Category: Suburbia (page 1 of 3)

10 Sure Fire Steps to Having a GREAT Morning

  1. Leave the house with all of your children.
  2. Enjoy the pleasant daily ritual of exchanging friendly waves with the kind, elderly crossing guard lady.
  3. Drop off eldest child without his book bag or lunch.
  4. Return to your house to retrieve forgotten lunches and book bags.
  5. Reciprocate waves from the overly-eager aging crossing guard woman with a small courtesy hand gesture without taking your hands off the wheel.
  6. Park car in school lot and realize you retrieved the lunches but forgot the book bag.
  7. Return to your house to retrieve book bag.
  8. Give no acknowledgment to the pretentious waving of that grizzled old safety hag.  You’re only encouraging her.
  9. Park in school lot and hustle inside with your 4-year-old in tow to drop off  lunch and book bag.  Withstand the condescending looks of the school secretary who can’t figure out how you didn’t notice your child was missing THE ONLY TWO THINGS HE NEEDS every day given the fact that these items collectively weigh more than he does.
  10. Explain to local law enforcement why an area widow who volunteers her time to help children cross the street did not make her shift at the nursing home cafeteria this morning and why it has nothing to do with the fresh dent in your hood.

Happy Halloween

Halloween Hay Bail

Here are the list of kids whose costumes mandate that I not give them candy tomorrow night:

  • Small children in red skirt-suits dressed as Sarah Palin.  You know their parents put them up to it even though they begged to dress up as that girl from High School Musical.  If I withold your candy, perhaps you’ll turn on them before it’s too late.
  • The 47th child dressed as Hannah Montana and/or her doppelganger “my voice sounds like a chain smoking Taylor Dayne, even though I’m only 15 years old” Miley Cyrus.  The first 46 are in like flint, but after that, butkus.
  • Any children dressed in New York or Boston sports team paraphernalia.  Honestly, why should we even bother voting for change if people in Pennsylvania can’t even raise their own children in a proper fashion?
  • Ghosts.  I know times are tough, but try a little harder then come on back next year sparky.
  • Any child whose voice is deeper than mine and whose costume consists of a dark hoodie and a scary mask.  Maybe you could have saved up to buy your own candy instead of blowing it on Fallout 3?  I hear that McDonald’s is hiring, so why don’t you go ahead and get off my porch.

Two Girls, Two Guys, 4 Plastic Cups

This weekend my wife and I went out on the town with some good friends. Being stalwart Pennsylvanians, we felt honor-bound by stately sporting obligations to find someplace after dinner to watch the Penn State/Ohio State football game.

We ended up finding a “sports bar” outside of the city. I use the term “sports bar” very loosely as most of the sparse patrons seemed more interested in perusing the surly barmaid’s new lower back tattoo than fixating on the various sporting events being displayed on the numerous big-screen tvs.

After settling in, we ordered some beverages, some alcoholic some not, which were all poured directly into clear flimsy plastic cups.

I mention all this because it occurred to me that I’m pretty sure the last time I paid cash for a cold beverage that was a) served in a plastic cup and b) not purchased at a state fair, I was most likely:

  • Wearing copious amounts of flannel.
  • Paying 5 dollars for the right to own said plastic cup thereby entitling me to a night’s worth of beverages (not including Jell-o shots and/or shooters.)
  • Exposed to voluminous amounts of cigarette smoke, co-eds, all the Pearl Jam I could handle, and ultimately, lowered expectations and social disappointment.

Shoes, Photography and Health Care

Pictured to the right are portions of two photographs of the same pair of shoes taken nearly five years apart. The photo on the left won a small online photo contest when I was a wet behind the ears beginner to photography. The following is the post I wrote on the contest’s Web site in response to the victory, illustrating how I came to shoot the shot and the price we sometimes have to pay to create our art.

“I promised you a story, so here it is. I fretted about the upcoming clothes and shoes themed contest. I kept thinking of all the awful shots I would take with pre-arranged setups indoors. With my inadequate skill with lighting, I could see all the ghastly shadows being cast about here and there in the nooks and crannies of whatever clothing I would choose to become infamous.

In short, I was concerned.

In order to negate my photographic shortcomings, I decided I had to shoot something outside and it had to be shoes. With natural light, and none of those nasty creases and folds that fabric tends to bring to the forefront, I thought I might have a chance at producing something good enough to be passable.

For the subject, I decided upon an old pair of shoes I’ve recently started wearing again. Theses low-cut Timberland hiking shoes of mine were a mainstay of my college days. They are green with brown trim, unspeakably ugly and I love them more than someone should care for an inanimate object without the proper authorities getting involved.

After an interminable wait, there was a break in the early summer New England rain and I ventured into my backyard with the shoes and camera gear in hand. I broke out my mini-tripod and started my setup. I got on my belly looked through the viewfinder and didn’t like what I saw. I initially wanted a much closer crop on the worn out tips of the shoes, but it wasn’t coming out the same in the viewer as it was in my minds-eye. I decided maybe a wider shot would be better so I backed up my tripod. Still being on my belly the tripod was now in my chest and I wasn’t far enough back to see the viewfinder and frame my shot. I shimmied backwards and immediately felt a strange sensation in my left thigh.

I rolled over and immediately noticed something peculiar about my leg. To the best of my ability, I couldn’t recall ever having a 4-inch long carpet nail embedded 2 inches into my upper thigh. All the visual evidence at the time seemed to indicate my memory might be bit faulty because there it was. I suddenly had an involuntary flashback to a conversation my wife and I had a few days earlier as we were pulling carpet out of our nursery-to-be on the second floor of our home.

Wife: “Brian, are you sure it’s okay to throw this carpet tack out the window?”
“Absolutely, this is what contractors do! I’m going to pick all this stuff up, and it’s a lot easier than hauling a garbage can down the stairs!”
“Are you sure?”
Brian: “Yes, I’m sure, and it’s not like we walk around in the back with our bare feet!”

Feet no. Thighs…well, who would have figured? Undeterred I pulled the nail out and got my shot. After consultation with my y chromosome (and some shady medical web sites), I decided that no tetanus shot was needed and I could go about my daily life unfeterred by puncture wounds and trips to the emergency room.

The next day after much swelling and threatening looks from my wife, I once again tried to consult my y chromosome but his personal assistant said something about a prior commitment and sent me to his voice mail. 2 hours later I emerged from the emergency room with a tetanus shot, the ability to puncture myself well into my 30’s, and a week’s worth of antibiotics.

I’m certainly glad my time spent in the ER (the majority of which was spent sitting next to the elderly lady who had no idea her loud beeping pocket bingo game was just one B 13 away from beign tossed out the window) was not in vain.”


Fireworks in Lititz

Fireworks in Lititz, originally uploaded by ranzino.

Somehow, fireworks were never all that cool to me… until I could take pictures of them of course.


Just Peanuts, Nothing Else

Just Peanuts, Nothing Else, originally uploaded by ranzino.

“What came with these?”


“The peanuts.”

“Oh those!”

“Yes, the ones that are all over the floor.”

“Nothing, it’s just a box peanuts.”

“You ordered and received by shipment from UPS a box of just shipping peanuts?”

“Yes… But coincidentally… they also came with a battery grip quite unexpectedly.”

“I see. How much does a box of shipping peanuts cost these days?”

“Hmmmmm, I hear ones without the battery grip accesory are considerably cheaper. I’ll have to consider those next time.”


Winner Winner

The Bloomsburg Fair in Bloomsburg, PA – originally uploaded by ranzino.

Something a comedian once said has always stuck with me. I’m somewhat embarrassed to say this long lasting nugget of wisdom I’ve stored most likely sprouted from the lips of one mustachioed Jeff Foxworthy.

And I’m paraphrasing here:

If you want to feel better about yourself, all you have to do is take a stroll down the midway at the state fair.

Nowhere is this more true than the Bloomsburg Fair in Central Pennsylvania. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Bloomsburg Fair (more on that to come later), but let’s just say after walking around the grounds for a couple of hours, my self-esteem took on a huge boost.


Wearing Your State Pride

Having had a Netflix account for almost as long as the service has existed, I haven’t found much reason to go into a Blockbuster in almost a decade. There are times, however, when the occasion does warrant a visit to the brick and mortar cinema shill for one reason or another.

Because I am not a frequent visitor to the venerable video chain, I have an ancient Blockbuster video membership card which I have grown oddly attached to and absolutely refuse to get rid of. My reasoning for not upgrading my card ranges from the mildly paranoid, (I’m not getting on their mailing list. Don’t you know they’re hooked up to the NSA master database) to the slightly insane (But Honey, this is a pre-elimination of late fees card! It’s gotta be worth something!)

Because of my strange card nostalgia, I have to go through an extended rigmarole every time I need to rent something there. Not only do they have to “update” my information every time I go in, I also have to brave the obligatory cash point marketing and up sell gauntlet.

No, I do not want a new card. Yes, I am aware of the tremendous savings I could take advantage of by becoming a Total Access member. No, I am not interested in pre-reserving a Special ‘Gross-Out Ogre’ Edition DVD of Shrek the Third.

Having recently moved back to Pennsylvania, I knew a recent trip to the video store would be a typically trying experience since I would have to once again re-calibrate my information on file with Blockbuster Inc. What I didn’t know going in was why specifically this time would be painful.

Doug from Blockbuster: Ah, I see your last address was in Connecticut, have you just moved here sir?

Me: Yes, we’ve just moved back to PA. We’ve lived here most of our lives though.

Doug: You know what you’re going to like about Pennsylvania?

Me: Mmmm, I’ve lived here before. 25-plus years. Over 90 percent of my life.

Doug: (On a conversational roll and seemingly undeterred) The autumn here is SPEC-TAC-U-LAR! You’re really going to like the next couple of months.

Me: You don’t say?

At that juncture in our repartee I didn’t see the need to point out to Doug that Connecticut’s falls aren’t too shabby either. Nor did I mention the fact that much of New England’s tourism economy is built around the ability to lure city-folk to look at dying leaves and have them buy maple syrup from millionaires disguised in flannel jackets.

Doug had Pennsylvania pride to impart, and who was this dumb Nutmegger to stop him from doing just that.


Candy Corn

Candy Corn, originally uploaded by ranzino.

With Halloween coming up next month, you may soon be venturing out to your local mega-duper-costco-plex to buy a skiff or two of trick-or-treat giveaways. In our increasingly health conscious and pc environment, I thought I would take a minute to remind you that Halloween is supposed to be fun for children.

Unfortunately, it is a sad fact of life that there is a direct correlation to how fun something is to how bad that something is for you. Just ask any tequila enthusiast. I think it’s time as parents we all stopped worrying about these trivial things (health, obesity, razor blades in popcorn balls). Instead, let’s get started on forming bowling leagues and card clubs so we can find new excuses to put the kids to bed early and dedicate quality time to becoming friends with more people who can truly appreciate Mr. Jose Cuervo.

Keeping this theory of “fun for the kids” in mind, I’ve put together a little buying guide of the top five crappiest snacks you could possibly give away on All Hollows Eve. This way, you have no excuse as to why you’re off-loading your healthy goodies on me… er…. my kids.

5. Mini Pretzel Bags
Make no mistake, I will be feeding these to my dog.

4. An Apple
Will most likely be thrown at my neighbor’s cat when it won’t stop serenading me at 3 in the morning.

3. Necco Wafers
I know I’m going to get some dissent here, but you’re honestly telling me you voluntarily eat something that tastes like sidewalk chalk?

2. Bubbles
6th grade. Bubbles container burst in full candy bag. Halloween ruined. Can’t talk about it anymore… too painful.

1. Pennies
What part of trick-or-treat didn’t you understand?


Hooray for Spring!

Snowy Scene

As a public service announcement for those of you in the lower 44 who have ever entertained thoughts of moving North to one of the “quaint” New England states I offer you this:

Today is April 5 and it has been snowing since about 4 o’clock this morning.

Oh, and if that weren’t incentive enough, I’m most likely paying more taxes than you too.

Quaint doesn’t help pay for basic cable.

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