Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Yeah, Skyline! Boo, Skyline!

First I have to thank Skyline Chili in my hometown. Every time the Colts or Bengals win over the weekend, cheese coneys are 99 cents on Tuesday. So I have been loading up the last few weeks...and it has been wonderful.

But then Skyline made me mad today. Usually, when I go to Skyline I will order coneys for me and my boys. My little girl is only 2 and doesn't know the difference between a Skyline coney and a Walmart hot dog. So we just save a buck and make a hot dog for her at home.

Today we were out of hot dogs so I was going to buy her a coney without chili at Skyline. So I ordered my 7 cheese coneys and asked for the last one to have cheese only, no chili. The gal behind the counter asked "so you want a hot dog with cheese?" I said yes. But I noticed she started pushing a whole lot of buttons like she was removing a coney from my order and putting in a separate order. I was right.

I asked, just to be sure, if the price on that last one was still 99 cents. She said "no." I looked at her in disbelief. I asked "are you serious?" She said yes. So I said nevermind, just give me the regular coney and we'll scrape off the chili.

Unbelievable. So, if I save you the time of putting chili on the hot dog and save you the cost of the chili, you still have to charge me more money? Would it really be that big of a deal to just not put chili on the darn thing?

To make matters worse, while I was inside ordering, this dude pulls up in the drive-thru in a pick up truck with a dog by his side. The person working the drive-thru asked the guy if he'd like a hot dog for the dog. So she grabbed a hot dog, minus bun and toppings, and handed it to the guy, free of charge, to give to his passenger canine.

So it's okay to give away a free hot dog to a DOG but a HUMAN customer has to pay full price for a hot dog with cheese instead of 99 cents for a coney minus the chili? Does that make any sense at all?

I don't get this. Similarly I don't understand why Arby's offers Arby's Melts 5 for $5 but you have to pay regular price for the regular roast beef sandwiches. You can't just order 5 Arby's Melts without the cheese? Now admittedly I have never tried this, but it seems to me that if an Arby's Melt is on sale, a regular roast beef sandwich should be on sale too.

I don't have a business degree, but as a guy who understands money pretty well, I just don't understand this.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Sunday Drivers

Yup, back on the driving thing again.

Several times during the past few weeks I have gotten behind super slow drivers. I'm not talking about someone going the speed limit and me wanting to go faster than the speed limit. I'm talking about drivers who drive under the speed limit. In some cases, well under.

I'm not here to write about how much they drive me crazy and how much I wish they'd put the pedal to the metal.

Instead, these situations have made me think of something else: What must it be like to have a life where it is not necessary to drive fast?

My life has become a hectic mess. With three kids, a regular job, and a DJ business, I feel like I am constantly on the move. Time is precious to me and I want to get where I need to go FAST. So yes, I exceed the speed limit a bit when I can. If not, then I'm going the limit. No exceptions. I want to get where I am going as quickly as I can. Sure it's only a few minutes here and a few minutes there but those minutes are precious to me. Especially when you are trying to transport kids to skating lessons, Cub Scouts, piano lesson, school, friends' houses, etc., there is a schedule to be kept!

So I just can't help but wonder what it must feel like to not feel the urge to drive fast. To just drive and enjoy it. Take in the scenery. No rush at all. No slave to the clock. It must be truly wonderful. It also must be something that regular people like myself never get to experience.

Don't get mad at those elderly drivers slowing you down. Get jealous. They have no reason to go fast. They can take their time and enjoy their drive. Okay, I take it back, you can get mad. But also be jealous.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Parental Advice Needed: Lying

I'm a teacher and one of the most important things my students learn about me is that I despise lying. If you are going to do something wrong, fine, you're human...but fess up to it and accept your punishment. It is something I feel VERY strongly about.

So you can imagine my fury when I discovered that my 4-year old son has quickly become a chronic liar.

It all started in the bathroom, believe it or not. Our first floor bathroom is in desperate need of a makeover. But it's just something we haven't gotten around to yet. Since we moved here two years ago, we have had more pressing needs around the home.

About two weeks ago, we noticed that some of the wallpaper in the bathroom was ripping. At first we thought it was accidental or normal wear-and-tear from people brushing against it. But then we noticed that it started peeling and ripping in hard-to-get-to places. We immediately accused our two-year-old daughter of the crime. She was quick to admit to it, although she is still learning how to speak correctly.

But despite our yelling and our punishments, we kept on finding new rips in the wallpaper. Now mind you, we totally plan on getting rid of all the wallpaper anyway, but until we are ready, we'd rather have it intact and looking decent. So it was really making my wife and I angry.

As it continued to happen we kept on blaming our daughter. She would say she didn't do it but this is the same girl who blamed Dora the Explorer for writing all over our carpet in marker about a month ago (the "doodle" was fourteen feet long, I measured). It was driving us nuts. But what bothered us was that she kept saying she didn't do it. We asked our sons if they knew anything about it. They denied doing it or knowing how it happened.

We thought our 2-year old learned how to lie early. Then, my wife started keeping tabs. Three days ago, she was in the bathroom when my 4-year-old son walked in needing to use the facilities. My wife was sure to note the wallpaper situation. When he left the bathroom, there was a huge tear in the wallpaper.

Proof. Evidence. Caught red-handed.

Before we could confront our son, we were in shock. We couldn't believe he had been lying to us. Worse yet, we couldn't believe he was letting his poor little sister take the blame and get punished.

We called him over and asked him if he knew how the wallpaper was torn. He claimed he didn't do it. Then my wife explained that she checked right before he used the bathroom and when he came out, it was ripped. After a few seconds delay, he responded that he "accidentally" ripped it. When we asked about all the other rips, after some prodding, he admitted that he did most of those too.

I was enraged. I want my kids to be raised as HONEST people. How could this have happened? When did he learn to lie? How could he be that mean to let his little sister get punished for all the bad things HE did? I felt terrible too. I felt so guilty for blaming my daughter. She tried to tell us it wasn't her, but we didn't believe her. We thought our 4-year-old son had more sense to do something so stupid and then lie about it.

That was three days ago. In just the few days since, we have caught him in two other lies. Again, it took prodding, but he finally admitted to it. I don't know what to do with him. To start this at such an early age to me is astonishing and disturbing. Now the question is, what do we do?

We gave him several punishments: no tv for three days, no video games for three days, no lightsaber battles, etc. But to be honest, he doesn't seem all that rattled by being punished. He doesn't quite seem to understand yet. So what do we do? How do I make a four-year-old kid understand that lying is bad?

I'm beginning to wonder now about the carpet...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Music: A Time Machine

Music plays a very important role in my life. Especially since I am such a movie fanatic. All movies have soundtracks or scores. Well, my life often seems to have a soundtrack as well. Music has the uncanny knack of taking me back in time. Certain music sparks memories so vivid, it almost seems like they happened just days before. There are songs that have truly special meaning to me and bring me back to some of the best moments of my life. I thought I'd share some and then ask a question that I've always wondered about.

I'll start off big. One of the greatest moments in my life came the day before I home for college. A group of friends and I went to a night club to celebrate. I was the first to be heading off. Among the group of friends was a girl, who will remain unnamed, who I had a crush on literally all through high school. She had a steady boyfriend though and was therefore off limits. We had so much in common. *Side note: WHY COULDN'T YOU HAVE BROKEN UP WITH HIM?? NO, YOU HAD TO DATE HIM FROM SOPHOMORE YEAR TO GRADUATION!!!! There, I feel better.

Anyway, she had recently finally broken up with her boyfriend. We were always pretty good friends, so seeing each other in this social setting wasn't that uncommon. Well, I finally worked up the courage to ask her to dance. During our dance, I reminded her of my feelings for her (she had known before) and we kissed on the dance floor. I remember the song that was playing vividly. I even recall that my first ever purchase at college soon after I got there was that CD.

Now, every time I hear that song, I get goosebumps. The hair on my arm literally stands on end. The music magically transports me back to that time. That was our last "romantic" encounter and I've always kind of thought she was "the one who got away." But that song will always transport me back to that day when I kissed the girl of my dreams. *Side Note: I AM HAPPILY MARRIED. I WOULD NOT TRADE MY WIFE FOR THIS GIRL. IT'S JUST A FOND MEMORY. THERE IS NO NEED TO CONTACT MY WIFE AND SUGGEST THAT SHE DIVORCES ME.

Other songs:

"Creep" by Radiohead brings me back to Nantucket island. Three summer visits with friends. One of my friends played the song a lot so now I associate that song with our Nantucket adventures.

"Lady in Red" by Chris DeBurgh. Takes me back to another evening I had with the girl above. Side Note: I'M NOT OBSESSED! I JUST WISH SOME THINGS COULD HAVE FALLEN DIFFERENTLY IN MY HIGH SCHOOL LIFE.

"Brass Bonanza." The Whalers theme song. Brings me back to all those wonderful games at the Hartford Civic Center with my dad.

"Never Gonna Get It" by En Vogue. Cruising around with my friend in his Dodge Omni.

"I Don't Think I Will" by James Bonamy. The moment I proposed to my wife.

"Ain't Much Fun" by Toby Keith. Freshman dorm room with my hockey playing roommate who introduced me to country.

I could go on and on. But now my question...am I the only one who gets so caught up in music? Am I the only one who can be taken back to an earlier moment so vividly (that my hair can stand on end)? Maybe I'm weird, but I don't care. Time moves so fast. It's nice to have something like music that can rekindle such vivid memories so that I can re-live them, allbeit just for a moment.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Toes in the Water...

I am writing in a conflicted state right now. I want to feel strongly one way, but I can see the arguments another way. I'll start out with my gut but then play Devil's advocate.

There is a song on the radio right now by the Zac Brown band. The main verse contains the lyrics: "Toes in the water, ass in the sand." The "a" word said clearly and strongly during daytime hours.

I have a problem with this. There are kids out there, already exposed to way too much language and violence on TV, who might hear this. I certainly don't want my kids listening to the song and singing it. I used to be able to have no fear turning on a country music station while driving with my kids in the car. No longer I guess.

I can think of several other alterate lyrics that Mr. Brown could have used in place of "ass." Furthermore, why can't there be an alterante "radio edit" that uses a different word or mutes it out like many other songs? I distinctly recall Taylor Swift's album version of "Teardrops on My Guitar" featuring the line "because it's so damn funny." But if you listen on the radio, she says "it's just so funny." A different version of the same song was created for the radio.

Why couldn't this be done for the "Toes" song? Especially since the Toes song features an "adult" word more prominantly? I am very surprised that this song is played on the radio during peak hours. After 8pm, fine. But not when most kids are awake and could hear it.

But now the other side. I look at other countries where censorship is not as strict as the United States. You never really hear about problems with children hearing or seeing offensive material. Maybe, since it is such commonplace, parents can monitor what their children see and hear more easily.

Secondly, I believe an artist should be able to creat his/her work as he/she sees fit. If it has violence, fine. IF it has nudity, fine. Bad language, fine. No problem. That is their creation and they should be able to make it as they want and express themselves as they want to. So if they want their creations played on the radio, on TV, or on display in a museum...they should be allowed to. It's the radio station that chooses to play it and the customer (or in my case, driver) that chooses to turn on the radio to hear it.

So it's a tough call for me. Despite my feelings about censorship, I still find myself upset. I guess I'm mostly upset with the radio station for choosing to play the song during daytime hours and not muting that one word. It can be dones. Just ask Taylor Swift.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Birthdays: No Fun Anymore

I remember a time when I looked forward to my birthday. I couldn't wait to open presents or reach one of various milestones (16 to drive, 18 to get into clubs, 21 to drink, etc.). But somewhere along the line, birthdays just kind of started sucking.

Today I turned 33 and I realized just how unfun it is to have a birthday now. The older I get the more I realize I can't stop time. There's no going back. There are no more milestones to look forward too. I'd rather go backwards and relive previous milestones.

I think a lot of my frustration stems from the fact that, as depressing as it sounds, I have nothing more to look forward to in life. I'm talking grand scale. I am looking forward to seeing the Blue Jackets play on Saturday, but I'm talking big picture. I'm married, can't look forward to that. I have three kids and do not plan on having more. Can't look forward to that.

Some people suggested that I can look forward to watching my kids grow and seeing them reach milestones of their own. I say phooey to that. I don't want my kids to grow up. I want them to stay young and dependent on me forever. Everytime they reach a milestone, it will just remind me that I'm getting even older and it's just getting closer and closer to the day they move away to live their lives.

So that's the main reason I don't look forward to birthdays anymore. But I can also say that birthdays used to be magical. It was the day you felt special. You felt like the world belonged to you. You felt like the most important person on the planet. You couldn't wait to open your presents and blow out the candles. Now, the only reason I even have a cake is to please my children. It's so neat to see how excited they get about it and how special THEY feel for helping to make the cake and for giving me a present.

So I guess I have to admit, that part of birthdays still provides me with some joy. But they are just not what they used to be. To me, birthdays are just reminders that "you ain't gettin' any younger."


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Top 10 Driving Annoyances

I am an impatient driver. But I am also the best driver in the world. Of course, everyone thinks that about themselves, right? Well, as the best driver in the world, there are many things that drive me nuts while I am on the road. Here is my list of things that I annoy me the most. Fair warning...I did not proofread this before I posted. There may be quite a few gramatical errors.

Honorable Mention: Rotaries. I don't know what they are called out here in the midwest, but back in the New England we called them rotaries. Instead of an intersection, it's just a circle that you drive around and exit on the street you choose. I don't like them at all. For some reason they confuse me!

10. Long Lights. Traffic lights are essential in order to regulate traffic flow. I'll give you that. I love the ones that are intentionally timed properly so that on a long street, you only really have to wait for one light. Then the other turn green as you proceed down the road. But what drives me bonkers are the lights that obviously the traffic department did not think about when they were setting it up. I'm talking about the lights that take FOREVER to change. Where I live there is one, on a major road, at which you will sit for 1 minute and 6 seconds. What makes it worse is that there is a parking lot to a car dealership on one side and a road to an industrial area on the other. Simply no need for a red light to last that long in such a location.

9. Intersection Standoffs. You know what I'm talking about. When more than one car gets to an intersection at about the same time or when drivers can't figure out who has the right of way. You end up sitting there for a few seconds wondering who is going to go. Then you decide to go...just as someone else does too. Very awkward and very annoying. Pay attention to the order in which you arrive at an intersection people! Is it a tie? Then the person on the right goes. Drivers Ed 101.

8. Cell Phone Distracted Drivers. Put down the cell phone and pay attention dammit! If you are not awesome at multi-tasking like me, you should not be calling/receiving calls when you drive.

7. Drivers Who Don't Signal. That is why car makers put them on cars. Use them!

6. Drivers in the Left Lane Who Refuse to Get Over. When you drive, you are supposed to be alert. So when a faster driver comes up behind you and you are in the left hand lane (and nobody is next to you in the right hand lane), GET OVER. People who do this are either oblivious to the fact that there is someone behind them or are just plain stupide, ignorant of the rule. The right lane is for traveling. For slower drivers. The left lane is for passing. For faster drivers. If you are slower than me, fine. Just get the heck over.

5. Drivers who take forever to pass you. If you are going to pass me, fine, do it. Find the gas pedal and use it. It drives me crazy when someone decides to pass me and takes an hour to get past my vehicle. By the time he/she is almost past me, I myself have come up behind a slower driver and now need to slow down and wait before I can pass.

4. Want to Pass, But Can't! This occurs mostly with semi trucks on the highway. You are doing what you are supposed to do and are staying in the right lane until you are ready to pass. You come up behind a slow driver (again, usually a truck). You look in your mirror and see that you can't pass because there is a car (or cars) in the left lane, too close for you to safely change lanes. So you are forced to slow down. Then, to make matters worse, since you have slowed down several cars form a line behind you. Then they decide to pass you as soon as they can so you are stuck waiting for a whole bunch of people to pass you before you can speed up again.

3. Drivers Cut You Off...They Could Have Waited. Again, this occurs mostly with semi trucks it seems. You are driving along in the left lane about to pass a slow vehicle or line of slow vehicles. There is absolutely no one behind you and a driver in the right lane decides to pull into the left lane in front of you. The driver may be going faster than others in the right lane, but he/she is going slower than you want so you have to slow down anyway. It makes me mad because if they were paying attention, they would notice that you are moving at a high rate of speed and there is nobody behind you. They should just politely wait for you to go by, then make their pass.

2. Slow Drivers. Simply put, I'm a fast driver. Yes, I even admit to going a few miles over the speed limit every once in a while. :) In my opinion, there should not only be speed limits. There should be speed mandates. In a 55 mph zone, it should be a mandate that a driver goes 54 (or something like that). Actually, it's worse on residential roads. I was driving in a 35 mph zone the other day and the driver in front of me was going 22. TWENTY TWO. Granted it was an elderly driver. If you are going to drive that much lower than the speed limit, you shouldn't be on the road. Sure speeding is dangerous, but going so slow is also dangerous...and freakin' annoying.

1. Trucks Trying to Pass Other Trucks. I drive an hour on the Interstate every day for work. This happens all the time. Semi Truck A is going 60. Semi Truck B decides to pass Truck. The problem is that Truck B passes Truck A at a speed of 60.5. I am trying to get to work and want to go as fast I can. But I get stuck behind a truck in the left lane trying to pass a truck in the right lane. Sometimes, no exaggeration, it is several MILES before a truck completely passes another truck. If you are going to pass, PASS! See #5 above! Find the gas pedal!

So there you have it. My top 10 driving annoyances. So what did I forget? I'd love to hear about them!


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Top 10 Chick Flicks of All Time: a Guy's Perspective

This will be the first of many blog entries that I import from my myspace blog (which I don't use anymore). I'm proud of many of those entries so I am going to repost to share with (hopefully) and expanded audience. Here goes...

I am not ashamed to admit that I have seen my fair share of chick flicks in my lifetime. I have a wife. She sits through Aliens vs. Predator and GI Joe, I'll sit through something she wants to see. Furthermore I'm not ashamed to admit that there were plenty that I actually enjoyed. Some like "The Mirror Has Two Faces" and "The Other Sister" I have absolutely HATED, but there were some I really liked.

So here it is, my top 10 chick flicks of all time. Please note that some of these may not be considered true chick flicks. A vague definition that you can keep in the back of your mind as you see these entries are "movies that a guy normally would never admit to being a favorite" or better yet "movies that a chick would normally list as a favorite before a guy would."

Honorable Mentions: Ghost, 27 Dresses, and Top Gun. Sure Ghost was a love story but it had some other cool elements like revenge and the supernatural. 27 Dresses had Katherine Heigl (mmmm...Katherine Heigl...from Connecticut!) and some funny parts with Cyclops. Top Gun had many testosterone elements like jets, arial battles, motorcycles, hot topless guys playing volleyball...I mean, um, sports.

10. Sleepless in Seattle. Feel good movie with many funny parts. My favorite part is when Tom Hanks and Victor Garber are describing a Dirty Harry (?) movie.

9. Holiday. This movie spawned Mr. Napkinhead at my house. My kids love it and I owe that movie and Jude Law for it.

8. Doc Hollywood. Just an all-around good comedy. This is one of the movies that really made me want to live in small-town America. Plus Julie Warner gets naked. Gratutitous nudity, especially for a PG-13 movie. "We're doin' a pollination rap song!"

7. Return to Me. The old Italian/Irish guys in that movie remind me of my family in some ways. David Duchovy was very good as a man who lost his wife only to find love again. Unique story.

6. Notting Hill. Few chick flicks can make me laugh out loud several times. This is one of them. Spike, Hugh Grant's flatmate in the movie, is utterly hilarious. "You daft prick!"

5. Chances Are. An oldie and not a very well-known one. This is an 80's movie starring Robert Downey Jr. and Cybil Shepherd. Her husband dies and he is reincarnated as Robert Downey Jr's character. Chances are that they would never meet and reunite....but they do! If you'e ever heard the song by Peter Cetera and Cher "After All"...it's from this movie.

4. Nine Months. Another Hugh Grant movie. Any movie with "Let's Get it On" used in a humorous capacity is usually a good one. I think I just like seeing the SUV get air-borne while driving to the hospital.

3. The Cutting Edge. Any chick flick with some hockey mixed in has got to be a good one. "Ah Doug...Douglas."

2. Titanic. Kiss my butt, I love this movie. Great love story, great effects, great historical aspects, great epic scale,...great boobs. "It's made of iron sir, I assure you she can. And she will. It's a mathematical certainty."

1. The Princess Bride. Not only my favorite chick flick but one of my all-time favorite movies, period. Top 5 non-Star Wars or Lord of the Rings movie in fact. Just about everything said in that movie could be considered a memorable quote. "Life IS pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something."

So what did I miss? What should I have included in this list?


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Speeding Ticket vs. Warning

Last night I got very lucky. I was on a back "country road" returning from my hockey game. I was unaware that a short stretch of road I travel has a speed limit of 30. I thought it was 55 (most back country roads I travel are) so I was going 57. So I got pulled over.

The officer informed me of the speed limit and my speed. I did not argue. I would never. Not knowing the speed limit is not a good excuse.

The last time (and only time) I got a speeding ticket, it was the end of the month. I'm not sure if there is any truth to this but I have heard you are more likely to get a ticket towards the end of a month when officers are trying to meet their monthly quota. It was September 26th. I was sure he was bringing me back a very expensive ticket.

So I was shocked when he informed me that he was giving me a warning. I thanked him and drove away...surprised.

My question is, why did I get a warning instead of a ticket? What makes a police officer decide between the two when he/she pulls over a driver?

I have no idea. Perhaps, for me:
1. He looked at my record and saw that I have never been arrested and have never had a speeding ticket before (the first one was wiped off my record...long story). He knew I was generally a law-abiding citizen and let me go.
2. He noticed the hockey bag and sticks in my truck bed. He happened to be a fellow hockey fan and decided to let me go.
3. He was just a real nice guy being nice.

I really cannot think of any others. I broke the law. I was exceeding the speed limit by 27 miles an hour. All logic suggests I should have received a ticket. All I can do now is wonder why...and consider myself very lucky.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Parents and Profanity

I STRONGLY disagree with parents who use excessive profanity in front of their kids. It drives me crazy when I see parents weave curse words into usual dialogue in the presence of their children as if they were regular, common, run-of-the-mill words.

I see this more frequently than I would like. Today, while I was leaving work, there was a guy with his two kids in the parking lot. The dude opens his car door and immediately starts lacing into his daughter about how he is "infuriated by all the s***" she keeps leaving in his car. The girl had to be 7 or 8 years old at most. The boy was maybe old enough to be in preschool.

Now, don't get me wrong, I get aggravated when my kids leave food wrappers and other trash in my car too. And I completely understand having to raise your voice to drive home a point while disciplining your child. But to lace your tirade with profanity is just uncalled for. It teaches kids words they don't need to learn yet and that it is okay to use them in public places. Keep in mind, we were in an elementary school parking lot.

No preschooler or elementary age student needs to be screamed at with profanity. Simple as that. You can make your point just as easily without those words.

This is just one example. I see it everywhere. Walmart, sporting events, you name it. Am I the only one that was taught that these words were "bad" words? My parents cursed. But it was not very frequent and never in public. I knew that these words were not acceptable to say whenever one felt like it.

So is it just the latest generation of parents who have more relaxed views about language? I mean come on, just listen to the radio or turn on the TV. A couple of decades ago you would have never heard what you hear now. Or maybe it's just because I'm older now and a parent myself that I notice things like this now. Maybe things haven't gotten worse and I'm just more aware. Whatever it is, I wish things could change.

I didn't say anything to the guy. It wasn't my place. He could discipline his children how he sees fit. But I sure don't have to agree with it.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009


This first post is just to establish my blog. More to come.