February 2011


I’m taking an early lunch today because of my work schedule. For some reason, perhaps the fact that it’s Monday, I just couldn’t bring myself to go through the Dunkin’ Donuts drive thru and get a large unsweetened iced-tea like I usually do. I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t want to stomach the taste of the tea that often seems like it’s been run through coffee grinds or because I’m trying to feel outside of a rut, but I decided to get wild and crazy and go through the drive thru of the newly renovated McDonalds.

“May I have a large, UNSWEETENED iced tea with lemon, please?” The capital letters reflect the emphasis in my voice.

The newly installed display with flying graphics and whimsical fonts showed:


Since the flying graphics and whimsically styled letters were urging me to check the display for accuracy, I did just that. All looked good.

I pulled up to the first window and gave the sleeping clerk my money, where she took it, flung some change at me and promptly shut the window. Behind the coating over said window I could see her going back into nap position. I hope her mouth was agape.

I pulled up to the second window where the I was handed a straw, a napkin and a large drink. I could see the lemon floating nicely on top. This made me happy.

I pulled away, since I had checked my order for accuracy and went to a secluded part of another parking lot about a mile away. I flipped on the hotspot on the iPhone, unsheathed my straw and pulled open the laptop. I then took a sip of my 1 UNSWEET TEA LG and discovered that I was the only one that had apparently checked the whimsically designed flying letters for accuracy.

My tea is SWEET.

This does not make me feel SWEET.

Since fuel prices are soaring beyond control as oil corporations laugh gaily, I decided that to go back to the McDonalds would be a waste of fuel and that would outweigh the money I had spent on the allegedly labeled 1 UNSWEET TEA LG. Therefore, I dumped the concoction down the nearest storm drain and fed the lemon to a seagull. I do find the presence of the seagull to be rather disconcerting because we are hundreds of miles from the ocean and at least 100 miles from Lake Ontario. Perhaps he is lost.

I know I feel lost without my unsweet tea this morning.

On the bright side, I shall never cast my eyes upon the whimsically styled letters, the sleeping clerk or the newly renovated McDonalds, because I am going to donate any remaining money I have on my Arch Card to the next homeless person I see and I am never going to set foot into the place again. I don’t care if you have a burger that tries to mimic itself as a McRib sandwich and I don’t buy into the folly of the whimsical letters. The renovation was mere lipstick on a pig and if you can’t pour unsweetened iced correctly into a large cup, when there’s probably an over-designed, technologically wasted piece of crap doing it for the minimally paid minion, I’m certainly not going to contribute to this idiocy.

I’ll stick to the tea run through the coffee grounds in the future.


As I mentioned earlier in the week, blogger folks are starting to write about the signs of spring and how wonderful all of it is. The signs of an early spring are here as well and people are often surprised when I say this is my least favorite time of the year. It’s true, early spring ranks last on my Casey Kasem countdown but I think if we lived in any other part of the country it would be a different story.

You see, we live in the Lake Ontario snowbelt. It’s actually something that I’m quite proud of because I believe it adds to my heartiness. When one lives next to one of the great lakes, you’ll find that when the lake is relatively warm for this time of year, the cold, Arctic air will pick up an extra helping of lake water, shake and stir it gently and then dump it onto those of us that live in the aforementioned snowbelt. This isn’t bad in itself, except that it’s a heavy, wet snow, versus the dry, fun, fluffy one usually finds in a debilitating blizzard. Our snowblower can barely get through an open lawn of dandelions, say nothing of six to ten inches of this heavy snow. There is clogging, there is swearing and there is a promise to a nosy neighbor that if they keep looking out the window and laughing at me, I’m going to clear their breakfast dishes with the aforementioned snowblower.

There is hope, however, because as I cleared out the driveway this morning, the sun was warm enough to force me to take off my hat due to overheating and it was able to melt the rest of the snow. Who knew the pavement was still there under all the white stuff? An extra bonus is when the landscape lights shine brightly under the snow. It’s like Christmas except it’s not.

So I’m ready for the big blast of heat that moves us from early spring to late spring. In these parts it usually comes around July.

Until then, we shovel the heavy, wet stuff.


It is snowing like crazy and I am happy to say that it’s about time. The wind is starting to pick up as well, which may make for some groovy winter driving conditions on the ride from work tonight. I am looking forward to the challenge.

Driving in this morning was interesting because when we got up this morning there had been no new snow, but by the time we left it was snowing pretty good. Locally maintained roads were awful but the Thruway was good for the amount of snow coming down. I saw a few drivers stop dead in their tracks on the Thruway, right in the driving lane. This is just stupid. I don’t know why they stopped, there were no visible hazards in the road but they would just randomly stop. One of the most infuriating things about driving in this weather is the general disregard of common sense and established traffic laws. Red lights still mean stop when it’s snowing. People still shouldn’t park three deep in a parking lot. Common sense dissipates when people are confronted with a challenge. That’s horrifying.

Gas prices went from 3.39 to 3.45 to 3.57 in two days. I’m so happy to hear how good the economy is doing. I’m also glad to hear that job creation is up because I will soon need a second gig to pay for commuting to the first.

I went to the local station to fill up the tank for ride home and when I went into the store I noticed that all milk and bread was gone. Eggs too.

Let’s have some french toast, I guess.

During a storm like this, most things don’t bother me but I find few things more terrifying than plates on a car from a former Confederate state trying to navigate the winter driving conditions up here. Heck, I miss the old New York plates that used to indicate the county because then you knew whom to avoid from the Big Apple. I couldn’t stand the weeping.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Milepost 109.

It was President’s Day 1978. School was closed for winter break. Mom didn’t work yet, so Dad rode to work with Gramps and Mom got the car for the day and took us to Syracuse to visit with Grandma City.

It was a typical day in the middle of February in Central New York. There were light flurries but nothing out of the ordinary. I don’t remember much of the visit with Gram, but I do remember that Grandpa was at work at the country club.

The snow started to pick up a little bit in the afternoon, so Mom thought we should head back home before it got really bad. We did live in the middle of the Lake Ontario snow belt, so the roads could get treacherous quickly. The windshield wiper switch was broken on the car and the only way to turn on the wipers was to pop the fuse back into place. The washer part didn’t work. Grandma gave Mom a bottle of windex and a roll of paper towels. If we had to pull over to clean the window, we would. We loaded up in the ’71 Heavy Chevy (my Dad’s muscle car) and headed north on Interstate 81.

As we crossed the bridge over Oneida Lake and into Oswego County, the snow picked up a little bit, but again, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for that time of year. I was sitting in the back seat, smack in the middle of the seat. I liked it there because I could see both Mom and Jennifer in the front seat. A small blue book, pocket sized, sat next to me. It was a book of Peanuts comics. I was reading them on and off.

As we approached Exit 32, Central Square, I remember begging my Mom to get off. “Let’s go home on Route 11.” For reasons I can’t explain, sirens were going off in my head. A sort of nine-year old spidey-sense, I suppose. “I just want to get home”, Mom said, as we passed the off ramp. “Johnny, move over, you’re blocking my mirror.” I moved into the seat behind my sister. I put my seat belt on, even though that wasn’t the thing to do back then. Heck, the shoulder belts for the front seat were the kind that got tacked up along the top part of the roof.

It started snowing a little more. We came around the curve where there’s a pretty good sized hill. An overpass crosses the hill about 2/3rds of the way down. Traffic was slowing. There were lights. It looked like a truck was stuck under the bridge. Mom was in the right lane. She down shifted into second. She looked in the mirror. I turned around and saw a truck. A really big truck. It was behind a blue Pinto.

Then there was a brief moment of blackness and a loud noise.

I opened my eyes. The car was crushed in around me behind the passenger seat. I could see the sky through the roof. My mom had grabbed her head, there was sharp metal over her where the roof used to be. The windshield was cracked. It was a round crack with spider marks. My sister looked up and screamed.

Blood. Blood coming from Mom’s head. The car was off and still in second. We were stopped.

“Is it bad?” The first words from my Mom. She could speak.

Jennifer started screaming and jumped up in the seat. The window wouldn’t go down, she just started screaming. “My mom! My mom!”

I said to mom, “We won’t need to get the windshield wipers fixed.”

I tried to push the back seat back into place. The side window was gone. The ceiling was coming down on me.

Mom started crying. Jennifer was screaming. People were running towards us. My chin hurt.

They got the passenger door open. Jennifer jumped out and then I pushed the seat forward. I left my book behind.

I remember thinking, “I’m walking on Route 81! People aren’t suppose to walk on Route 81” as I looked down at the pavement. We were being led to the Pinto. The woman smoked. She had a carton of cigarettes in the back seat. She was driving her new car home and had stopped for groceries.

A few minutes later a man named Harry came and asked where we lived. He had spoken to Mom. They were getting her out of the car putting her in the ambulance that had just arrived.

I then started crying.

“Please take my kids to their father.”

I remember hearing that. “I can get us there, I know where to go.”

“Johnny knows the way!” my sister screamed.

We got into a truck with a man we didn’t know. His name was Harry and he talked to the fire department and ambulance and got some information.

“Go to Sandy Creek. Dad’s store is there.”

I don’t remember much of the ride. I remember walking into the store and Dad looking puzzled. “We were in an accident”, I told Dad.

We were told to go into the office while the man we didn’t know talked to Dad. He couldn’t close the store. He made phone calls.

That night we had dinner with Aunt Maggie across the street before heading to Syracuse to see Mom. Her head was wrapped in a bandage and she had dozens of stitches across her head. She walked into the house and said “Mommy has a funny hat.” She was crying. She would be staying with Grandma and Grandpa City for a few days. We did too if we wanted to.

A few days later we went to the Exxon station at Exit 32, Central Square. There was the Heavy Chevy, no longer looking like the muscle car my Dad loved. We looked it over. Mom was crying.

“I’m sorry.” My dad was silent. Just before leaving, I reached through the mangled roof and grabbed my blue book, the one with the Peanuts comics. It was on the back window behind the passenger’s seat.

We were told repeatedly we were lucky to be alive. Mom kept trying to scrub the dirt off my chin. But it wasn’t dirt, it was a black and blue mark. I can show you the bald spot I now have in my beard from that black and blue mark.

This morning I sent my Mom an e-mail. “Don’t go north of the bridge, and if you do, get off at Central Square.”

She knew what I meant. I’m happy that I was able to tell her that, 33 years later.



Even though it’s in the low 20s today, the sun is shining brilliantly. It’s starting to show the very early beginnings of spring, even though we are still a month away. This gives me hope that the snow will be gone for a while someday and I won’t have to bundle up to go outside. This cyclic thing works wonders.

The guy that cleans out our driveway has pneumonia so last night I had to fire up the snowblower and do the job myself. Honestly, I’d rather do that than mow the lawn except for the fact that this BMW behemoth kept going up and down the road (from the McMansions at the top of the hill, no doubt) and every time she drove by she would beep at me. I guess she was afraid I was going to ram the snowblower into her behemoth. If I had a brick I would have aimed for her windshield but alas, all I had was some snow and I didn’t feel like getting my hands cold when I took aim. I don’t know why she was going up and down the road multiple times; perhaps her daughters Britney and Brittany had hula lessons or something. I feel sorry for her, because as far as I’m concerned, the larger the behemoth the smaller the appendage. Perhaps driving up and down the road is all she has to do because of this.

I’m being polite.

And yes, I know we drive a Durango but when that’s owned by a company based in Texas, there’s always a chance that big attitudes and big hair are going to be in that vehicle.

Various blogger friends have posted pictures of birds and the impending signs of spring in their neck of the woods. This made me a little bit cranky since we are just starting to see the bird feeder again (it’s been buried since December), but I did almost hyperventilate yesterday afternoon when I saw birds flying in formation as they were headed north. This has to mean something good.

I’m thinking I need to plant a small garden of sorts this spring but I have no idea how to do it. I have friends that I can ask and I probably have people that can do it for me so it’ll all work out. I’m in the mood for some green and some flowers though. Gray and white can only go so far before one gets surly.

It’s a good thing I can see blue sky today.


Yesterday we visited the Earl’s family for the first time in a long while. It has been much too long since we were here last and we enjoyed the visit very much. I have always liked this area.

Our visit coincided with lunch time and hoagies were suggested. Hoagies are called subs where I come from, but they taste the same. We decided to get our hoagies from a place “that has been there forever.” I think it was called Marzati’s or something like that. We took a ride in my in-laws VW Jetta TDI*.

The hoagie place turned out to be a mom and pop corner market. Tiny in size, I think there were three or four generations of a family running the place. The eldest woman asked me to turn on the television that was situated high above the drink coolers. She wanted the weather channel. Perhaps she liked the clouds passing by or something.

One of the best things about this mom and pop shop was it’s uniqueness. Canned good were stacked on the shelves with handwritten bits of paper denoting the price. The place looked to be very disorganized overall, but all of the items were separated neatly into respective “departments”. Rick told the deli man in the back what we wanted, we were told to pick out our fresh rolls from the front display and bring them back to him because he couldn’t get started without them.

The sandwiches were delicious and the folks running the place gave off a genuine caring vibe. This is the type of place that used to be what America was about, but now it feels very old fashioned and out of step with progress. It’s quite sad, really, because beside the generous amount of Philly accent i was hearing, I felt quite at home in the place.

Our society seems geared towards the bland and fastest these days. Perhaps I am falling further out of step with those around me, but i would rather wait 20 minutes for a sandwich and give to the local guy instead of eating the same boring empty calories from some giant corporation. I needed yesterday’s lunch experience to remind me of that.

*I’m loving the VW diesels. They would be much better for my daily commute.


I am becoming obsessed with the game “Words With Friends”. This is an iPad and iPhone app that works much like Scrabble. One can play with random people or friends can seek each other out and challenge each other to a game. I like the game because when it’s my move I can take my time and play when I get the chance. I like the lack of pressure.

I’m not a big fan of playing games on my iDevices. I tried GodFinger and that was okay but I found myself becoming emotionally attached to these virtual people that I was flinging around. I felt guilty when I felt inclined to squish them like an ant. Perhaps it was because they were drawn to be rather cute. Angry Birds is fun for a little while; I especially like their looks and sounds of determination, but I can only fling things at pigs so much before I want a BLT.

Words With Friends is challenging for me. I feel like I’m exercising my brain a little bit when I play. Sometimes I’ll throw up random letters hoping it makes a word that I’m not familiar with and occasionally this system works. Plus, it increases my vocabulary. I don’t recall ever using the words NOIL in a sentence unless I was drunk or something. Nevertheless, it was worth some points.

So today I’m sitting in the sunshine playing some fake Scrabble. Look me up on there if you feel so inclined.


We woke up this morning to moderately warm temperatures. I was surprised to see that it was 45 degrees when I left for work, but I really appreciated it. It made me realize that we are plodding along this winter thing pretty well.

I take Vitamin D on a daily basis to combat Seasonal Affectation Disorder but I still feel a little glum from time to time. My body needs sunshine. I don’t mind cold and snow on the ground but I just need to feel the warmth of the sun to get through it all.

I occasionally remark that spring is my least favorite of the seasons. I am usually referring to early spring where everything is sopping wet, the skies and gray and the weather is so changeable that you can go out in shorts but you have to bring a parka along just in case. I like the results that spring brings and I’m usually golden when I can see a field of dandelions but until then I find it kind of drab.

To celebrate the warm temperatures today I took my morning walk around the parking lot at work. This lifted my spirits considerably. I awoke feeling kind of blah about the day today because the husbear is off to Buffalo for a few days and we have the whole Valentine’s Day thing going on. Loved ones have remarked that I’m considerably off kilter when Earl is out of town and they are correct. Nevertheless we have to do what we have to do.

So as I look around whilst typing, I see the glimmer of sunshine off in the distance and I feel warm enough to roll down the window a bit. Tomorrow they see it’ll get to only 19F but then warm back up on Wednesday. Again with the changeability. I need the sunshine.

We might have to seek it this weekend.

Diner Food!

Diner Food!, originally uploaded by iMachias.

Sharyn’s Place, just off the Edic Rd exit off Route 49 in Marcy N.Y.

Taste Test.

Taste Test., originally uploaded by iMachias.

I once drove 14 hours in one direction to taste the McRib for the very first time. It was being advertised on WGN and since WGN is in Chicago and I had a few days without work on my schedule, I took the plunge and drove the 12 hours or so to give the McRib a try.

I only had to drive as far as Gary, Indiana.

That was 20 or so years ago. This past week I was driving home from work and noticed on the new McDonalds sign outside of the freshly renovated McDonalds near work that they now had a “BBQ Chipotle Bacon Angus Burger” as the new McTaste McSensation. Naturally I had to give this a try. So I invited my best beau out on a date tonight and we went to a nearby store to give it a whirl.

Quite tasty. This could lead to a very unhealthy addiction. I hope these burgers are for a limited time only.

I reloaded my Arch Card, usually reserved for iced tea purchases, with an extra week’s worth of cash just in case of an addiction emergency.

The burger is quite nice and actually didn’t feel like I was eating anything unhealthy. Earl pointed out that it was basically a McRib with beef instead of pork, so I suppose that’s the reason that I’m lovin’ it. (Notice how I worked that slogan in right there). Not only did I find it tasty but I was also pleasantly surprised to see that it wouldn’t bind me up like the other McTreat I enjoy does, that second burger being the Cheddar Melt.

The McDonalds we went to tonight is owned by a different owner than the store near work so it doesn’t have the new spit shine on it but they’ve spruced up the inside and the help is less surly. It’s a start.

But I’m really lovin’ this new burger. Highly recommended in moderation if you’re into that sort of thing.