Sonic Talk

After deciding a “mall walk” was better than a walk where I would be forced to hold an umbrella over my head, I checked in with my wife. If she hadn’t already gotten our drinks at Sonic, I would pick them up on the way home.

With the drink ordered on the app at a stop light 3 miles from the location, I pulled into Sonic to get the Route 44 Coke Zero w/ easy ice and the Route 44 w/ a shot of blackberry flavoring and no ice. My weekday buddy Jordan brought the drinks out almost immediately after I checked in. (Georgia usually brings them out on Sunday. She is effective, but not as friendly as Jordan.)

Me: Just coming back from the mall. Boy, was it dead!

Jordan: With the weather, I would have thought it would have been busy.

Me: I don’t go to the mall very often, but in my opinion, there was almost no one there.

Jordan: When I grew up in Jersey, and it rained, we would go to the mall all of the time.

Me: The good thing was fewer people to share the samples with in the food court.

Jordan: Yes, I liked the samples. The problem was the people giving the food samples always wanted to talk your leg off.

Me: I know, just like my server at Sonic. [Delivered with a wink]

Jordan: Good enough. [Said with a smile]

I don’t bond with everyone, but when I do, it often involves humor. I enjoy having some non-family members in my life to tease. My wife and housemates often reach the saturation point before I am satirically spent.

A Eulogy For My Father

My father was a man of few words, but his influence on me was profound. He taught me the value of hard work and dedication and showed me how to be a kind and thoughtful person.

From him, I learned that no matter what life throws at you, it is important to stay positive and keep moving forward. He also showed me how important it is to be true to yourself and stay humble even in the face of success. His belief that we can always learn from our mistakes has been one of my guiding principles.

My dad was an amazing role model, teaching me about perseverance, fairness, and respect for others. Even when faced with adversity, he always managed to keep his head up, setting an example that I strive to follow every day. He also shared his love of gardening and plants, which I still enjoy.

I am grateful for all the lessons he taught me during our brief time together. It is hard to believe he has been gone for 37 years. As I have come into adulthood more fully and heard various stories about him from all across the spectrum, I hope the stories told about me when I am gone will paint a consistent picture.

His loss has left an emptiness in my life, but I take comfort in knowing that his legacy will live on through everything he passed down to me and my siblings — his values, strength, and unwavering sense of duty.

While my earthly father has been gone many years now (37 as of 2 days ago), I pretend he looks down on me occasionally and says, “There is my oldest son. He has done okay.” Since my religious beliefs don’t subscribe to “my earthly father” looking down on me, I hope my Heavenly Father knows me and that I seek his influence daily.

I am glad to have the father I did. Once he and my mother allowed me to pass into adulthood, the world attempted to claim me for its own. I am grateful my Heavenly Father did not allow that to be so. It is to Him I hope my life eulogizes.

Why Buzzards Are The Perfect Spies

Tree full of buzzards

As I came back from my walk today (actually a few days ago, but it sounds like I am more organized if I claim it as today), I saw the ominous tree full of buzzards. Besides these perching few, there was a handful circling above. I try not to get overly paranoid, but with the help of an AI app, I think my feelings are properly conveyed below…

Buzzards are nature’s most efficient hunters, but did you know they can also make great spies? With their remarkable vision and stealthy flying capabilities, buzzards can observe and gather information without being noticed.

One of the main reasons why buzzards are so good at spying is their incredible vision. Buzzards can see small objects from up to two miles away! This means they can easily watch a person or object from far away without being detected. Thanks to this sharp vision, buzzard spies can observe and watch without risking detection.

In addition to their impressive vision, buzzards have the perfect body for flying long distances without making any noise. They have large wingspans which allow them to hover in mid-air for a long time, allowing them to view the area below with ease. This also enables them to remain undetected while spying, as they blend in with the sky and never make a sound.

Finally, buzzards possess an innate intelligence that helps them assess situations quickly and react accordingly. They can understand their surroundings and make decisions based on what they observe. This makes them ideal for gathering information in difficult environments where it might be hard for a human spy to go undetected.

In conclusion, buzzards make perfect spies thanks to their incredible vision, silent flying capabilities, and ability to assess situations quickly. Their stealthy nature makes them ideal for gathering information without being detected, allowing them to serve as valuable assets in any espionage mission!

My Pretty Thumb Nail

I don’t like my nails too long, and I don’t like them gnawed back to the nub. I like them just right. My left thumbnail has not been just right for a long time. This is how I “think” it got that way…

It was somewhere just before COVID. I developed a passion for pistachios–specifically the shelled variety. I was never brave enough to take on my wife’s wrath by eating them while watching TV on the couch. But, lest we get distracted, it wasn’t a problem with where I ate the pistachios; it was how I ate them. The shells on most of these green nuts were anxious to give up their contents–the happier the shell, the easier the nut was removed. [see Happy Fruit] The problem was when the shell was not smiling at all.

Back in my early days of eating pistachios, my left thumbnail was the “wedge” of choice. I would lodge it between the barely smiling shells and try and pry the shell open. While I had a good deal of success, it slowly eroded the layers of my thumbnail. Over time, the central part of my thumbnail was depleted of a layer or two of its “naily-ness.” When I was made aware of the “use the shell from a pistachio to pry open your future pistachio” method, my thumbnail was spared any further shame.

The nail continued in this degraded state for many months. Even though my thumb was no longer a tool for snacking, the nail never recovered. It continued to peel back since it was not smooth. I would trim it hoping to fix the problem, but the nail was always peeling beyond my ability to comfortably trim it back. Then I saw my daughter’s clear fingernail polish…

I have never had my fingernails done. There is a vague memory of my mother twisting my arm and having my toenails done when I was very young…or maybe it was my brother. The clear polish provided a possible solution to my problem. First, it would provide a smooth coat on my nail. If the nail was smooth, the layers of the nail would not continue to wear away unevenly. And, the big one, the clear polish would go mostly unnoticed.

The longer the recovery takes the more selective I can be in helping with dinner. I have been known to say, “I can’t help cut potatoes now because I just did my nail.”

I am close to restoring my nails, but it has not been entirely smooth. I have had to do multiple coats to make the polish more durable. I have had to let my wife in on my project. As long as I stay with the clear polish, she tells me she won’t worry about me. If I am lucky and my daughter forgets to take her clear polish back to school with her, my thumb may return to its naturally handsome state by the end of the month…or later.

The Jambalaya Compromise

When you are billeting (they live with you) a house full of junior hockey players (3 of them are 18 and one of them is 19), you get the opportunity to eat with them on a regular basis. With their practices often being in the afternoon with minimal food consumed prior to practice, the call to “eat dinner together” has varying levels of enthusiasm. Depending on how long ago they ate their post-practice Chik-Fil-A or Chipotle, they may not be hunger. And, if they are hungry, there is the distinct possibility the meal won’t tickle all of their taste buds.

Over the past 4ish months they have been living with us, we have found a couple of meals that will reliably pull them away from their video games and voluntarily bring them downstairs to eat with us.

  • Pizza: I cannot lie. We make a pretty good pizza. My role is “dough maker” and sausage and bacon fryer. If we have the full crew on that night, we make at least one each of the following: pepperoni, sausage, and barbecue chicken.
  • Sliders: We will make 36-48 of these. Aldi’s has the best price on the bread, and the boys love them for warmups. Since “second dinner” is usually consumed by at least half of the boys, this is a big deal.

The rest of the things we make for them have less than full enthusiasm.

  • One of them doesn’t like gravy.
  • One of them didn’t think he liked meatloaf, but he is possibly the best eater now.
  • Only one of them likes roasted sweet potato cubes with rosemary. This is one of our favorites. It is unfortunate.
  • One of them (quite possibly one of those already referred to above) doesn’t like tomatoes in any form.
  • A random thing–one of them likes lots of whipped cream on his pancakes and some baked items.
  • They will all put roasted broccoli on their plate, and sometimes they will eat it.
  • After the boys were gone one night and found out there was Chinese in the refrigerator, two of the boys came down to claim it as their second dinner that night.
  • The visit to “flavor town” left the curry and gumbo out in the cold. The fried rice entered the semi-regular meal rotation.

With these facts in mind, I felt compelled to try something new with them. Unfortunately, the available protein was pointing me toward Jambalaya. How did I handle this? I made the jambalaya as an “optional” lunch item. My gut told me one of the boys would very likely enjoy it. Two of them might think it is okay. One of them would definitely find the tomatoes and the spice beyond his range. (It would be a street he would never visit in Flavor town.) This compromise – a meal for all but only if they wanted to try it without having it as their only dinner option- allowed everyone to participate as they chose.

In the end, I did get my jambalaya. The one who enjoyed it added hot sauce because he could. The other Chinese lover thought it was good. And, the other two didn’t even try any–no matter how hard we nudged them. It made plenty and and the “second dinner” stores were replenished for a couple of days. If I can find another rice-centric recipe, I am going to try it!

Country Code 60

As I was heading home from church today, I received this delightful text from “Maria.”

Hi, I’m Maria. I’m glad to see you here. I want to find my soul mate here.  I’m 29 years old and single. (don’t talk to me about sex or I’ll be mad, under 22 Do not disturb) Add my whatsapp: +16398541530   We can share our daily life together and get to know each other better

Interestingly, the phone number she texted me from is: +60 11 7227 6439. I don’t know much about international phone numbers, but what I do know leads me to believe dear Maria is from Malaysia. (Malaysia’s country code is 60)

I am sure Maria is a delightful young lady who has reached out to me alone to build this lasting relationship. For her sake, I wish she would have chosen better. The warning about “sex talk” is also greatly appreciated. It is clear she would be the type of person I would look for if I hadn’t already been married for over 3 decades.

Sharing my life with someone based on the information she provided is going to be difficult. Do I start texting her about COVID and see where that leads? Do we talk about books we both have read? It is perplexing what she would see in a guy like me…

The biggest concern is where this dear young lady got my cell phone number. Since I have not willingly registered on any sites that “Maria” would frequent, I can only guess my number was acquired in a dark or very shaded part of the internet. Alternatively, maybe poor Maria was supposed to meet her “dream guy”, but she typed the number in incorrectly and got me. The guilt will haunt me. Yet, I am going to wonder what could have been…

Poop Shaming

While alliteration might cause me to choose a different title, I will stick with the more accepted and equally effective title chosen.

I have been there myself sometimes. I see all of the people walking their dogs. When the dogs do their business, the owners act like they were born to clean up after them. Is this consistent behavior, or is it only the behavior dog owners want you to trust always takes place?

Apparently, someone out there (not me) took it upon themselves to call this assumption into question. The flags I saw this morning made me wonder what dog walkers do when no one is watching. The flagged product in the image is weathered more than the 5 other feces piles recognized by the frustrated individual. It must have frustrated them greatly that they could not flag coyote scat when deposited in the middle of the sidewalk. Of course, the origin of sidewalks is only assumed to be from coyotes. Vindictive owners waging a campaign on the positive effects of letting excrement break down naturally might also be responsible. After all, the feces fulfill their purpose in fertilizing wherever destiny deposits them.

While I don’t plan on cleaning up after the canines who have been flagged, I do take comfort knowing someone else out there does think like I do. When those thoughts enter my brain, I am content to let them die a quick death. I have a neighbor who believes otherwise. He/she believes this is a battle worth fighting. They want to mark every battle waged with a flag. When the owner goes by, they want that flag to trigger immense guilt within the hearts of those lazy dog owners. They are fighting for the dignity of the grass these “poop piles” are desecrating.

Transitioning from poop to Christmas is not easy to do. I will save that for the more gifted bloggers. To those who celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Just A Shard…

On another morning this past week, the heavily callused bottom of my foot had to ward off an attack from a shard of clear glass. It was barely a tickle as my foot’s defenses developed over multiple decades kicked in. (I love how I used a foot verb to describe the defenses the foot has against sharp objects, but I digress.) It was barely bigger than a grain of salt. With no knowledge of invasive creatures that poop glass of such small sizes, I had to seek out another culprit for my attempted injury.

With the recent mouse adventure still fresh on my mind, I vowed to take a more logical approach on solving this mystery.

  • The Kitchen: Did any baking go on that could have caused a glass (actual glass or a baking item)to be thrown into the far reaches of the kitchen area? I couldn’t think of anything, but the extra kids in our house are not always the best proactive communicators.
  • Christmas: Christmas decorations only started going out yesterday. The shard made its appearance/penetration at the end of last week. No candle holders or broken ornaments to blame here. The culprit must be something else…
  • Shoes: Could anyone have walked through a field (it wouldn’t have to be a full field, but visualizing a full field of glass sure is more interesting than saying a “broken drinking glass”.) of glass and brought some of it into the house on their shoes?

It is the latter that is likely the winner with some slight modifications. At the beginning of November, we had new windows installed in our home. With the exception of one window, all windows on the first floor are now new. According to the building code, if a window is within so many feet (maybe 4?) of a door, the window must have tempered glass. Tempered glass is glass that shatters into a million tiny pieces when it breaks. This prevents the glass from developing sharp edges that could cause serious injury. When the glass from the window near the back door was taken out, the glass broke into SO many pieces. While tarps were laid out prior to the removal and brooms/mops circumnavigating the floor numerous times, one of our residents encountered a very small piece of glass under the table during dinner within a couple days of the window installation.

While my glass prick or tickle was a month removed from the “window swap party”, no other explanation can account for it. It was kind of like a bacteria that was lingering around with the hopes it could bring down one more victim. If it were a suitable victim, the bacteria could take down a household, then a street, then a town, a state, and then the world. In this case, my calluses were like my immune system. And…yes, it is time to end this posting…;-)

The Mouse that Got Away

The day started with me in the bathroom staring at something that easily could have been a piece of black rice. After extensive testing and asking the “bug guy” who came to do his quarterly spraying what it was, it was determined it was nothing excreted from the floor of our house. When presented with the evidence, the bug guy tried to put me at ease, saying, “If you only saw one, it is probably from a cockroach.” [Please see the image below]

With the faithful bug guy alerted and spraying the whole house, I hoped he would leave with a smile on his face and the word, “nothing” on his lips. Unfortunately, this was not the case. While in the downstairs guest bedroom, he drew my attention to some additional evidence. “These look a little old. They are definitely from a mouse.” [The bug guy also told me about finding a raccoon in an attic in Dallas. The raccoon had a minion of rats that he did not hesitate to use as ammo on anyone who would enter his domain.] We did not have an infestation. We could not write the problem off. Somehow our house had acquired a mouse, and the evidence was in two rooms.

I didn’t immediately tell my wife. I let the visions of glue traps dance through my head. I worried about how I would find the ideal spot to place the traps in light of minimal evidence of our resident rodent. I tried to forgive myself for somehow allowing an uninvited creature to join our family. There is always room for geckos and small lizards to have easy access to our homes, but adding a warm-blooded home-crasher to the census was beyond what I could easily digest.

After dinner, I mentioned to my wife the excitement she had missed while at work. I mentioned the bug guy and the mouse evidence discovered by both him and me. I barely told her about my concerns when she said, “It was probably when [our daughter’s name] came over for Thanksgiving. She brought her hamster[Kevin], and he escaped one night. Remember how they couldn’t believe they found Kevin after Kevin was out of his cage for a few hours.” And, yes, I did remember.The present theory that the mouse wasn’t a mouse but a hamster is the preferred one. This does not mean we don’t have a very clean mouse strolling through the various rooms of our home with a creature following him making sure very little evidence is left behind. What I can say for sure is Kevin may look like a hamster, but in the eyes of a bug guy, he is a mouse.

Bananas Over Bananas

As the kids worked their way through breakfast this morning, the last banana was eaten. I mumbled a phrase that included “Sam’s” and “restocking” to appease those who felt cheated of their full banana breakfast quota.

While at Sam’s along with the two bunches of bananas, I had a variety of snack bars, salads, and the ever-necessary package of toilet paper. (Some members of our household just love the stuff.). The self-checkout lane was open. I was happy to forego building a relationship with a cashier. Unfortunately, I had to meet a team of employees floating around helping those who were challenged by the self-scanner. In my case, it was necessary. When I attempted to scan my bananas, the screen displayed a “RETRY” prompt. I attempted to scan both bunches of bananas before the “team” told me, “Someone else had problems with this register earlier. I guess we are going to have to shut it down now.” They continued talking. I heard words like, “cancel transaction” and “so sorry.”, but I was moving on to a new lane by then.

After letting a couple people ahead of me and attempting to jump in quicker moving lanes, I eventually had the opportunity to scan my cart of groceries again. After scanning my proteins, I went after my bananas again. Immediately after scanning one of the bunches, the “RETRY” came up on the screen again. I dropped the scanner into the basket and gave the “team” the evil eye. The team lead punched in her code and circumvented the scanner with the bananas. My question of, “Shouldn’t you check to see if there is a problem with that SKU?” was met with a stare and assurance that it would take care of itself, eventually.

As I was finishing my transaction, the person next to me also paralyzed the self-checkout while scanning bananas. The reassuring team calmed her by saying, “We had two other customers who had the same problem this morning.” I am pretty sure they knew it was me both times, but did they?