Sunday, July 31, 2005

Tagged by Tesco

So we came home from VA about an hour ago. I decided to fire up the ole laptop to see how many junk e-mails I received in my absence. I then find out, via e-mail, I got tagged by my blogfriend, TescoSuicide. Whoopsie! My bad. That's what I get for not checking all blogs before I head off on holiday. And it rained practically the whole time. But that is for another post.

The tag is titled: So What's On your Nightstand? (thank goodness it doesn't say IN the nightstand)

Let's see. Upon inspection we have the following:

~ One watch box with six watches inside. I LIKE watches. Not just any ole watch, mind you. I like classic, antique, or odd designs. Geo has one watch and he never wears it.

~ One jewelry box with assorted stuff. Stuff is three yellow gold necklaces (custom made so I ain't getting rid of them), a Silver Surfer necklace, bunch of silver hoop rings, gold and silver rings that I don't wear, some nasty and knotted gold chains which are going to be melted down into something for the baby, and links from my Movado watch.

~ Twelve books. They are Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Meditation, The Mantram Handbook, Conquest of Mind, Take Your Time, The Working Poor, Arc of Justice, Love in the Driest Season, 2005 World Almanac, NIV Student Bible, NIV Study Bible, and NIV Life Application Bible. And yes, I do have a bookcase in the bedroom. I'm just a lazy little person.

~ Earplugs. They're actually Geo's. I'm partially deaf so they are 1/2 worthless to me.

~ Adam and Eve Oral Sensation Gel. Spearmint. Good stuff.

~ JO Lube. Expensive but well worth it.

The last two are hidden from view. That's all I need is to have my parents over the house and the baby come tippy-toeing in the living room holding our latest purchase. It's not the discovery that would be embarassing - it would be the explaining. My mom is not quick on the mark anymore. I would have to either explain it at least three times before she gets it, or just throw it in the other room and hope her shitty memory kicks in and she'll forget it exists. The latter is always the safest bet.

~ and my clock. I hate the stupid thing. Bastard keeps waking me in the morning.

That's it folks! Now who to tag. If and when he reads this, I tag Fist, Tickle, Brick. He might not like tagging ... tough. It's a short one, FTB.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Heading down to Virginia!

The family and I are heading to Williamsburg VA for the weekend. It's either fifes and tri-corner hats, or beer and roller coasters.

So I leave with this story.

Many moons ago, I was over my parents' home helping my dad put an air conditioner in the window (back in the days before central air). It was quite the struggle. It was the window in my parents' bedroom and the sill was just a slight bit sloped. He nailed a piece of wood on the sill so the unit would be somewhat level. To keep the unit in place, you had to screw it into the wood.

With that in mind, let's turn the camera to my mother. My mom can rival Doris Day - in looks and in mannerism. She is the incarnate of the 1950's. She was bustling around the room cleaning and dusting and basically keeping away from my father and I.

I was much skinnier back then (about thirty-five pounds lighter to be exact). I was the one who had to jam her arm between the opening of the window and the top the AC to hold it in place while dad put the screws in the wood. I darn near broke my arm as the AC kept slipping. While skinny-ass me was holding this thing, dad started to look around for the screws. They were no where to be found. He looked at me and said "Watch this". Then, with a sound of "here we go again" in his voice, he shouted:

dad: "P, have you seen a set of screws lying around?"

mom: no answer

dad: "P, are you there?"

mom: hurrying back into the room "Yes. What is it?"

dad: "Have you seen a bunch of screws lying around?"

(Mind you, I'm still holding the friggin AC out this window and quickly losing feeling in my arm)

mom: looking at me with a big stupid grin "Yeeeees."

dad: "Where are they?"

mom: with a slight chuckle in her voice "I threw them out."

My dad turned to me and said,

"And that's the joy of living in this house."

Day Light Saving time to extended

When I read this article I had to take a double take. House of Representatives passes energy bill which includes extending daylight saving time.

I always thought Daylight Saving was more of a celestial thing rather than a measure approved on the federal level. You learn something new everyday.

Knowing that I have been wrong all these years, I decided to research the origin of DST. It was actually the brainchild of Philadelphia's own Benjamin Franklin. It has been put into practice here in the US (well, most of the US) and in most European countries since WWI. The point of DST is to save energy. You use the sunlight instead of wasting valuable resources to create artificial light. O.K., I buy that.

And it is Daylight Saving Time, not Savings, which a lot of people use.

This is not the first change to Daylight Saving Time in recent years. Almost two decades ago, President Reagan signed a bill that extended DST. It used to start the last Sunday in April. The bill changed it to the first Sunday in April. The bill kept the ending of the last Sunday in October in effect.

The newest measure will have daylight savings start the second Sunday in March and end the first Sunday in November. The article mentioned how this would be beneficial for safety for our children during Halloween.

In reference to the Halloween benefit, Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass, was quoted as saying "Kids across the nation will soon rejoice." He was also quoted in saying "the beauty of daylight saving time is that it just makes everyone feel sunnier." Goober.

I like how the article stated the nation's farmers don't like the proposed plan. They [farmer's] claim it will adversly affect livestock. Yet something else I have learned later in life - cattle can tell time.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Another Philly Retail Icon Ready to Fade Away

My cousin, JustRose, blogged today on this very subject. How prophetic she must be.

I'll explain.

JR talked of the disappearance of a local retail icon that, sadly, closed down nearly a decade ago. The local chain, Clover, was rival to the giants Woolworth and K-Mart in Philly. As far as I could figure, Woolworth was not even good competition (the stores were dying out) and Clover kicked K-Mart's ass. But not according to Clover's parent company, Strawbridge and Clothier. The owners of the parent company claimed Clover lost more money than it made. They considered it a burden to keep the chain alive. In one quick fell swoop, they shut down every store.

The owners didn't give a crap about the jobs they eliminated. They didn't care it put a lot of tri-state shoppers in a panic (a lot of people liked to shop exclusively Clover). The owners were the heirs to the department store fortune. They wanted to make a quick buck and the way to do that was sell off the company. First, they got rid of Clover. Then the entire chain was sold in1996 to the May Department Stores Company. May Department Store Company is a part of Federated Department Stores. Strawbridge and Clothier, the names of the original Quaker owners, was changed to Strawbridges. The heirs made their money and washed their hands of it.

Here's the prophetic part.

As my cousin typed away on her post on Clover, Federated Department Stores decided to eliminate the Strawbridges name. FDS plans to convert 330 May stores into Macy's. In the places where the company has duplicate stores (totalling 68), those stores will be sold. A total of nine stores in the immediate area will be closed for good.

No more treks to the Strawbridges in Neshaminy Mall or Willow Grove Mall or King of Prussia Mall. No more Clover Day sales.

First, Philadelphia lost Lit Brothers. Then Gimbels. Then John Wanamakers. And now, the Strawbridges name will be erased. Where Philadelphia was once home to some of the finest retail department stores in the country, it will instead be honored with being mentioned numerous times in retail history books.

What Truckers REALLY say on the CB Radio

Geo has been a trucker for what seems like 125 years. As per him, driving on the road all day can get boring. One of the best forms of entertainment is a CB radio. It's actually an invaluable tool for the trucker. Truckers jabber on it, give traffic reports, talk about their hometowns, give political opinions, etc. It's like a verbal blog with a handset and speakers.

This morning he was in New England. He was listening to one trucker tell a story about his encounter with a woman at a truck stop. The gentleman had a heavy New England accent and that only enhanced the hilarity of the story.

It went something like this:

The trucker (we'll just call him Red) was at a stop fueling up when he sees this little red sports car zip in and park. Red said out walk this long-legged, long haired blonde with boobs the size of his head. Red was in total lust. He quickly finished fueling and followed said blonde into the truck stop. He followed her around like a puppy after someone with a salami sandwhich in her back pocket. Yes, he stalked this poor unsuspecting woman all around the store until she made her purchase. He watched her get into her little red sports car with her boobs half hanging out of her skimpy shirt and she drove off into wherever they were. Red then walked into the men's room, grabbed his johnson and (geo quotes this) choked the sucker like it owed him money.

As Geo put it, that was a bit more information than he cared to hear.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

GM to end the Employee Discount program

Doesn' it figure?

Geo and I buy a Saturn the end of March this year.

In April, GM does about 75,000 recalls for their Saturn model (O.K., maybe three).

In May, they were crying "boo-hoo-hoo" and there were rumors of bankruptcy. Why? Because the powers that be in GM didn't have the power of foresight to realize not everyone in the US wants a gas guzzling SUV when gas is at an all time high.

What? Don't GM execs go to the pump? I read an article in either Newsweek or the WSJ (I forget which) where one GM rep said GM was not cutting produciton of their SUV's because Americans will pay whatever price for gasoline. Ummm, no, we won't. And that article was over a year ago. So, when the Prius and other hybrid vehicles starting kicking in GM's bloated ass, the moron execs went scrambling and came up with the "employee discount" campaign. Nothing like be reactive than proactive, eh GM?

Now the program will end as of August 1. GM is stating their sales are so high right now, they project running out of 2005 inventory. I can tell from the empty new car lots in my neighborhood (that was a joke). Their new pricing strategy for 2006 will be no-haggle - just like the Saturn division. All that means is they are not going to jack up they sticker prices thousands of dollars and leave them closer to base with a set percentage gain. Strange but I thought that's how commerce worked in a free economic system.

So now the employment applications will flow again with people wanting to be hired by GM so they can get the discount. Unfortunately, GM closed so many plants those jobs no longer exist.

My grandfather gave my dad two pieces of advice. One was never volunteer. Dad broke that one in the Army back in the 50's. Good thing he did. His volunteering to be a company clerk guaranteed him stateside duty which meant no Korea. The other was to "remember there are more horses asses in this world than there are horses, and never buy a Ford."

Thanks, gramps.

Repeat after me- Latoyia Figueroa

How the hell can the national press be so ignorant to a pregnant mom who has been missing for over a week and yet we here about Natalee Holloway almost two months after the date of her disappearance? I'm not saying you should forget about Miss Holloway. I'm a mom and to think what Natalee's mother must be going through makes me ill.

But for the love of all that is holy, Latoyia IS a mom and she is pregnant. She went missing on 18 July 2005 when she never picked up her 7 year old daughter from day care. I realize the Philly police are doing everything they can, but we can do more! All I'm asking is write to any of the national news networks about this woman. Send e-mails, faxes, anything to clog the inboxes.

I doubt we have another "runaway bride" story here (Latoyia was due to marry her boyfriend 23 July 2005). She is loving mom who would never abandon her child.

Please - get the word out.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

and he did it without a license

I love my dad. He is the funniest person I know without having to try. It's his sarcasm. My one boss, who is British, said to me when he met my father, "Now I know where you get your sense of humor". He meant it as a compliment and that's exactly how I took it. My dad is not the most overly affectionate person on the face of the globe, but I have never questioned his love for me though he doesn't often say it.

And he drives my mother nuts. He has done so for over 52 years. Today was a great example.

I always call my parents after I pick up the baby from school. Normally, I talk to my mom. As I was talking to her today, I heard my dad in the background grumbling about something. Suddenly, my mom burts out in this full-blown belly laugh. Feeling a bit left out from the joke, I asked what's so funny.

mom: (in between gasps of laughter) Your dad ha-ha-ha has been trying to swat ha-ha-ha this fly ha-ha-ha

me: Ooooh kaaaayy. So why the hysterics?

can still hear dad griping in the background. mom is now laughing harder

mom: (a bit more composed) He's trying to hit this fly in the kitchen window. He's been swatting at it with a newspaper.

another roar of laughter

me: and what? Did the Mighty Casey swing and miss?

mom: He's complaining, "This stupid fly won't die. What the hell is wrong? I keep hitting him and he keeps buzzing."

me: annnnnndddd?

mom: The fly's on the outside.

complete uncontrolled laughter now

me: (now I'm laughing) Oh yeah, Dad. You got him on the run now.

mom: (laughing again) He just said, "Well, at least I knocked him down".

me: (shaking my head) Mom, I really worry about the two of you alone in that house.

That's my dad - big game hunter. I think I'll buy him a swatter with a scope for Christmas.

Crayons and heat just don't mix

Yeah, I now have a slighty multi-colored passenger seat.

When I left work, I opened my car door and got a faint whiff of Crayola. There they were - just as I left them. Crayons. Three crayons. Three big crayons. On the front seat. Melted.


I have discovered something in my stupidity. I am not the only stupid parent out there. Crayola actually has a web page dedicated to getting their products out of various types of sufaces. When you log on it's called "Stain Removal" under "Helpful Information". I love the first two words - don't panic. How hitchhiker!

I now have a whole new admiration for Crayola, WD-40, and Palmolive dish washing liquid.

heat, work, this day sucks

I woke up in Florida. At least that's what it felt like when I took out the garbage this morning. Honestly, I was looking for lizards and palm trees outside my home. I thought, "Nah, this can't be Philly! It's too friggin hot out!" This was at 5:30 in the morning, mind you. The damn sun wasn't even up! And to top it off, we had a layer of fog everywhere. So now it's hot AND I can't see anything!


No wait, it gets better.

Now we are in work. I work in an office of about 16 people. How many do you think are in today? Four. I can count on one friggin hand how many people are here. The phones won't stop ringing. All day long it's been, "they're not in", "they're not available", "no, we don't want a free magazine subscription to Medical Breakthrough Journal Weekly", "no, we outsource X department", etc. I can't even get my own stuff done - let alone blog.

Who are these salespeople who call everyday? It's bad enough they manage to butcher a name like Smith, but they have no idea how to get their foot in the front door. One guy called and asked for Mr. Hayman.

me: "Sorry, there is no one here by that name.

caller: "Oh, what about Mrs. Colefield?

me: "No, that person is not employeed here either."

caller: "Well, maybe you can help. What is the name of your company's CFO?"

me: (head in hand at such a lame attempt for information)

Hello? Telemarketers of the business sector. If you want a name, just ask. You don't have to pretend to be detective for crying out loud!

And the heat index is supposed to hurdle past 100 degrees Fahrenheit. And I think the baby left her crayons in the car.


Monday, July 25, 2005

i'm an indie rocker

Why do I find this to be no shock?
You Are an Indie Rocker!

You are in it for the love of the music...
And you couldn't care less about being signed by a big label.
You're all about loving and supporting music - not commercial success.
You may not have the fame and glory, but you have complete control of your career.

opposites do attract

"Hello, my name is Maidink and I am a geek."

small amount of hands clap with a few cheers

"Whew, glad I got that one off my chest"

Then I wake up.

Yeah, if there were ever a Geeks Anonymous, I'd have to be a charter member. I remember back when "Revenge of the Nerds" came out (the original movie), I was watching a commercial for it down the shore. I thought to myself, "They are so totally weird. I am so not a nerd." Hey, it was the 80's - days of valley-speak. Practically everyone spoke like that. Anywho, I heard my brother from behind saying, "Hey, there's your movie." I felt offended. I thought I was among the hip and beautiful. Then I looked in the mirror. Staring back at me was someone with a long unkempt hair, an Ozzy Osbourne painters hat, Van Halen concert shirt, and cut-off shorts.

Darn it. My fraternity fascist brother was right.

And here I am years later. I dress a tad more hip than in previous years. I am still somewhat of a goofball. I love reading the Wall Street Journal and Renaissance magazine. And I can still be considered a nerd.

Flip the coin.

Geo has been described as "a bit of a redneck". He loves wearing his cammies. He has an extensive WWII militaria collection. He does WWII reenacting for a German unit. He is a die-hard Republican from Hades. The man was in the military for ten years (Army, Air Force, and Navy). And he drives an 18-wheeler for a living. And he can also be considered a nerd.

Our kid? She wears a hemp and fimo surfer necklace plus pink and rose colored cammie shorts. And she very possibly will grow up to be a nerd.

And so it goes ...

Wal-Mart Brand - Made in China

Wal-Mart is planning on opening 42 stores in China within the next year. I can't see how that could be considered global commerce. Almost 90% of the stuff sold in Wal-Mart here in the US is made in China. So does this mean the Wal-Mart's in China will sell 90% American made goods?

Yeah. I thought not.

what not to say in a public restroom vol. 1

We had our morning company meeting. I hate those things. It takes me away from my blogging and other things .... what is it ... oh yeah, work. We all sit around at a conference table and regurgitate "highlights" from the last meeting and discover nothing new has occured in the five day lapse since. What a waste.

Afterwards, I head off to the ladies room. As soon as you walk in, there is a floor length mirror. Everytime I take a look to make sure I don't look like a total dweeb (i.e., flat hair, crooked clothing, etc.). Today I am wearing black pants. I looked in the mirror. Could my friggin hips jut out any further?? I wore black because it's supposed to look slimming. I looked at my image and said, "Black slims my backside". Another way I could have (and should have) said it was "Sure black slims. Don't think so." No, I said it in the former statement. Just then, I hear a KER-FLUSH and out walks some gal who I have never seen. She's got a smirk on her face and I feel like a doof. As I quickly scurry into a stall, I look in the mirror as she is leaving and she looked at my butt.

Maybe I should have asked for a second opinion.

Friday, July 22, 2005

the dead won't be bothered by pesky callers now

Picture this:

You just lost a loved one. You are in mourning and really don't feel like being bothered by anything. Well wishers have been sending cards and phoning the house for the past few days. You're coping with all you have to prepare. The phone rings and you pick it up ready with your "Thank you" speech and you are greeted with this:

caller: "Hello, may I please speak with Mr Roger Coll-id-zes-ker-ee?"

omg, is this a sick joke

you: "May I ask who is calling?"

caller: "My name is Albert and I am calling from the Society of Orphaned Sea Turtles."

you: "Ummm, Mr Kolidzesceri just passed away. Please remove him from your calllist."

caller: "My condolences, ma'am. I will do so. Would you be interested in possibly making a small dona ..."

SLAM ... dial tone

I had to endure this for over two years after my husband passed away. The first few times you are kind and polite and normally the caller will not bother you. Then the little biters call back months later and ask for him again! What? Did you think he got better and is back home now? Politeness out the window, you tell them to go away and never callback at that number again. most of the time, it works. I still have a few stragglers (almost four friggin years later). I cut them off, tell them he's dead, the phone is in my name (always has been), go pound sand, and take the number off their calling list.

Now, Direct Marketing Association, the nation's largest telemarketer, will remove the dead from telemarketing, e-mail, and direct mail lists for a nominal fee of $1.


You have to be frelling kidding me?

Granted, I realize a lot of people use the "He/She's dead" reply and ask to be removed. But to charge people a $1? The whole point of not answering these calls is so the little blood suckers won't get your money. So, to make up for all the money they are losing since the enactment of the Do Not Call List, they'll charge to have the dead removed. The Do Not Call List is free for the living but the dead get rooked for $1?

A spokesman for the FTC said family members can still have a decedant's number registered on the list provided they live at the same address.

But to guarantee no one will bother you at dinnertime to chat with the dead, DMA has the fee. The fee is supposed to cover verification of the death (like a copy of an obituary wouldn't suffice). They will also provide a list of the deceased to other companies that are not members of the organization. Probably for a fee.

Ref.: Marketers Set Up Do Not Call List for the Dead

Thursday, July 21, 2005

chemistry 101 for the workplace

We got a new CFO in work. He seems like a nice chap. He's coming from a large company that did some "restructuring". He really wants to get to know our company and it seems like he wants to make a good impression on the chief godhead (CEO). That's not a bad thing.

We have a division in another state. They insist on doing their own customer service and collecting. That's actually my job. They bitch if I bother their customers. Their collections record completely and utterly s-u-c-k-s. My record is well within industry guidlines (patting self on back). They don't want me to help them? Fine by me. That's not a bad thing.

Take one part new executive wanting to make good impression and take one part division that's in dire need of being slapped. Combine both elements. Use as catalyst one left-of-center receiveables coordinator who not only loves to works with numbers in large quantities but has been waiting for a new challenge in the workplace.

Oh no! The days of blogging and might seriously be curtailed. Heavens! These people want me to ... dare I say ... work?


Yeah, I know that sounds really ill. Seriously, I love my job and I love numbers and accounting and finances and everything that gets to go with it. But I have been doing the same thing for quite some time and I am ready for a new challenge.

It's not official yet. But there has been more than one top executive looking at certain numbers wondering why XYZ site's figures are so poor while the sites I handle are, shall we say, well above average.

This could be why the other place didn't hire me.

I know this post is borderline boring as hell. Accounting is not what you call "hip and happenin'".

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

beam me up scotty

James Doohan, the infamous Scotty of original Star Trek fame, died July 20, 2005 at the age of 85.

I actually met him at a trekkie convention in Valley Forge PA some 13 or so years ago. Yeah, I'm a trekkie and I like D and D. I'm mostly a geek - happy?? O.K. - so - the man [Scotty] was as drunk as a skunk. He had an old fashion glass filled with ice and, from the smell, scotch. As long as I watied in line for his autograph, that glass never emptied though he kept gulping from it. When he got down to just a backwash amount left, someone was there with more ice and more booze. At first I felt let down. Then I saw what he had to endure. So I guess it was either scotch or crack. Glad he chose the former and not the pipe. He was very personable and I got his autograph on a trek t-shirt.

Don't have the shirt anymore. Lord knows what happened to it. But I do have a pretty cool memory of meeting the Starship Enterprise's chief engineer..

Good bye Mr Scott. You lived long and did indeed prosper.

Ref.: Star Trek's Doohan Dies

homeless man's five minutes

Will someone please explain to me how a naked man in Center City Philadelphia in broad daylight a) get naked in the first place, b) steal a police lieutenant's car, c) get shot, and d) still cause a major eff-up at the height of rush hour?

This falls under WTF!

O.K., the man was reportedly homeless and it was a thousand degrees yesterday in the city. At that heat index, he did what a lot of people wished they could have done - he stripped down to his birthday suit. Now he's naked and probably causing a few heads to turn.

In comes the cop. I don't know what truly went down cause I wasn't there. It is said that the naked homeless man tried to steal the officer's gun. So the officer naturally shot the unarmed naked man twice (I will assume it was a warning shot since the naked man reportedly had no weapon). naked man is still moving. Officer shoots naked man twice again! Still moving, said naked man tries to and successfully steals the officer's vehicle. The naked man then crashes into a blue Cavalier and finally ends up crashing into a Jersey Transit bus.

This whole to-do caused a major traffic headache in the city during evening rush hour. Commuters were most unhappy (I know - I heard the comments on the radio).

Naked man has since died.

Am I saying anything negative towards the police officer? Well, I do question shooting someone who is naked and presumably unarmed, but I was not there. And I wonder how a naked and injured man can comandeer a police car? Again, I wasn't there. I leave it at the officer was on duty doing his job.

Was the naked man suicidal and want to die in a blaze of news-capturing glory? Did he simply want to get cooler and didn't mean for all the hullabaloo? We'll never know.

Do we even care? By next month, this post will archive and the episode will be stored in the backs of our minds with other news incidents from yesteryear.

Reports will be filed. Insurance claims will be processed. Life in the ciy will go back to normal.

So ends the five minutes of fame of the naked homeless man.

Ref.: Naked Man Sparks Crash, Shooting

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

no mood is good mood ... except in this case

No work today. I had a doc appointment (the kind women fear) and didn't really want to go back to work after it. So, I scheduled a vacation day.

You'd think not working would mean today was a good day? It would under all normal circumstances. But this is my life.

... that never happens.

It started O.K. I guess. I woke up with the world's most ripping headache. Damn hayfever season is coming upon us which means the whole family will be in one big jolly mood complete with headaches, post nasal drip, and anything else sinus related. I drank some coffee which kind of helped with the pressure. Since there was no work, I knew I had a chance to nurse myself before leaving to parents' house without having to take medication (don't really like using it).

The baby was a different story.

Not to get into gory detail, but she has a lower digestive track problem. Her current situation is she's been backed up for four days (rabbit turds only). She screams in pain when she has to go and her poor bottom is red and sore and rashy. She's had the problem since she started eating real solid food. We've changed her diet to no avail (i.e., less/more dairy, more fiber, more veggies, etc). She's been on medication, Myralax, which she takes everyday in her sippy. This stuff is supposedly non-habit forming and the body purportedly does not increase tolerance to it. However, for the year and a half she has been faithfully taking it, she STILL gets bound.

This morning was the last straw. No sooner was she out of her crib was she doubled over in pain and screaming. I asked if she needed the potty. She shook her head. The poor child is terrified to go because of the pain. Somehow in between my headache and getting us out the door, I was able to console her and get her somewhat calm.

Then it was off to mom and dad's.

Shit. Forgot the pocketbook.

O.K., back on the road to mom and ...

Forgot her extra diapers and wipes.

Once more we're back on ...

Dammit! My checkbook!

O.K., quick check - checkbook, pocketbook, wallet, stuffies, dipeys, wipeys, my ass. Good.

After filling the tank at the BP ($1.279 for regular - what a bargin), I arrive at the rents. The baby is still crying from the pain. My mom asked if I called the doctor which I had not. I dialed the pediatrician's office and got the name and number for a pediatric gastroenterologist (a specialist title practically no one in NE Philly can pronounce properly). In the meantime, I was to administer a suppository (Fleet's BabyLax) to unclog her. Not a pleasant experience for either child or parent (I will assume it is worse for child). Thank goodness I was at my parents' home because I definitely needed help after that.

Skipping to the end, she is MUCH better now. And my headache disappeared, too. When that happened during the course of the day I don't know.

And then there was the whole reason I was not in work - my appointment. No real hiccoughs except for the friggin A/C being on the fritz in the doctor's office. Didn't really bother me but I am sure the women in their second and third trimesters waiting there were probably a bit irritated to say the least.

It's been a long day. I am tired and my daughter is pooped tired. Time to sleep.

Tomorrow is another day.

Monday, July 18, 2005

hallelujah and pass the shackles

It was Saturday. It was relatively gloomy. I had just come home from a coffee and breakfast sandwich run to the local Wawa. Who the hell am I kidding!? In bountiful Northeast Philly, all Wawas are local. Can't swing a dead cat without nailing one.

Sorry - I digress. Where was I? Oh yes.

Geo and I were enjoying our coffees. The baby stole Geo's breakfast sandwich. I did ask if he wanted me to get two for him. "Nah, babe. One will be fine." I knew he'd never get a chance to eat his sausage, egg, and cheese on a bagel. Serves him right. I ate mine. It was my birthday and I had carte blanche to be selfish so HA! He at least had his coffee (it was too hot for the baby to enjoy).

What? I thought all two year olds drank coffee. Learn something new everyday.

We were contemplating what to do until we had to go to my rents home for my birthday feast. We figured the mall would be a good move. I wanted to exchange my ring for one size up and maybe get the new Harry Potter. He wanted to drool over the Canon Rebel digital SLRs again. The baby just wanted to run everywhere. So it was agreed. The mall was the best for all.

I heard the familiar *creak* *slirnk* **KLANG** which told me the mail had arrived. Thinking some long lost relative has not only discovered I am their only heir but it is also my brithday, I ran to the mailbox hoping to find a fat hallmark envelope with a strange address from somewhere like Peru.

Nuts. It was only bills. And an envelope from Geo's divorce lawyer. Oh goody. It was probably a revised bill for services rendered in June.

Lawyers will bill you for the darndest things. His lawyer charged him to read two e-mails and two letters from his soon to be ex-whore ex-wife. It figures she would not only e-mail but also snail mail her acknowledgement of receiving notice plus her letter of no-contest. What a tool bitch loser.

Lo and be-friggin-hold! What to my sight doth appear but a letter saying all was complete and the divorce was final with the word, in bold font, "Congratulations".

So now the long wait of the divorce is finally over. Now we can actually make plans to use those nifty titanium bands we just bought. Maybe a few months after we're married, I might get a diamond ring to go with my band.

Hey, first we had the baby and now we're getting married. Of course we're doing everything bassackwards. It wouldn't be us if we did it normal.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

happy birthday to me!

(cue the Beatles)


You say it's your Birthday
It's my Birthday too -- yeah
They say it's your birthday
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy Birthday To You

Since I already knew Geo got me this for my birthday,

imagine how cool I thought it was that I got this from the baby!

Looking at these, and not knowing anything about the recipient, you would think, "Must be turning 12 or 13."

HA!! I remember when Nixon was in office.

Oooo, that didn't make me feel good. And what I saw in the mall today made me feel even older.

I saw someone with an Ozzy Osbourne "Diary of a Madman" tour t-shirt on. The person wearing it? I doubt if he was even alive when the album was produced. Me? Back when the album was produced, I had tickets for the tour.


Oh well - happy birthday to me

Friday, July 15, 2005

still depressed today

Sorry, folks. I am still bummin' heavily over yesterday's defeat. Another night of absolutely no sleep. Oddly, though, I don't feel tired. By all physical rights I should be falling asleep on my keyboard. I pray I can sleep tonight. I really don't want to be dragging ass tomorrow.

Everyone has been really cool in tryin' to cheer me up. I haven't been a funk like this in a while. I know I'll shake out of it ... I just need a bit more time.

Geo, as always, did a great job in making me feel better yesterday after the interview. He had me laughing so hard my sides hurt. I'll give that man credit where credit is due - he can have me insanely laughing no matter how bummed out I can be.

On to cheerier stuff:

My company got me two dozen cupcakes that spelled out Happy Birthday (the remaining 11 had multi-colored icing balloons). That was pretty cool. And a major sugar rush. I didn't eat all 24! I had help - 12 co-workers to be exact.

Tomorrow should be cool. I'm going to my rents home for a birthday BBQ. Hopefully it won't rain (it normally does).

So, there you have it. And now, I leave you with this ...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Give the photo a caption

I tried to think of something pithy for this one. It's one of my favorite photos of the baby and Geo. If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to comment.

it's such a tiny word

There are lots of small words in the modern dictionary (four in the previous sentence alone). Many of them carry no threatening meaning - in, on, of, at, by, a, my, to. They're mostly all prepositions with the small exception of an adjective and an indefinite article. And then there are the conjunctions - do they have a great function (yeah, now I have the song in my head). Make no bones about it, these are lethal. Tiny words - monster meanings.

AND - This is the addition word. You think someone is done talking - then they use it. It builds up a thought stream to a friggin river. It's also used when being presented with a long list from hell - usually given by a parental or spousal figure. It annouces the one job one would rather not do and would actually much prefer being doused with fire ants than perform. Also, it must be said with emphasis.

"... take out the garbage, fold the laundry, mow the lawn, AND clean the cat box (usually for the cat with bladder control and aim problems)."

OR - a favorite word of lawyers and politicians. The basic use is this: give the worst possible options ever thought of by a person with minimal brain capacity and then introduce your idea which will like gold next to a lump of dog shit.

"We could take the route of pleading not guilty and you could get up to 60 years minimum time in a maximum security prison OR you can plead no contest and possibly be paroled in five years. Take your time thinking about it. I'll be outside with the under-paid guards with really bad attitudes."

BUT - evil ... no other way to describe it. This is the one word that can bring you from 120 MPH to 0 like a brickwall. It's the set-up word. When it's used in conjunction with AND, it gives the house of cards effect when activated. You pin your aspirations and hopes on one defining moment in your life and this word can crush it like a tin can on John Belushi's forehead.

"You have excellent qualifications AND a really wonderful amount of experience AND you'd be an excellent fit for our company which is only 5 miles from your home BUT we gave the job to someone else yesterday. Thanks for stopping in - here's a can cozy with our logo for your troubles."

AND there you have it.

This was the origin of my anxiety attacks for the past couple of nights. I went on the job interview of a lifetime and got a fucking consolation prize instead.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

anxiety attacks are us

Last night I could not sleep for kibble. Everytime I closed my eyes, they opened to the sight of my alarm clock fifteen minutes ahead of the last opening. I called Geo, who was en route to CT, at 2:15 AM and chatted with him for about 45 minutes. I went on-line but just wasn't feeling all that bloggable. I checked the baby eight times to make sure she was O.K. She sleeps like a log ... being sawed (boy, can she snore). I final drifted into slumber twenty minutes before my designated wake-up time of 5:00 AM.

The source of this anxiety? More on that tomorrow ...

Oooo, my first cliffhanger.

scrap the dog cart, now it's college

I can't stand it!

Geo is going to drive me nuts! Well, actually, it's more like a short chip onto the green in my case.

First, he wanted to open his own hot dog cart. Not the one you see guys pushing around with the big ole umbrella, but like the one's you see in downtown districts or college campuses. And we didn't want an itty, bitty little cart - oh no siree! We wanted a big'ems that you can serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Why did he think of this AFTER the refi of the mortgage? Capital always is beneficial in an entrepreneurial venture.

Now, I'll give the man credit. He's always thinking of ways to get ahead and he's really not afraid to try something new. And I am always behind him 110% in anything he decides. His biggest problem - impatience.

I explained how he needed a business license, probably some type of contract if we were both going to make it a partnership (or LLC or LLP, etc), health inspections, and ... oh yeah, the cart. Those tin cans ain't cheap, ya know. You can buy a low end Jaguar for the price of a new vending cart. I thought about used until I started browsing e-bay and checking out the gallery pictures. That put a quick end on the "used cart" market search for me.

Oh, and you need a place to put the cart. Location always helps a business. Abandoned fields in the back of a defunct warehouse? Bad choice.

Least we forget the taxes (sales and business privilege) and also possible fees for parking the cart in some premium spot.

Geo thought this was "no prob" and could be accomplished within a week or two. After I stopped laughing, he realized that was not the case.

So what does my loving yet impatient man decide he wants to do now? He wants to go back to school and get his degree in management.

*grins to herself*

Never, ever a dull moment.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

this phone call was priceless

I had to cover the phones while the switchboard went on break. This call came in:

"Good afternoon and thank you for calling XYZ Corp"

"You just called me."

"Uh, no, you just called here."

"No, you called me. It's on my Caller ID"

"O.K., but it wasn't me."

"Are you sure? I called you back and you answered."

"Yes, I'm pretty sure I didn't call you. You're calling a switchboard."

"So, you didn't call me?"


"Do you know who did?"

"Sorry, can't help you. It might have been a misdialed number."

"Can you check for me?"

"No not really."

"O.K." and he hung up.

Now I remember why I work in the back offices.

Times wasters in PA

Lovely report I heard this morning on the local radio news station. It seems a "survey " was taken and in the ranks of slackerdom in the workplace, PA ranks #8 out of 51 (yes, 51 - least we forget Washington DC which should have lead the list IMHO). PA employees waste an average 2.3 hours a day in the workplace which purportedly costs companies billions in unproductive wages.

The station was doing live man-on-the-street interviews in Center City (at 6 AM?) asking people whether they waste time at work. Eeee-yah! Like anyone will owe up to it! The first two I heard vehemently denied such wasteful habits. Another stated he was 64 (or something in the 60's) and he never wasted company time. But, he was quick to talk about other people who do so (i.e., long coffee breaks, extended lunches, etc). Tattle-tale!

Sheesh ... not like I do it (she says to herself while blogging at work).


Love notes from jury selection

Jury duty?! The summons was staring right back at me in my post box along with the other junk mail I don't care to ever receive. Of all the thankless, boring, time-wasting things one can do with a perfectly productive day, this ranks up there in the top five. I am pretty sure there are worse things but I just can't think of any right now. And it's on a Friday! Sweet Mother-May-I. Yeah, some people might think "Oh, long weekend" Wrong! Take one part Center City, add Friday traffic and mix in summertime and you get asphyxiation from sitting to damn long in some cluster jam. And it starts at 8:15 AM in the Criminal Justice building. Criminal? Hello, don't want to be in same building with soon to be convicts. And you can't take your cell phone in with you? What kind of horse poo is that?

I know! I'll say I didn't get it. My post office sucks! They're constantly screwing up the mail deliveries. I've probably delivered more mail to my neighbor than the postal carrier has. But what to do with the evidence? Of course, the shredder! I'll just pop that notice in there along with the utility bills and mortgage statements. It's perfect! I can only play this hand once in a lifetime and that time has come.

However, my good self and bad self - Yin and Yang - have decided to pay me visit. Terrific.

"You must go. It's your civic duty."

"Are you high? It's on a Friday! Not happening."

"You get the opportunity to be a part of the justice system."

"Oooo, there's a real enticement. I'll pass. And how about the lavish monetary compensation you get? What is it ... $7? Wow. There's motivation."

"You'll meet new people and get to stroll Center City during lunch."

"Ummmmm, nope."

"Others are depending on you to be there. The lawyers, the judges, ..."

"The drug dealers, the insurance bilkers, the crack whores, blah blah blah."

"You won't have to go to work and see those bloated, fatheads that think they know everything including running a company."

long silence ...

"Good point, you win."


Fine, I'm going. Though, if asked, I'm telling them I believe in the electric bench.

Monday, July 11, 2005

this falls under "you've got to be kidding"

I realize there are battles that one must fight on the grounds of the "principal of the matter". And this gentleman is either going to go down in [brief] media history as one of those admired fighters, or a doofus.

Fighting Ticket the Hard Way

malls: bad place to be with available credit

How is it one can think rationally and modestly during the week - brown bag the lunch, take the shortest route to save on gas, refill the same Deer Park bottle until the label starts to get funky - and then once the weekend hits, you're like Rockerfeller on a spending spree at the mall?

It seems that lately, when we go to the mall, the family has no problem dropping a few hundred here and a few bucks there. Even the baby gets in on the action. We'll stroll into Baby Gap and her little hands reach out and I swear grabs THE most expensive little outfit she can get her mitts on. And it doesn't stop there ... then she'll look at shoes and I honestly believe she is looking for the best match. WTF?!?!

Geo can not go near a Camera Shop without drooling over the latest SLR digital cameras. Ever check the price on one of those little gems? Asking him to consider a little pocket digital and he looks like a little boy who was just told he can't have X toy in aisle three at Toys R Expensive. He equates the pocket digitals to the 110's of yesteryear. Can't say I blame him - pocket digitals are on there way to becoming the new fodder at the front of checkout lines in Wal-Mart.

I am not immune to the whole buying hype. Macy's? Open a credit line to get that extra 15%? Sure, why not! Oh, and look at this suit and those shoes! They're how much? And I get the extra 15%? Ya-hoo!! Geo, see anything you want? Oh - shame.

And then the hour comes when the merchants of the mall say,

"Get the hell out of here! We want to go home sometime tonight!"

Alas, the baby didn't get her outfit. Geo didn't get his camera. Geo and I did get titanium wedding bands for our big day. I got my suit, my shoes, and my Nintendo DS (my birthday present).

I know I'll be gripping my heart and doing my best Fred Sanford impersonation when THAT bill comes in!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

all good plans can go awry

I am not going to be on the computer that much this weekend. I was not going to be on it at all. We were due in Baltimore for our friends' grandchild's christening tomorrow. However, our little one has decided this would be the perfect time to be sick.

It started with the usual crankiness and slight fever. It has progressed since then to high fever and the inability to keep anythin gin her tummy. Doctor visit is next.

Ah yes, the joy of parenting.

So, it'll be Pedialyte and grape Tylenol for this household all weekend.

Friday, July 08, 2005

and the rain rain rain came down down down

What a miserable friggin day.

I do not mind a little rain. I love thunderstorms. Hell, I even like hurricane type weather minus the property damage.

But this grey ... gloomy ... constant ... cold ... pelleting rain completely sucks.

And I can't stand the people who are all "Oh but we need the rain and it nourishes the flowers and the puddles give drinks to the birds and it makes the air smell so clean ..." Stuff it already! We are not under drought restrictions, I have allergies, stagnant water breeds mosquitoes, and if you want clean air buy a damn purifier.

O.K., I'm feeling a bit better now that I got that out of my system.

I really like the above painting. It's titled Spring Rain (1912) by John Sloan. He was a Philadelphia artist who was more famous for his paintings of New York than of Philly. And yes, I do believe that is City Hall in the background.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

can't buy me love

This was a conversation with Geo earlier today. He's so simple, it's cute:

(Geo in italics)

"So, what do you want for your birthday?"

"I don't know. Haven't thought about it much."

"Oh. So what am I getting for my birthday?"

"What? I just paid to get your German helmet custom painted, remember?"

"I thought you did that 'cause you wuv me."

"Yeah, O.K."

"I knew it. You're just trying to buy my love."

"Are you kidding? Honey, for you, that's as easy as the dollar menu at McDonald's"

NE Philly and Eminent Domain

It seems NE Philadelphia has not been spared by the threat of Eminent Domain and the local powers that love abusing it.

I ran across this article last week and couldn't believe what I was reading. Mind you, Eminent Domain has always been around. It's just now getting the media attention it desperately deserves.

In some situations, Eminent Domain does benefit local communities and their surrounding areas. But at what cost? Who is the real beneficiary of such deals? I never thought about it until I read this:

Northwood Doesn't Like City's Seizure of Property

the drive home

A lot of people must be on holiday this week because so far *touch wood* the traffic has been light going to and coming from work.

But that does not spare anyone from the occasional smacked ass the state troopers of PA felt it O.K. to issue a license to.

Like always , I was talking to Geo on the cell via the headset. It is our only form of communication during the week. It's also probably been the key to such a successful relationship. Anyway, talking to Geo (keep in mind the man drives an 18-wheeler for a living):

"So where you at, babe?"

"On 84 in Connecticut in rush hour."

"Sounds like fun"

"Oh yeah, thrills. O.K. everyone, I got to get over so yield or get pushed in the shoulder."

a few seconds later

"Did they yield?"

"Yeah. One whore in her little sports car was holding out but she got wise and moved at the last second."

"Nice babe"

"I don't give a fuck. I got my turn signal on and it's an exit lane. They don't want to move, fuck'em."

someone cuts me off on the boulevard. I blurt out

"Nice move, you nasty jiz-bucket!"

moment of silence

"You've got anger issues."


"Yeah, you mean old cantankerous thing."

"You've got to be kidding me. Next to you I'm Mary freaking Poppins."

I hear the baby in the backseat. I look in the mirror to see what she is doing. She's pointing her little finger and yelling some gibberish at the other drivers. Geo hears her.

"What's she doing?"

"Giving the other drivers hell."

"That's my girl!"

"Yeah, well, provided she doesn't say jiz-bucket in front of my parents, we'll be fine."

"We? Don't even think about it. You're on your own, sister."


my sincerest sympathies to London

I won't do a lengthy post on the subject matter of the London bombings today. I realize the 'net will be choked with various blogs and news reports.

I also did not want to appear ignorant.

So with that, I extend my sincerest and deepest sympathies to our distant cousins across the pond.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

oh joy - my files are back

Figures. Right after I blog my frustrations, our IT guy walks in my office

"All seems to be working now. Let me check your system"

He used the mouse and typed in some codes - I didn't know what the heck he was doing.

I normally consider myself rather computer literate. Then I watch someone who went to school for networking and I revert back to being a knuckle-dragging cave dweller chiselling pictures of horses on stone.

repeat after me ... I love my job I love my job

My company has made the grandiose decision to move our company server from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania. Why they kept the dumb thing in WI all these years still boggles the mind.

Quite politely, our server in WI sucked the big proverbial bone. It was ancient, it always froze (usually right in the middle of a report that took about an hour to create), and it was at its max capacity. That is not good for a growing company.

The server gets set up over the extended weekend. All goes well transferring data from old server to new server. Everything theoretically should be perfect for the start of the new business day.

I log in yesterday - the entire My Documents folder is missing. Oooooh-kay. I open my e-mail. All of my archived e-mail is gone. I check past customer files - POOF! Everything I need to do my daily job has disappeared.

What about backup you might ask? The server WAS my backup.

I was told not to panic - that it was all probably stuck in the network somewhere. Not a big comfort.

And to make matters even worse - our fiscal year just ended. Gee, now where is all that data I need to create my end of year reports? Oh yeah ...


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

damn paparazzi

Can't even let a cute little kid enjoy a freakin hamburger!!!


she's trying to kill me part deux

Cue the Flight of the Bumlebee as background music

Getting ready this morning and running around like the manical goof I can be, I tripped over one of the baby's toys. I went flopping to the ground. I now have a limp.

She must have caught wind of the insurance policy.

trikes and fishbowls

My fourth of July consisted of going to Walmart at Whitman Square with the baby. Ooooo, mighty celebration there. I used to be really into the Independence Day gig when I was younger. Nowadays, I just can not get into the 4th and all the hullabaloo that goes along with it. I try. I was tempted by the TNT tent in the parking lot but decided to forgo it. Maybe we'll do the pyrotechnics next year. The baby will be older so she can light the fuses (just kidding).

Walmart was boring. My presence did not enhance it one bit. The baby thought it was great. She thinks walking to the corner to drop a letter in the post is awesome. We bought the usual fare: lightbulbs, car wash stuff, cleaners, etc. A real ripping time.

Home was a bit more interesting. Geo was busy playing Medal of Honor - European Front on his PS2. The baby jumped on her tiny trike and zoomed around the house. I decided to change the lightbulbs in the ceiling fan in the dining room using one of the chairs as a stepladder.

As I reached up to grab one of the burnt out bulbs I happened to look down.

Here comes the baby on the trike.


Right into my chair. Thank goodness she's light and I was pretty stable. Geo was absolutely no good laughing at the whole scene and the baby thought the crash was pretty funny, too.

All that kept running through my mind was the over the balcony scene from The Omen.

Monday, July 04, 2005

defining pain

Geo and the baby always rough-house with each other. That's his way of bonding with her. He will also add,

"If anyone bothers her at school, I know she can take care of herself."

Sure, but I'm the one who will get the phone call.

I suggested he try to read to her her favorite book, If You Give A Pig A Panacake, the other night. He did and two seconds after he read it, she shouted,

"Mommy, your turn"

Not a good ego booster. So ended the book reading idea.

After a round of square-circle melee on the living room floor, Geo went to bed - he has to leave out at midnight. No fireworks watching this fourth.

I popped in a Dora the Explorer DVD for her entertainment and sat on the floor to watch it with her.

She got up from her chair and darted into the back room giggled and tip-toeing. I paid no nevermind since she is always doing goofy stuff like that.

Then it hit me ... literally!

She booked out of the back family room and ran full force into me knocking me on to my side. She knelt down next to me with this big ole smile and put her face right up to mine and said,

"You O.K., Mommy?"

Yeah, I can hear the phone calls from here.

Americana Found in the Coal Hills of PA

Note: this blog is about our adventure from last weekend. The reason for the delay was I just uploaded the pictures onto my laptop today (Geo had the card in his camera in the truck on the road out of state *whew*)

Geo, the baby, and I love to go on endless drives. No plans, no itinerary, no idea, usually no money. Many times on a Sunday afternoon after playing everyones favorite game of "What Do You Want To Do? I Don't Know, What Do You Want to Do?", we'll find ourselves loaded into the family sedan and off on an adventure to who knows where. If we play the game early enough, we go on ventures to places like Rehobeth Beach or one time we drove to St Michael's. This is all on a whim with not much more than a travel toddler bag and a debit card as our belongings.

So when we actually planned a trip, you can imagine the monkey wrench that put on our routine of no routine.

It was simple and he even suggested it. We all get up early, get ready, and head out the door. Total cakewalk.

I knew the plan was destined for doom from jump street.

I woke up at 6:00AM. For me, that's actually sleeping late. I get ready, brew some caffeine, threw a load of laundry in (that is just a sick neurosis of mine - later on that another day), and proceed to wake everyone (all two of them) up. The baby was no big since she wakes up frighteningly early on weekdays. All seemed to be a go.

Geo was a different story.

I did everything to wake him up short of throwing a spaghetti pot of water on his head. He was impossible. The man would not budge. At 7:15AM, he finally rose from his slumber.

O.K., now the thoughts running through my head were not good. I visioned us not getting out of the house on time, getting stuck in traffic, and getting to our destination so late we wouldn't enjoy it. Hence, I was in super bitch mode.

Geo thought I was PMSing. Ha! Little did he know that was the source of my mania in the beginning of the week.

I got the baby ready, packed her bag (diapers, snackies, drink boxes, SPF solar flare, etc), poured two coffees for the road, threw laundry in the dryer, and cleaned the dishes in the sink.

Geo woke up, put on clothes, and sat down read his e-mail. I couldn't believe he didn't do one thing to help me other than dress himself (I draw the line there).

In between my slamming doors and grumbling, we managed to all get ready and out the door at 9:00AM. We wanted to be out the door by 8:00 so in my mind we were already an hour late. More grumbling, a few knit-brow looks, and arms folded. I was not a happy person and the world was going to know it.

Our travels took us from the PA Turnpike to the Reading exit. From there we went north - what route? I don't know. Geo is the truck driver. He knows that stuff. I am in accounting. Give me a spreadsheet and an adding machine and things are safe to me. Sorry, I digress. So, we went north to route 61 and then to 54.

This route is awesome. Lots of coal-mining towns that would be the perfect backdrop for a motion picture based on life, opportunity, and lost dreams. That scene played out everywhere you looked. From outdated banners, still stretched over the road, informing of the town's founding festival to the stores now boarded up and closed, things that once were told tales of how it used to be.

And then there is Centralia. Yes, we saw signs for the town that has been burning underground since May 1962. I asked Geo if we could take a detour to check it out. I always heard about the dead trees everywhere and the plumes of toxic smoke that seep out of the ground. I wanted to see it. But we were already behind schedule and Geo saw a flea market he just had to peruse. So that will be a drive stop for another day.

A couple of cheesy purchases later, we were back on the road and only twenty or so minutes from our destination. This trip felt like it was taking forever. Looking at the clock in the Saturn, it was almost 2:00PM. It was taking forever. I was back in grouch mode.

We jump off 54 to 487 and there are the signs to our destination. Our end stop ...

Knoebels Amusement Park

This is the amusement park that time forgot. Aside from the ATM and Dippin Dots kiosks, you would swear this place fell right out of the 1960's.

There are many aspects of Knoebels which enhances its endearing nostalgia.

One thing is you can bring your own food and drink (no alcohol though). They have this huge picnic area decorated with giant wooden pavillons near the entrance of the park. A variety of birthdays, company outings, and family get-togethers were bustling inside the shell structures. Large chalkboards nailed to posts designated seating arrangements for all parties within. Children darted in and around the picnic tables as adults set up their edible wares from giant igloo coolers. It was a scene out of my own childhood of family church picnics I swore could only be replayed as reruns in my mind.

Everything about this park is free. Well maybe not everything. O.K., two things - the parking and the gaining of entrance. Everything else has to be purchased. Other parks in the area start charging you before you even get out of your car by way of parking fees. Fees to get into most local amusements range from $25 to $50. And that is just for the privilege to walk through the front gates. Mostly none will allow food or beverages.

We had to park way in the back because of how late we arrived. This bothered me at first, but, as Geo pointed out "we're closer to the exit so we don't have fight with the colorful word idiots getting out of here". Well put ... and that ultimately drained away my grouchy feeling for the rest of the day.

Did I forget to mention the rides at this place? Talk about a mixture of Coney Island with a little national park forestry thrown in. The rides are incredible. And cheap!!! A book of tickets cost just $10 and most of the rides are less than a $1 to ride. I'm not a economist but if you ask me, that surely is a good bang for your buck. They are divided into three categories: Thrill, Family, and Kiddie. We went on the Runaway Tugboat, Roto Jets (my daughter's second favorite), The Ferris Wheel, the Spanish Bambini, and, of course, The Grand Carousel (my daughter's fave). We had to skip the thrill rides - some stupid rule of 42" in height and people with back problems.

For the ultimate cost of one and a half tanks of gas, five hours drive time, and $20 in tickets (bringing home one unused book), the whole family got to enjoy a day outside and dig some good old fashion rides. All out two thumbs up from this crew!

And I finally got over my crankiness (thank goodness - it's a long walk back to Philly).