Saturday, December 29, 2007

An Apple a Day

The problem with Christmas gifts for your computer is that often they are incompatible with the computer you own. Of the five presents Mark got me for my computer, five of them were incompatible with the computer I have. The only answer of course is to buy a new computer.

Despite the ‘sirens’ call to buy a Mac from the cute guy in the commercial, I went with the frumpy PC guy who always seems to suffer from all that ails Microsoft PC‘s.
Following Mark’s advice I bought a computer on line from Best Buy. Just click on this and click on that, then go over to ‘Best Buy’ and pick up your new computer. It was really so very easy, we pulled up to the front of the store, walked in, and the computer was waiting for me at the door.

Like a little kid with a new toy, I ran home and started ripping into the package. In minutes I had my old computer off of my desk and the new one installed, every cable rerouted and plugged in. With the push of the power button, like some movie special effect, sparks and smoke poured out of the sleek new black computer. What did I expect? First of all, it was made in China, second, it was me, and nothing is ever ‘easy’ for me. You know that ‘Staples’ easy button? If it was in my house it would probably explode. So here I am more than thirty six hours later, and I think I finally have everything up and running. I had to go back and exchange the computer, then transfer all of my important files over from the old computer using, the anything but easy, ‘Belkin Easy Transfer Cable’ that I had to buy. But it was all worth it, because one of the new toys Mark got me for Christmas was a tiny little video recorder, and now with my new computer I can share my first videos of our Christmas morning with all of my friends and family.

So if you have the time here is ‘Yappy Mark’ and ‘Russell’s Gift’.

Yappy Mark

Russell's Gift..... sorry about the banner, I haven't made up my mind if I want to buy the software.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Photo Friday

Alan Makes Kolachkes
Last week I got a craving for my mom's kolachkes, so I called my sister and asked if she could e-mail me the recipe.

It looked easy enough, however I was surprised that it took a pound of margarine and half a pound of cream cheese. I took it upon myself to substitute butter for the margarine, and hoped for the best.

What I should have done is cut the recipe in half. My mom was always cooking for a dozen or more people.

I managed to make a pretty workable dough, and it seemed to be going well.

The first batch took fifteen minutes longer in the oven than the recipe said it would, but came out looking good. I turned the oven up to 400 degrees and left the second batch in for twenty five minutes.

The result turned out as good as my mom's and I made up this plate for Mark's birthday instead of a cake. The only problem is that I ended up eating most of the kolachkes myself, and I think they may contain two thousand calories each, plus all of that cholesterol. I can feel my heart clogging as I type.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

T'was The Season

"Why don’t you learn how to drive, you f**king c*nt.", the man in the SUV shouted out of the open window.
Ah,... it must be Christmas Eve in South Florida.
That happened the day before Christmas, directly in front of me as I was walking through a parking lot here in Fort Lauderdale. The woman, that the boorish gentleman was screaming at, did flip him a very lady like middle finger in return. I yelled ‘Merry Christmas’ to both of them and kept walking. Some people just can’t be nice for even one minute much less twenty four hours.

When I was a kid, Christmas eve was a very special and peaceful time. My dad had already had his annual Christmas season meltdown earlier, and now, with no more irritations or obligations, he could settle down and enjoy the evening. We kids would be sent up to bed, and my mom and dad would put on some seasonal music just loud enough to cover the sounds of ‘Santa’ delivering gifts downstairs. It was very comforting to lay in bed listening to that music, and wonder what was causing the noises down in the living room. Was that the sound of a bicycle being assembled, do I hear a train set being put under the tree?
Many years later, I have developed my own Christmas Eve customs, and Mark has his. Oddly enough they are not even remotely the same. At around nine PM, Mark leaves the house to go hang out with some of his disco friends and have a few drinks. I stay home and enjoy some silence for a few moments, then I pour myself a glass of wine and put ‘A Christmas Story’ into the DVD player. Ninety three minutes later I pour myself another glass of wine and begin the second half of my double feature, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. No matter how many times I watch that movie, I can’t not cry. I don’t mean cry at the end, because that’s when I’m sobbing, no I usually start tearing up in the first few minutes. Even though I don’t even believe in angels, it still gets to me every time.

That is the reason I don’t mind Mark going out without me on Christmas eve. I don’t think I’d enjoy the movies as much with him watching me cry.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Man's Inhumanity to Man

Let’s see, I’m supposed to call my mortgage company to authorize payment of my hurricane insurance. That’s 1-800-123-4567, (phone ringing) ".................You have reached the insurance service center, please have your reference number and loan number ready. Por espanol, prensa ocho. If you are an insurance company representative, press one.....all others press two. Bleep. For information on blah blah blah blah, press one. For yadda yadda yadda yadda, press two. For the amount of so on, and so on, and so on, press three. Bleep. To access the correct information please enter your loan number followed by the pound sign. Bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep #, ......... I’m sorry but we can’t find your information, to return to the main menu please press star."

Bleeping #@$*&#%$#@* assholes!!!

Why is it so hard to talk to a human being when you call a business. Isn’t that what the people we outsourced work to in India are for? And what about the Mexicans, I thought they did the work Americans didn’t want to do, and did it for peanuts. I guess you get them if you ‘prensa ocho’. I just spent thirty minutes trying to talk to someone at my mortgage company. After going around in circles I finally laid on the zero button until a recording said "please hold while we connect you". When a human finally picked up, they informed me that I had called the wrong number, and that I should call 1-800-123-4567, which of course is the number that I had called. "Okay sir, I’ll connect you to the correct number, no need to curse". Bleep bleep (phone ringing)...... "You have reached the insurance service center, please have your reference number and loan number ready. Por espanol, prensa ocho.

I feel my blood pressure rising, I better call my health insurance company and make sure I’m covered.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Photo Friday


Aunt Clara had for years labored under the delusion that I was not only perpetually 4 years old, but also a girl.

If I missed any of my nephews or nieces, it is not intentional. There are a lot of you and I might not have an early picture. Besides all of the baby pictures look alike to me.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"MRCA MRCA Me (The Ecology)"

In one of those weird reality shows that Mark loves to watch on ‘Bravo’, a contestant had to leave because he had the MRSA virus in his nose and it had apparently screwed up his face. This week, after two days of soreness on the side of my nose, my right nostril flared up to the size and color of a bing cherry. I don’t know if it’s MRSA, but I do know it reminds me of when I was a teenager and every two weeks a pimple would appear somewhere on my face or nose. I didn’t just get pimples, I got big shiny red beacons that could guide a ship in off of the ocean. Thank god for airbrushing, because the high school yearbook photographer must have spent a good hour on my picture. Kid’s today have no idea what it was like before modern acne medications became available. I don’t think I’ve seen a pimple on a kid in years, they all seem to have clear skin.

The problem with kids is that they have no problem pointing out each others shortcomings. I’d show up at school with one of my huge pimples and at least two or three people would have to point out the second head that was sprouting from my neck. When I tried to use a pimple cover up cream, it just looked like I had put on bad makeup.

When you have sensitive skin the fun never stops. I take after my mom, we both have very tender skin and bruise like a ripe apple. All I have to do is gently brush against a hard surface and the next day every shade of purple will bloom from the area. Usually the point of impact will be on my legs or arms, but this week, while getting out of Russell’s car, I misjudged the length of his car door and caught my chest with the top of the door as it closed. Now Mark is using my chest as a color swatch for his redecorating of the living room. He thinks that it is the perfect royal purple. I’m afraid I’ll have to go down to Home Depot and put my man-boob under the color computer.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Time Travel

My Grandfather was born in January, 1886 and died in January 1988. My youngest nieces and nephews may live until 2086 and beyond. That means I have known people, and do know people, from a span of two hundred years. If I live as long as my grandfather, I’ll see the year 2051. I know I’m a nerd for finding things like that fascinating, I just always have.

The world my grandfather was born into was nothing like the world today. There were no automobiles, no phones, no electric lights, and the streets smelled of horse poop. The world population was about one and a half billion people in 1886. Today the world population is six and a half billion people, which explains why you’re sitting in traffic jams every day.

Grandparents are such a great thing to have when you’re growing up. They give you a respite from your parents for awhile, and treat you better than they ever treated your mom or dad.

I would hang out at my grandma and grandpa’s house quite a bit when I was young and some of the stories I heard from my grandfather were quite interesting to me. I think the most fascinating object that I inherited from him is a set of brass knuckles, which I think might be illegal now. We can only imagine the stories connected to that object, because he never did explain what he used them for. I wish I had written down some of his stories, because now they are a little fuzzy, like the time he fell either a hundred feet or maybe twenty feet, off a ladder. This was while he was on a construction crew, building Chicago’s city hall. All I can remember is that he climbed back up and continued working, refusing to go to the doctor. The next day he couldn’t get out of bed and was out of work for weeks.

Another favorite story of his that he told, was the time he bought a car, or as he referred to it, a ‘machine’. One of those old ones that sat up high, with the skinny tires. The way I remember him telling it, he took the ‘machine’ out onto a street with streetcars and promptly got the skinny tires stuck in the streetcar tracks. He got out of the ‘machine’ and left it there in the middle of the street, never to drive a car again in his life.

I don’t know what kind of a world my nephews, nieces, and their children are going to inherit from us. I hope in the year 2086, one of them is telling a great grandchild about their great, great, great, grandpa and how he played Santa for them, and maybe telling them about their eccentric ‘Uncle Alan’ who drowned in a nursing home, in Florida, during the hurricane of 2051.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

WARNING: This Chair Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, And May Complicate Pregnancy.

When we were kids my dad was the master of recycling, usually damaged goods off the trucks at ‘Associated Truck Lines’, where he worked. One time he brought home a really nice easy chair for the living room. It quickly became my favorite chair to watch TV from and it looked great. The only problem was, that it had survived a fire in the back of one of the semi-trucks, and every time you sat in it, you carried the scent of burnt truck with you for the rest of the day. That actually worked out well for me, I could hide my pre-pubescent cigarette smoking by telling my mom, "I was sitting in the chair". One Christmas my dad recycled a ‘damaged’ Christmas tree off one of the trucks. It was one of those aluminum trees with the spotlight color wheel. While my dad had figured he’d scored a good one, we kids hated it. We knew that it just wasn’t Christmas without a real tree, with the real tree smell and real tree mess. We whined loud and long, until dad relented and bought a real tree, which was put up and decorated in the dining room. Every year after that, we would put the flashy, garish, aluminum tree in the front window and still get the ‘real Christmas’ smell from the tree in the dining room.

Mark’s Christmas tree, though artificial, looks great and I can’t complain because I didn’t have to help put it up. However, it doesn’t have the ‘real Christmas’ smell that brings back all the memories of childhood. In an attempt to bring that aroma into the house, I thought it would be great to buy one of those pine scented car deodorants that you hang from the rear view mirror, and hang it on the tree. That was a stupid idea, I am still gagging from the cloying smell. It was like I was trapped in a French whore house set in a pine forest. I threw the damn thing out hours ago and the odor is still as strong as when I first hung it on the tree.

There is no substitute for the smell of a real pine Christmas tree, so I think the answer is to buy a second small real tree and put it in the sun room. Now if I can get the smell of French whores and lumberjacks off me I’ll be happy.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Every Dog Has It's Day

These two things are fact, the Miami Dolphins lost thirteen games in a row this season, and my dog Molly is afraid of firecrackers. Yesterday, after watching the fourteenth Dolphins game of the season, I took Molly for her ‘walkies’, at which time I expected her to go ‘poopies’ down the street on the church lawn. What I didn’t figure, was that some moronic Dolphin fans would react to the Dolphins finally winning a game, like they had just won the Super Bowl. Believe it or not they were driving around, honking their horns and blowing off fireworks.

Molly’s reaction to fireworks is to take off running, dragging me after her. Fireworks terrify her, and the more I tried to calm her down, the more firecrackers the assholes blew off. It really is a pain in the ass, because she pulls so hard on her leash that the choker collar actually chokes her, causing raspy panting and her eyes to bulge out. She never did go poopies.

That’s the one thing I like about cats, they never have to be taken out to go poopies. They poop right in the house. This is very convenient on rainy days and days you don’t feel like getting out of bed because of yesterdays cocktail hour. What isn’t so pleasant is the task of cleaning the litter box. Years ago you would pour some ground up clay litter into the box and in a few days you would have to drag it outside and dispose of it, quite nasty. Then some genius came up with scoopable litter, just scoop out the little turds and balls of pee every day. That is of course if you do it every day. All too often I look at that disgusting box and decide, it’s only one cat, I’ll let it slide today. The next thing I know it’s been a week and when I go to scoop it out it’s like picking up a big smelly adobe brick.

It’s probably just as well that nobody has developed ‘Doggy Litter’. Even if you could get the dog to poop in a box, I don’t think you could scoop it out fast enough to get ahead of the smell. And by the way, would the cat want to eat it?