Monday, November 30, 2009

Fernando hit 100,000 miles!

My car Fernando (or Isabella as J calls HIM) has been around the block once, twice, 14 million times. And here is his memoir.I bought Fernando in January 2002 brand spanking new in Arizona. He was born ghetto. After I signed the paperwork, the car dealership called and said they already put on racing rims and tinted the windows and they wouldn’t charge me, but is that okay? I was fine with that; surely tinted windows was a good idea in Phoenix! Little did I know that the rims and tinting would cause me angst later in life.

Fernando has had many hiccups in his life.

In November 2003, on Thanksgiving morning, I was driving to meet my running group at 6 a.m., which led to incident #1. I was actually on the phone with my mom wishing her a happy Thanksgiving (it was later on the East coast). So I’m driving and talking on my cell phone, paying full attention to the road--of course--and BAM! POP! POP! I may have dropped the F-bomb in my conversation with my mom.

As it turns out, I ran over some large metal piece that was lying across the road. The police came and a tow truck eventually arrived because Fernando was not driveable. As we were standing there watching the tow truck do its duty, the police said, “hey, doesn’t that metal piece you ran over look like it belongs to this tow truck?” Sure enough, the driver reported a loose piece that day and didn’t even know it broke off his truck just one hour before I drove down that road. As luck would have it, the same tow truck out of the umpteen that do rounds in Phoenix responded to my call! So, Fernando got fixed up courtesy of the towing company. But I swear he was never the same.

Also in Phoenix, Fernando got broken into. His tinted windows and racing rims looked like he was hiding some drugs or something, apparently. I’ve told this story before … the police tracked down the thief and he eventually paid me retribution for the damage (still waiting on the rest of that).

Next up, Fernando afforded one flat tire in Arizona and Connecticut, within a 1-year period. J and I used to take him off-roading a lot. That could be why.

Moving on to Virginia, Fernando got broken into again. The damn tinting and the rims. Or maybe it’s just the damn neighborhoods I chose to reside in.

Fernando had two other very odd incidents in Danville.

One time, I was driving with SILMeow and PrivateEye (a friend that was renting a room from us) and it felt like a bowling ball hit the back end of the car. SILMeow turned around and saw a deer running away. So naturally we pulled over to assess the damage. And couldn’t find any. All we found were two barely noticeable hoof prints and some deer spit above the wheel well. I could just picture the deer galloping into my car, then continuing on like nothing happened.

Next up came the time I was working at home and “heard such a clatter. I ran to the window to see what was a matter.” Some hillbilly was driving up our street with a truck full of metal crap and a piece fell out, right onto the edge of my car, cracking the bumper. Insurance paid out and I promptly put the money toward our wedding. Fernando could deal with his scar.

New Hampshire has not been as problematic, yet. There was the time another driver swerved into my lane and I swerved into the shoulder, hit a patch of ice and spun into the snow bank. Now he had a scar on the front too. No insurance money for that, sadly, but I did have to pay for a tow out.

As you can see, Fernando and I have been through a lot. He’s driven me through at least 25 states and very extreme temperatures.

This is the oldest car I’ve owned. Growing up, my dad worked for GMAC and we got a new car every year. Our cars didn’t go past 30,000. My last car hit 80,000 miles before I turned it in and that seemed a lot to me. J, on the other hand, put 180,000 miles on his Toyota Corolla and still sold it for $4,000!

Anyways, here’s to another 100,000 for Fernando! He just a clean bill of health in September after getting new tires and a new voice box (horn). I have high expectations for him!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving feast

Watch as ShortonCoffee performs some magic.

Now you see the food.

Now you don’t.


So now she weighs 98 lbs, instead of the previous 95. And she had 6 cups of coffee during dinner. Just thought you should know that. Oh, and J did not eat any turkey. He just couldn't do it.


It wasn’t the Thanksgiving we originally planned—hosting both my parents in NH—but it turned out just fine with ShortonCoffee in NJ. Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.

Happy TG everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

To the Cuse we went

In keeping with J’s motto—will travel anywhere for a concert—J and I continued from Mohegan Sun to Syracuse, NY, for a Phish show. Cause, you know, we were already on the road. And the stupid Phish lottery he entered gave him front row tickets in an arena of 7,000 people where they haven’t played since 1994 and “that’s a chance in a lifetime!” (According to J). Anyways, I’m just glad he didn’t get tickets for the show in Detroit or something. I could handle Syracuse especially since we have a friend there!!!

So to the north we drove. And boy is Syracuse north. Did you ever notice when you’re way up north in NY or Canada, all the squirrels have black fur? It’s so strange. But I digress (Beef).

DancingandPrancing is a cronie from Danville who moved up to the Cuse to get her master’s in forest management, or some variation of that. She and her boyfriend (a PhD student in forestry or some variation) did a great job of showing us around (it was my first time in the Cuse). So while J went off to the show, DancingandPrancing and I did all sorts of catching up—talking about everything from global warming to the best deals on SteepandCheap.com.

Us with DancingandPrancing at Phish pre-party

After all that, J said it was not the best Phish show he went to. In his words, “good energy, good venue, good show.” Hey buddy, next time we drive 5 hours for a concert, you better use stronger adjectives than that!



Monday, November 23, 2009

Wastin’ Away in Margaritaville

While we’re experiencing a real Indian summer here in NH (of course the 50-degree temps will probably come to an end very soon), it was only fitting that we saw Jimmy Buffet Saturday. With my winning tickets from the casino last weekend!

I must say, out of the 3 Buffet concerts I’ve now been too, this was the best. Normally, I go to the Buffet concerts for the tailgating, which is quite a trip. This time, it was all about the music. And the venue was smaller than what he usually plays (5,000 vs. 30,000+), so we were close enough to see the lack of wrinkles on his 60-year-old face!

Anyways, it was a great trip. Free tickets. Extremely discounted meal (thanks to J’s comp points from gambling). Free hotel using points. You can’t beat all that! Oh wait, J did make a significant donation to the casino in the hour we had to gamble. I lost a whopping $14.


Part III of the 800-mile weekend road trip to come next!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gobble, Gobble, Croak

Disclaimer: Do NOT read this post if you are squeamish or if you love animals.

I am not a vegetarian. I love me some beef. I also try to live life to the fullest and try everything once. So when J told me our friend Bean was raising turkeys and invited us to the “kill party,” I thought, hey, why not? When else am I am going to learn to do this? And who knows? Maybe I’ll end up one day on Survivor or in a situation where we live off the land and have to do this. Experience is everything!

Bean raised these turkeys staring in August. He fed them beer and grew them to 20+ pounds. A famous restaurant in Boston was set to buy the 75 he raised.
It was quite a fascinating process once you got past the fact that you are slaughtering turkeys. First the turkeys quiver in the corner because they know what’s happening (that’s sad). Then they go into this device that keeps them still so you can cut off their heads (yes, I tried that once). Then they get defeathered. Then you take out all the gizzards and such (which get rebagged). That was pretty cool because I felt like I was doing surgery. Cut the neck, take out the intestines, find the heart, liver, kidneys and lungs. The smell was the only bothersome thing. Oh, and my turkey’s intestinal system was still working, so he kept pooping on me!J sat out on this one. He said the live turkeys were giving him a look of mercy. He also said he doesn’t think he can eat turkey for Thanksgiving this year.

Stay tuned for Part II (there are three parts to this weekend) when we head to the islands!

Monday, November 16, 2009

How to not spend any money in a casino

Step 1: Use casino-provided vouchers on your first bet. Place $10 down on #10 for the big wheel spin. Win $100.

Step 2: Using your second casino-provided voucher, place $10 on #5. Collect winnings of $50.

Step 3: Put winnings away. Go home.

Trust me, leave your ATM card at home and just come with me. I have all the discipline. I rarely win anything, but when I do, I know how to hold onto it. Sunday was my day to win.

I'm not a gambler. I just can't part with my money. I play $5 here and there on penny slots. That’s as girls-gone-wild-at-the-casino as I get. I go to the casino for the buffets and people-watching.

J, on the other hand, is into gambling almost as much as he's into concerts and hookers. Okay, just concerts. He’s not into hookers folks.

Usually I have to drag J out of the casino kicking and screaming. When we’ve gone to Laughlin, I leave J at a table to hit the hay for the night and he says "I'll be up in an hour." Which is a blatant lie. Try 5:30 in the a.m. buddy. He aspires to be a dealer. Or in the World Series Poker. Whichever opportunity presents itself first.

Of course, half the time J plays he wins big. This weekend, he won. Not big to him, but big to me (take into consideration I think $5 is a monster takeaway).

Anyways, my winnings stemmed from J’s work (wink, wink) trip to Mohegan Sun Casino. The trip costs $40, which includes the bus ride, 3 bet vouchers to use on the big wheel, and a $15 lunch buffet coupon. So basically, you get your money back. Especially when you play like me. And it’s good for J because there’s a “forced” discipline. He must leave by 4 p.m.

So anyways, I took my $150 and gave $75 to J (good wife I am). In his defense, he did give me his vouchers to play with since he had to make a mad rush for the Texas Hold’Em table. I then put $40 aside as the money I paid to go on the trip. Gambled with the rest and still walked away with an extra $60!

Oh, did I mention I also won concert tickets ($400 face value) to Jimmy Buffet through the casino? I just might be on the luckiest streak of my life. Who wants to rub me? For luck I mean …

Trip down memory lane ... J's biggest win in Laughlin in 2005

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Can I make a suggestion?

I came across this study from CareerBuilder.com and thought I'd share. They always have the funniest polls and I cover a lot of them for a publication I write about corporate health and productivity.

In this day and age when jobs are hard to come by, you would think the employer has the upper hand. What? We're not getting health coverage in 2010? Oh that's okay. Here's an awkward high five and thank you for letting me keep my job.

Anyways, this report proves that employees think there's no harm in making requests for ...
  • beer in the vending machine
  • jail time be covered under family medical leave
  • bikini Fridays (I do this all the time already)
  • a special smoking area for medical marijuana
  • replace desks with a futon so employees could lay down and work (I have a futon in my office!!! I can lay down and work!)

Right now, my biggest request of my company is that they close between Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. They have in past years and this year, it doesn't look like it will happen. I can use PTO of course, but I'm just going to whine about having to "waste" it. I just can't work that week. Nothing in health care happens. I can write about how yummy holiday foods make you gain some lbs, but that takes all the fun out of this time of year.

Anyways, in November, the month of gratitude, I have to remind myself I am grateful to have A job. It may have dropped on my "love it" scale, but I am appreciative. Now if they would just listen to the employee requests ...

Monday, November 9, 2009

REI scores

There was another REI garage sale on Saturday, so we had to go, we just had to. Even though it was 27 degrees when we got on line at 7:30 in the morning (we were number 20 or so), it was worth it as usual. I went in with a budget in mind and only exceeded it by $20. J, on the other had no budget, and exceeded it. I'm glad we decided to go because there were a lot of "photo shoot" items, which means they were unused, but still 75% off.

The things I got that I "needed" were for my new biking hobby. Every time we biked, my buns were in pain, but good bike shorts with padding usually run in the $65-$95 range. I got mine for $9.83. I also got a new bike helmet. The one I had been using was falling to pieces. It's seen me through many miles and many crashes, but it was time to update. I also picked up snowshoes. Yeah, definitely didn't need those, but it was too sweet of a deal to pass up. Regularly price $180 ... I paid $40. I fully admit I am a gear junkie.

J got a lot of things for our future AT thru hike. It seems like everything he picks up these days, he says, "this is totally going on the trail with me." I can't wait to see him pack his bag and keep it under 35 lbs. His best buy was probably his AT trail backpack, which was about 70% off. He's been trying out different packs and this seems like it will be "the one." It was rated backpack of the year and has all the bells and whistles--hydration compatable, sleeping bag compartment, carbon fiber frame and tons of pockets. For any fellow gear junkies out there, it's the Gregory Baltoro 70.

J and I decided that for the next REI garage sale (in January), we are just going to stay at home because we clearly have an addiction problem!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Whose Got My Extra????

So those are the words I hear all the time when I (J) attend Phish or Grateful Dead concerts. In case you didn't know by now, I'm a big fan of music.

Well, Phish has been on what they call a hiatus for a couple of years and last summer they decided to get back together. I went to a couple of shows, but tickets were very hard to get. Phish has system called the lottery, where they sell their own tickets before they get released to Ticketbastard. I entered along with many of my friends and family and got NOTHING!! They are going on a fall tour, so I thought the lottery would be the same. I put in for all 10 shows (NY, PA, ME, MI, OH etc) with the intention of trading them for a show I wanted to go to.

SILmeow entered for me and got nothing. My wife (the Former PK) entered and holy cow, she got two tickets for Portland, Maine!! I was so stoked (she was not) and was ready to go (she was not). But, alas …. I also got one floor seat for Portland. And, get ready for this …. 2 front row seats for Syracuse, NY.

I knew I'd be going to the Syracuse show, but I was unsure about the 3 tix to Portland Maine …. I only need one. I am not a scalper and never believed in that. I wanted to take a unique approach and not sell these tickets. I paid $120 for the pair. So I put an ad up on craiglist saying that I had two extra tickets for Portland and did not want money but wanted a trade. I encouraged people to come up with something unusual. Most people were selling these highly desirable tickets for hundreds over cost … (I call them #^%hole scalpers!!)

So for several days I got many responses and thought I would share them with you.

- 2 tickets to the Albany Phish show

- Desktop PC

- Blackberry Storm

- Electric Scooter

- 25lbs of Organic Pork, being butchered this weekend (when I told PK about this, she responded, what, do we live in a commune??)

- A music artist would write and record an original song for me of my choice (like "My feet need a rubbin")

- A feature page on a dog Web site with the dog of my choice

- Real Russian Soviet World War II cold war helmet (tempting)

- Freelance photographer services

- Web site deign services

- Rake my leaves

- House painting service

- Good Karma (tempting)

- Snowboard

- Guitar

- Framed concert posters

- Fly fishing flies, hand tied

- Records from a someone’s collection

And the winner was…..

A couple from Northern Maine who will let PK and I stay in their log cabin on 85 acres of land and have us over for dinner in their other home this summer. Obviously they hit my sweet spot with this offer. They are also going to fill an external hard drive with mass amounts of live Grateful Dead shows and other music. My other sweet spot. And the best part is that they have not seen Phish since 1994!!!!!

So, when you say “whose got my extra?” I sure hope I do because making someone’s day is the greatest reward.

Ps….. maybe someone will get my extra front row seat for Syracuse……

Peace


Shake what your momma gave you

We had our first dance class last night. The dance studio said they missed us during the summer, but mostly they just missed our awesome costumes for the monthly costume ball. This month, we're learning Salsa and Bolero, along with more Swing and Foxtrot. After class last night, an older woman told me I moved my bum really well. I'm just glad she didn't ask me if I had a license for my caboose.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

NJ in a nutshell

I wasn't sure if my camera would work, so I only took limited photos. I will try my best to keep you entertained as I recap our trip to NJ!

Wednesday, after dressing like Sandy & Danny for J's senior Halloween lunch (the old bitties said we looked more like Elvis and his groupie), we drove in the pouring rain to CT for a quick overnight visit with the niece & nephew.

The kids were so surprised and excited they peed their pants.

We let Bones ride his bike (2-wheeler!!) to the bus stop Thursday morning. QuickQuestion has yet to forgive us.

Next stop was theMakeupArtist's house in NJ to meet J's latest birthday buddy, LJ. They are still in that 6-week newborn period of non-existent sleep.J & I departed ways from there. He went into NYC to attend 2 nights of the 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame concerts with UncleSlickG.

J said they were by far the best concerts he's ever seen. If you really are interested is seeing the list of artists, go to the Web site. But he did say the 3 best performances were by Bruce Springstein/Billy Joel, Metallica/Ozzy Osborne and U2/Fergie/Mick Jager.

In between concert-going, J met up for lunch with theBuddha and his other birthday buddy CJ, who is now 1. Oh and SILAdventure also happened to be in the city with her friends for the weekend. So you know things got wild and crazy! Needless to say, J is exhausted from all the festivities.

My next stop on Thursday was to Hallmark4ever and GoodEgg's house, where I realized holy cow, my friends produce cute kids. Their son also just turned 1!Hallmark4ever & I met up with theAccountant at The Cheesecake Factory for dinner. Girl talk commenced and ceased 4 hours later.

My pasta dish had asparagus in it and my pee smelled for the next day.

I had breakfast with theMentor Saturday morning. Her kids are now between 14 and 21 ... I changed their diapers!

Short on Coffee and Big on Lotto bought 335 pieces of candy for the trick-or-treaters. Do you think that was enough?

J and I reunited Saturday and went to watch the World Series at theCoach and DishSoap's house that night. Joined by thePlaya, PanicMan and AYB. A small Prep reunion, but of course some important people were missing--like Beef! We ended up in a sea of wrappers and a candy coma. My teeth are not happy. Oh, and PanicMan gave J and I some intense lessons in texting. We're getting the hang of it slowly.

We cruised home Sunday. Did you get all that?