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TP.

So Earl and I went out on a little date night to the Armory Square area of Syracuse. We had a few cocktails, we enjoyed a nice meal together at the Empire Brewing Company and we had some great conversation. After our little adventure at the brewery, we decided to go for a walk before returning to the Jeep.

That’s when I discovered that I needed to find a restroom. Beer has that effect on me.

I quickly navigated us to a nearby Starbucks, where I hastily ordered an unsweetened green iced tea and asked for the code to gain access to the men’s room. Armed with the code and with Earl installed to pick up my tea, I made my way to the restroom and did what I had to do.

A sigh of relief.

As I started to get myself back together and presentable to the public, I was disheartened to discovered that the one-seat restroom was completely out of toilet paper.

Oh noes!

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I looked around and found no place anywhere in the small room where extra toilet paper could be hiding. There was no cabinet under the sink. The public restroom certainly has no need for a medicine cabinet. I guessed I would have to settle for paper towels.

Except I was in Starbucks.

Where every thing is “green” and “environmentally friendly.” (Plastic cups notwithstanding).

No paper towels.

No extra toilet paper.

No tissues.

There wasn’t even a well-read copy of Reader’s Digest.

The only thing available was a hand dryer and I had no idea what I was going to do with that in this situation.

I improvised. How I improvised shall be left to the gentle reader’s imagination, but I will say this, from this day forward I shall always grab a napkin or two before entering a Starbucks restroom. Just in case.

Popularity.

Far and away, the most popular blog entry on “Life Is Such A Sweet Insanity” is an entry about the old WT Grants Department Store chain, as inspired by my spotting of a former GRANTS sign on the side of a barn at a place called Grant’s Farm Market.

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Through the original blog entry, I have learned that the pictured sign came from the store at the current Shoppingtown Mall in the Town of DeWitt outside of Syracuse.

The blog entry has given many former Grants employees the opportunity to reconnect. I’m happy that I was able to provide them this opportunity.

There are worse things in the world to be popular about.

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Gift.

My friend Tim sent me two clocks for my collection of school clocks made by The Standard Electric Time Company.

This clock is from 1939.

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This clock is 29 years newer and ironically, the same age as I am, as evidenced by its date stamp of July 1968.

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Despite their difference in age, both clocks are completely compatible and interchangeable with one another. The newer clock is considerably louder than the older one when it advances on the minute, so I’m still considering what room it will be added to.

Both have been refinished to a remarkable level. Tim and his partner Kevin are quite the handymen when it comes to this stuff.

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Bread.


We had polished off what was left of the cookies. The box of Reduced Fat Wheat Thins? Yeah, that was history. There wasn’t a bag of Doritos or pretzels or even a vat of Heluva Good French Onion Dip to be found in the house. This is what happens when you skip a week of grocery shopping. However, all of this being said, I was still in the mood for a treat. More specifically, I was in the mood for scent of a treat, I didn’t know if I’d eat it or not, but I needed to be stimulated in a culinary way.

Looking through the cupboards I found a bottle of Beer Bread Mix I had picked up on a whim at a local card shop a while back. Now that I think about it, I don’t know why the Hallmark shop was carrying Beer Bread Mix (maybe the clerks needed an occasional pick me up) but nevertheless it had caught my eye so I had bought it and then stored it for a special occasion.

Last night was that special occasion.

Finding the beer to go into the beer bread was not an issue. I like beer. I swore off alcohol for quite a while a few years ago, mainly because I was getting drunk on some really cheap swill and doing things like making an ass of myself in public (or grabbing ass inappropriately, but that’s a different story), but I have been responsibly trying some better beers for a little while now and we have a good selection to choose from in the fridge.

We may be out of groceries but we are not out of beer.

I decided to go with the Lake Placid IPA (India Pale Ale) as my beer of choice for this little beer bread mix I had. The instructions were simple, mix the beer with the mix and bake it for 60 minutes at 350F.

Done.

The need to smell something cooking was easily satisfied, the bread tasted delicious. I had a small piece before bed last night (and I shared some with my husband, who commented that it was good). I just had a slice with some tunafish for my lunch.

It might not be the healthiest bread in the world, and after all, what bread is really healthy, but I rode the bike this morning and all of my clothes are too big so I feel comfortable risking the beer bread at lunch time.

And who knows, maybe that’ll give my afternoon just a touch of the kick it needs.

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Jumpstart.

There’s a vibe at the office today that is kind of hard to describe. I came into work in a really good mood and while I am still in a good mood, there’s a heaviness in the air that is hard to shake off. I’m trying to decide if it’s because of the rain or if it’s just the universe today. The recent announcement of changes to the organization have undoubtedly rattled people, and that’s probably it.

I needed some sort of jumpstart get myself back on the happy track, and this is where YouTube comes into play. I was delighted to see that one of my favorite movies of all time is available on there.


I have always said that my favorite movie of all time is “It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World”, but now that I think about it, I think “Bell, Book and Candle” is actually my favorite movie now. I would have loved the opportunity to see the stage production that inspired the 1958 James Stewart/Kim Novak film, but I don’t think anyone is doing that production anymore. Maybe it needs a revival.


If you are unfamiliar with the movie, “Bell, Book and Candle” stars Kim Novak as Gillian Holroyd, a witch who falls in love with Shepard Henderson, played by James Stewart. This complicates life for both of them. The movie co-stars Ernie Kovacks, Hermione Gingold, Elsa Lanchester and Jack Lemmon. There are many similarities to the television show “Bewitched” (Aunt Queenie from the movie could easily be Aunt Clara’s sister), but there are some, well, bewitching differences as well that I find enchanting. As an extra bonus (because I am a geek after all), one of the magical sound effects is recycled nearly 20 years later to accompany “Wonder Twin Powers, Activate!”.


Watching parts of the movie during this lunch hour have gotten my spirits back on track. I guess there’s a bit of magic in that movie after all.

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Communication.

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So yesterday Earl and I made the trek home from our little adventure in Chicago. It’s a 13-14 hour or so ride and because we’ve done it a couple of times now, the ride was mostly uneventful. With our hectic careers and lives, we sometimes don’t have time to just sit down and talk, but being in the car with the love of your life affords you the opportunity have some great conversation, and that’s what we did.

I think one of the reasons that Earl and I have had such a successful relationship, tailored to our unique dynamic, is because we communicate with one another. We have no secrets, we talk things through and it’s only when communication feels like it’s breaking down is when we start to get irritable and cranky. Communication is that a huge cornerstone in the foundation of our relationship and because of that, we have been able to do some pretty amazing things as one for many years. It’s a wonderful feeling.

One of the things we talked about is our future. It’s kind of weird to think about things like “retirement” and the like, since I still feel like a kid and I know that Earl feels the same way. We made some decisions as we made our way home yesterday. Together we laid out some plans, set some goals and even came up with some contingency plans should we encounter a roadblock along our path together.  Such a wonderful feeling.

It’s important to talk about goals and the future with your loved in because if things are going to work, everyone needs to be on the same page. Luckily, Earl and I have come to that same page together with few compromises along the way. I guess it just works when you’re married to your best friend.

I’m such a lucky man.

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Habits.

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We are at Culver’sin Michigan City. We must be creatures of habit, because this is the third time we have been at this particular location. We will probably stop here again during our Great Jeep Roadtrip of 2013 later this summer.

Habits aren’t bad.

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Impressive.


So I am sitting at Starbucks somewhere in the Windy City. I found this Starbucks by way of Siri and she led me to the way of one that is open on Sunday. It’s fun exploring a city electronically.

I’m indulging in my loner tendencies at the moment. Sometimes you have to get to the sidelines of the crowd and just watch others enjoy themselves. That’s what I love to do and that’s what I’m doing right now. This Starbucks is quiet. The counter people are friendly. There’s a man sitting near me reading tech news on his computer. He is bouncing his leg up and down.

Several people have noticed my iPad/Brydge combination. One person asked why my MacBook Air looked different. I explained to him that it wasn’t a MacBook Air, but rather a Brydge keyboard setup. He was impressed. I wasn’t trying to be impressive, I was just looking for a better way for me to efficiently write blog entries, but I have to admit that it’s kind of cool to be impressive.

As I’m typing this blog entry I can feel the eyes of another woman watching me type. I’m sensing it has something to do with the speed in which I type. To be even more impressive, I am now looking her in the eye whilst typing this sentence. I can easily do that. Perhaps I’m cocky.

I have to thank my mother for my typing skills. When the first electric typewriter entered our house when I was young lad, I was very intrigued and anxious to play around with it. Since I was so curious, she was instrumental in showing me how to type using the proper fingers. It’s something that stuck and is probably a major contributor to many successes in my life.

Sometimes it’s the little things that count.

I’m still not looking at the screen as I type this. I am watching people instead. Sometimes you have to trust your instincts.

I don’t know a lot about Chicago. Earl and I haven’t spent a lot of time here, but with Jamie moving here later this summer, I think we’ll probably be learning more about the Windy City.

That’s not a bad thing.

There’s so much of to big wide world to explore.

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Rides.

So after watching the video of the SkyScreamer at Six Flags Over Texas and with the unofficial start of summer under way, I got to thinking about amusement parks and some rides I’d like to try this summer.

In Central New York we have a phenomenon called the “Field Days”. Usually run by a local volunteer fire company, Field Days are the town or community carnival, complete with awesome food, loud music, drunk people, a parade (complete with various competitions) and most importantly, a midway with rides and games.

I used to always love the rides at the field days.

Growing up in the 70s with a quirky sense of observation, I was able to ascertain that the vast majority of the fire companies would contract with Ontario Amusements to handle the Midway for their field days, however, the fire company in the town I grew up in would contract with Hawkins Amusements, which, in my opinion, had the cooler rides of the era. I think Ontario’s fastest ride at the time was called the “Merry Mixer”, which was really a Scrambler with four legs instead of three, whilst Hawkin’s most thrilling ride was the Hurricane, but they also had the Paratroopers and my second favorite amusement ride of all time, the Trabant.

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The Trabant is sometimes rebranded as the Casino and there’s a new, faster version called the Wipeout, but the original Trabant is the one I love it. Like the rebranding suggests, it looks like a roulette wheel and I think it has 20 seats. The “wheel” turns, there’s another motion that causes the wheel to ride around a bigger circle and then as the ride progresses, it tilts upward to around 40-45% while this other circular motion is going on, which makes it feel very wave-like. In the full experience of the ride, the whole thing then pauses and does the same thing backwards. In full wave, the ride is quite mild but still fun, but when it starts coming down and the wave motion stops, the G-forces can be impressive as you’re pinned against the outside of the seat.

I have always enjoyed this ride and it’s one of the first rides I remember ever riding.

My favorite amusement ride, which rarely made an appearance in our area because it wasn’t found on an Ontario or Hawkins Midway, was the Tempest.

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Finding the Tempest in our area always meant waiting until one of the very last Field Days of the season (the weekend after Labor Day) and traveling a bit of a distance to ride it, but I always looked forward to it.

The Tempest is basically two big arms with two seating areas on each arm, mounted on their own little arms. The principle is simple: the two areas circle each other while the two groups of arms circle each other. The individual seating areas can spin (sometimes they did, sometimes they didn’t), but like the Trabant, this is a ride that could mild yet breathtaking at the same time.


Thinking about these rides has made me want to seek them out again this summer. I don’t know that I’ll get to try to SkyScreamer this year, but I’m definitely going to seek out the Trabant and the Tempest. One of the things about both of these rides is that they’re becoming hard to find because of their age. I know Hawkins doesn’t have the Trabant anymore and I can’t remember the name of the midway company that featured the Tempest, so I’ll just have to keep an eye out for them.

I made a comment to Earl yesterday that even though I’m 44, I’m still just a big kid. I guess that shows through a little more when it’s summertime and the field days are rolling through our neck of the woods.

Towels.

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I’m a big fan of this owl. Often seen in hotel rooms, he is a reminder that we should be as ecologically responsible as possible by reusing our hotel towels and the like whenever we can. Cutting down on detergents and water use and such helps the planet just a little bit more and every bit helps. Since I’m such a firm believer in these things (and because I have always liked this particular photograph of an owl on the little reminder placard), I dutifully hung up my towel and washcloth after my shower this morning.

This afternoon all linens in the bathroom were gone. Dirty towels, clean towels still on the shelf, everyone of them had disappeared.

Unable to take a shower to freshen up for the evening activities, I went down to the front desk and asked the person working the desk for a set of towels and washcloths for the room. He wrote down the room number and made urgent sounding calls on his walkie-talkie. Earl and I then went out for a bit.

Returning to the room, still no towels or washcloths. I called down again and was told that I had already asked for a wash cloth and towel. I responded that I was fully aware of this but nothing had arrived in the room. Come to find out, housekeeping had stopped by and had knocked on the door but no one answered. Apparently, housekeeping doesn’t come in after the room has been cleaned for the day.

They sent someone up right away. We received two bath towels and nothing more. I figured that was good enough. We’ve made due with much less at home when we’re lazy with the laundry.

I don’t know if I’ve helped that majestic looking owl on the placard today but I hope that he knows I had the best of intentions in mind. I suppose by discussing this little thing, some gentle reader might notice the same owl or one of his friends in their hotel room during their travels and this will, in turn, prompt them to have a better experience with being ecologically responsible with their linens.