Monday, August 27, 2007

I Have a Whole New Respect ...

Look, I’m not saying that I didn’t respect plumbers in the past, but I never really gave much thought to how difficult their jobs are … that is, until Saturday. We’ve had a problem with our upstairs toilet for quite a while. The insides of the toilet tank were pretty old and failing. I decided I would replace the insides of the tank with new, more up-to-date ones. I thought that MAYBE it would take a few hours tops … boy was I mistaken!

The first part of the replacement procedure was easy enough – taking out the old inside parts. I accomplished this in less than ½ hour. I’m good at breaking things, so this came naturally to me. However, actually taking off the toilet tank posed a MUCH more difficult task. Just about all the bolts and wing-nuts were rusted together, and after a few hours of spraying them with WD-40, degreasers, and anything else I could think of, I finally had to break down, buy a small hack-saw, and cut them off.

After doing this, I had to call my dad, use an even bigger hack-saw, and cut off some more bigger parts of the toilet tank. We spent another few hours with this “fun” chore before we finally got everything off of it. The box, with the new equipment was right, however. It was easy installation … however, it never mentioned anywhere on the box how difficult it would be to take the old “guts” out.

Once we installed it, we tested it … and, as luck would have it, it leaked when it flushed … which, I somehow deduced was due to the rubber gasket on the bottom … the box said that I wouldn’t need any plumber’s putty … bull-sh&t! I ended up making 4 trips to Chrome Repot that day, but after more than 9 hours, I finally got the toilet working again.

A couple of things. First, it probably would’ve been easier, had I just bought an entire new toilet and installed that. Second, for some reason, the water isn’t filling up as quickly as it was before … it takes about 10 minutes for the tank to fill up now …. So now, we are using the downstairs toilet more … oh, what a nightmare.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Some Things About me ...

Snow Elf was kind enough to tag me with these questions. I like answering questions, and these were kind of fun. Read on, and maybe you’ll learn something about me.

4 Jobs I've Had
Waterbed mattress maker
PR intern for the Philadelphia Eagles
Pet shop worker
Telemarketer (oh, I hated that one).

4 Films I Could Watch Over and Over
Weird Science
Top Secret

4 Places I've Lived
Mont Alto, PA
Glenolden, PA
State College, PA
Folsom, PA

4 Favorite TV Shows
The Office
My Name is Earl

4 Favorite Foods
Chinese food (I like a lot of them)
Buffalo Wings

4 Websites I Visit Daily

4 Places I Would Love to Be
The Outer Banks
The Poconos
Brigantine/Atlantic City

4 Favorite Colors

4 Names I love but would/could not use for my children
Soda (Seinfeld)

4 People to Tag
*** I never tag anybody – feel free to do this on your own if you want ***

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

You're afraid of What???

By the commotion that my wife was making a few nights ago, one would’ve thought that a machine-gun-toting saber-tooth tiger was loose in the house. As I was upstairs watching The Illusionist (great flick, by the way), my wife was screaming and grunting, kind of like the Tasmanian Devil. I ran down the stairs as quickly as I could, not sure of what to expect.

As I reached the living room, my wife was pale as a ghost. She exclaimed that she saw a mouse, and that I needed to find it and kill it. Being the loving husband that I am, I searched the dining room, kitchen, bathroom, and other rooms, but to no avail. I helped her upstairs … she was practically paralyzed with fear, and I told her that I would go out and buy some mouse-traps, which of course I did.

I set them up in “strategic” places in the kitchen and dining room, and assured her that if the mouse was still in the area (my wife’s shrieks probably scared the mouse half-way to China), it would be “taken care of.” Of course, as luck would have it, no mouse in the traps as of this evening, so my wife is spending tonight and probably tomorrow night at her parents’ house – the exterminator is coming on Wednesday morning.

Now, I have fears – I really don’t like bees all that much. They don’t paralyze me with fear, or cause me to defecate in my pants, but I do end up looking like Mick Jagger during one of his music videos when they fly around me (probably a topic for another time).

The fear is overwhelming to my wife – I have never seen anything like it. I wonder if as a child she had some sort of bad experience watching the Mickey Mouse Club, or something like that. Or maybe, she had a bad experience dressing up as Mighty Mouse some Halloween.

The good news is that there will be peace and quiet in the house for the next few nights, and hopefully my wife will get some sleep at her parents’ place. I wanted to see if any of you have any fears like this.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Superbad is Supergood!

I went to see Superbad on Saturday with a couple of friends and my wife … have you ever been so excited to see a movie, any movie, like when Star Wars came out? OK, I’m not comparing Superbad to Star Wars in any way. I’ve always been a big fan of comedy, and I’ve especially liked the “rated R” comedies that have graced the movie screens the last 5+ years – like Old School, Anchorman, Wedding Crashers, 40 Year Old Virgin, and Knocked Up.

I heard about Superbad maybe 5 months ago – and have been eagerly anticipating it’s arrival ever since. Yesterday was the day, and ladies and gentlemen … the movie did NOT disappoint! Hands down, it is the funniest movie of the year. I was exhausted from laughing at the end of the movie, and I had trouble remembering some of my favorite lines, because … well, because there were so many.

The guy that stole the show was Michael Cera – he played Evan, one of the two main characters, along with Jonah Hill. Hopefully, you may remember Cera as the “George Michael” character in Arrested Development – he was brilliant in that show (which, by the way, was a fantastic show. I still scratch my head at the fact that a wonderfully written comedy like this can get taken off the air after only a few short seasons, while dreck like Two-and-a-Half Men, and King of Queens are still on the air … probably a subject for another blog). I don’t believe that Cera is even 20 yet, but his comedic timing is impeccable. He plays the “awkward” teen role spectacularly, and Jonah Hill was a nice “raunchy” compliment to him.

Sure, a lot of the movie is toilet humor, which may turn some of you off. But, there is a lot of “familiarity” to this movie – they captured high school life pretty well, and it seems to me that people from all generations will be able to relate. You know, things like getting invited to the cool kid’s party, trying to find a way to buy alcohol, having a difficult time trying to ask a girl out, sheer pervertedness … this is what all good teen comedies play off of, and Superbad hit it out of the park.

BTW – there was a preview for another comedy, it looks like a spoof on the Johnny Cash “Walk the Line” movie – looked pretty funny. That one’s out in December.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year ...

I know, I know – why would I say this about the dog days of August? Well, let me enlighten you. Football season is about to start, which means TV will no longer be supersaturated with ridiculous NASCAR coverage, and now will be supersaturated with everything pig-skin. Football on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays, and even Thursdays … men can now get out of their “hibernation” state, and instead spend countless hours laying on the couch … wait, maybe I got that mixed up.

Anyway, not only will I be rooting on my favorite professional team, the Philadelphia Eagles, but I will also be cheering Joe-Pa’s Nittany Lions, hoping they crush Notre Dame, as well as Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. Sure, both teams will probably find a way to make me miserable, but it’s August – the season hasn’t started yet, so my hopes are as high as Lindsay Lohan right now.

On top of this, fantasy football once again will take center-stage, as we all get to “pretend” to be general managers with the hopes of winning championships and lots of money. After a disappointing last season (I took Shaun Alexander with the first pick instead of Tomlinson), I look to rebound. I certainly won’t be taking Vince Young, now that he is on the cover of Madden ’08 – I’ve learned my lesson.

Surprisingly, the Phitin’ Phillies are still hangin’ around the playoff scene, and playing good ball despite the lack of a good pitching rotation and bullpen, as well as a plethora (hey, that’s the name of my blog site) of injuries. So, on those Tuesday and Wednesday nights when there is no football, I have something to watch.

And yes, I’m still happily married … somehow.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Music to my Ears ... NOT!

A few days ago, a family member asked for a favor ... and since I can’t say no to family (sadly, no matter what, sometimes), I agreed to help out. Normally, a family favor includes assisting with computer-type issues, helping to move small furniture in or around the house, or something … er, not so difficult.

This request, however, was different. A cousin I don’t normally see very often, asked me, my brother, and my cousin-in-law to help move a piano … in 100-degree weather … with less than 1 day’s notice … about an hour away. I REALLY felt like saying no … I really did. I’m not even sure why I agreed to do this. I get this feeling that thanks to my German heritage, traditional work-ethic, and the importance I place on family, it was darn-near impossible for me to say no.

Thankfully, it wasn’t a baby-grand piano … that would’ve sucked. No, it was your basic piano that you probably saw in music class back in grade school. It wasn’t overly heavy, at least not for the 4-5 of us helping to move it. We got the piano up into the U-Haul in no-time flat. However, the destination posed a problem or two.

You see, my cousin wanted the piano in the living room of her house, brought in through the front door, which required the U-Haul to be backed-in in a precarious way – having to be maneuvered between trees, and uneven ground. It took quite a few pull-ups and back-ups (that’s what she said) to get the truck in a good position. However, we never took into account how the front door would open (oops), and my cousin’s husband had to actually basically take the door off its hinges in order for us to successfully move the piano in. It took what seemed to be 45 minutes to finally get the piano in the house, and of course, we were there much longer than I anticipated.

After leaving the house, drenched in sweat, and rather tired and thirsty, we trekked home, thinking the worst of it was over. However, since we left at around 9:00 p.m., we would have to deal with construction on I-95 North, that happened to start at … you guessed it … 9:00 p.m. Not only did we have to deal with this, but at one point, after picking up our car at my cousin-in-laws house (yeah, we car-pooled – think environment first!), we got stopped at a railroad crossing – the train was going at about 5 mph, and had about 175 cars (as a child, I would’ve been in heaven, as I loved trains back then … however, now they are more of a nuisance).

I guess I can count my blessings. First, I didn’t break the piano (I am known for my clumsiness). Second, I didn’t hurt myself (again, I’m known for this). And third, we didn’t get into any car accidents. But, the biggest blessing is, that next time I have a bunch of sh*t to move, I know who I’m calling first.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

What a Workout....

My wife and I have been talking about getting a new elliptical trainer for quite a while now – ever since our “Gazelle” broke. I’ve been using a rowing machine we have, but I hate it, and my wife really wants a workout that challenges her. We did some research, and decided to buy the Pro Form ( from Sears.

Being “savvy” shoppers that we are, we decided to take a ride down to Delaware, the home of tax-free shopping, to purchase the elliptical. Normally, this is a 20-minute ride for us, but, as luck would have it, PennDot was once again doing construction on I-95, near the airport. This seems to be an annual occurrence, and one would think that PennDot would have so much practice, that they would eventually get it right … but that’s never my luck. They decided to turn the heavily-traveled airport area from a 3-lane to a 1-lane highway, causing a backup that stretched for miles.

Luckily, I knew other ways to get to Delaware … unfortunately, so did everyone else, which meant that the route 1 bypass was also clogged. The 20-minute ride ended up taking me well over an hour. But, to not pay taxes on a $350.00 machine seemed worth it. We finally got there, purchased the machine, loaded it into the car, and made our way back home.

However, once we unloaded the box, brought it in, and started unpacking the pieces, we came to a realization … namely, that the machine we had purchased was already broken … I kind of got the feeling that they sold us one that was already opened before. The main part of the machine was cracked badly, and pieces that had cracked off littered the bottom of the box. We were NOT happy.

My wife called Sears, and talked to one of the sales people – she was hoping that they would come out and deliver a new one for us … and although the customer service was really friendly, they weren’t willing to do that. They did say that they would give us a discount on the machine if we brought it back and picked up another one … of course, we weren’t too thrilled about traveling out there again with I-95 being all screwed up.

We decided to go Sunday morning, and hopefully beat the traffic. But, as luck would have it, I-95 was already backed up again the next morning. My alternate route, however, was clear sailing, and we made it there in about 40 minutes, got our new machine, came back home, and assembled it in about an hour. I’ve already used it twice, and I’m sore as hell … hey, at least it’s working, right?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Memories, Part 3

So, I was reminiscing some more about my childhood – don’t worry, I’m not having a mid-life crisis … at least I don’t think I am. Anyway, I found this really cool website about all things 1980’s, and it has an entire section on toys from the 1980’s. It’s called I did some searches on some of my favorite (and least favorite) toys:

1. Mr. Quarterback – here is the description of the toy: The device used like a catapult so that you could catch your own football. Just cock the arm back, set the timer, and run a few feet forward.

Literally, that’s all you could do, run about 5 feet forward, and catch this plastic football. Of course, they made the commercial sound so cool, and Roger Staubach even endorsed it. I remember them saying that Mr. Quarterback could throw the ball up to 25-yards. What a load of crap – the only way this could happen is if it was throwing the ball down hill, and you allowed the football to bounce.

2. The Green Machine - A lime-green variant of the big wheel did without handlebars and front-wheel steering in favor of two levers attached by metal rods to a pivoting rear axle. By pulling one lever all the way back and slamming the other forward, you could spin the green machine out--impossible on a big wheel. There was also a variant of the green machine called the "Blue Max."

Oh my god – this was the king of big wheels. I wanted one of these so bad, and my parents never let me get one. I had that stupid orange one … it was like a pinto compared to the Green Machines that both my cousins got.

3. Barrel O’ Monkeys – Little plastic monkeys that hooked together at the elbow

Much like army-men, these plastic apes came in, you guessed it, a barrel. There really wasn’t anything really exotic about them, but it seemed like all kids had them.

4. Crossbows and Catapults - You had a place mat with an emblem of treasure. You had to build a castle around the treasure using little plastic bricks. Each team had a crossbow, or a catapault that launched these coin-looking things at the opponent's castle. The first team to land their team's coin inside of the castle won.

My friends and I played this for hours. I remember wanting this so badly for Christmas, and there were some news stations that compared the popularity of this to the Cabbage Patch Kids … but somehow, my mom (or Santa) got this game for me … one of my favorite games of all time as a kid.

5. Magic Rock Garden - Put these little rocks into an old mayonaise jar and add water. Little stalagtites and stalagmites would grow from the top and bottom of the jar.

My mom never let me get these … I always loved the commercials for it.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Memories, Part 2

Ah, the month of August is upon us. In keeping with my “reminiscing” theme, this was the point of time in the summer when mom would take me to Woolco (later – Kmart) to buy supplies for school. It would be time to find a new backpack – one that would withstand all of the books, notebooks and other crap I would force into it for around 9 months. Then, there would be the search for the perfect trapper keeper – one that was either plan, or had some sort of cool Garfield or Superfriends design on it. Time to find pencils, pens, notebooks, and folders. Time to go to Clover, and/or the Springfield Mall to find cool-clothes to wear for the upcoming school year (I’m guessing this is not as big of a deal anymore, because many schools are going with the “school uniforms.”

It was also time for soccer practice to start … yes, I was (am?) a soccer geek. In high school, we started our training for the upcoming soccer season in early August. We would practice in the mornings and afternoons for weeks leading up to the school year. Sure, it was really tough work, and at the time, I would’ve rather been swimming or sleeping, but I trudged through it. The smell of freshly cut grass will always remind me of that soccer field next to Interboro high school, where I would spend most of my time during the dog days of August.

I particularly remember the jump from middle school to high school. I heard such horror stories about rampant drug use, that I expected drug dealers at every hallway corner … which was never the case. I remember thinking I wasn’t ready for high school, and how classes would be infinitely harder. True, the classes were harder, but they weren’t that much harder.

I also remember thinking about all the new students I would meet (we had four other middle schools feeding into our high school), and getting anxious about meeting new girls. A range of emotions went through me – at one point I would be very excited, at another point, I’d be quite scared … I’d be sad that the days of Glenolden school would be over, and at times be happy about the same thing (if that makes any sense). The anticipation was probably the hardest part of the entire process.