Thursday, July 28, 2005


Finally, the back on this oppressive weather has been broken. Yesterday's high of 98 (and a heat index of one hundred and something teen) made it the hottest day in the past three years.

Massive thunderstorms blew through last night as I was painting the kitchen at my daughter's school. Tuition offset, as anyone who sends their kids to Catholic school knows. You have two choices: summer cleaning or bingo. Due to D'Wife's asthma, bingo and a hall full of it's chain-smoking pracitioners, is not a viable option. So it falls to mops and buckets, rollers and brushes, and 50 hours of parish service, to kick our bill down by $350 ... I'm getting $7 an hour for this??? I collected more when I had to paint my high school in the summer of 1979.

The first round of storms came out of the East, and curled around before going back out the same way. A perfect set up for tornadoes. "It looks like the Wizard of Oz out there," the announcer said on the radio. Fortunately, there are no trailer parks near me.

After putting in my time at the school, and between downpours, I was able to make a run to pick up some
Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA - my favorite beer on hot summer evenings. It's got a great copper color and a hoppiness so sharp, you can cut galss with it.

After dinner the second wave of thunderstorms came in. I went out to the porch to relax with a smoke and a pint. My buddy
Pete had given me a Te-Amo to bring home from our visit this past weekend. I lit up, took a sip of beer, and put my feet up on the porchrail to watch the "light show." With the first couple of flahes, cracks of thunder, and sheets of rain, seeing my rose bushes swaying in breeze (they reach nearly to the porch roof) I couldn't help but think "McGinnis would love this."

Dan McGinnins is a friend of mine from way back. He's a Hunter Thompson fanatic, a polo watcher, a gourmand, a historian. He is an encyclopedia of 80's Pop music (Who sang "Happy Birthday" by Altered Images ... Why Claire Grogan, of course) He claims to be directly descended from the Guinness clan that produced the beer of that name. If Edward Gorey had ever been a young man, I'm sure he was much like Dan. I hadn't heard a word from him in many years. On an excursion of mine a couple of weeks ago, I got the email address of another lost friend, who in turn forwarded mine to Dan.

The Mysterious Mr. McGinnis

The mysterious Mr. McGinnis
Must surely love his house,
Because once he's in it
You can not drag him out.

He must work early in the morning
And go to bed early at night
Because after 6 o'clock
No one’s ever seen a light.
At least at the front of the house
Or on the second or third floor.
The thing that frightens me most, my friend,
Is that there's no light above the door.

I've heard that he has parties,
So he probably has friends.
But his parties go on so long
And no one's ever seen again.

There are weeds he calls a garden.
And dead bushes that he calls trees.
What flowers he might have
Don't even attract bees.

No one come in and no ones comes out.
Unless he says so.
Will I be invited back someday

Unfortunately, I guess, no.

This morning dawned bright and clear ... not crystal clear, like after a hurricane, but more like Carnival Glass, with its iridescent blues, purples and pinks.

And, as a bonus, the cicadas are quiet.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Hot Fog

The heat and humidity continues here in The Pines. I'm doing my best to maintain a positive and healthy attitude. Training in this weather is a test every day. It's like trying to run with someone sitting on your feet and holding a warm pillow over your face.

Something I know a thing or two about ...

I met her while I worked in the Print Shop in South Philly. If Kim Deal [The Pixies; The Breeders - "Cannonball"] needed yet another twin sister, she was more than qualified. She may have been the Proto-MILF. She was a proof reader, I was a layout guy. She wrote poetry and liked my artwork. She was 28, I was 22. She was separated (her husband was really flaked; Goth before Goth was Goth, you know; never went out during the day, didn't work, smoked a LOT). We got real flirty at work, went out after work a couple times, just for a drink or two. One afternoon (we got out at 3:00 on Fridays) she took me down to Roosevelt Park, across the street from the Vet - now Citizens Bank Park. We started making out, in her VW Beetle. We really going at it. She couldn't exactly take me home, and I was living in Jersey, so she gave me, well, you know ... something to remember the day by.

I still do.

By the following spring, we were super serious, but she wasn't divorced yet. I had moved back to Philly to be closer to her. We'd go to her poetry readings and openings and everyone in her clique knew who I was. During breaks, we'd slip off to have sex in bathrooms, and stuff like that. All my friends at my neighborhood bar knew her, too. Then her kids started asking me to stay over. Her husband got even nuttier. She wanted to reconcile with him - for his mental health, such as it was. I said fine, "Let's take the Summer off." In the meantime, I got a new job, so it wasn't a workplace situation anymore. I met new girls, my "horizons" expanded. However, her whacko husband - who all the time begged her to come back - didn't want to now. She moved in with her parents in Upper Darby and tried to make another go of it with me.

I was seeing a couple of much less, shall we say "dramatic", women at the new place and didn't really share her enthusiasm to try again. But, being the sweetheart I am, and attempting to make a nice ending to the story, I went out with her a couple more times. She may have thought I was just running a game on her, that my heart wasn't really in it anymore, so she tried to snuff me in my sleep with a pillow. She wasn't really trying that hard, but the point was made. She went home that night.

The following Wednesday - the day before Thanksgiving - I received a letter from her stating that we would both be better off without each other, and that I shouldn't try to call her because she wouldn't talk to me. Even though I had other things going on, the attempted murder and subsequent "Dear Randy" letter shook me up quite a bit. I went to the Thanksgiving parade in Philadelphia and watched it alone in the cold rain.

By December 1st, I was adjusting to life in Florida.

I made it till March.

I thought that I'd shaken her of my scent [so to speak], until one April afternoon after I moved back. I'd managed to sub-out my apartment while I was gone and returned to my old neighborhood like nothing had happened. As I was doing my daily run up at Penn, behind me I heard a screech, crash, yelling and screaming. She had driven her VW up unto the curb and tried to drive me through a store window. Missed me!!! She told the cops that her kids were fighting in the back seat and she was trying to calm them down when she lost the wheel.

Oh, yeah, I'm beyond "Stab-worthy" ... I'm "Smother-him-with-a-pillow-and-if-that-doesn't-work-run-the-Bug-up-on-the-sidewalk-by-Franklin-Field-the-Friday-of-Penn-Relays-worthy"

So, if I say that the heat and humidity is "smothering," it probably is.

Friday, July 22, 2005

A Secret Language

I pick my daughter up from pre-school almost every Friday afternoon. On the way home - in addition to other errands her mother assigns me - we go to the Beer Store. She and I have developed a secret language to communicate my choices for the weekend.

Cinderella Beer - St. Pauli Girl

Sleeping Beauty Beer - Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest

Scarry Ghost Picture Beer - Hacker-Pschorr Weisse

Key Beer - Beck's

Red Star Beer - Heineken

Fat Daddy Beer - Amstel Light

Blue Star Ocean City Beer - Newcastle Brown Ale

Kangaroo Beer - Foster's

Sun Beer - Sol

Green X Beer - Dos Equis Lager

Red X Beer - Dos Equis Amber

Wizard of Oz Beer - Magic Hat Blind Faith

Angel Beer - Magic Hat Fat Angel

Number Nine Beer - MH #9

Pretty Pink Eye Beer - MH Heart of Darkness

Bug Beer - MH Hocus Pocus

Shark Beer - any Dogfish Head variety

White Shark Beer - specifically Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA

Airplane Beer - Flying Fish

Bat Dog Beer - Flying Dog Doggie Style Pale Ale

Dinosaur Beer - Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA

Skeleton Man Beer - Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter

We also discuss whether to get a "small box" (6-pack), a "big box" (12-pack) or a "really big box" (case)

So, for example this past Friday I got "a Big Box of Red X Beer and a Big box of Sun Beer plus a bottle of Pirate Beer (Captain Morgan)"

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A Mistake ... Sort of.

I woke up this morning to a considerable decrease in the humidity ... but I also laid in bed about 20 minutes longer than usual - I got up at 5:20AM instead of my designated start time of 5:00.

The first consequence of my tardiness was that the "Girls Gone Wild" commercials were over - I like to listen to my MP3 player and watch them while I stretch. I had to make due with the Weather Channel ... Jennifer Carfagno's cute, but I seriously doubt she'll take her top off.

After assembling furniture at the Church last night, I was very stiff. My Punk Yoga stretching routing took a little longer than usual - I had to go through the routine twice to achieve a level of flexibility I could work with.

Punk Yoga??? - I combine classic yoga asanas with some old school stretches from my soccer and surfing days. I have no training; I'm sure the form is not 100% spot on; some days I rush through it; I just kind of make it up as I go along ... like punk rock.

I didn't get out on the road until 5:50, most of the neighborhood sprinklers were either off, or hadn't gone on yet. Plus, with the decreased humidity, there wasn't enough dew on the cars parked on the street for me to swipe a handful of water to wipe my sweaty face with.

I set a water bottle on the porch so it would ready when I got back and trotted out to "Cemetery Ridge" still very stiff. I loosened up nicely by the first mile, but I felt sluggish the whole way through. I only had about half a mile left when Pat from up the street turned the corner on his route and started to kick back into the development. Eight hundred yards out is a little early for me to even think about ramping it up, so I let him go and just cruised myself in. I didn't realize that he stops and the beginning of the street, maybe 200 yards from home. I took the opportunity to blow past him like he was standing still, which he was. I finished with a 24:18 for the three miles, in spite of never quite finding the groove. I picked up my bottle, kicked off my shoes and took a cool down stroll around the neighborhood.

Sure ... THAT'S when the sprinklers came on!!!

Cemetery Ridge
3 Miles

Loop around the cemetery on Bartram Road
Gentle uphill from Oakton to the cemetery, a steep downhill to 3rd street, a steep uphill on the Elwood / Raritan curve, then a gentle downhill back home. One extra loop around the development brings it to three miles.

Monday, July 18, 2005


I ventured out for my first post-vacation training run and was greeted by an extreme case of the "Mugglies."

Mugglies??? Muggy but in a very ugly way. It's so f'n muggy, you become a sweatball just walking from the porch to the street ... Hot fog ... Fog shouldn't be hot, it should be cool and refreshing.

Thanks to a scheduling anomaly (i.e., no one had planned anything for me to do after work), I was in a position to bail on the morning trot and hit the gym in the evening for a run and a bike.

I got to the Bally's around 6PM and through the next hour and a half I saw all my "buddies" ...

Leisure Suit Larry
Larry used to live a couple houses down from me when I lived with my family in Haddonfield, c. 1983. Seeing him at Bally's for the first time was quite a shock for me, since - back then - I was f*cking his kids' babysitter. She was sixteen. I think he may have known about it, too.

Tick Tock Black and Tick Tock Red
Some nights I'm having trouble keeping up with these two Asian guys, who used to have trouble keeping up with me. They both click off 6-8 miles at exactly 7:45 pace 1/2 lap apart. One usually wears all black, while the other favors red shorts, white tank, red headband.

Lean Mean Gene
Probably the oldest looking 52-year old I've ever met. He and I used to knock of six-, eight-, ten-milers on this 12 lap per mile track, without problem. Now, his knees are blown and I'm fat.

Doctor Boston
Joe may or may not have ever run Boston ... I'm not even sure he's a doctor. He just keeps that very steady, consistent tempo a marathoner would. He's German or Austrian or something Bavarian. The truth is, he looks like a small version of Laurence Olivier in "Marathon Man." If he ever asks "Is it safe?" I'll scream like a little girl.

She will spend an hour on the stepper, run only 5-6 laps, then blast past me. Once, she mis-timed her start and couldn't catch up (she was about 1/2 a lap short.) I finished my miles as she was cooling down.
"You didn't quite get me tonite," I said.
"Well, I be back on Wednesday. I'll get you then," she replied, emphasizing "Get" with a flirty wink.
"I won't be back until maybe Saturday."
"Oh well, I'll have to get you when I can, then," with another wink, smile and swish of her (firm) ass.
If all the girls at Bally's are just whores, I can't let my membership lapse.

Leigh Lehigh
She's the babe on the stepper, the kind that looks like half an escalator, with her back facing the track. She prefers to wear the baggie sweatpants shorts, with the waistband rolled over, jogbra, bare midriff - the whole Brandi Chastain thing going on, of which I am a big fan. I'm not too tall, so her reverse cameltoe is usually right there at my eye level as I go around the track, over and over, around and around. I thought from the big letters on the back of her shorts that her name was "LEIGH," but it turned out she went to "LEHIGH" ...

Fitness Center Blues

Jog bras and ponytails,
What's a man to do?
Camel toes and whale tails,
What's a dirty old man to do?

I just came in here to burn off my gut.
I found myself surrounded by low budget smut.
I should be counting reps, not looking at the butts.
Man, these girls are such sweaty little sluts.

Jog bras and ponytails,
What's a man to do?
Camel toes and whale tails,
What's a dirty old man to do?

Keep your eyes on the track just one more mile.
Hey there sweetie, won't you give me a smile.
I know the baggy shorts may not be your style
But I got a workout that beats Pilates by a mile.

Jog bras and ponytails,
What's a man to do?
Camel toes and whale tails,
What's a dirty old man to do?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

But first ... Laundry

The Sock Reunification Program

The simple principle behind the Sock Reunification Program is something we're all taught early in life ... The Buddy System. Class trips, swimming lessons. ”Stay together. Where's your buddy?" We start off as a team, we finish as a team. You watch my back, I'll watch yours. You're okay; I'm okay. Joined at the hip. No man left behind. That also works in reverse. If one fails; you're both out.

Maintaining the Program is easy at first glance. As long as the "Pairs Go In; Pairs Come Out" rule is followed, there should be no problems. Once that trust is betrayed, however, everything starts to fall apart. Regaining order can be costly, time consuming and can destroy relationships (I've seen it happen - to be fair, they were going to split up anyway; they just needed one final conflict. Do mismatched socks fall under the category "Irreconcilable Differences?" Apparently so, according to judge Mitchell R. Beane.)

A simple way to manage it is just to buy only two kinds of socks, three at the most, per person. For the men: Black Wool Blend Gold Toe for work, weddings and "dress up" occasions; White Champion Half Crew for the gym, pickup basketball and marathon training; maybe a nice LL Bean rag wool for those snowy events ... shoveling, skating, sledding and so forth, or just relaxing by a fire with a special person, a fine brandy, and a Hudson Bay blanket. For the women it's shockingly easy; just wear pantyhose, it's physically impossible for them to be separated. If you're an active woman and need to wear socks (for the gym, pickup basketball and marathon training) just use your guy's - the sizing is ambiguous enough that a small woman can wear a pair made for a large man without side effects. Kids under six are simple, if not downright stereotypical: pink for girls, blue for boys. Boys and girls six and over: all white; all the time

Get three to six pairs of each and you can double them up through the laundry cycle with no problem. Put all the black ones in with one load, all the whites in with your t-shirts and undies; you're good to go. You still need to put in a little work on your part though; no one gets away for free. Even if all you have are white and black, by all means count them as you put them in. If you care to, take the extra step to actually load them as pairs ... "Here's your buddy, try to stay together." Keep in mind that if you have, say seven or eleven going in, you have a problem. This is not to be taken lightly. At least one sock is out there somewhere, alone, probably scared and hungry. When a child, a stranger to you, goes missing, entire communities band together, the media is called, new milk cartons are printed up. Shouldn't you take a reciprocal course of action for something more intimate?

You have two paths at this point. The first would be to hold up the whole laundry process right then and seek out the errant footwear. As unappealing as this may seem, this is the more prudent option. Search from front to back, top to bottom. Follow the whole "Un-Wear Path": Off the feet, into the hamper (or onto bathroom floor), down to the laundry. You will find the renegade, return him to the tribe and all will continue their journey together, as it should be.

Suppose you take the easy route? "Hey, I'll just set one aside. I'll find its match another time." When will that another time be? You don't know, no one does. Are you sure that when you find that "missing one," its match be there waiting for it? Are you sure you will recognize it? You can't be. You might set the oddball aside for next week, maybe on the ironing board, folding table, or drying rack; making a mental note to yourself that "next time I put the socks in, remember to match this one up." I hate to let you down, but the odds are that "next time you put the socks in" this one won't match up. Sadly, it's more likely that you will again have an odd number (even with Mr. Lonely added back to the pile), acerbating the situation. That means there's still another sock out there, waiting, watching. This can continue into a spiral of degradation and remorse you've never experienced before; except that one time, with Sheila.

If the situation goes unchecked, you will be forced to take the path of utmost desperation: the Entire House, Every Drawer, Dump. The EHEDD is not for the Proud, the Meek, or the Busy. You must be able to say to yourself, with full resolve "This, which was once a good plan, has gone awry. I hold myself accountable. I have failed in my responsibilities, to myself and to my family. I will do that which needs to be done, whatever it takes, that we may be whole again" There will be casualties, some WILL BE left behind. It's a good thing. They will meet again on the Other Side. This WILL take time. If you intend to go start to finish without stopping, take a day out of the calendar. It is the Ironman, the Boston Marathon, the Wing Bowl or Laundrydom, at best. If you attempt the head-down, get-out-of-my-way, one-day classic Paris-Roubaix bulldog sprint version. It is not for family play. I've tried it three times myself and have always had to stretch a Saturday plan into Sunday. In a twist of fate, the forces that made the EHEDD necessary, also impeded it's execution.

Once you have steeled yourself to the EHEDD, there is no turning back. Once it has begun, anything less than total fulfillment only makes the situation worse. At some point on a Sunday evening it will come to you ... it needs to be done. Get through the week as best as you can. Focus on the weekend ahead of you. This is a development where having a wife that works on Saturdays, works to your advantage. You have to get up anyway (How many women can let their man sleep if they have to be up?) Gather around yourself at least one, if not two or three good-sized laundry baskets or hampers. Then, with cold and callous precision, gather, from room to room, every sock you can find. This is a purge, plain and simple. As much as it may pain you, if two socks are found together, bundled as a pair; for who knows how long, separate them. It would be nothing more than a well deserved cleansing to them (after all - if they're still that close and others are missing ... when were they washed last?) Every sock in every drawer, on every bathroom floor, in every closet, buried in every gym bag, comes out, as an individual, for redemption, for reconciliation.

And into the wash. For the next forty-five minutes to an hour you will be redoubling your search to make sure there are none who escaped unaccounted for, because this is the harsh fact: (Pure logic follows) If all socks are in the wash, and every sock has a mate, then all mates are in the wash. If any sock emerges without a mate, then it's mate must be lost. If its mate is lost, then it should be lost to meet its mate. Sad and cruel, but all will be the better. Order will be restored.

Out of the washer, into the dryer; be vigilant. Mistakes often happen here. A crew sock drifts between washer and dryer; thought for lost, its match, through no fault of its own, is presumed an orphan. It is on its way to St. Vincent de Paul, at best. Do the Homeless care if their socks match? Will unmatched socks cost them that job interview?

Once clean and dry, the final hurdle must be cleared ... rematching. The entire pile (or piles if you are so fortunate) is deposited in a centralized reunification location. This is where many solid relationships come unglued: "Those two argyles from 1995, neither of whom had any place without the other. Well, I only have one here." And some are re-glued "These are the socks I wore to Lisa's wedding. Remember how drunk you got? We had to pull over on the way home and..." Any unmatches to the trash or Goodwill, your preference. Only pairs win here. You have to be cold. As much as you loved those fishy's, if you can only find one, the other has to go. Find a new pair that reminds you of the old pair and keep better care of them.

You will wonder "Why the bother? Why the pain, torment and, trouble" Trust me, my friend, when you see those two olive socks with the little black checks (the ones that go perfectly with your lucky dark green suit and black wingtips) laying side by side and you say to yourself "Oh, that's where they went" all the time and pain and trouble will be forgotten.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


What's one of the first things that you need to do when you begin your vacation??? If you're not going anywhere, just staying home and shoo-bee-ing Downnashore, you had better load in a bunch of beer. I chose Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA.

From the Sierra Nevada website:

Our most popular beer, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, is a delightful interpretation of a classic style. It has a deep amber color and an exceptionally full-bodied, complex character. Generous quantities of premium Cascade hops give the Pale Ale its fragrant bouquet and spicy flavor.

“Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the flagship beer, the one that made Chico famous. It is a flawless beer that opens with bright, perky high notes of maltiness and orange blossom and segues into a delectable hoppiness.”
– Elaine Louie, Premier Beer—A Guide to America's Best Bottled Microbrews

Great American Beer Festival (American Pale Ale: 1995, 1994, 1993; Classic English Pale Ale: 1992; Pale Ale: 1990, 1989, 1987)

From the Dogfish Head website:

Our family of Indian Pale Ales includes the 60 Minute I.P.A., the 90 Minute Imperial I.P.A., and the 120 Minute IPA. All feature our unique continuous hopping program, where they receive a single hop addition that lasts over the course of the entire boil (60, 90 and 120 minutes respectively). This breakthrough hopping method makes for a beer that is extremely hoppy without being overly bitter. "Feel the burn?... That's the sickness and the cure"

60 Minute IPA - Our best-selling beer!

A session I.P.A. brewed with Warrior, Amarillo and Mystery Hop X. A powerful East Coast I.P.A. with a lot of citrusy hop character. THE session beer for beer geeks like us! Bottle-conditioned bottles and draft available.

6% ABV / 60 IBU
Approx. 212 calories and 23 carbs per bottle
Available year round, 12-ounce bottles & draft
Desriptors: Citrus, cedar, pine and candied-orange flavors, floral
Food pairing reccomendations: Spicy foods, pesto, grilled salmon, soy-based dishes, pizza
Suggested serving glass: pint glass
Comparable wine style: a busty Chardonnay

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

See, this is what happens ...

I finished June in pretty good shape for the summer. Thirty-four beers burned off, 366 left to go.

Then came Independence Day Weekend 2005.

Starting with 2 Hoegaardens left over from Wednesday, we / I plowed through a 12-pack of Sam Adams, a half-dozen Coronas, and four Sierra Nevada Pale Ales ... There might have been a couple of Coors Lights in there as well.

I ran 4 miles Saturday morning.

In other words, I added 22 beers back onto the "To Go" column.