Thursday, October 30, 2008

Blog Dreams

I do most of my composing in the hour or so before I go to bed. That's when I decompress and vent most of the day's accumulated stress. Since I started this routine, I've started sleeping really well.
There is one trade off though. I have the damnedset dreams. I was composing last night as the Phillies won the World Series, and as soon as the final out was recorded, I hit the sack. When my alarm went off at 4:15 AM, I was awakened from one of the most vivid dreams I've ever had.

Some might consider it a nightmare, but in my dream, were all these bloggers. Bill White and John Micek were in my dream. Kathy Frederick and her husband Dave, 2 people I have never met, were in my dream, as was Bernie O'Hare and Bill and Angie Villa.
The dream involved cats, dogs being rescued from a kennel, and my wife and Kathy Frederick were on roller skates serving alcohol to everyone there. The Villas were up on a stage playing music, while Micek, White, O'Hare and myself were on a Channel 69 Sound stage arguing over whether people should be allowed to claim their pets as dependents on their tax return.

As I showered, I kept replaying the dream in my head. I swear I saw John Micek playing guitar with the Villas, and at one point Bill White was pitching for the Iron Pigs in a game.

I didn't eat anything out of the ordinary last night, I had a Blue Bunny classis drumstick Ice Cream about 7:30 PM, and drank two 7 ounce Coors lights while watching the game. Nothing exotic at all. What do you think Freud would say about this?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Goodby Wall to Wall Carpeting, Hello Wood Floors!

This is how I spent my weekend. I have a couple of pieces of trim to refinish and replace, but otherwise, it is done. Mrs C is ecstatic. I'm tired. Dogs look like cartoon dogs trying to get their footing to run. I have all the power tools required to make these projects work. I also still have all my limbs and fingers. Frickin' amazing, isn't it?!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sally's Excellent Cemetery Adventure!

Wednesday Afternoon I hauled the mower and weed whacker down to Fairview for a couple hours of work, I stopped by home after work, and decided to take one of the dogs, our ADD child, Sally, with me.

This is Sally at our home. Sally blows thru the Invisible Fence, ignoring the shocks, so we reluctantly had to put a 35 foot tie out line on her. Wednesday I took it to the Cemetery with me, clicked the hook on the tailgate latch of my car, after judiciously parking where she could see me at all times, but not get herself tangled up anywhere to easily.

It's pretty quiet there, despite all the surrounding city sounds, and I would stop every few minutes and call to her, just to keep her calm. She was really giving the nearby wildlife hell, and when a groundhog scooted nearby, I really thought she might drag the car down the road after it. Then about 5 Pm I saw something happen that gave me chills. It might have been the sun going behind the clouds, and the wind picking up, but I'm pretty sure it was what I was seeing that chilled me.

Sally was sitting up as if she was being petted, wagging her tail, and jumping up as if to climb on someones leg.

But There was Nobody there.

Okay, I'm at a Cemetery. That comes with a bit of spookiness to begin with. But Sally was doing this over by my Mother in Law's grave. Dogs have superior senses to we humans, in ways we don't understand. When I finished mowing, I walked over to find Sally laying in front of my Wife's family plot, at my Mother in law's marker. Her tie out could reach dozens of markers, but that's the one she decided to lay in front of. The Squirrels were across the road, and knowing her, I would have thought that was where her attention would be.

Coincidence? happenstance? I don't think so.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Great Pranks in Casey History

Kathy over at the Junk Drawer ( pulled a pretty good prank on one of her coworkers, and it got me to reminiscing about some of the doozies I have been responsible for.
So tonight I'm going to tell you about how I tortured a guy 20 years ago.

I used to bowl a lot, I worked in the business, and I competed in a Traveling league, that bowled in a different center every Saturday afternoon at 2 PM. We usually finished between 4;30 and 5 PM. One of my best friends owned and operated his own 32 lane center, and as a 210 average player, I was the anchorman on his team. Bill, my buddy, bowled lead off.
We had friendly rivalries with several of our competitors, but there were a couple who took bowling way too seriously. One of them was a guy I will call Ray, who was a pretty good player, but as a night manager at another center, thought he was God's gift to Bowling.
Nobody really liked Ray, he had smacked his girlfriend around in front of us during league, he drank a bit much, and had a bad temper. He was a bully, and him and I had tangled a couple of times because of it.
Ray was the kind of guy who purchased the newest technology as soon as it hit the market. and never blamed a bad game on his own failings, it was always the "Balls" fault.

The prank came about right after Christmas, and continued for a couple of weeks. It was 1988/89, I had just turned 27, old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyway.

We bowled in centers throughout several Central Ohio Counties, and my buddy, Bill and I always shared a ride to our destination. We cared about winning, we were always near the top of the standings but we also had a good time no matter what happened. We often joked about things when we were getting our butts whipped, but we were prone to laughing at the guys who took bowling league as life and death. We didn't. We always had a good time. It's where I got my Bowling nickname, "Taz" as Tasmanian Devil, as in the Warner Brothers Cartoon Character, which I will explain some other time. Maybe.

Ray was one of those guys prone to tantrums. And we would laugh at him. The Saturday after Christmas had been ugly for him. He had bowled badly, his team had lost all three games and totals, and he was storming around, screaming that the particular host center that day was a dump, and should be burned to the ground. It just so happened that Bill and I were on the road following him back to Columbus when we saw him turn off into a Pizza Hut parking lot, get out of his car, and throw his Bowling bag into a dumpster. We pulled off into a gas station, and waited until he drove away. Then we went back and I climbed in to look into the bag.
Yes, he had thrown away some prime equipment. Hmmmmm.

I dug it out, and Bill asked what I had planned. When I explained, he cracked up. He was all for it. We drove to the Center that Ray's Dad owned, and went in to talk to him. Ray's dad was cool with it. He knew what a hot head his son was, and loved the idea I came up with. I took Ray's bowling bag and put it in his locker, with his Dad's help. We couldn't wait to hear what would happen when Ray saw the balls he had tossed in the dumpster were back in his locker.

So Tuesday night Ray's Dad calls Bill and tells him that Ray is going off, that he swears he threw that bag away, and he knows someone is messing with him, because he knows there are people laughing at him behind his back. (At this time, only Bill, Ray's Dad, and I were in on it, but that was about to change). Ray's Dad tells Bill that Ray threw the equipment in the dumpster behind his center, and he wouldn't put the trash out until the AM, if we wanted to come by and dig them out. Are you kidding? I was on it.
But this required some public torture, and at the time I had a buddy at UPS I enlisted for help. We put the bowling bag, and the two balls, in a cardboard box, and addressed it to Ray, but my friend would deliver it during traveling league play on Saturday at that weeks bowling center location.
By 2 PM the Saturday after New Years, everybody in the league knew what was coming, but Ray was oblivious. My UPS buddy came in the side door, and nonchalantly wheeled the box through our league, right past an oblivious Ray, and up to the Front desk, where he had Ray paged, to sign for his package.
People were losing it as Ray was incredulous about getting a package 30 miles from home, at a center he'd only been to twice in his life. My buddy shrugged as he Ray kept asking if he knew what was in the box, but Ray eventually signed for it, and my pal walked out while he was bowling, before he could open it, making a clean getaway.

When Ray saw it was the balls he had tossed, he went batshit. He was going to find out who did it, and they would be sorry. After Bowling, Bill and I laid back to watch what he might do.
To our amazement, Ray tossed the balls and bag out the window while driving down interstate 71. We played it cool, noted the mile marker,and waited about an hour to go back and get them.

Yep, they were there! We knew from his Dad that Ray was going to work Saturday at Midnight at his family center, so we packed the balls up, and took them over, putting them behind the control desk. But this time I added a note. I got my lady friend at the time to write it, and it said: "You can't get rid of us Ray, we will always come back!"

By now, Ray's Mom and sister were in on it too, and everybody was loving it. I was working that night myself, and I got a call at about ten after 12 that Ray had gone ballistic. He had no idea who was doing it, but he had told his Mom he would shoot them if he found out, and she thought it best to warn Bill and I.

Now you would think, I would let it go. For a couple of weeks, I did. Then the week of the Super Bowl, Ray sucker punched one of my friends after bowling. Cooler heads prevailed, but Ray was 6'2''250+, and the guy he hit was 5'6 150, if that.

So what did I do? You guys know what Epoxy is? It's used to coat wooden bowling lanes, repair wood, etc. It is like concrete. If you pour it in a bucket, and let it sit, it will harden just like that. I did freelance equipment maintenance on the side for several small 4 to 8 lane bowling centers in the area, and I had access to mass amounts of Epoxy. I waited until the week Traveling league was bowling at Ray's home center, and then I struck. I only told Bill what I was doing, and he shook his head. But he also couldn't stop giggling. I went to Ray's center on Friday night, and it was packed with league bowlers. I went in the locker room, and using a Brunswick locker master key, I opened his locker. It was just after Valentine's day, I remember it well, because my Buddy Bill had proposed to his 2nd wife that day.

I carefully filled the two bowling bags in the locker with as much Epoxy as I could, and zipped them up. I got away clean, and unseen.

The next day, I kept a perfectly straight face when Ray exploded. But I cracked up along with everyone else when the results of my action became known. the Epoxy had slowly seeped out of the bags, and half filled up the locker. It hardened in such a way he couldn't get the locker door open. He had to use a sawzall to cut the door off, and then when he saw the insides, his face was so red, and he was cursing so much we couldn't help but roar in laughter. The whole league, including his teammates. were losing it. No one had any idea, (other than Bill) that I had done it.

Now before you go feeling sorry for him, the guy ran a pro shop, he owned a zillion bowling balls, and could drill one up, right there on site in 5 minutes, if need be. Four bowling balls epoxied together in a locker is nothing to him. But it did piss him off, and I felt I gained a bit of retribution, and some justice for those he had inflicted aggravation on at the time.

I'm a lot more mature now, I no longer do such things, but I still think of them. It was funny, even if it was wrong

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Birthday Puppy: Guess who's 12?!

The little black Cocker Spaniel in the Foreground is Lucy. Lucy turns twelve years old today. That's approximately somewhere between 80 and 90 in human years. Ethel, behind her to the right, turned twelve on June 28. Both of these dogs are Cancer survivors. Ethel had several tumors removed when she was 5, and Lucy had three removed earlier this year. as of now, they are both doing pretty well. Ethel's had some health issues in recent months, her sight is failing, and she's almost deaf, but Lucy, other than being a bit overweight, is in pretty good health.

Monday, October 13, 2008

"Don't hit your sister with the flaming pumpkin again, or I'll ground you!"

It was a beautiful day, and I was out around 3:30 trimming back some of the overgrown bushes along the walkway when I heard one of the Neighborhood Mom's loudly give that warning. I thought my ears were deceiving me, but it was followed up with, "I mean it, don't hit her with the flaming pumpkin. you know that's not nice."

I'm not a nosy neighbor. I pretty much ignore all the screams from the neighborhood kids as they play, and there were plenty of power tools echoing in the 'hood yesterday. I can tell between a scream of real pain, and one of real agony. With all the Chain saws, weed whackers, leaf Blowers, and Mowers running yesterday, I think it was surprising to me that there was enough of a lull that I heard a neighborhood Mom make that threat.

I was tempted to put down the clippers and walk a few doors down and see the flaming pumpkin that was being used by one child to bludgeon another sibling. I really wanted to ask, is it okay if she is hit with a non flaming pumpkin? Is that an offense that doesn't get a child grounded?

This afternoon was the kind of Fall day that a child remembers forever. Not too hot, not too cold, and plenty of leaves to jump in. The Jack 'o lanterns are freshly carved, newly lit, and the sweet smell of burning leaves is rising into the air, a sure sign of the season, a harbinger of the Holidays to come.
How can you ever forget the day you were grounded for hitting your sister with a Flaming pumpkin? I know I wouldn't.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

So There's a Portal to Hell in Fairview Cemetery, among many other Valley Locales

Well, I guess I had to figure there was one somewhere in the Lehigh Valley. What really has me amazed is that after taking a few trips through it, I find out there are dozens more in the immediate area! I mean New York City? Los Angeles? Of course! Even San Francisco or New Orleans, I would not be surprised. Of Washington D.C. I absolutely am sure, and under the Capitol complex in Harrisburg, I have no doubt.
But Allentown? And to find out the Lehigh Valley is number one per capita for portals on Earth?! That was completely unexpected.

So how did I learn all this?

I stumbled into it by accident, while weed whacking. I stepped backwards from a grave marker I had cleared and fell down into it. That's how I came to meet the late, long ago departed Ebediah Belsnickel. I won't give you too much of his story right away, but you need to know right off he claims he has been kicked out of first Heaven and then Hell, at least that's his story, and he has stuck to it. Ebediah, or "Eb" as he asked me to call him, roams the afterlife, eking out a meaningful otherworldly existence as an "escort" of sorts, for those who die unexpectedly in the Lehigh Valley.

He also claims to be picking up some occasional change in the mortal world, popping up at night to offer political consulting advice to both the Sam Bennett and Charlie Dent Congressional campaigns. "I give them both conflicting advice," he said with a snicker. "It helps to have references from both Karl Rove and James Carville on your resume."

Eb looks a lot like the late actor Bob Denver of Gilligan's island fame, only he wears a 70's era white polyester leisure suit, and has the "Maynard" of the Dobie Gillis show facial hair. I asked him about that, if he wasn't really Bob Denver incognito in some kind of netherworld witness protection program, but he got all irate, so I changed the subject. The idea of Bob Denver as a sort of hall Monitor for the Lehigh Valley's portals to Hell may seem strange, but you have to consider the circumstances. We are talking a mortal, (me) roaming the underworld without being dead. At Least I hope I'm not dead, and the fall into the Portal itself didn't kill me. I'd hate to think everything since September 20th is like that hokey dream season on "Dallas" back in the early 80's. You know? Hey, why am I referring to everything by Classic TV culture?

BTW, Allentown Liker, please remember that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Yeah, your madness inspired me, but at least I'm giving you props. C'mon, a portal to Hell In Allentown? You know there couldn't be just one!

Maybe I am dead! Or I have seen way too much Nick at Nite Classic TV. I better check this out! I'll have to get back to you blog readers later, but before I forget, I want to say that one of my blogging peers was right. There is a portal to Hell under Mayor Pawlowski's desk, but he doesn't know about it. YET. Can you imagine what might happen if the wrong people figure out how to use it? Makes me shudder!

Former Mayor Bill Heydt had it installed as part of the Deal that gave us Lights in the Parkway. Roy Afflerbach accidentally sealed it up with his laser pointer in January 2002 when he first started practicing his power point presentations.

It only works one way, you can get in there from hell, but you can't get back to hell, it's a one way route. (Though I'm sure some will argue I'm wrong) There's dozens of them around the Valley, there's even three, yep, count'em, THREE in the Lehigh County Courthouse. There's one in one of the Judges Chambers, one in the District Attorney's office, and another in the Public Defender's consultation room. That Devil's got all the bases covered, doesn't he?

Eb says there's one over in Northampton County in the new judges chambers that he calls the "Taj Mahal" of Portals, but he hasn't been back there since some guy the newly dead refer to as a "blogger from Nazareth" took it over, and started charging fees to use it.

I've pretty much toured the Lehigh Valley portals to and from hell system as it works in the Valley over the last couple of weeks, and now I'm going to relay my experiences to my readers, all two dozen of them. There was some excitement over the last couple of days, as Cerberus didn't get his regular weekly grooming at "Almost Heaven" kennels, so he got a little surly, broke his chain, and made his way through the portals up to the grounds of Fairview. That's where I got involved.

The good news was he chomped a couple of Ground hogs. The bad news was, well, we can't go into that now, but thank God for the talking tombstone and the lady in black who visits the graves of the stillborn infants. If it weren't for her and her otherworldly puppy "treats' We'd never have gotten old Cerberus back where he belonged. He's really not a bad dog once he gets to know you. He even let me scratch one of his heads, and we played fetch with a piece of broken tombstone, until he chewed it up and spit it out as gravel. For Future reference: Don't play tug of war with a three headed pit Bull. You can't win.

So tune in again soon, where I'll tell you more about my adventures traveling the Valley's Portals to hell. I learned you never know who you are going to cross paths with down there, especially with the main transfer station being located under Lehigh County Government Center!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Ceiling Fixtures and Wii fits don't mix!

Last night, (Saturday) I finally got around to installing the new ceiling fan/light fixture in the 2nd upstairs bedroom, the one that I painted back in August.
It took 2 and a half hours, but it is done, and it is done right. Most importantly, it works, and I didn't get electrocuted once while installing it. That in itself is amazing, isn't it?

But as usual, it wasn't without aggravation. First off, the instructions tell you to make sure the electrical box needs to be able to support 35 lbs of weight, or when you turn the fan on, it might vibrate a bit much. So that was a wee bit of extra work, making sure that the box I mounted it too was secure. I didn't mind, one of my rules it is always better to do it right, rather than have to do it over. Turning it on, and having it fall out of the ceiling after only being on for a few minutes would be a bad thing, don't you agree?

But I also have new rule concerning products at the Home improvement store. If the product says MADE IN CHINA, and the Instructions ARE IN SPANISH, you are asking for trouble.
Fortunately, I am mechanically inclined enough to figure this all out, and despite several discrepancies in what the directions and parts inventory said should be in the box, and what was actually IN THE BOX, I muddled through. When I finished, The fan ran extremely well, and very quietly. The importance of being fastened securely was evident.

There were a few moments of frustration during the process, but I took a deep breath, and chanted my Mantra, and found my focus. Now all I have to do is go buy the specific bulbs that light it up, because if you are spending a hundred bucks on a light fixture, you must be joking to think the bulbs are included! Hah!

It says so right on the box: "Bulbs not included" So I'll be stopping at Lowe's next chance I get.

Now I was emboldened by my success with the light fixture, and decided Tonight, (Sunday) I should take on a more formidable task: Hooking up Mrs C's Wiifit!
Yes, Mrs C has a Wiifit!

I have come to the conclusion on more than one occasion that engineers in other countries know they are tormenting Americans, and are doing it willingly.
It took me a few minutes, but I was able to successfully synchronize the Wii Console and the Wiifit pad. If you ever have to do this, and start getting frustrated, email me, and I'll tell you the secret, but in the meantime, I'll let you try and figure it out for yourselves, as I did. Good Luck!

When you first fire up the Wiifit, It asks you a whole bunch of questions, and does an assessment of your physical condition. Now it assessed my Wii age at 60! How it reached this conclusion goes to show how inexact a science these gizmos can be. It tested my balance, and agility, but doesn't take into consideration that I have an artificial right hip, artificial left elbow, and presently a very arthritic right Achilles heel. I also swim at the gym 4 times a week, for more than a half hour, and have a resting pulse in the low 60s, with a BP of 110 over 70.
It put my weight at 230, which, considering I was fully dressed, is right on the money. I usually weigh in at the gym in only my shorts, which is why I have 227 as my present weight.
It's impressive, all the things the Wii fit can do. When you first fire it up, you only have access to a certain number of exercises, until it judges you ready for tougher stuff. I checked out the 4 activities to help you with your balance/posture, and found the one where you pretend to be doing Winter Olympic Ski Jumping the coolest! My first time it showed me crashing on take off and rolling down the hill, so, just for grins and laughs, I encourage you to do that first, to set your bar low, and give yourself a good giggle.

So the Wii fit is all set to go for Mrs C, but I don't want to be anywhere around when it gives her a Wii age. I don't want to know. Some things are just better left unknown, and unsaid, you get my drift?

Friday, October 3, 2008

A Weed Whacker, 2 Groundhogs, and a Mouse

I hate rodents. I developed this opinion during my military duty. I was dozing happily in my sleeping bag, on a cot, in a GP medium, in a middle eastern Country that shall not be named, when I was awakened by the sensation of something crawling on my stomach. It was a rat.

In reflection, I'm glad it was on the outside of the bag, because if the damned thing had gotten inside, there's no telling how much therapy I would still need now, or who might have been wounded as I blasted away at the damn thing with my rifle. (yes, I slept with my loaded rifle in me hands, for reasons I'd rather not have to explain.)

Anyway, that was decades ago in a place far away, but yesterday (Wednesday) as I was mowing the lawn, I caught sight of a mouse squeezing its' fat useless self under the garage door on my side. Damn. the garage is connected to the kitchen. if I don't take immediate action, it won't be long until they are in the pantry, and I'm having none of that. Granted, I understand why the mice moved, the Hawk that lives in the treeline out back has decimated the Squirrel/Chipmunk population into near extinction. It isn't safe for nature's smaller critters in the food chain back there. Sometimes when I'm out in the yard, I hear the Hawk's cry, and I swear that it's almost like a bald eagle. It is a beautiful creature, and you can see the humongous nest from our bathroom window. Hell, maybe it is an Eagle, I'll have to try and get a picture one of these times.

So I have to address the Mouse problem. There's no evidence along the garage walls that Mickey, or Minnie, or any other Mouseketeers have come any further than just inside the overhead door, and I think they might be building a future home inside the Red metal paint cabinet. So I'm cleaning that out Saturday, and I'm going to check my old wooden Army footlocker in the corner to see if they have infiltrated that. I'm not George Bush after Osama bin Laden, I'm Chris Casey, and that damned Al Queda mouse is dead meat, him, his family, and all his lieutenants! I'm not waiting for Mr. Hawk, eagle, or whatever, I'm doing it myself. And screw using humane traps. It's glue traps, because they are cheap! So the Mouseketeers are on Notice!

In other news, sometimes I get hard lessons on why I should take my own advice.
So here it is, Wednesday afternoon, and I fire up the weed whacker to take care of some trim work. Shoot, I forgot to change into my steel toed shoes. Oh well, I don't have that much to do. I hit my toe last week, surely I won't do that again, right?


Same toe, same shoes, and this time it hurt like hell. Note to self: Always wear the Steel Toed Shoes when working with Weed whacker/ Lawn Mower.

It's bad enough that the cooler, damp weather is making my titanium hip throb at night while I'm laying in bed, But now I'm aggravated that my right knee is aching from recent sprains and swelling, and to accompany that my right Achilles heel is getting all arthritic from having stepped backwards into a groundhog hole while mowing. (Groundhogs, now there's another Vermin I would like to use firearms on). So I've got pain, and it makes me cranky, but Mrs. C, she a blessed Saint, she is, putting up with me.

Speaking of Groundhogs, if you happen to go to Fairview Cemetery, and happen to see a groundhog with a big splatch of red paint on his ass, his name is Bernie, If you see one with yellow paint on her head, her name is Joan. I hope to get pictures of the happy couple, but in the meantime, should they get captured in one of the traps beforehand, that would be okay too.
I have no idea how the hell they got paint on them, but it makes it easier for me to tell who is who. If it was up to me, I'd send the fat furry rodent bastards down to the Homeless shelter to turn into stew, but that's probably politically incorrect, so that's out of the question.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Close to Home

Tuesday night about 7:30 the Thunder started. Our dogs are not that thrilled with thunder. It incites much whining and whimpering, especially from Sally. I went to bed just before 9, as someone who gets up in the 4 AM hour is want to do. Then, at 9:22 I was shaken by a good jolt, as the whole house vibrated from a loud booming, very close to home Lightning Strike. From the bright flash through the Master Bedroom window, I'd wager a good guess that the strike happened in the swamp/retention pond on the other side of the railroad spur behind the house.

I was pleasantly surprised that we never lost power, and I count my blessings on that one.
This much I know for sure: I am going to have to bring down that 60 foot plus Walnut tree behind the house before it comes down ON THE HOUSE. I had one come down and do damage and destroy a rain gutter back in February during the Ice Storm, and unless I want a repeat, and want to spend several hundred more dollars on more rain gutters, I better get to it before Thanksgiving.

There wasn't only one nearby lightning strike last night, though, I think there may have been at least two more over the space of 40 minutes between 9:22 and 10 PM. I fell into a deep sleep shortly after the last, and didn't wake until Mr. Alarm started its damnable beeping.
If I get a chance before the weekend I'll head over the Railroad tracks and take a glance at the swamp for any sign of where any of them hit. Earlier this summer there was a tree split in 3 pieces, and dozens of dead birds on the ground, thereby proving that nature is indiscriminate in unleashing her fury.