, and underneath was a boom box playing a Def Leppard song. He pushed it towards the crowd, and when he came across an obstacle, he would hop around, change direction, and move to avoid hitting people, always hopping, like he was the happiest guy on earth. He almost looked like Frogger, trying to avoid hitting people with his cart. All the while with Def Leppard blaring. Barefoot. It was possibly the most surreal moment of the weekend.

-But, the absolute strangest sight of the weekend occurred while I visited the lunch counter right next to the hotel. It had a short-order counter for breakfast and lunch foods (eggs, bacon, home fries, sandwiches, etc). A short Latino behind the counter would take orders, and had fairly good English. Better than most of the people ordering, who were literally from all over the world (I heard Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and Hindi). After I placed my order, for a couple of bagels and some scrambled eggs with bacon, an Indian (Hindi) guy next to me ordered. He asked for a bagel, with cream cheese, and eggs. Now, normally you put one or the other on a bagel. But combining the sweetness of cream cheese with fried eggs is, for lack of a better word, disgusting. It's like cheese on Chinese food. So, the Indian gentleman places his order, and the Latino behind the counter wrinkled up his face, and said, "bagel...with cream cheese, and eggs?" And the Indian confirms this order. And the cook again says, "with eggs?" With even more disbelief. Meanwhile, my stomach is just twisting at the thought. And the Indian says, "yes, with eggs." and one last time, the cook says, "EGGS?" Just to make sure he heard him right. And the Indian nodded affirmation. The cook shrugged his shoulders, shook his head, and went to prepare the order, and undoubtedly a part of his soul died at the thought that he came all the way to America to put that piece of shit food order together. I almost wanted to ask that guy if he was sure he wanted eggs on a bagel with cream cheese.

Next up: Emergency tuxedo repairs, Princess Bride quotes, shitty NY pizza, open bars, and shit for which people will pay $118.