Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday fragments

Welcome to Friday fragments, my weekly recap of topics too big to forget, yet too small to be their own post.

This one is courtesy of my friend Jared.

Yet another week has gone by with no word from the bank regarding the offers they received for the foreclosure condo. I find this especially strange since banks usually like to close on foreclosure sales as soon as possible. I wonder if they are trying to negotiate with another buyer and aren't telling the rest of us, in case the deal goes south.

Another gem from Jared:

Its been a particularly busy work week so I am REALLY looking forward to a 3-day weekend. We are having a cook-out on Sun and have invited a bunch of friends. I'm hoping to get to the beach all 3 days, but I think the weather will prevent us from going on Sat. They're calling for rain. Sun & Mon look great though!
Yet another from Jared:
My ghetto name is DiShagurlbarak! What's yours?
Here's hoping everyone has a TERRIFIC Memorial Day weekend!!

Crush du Jour: Frank Luis

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Stoopid lyrics

Here is the 2nd installment of my newest blog feature "Stoopid lyrics" where I share with you a well-known song with lyrics that don't make sense.

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
by The Beatles

Picture yourself in a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies.
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes.

Cellophane flowers of yellow and green
Towering over your head.
Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes
And she's gone.

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Ah... Ah...

Follow her down to a bridge by a fountain
Where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies.
Everyone smiles as you drift past the flowers
That grow so incredibly high.

Newspaper taxis appear on the shore
Waiting to take you away.
Climb in the back with your head in the clouds
And you're gone.


Picture yourself on a train in a station
With plasticine porters with looking glass ties.
Suddenly someone is there at the turnstile
The girl with kaleidoscope eyes.

CHORUS (repeated)

Semi-interesting tidbit: For years I thought the lyrics were "a girl with colitis goes by", instead of "a girl with kaleidoscope eyes". I always wondered how they could tell she had colitis as she passed by!

Crush du Jour: Stephen Mayse

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

14 and counting

Yes, its true, boys and girls. Today is mine & Spouse's 14th anniversary.

Straight couples count their anniversary from their wedding day. Some gay couples count their anniversary from when they moved in together. We count our anniversary from the day we met, which is very close to when we moved in with each other. Either way, today we mark the completion of our 14th year of domestic bliss.

We don't have any special plans today. In the early years we used to buy each other gifts and plan special activities, but over the years our anniversaries have become simpler, more quiet celebrations. So both of us went to work today, as usual. He has his weekly personal trainer appointment after work but will be back home by 7:30. Maybe we'll go out to eat and for a walk on the boardwalk, 2 of our favorite pastimes.

Just in case you're a sentimental sap like me, you may enjoy reading about how we met.

I thought it might be kind of fun to share with you a few photos of us over the years. (But don't look too closely or you'll see all of our weight fluctuations.)

This one was taken in 1997, about a year after we met. Look how dark Spouse's hair and goatee are!! I look like Sears catalog model in this one.

This one was taken in Dec 2002, at my company holiday party. Note the Cosmo in my hand!

This was taken on my 40th birthday in Dec 2003. Spouse surprised me with a trip to Las Vegas and we flew out to the Grand Canyon one day while we were there.

This one was taken in June of 2005 (I think) at a friend's wedding. I like this photo because I think it looks the most like 'us'.

This was taken in 2008, near our house.
This was taken last summer, 2009, at an outdoor restaurant nearby.

Has every day been a picnic? No, but that's the thing about relationships: you're not supposed to measure them by the fights or disagreements, but rather, by the love.

Crush du Jour: Joel Smith

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Another reason to love Facebook

I've mentioned before how much fun its been for me to reconnect with old high school friends and friends from past jobs on Facebook. Seeing old photos from 'back in the day' has really given me some good laughs! There was 1 photo of me and others at a friend's house and I have absolutely no recollection of ever being there, and this was NOT due to alcohol consumption either! Its been a lot of fun to see what paths everyone has followed.

Recently I was contacted by a woman who graduated 2 years ahead of me named Lisa. She and I were both in Concert Choir, which is the only (hazy) memory I have of her. But she remembered me with much more detail, and sent me the following message on Facebook:

"Hi Mark, I'm sure you won't remember me, but I was in Choir with you at Gar-Field. You know how some people just make an impression on you? Well, I remember how talented you were and recall listening to you play the piano. I think you and I were just starting to become friends when I graduated in 1980. Every time I come across a picture of you in a yearbook or something I think "What a nice guy, I wonder what became of him?". So, when I came across a picture of you on Lisa XXXX's Facebook page, I thought I'd just send you a note and say "Hi". Still playing music I hope? Lisa"

I was absolutely floored that I had made such an impression on her. As you can imagine, this completely made my day! So I wrote back to her:

"Lisa, I'm not surprised - I'm SHOCKED - that you remember me! I was a mere sophomore when you were a senior! That goodness for Facebook and how easy it makes finding old HS friends. Thanks SO much for the kind words about my talent. After you graduated I was in Dominants and Concert Choir my Junior and Senior years, and after HS tried my hand at a number of choral, barbershop, and jazz ensembles. I'm not currently singing in any groups but I have fun at karaoke once in a while. Thanks for taking the time to send the message above. It made my day! Mark"

So I feel sorry for those who despise Facebook or think its a security risk, because they are missing out on some good stuff! (BTW, Facebook lets you set security levels for who sees your info, and you can enter or withhold as much info as you like.)

So with this in mind, I'd like to challenge those of you with Facebook accounts to find a high school friend and send them a nice message. Tell them that they are one of the people you remember from high school. Tell them you remember that they won the spelling bee, science fair, or talent show. Tell them you always thought they were cool. Reach out to someone you remember from school and make their day! Then blog about it.

Crush du Jour: Marcel Da Mirz

Monday, May 24, 2010

Weekend highlights

Our weekend started (as all weekends should) on Fri night with dinner out. We dined with 'the usual suspects' at Po Boys and everyone really liked their meals. We watched the Mecum Auto Auction until bedtime.

Sat morning was our long-anticipated neighborhood yard sale. My friend Thad (who gets up early anyway) came over at 7:30 and helped me transport my stuff to the site and set up. Thanks Thad!! (Spouse went to his personal trainer appointment.) Although it was supposed to start at 8:00 we had buyers at 7:30 as we were unloading and setting up. I sold a youth size wooden desk for $50., a small formica top table with 2 wood chairs for $40., a queen comforter set for $20., and a ton of $1. $2. and $3. items like clocks, lamps, and baskets. My grand total was $143. which is not too bad considering it was just stuff taking up room in our house.

Spouse and I had lunch and then went to Old Navy because the location near us (an outlet store) was having a big sale. I got a pair of plaid 'patchwork' shorts, a bathing suit, 2 t-shirts, 2 polo shirts, and a pair of flip flops. Spouse got 2 t-shirts and 3 pairs of flip flops. (The flip flops were $1. a pair.) We drove over to the beach but decided it was a little cool to hang out there, so we headed home. Spouse took a nap and I enjoyed a cocktail on the screened porch and flipped through 2 magazines while listening to Ella Fitzgerald. Positively dreamy. Later I took my 1st bath in the jacuzzi tub. Its crazy that we've had it for 7 months and this was the 1st time, but it was nice and I felt luxurious. Then I took a quick shower, got dressed, and we met up with Steven & Thad and one of The Bobs for dinner at a seafood buffet. It was a gorgeous night so we went for a walk on boardwalk. We watched several episodes of "Sex and the City" since TBS was running a SatC marathon.

Sun morning we met Bryan & Jason and Dan for breakfast at Crystal restaurant, a local favorite for breakfast. Why does breakfast always taste better when someone else makes it? Then we went to Bryan & Jason's and watched "Avatar". I had no interest in seeing the film until everyone on earth said they liked it, even the people who (like me) had no interest in it. I must agree that I liked it as well. I thought the integration of real people and computer-generated stuff was pretty well done. After the movie Spouse & I went for a 2-mile walk on the boardwalk, where we discussed lots of stuff. It seems the times we talk and plan the most are riding in the car and walking on the boardwalk.

Once home again, Spouse took a nap and I watched a little TV. I was in the mood for buffalo chicken pizza so we had that for dinner at Miltonian Pizzeria & Wing House. Mmmmm... I unloaded the dishwasher while Spouse walked Jordan, and then we watched "Casino Royale" since it happened to be on TV and we had missed it in the theatre. It was pretty good.

Crush du Jour: Vince Roman

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday fragments

Welcome to Friday fragments, my weekly recap of topics too big to forget, yet too small to be their own post.

For some reason, all the funny stuff I've gotten this week from my regular suppliers has been sex-related. This one comes from Jared, and gave me a real chuckle.
This one also came from Jared and had me rolling on the floor laughing!!
My friend Jason sent me this funny faux pas. You just KNOW he regretted saying that as soon as the words came out of his mouth. I like how the woman thanks him for 'clarifying' that!

Last evening Spouse & I took Big Ella to a 'cruise-in', sponsored by TGIFriday. Car enthusiasts bring their cars to the designated part of the parking lot for the public's viewing pleasure. I think TGIFriday bartenders pick their favorite and award a restaurant gift card but I'm not certain. They'll have these 'cruise-ins' every Thurs evening throughout the summer so it will be nice to show off Big Ella once in a while.

We finally heard back this morning regarding the offer we submitted last weekend for the investment condo. At the time there was just 1 other offer on the table, and the listing indicated the bank would review offers immediately. Apparently they were lying, as they notified our realtor today (5 days later) that they have 7 offers as of today. We decided to increase our offer a bit to improve our chances. I'm not very hopeful so we will keep looking.

Tomorrow my neighbors and I are having a yard sale. I'm not doing it so much for the money, but rather as a chance to de-clutter. The problem is that Spouse doesn't want to sell anything he still likes. I reminded him that selling stuff at a yard sale doesn't mean you don't like it anymore, it just means you don't need to own it anymore. Hopefully he won't try to keep everything I pull out of the attic.

Crush du Jour: Peter Obsas

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mr Sandman

It started with a simple appreciation for an afternoon nap on the weekend. Then it was a nap after work on some weekdays. Then it was a nap after work everyday. Then the weekend naps turned into 2-3 hour long naps.

It seemed no matter how long he slept, he always felt tired. Constantly feeling tired sometimes made him grouchy and irritable. His partner wondered if he had depression.

Then there was the snoring. He tried those nasal strips, a form-fitting mouthpiece, and even an anti-snore strap, all with limited and temporary success.

The severe snoring lead to short periods where he would stop breathing, followed by physical jolts as he gasped and resumed breathing. It became nearly impossible for them to sleep in the same room.

Although he slept more hours than the average person, he always felt tired and unenergetic because wasn't getting nearly enough quality, restful sleep.

It was suggested that he had sleep apnea. Upon researching sleep apnea, he agreed but felt that it would subside if he lost some weight. Further research showed that people who are not overweight can have sleep apnea, and that weight loss does not always cure it.

His partner became concerned with the increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, high blood pressure, arrhythmias, diabetes, and sleep deprived driving accidents that can arise from living with sleep apnea so he strongly suggested a physical and a discussion with his doctor.

Eventually he agreed. The physical revealed elevated blood pressure (a symptom of sleep apnea) and the doctor scheduled him for an overnight sleep study at a local sleep clinic. He was 'wired up' for observation and sent to bed. The study revealed that his sleep apnea was so severe he stopped breathing over 100 times! The clinician placed a CPAP machine on him and had him return to sleep. When we was woken a few hours later, he felt more rested than usual.

A CPAP was ordered and calibrated especially for him using the data from the sleep study. When it arrived at the doctor's office he was trained on how to use and maintain it. Then came the moment of truth: the 1st night with his new CPAP.

Pure bliss!

He awoke the next morning feeling more rested and refreshed than he had felt in years. The rest of the day his energy level was higher and his mood/disposition was improved. For the 1st time in years his partner slept without the need to wear earplugs.

If you suspect that you or someone you know has sleep apnea, get checked for it. Don't waste another week or month not getting restful, restorative sleep. And don't risk acquiring high blood pressure, diabetes or other conditions due to delayed treatment. The sooner you're diagnosed, the sooner your treatment can begin and the sooner your quality of sleep and life will improve.

Crush du Jour: Dave Dudar

Turning over a new Leaf

As you may recall, I have written about alternative energy vehicles before (here, here, and here), most enthusiastically about vehicles that do not use any fossil fuel. I feel that electric-gasoline hybrids like Prius were a fine step toward reducing fossil fuel demand, but that real clean energy independence must come from alternative energy vehicles.

Its time we turn over a new Leaf. The fully electric, zero emission Nissan Leaf, that is. 
Its similar in size and appearance to the Versa, but its of-so-different in that the Leaf does not contain an internal combustion engine so it does not use any gasoline. None. There's no exhaust pipe because there's no exhaust. None.
Leaf is a plug-in electric car that will run up to 100 miles on a full battery. Weather conditions, terrain, and use of the a/c may reduce the range a bit. But most people travel less than 100 miles a day so there should be quite a market for this vehicle. A charging dock can be plugged into your garage or home so you charge up the battery overnight, just like you do with your cell phone.

It likely won't replace a family's only car. But most family's have more than 1 car so it could very likely replace 1 of them. Keep your traditional gasoline car for road trips and drive the Leaf for everything else: picking the kids up from school, dropping the kids off at practice, picking up groceries and drycleaning, and a whole host of other driving chores.

How is the Nissan Leaf different from other alternative fuel vehicles?

Parallel hybrids, like those offered by Toyota, Honda, Ford, and Lexxus, require both the gasoline engine and electric motor to be engaged for every trip. You will always use some gasoline and some electricity.

Series hybrids, like the Chevy Volt, use only the electric motor to power the vehicle, but use a gasoline engine to recharge the electric motor batteries. If you drive less than 40 miles you will not use any gasoline, but if you go more than 40 miles you'll use some gasoline.

The advantage of hybrids is that they can go an unlimited distance. A hybrid could replace a family's only car. But since most family's have more than 1 car, my choice would be the Leaf. With no gasoline engine there is no exhaust/pollution, no need for oil and filter changes or tune-ups, and no dependence on foreign oil sources.

Alternative fuel vehicles are not 'cheap'. Most hybrids are at least $30K or more. Leaf is expected to list for about $32,780. Fortunately all of these vehicles qualify for some kind of federal tax rebate. But in my mind, selecting a gasoline-electric hybrid or a 100% electric Leaf is about much more than the sticker price. 

Its about reducing or eliminating pollution.

Its about harnessing a renewal energy source rather than an exhaustible one.

Its about reducing our need for importing fossil fuel from foreign countries.

Its about forward thinking.

Its about turning over a new leaf. Interested in reserving a Nissan Leaf? Click here

Crush du Jour: Pete Kuzak

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

We all scream for ice cream

It should come as no surprise to those of you who know me in person (and via this blog) that I am a bargain hunter. I love getting things on sale, or even better, on clearance. I often try out less expensive store brands to see if I like them as well as the name brands, and when I do, I buy the store brands. I even buy my aluminum foil, ziplock bags, and trashcan liners at the dollar store!

But there are somethings that I will not do 'on the cheap'. Ice cream is one of them.

I'm not an ice cream snob; I just know what I like. To me there is a huge difference between brands of ice cream. Flavor and texture are key components.

My 1st choice will always be Breyers.

As the container advertises, its 'All Natural', and I believe I can taste the difference. Its simple: milk, cream, sugar (plus real fruit, chocolate, nuts, etc.). No gums, fillers or stabilizers. I feel it has the best taste and texture, hands down.

When I'm feeling a little wild and crazy I'll pick up some Ben & Jerry's. They have a ton of exotic flavors, my favorite being Chubby Hubby, which consists of pretzel nuggets that are filled with peanut butter and covered in fudge, nestled in a vanilla malt ice cream base swirled with fudge and peanut butter ribbons. I know, right???Although it has nothing to do with my love of Chubby Hubby, I thought it was neat that Ben & Jerry's temporarily renamed it "Hubby Hubby" when Vermont (Ben & Jerry's home) legalized same-sex marriage.

And when I've had a hard week and want an ice cream with a little 'kick' I choose Haagen-Dazs Rum Raisin.

I cannot even TELL you how good this stuff is. The raisins are soaked in rum before being tossed into the ice cream, so the raisins are plump and juicy - not hard and shriveled. I have been known to eat an entire pint in a single sitting, despite its creamy richness. I'm surprised Paula Deen hasn't come up with some kind of bizarre dessert with Haagen-Dazs Run Raisin as its prominent ingredient. I mean, she did make bread pudding with Krispy Kreme donuts and fruit cocktail!

Now, I know what some of you are thinking: "What about Edie's, Turkey Hill, Blue Bunny, and Hershey's?" And my response is "Ummm, no."

I really dislike Edie's because its texture is gummy. You just know when you're eating it that it isn't really ice cream. And when it melts it doesn't turn into a liquid; it turns into a nasty glob.

I don't like Hershey's because of its texture, too. Its fluffy, and ice cream is not supposed to be fluffy. Its like eating frozen cool whip, which is made of oil. Gross.

There have been a few occasions when I've strayed to lesser brands. Around Christmastime a local company produces egg nog flavor ice cream so I've purchased and enjoyed it. Once or twice I may or may not have been seen with Blue Bunny Birthday Cake ice cream in my cart, but that would only be for the medicinal treatment of a bad case of the blues, followed shortly thereafter by deep, thorough regret.

Bargains are great, but in my opinion there are some things that are simply worth the money. Ice cream is definitely one of them!

Crush du Jour: Ricky Berens

Monday, May 17, 2010

Weekend highlights

We skipped Fri night dinner and headed to Spouse's mom's house in VA. We encountered a pretty wicked storm on the way to VA. Lots and lots of lightening followed by torrential downpours. When we arrived the electricity was off at Spouse's mom's house. She had ordered a pizza so the 3 of us could eat it together when we arrived at 9pm. Unfortunately, Spouse did not share with her his dislike for peppers, black olives, and onions on pizza so that is exactly what his mom ordered! That'll teach him to be more specific. The power came back on and his sister and her kids came over for a visit.

We had a leisurely morning before meeting our realtor Betsy at 11:00 to see 3 condos. One was a no-go; the other 2 were very promising, although very different. One needs a full renovation, but was priced low enough that we could afford to do it. The other was larger, completely renovated and move-in ready, but was priced a little above our budget. Betsy told us later that the renovated one already has several contracts, so we would need to offer more than the asking price to get it. The fixer-upper had no contracts so we decided to make an offer on it. We're crossing our fingers. Afterward we had a light lunch with Spouse's mom and took a short nap. Later that evening we went to Spouse's brother's 50th birthday party at his house. His wife ordered food from Famous Dave's BBQ and a birthday cake. Rather than birthday gifts, he requested donations for the Humane Society. We had a nice time. Afterward Spouse's sister and her family returned to his mom's house and we visited for a while.

After returning to DE on Sun Spouse & I made a blueberry/strawberry cobbler to take for dessert at Steven & Thad's. They invited us for dinner, along with Thad's sister, nephew and his wife, and Thad's mother Roma whom we'd been anxious to meet. Although she lives in PA, Thad is very involved with his 83 year old mother's care and well-being. He talks about her a lot so we were happy to meet her. As we expected, she was a doll. Once back at home, we fed and walked Jordan and watched TV until bed time.

Crush du Jour: Gary Shaw

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday fragments

Welcome to Friday fragments, my weekly recap of topics too big to forget, yet too small to be their own post.

Not a very exciting week. None of my supplier of tasty Friday gems sent me anything good to share with you this week.

On my work trip to Richmond I wasn't able to connect with any of my friends so that was disappointing. The training day was good. The new version of our product will be better than I expected, and clients will love it. But... (and you knew there was going to be a but) there will be quite a transition from the old to the new, which will mean lots of client conversations and training.

Work has been extremely busy for me (I sound like a broken record) and I'm starting to feel kind of burned out. That is not good, considering the paragraph above. On top of the major product update in the works, we've also had several personnel changes. My boss seems to be trying to pull me in many directions and I'm not sure what to do. This was me earlier today:
Part of me says 'talk to him about it', while the other part of me says 'keep quiet, don't complain, and stick it out because nothing lasts forever', even if we want it to.

Two weeks ago I mentioned we were going to see a condo that seemed to have good potential for an investment/rental. Unfortunately, a few days after submitting our offer we learned the seller had been served with a foreclosure notice. Since the amount he owed was more than he could sell it for, the bank decided to pursue foreclosure rather than allowing him to short sell. We are headed back to VA this weekend for Spouse's brother's 50th birthday party and have plans to see a few more condos that could make suitable investments/rentals. These have already been foreclosed upon so hopefully we'll have a better chance at making one of these work.

I didn't realize that Lena Horne was 92 when she died earlier this week. In addition to her obvious singing and acting talents, she was a rather interesting person! Check this out.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Crush du Jour: George Cullen

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New blog feature: Stoopid lyrics

I've decided to start a new blog feature called Stoopid lyrics. From time to time I will share with you the lyrics to songs we've all heard before that make no sense. This doesn't mean the song is no good. If fact, I/you may really like the melody, but the lyrics are stoopid. Could be fun, right? Well, let's get started with it today!

Come Together (The Beatles)

Here come old flattop he come grooving up slowly
He got joo-joo eyeball he one holy roller
He got hair down to his knee
Got to be a joker he just do what he please

He wear no shoeshine he got toe-jam football
He got monkey finger he shoot coca-cola
He say "i know you, you know me"
One thing i can tell you is you got to be free

Come together right now over me

He bag production he got walrus gumboot
He got ono sideboard he one spinal cracker
He got feet down below his knee
Hold you in his armchair you can feel his disease

Come together right now over me

He roller-coaster he got early warning
He got muddy water he one mojo filter
He say "one and one and one is three"
Got to be good-looking 'cause he's so hard to see

Come together right now over me

Crush du Jour: Miguel Sanz

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hump day funnies

I'm in training all day today but I prepared this post in advance for your viewing and laughing pleasure.

Check out these actual newspaper clippings! Click on each to enlarge them.
I don't know about you, but I HATE having to put on my good sweatpants to go to the Walmart.

It may be a long shot, but you never know!


"Used once only"??? For storing brains perhaps?

My guess is that this involves significant doses of controlled substances.

Hmm, I know a few that are really cheap!


That's the oldest trick in the police book!

Basically the duck said "Duck you!!"

I can understand why the parents would be nervous if it was Arnold as The Terminator.

Don't all of us have a crack in our behind?

No kidding! What next, donuts at the bakery???

Because its just so tempting without the reminder.


Typical governmental bureaucracy.


Is that even possible?

What will the Feds say next? People need air?

I can't imagine what would have prompted a call about a "suspicious coin".

Pretty successful camo paint!


Next week the writer will be on "Are You Smarter Than a Third Grader?"

I would imagine so. Probably not a lot of teen pregnancy after age 20 either.

Not surprising. Lots of men do.

How do you decide?

Crush du Jour: Ryan Matthew White