Sunday, September 26, 2010

Weekend

Wooden_Tongue_Depressors

Here’s a quite short update on what has happened since Tuesday. I made it back home Friday and stalled out twice during the 350 mile drive back. I think it was bad gas or the Contour just decided to mess with me. I came back to find the youngest starting to get sick. She went full blown sick yesterday and tested positive for strep this morning. I lost count of how many times she ended up with strep last year. She’s maybe a tiny bit better tonight but won’t be going to school tomorrow. I’m glad I am not out of town again this week.

We did end up seeing You Again yesterday before the full blown sick stuff fired up and it was pretty funny. I also got to catch up on some of the shows I missed last week. Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory, and Community were all excellent. I still need to watch The Middle. 

I didn’t get any good naps this weekend so I am about to head back to bed a bit early (8:45pm). I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there will be no middle of the night sickness.

That’s it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cookie Contest

The after-school program had a cookie contest today.

Sara made this.

sara

I think the pretzels might cause tooth damage or poke an eye out.

Lindsay’s won the prize.

lindsay

My first thought was Oprah but she would probably get offended if I sent her this picture. There would be no trip to Australia for us.

I drove most of the day today and worked a bit in the 96 degree warehouse this afternoon. I am so ready for real autumn, not 90 degree autumn. In fact it will be 93 here tomorrow. Yuck.

Of course, I will be on here complaining about freezing to death in around 2 months.

Good night from random middle American town.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A New Television Season

So many questions about the new television season will soon be answered.

Will the new Hawaii Five-O be worthy of its predecessor? I watched the original in reruns and it was a pretty good show. Won’t it be something if the 30 year plus old version is better than the new one?

I’m going to give Mike & Molly a shot tonight because it is by The Big Bang Theory people even though the commercials make it look like it’s going to rely heavily (forgive the pun) on fat jokes and ‘fat people are clumsy’ jokes.

I wonder what they will replace ABC’s My Generation with next week when it totally tanks this Thursday trying to go up against The Big Bang Theory and Community. Even the advertisements in magazines for this show make it look bad. Doesn’t ABC know that America is on a huge anti-hipster kick right now?

Has Michael Imperioli found a hit in Detroit 1-8-7? He was the best part of Life on Mars and now he is playing a similar character here. I like him. I hope this is a good one.

Here’s the rundown for Fall ‘10:

Returning Shows I am just over Returning Shows I am looking forward to New shows I will never see Looks interesting – I’ll try them – at least once!
How I Met Your Mother The Big Bang Theory The Event Mike and Molly
Chuck The Middle Chase The Defenders
30 Rock Modern Family Raising Hope Detroit 1-8-7
The Office** Community Running Wilde Outsourced
    $#*! My Dad Says Hawaii Five-O
      Blue Bloods

** – I’m still on the fence with The Office. I try it – it makes me cringe – I turn it off for two weeks – I try it again – I laugh – then it makes me cringe again.

And, on a totally unrelated note, what is up with Randy Quaid and his wife? Have they lost their minds? And, can you believe that Paris Hilton lied about that not being her purse? I thought she was more trustworthy than that. It’s a shame she won’t get to share a cell with Lohan.

I’m back on the road tomorrow. It will be 96 degrees. I hope the car makes it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Travel in Style

When I tell people I’m back on the road a bit lately and that I am driving around 700 miles a week, the first question that seems to come up doesn’t have to do with where I am going or what I am doing, but “Did you drive that Ford?”

Ah, yes, I did drive the Ford – the mighty 1999 Ford Contour. Some look amazed at the answer and some look at me like I am nuts.

It just keeps going and going. Sure, I stay on top of changing the oil and rotating the tires. I still add a bottle of Heet every 2 or 3 fill ups so it won’t stall out on the interstate. Aside from that, it just keeps chugging right along. I’ve had to gorilla glue down the weather-stripping on the other side since I made the video. The cassette player went out this summer. My passenger side door speaker is just about blown. Also, I have two wheel covers that are now cracked. I keep expecting to see them flying off like Frisbees in the rear-view mirror at anytime. There are some negatives to driving a car like the Contour, such as never knowing exactly what might stop working next. The positives include no longer worrying about door dings. In fact, it seems that a lot of people won’t park next to it because they can tell that I no longer care about door dings and they assume I won’t care about giving them either. I’m also not too concerned that someone would want to steal it. They won’t get far since you have to hold the steering wheel a specific way to start it (I call that my built in Ford security system).

It is what it is. That should be the motto of the 1999 Ford Contour.

I need to go outside and check the oil now. I’ve got 320 miles to drive Tuesday and I want to be ready.

Friday, September 17, 2010

As the World Turns

Why are people so nostalgic for the old soap operas when they are canceled but they get cancelled because no one actually watches them?

My mother and great-grandmother watched As the World Turns for many years so I saw it more than I would have liked from as far back as I can remember all the way up into the late 80’s. Soap operas then were a bit “risqué” but they were not as over the top as they are now. I think the fact that they border on being silly with all of the shenanigans is one reason why they are failing but the major reason is that we don’t need them – we have real-life soap operas we can follow online, in the tabloids, and on shows like TMZ and Inside Edition. It’s quite a commentary on how our society has changed over the years when you realize that the antics of real people like Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and Mel Gibson running around are far crazier than anything the fictional people of Oakdale every did.

I taped the last episode today because it reminds me of how much my mother and great-grandmother liked the show. Several of the characters I remembered were still there – Holden, Lucinda, John Dixon, Lisa and Bob and Kim Hughes. Most of them had been on there for years. Don Hastings played Bob for 50 years! Helen Wagner was in the first episode in 1956 and appeared for the last time this June – 1 month after she died at age 91.

My kids probably will never watch a soap opera. It probably won’t be long until there are none left. Also, we’ll probably rarely see a show broadcast new episodes continuously across generations, unless you count news programs or The Simpsons which may outlive me.

Shows like As the World Turns and Guiding Light connected us with times long gone. The world has changed quite a lot and these shows struggled mightily to hold on.

Below are two clips showing what is most likely the best example of As the World Turns place in American History. In these clips from 1963, you’ll see Bob Hastings and Helen Wagner in the episode interrupted by Walter Cronkite as he announces that President Kennedy has been shot. My mother actually saw this as it happened.

Aside from the tragedy of that day, it is interesting to hear the organ music that accompanied the scenes of the show which are reminiscent of old radio serials. The commercials are not far from what we see on television today.

Times have changed and television has to change with it, whether we’re ready for it or not.

 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

From a random town somewhere in middle America…

I am out on the road for work. Tonight is my 3rd and final night in the hotel. Tomorrow I head home and I come back up here Tuesday of next week. I’m not sharing the location or thoughts on what I am doing because I really don’t want what I write here to be defined by work. This is my work escape and to go into details that are work related would truly defeat the purpose.

on-the-road-again

I do have one generic “on the road” observation. I am quite happy with my room and rate at the Comfort Inn and Suites but was surprised to log into the “free wireless high speed internet access” to find that the “free” is a slower speed and you must pay extra for something that doesn’t rival AOL dial up at times. Definitely not a cool thing and it seems like they are lying to us. Maybe they need an asterisk next to “free wireless high speed internet access” on the website. My Symantec Firewall has also blocked multiple exploits while I am online here. Also, not cool!

In home news, my AT&T U-Verse is down again! I am so glad I made the call to have Charter installed Friday. The deal with AT&T is ridiculous and they treat you like an idiot on their support line. Here is a sample conversation I had with them:

    • AT&T: “Did you reset the U-verse Gateway?”
    • Me: “Yes”
    • AT&T: “Are you sure?”
    • Me: “No, I’m a freaking idiot and I just thought I would call you and lie about something this stupid.”
    • AT&T: “I’m sorry. We just want to make sure you have reset the right piece of equipment.”
    • Me: “Well, I actually didn’t reset it. I just like sitting on hold for 30 minutes everyday so you can ask me the same dumb question and then tell me the entire area is down again and it might be fixed in 24 hours.”
    • (Complete Silence)

Finally, did you see that Harold Gould died Saturday? Do you not know the name? You’ll know the face if you are around my age because he was in just about every television show there was in the 70’s and 80’s. He was always popping up as a guest star.

hg 

That’s all for tonight from Somewhere, U.S.A.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Federer is Back

Not only is he destroying his opponents until they cry like the little baby, Roger Federer also has his own show. Watch it and enjoy the magic that is The Federer.

Thanks to Jimmy Fallon, I have also discovered that “How to Good-bye Depression: If You Constrict Anus 100 Times Everyday. Malarkey? or Effective Way?” is actually a real book. You can change your life by clicking here to buy it immediately at Amazon.

depression

In other fun news, I came home from the therapy-inducing trip to Walmart to find that my internet and cable is out. AT&T could not even give me a real ETA to have it fixed. Maybe 24 hours? Then I asked for someone to come out and she told me the next appointment was Friday – 6 days from now. Looks like I’ll be looking for another cable / internet provider! My U-Verse drops repeatedly during the day for a few seconds here and a few seconds there – just enough to kick me off what I am working on. I’ve just been too lazy to mess with getting rid of them.

We did finally get some more rain today. I mowed the front yard in blaring 90 degree sun and mowed the back yard in a pouring rain. Tonight – steaks and family time.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Good birthday

bb_free

The blackberry-free birthday was quite a success. I carried the spare phone we have that only two people know the number to. There were no vibrations from incoming emails and no looking at Twitter to see what was happening in the world. So, when part of that town in California blew up last night, I missed it.

Not being “connected” was quite nice. I worry that the kids are going to grow up with all of this pressure to be “on the grid” at all times. I see these stories on the news about kids staying up all night sending texts. That won’t happen in this house – I can guarantee that.

I spent part of the birthday in my hometown with my mother and met my father here today for lunch (since he was at work yesterday – 76 and still going to work. His retirement lasted all of 3 months before he went stir crazy and returned to work). Last night was all about the strawberry cupcakes and just sitting around.

I’m not sure what the weekend will bring other than all the rain that is forecast. We’ll try to stay dry and hope that Monday doesn’t get here too fast!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day

This three day weekend was all about work. I finally got a lot of that spring cleaning done that I kept putting off. I also took down the world’s cheapest pool thus marking the end of summer and the beginning of our descent into fall. Around here that means at least three more weeks of 90 degree temperatures.

With all of my work toward eliminating clutter over the past few years, I amaze myself at the visits I continue to make to the help center thrift store (2 visits this past week) and the amount of garbage I am generating out of the attic (3 Glad Force-Flex bags and a huge stack of cardboard are waiting for the trash truck tomorrow).

Being at least slightly environmentally conscious, I wanted to recycle the cardboard that came out of the attic today. So, I drove all over town only to find newspaper recycling, plastic bag recycling, plastic bottle recycling, and magazine recycling. But, guess what? No cardboard recycling.

NoRecycling

This is something I have noticed – you can recycle but figuring out where to take what is not exactly easy. Did you know that Radio Shack will take any type of rechargeable battery and recycle it (supposedly – I’ll test this later this week)? Read about it here. Best Buy will recycle your dead TV for $10 but they give you a $10 gift card right back. The landfill here will recycle TV’s and microwaves for free but no computers. Best Buy will recycle your computer if you pull the hard drive yourself (or pay them $10 to pull it).

I found all this out by looking a bit on the internet and yes, just about everyone has the internet now. But, how many people will take the time to look around different sites to see who will take what and then drag the stuff out to those places?  Imagine how many people (like me) that have old electronics piled up in the garage or the shed because they don’t know what to do with them. Or, worse than that, they sneak stuff in the trash (or some random business dumpster). Finding a place that takes those little gizmos that eventually die on us is frustrating and the “powers that be” will need to make recycling a lot more accessible before it will take off.

Driving all over town unable to find a place to recycle cardboard (without sneaking it into a ‘cardboard only’ dumpster at a random business) in 2010 is just about ridiculous.

If you’re going to truly fight the clutter at your house (and business), you’re eventually going to get down to the items you have to recycle such as that VCR you bought in 1988 and that Compaq laptop that was pretty cool in ‘96 but is now nothing more than a paperweight. And, just because Al Gore wants us to recycle does not mean you are supporting Al Gore by recycling. You want that crap out of your house and you don’t need to throw it in the woods in the off chance that Big Brother will hunt you down by comparing the serial number of your 1996 Compaq Armada to the registration card you stupidly sent in to Compaq all those years ago.

Handy-dandy recycling links:

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Books: “One Day” by David Nicholls

I finally finished “One Day” the other night and I want to start off by saying that I had a terrible feeling it was going to have one of those Nicholas Sparks endings that I really can’t stand.

one day cover

Unfortunately, I was right and as I came closer to the end I found myself not wanting to turn the page because I knew it would show up without warning. But, like a fool, I kept going.

The real surprise is how sad the ending actually made me and how it kept popping back into my mind in the days after I finished the book. This is a credit to the author because he has presented these characters in such a way that you find yourself frustrated, disgusted, angry, and pulling for them all at the same time. They are two very real characters and you can’t help but want the story to turn out ‘right’ but I guess those are not the types of stories that sell books. Each time I was surprised at a stupid, bonehead move that either Emma or Dexter did, I reminded myself of the stupid, bonehead things I have done over the years and I’m absolutely amazed that I have turned into who I am today.

I guess that is the true lesson of the story – the Emma and Dexter we meet on St. Swithin’s Day 1988 are not the same Emma and Dexter we last see together some years later. It was interesting to watch the progression of this relationship since I am close to the age of the characters. They progress – they learn from their mistakes and they do the best they can with what they have. And, in some ways, they don’t change at all.  Old bad habits and fears pop up when they are least expected. I guess the older we get the more we just build on who we were once upon a time.

It’s hard to write this without giving away the ending. I purposely stayed away from reviews at Amazon and other places so I would not accidentally see a spoiler. I will say that the ending, or maybe the aftermath, is realistic (and much more realistic I expected) to a point that you can’t help but relive losses you’ve been through when reading it and I think that is what lifts this book above Nicholas Sparks territory. I actually had to stop reading and “process” this part of the book overnight before I could finish it up.

This is being made into a movie with Anne Hathaway as Emma. It’s hard for me to picture her in that role but we will see how it turns out. The guy playing Dexter, Jim Sturgess, is more of the way I pictured that character. We’ll see how this works out. I guess the theater will be handing out Kleenex like they hand out 3-D glasses.

Yes, many will see “One Day” as a sappy read. I read it because I was curious after all the buzz about it. I am glad I gave this book a chance. I think will stay with me for a long time. It certainly makes you appreciate what you have and how you got where you are.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

There’s a hurricane coming! Save the soft drinks!

From MSNBC – Breaking News! Carbonated drinks saved from wrath of tropical cyclone.

hurricane