Monday, June 30, 2008

Congratulations, Mr. Phil!!

Today is the big day. Today is the day that someone has been waiting on for a long time.

My brother Philip is officially RETIRED!!

His last day of "work" was last Thursday and today he went in to sign the final papers. That's it. No more grind of employment. No more schedules. No more deadlines. No more work travel. No more blowing things up and getting paid for it.

All kidding aside, congratulations, Phil. You worked long and hard to get here and you definitely deserve hitting this milestone in your life. May you enjoy a long and prosperous retirement.

Next stop - LORAIN! C'mon home!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I’m On Vacation, Day Two

We had a slow start today but once we got moving, we sure did move!

The first thing we did was headed over a BIG bridge over to St. Petersburg. Here is a picture of us getting to the bridge.

The bridge spans Tampa Bay and St. Pete’s is on the other side of Tampa Bay from the city of Tampa. It’s a big bridge, about 10 miles long. When you start seeing all of the warning signs to check your gas level before entering the bridge you should worry! But I went out of the box and agreed to go over the bridge!

Maura and I, aside from being friends, are also distant cousins. We have another cousin that lives in St. Pete’s. As soon as we crossed the bridge, Maura called Joe to see if he was working. Unfortunately, he was, but we didn’t let that stop us from stopping at his work to say hi! Luckily, he was able to spend a little time with us and we exchanged hugs and had a nice little chat. He was booked up for tonight, but we are going to try to hook up tomorrow for lunch.

Since Joe had to work, we went back to our adventure. After all, we were on vacation!

We stopped for lunch, then drove around and looked around town. We came across the beautiful park in the middle of town that was small but so quaint. There was a round pond in the middle of the park that had a gorgeous fountain in the center. For as many pictures as I've taken today, I didn't take any of the fountain. Duh. But, as we were looking at the water, we noticed things sticking up from the water. There was one thing that between the two of us we can’t decide what it was. But, we did see quite a few turtles in the water! Here is a picture of the turtles:

You can see the both of them about in the middle of the picture, one right over the other. The lower one you can kinda see the outline of the body in the water, but the shadows hide the body of the upper one.

This park had a gorgeous tree on the one side. This tree had to be a good 30 feet around and 80 feet high. The top was full of green leaves but hanging from the branches were these rope like growths. Some of the “ropes” would twist themselves into knots and some would grow straight down. It was awe inspiring just to stand beneath this tree. Here are some pictures of the tree trunk and the ropes coming down. Unfortunately, I couldn’t back up far enough to get a picture of the whole tree.

Here is a picture of a lizard on the tree! He is pretty much right smack dab in the middle of the shot. Anywhere there is ANY vegetation, you will find these lizards. They range from about three inches in length from nose to the tip of their tail to maybe six or seven inches. They are awesome! I keep catching movement out of the corners of my eyes which is scaring the crap out of me but they are still awesome little things!

When we walked to the back of the tree, we saw what I think was an Ibis. It was digging into the vegetation at the bottom of the tree for bugs. He wasn’t camera shy and he wasn’t too people shy. Here’s a couple of what I think is an Ibis.

From here we went to St. Pete’s Beach. It is hotter than Hades down here, but when you’re this close to the Gulf of Mexico, you HAVE to stop to look at it! Maura actually took her shoes off and went walking in the water a little but since I head sneakers on, I just left them on and passed on the dipping of the toes.

It was pretty overcast today but it was still gorgeous to be out on the white beaches watching the majesty of the water. Here are a couple of pictures of the Gulf, and on one of them you can even see the parasailers out over the water.

Coming back across the bridge after our day at the beach, you can sort of see downtown Tampa in the haze of the overcast day towards the left of the frame.

We took a rest at the hotel and got our legs back under us and got some air conditioning all around us. The hell with Al Gore, after a day at the beach in 90+ degree weather with HIGH humidity, we turned the A/C down to 65 and cooled off.

Before the day was over, we had another rousing round of Centipede then went out looking for dinner. We even found time to stop at Pier 1 and Wal Mart! Is this a great vacation or what?!

For now, that is it. I will be back to blogging when I get home and am able to write about our next adventure. And, believe me, there will be more adventures!

I’m On Vacation!

My best friend lives just outside of Orlando Florida. I live just outside of Cleveland Ohio. That is just too far apart for two people that have been best friends since we’ve been in diapers.

So, this weekend, Maura and I have decided to both run away from home for the weekend. We left our men and home and she and I met up in Tampa Florida! I flew in on Thursday morning and Maura picked me up at the airport. From there, the fun has begun.

The first thing we did was went to lunch. We laughed, we giggled and we ate. We went to the hotel to try to check in but we were early. Had our room been made up, we would have been let in but unfortunately, housekeeping didn’t make it that far. We needed to wait about an hour and a half for our room to be ready. Fine, I’m sure we can find something to do.

We are in one of the nicer hotel chains so we decided to just walk around the hotel and find what is where. The first thing we found was the game room. Believe it or not, there was an old Atari game in there called Centipede! Now, way back when in the olden days, when Maura and I started on our road to ruination, we realized that bars had great games. You could find Pac-Man at Brother-In-Laws right on 29th and Reed and you could find Centipede at Smugglers down at the dock. Ok, the fact that they also had beer there along with the games also became known to us. But, that is a story for another day. Just let it suffice to say that we learned about beer and we learned about Centipede. With so many memories rushing back to us, we had to turn a few dollars into tokens and play some Centipede! It’s a good thing there were no other people in the game room. We were loud and obnoxious and were having a great time! Yes, the vacation sure started out well.

From there we found the bar that just opened and was having happy hour. Well . . . WE were happy so we stopped in there! And yes, that’s all I’m going to say about that one.

We finally made it up to our suite. We have a very nice suite with living room (perfect for playing Rummikub!) and a separate bedroom. There is a balcony off of the bedroom but the bad thing about that is our view is the wall of the building next to us. The good thing is that no one can look in our room so we don't have anyone complaining about seeing us. Here is our balcony and our view but looking way to the side.

We rearranged the furniture in the living room for perfect game playing space. We do have our Rummikub and we have Yahtzee and Sequence. We started playing yesterday and never stopped. Finally, we did get hungry and just didn’t feel like going back out. Here is a picture of what was left of our first vacation dinner!

It was just a great first day of vacation. We watched crap TV, played games, laughed, cried, caught up, told stories and just got to be face to face friends which is something we don’t get an opportunity to do often enough. Next up, day two!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I Am The Champ!

Let's talk about Wii bowling!!!!!!!!!!! Do you love our Miis or what? By the way, that's me on the left!

Can you see who bowled a 297?!??!? ME!!! That's who!!!!

I was on FIRE! We obviously were playing a little Wii after dinner and we decided to bowl a game. We're both on a semi injured list from this damn game. My shoulder isn't getting any better and now Ron has Wii elbow but at this point, it's worth it!

Anyway, I was playing this morning before work (yeah, I'm addicted) and I thought I figured out something about bowling. You know it's all about finding your mark and figuring out your swing. Like I said, I thought I figured out what I was doing wrong.

So, after dinner tonight, I'm going to try it out. Sure enough, I started with a strike. Then another. Then another! Next thing I knew Ron was just shaking his head and I had 11 strikes in a ROW. Unfortunately, I choked on the last ball and only got 7 for a total of 297!

The first thing we did was grab our phones and take pictures of the scores. The picture I took is somehow lost in my phone as I don't have a clue where it goes when you take it. Ron on the other hand was nice enough to get it from his phone to my desktop so I could put it on the blog.

I have finally found a game I can kick Ron's ass in! (Can you tell we are competitive?!) Now, there is a thought in my head here. I may never bowl again! How the heck can I beat that score?

For now I will revel in . . . being the champ!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Wii've Got It

Yes, Ron got us a Wii! It arrived yesterday and since then we've already made a trip to Best Buy to get another game controller and more games.

It's really a scary game system. It is yet another wireless connection to the Internet so from our Wii in the living room, we can download updates for the game as well as buy new games, we can check the weather or find the latest news stories. A scary feature for a game!

One of the cool features is the Mii. That is a little animated figure you create in your own or your imagined likeness. Mine is similar to me, less a few pounds! You pick our your own facial features, hair style and colors and you name your image. Then every game you play, your little person is there in the game. Yeah, a fun feature!

I've learned a few things too. I can knock a full grown man OUT in three rounds (Boxing game). I can beat Ron in Bowling most of the time! I take second place in the rest of the games, but in Bowling, I am the bomb. My highest game so far is 212. However, for someone with a newly injured right shoulder, this perhaps wasn't the brightest thing I've played. Bowling might just have put me back a few days in recovery for sure. Oh well. I beat Ron so it was worth it!!

The 9-ball game is going to take some learning curves. We have the idea down but the view of the table in the game is taking some getting used to. Just when I think I have a shot lines up, I am waaaaay off.

The Golf game, on the other hand, I think has made me a believer in the game! I haven't exactly been tearing up the links, but I have been having one heck of a time trying.

The Boxing game may be just what I need to work off a few work tensions. And, for some reason, Ron has been a little wary of me since he watched my knock out performance! Fear me, people! PMS and a Wii can probably be a dangerous combination!

So, slowly but surely we are heading into the technology of the 21st century. While I'm climbing up to the new status of Wii owner, I think I'll make sure my insurance payments are current. After all, I'm bringing my old and tired muscles with me into the Wii generation.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday The 13th

I'm not usually a superstitious person, but I have a bad feeling about today.

I've written before about my OCD and having to look out of my bedroom window whenever I am getting in or out of bed.

This morning, I woke up before my alarm since my bladder was calling me. I looked out the bedroom window and there was one of the neighborhood cats laying out in my driveway. I think it's a feral cat as most of the time I see it up in the pine tree in the yard next door. He's always around somewhere. I also believe this is the cat that has been using the corner of my garage as a scratching post.

Anyway, this cat was laying in the driveway, kind of next to Ron's van, in a weird way. He looked like he was kinda in a "splat" position. He didn't look comfortable, he just looked like he collapsed in my driveway!

Crawling back into bed after relieving that bladder problem, I looked again out the window. Sure enough, the cat was still there; it wasn't a dream.

Ron was also awake so I told him that I think we have a dead cat in the driveway. He wasn't too thrilled with the idea either! I lay there thinking - who do you call for such a thing? I didn't think I could just grab a shovel and put him in the trash before the garbage guys pick up. That would just be all kinds of wrong. I also didn't want to take said shovel and dig a hole in the flower garden. But I obviously didn't want to leave him where he was either. Do you call 911? Animal control? I was getting myself all worked up over here!

About 15 minutes later, my alarm went off. Getting out of bed, I looked out the window again. The cat is gone. The neighborhood large dog was still tied up so it wasn't him!

So, I got all worked up over nothing. The cat was just taking a nap in my driveway.

While I may not be superstitious, I still think this is a bad omen. I have a feeling today is just going to go down the crapper from here!

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I Need A Ride Home

The worst part about working for a living is the driving. I am to the point that it is taking everything in me to be in a car any more.

I hate driving. I hate it. People are idiots whether they are in Fords or not. I hate driving to the grocery store, to dinner, or on the highways and freeways. The car was the worst invention we have had to date.

This morning, coming to work, I was driving in on the Turnpike. In the right lane, is a car carrying semi. You know, the ones that load two stories worth of new cars on the backs of the semis? One of my many fears happens to be these semis. I'm always afraid a chain will snap and the last car that looks like it's barely on there anyway will come crashing down onto the road and into me. Whenever I am behind one of these semis, I will do my best to go around and get away from him.

So, into the middle lane I went and got around him. Shortly after that, I came to the construction sign that read left two lanes will be closing in one mile. Fine by me, I am back in the right lane anyway.

The closer I get to the one lane section, the more the traffic slows down. As we are crawling on in single file, the traffic suddenly stops. I can't see why we are stopped as there are so many vehicles in front of me, I just know I'm not moving. So I start looking around. I happen to look in my rear view mirror and what do I see bearing down on me? That car carrying semi. And he is coming up fast. I have nowhere to go as the barrels to the left of me won't let me go left and the car ahead of me is stopped like the car ahead of him, etc etc etc.

I start pumping my brakes so that hopefully he will see the red lights flashing and realize we are stopped. It doesn't seem as if he's paying attention. He is getting closer and closer and very quickly. When they say that right before you die you see your life flash in front of you, they aren't lying.

I left my lane, drove onto the berm and then on to the grass heading for the woods. I thought that was better than getting creamed by the semi. Sure enough, as I start moving over, I hear the screech of this idiot's brakes. I'm into the grass and he heads onto the berm so as to miss the car that was ahead of me. We are now three wide on a one lane road as the semi ended up pulling up along side me on my left, and to the right of the car that was in front of me.

Needless to say, I cried the rest of the way to work. Now I'm here and for once, I don't want to leave. Putting my life in danger for this job is so not worth it.

I know, I need to suck it up and get over it. Or I need to win the lottery. But in the mean time, can someone come pick me up? Or better yet, send a helicopter for me?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Faux Pas

Ok, GPS unit or no GPS unit, I am still getting lost.

Saturday we had given the fish tank a good cleaning. That's some hard work since it's a 65 gallon tank. We are climbing up on chairs in order to reach down to clean the gravel and to put the plants back in the tank. When all is said and done, we were both wet, sweaty and hungry.

While Ron was putting away the cleaning supplies, I was going to run and get us lunch. Ron chose from our book of menus a restaurant called Gyros and More. I know that's what he chose since he handed me the menu, told me what he'd like and I ended up calling our order in. I was told lunch would be ready in 10 minutes, so I rushed to put shoes on and I was out the door.

I walked into a restaurant, and asked for our order. I was told they had no order under my name. C'mon now, I called it in myself! I talked to a girl just 10 minutes ago and asked for a couple of sandwiches. Of course, I was told no women were working in this restaurant at this time. Now I'm freakin' out. Of course, I have no cell phone with me as I rarely carry it when I'm out. That might have to change!

I look down at the counter and see their menus sitting there. "Cruisin' Chicken". Yeah, close but no cigar. I was supposed to be at Gyros and More! DUH! How do you back pedal that one to a kid that doesn't want to be at work anyway that without sounding like I'm the idiot. You don't. I ate my crow, apologized for the brain fart and I was back out the door. I pulled out of Cruisin' Chicken and moved on down the road to Gyros and More who of course, has my order ready for me.

Not only did I eat some crow with a kid at the first place, but now I have to face the music when I get home and Ron says he was starting to worry about me since it took me so long to get back.

Yeah, I gotta learn how to lie. I came right out with the story of going to the wrong restaurant first and arguing with the Cruisin' Chicken employee, and how I may not be allowed back in that place for awhile! One little faux pas. Maybe next time I'll make Ron go get lunch. I shouldn't be allowed out alone!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Happy Birthday, Brother Jim!

Yeah, I know, I'm a day late. Sorry about that brother. Doesn't mean I don't still love you!

Someone in our family officially turned old. I can only say that because no matter how old I am, everyone else is still older than me. Sometimes it helps to be the baby! Anyway, brother Jim left his 40s behind him. And we tried to help him send out those 40s like the family that we are.

Jim took a few days off from work and came to Ohio to have a little family time vacation. Now that I think about it, we probably suck in the excitement department. He came out on Tuesday night and so we celebrated with Ron pulling out the grill and cooking us some great picnic fare. We had sweet Italian sausage and hamburgers. The best part is that I didn't cook! Bonus for all of us!!

Wednesday was boys day. Jim and brother Michael had a guys night and it took everything in me not to call Jim like Dad would have and said "where are you and why aren't you home yet?" just before 11:00 at night!! I was the bigger person, realized Jim had his own key to our house and just left a light on for him and went to bed. He was here sleeping in the morning when I got up, so he must have made it home in one piece. He said that he had a good time, so that was a good night.

Thursday, Michael, Mary Jane, Jim, Ron and I all headed to dinner together before Jim headed back to Pennsylvania. The best part was that I bribed the waitress to make a huge scene for Jim's birthday! This restaurant unfortunately didn't do birthday ice cream or balloons or anything like that, but she said she would grab a bunch of servers and come over and sing really loudly. I thought that sounded like a great idea!

Sure enough, a little while later, she comes over with about four or five other servers, announced loudly that Jim over here was turning 50! The best part was a couple at the table next to us decided to celebrate with us. They kept up the singing after the servers finished their rendition of Happy Birthday! Jim was in the spotlight, much to his dismay! Hey, happy birthday brother.

And, thanks for coming to spend a few days with us. It's always a pleasure to see ya! Even if you are old! ;-)

Monday, June 02, 2008

Serves You Right

After a long time not blogging, what story do I have to come back with? A story about a dumbass driving a Ford!

I'm coming back from lunch today, and I'm driving in the right hand lane. The car that is two cars ahead of me is slowing down to turn into a parking lot on the right. This car can't turn right away since a pedestrian is walking on the sidewalk across the entrance to the lot. In my book, the pedestrian always has the right of way, so I have no problem waiting on the pedestrian to finish crossing the entrance for the first car to turn right into the lot.

Unfortunately, the truck in front of me didn't feel the same way. As soon as the first car started her turn into the lot, the truck decided to swerve to the left around her and screech out as fast as he could to let everyone know that he wasn't happy about being held up in his busy day.

Here is a word of advice to this idiot in the blue Ford truck.

Before you get a good case of road rage building up in you, either close the back gate to your pickup truck or don't have boxes of stuff right there at the edge in the back.

Yeah, you guessed it, he punched the gas and a huge box fell out onto the street. This is an extremely busy five lane street. He has now tied up the two westbound lanes with crap out of that box plus some short two by fours. The items in the box appeared to my untrained eye to be some plumbing parts of sorts or perhaps some couplings. They were definitely metal though so we're all lucky that box did miss my car as it came jumping out of the back of the truck!

Unfortunately, now we have two lanes of traffic going through one lane at a time to try to drive around all of the dangerous debris scattered across the road! Dumbass.

This idiot proceeded to turn into the second entrance to this lot so he could go pick up his crap. Yeah, served you right just for being an idiot.