August 2010


I stumbled across the commercial on YouTube today and I just love the 60s chic feel and the high camp they have going on.

Mrs. Clark is played by Patty Regan who appeared as a guest star in quite a few sitcoms of the era, including playing “Dolly”, the horse turned into a human, in an episode from the second season of Bewitched.

Bonus points to he or she that can identify the three commercials that are referenced in this commercial.

Jury Duty, Part 2.

Okay, so the trial went faster than anticipated and after only 10 minutes of deliberation, the jury found the accused guilty on two counts. The defendant flipped out and started yelling during closing statements and had to be removed from the room. He was back for the verdict where he remained calm.

I stared at him for a few moments trying to get a sense of what his deal was. He stared back. It was a little unnerving. I don’t know if I’m suppose to do that, but I did.

I was impressed with the eclectic group (the way it’s suppose to be!) of jurors. Everyone asked reasonable questions and we each had a turn to speak our piece.

Serving on a jury was an amazing experience and I won’t ever dread doing my part again. I kind of look forward to it and might request a release so I can do it in four years instead of eight. I have a new appreciation for our legal system and now to sound overly dramatic, but I also have a strong sense of patriotism again.

Jury Duty.

I received the summons a couple of weeks ago and I kind of took the “what a pain the ass” attitude. It was a call to jury duty for the last week of August. And here it is the last week of August.

I needed to start calling in nightly beginning on Friday. I called in Sunday night and was told by a pleasant voice on a recording that no jurors were needed for Monday 30 Aug 10. One down, four to go. I called in last night and was told that those holding numbers 1 through 110 had to report for jury selection at 9:00 on Tuesday. That would be today. Be prompt, but not before 8:30 and be sure to park in the designated parking area.

I arrived at 8:35, was scanned like I was stepping onto a 737 and went into the bowels of the County Courthouse, where I filled out a questionnaire and sat with the 109 other people that were awaiting their chance to do their civic duty. Once I got to the courthouse I have to admit that my attitude changed and I was kind of looking forward to the experience because it seemed quite interesting. After reciting the pledge of allegiance and a few opening remarks from the Commissioner of Jurors or something like that (and he looks way too much like a thug for that role, but that’s just my opinion), we watched a 20 minute video feature Ed Bradley, Diane Sawyer and a really important judge for the State of New York. The video was interesting and wasn’t too peppy. I wasn’t really in the mood to be waving the flag and of learning the importance of my patriotism complete with fireworks coming out of my ears and the video didn’t do much of that. It really just outlined what was expected of a juror and the importance of it.

The guy that looked like a thug informed us that jury selection was underway for a criminal trial and that we would be escorted up to the fifth floor of the courthouse to begin the selection. My number of 24 was randomly chosen and plopped me into the 9th seat in the jury box. I answered a few questions that were asked by the judge and then took my seat. Both sides asked those of us in the jury box a few questions, I didn’t have to answer any personal questions directly, and then they went into chambers where decisions were made.

When everyone returned to the courtroom, I found that I wasn’t excused from the trial. I am juror #7 and according to the judge, will be doing the legal thing until end of business tomorrow.

This is an interesting experience.

Autumn Breezes.

The air is starting to feel a bit like autumn. This is a good thing, since autumn is my favorite time of the year. There is a certain amount of magic on the winds of autumn and I revel in that magic. I find that while summertime affords the most amount of freedom as far as playing outside, there is a heaviness in the air that bogs me down slightly. Autumn is where I can soar, albeit while bundled up just a little bit.

This weekend it’s all about the camping. The schedule has been a mad race to do as much as possible before Labor Day. And then I’m up for jury duty starting Monday, ironically, the same day my latest speeding ticket gets called to the judge.

Perhaps I can throw myself in the slammer so I can get some rest.

Speak Up.

How many times have you gone into your assigned voting place, stared at the voting machine (or whatever newfangled version they’ve settled on now) and rolled your eyes as you pulled the lever, colored in the circle or touched the screen. As a proud American I know that I have on more occasions than I want to admit. Now why are you rolling your eyes? Because you’re picking from two candidates for an important office and quite frankly, you’re forced to vote for the one that sucks less. And that doesn’t leave you with a good, patriotic feeling, now does it. I know it doesn’t for me.

George Carlin used to quip that we had sixty brands of dog food to choose from on our supermarket aisles but basically only two candidates to choose from when it came to voting for President of the United States. And there’s a really good chance that those two candidates got up there by way of lots and lots of money.

Now, let’s swing this around a little bit. Up until about 10 or 12 years ago, if your average, middle-class American family wanted to do some shopping, they have several choices of department store chains to choose from. In 1990 when I worked for the Hills Department Store chain in the small western New York city of Jamestown, we were warned that if we screwed up and got fired, we wouldn’t be able to work at any of the chain stores in Jamestown or the surrounding areas, and that included Hills, Ames, Zayre, K-mart and Jamesway. Five department stores to choose from in a city of less than 35,000 people. We had choices and it was good.

Today, I live in a city of just over 60,000 and we basically have two chains to choose from: Wal*mart and Target. Admittedly, we also have a K-mart but it’s really depressing to go into that store. I have been told by several people over the years this is because the United States is headed in this direction: big corporations bring lower prices to consumers, which ultimately is a good thing for all involved. Except it’s not. Because while we are reveling at the fact that we bought at $10.00 toaster at Wal*Mart (Always White Trash, Always) and that it won’t blow up or electrocute anyone for at least a year, the fact remains in that we are settling for two things: having our choices narrowed down and/or dictated to us and items of mediocre value at best.

Now that we are down to two choices, we have to choose the lesser of two evils when they start playing their political tricks. Our friends at Target recently donated $150,000 to an anti-gay, anti-union candidate for governor in Minnesota. There is a growing movement to boycott Target and quite frankly, the reasons they outline I believe in. But that leaves me with one other choice: Wal*Mart.  And lord knows that I don’t agree with many of Wal*Mart’s practices, including the low wages for their employees (urging them to find public assistance to compensate for their crappy benefits), their vendor lock out policies (if you don’t package it the Wal*Mart way, you’re out) and their basic sterilization of the American community where you’ll almost always find a Wal*Mart 1.2 miles outside of town, luring consumers away from whatever is left in your basic American downtown, ultimately leaving said once-thriving business district as a bunch of run-down empty buildings.

Yes, I over dramatize, but someone has to.

We are distracted from the control being taken away from the American people on a daily basis by news outlets that go on for DAYS about Dr. Laura saying the “N-word” (which, by the way, is her right though it is not something I agree with) and hourly updates on how Lindsey Lohan is doing in jail.

There are groups in the United States paying MILLIONS of dollars to prove and tell you that gays shouldn’t marry because their love isn’t valid. It isn’t natural. It isn’t real. Heterosexual people can marry eight, nine, ten or how many ever times it takes to “feel natural” but by god, my unequivocal, undeniable, “unnatural” love for Earl isn’t real.

Put these two choices on a ballot: allow gays to marry or allow them to declare themselves gay and pay only 75% of the taxes married couples pay. If we are not afforded the same rights then we shouldn’t pay the same amount of money to maintain those rights.

I have two nephews that I love dearly. And at times I feel horrible for them because this is such a screwed up world we are leaving for them. Ice chunks many times the size of Manhattan are breaking off the ice shelf, people are going around spreading messages of hate in the name of religion and people are working very hard to make everything either a black or white issue: you’re Christian or you’re not, you’re Republican or you’re a Democrat, you love your country or you down. Well I’m sorry, future generations deserve better than that, and the only way that is going to happen is if we make good choices and more importantly, we have many choices to choose from.

By the way, Saturday night we needed some dry goods that we would normally buy at Target. We skipped Target, avoided Wal*Mart and drove 30 miles round trip to go to a halfway decent K-mart.

It was the gray in a sea of black and white.

The Coyote’s After You.

This blog entry will be updated as this personal saga continues.  We have Time Warner Roadrunner high speed (“turbo”!) Internet service. As of 2130 last night the speeds were down to a crawl. I called the local service number at 2210 after using my considerable geek skills to diagnose the issue: packet loss due to poor signal strength on the modem. Rebooting five times did not resolve the issue. Isolating the network to just one computer hooked to the modem resulted in the same deal. I was going to have to call.

Tue 10 Aug 10

2210: Dial my 10 digit home number, 2, 1, 2, 4. Waited on hold for 35 minutes listening to a badly chopped up marketing message and then I hung up. I know why the marketing message was chopped up and I can’t believe they’re still using that service.

Wed 11 Aug 10

0536: same dialing deal. Todd in Albany. Confirms my issues. Next appointment is between 0800 and 1200 on Tue 17 Aug. Call back after 0600 to talk to someone local since he’s on a skeleton crew and can’t really do much. A 24/7 service does not deserve 24/7 support.

0601: same dialing deal. Nancy. Use of IM makes me suspect she’s working from home. She needs me home phone number (even though I just typed it in) to confirm I am who I am. She says Tue 17 Aug because my speeds are slow instead of down completely. I offer to go outside and fully break it. She gasps. I ask for someone on the 13th since we can have someone at the house then. She says no, I have to be home today, take it or leave it. I lie and say yes though no one will be home. She’s not technical. No shit, but I give her credit for being mechanical.

0707: home phone, 2 1 2 2 4. Joe after 8 minute wait. In order to get an evening appointment you have to schedule your outage or trouble call in advance. (I wish I was joking about that). Reschedule for 13 Fri between 1000 and 1200. That sucks but because I didn’t plan my broken connection in advance its the best I can do. Apparently new customers are more important.

1244: An internal spy at Time Warner has confirmed that it looks like I have a problem in the outside wiring and that the 13th is the earliest date I can have for a trouble call. I appreciate the update very much but really? 48 hours is the earliest you can have someone out there? That makes me really want to sign up for that digital phone service the chopped up marketing message was trying to sell me.


A JetBlue flight attendant lost it on a passenger who was trying to get up and get his luggage when he shouldn’t have been. Said flight attendant approach the passenger, who was pulling his luggage out of the overhead compartment and hit the flight attendant in the head (probably on accident). The flight attendant asked for an apology, the passenger had some more clever words to say, so the flight attendant then spewed some profanity over the PA system and in one of the best dramatic exits in a while, opened an emergency exit and slid down the chute and went home.

The plane had already landed at JFK when this occurred.

While I do find the exit and slide to be a little much, I must say that I don’t blame the flight attendant one bit. Airline passengers are a bit hard to take these days and quite frankly if everyone would remember that the flight attendants’ primary job is to keep everyone onboard safe instead of just handing out bags of chips and half cans of a pop, the travel world would be a happier place.

Yes, security is ridiculous and airlines charge too much and screaming kids ruin everything but you know what, no one is forcing you on that plane and unless you’re hopping a pond somewhere, you can damn well drive or teleconference or look at someone else’s postcards of Disney World. So when the flight attendant tells you to sit down, put your seat belt on and enjoy a rerun of “Seinfeld”, you better well do it.

And count your blessings that the queen on the slide today didn’t really go postal and do some serious damage.


What have you done today to make you feel proud?


Heather Small, "Proud" (2005)


I mentioned to Earl last night that it had been a long, long while since we had a bucket of supper so tonight he made a run to the local Kentucky Fried Chicken for just that: a bucket of supper.

I don’t know if it was the mention of such a supper in a Reba song I was listening to the other day that jogged a memory or two of enjoying a bucket of chicken with the family when I was a kid but something made me crave a choice of original or extra crispy. I remember sharing a couple of buckets of chicken at Grandma City’s house on a Saturday night or Sunday afternoon on a couple of occasions. The Kentucky Fried Chicken wasn’t too far away; since this was the mid to late 1970s it was the older style establishment with the big bucket on top of the pole. This particular restaurant sat on the corner of Old Liverpool Road and the then-modern-sounding Electronics Parkway (which led to Electronics Park). I don’t remember the restaurant having a seating area but since it was 35 years or so ago, my memories might be a little hazy.

Earl and I took a somewhat healthy approach to our bucket of supper tonight: we supplemented the chicken with green beans and cole slaw. There were no mashed potatoes or gravy to be found. That’s okay though because it was just as good as I remembered it back in the day.

From Picasa Web.


Last night I made a stop at the Amish baked good stand to pick up our weekly stash of homemade pies. I brought home a blackberry and an apple crisp pie. Both look delicious. I have sampled the apple crisp pie and I have to say that it lives up to my expectations.

I have a lot of respect for the Amish. They do their thing in their definition of life and they stick to their beliefs despite all the chaos going on around them. They live their lives the way that they choose to and while I might not agree with some of their beliefs (and they probably wouldn’t agree with many of mine), their adherence to their lifestyle is worthy of my respect. I think that there is a lot that we could learn from them.

The first time I stopped at their road side stand I ended the exchange with the young girl with a kind “Have a nice weekend!”. Her response was simple: “Yes.” The sound and tone of it wavered somewhere between Bea Arthur as Dorothy and Suzanne Plechette as Emily and she cast her eyes away from me. I smiled nervously and walked back to the car, where I promptly realized that perhaps the weekend did not carry the joyful significance for her as it did for me, so I filed this speculative thought away for future reference.

Last week when I stopped at the stand (blueberry and cherry), a different girl greeted me and her demeanor was a little more lively. The order came to $7.25, she gave me back $2.25 and then quickly corrected her mistake with a giggle and the right amount of change. I simply said “thank you.” Her response was a smile, but silence. She appeared to look over my right shoulder.

Last night we were back to the original girl and I slightly changed my approach by saying “have a nice night.”  Again, she responded with a simple “yes” with her eyes cast downward.

Quite frankly this is perplexing me.

I have a small worry about traveling outside of English-speaking countries. While I want to see the world and all that it offers, I don’t want to make the people in the country where I am a guest uncomfortable by being a typical American, because I don’t see myself as typical in any way. This concern of discomfort stems from my lack of language skills; I barely have command of the English language let alone any other sort of language. I guess that’s why I think of traveling to places like Canada, Ireland, Australia, Wichita, the Carolinas and the like; while I might sound a little funny in those places, I shouldn’t offend anyone with what I have to say because that common ground of English is present. I also feel kind of foolish because while we expect everyone else in the world to know their own language and a command of ours, the typical American only speaks our mangling of the English language.

I also don’t like the lack of control I think I have by not knowing what is being said around me. I live by the credo of “always be aware of your surroundings.” I listen to every conversation, I read body language of everyone around me, I know where the emergency exits are, even if they are in an aisle behind me and I tune into the vibe of any given space so I can use my chameleon skills to blend into the surroundings if necessary. I have control issues, I freely admit that, and when I don’t have control I am uncomfortable because I can’t control whether I’m making other people uncomfortable or not.

As I said earlier, I have a lot of respect for the Amish and I admire what they bring to our area. I also really like their pies and breads. And I don’t want to make them uncomfortable when we meet, even if it’s for less than two minutes.

Perhaps there isn’t a proper way to bring a transaction to an end aside from just saying “Thank you”. It could be that this young woman is quite comfortable with our little transaction and she is adhering to a custom that I am unaware of. The control freak in me says that I need to do some research online and get comfortable with the fact that I’m not overstepping any boundaries and if I am, I need to correct it.