Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The end of time is 365 days away! But I don't believe it

If you believe anything that has been written about the Mayan civilization and their calendar, you know that it says the last day of all existence is December 21 2012. I don't know if that means all the Republicans in America will be assumed into heaven at the start of a great rapture, or that after a very contested Presidential election with numerous recounts Newt Gingrich will be declared President by the Supreme Court.
   I don't know anything about the end of the world at all. Prophets have been predicting the end of it all since time began. We even make movies with incredible special effects to put our fears out where we can mock them.(2012, anyone?)
   The point is, I expect a whole bunch of crazies and charlatans to spend the next year counting down to the perceived Doomsday and I personally don't care to play along. Que Sera, Sera, What will be, will be.
   I can't fathom going through life knowing what day it all ends, and I don't believe anybody has a clue. Lets just live life one day at a time, and see where it goes from there. As Doc Brown said in Back to the Future, "The Future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one."

   Mayans be damned

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

If they build it, we will come

Here in not so sleepy Trexlertown, we have the Trexlertown Mall. For as long as I have been here, we have had a Redner's, a Giant, a Kohl's and even a Bon ton. We even have a Tractor Supply Company, a Sears Hardware and an Odd Lots! That's why all the New York New Jersey transplants want to live here!

   But one day the people at Giant Food Stores decided that their store was not big enough. Not only that, they wanted a gas station, an in store cafe, and the right to sell beer! And that set in motion a crazy chain of events of having the Tractor Supply Company build a whole new store down the street, and a bunch of complicated municipal hearings and property swaps that ended up with Giant getting a liquor license.

   Giant management wanted this to happen badly. Testament to that is that the old Tractor Supply Store closed  July 10. It was Demolished by August 4. The new 76,000  square foot facility will open December 7.

   The construction people were out there from dawn until dusk 7 days a week.

   So now I have another market I can ride my bike to. It's a little closer than the old one, but still farther than Redners.  I still like living on the edge of the city, but I admit I am selfish that I wish not so many other people do too.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Burying a friend, Lucy the Cocker Spaniel

    Last week my little black Cocker Spaniel, Lucy turned 15. On Saturday morning she died in her bed.
    I kept a bed for her on the floor next to the side of the bed where my wife and I sleep. For as long as we have lived in Trexlertown, she has followed me in to bed at night and slept in her place. Whenever I rose frome bed, the vibration of me walking by her would wake her, and she would follow me throughout the house.
    We called her my little black shadow for that reason. She would  follow me to the garage whenever I left, and be there waiting at the kitchen door when I returned.
     On Thursday I was working in the yard, and she was in high spirits, even running along the sidewalk when I threw a tennis ball for or other dog, Sally. I was trying to weed the flower beds, and she kept nudging me with her nose, begging me to pet her. I could never resist her happy eyes, and her tail wagged like the perpetual motion machine it always was.
      I knew the day would come eventually but I still was not ready for it. When I looked down and realized she was not breathing or getting up to go outside, I went numb. I still had to go to work, so I picked her up in her bed and carried her to the garage. I wrapped her up to secure her body until I came home from work. Then I would have time to dig a grave out back next to where we buried Ethel less than two years ago.
     All day Saturday my thoughts went back to all the happy moments Lucy had brought me in her years with our family. Lucy had a habit of creating circular formations on the sidewalk with her crap. Creations that we referred to as "Poophenge," because of the similarity to the British landmark Stonehenge.

     She was an accomplished beggar for treats, having mastered the pitiful face that would have you believe that she was starving to death. A few years back, in response to her chubbiness, our vet had tested her for metabolism issues. The phone call to my wife with the diagnosis still makes us laugh today. "No Mrs. Casey. Lucy does not have a thyroid problem, she's just fat."    

     What I miss the most is her company. Whenever I sat down at the computer, she would lay in the bed beside my chair, and wait for my hand to drop and stroke her head and belly. She would wait patiently for those few affectionate touches, and I would be rewarded with a thankful lick or two.

      Putting her down in her grave was hard, and I cried throughout the entire process, from digging to  filling it in. I comfort myself thinking that she is running around heaven frolicking with her old friends Fred and Ethel. Her age had taken away much of her mobility, I want to believe that in God's heaven it has been restored as her reward for being such a loving and faithful creature. That's what I want to believe, and that is what gives me comfort.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A visit to the PEEPS! Emporium in National Harbor Maryland

   You can't live in the Lehigh Valley and not have at least once in your life tried those joyous sugar lumps of color called peeps. We know them and we love them. I'm sorry, but I think it is downright un-American not to enjoy peeps.
   My wife discovered while planning this trip that the only Peeps Emporium on the planet was within walking distance of our Hotel and the site of her conference. There was no doubt we would have to visit the Shrine to Sugar that the Peeps Emporium is. Like God above endearing the greatest pleasure to our taste buds, the front door of the store looks directly out onto the Potomac river and gives you a spectacular view of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

  But who cares about that?!

    This Store doesn't just sell candy, it sells an incredible collection of merchandise for the Peeps fanatic.
     Mrs C purchased many gifts for friends and family as well as herself, but was disappointed that the "Peace, Love Peeps!" shirt only came in junior miss sizes. Like adults wouldn't want one of those shirts? Hear that Just Born? You are missing the boat on that market!
     I didn't buy any souvenirs but I was unable to resist temptation as I eyed the Peanut Chew and I broke down at the register and spent $1.06 for one single packaged milk Chocolate coated Peep.
    Really, how could I leave that store without having one? Could any of you?

    I have more pictures from inside the store, but Blogger won't let me add them for some reason. I will try again later. In the meantime, Have a Peep! and literally enjoy a sweet dream.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Judgment Day Comes! And goes until December 2012....I hope!

  I was surprised last week tto learn that the date of the Apocalypse had been moved up from December 2012 to Saturday at 6 PM. I remember back in the early 1980s when people were claiming that because all the planets would be in a certain position, crazy gravitational forces would tear at the Earth and cause Earthquakes and other unimagined phenomena.
   Didn't happen.
   Remember all the worry about the millenium? Computers crashing, people getting bar codes, all that stuff? Nothing happened. Bush did get elected President, but I didn't consider it the end of the world. We survived.
   So Saturday at 6PM Eastern time was the latest deadline.
  I admit that the Volcano going off in Iceland made me blink, but that's happened a bunch the last few years. I don't think that we are going to get much warning when the Tribulation starts. It will just happen.
   Personally, I don't think it could be anywhere as dramatic as the faux crises faced by those poor Real Housewives in New Jersey, Miami, Atlanta, and Hell's Kitchen or whatever.
   The World could end, and most of the nitwits will be home watching Bravo. They won't notice anything is wrong until their sattelite dish/Cable signal goes out. Likely at the height of another cat fight between two vacuous house wives over dueling Christening parties for kids whose names they can't even spell correctly, such as spelling the proper name Bethany as Bethenny. That isn't only stupid, it's lazy, as if opening a book and looking it up took too much effort.
    If as the book of Revelation claims, there will be people sucked up into heaven to avoid judgment when it all goes down, the airheads who watch reality TV won't have to worry about any of their favorite characters disappearing. I bet all the TV ministers stick around as well, and they will argue that it is God's will that they stay around to help guide us.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lawnmower Man

  I was watching the one pre-10 PM show I enjoy Sunday night, The Amazing Race, when my doorbell rang. This incited a large amount of barking from two black Cocker Spaniels, and broke the tension of the shows finale.
    I wasn't expecting anybody, and I was surprised to see it was one of my neighbors across the street.

   And she was not happy.

    You see, she goes away for weeks at a time, and doesn't mow her lawn. She doesn't mow it much when she's home either, for that matter, and it usually looks like hell. The lady next door to her is a regular customer of mine, so Sunday afternoon when I mowed hers, I mowed the small part in front of the doorbell ringers house that was across the shared driveway of their town homes.

   To make a long story short, doorbell ringer has demanded that I never cut her lawn again, because I cut it too short. She mowed it before she left, and she wants it that way. She berated me for trespassing on her property.
   I thought I was doing a nice thing, but she doesn't see it that way, and I respect her wishes. After all, it is her property, and if she wants to live in an unkempt forest on those rare occasions she is home, more power to her.
     I should go take a picture of her back yard and post it, to show you what it looks like, but I don't want to anger her further. Lets just say that her back yard resembles a wheat field and leave it at that.

   You guys think I was wrong to mow her yard while she was away? It screams to passersby that nobody is home. It really looks like hell. I never mowed her back, only the small part facing the street and the small slice along the curb. I won't mow it anymore, but it's going to be tough. It is going to really contrast the every ten day treatment I give my customers yard and how I keep the sidewalk edged and borders weed whacked. Oh well, no good deed goes unpunished.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I assemble the New Grill... in 17 so called easy steps

     On a recent Sunday afternoon Mrs C and I went Grill shopping, The grill on our deck is one we purchased the summer we married in 1996. Trying to light it involved holding a flame close to the propane tank, and I decided it was time for it to go to a better the junk yard.

   We had been looking around the last few months, getting prices and surveying the selections at local stores, so off we went. The first stop was Lowe's. Nice selection, but nothing really spoke to us. Then we went to Home Depot. The selection there was pretty diverse, but the ones we liked cost more than we wanted to spend. Eventually we ended up at the Sears Hardware Store in the Trexlertown Shopping Center near our home.
    There wasn't as much of a selection, but there was a Kenmore brand grill there that met all our requirements. So we took one home.(After paying, of course!)

   I get the box in the garage, and I clear an area to work in. The first thing I do after opening the box is read the directions.
   Now if they are correct, all I need to assemble the grill is one phillips head screwdriver (supplied) and to follow the 17 easy steps.
   Oh, if it were only that easy.

   Why is it that they (manufacturers) provide multiple pictures and diagrams for the blatantly obvious steps, but for the more complex ones, such as use 4 D Screws to attach the side mounting plates. they don't supply any pictures, not even a few words of encouragement.
   Those plates are odd shaped with multiple choices for how to be mounted. I ended up getting in the car, driving over to the store, and looking at how the model we viewed was put together. Something I should have done in the first place.
    But the good news is that the grill is all together and ready to go. I felt pretty good about getting it together in under two hours. And that was with the two spaniels bouncing around in the garage helping me sporadically.
    That turned the 17 easy steps into more like 34, because it is difficult to assemble anything with two dogs begging for attention and wanting to play. Even if they are old dogs, it's hard to ignore them.

   So the grill is done, and I'm sure the dogs will be waiting at the foot of it for that first wayward piece of meat.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

A visit to the OVERpriced Going out of business for last 6 months furniture store on MacArthur road.

   Sunday afternoons are a time for spouses to do things together. (At least when the NFL isn't on TV.) So today Mrs Casey and I were out shopping for a new grill for our deck. The grill we have, we purchased from Sears way back in 1996, the year we were married. So it has a bit of wear and tear, the burners don't work quite right, and igniting it last year involved holding a flame near a propane tank. (HINT: That's not SAFE!)

   It was time for a new one. We did buy one today, but in between stops at Lowe's and Home Depot to check selection and pricing, I made a stop at a store that has been going out of business since last September. "Everything must go! All Sales are final!" Those ridiculous posters were everywhere. Three weeks ago we stopped in, and we inquired about a big plush chair that Mrs C liked. The chair had a price tag of $549, and a big red tag of $369. Then the salesman said there was further discounting, and told us he could sell us the chair for $269.

     Mrs C and I are very discerning shoppers. She lets me do all the negotiating, because I don't put up with Bull. I told the guy he was dreaming, and we left. But we made a note of the offer and decided to come back in a few weeks to see if there were steeper discounts.

   So we ended up there today. As we entered, we were attacked by a locust swarm of salespeople, who I brusquely ignored, while Mrs C told them we knew what we were looking for.
    We go right to where the chair is, and guess what? THE PRICE WENT UP! Now it is $649, and the discount price is $399!
    And this time a saleslady came over and told us it was marked down to $294!

    When my wife remarked that it was cheaper on the last visit, the smart ass saleslady cracked, "Well you should have bought it then."

   These people aren't even trying to hide how dishonest they are. I am sure people go in there and see stickers seeing something priced at $3000 marked down to $1500, then told they can get it for $1200, and think they are getting a deal. But if they shopped around, they would find the stuff marked as $3000 likely is worth $400 in a legitimate store. They had a few quality pieces, but much of it was mass produced junk that wouldn't hold up for more than a couple of years of use.
    I know junk, we purchased a sofa about ten years ago at an outlet and we knew exactly what we were getting for the low  price, It held up okay, considering we had three dogs that thought it a good place to sleep when we weren't looking, but it finally became too ugly to look at. I took an axe to it in the driveway, chopping it into small pieces so it fit into the Township supplied 90 gallon garbage bin.
   I enjoyed doing that.

    I think I would enjoy doing it again to much of the junk being sold at the Overpriced Furniture Store on Macarthur Road behind FedEx Kinkos as well. But we will never know, because money is tight, and we don't buy crap. We look for quality and getting our money's worth.

     By the way, we purchased a new Kenmore grill at Sears. I am going to try and assemble it during the week. That should be a barrel of laughs. And the topic of my next post.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Working in the warehouse world

   I am a professional Logistics person.In my previous job, I managed Warehouse operations at a facility near Philadelphia. In my present job, I oversee a team of employees who unload containers from overseas.. One thing that is really making me wonder is how much stuff we buy each and every day that is from China.
   It has all been hand loaded and when it gets to us, we have to get it unloaded, palletized, and ready for shipment to the retail concern that ordered it.
   You know those Martha furniture collections you see at certain big box stores? Tonight we unloaded three of those, ending up with close to 350 total pallets. All of it made IN CHINA. One of the difficulties of the job is that while the stuff comes in Steel containers, they have cheap plywood floors, and we can't risk taking a forklift in many of them because they will break the floor and get stuck in the container.

  It happens regularly. And some of the containers smell so bad with unidentified chemical fumes that I give the guys surgical masks to help them bear being in the damn things. Sometimes it makes you want to throw up, and some people do. I doubt China has much of an OSHA agency/

   But it is all made in China, and the guys joke that someday all the food will be made in China. As long as they make good Chicken fried rice, I could get by.

   So there's a little bit of trivia for you.

   Please note, I appreciate your comments and I will answer most emails.

   I have had to engage the Comment moderation because a blog spammer is using the comments to defile a friend of mine. But please feel free to email me.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

An entry two months in coming

It seems kind of ironic, but I write more now than I ever did. I just don't post as much. The biggest reason for that is I have had a lot of change in my life the last three months, transitioning to a new job and different hours. But I still spend more than an hour each night before going to bed at the computer letting out whatever is on my mind.
   This past weekend was the Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group annual Writer's conference, "The Write Stuff." I couldn't attend for two reasons, one because of my work schedule and the other being my finances. I really couldn't afford to take time off, let alone spend the money. With a double edged sword like that hanging over me, I made an early but difficult and disappointing choice not to attend. This was a sad weekend for me in that regard.

  But I do have good moments, such as this past Wednesday, when Morning Call Columnist Bill White had Blogger Kathy Frederick and I address his journalism class at Lehigh University about what it takes to have a blog. As part of the course the students have to start blogging, and I hope to eventually read, and maybe even link to some of their product.
   It was really rewardring to do, and I was honored and grateful to be asked.

   Spring has come to Trexlertown, even if the air temperature says it hasn't. I know Spring has come because the first Skunks have come out of their dens to spread their scent across the swamp/retention pond in the field behind us. Plus there is news that the Black Bear population in Pennsylvania has quadrupled in the past twenty years. Last year we had one just down the road on the south side of Mountain road in Lower Macungie raiding the bird feeders for food. I won't be surprised if I go out one day and see one in the Swamp behind the Trexlertown Shopping center north of Church Lane and East of Trexlertown road. Even better, how cool would it be if one scampered out of the woods at Rodale park and visited the Velodrome on a race night? That would be a sight to see! Macungie is the Lenape Indian word for Bear Swamp, and whether you live in Macungie Borough, or either Upper or Lower Township, we shouldn't be shocked if a bear shows up and starts drinking out of the Iron Run creek.

   That's all for now, But I promise to post at least twice a week for now on, since the distractions that held me back from posting regularly have now passed.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Once Again, I rant about out municipal government supplied, Tax dollar paid for Snow removal.

   Will the damn Snow ever end? I don't know what is worse, getting a behemoth two feet of the white stuff in one shot ot getting 4 to 6 inches every few days for a month. This much I do know:
   The wall of snow along the curb on my steet is now as high as the car windows, and backing out of your driveway is an adventure. You really can't see very far, or if anyone is coming. During the day it is worse because of sunglare on the White snow, but at least at night you can see the reflection from an oncoming car's lights.
    Once again I would like to ask the Township Snow Plow Drivers what is the point of plowing all the snow in the development onto my side of the street?
    Do you take a perverse pleasure in creating a four foot high, three feet deep frozen wall of ice at the end of my driveway, (and That of my neighbors?)
   I broke the wooden handle of a Steel shovel trying to break it down and make it manageable to move. My Neighbor's Snowblower literally blew up trying to penetrate that thing.
    Then the Township had the nerve to send someone around to make sure we had cleared our sidewalks, or face possible fines? The Township Dump Trucks/Plows go down the street with such speed that they threw the several feet of acculated snow not just to the curb, but they also buried many of the sidewalks that had been cleared with more than a foot of slushy ice, which as the temperature dropped into the teens, became rock hard. Try Shoveling that!  Thank you Township!

   Okay, I am done now. I spent several hours this weeken Shoveling the excessive snow and ice off my back deck. I don't want the excessive weight to buckle it.  I'm glad I dropped the gym membership last year. God knows I get more exercise now outside in the elements.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

In Trexlertown, some people are still stuffing their faces, but I don't think the economy is doing all that well.

    I have had a problem lately posting. I write every day, and the ideas always seem brilliant and funny when they are flowing from my fingertips to the keyboard. I have a rule about waiting a day to post, and nothing seems to pass muster when I come back to it. I have started wondering if maybe I am being too critical of my own work. Am I self conscious about my vision issues? Spell check doesn't always catch everything, and I hate it when I come back to a post a couple of days later and see a glaring mistake in syntax or spelling.
    Anyway, yesterday my wife and I went out to lunch, and three of the largest people I have ever seen weight wise were seated nearby. I have had my own weight issues in life, so I don't offer criticism easily. We can't really afford to eat out all the time, but we try to budget an occasional nice meal for ourselves, and this was a nice place that had reasonably priced steak.

     My question is, am I wrong to think that you shouldn't demand that a restaurant serve you another meal if you already ate the one you were given? These folks cleared off several appetizers and entrees, literally licking the plates clean. Then when the waitress asked them if their food was acceptable, they said no, and wanted it redone.
    In my opinion they had no shame, but a manager came to their table and they were eventually fed again. In contrast. my wife and I took much of our meal home to have later for dinner. There's no way we could have forced ourselves to indulge in the amount of food our neighbors at the other table consumed. To be honest, I thought they were downright gluttonous.
   I guess the manager felt it was better to keep them fat and happy than endure a possible scene if he had denied their demands.

   And that got me to thinking about how those gluttonous people truly represented what is wrong with a segment of American culture. There are people who just don't realize when they are indulging in too much of a good thing, and that it is really bad for them.

   Whether it is real estate speculators, Wall Street Greed whores, or Banks playing fast and lose with financial regulations, there are plain old Americans living on Main Street who don't know when enough is enough. They just gotta have more. And to keep the system going, someone enabled them and gave them what they wanted.

    One of these days the system is going to run out of fuel. In some cases it is Government printed Money. In other cases it is questionable loans made on overvalued real estate, but it all boils down to people spending money they truly don't have to have things they don't need, like too big of a house, or more food than they should rationally consume.
    Eventually the appetite of the greedy insatiable pigs at all levels is going to get introduced to the stringent diet of Macaroni and cheese that many of us regularly deal with.
    And you know what?
   They will probably demand that the Government make MORE available for them.

   We really need to start considering how to live within our means. I am fortunate that I am working, but from what I am seeing in the warehouse district, with many companies not even offering full time hours, I don't think the recovery is all it is cracked up to be. I don't think people are getting the message of what has happened in the last 3 years, and they haven't really felt the pain yet.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Murphy's Law of Housecleaning if you own dogs

I am like most people, I have weekends off from work, and that is when I do my share of housecleaning.
  If you have dogs, you know there is a bit more effort involved.

  We had a few inches of snow Friday Morning, and that meant our two Spaniels, Lucy and Sally would get their feet wet. That's no big deal, we have a tile floor in our foyer, and it's no big deal to contain them and wipe them down when they come back in, so they don't track wet puppy paw prints all over the house.

    Unless of course, you are me.

     Sometimes I bring absentmindedness to a whole new level. Saturday Morning I put them out and started mopping all the floors in the common areas. When I finished, I used an old towel to wipe them down, giving them a nice, clean, and shiny look.

    Then I went to let the dogs back in. Silly me, I forgot to put up the dog gate keeping them in the foyer before I opened the door.
     Damned if little 14 year old Lucy didn't trot on by and proceed to inspect every foot of the hallway, kitchen, and washroom that I had mopped while I tried to dry off Sally. It would be pointless to yell at Lucy, first, because she is deaf as a board, and second, I doubt she would understand what I was saying anyway.

    So I ended up closing them in the TV room for a few minutes while I did the cleaning all over again.

    The dog gate has wide slats that allow them to watch me, much like jailed prisoners watching a trustee mop the cell block.  Their eyes were wide, and literally bled with tears for me to take pity on them and let them help. I'm not that gullible. I do the same when I wash the bedsheets. Ever try to change bed linens with a dog that wants to help by jumping on the bed? I wouldn't advise it.

      Murphy's Law says that what can go wrong will go wrong. I would like to offer an addendum to that. Having a dog doubles the chances of things going wrong, but also quadruples the odds that you will laugh about it. And that is a Law I believe most of us can live with.