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Archive for July, 2009

Plane Talk

Well… we’re well into July now, it’s officially summer and that can only mean one thing… well, not really… it can mean a lot of things but for a lot of us, this time of year means that it’s time to start thinking about…

VACATION!!

You know… vacation… where you leave the stress and worries of your job behind and replace them with… THE STRESS AND WORRIES OF VACATION!!

 

Vacations are one of those things that involve selective memories… They always seem like a good idea when you plan them… you look forward to it, you count down the days and each day closer to the date brings a higher level of excitement…

“OH BOY!! OH BOY!! OH BOY!!”

 

But then it all changes…

Once you’re on your way, you start to wonder what demon possessed you to do this horrible thing! What was I thinking?

And if you survive the ordeal and get back home, you swear that you will never EVER do anything like this again…

And here’s where the selective memory thing comes in…

 

By the time you get back to work, you have forgotten all about the bad stuff, and spend the next 6 lunch breaks telling every one you work with about all the fun you had, and all the adventures you had…

Yep… vacations…

 

Janet and I aren’t planning a “formal” vacation this year…

 

Formal vacations are the kind where you have a specific destination in mind and you make actual plans for getting there and what you’re going to do when you get there…

 

For instance…

 

You will arrive at the airport at exactly 10:45, get checked in and arrive at the gate in plenty of time to board. The plane departs at exactly 12:55 and you arrive at your destination at exactly 3:12… You pick up your rental car, grab your luggage and arrive at your hotel at 4:17 and begin having fun at 6:57…

 

But the reality is…

 

You get up that morning and in spite of all the planning and organizing, you can’t find your shoes, the car keys are missing and your significant other decides to unpack and repack the suitcases to make sure that you remembered everything… even though they just did the exact same thing last night…

Finally, you head out for the airport and halfway there, you realize that you forgot the suitcases… (This realization comes after you say, “I’m sure glad I put the suitcase in the trunk last night to save time…” and the other person says, “Ohhhh…. Oooops….”) they’re still sitting on the bed where your significant other put them after taking them out of the trunk, unpacking and repacking them…

Fortunately, you left early enough that you have enough time to get back home and retrieve the suitcases…

You arrive at the airport and after driving around for 20 minutes trying to find a parking place, you arrive at the ticket counter only to find out that you were supposed to check in 2 hours early… not 1 hour early…

But they manage to make everything right and so you head for the gate with your boarding pass in hand and as you round the corner you see that there are 687 people waiting at the security checkpoint… why are there so many people? Because one guy… ONE GUY… who apparently has been hiding under a rock for the last few years doesn’t understand why he can’t take his authentic, antique muzzle loading buffalo gun on the plane with him… This has caused a major ruckus and a brouhaha…

Not to mention lots of tense uniformed persons with guns…

 

Finally, we get through the security point and carrying my shoes in my hand, make a dash for the gate… the nice lady there is just closing the door but sees us running and with a grin, closes the door quicker! But I’m pretty fast for a chubby guy and manage to keep the door open with my hand and convince her to let us on (showing her my broken fingers and threatening a lawsuit)… We wend our way down the aisle, carrying our approved small backpack, having checked our luggage, only to be blocked by half of the plane who thought it was a good idea NOT to check their luggage but instead, to bring it all on the plane with them and are now attempting to cram it all into those overhead bins…

Finally, you get to your seat and get settled in… and you get to sit there while the maintenance crews are outside doing all sorts of the highly technical things to the plane… you watch as one of them opens a little panel on the wing, takes something out of there and looks at it for a moment… you’re not sure what it is but it’s shiny and metal and looks kinda important, but he shrugs and throws it into the back of his truck… then… he takes a BIG rag and stuffs it down in the hole… and closes the panel.

Wow…

Finally, the captain comes on and informs you that there will be a “slight delay while the ground crew does some minor ground checks”….

And suddenly a whole bunch more maintenance people are scurrying around the plane, opening panels and looking inside them… You notice one of them says something into a radio and everyone runs over to where he is… you realize he’s looking into that same panel that the other guy opened a little while ago and you watch as they reach in, pull out that rag, stare at it for a moment and then discuss it amongst themselves… after some discussion, the guy puts the rag BACK IN THE PANEL and closes it… and they all leave…

 

Finally, you take off and the flight is uneventful… well… except the 2 year old in the next row who spent the whole flight screaming “NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!” and the guy sitting next to me that must have had dinner at Rudy’s House of Tacos because he made motorboat noises for the majority of the trip while he snoozed… That may have been why the kid was screaming “NO!”… could be…

 

We finally arrive at our destination and find out that the travel agent LIED!! The rental car counter in NOT at the airport, it’s miles and miles away from the airport so you cram yourself into a shuttle bus with a bunch of other grumpy people and finally arrive at the offsite rental car company only to find out that the 4 door mid size car I had reserved, and that I have a reservation number AND a confirmation for… isn’t there!! Nope… they gave it to someone else…

But not to worry… they have an 8 year old Ford Fiesta you can have… it’s good on gas and one of the men in the garage will help you get it started…

 

At last… we arrive at the hotel where we have a reservation AND a confirmation for 2 people for 6 nights…

However, what the hotel has is a reservation for 6 people for 2 nights… and they are booked solid… “We’re terribly sorry for the inconvenience…” they say which really means “Someone else offered us a lot of money for your room and we don’t know you and we’ll never see you again so we don’t really care…”

 

But hey!! We’re on vacation now!! No worries… no stress… no problems…

A hot shower, a couple of Mai Tai’s and a good nights sleep and tomorrow we’ll deal with the fact that we just found out that most of the amusement park is closed due to flooding and that after tomorrow, we have no place to stay…

 

Yep… we’re gonna skip the vacation this year… stay home, read books, cook on the grill and take naps…

And plan for next year’s trip!!

 

(Please note… all of the above have happened to us… fortunately, not all on the same trip… and I don’t even want to talk about the airplane that lost a cargo door on takeoff and spread everyone’s luggage down the length of the runway… that was FUN!!)

 

SAELIG!!!

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Traveling 1

Ok… so I’m driving to work this morning and one of my favorite Rolling Stones songs comes on and being in a pensive mood, I ruminated on the words to the song…

“I said, Hey! You! Get off of my cloud
Hey! You! Get off of my cloud
Hey! You! Get off of my cloud
Don’t hang around ’cause two’s a crowd
On my cloud, baby

What does that mean?? It makes absolutely no sense at all now that I’ve really listened to the words so what did I do? I decided to make it the opening for this GFTW!!

Isn’t life wonderful?

 

Ok, in response to my last GFTW where I discussed the joys and adventure of traveling by plane, many of you… OK… a few of you… well… a couple of you… OH FINE! Nobody responded!! Are you happy?

But I could sense, via the FORCE, many of you out there saying, “Well, that’s fine Bill, but what about those of that prefer to travel by car? How about some tips for us?

And being the nice guy that I am, I can help you out too…

 

So, here we go…

 

Traveling tips for drivers!!

 

Traveling by car can be an adventure as well… similar in some ways to traveling by plane except that if you have a mechanical malfunction, you won’t fall out of the sky like a stone and make a horrible crashing noise when you hit the ground… unless you’re on the PA turnpike where they have those big cliffs 3 feet from the road… jeez… who thought that up? Wouldn’t you think that the highway engineers would look at the design and say, “Hmmm… let’s make the road really curvy and windy and then… let’s put it on the side of the mountain with a huge drop off on the side… OH!! And wait!! Let’s make the speed limit 70mph AND make the hills really steep so that big trucks will ride the butt of smaller vehicles!! COOL!”

 

Sorry… I’m digressing…

 

Anyway, before you hit the road on vacation, there are some basic steps to take to insure that your car is ready to withstand the rigors that you are about to put it through…

 

First, you need to check your oil, water and transmission fluid before you take off… This is important because fluids are vital!!

Let’s start with the oil… to check the oil; you need to find the dipstick… (At this point, I would make a joke about my dorky little brother, but I won’t because it’s a cheap shot and I’m beyond that sort of thing… ya think?) and this means that you are going to have to open up the hood of the car… Yeah, yeah… I know… it’s dark and scary under there but it’s gotta be done…

Open the hood and look around in there. Of you are really looking at the engine, there will be lots of tubes and pipes and wires and other stuff in there.

Some of this stuff may be really hot so be very careful… if you’re not sure if something is hot or not, here’s a simple test…

For pipes and metal parts:

Put your finger on the object and if the skin blisters and it really REALLY hurts, it’s probably pretty hot… I would recommend avoiding it after that…

Wires: If you’re not sure about wires, have one of your doofus brother (I have several if you need one…) or your least favorite child grab the wire and if they immediately start doing the funky chicken and making a “AGHHHHHH” noise, you’re probably dealing with a high voltage wire… again, I’d avoid it…

Hoses: Make a visual inspection of all hoses… which means, stand there for several minutes staring at the hoses… not sure why, but all the books say “Make a visual inspection of the hoses” so I’m passing that along…

Finally, the engine: If nothing is smoking, burning, leaking, making squeaky noises or falling off the engine, you’re probably in good shape…

 

Ok… back to the dipstick… First, you have to find it… You could look it up in the owner’s manual, but where’s the adventure in that?

Instead, just start pulling on stuff until something comes loose… the dipstick will be a pretty long, twisted piece of metal that has gooey black stuff dripping off of it… If it doesn’t meet those criteria, you have probably pulled something vital off of the engine so put that piece back where you found it and continue the search…

Once you’ve found it, here’s the rule… if it’s the ENGINE dipstick and it has black gooey stuff dripping off, this is a good thing…

However, if it’s the TRANSMISSION dipstick, black gooey stuff dripping off is a BAD thing…

My advice to you is to do one of two things…

1.      Go to the 30 minute oil change place where they have a better idea of which dipstick is which and let them check to make sure the black gooey stuff is on the right dipstick…

2.      Don’t worry about it because if there was an issue, there’d be a light on the dashboard indicating that there was an issue, right?

 

The next thing you want to check is…


TIRES!

 

First, make sure that there are 4 of them on your car! I don’t know how many times  people have come up to me and said, “Bill … you know about cars and dipsticks and stuff and mine seems to be running strangely… can you take a look at it?”

And when I check it out, I can see immediately that the problem is a misaligned baby shoe hanging on the mirror (the toes should always be facing south…) and that the left front tire is missing! An easily missed problem…

“But wouldn’t a missing tire be obvious?” you ask…

Well, anywhere else maybe, but we have world class potholes here and sometimes I’m not sure that all my tires are there…

 

Once you’ve ascertained that you have 4 tires on the car, it’s time to see if they are properly inflated… this is an easy check.

Start the car up, put it in gear and accelerate to 25mph… if you hear any of the following….

“Wooba, wooba, wooby”

“Blooomp, blooomp, blooomp”

Or “Ka thubba, ka thubba, ka thubba” noise, then one or more than one of your tires needs air…

Do not attempt to inflate the tires yourself… you might over or under inflate the tires and trying to get it just right makes your lips sore and your lungs hurt… I recommend finding a tire inflator thingie…

 

Finally… the last thing that you need to check out is your exhaust system…

This is also easy to do… put the whole family in the car, roll up all the windows and drive down to Pontiac and back. If everyone is pretty woozy or unconscious and you made a good part of the trip back by scraping along the guardrail, then there may be a couple of holes in the exhaust system…

You can fix this by keeping the windows rolled down!! (Don’t try duct tape… it really smells BAD when it gets warm… )

 

And there you have it… your car is ready for vacation!! It will be just fine sitting there on in your driveway while you hit the highway in that luxury rental car, which is really the smart thing to do…

 

I mean, think about it… you’re relying on me for automotive advice? And doing it yourself? What are you thinking?

 

SAELIG!!!

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BACON!

Bacon Care of Business

 

Ok… let me preface this by saying this…

 

Yes… I know we work in a hospital…

And yes, I know that I work in Medical Education…

And yes, I know that we are supposed to be advocates for healthy lifestyles…

 

I know all that… but when it comes to the following… I DON’T CARE!

 

I’m here today to talk about…

 

BACON!!

 

Bacon is one of those things that people either love… or hate! Oh wait… Now that I think about it, I’ve never met ANYONE that didn’t like bacon!

Oh sure, there are those that will tell you that that they don’t eat it because it’s unhealthy, or because it’s high in cholesterol or because their religion forbids them from eating pork…

But that’s not the question… Ask them if they LIKE bacon and see what answer you get…

 

Bacon is one of the few foods that meets all 5 requirements for the “magical” food category.

 

1.     It smells good when it’s cooking… Bacon cooking is one of those aromas that will make your mouth water as soon as you smell it… and it doesn’t matter if you just ate a huge breakfast and are ready to pop, the smell of bacon cooking will cause your taste buds and your stomach to sit up and say, “GIMME SOME!! GIMME SOME!! NOW!! NOW!!”

2.     It tastes good… sounds like a no brainer but think about it… there are lots of foods that smell good when you’re cooking them but taste awful… I’m not gonna name names here but (liver) there are foods that tease you with the cooking smell (liver) only to gag you when you put it in your mouth…

3.     It LOOKS good… there is something about a plate of bacon sitting there that you can’t resist… if you take the most ardent health food nut… someone that would never let a Whopper pass their lips and who believes that Krispy Kreme is the food of the devil… and put a plate of fresh cooked bacon in front of them. Then just sit there… I guarantee that in less than 2 minutes you’ll hear, “Well… maybe just a little piece…” or “One little bite won’t hurt me…”

4.     It’s CRUNCHY!! Crunchy food in any form is good and bacon takes it a step further… it’s a tactile tasty treat and the crunchier, the better…

5.     And finally… and in many ways, this is the most important facet of magical foods…
Bacon goes with EVERYTHING!! EVERYTHING!!

One of my favorite Chinese restaurants serves something called “Woo Dip Har” which is grilled butterfly shrimp wrapped in… BACON! Outstanding!!

How about stuffed mushrooms wrapped in bacon? Or chicken wings wrapped in bacon? Or hot dogs wrapped in bacon?

(I know… this is cruel… is your mouth watering yet?)

How about steak wrapped in bacon? You can wrap ANYTHING in bacon and it will taste good…

How about “chicken fried bacon”? You take bacon, dip it in batter and drop it in a deep fat fryer… that’s gotta be good for you, right?

Especially with a side of gravy…

Let’s not forget dessert!!

How about a….

BACON CAKE!! That’s right…

I can hear you now… Bacon cake?? EWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!

But wait… do you like chocolate covered pretzels? M&M’s with salted peanuts?

There ya go…

It’s that sweet/salty thing going there…

Here’s a variation… Chocolate covered bacon!

But… while watching food channel one night, I saw the ultimate…

 This is not for the faint of heart… or anyone with any sort of vegetarian leanings at all…

Nope…

This is the definition of “heart attack on a plate”… the very essence of baconess… (baconess?)…

 

Are you ready for the…

Bacon EXPLOSION!!

This is 2 pounds of bacon, 2 pounds of Italian sausage (loose, not in the casing), 1 jar of BBQ rub and 1 jar of BBQ Sauce…

You “weave” the bacon into a blanket, and then spread the sausage over it… Now, you fry up a bunch of bacon extra crispy (be sure to do some extra for nibbling… it is physically and mentally impossible to work with cooked bacon and NOT nibble some… can’t be done…) and break that bacon up over the sausage… now, roll the sausage up sealing the cooked bacon inside, then roll the whole thing up in the bacon weave… you should have a big roll of bacon covered pork goodness ready for the grill… then you cook it in a smoker for 2-3 hours and you are good to go! (probably to the cardiac unit but hey…)

Here’s a link to show you how this works…

 

http://www.bbqaddicts.com/blog/recipes/bacon-explosion/

 

And now… having written all this, I’m starving… I have some peanut butter in the cabinet, some cinnamon raisin bread and some bacon… Gonna toast that bread, spread the peanut butter over it and cover it with bacon…

MMMMMMMMMM…..

 

Oh… by the way… for those of you that want it… here’s the recipe for the bacon cake…

 

A Simple Chocolate Bacon Cake

3 oz semisweet (or bittersweet) chocolate, chopped, 1 cup hot black coffee
2 cups all-purpose flour (or pastry flour), 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder,1 tsp salt
3 large eggs, 2 cups sugar, 1 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil,1 tsp vanilla extract

1 pound of bacon, fried extra crispy

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2. Combine hot coffee and chocolate pieces in a bowl. Let stand 5 minutes before whisking smooth.
3. Butter and flour the bottom of a 9- x 13-inch cake pan. (Or butter the bottom of the pan and lay in a piece of parchment.)
4. In a separate bowl, blend together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
5. In another bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until slightly thickened and pale, about 3 minutes. Gradually add yogurt (or buttermilk), vegetable oil, vanilla and coffee-chocolate mixture to eggs. Stir to combine well.
6. Add the dry ingredients into the moist ingredients and continue to beat until just combined.
7. Pour cake batter into the prepared pan and bake about 40-45 minutes (or until the cake springs back lightly when touched and a tester inserted in center comes out clean).
8. Place cake pan on a rack and cool completely in the pan. To remove, run a knife around edge of the pan and invert cake onto a rack. (May be wrapped tightly and kept at room temperature for up to 2 days or frozen for 3 weeks.)

Browned Butter Icing (in a Pretty Piggy Pink to pay homage to the bacon)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Red food color (optional)

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Cook 6 to 8 minutes, or until butter is lightly browned. Whisk in confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Stir in 2-3 (or more) drops red food color to achieve your own perfect piggy pink.

Ice the cake and then… crumble the cooked bacon on top of the icing…

 

Or… you can just go to Meijer’s, buy a frosted chocolate cake and crumble bacon on it… your call!!

 

SAELIG!!!

 

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Grow Out of It??

 

So, there I was, working at a seminar when a friend who shall remain unnamed… (No, I’m not telling you who it was… Alice made me promise not to tell anyone that it was her…) asked me a question…

 

“You’re a guy” she said, (and I was glad there wasn’t any confusion on her part!) “And I need to ask you something… I have two boys and the other night we were sitting at dinner when one turned to the other and said, “Guess what I did? I farted in (name withheld but it was Alice’s daughter…) lunchbox and closed the lid!” At this point Alice… oh… sorry… the anonymous person made a face…

“I sort of expected the other son to look at him and say “Ewww… that’s gross… “or something along those lines but instead he looked at his brother and said, “Oh… I already did that…”

I spit out my drink and looked at them…  Is that normal?? Do I need to worry about these boys?”

 

Well… being a guy, I have to tell you… this is perfectly normal… Boys and farts go together, and there is a certain amount of pride that goes with the ability and “craftsmanship”…

 

Having come from a family that was lousy with boys, I sort of grew up in this “atmosphere”… and yes, you need to have some pity on my mother, because with 6 sons AND my father, she was surrounded by juvenile behavior of a testosteronic (yep… I made that word up… pretty cool, huh?) nature…

 

And then Alice… oh… sorry again… the anonymous person asked me… “Do boys ever grow out of that “farts are funny” phase?”

Hmmm… well Alice… (Ooooh… sorry… I did it again…) I believe that there is one recorded case in history of testosteronic outgrowingness…. But only one… He went on to become that person that composes the music you hear on the overhead in Wal-Mart…

 

And here’s a couple of case histories…

 

When my son was about two years old, without any prompting from me, he started experimenting with the “armpit fart”… My ex-wife was not amused and asked me to “take care of it…” So I did!!

I sat him down and I showed him the proper way to cup the hand in the armpit and how to apply the proper pressure on the downward motion of the arm and the resulting noise reduced both of us to helpless gales of laughter… (both of us being my son, and me… my ex-wife was still not amused… which might be why she’s my “ex” )

 

When my brother was little (about 3 years old) every time he would let one go, my Dad would look over and say, “That’s my boy!!”

And of course, that would inspire all of us (the other 5 boys) to seek Dad’s approval… eventually my mother would leave the room… not sure if it was the noise, the laughter, the crassness of it all or… perhaps it was the “atmosphere”…

 

A couple of years ago, I was at Best Buy looking at wireless routers… Janet and I had just gone out to lunch at… yep… Chi-Chi’s… and I was in some minor distress… There were some pressure issues and I was doing my best to maintain control with short bursts but I knew that something big was brewing…

Anyway, a salesperson ( a young lady) was showing a laptop to a young couple and as I passed them in the aisle, I “crop dusted”… I couldn’t help it… it was either that, or explode… No noise, just a gradual release of pressure as I walked down the aisle…

A moment or two later, the saleslady was still waiting for the laptop to boot and started sniffing… “Do you smell that?” she said to one of the other blue shirted employees… “I think the power supply is going on this laptop…” He leaned over and started sniffing too and said, “Nope… I think it’s just because it’s new… they all smell like that…”

I lost it… I have never laughed so hard in my life…

 

And finally…

 

When I was a kid, I shared a bedroom with 3 other brothers… There was a rule in our house that on Saturday morning, immediately after breakfast, we had to clean up our room before we could go out and play…

Well, when you get 4 kids, the oldest one being 12 years old, in a room together, frivolity and hilarity ensue…

We started cleaning the room but soon it developed into a game of “war”… rather than use toy guns, we used our “hands in the armpits weapons” and with pointed fingers, began shooting each other…

“Brrrrraaaaaap… GOT YOU WITH MY COLT 45”

“Did not!! Brrrrraaaaappppp” I GOT YOU!!! WITH MY TOMMY GUN!!” (This was my brother Tommy… )

“Did NOT!! YOU MISSED!! Brap Brap Brap Brap!! GOT YOU WITH MY BURP GUN!! “

 

This went on for several minutes… Yelling, noises, laughing and general boyness…

 

All of a sudden, the door flew open… my Dad was standing there with that “What is all this noise when you’re supposed to be cleaning your room?” face on…

He stood there for a moment, and then slowly turned around…

And proceeded to let one of the longest, loudest and most disgusting ones I have EVER heard rip… After several seconds of this, he finally stopped, turned around in the doorway, and said, “There… Nuked… all of you… Got you ALL!! Clean your room!!” and closed the door…

After a few minutes of gagging and retching, we cleaned the room… And once again, we were in awe of the old man…

 

And so Alice… (jeez… I’m sorry… ) in response to your question of “Do boys ever outgrown thinking farts are funny?


No… they don’t… Not ever…

 

Here… pull my finger…

 

SAELIG!!

 

 

 

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