Monday, June 30, 2014

Oh Good Heavens, I've Been Seven Elevened.

    On June 24th I went up to the 7-11 Store and bought a gallon of milk. I walked over to the cooler and through the glass I could see three jugs of milk marked 6-24, and one marked 6-27. Obviously I am not going to buy the milk that expires on that day, so I grabbed the gallon of milk marked 6-27. On Saturday, June 28th, I got up, walked the dogs, fed the dogs, fed the cats, and then poured myself a big bowl of Cheerios. I put a handful of fresh blueberries on top of my cereal, poured in some milk, and then took a giant spoonful and and shoved it into my mouth. It took a second before it hit my taste buds. When it did, it was like I had eaten chilled vomit. The milk had gone sour. Here is the question at hand, do I just pour the half gallon of milk left in the jug down the drain and go buy another one, or do I go back to the 7-11 Store and ask that they replace it? I've been living with Mark too long, I took it back.
            So there I was standing in front of the counter at 7-11 telling the young woman wearing the 7-11 smock, "I bought this milk here a few days ago and it has already gone sour. I'd like another one please."
            "Sir, that is marked June 27th. It's supposed to go bad after that date."
I guess you can't hope for too much when you pay people minimum wage.
            "No ma'am, that is the sell by date. The milk should not go sour the day after you buy it."
            "I thought you said you bought it a few days ago."
            "Just let me take another gallon of milk. I've been coming to this store for twenty five years. There's another place right across the street that sells the same stuff at the same price, if you'd rather I buy my gas and milk there.... "
So the young lady says, "Just a minute" and disappears into the back room. Moments later she re-emerges followed by an older man with a goatee.
            "Sir, you have a problem?"
I repeat my little story of the sour milk.
            "Well you've used half that gallon of milk already." Mr. Goatee informs me.
            "Yeah, I used it until it went sour."
            "You see that it's out of date milk don't you?"
            "Out of date for you to sell it, not for me to use it. milk is supposed... "
He interrupts me. "Okay, I'll let you take a fresh jug of milk this time." he says with a hint of sarcasm.
            "What do you mean this time? I've been coming in here for twenty five years and you think I picked this morning to come in and try to scam you?"
            "I said to go an take another jug of milk, what more do you want?"
As I walked out the door Mr. Goatee called out in an even more sarcastic tone, "Have a nice day!"
                        I was not done. I went home and fired off an angry email to the 7-11 company (The internet has made it so much easier to be a crotchety old man). Anyway, one hour later the phone rings. It's Mr. Goatee. This is how he started the conversation.
            "I can't believe you called 7-11 corporate offices (I didn't, I emailed them). Now I have to call you and apologize?"
It went downhill from there.
            It would have been so much easier if the original young woman I encountered at the store had simply said, "I'm sorry. Go ahead and grab another gallon of milk sir." Instead I had to deal with Mr. Goatee calling me at home to complain that he had to apologize.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Greek Lightning

Last night I made delicious country ribs.

I like pork. I am very conflicted about that fact because for a year I lived on a farm in Iowa, and out behind the house was a large barn full of pigs. They stunk, they drew flies by the millions, and they were smart, very smart. It's hard to eat something that is at least as smart as a dog, so I never eat pig's feet or anything that has the name pig in it. I can eat pork chops, pork roast, and pork ribs because I've never seen a pork, just pigs. Anyway, Mark has been feeling poorly the last week or so and has not been up to his usual culinary antics. In the last ten days Mark has cooked dinner for me but two times. We've been eating a lot of pizza, Chinese food, and Mexican food, but not Mark's food. So last night Mark sat me down in front of the television and made me watch an episode of America's Test Kitchen, Country Kitchen. I was going to be responsible for dinner and all I had to do was watch this TV show to become a cook. Country pork ribs were on the menu. They looked pretty simple to make. First you beat some inexpensive pork meat with a hammer until it's flat and tender. Then you mix up a special rub made up of a bunch of spices. Not too difficult so far. You then take half the rub you just made and put it in another bowl, where you mix it with ketchup. That's the barbeque sauce. About the most intricate part of this dish was making that rub. The next step was to build the fire out back. That I am an expert at. Ever since I was a child I have been very good at starting fires. I kind of missed my calling, I could have made a fortune off of Greek restaurant owners. Anyway, from then on it was pretty easy. Place the meaty bits on the smoky barbeque grill, slather them with sauce, and turn them over every three minutes. The country ribs turned out great. Of course I did need a bit of help from Mark, actually quite a bit, but I did start the fire, and I did turn the meat over once.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

I'll Take Dog Behavior for $400 Alex

It happens every evening, on time and without fail. Immediately after Mark and I eat dinner I feed the two dogs. Chandler in the dining room, and Bette in the kitchen. That way I avoid any disagreements between the two. Bette hits her bowl, devouring everything quickly before Chandler has barely made it halfway through his. But that is not what I am talking about. After eating, Bette and Chandler both take time to go out and relieve themselves, both taking time to pee on the cat graves that line the dog run. Still, that is not the thing that drives Mark up the wall every night. It is not the thing that I find amusing, to a degree. When Chandler and Bette have finished all the eating and peeing they intend to do, it starts. Usually with a low rumble as Bette gets going, rising quickly into a full throated growl. Bette is ready to play, and if Chandler isn't, that is his problem. With frightening speed Bette launches herself through the air like a mad canine ninja, landing on Chandler's rump, teeth bared and ready to take a bite. From that point on it is non-stop, with Bette ruling the playground, aka, our living room floor. She bites at Chandler's jowls, at his feet, and his tail, and worst of all she snaps her needle like teeth at Chandler's wiener. Chandler on the other hand simply swings his head back and forth, trying to get the crazed schnauzer off of him. It's not like he doesn't enjoy it, he does, but at some point he gets tired and puts his head in my lap, begging me with his eyes to make it all stop. Meanwhile Bette ramps it up a degree and begins attacking his rump anew. None of this bothers me. It's just dogs playing. The problem is that Mark is trying to watch Jeopardy and you can't hear a word Alex Trebek is saying. So we turn up the volume on the television. Now we have Bette snarling and growling like a crazed wolf, Chandler responding with his deep chested growl, both of them wrestling on the carpet while the television is blasting Jeopardy, and Mark screeching like an injured chimpanzee for them to stop. I don't know what it is that they put in dog food, maybe doggy crack. If I don't feed the dogs on time they do not go crazy during Jeopardy, so I know it's the food. I've tried different brands but it always turns into a madhouse after they eat. It must be in their metabolism, they must process food differently than humans. Because after I eat my dinner, and after I go out and pee on the cat graves, I just want to take a nap.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Most of my adult life I have had foot problems. In my right foot I had a neuroma, or pinched nerve. It feels like I have a  pebble in my shoe and it can hurt like hell. I've had surgery to fix it, and steroid injections, yet I still have some pain in that foot. In addition to the neuroma, both feet hurt for reasons I cannot figure out. They hurt when I wear shoes, when I wear socks, when I walk barefoot, but worst of all they hurt even when I lay down in bed. Just the pressure of having bed sheets pressing on my feet makes them hurt.
Yesterday I was watching one of my favorite shows, American Pickers. It's a show about two guys who go around the country picking through hoarder's crap. They buy what they think other people might want, and take it back to their store in Iowa where they sell it. It can be very interesting, like the episode I watched. One guy they visited in Alabama had a barn full of odd old electrical devices that were used in medical applications back when electricity was considered almost magical. They zeroed in on one machine in particular, a machine that instantly brought back memories from my early childhood. It was called the Adrian X-Ray Shoe Fitter. I vividly remember looking into the little window of one of those machines, and watching my toes wiggle inside the new pair of shoes my mom was purchasing for me. Let me tell you about the Adrian X-Ray Shoe Fitting Machine. You stuck your feet into the holes at the bottom while you, you're mom, and the shoe salesman looked into the little portholes on top. What we were looking at was radiation from a fluoroscope blasting through my little boy feet. Not only was radiation zapping my feet, but those machines were notoriously leaky, meaning the shielding was not very good. They were finally outlawed, and the last working one was decommissioned in 1981. So maybe I have solved the reasons behind the horrible feet I have to live with today. Possibly radiating my feet when I was five years old screwed them up. And maybe the family of that shoe salesman so many years ago, might be able to figure out why daddy died so young and why his casket glowed as they lowered it into the ground.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summertime, Time to Kvetch Again.

Copy and Past this forecast over the calendar for the next three months and it will be accurate.

Hot... can't type... too hot...   Honestly, it is so damn hot here it feels like things should be melting outside. The backyard cats barely move, my dogs are rebelling against walking on the hot pavement, and I think I saw a squirrel with sweat stains under his arms this morning. When I make Mark drive me up to the store, the car a/c strains to simply keep the temp below ninety. Stepping out of the house is not much different than jumping into the swimming pool. Both are wet and warm. The air is so thick with humidity that it takes all my effort to push my way through it, the heat literally sucks all the energy out of me. Every crevice on my fat body is chafing, and tiny little bugs, invisible to the naked eye, have been using my ears as landing pads where they then stick to my clammy skin.

            I hate Florida summers. I hate them more than I hated Chicago winters, but only by a small margin. After all, putting ten layers of clothing on just to run the dogs outside isn't all that much fun either. What I truly find amusing are the Florida weathermen on television. First of all, they usually aren't men. They are almost always very young, good looking women who are always shot from a camera angle slightly above their heads so as to make their breasts look larger. This is to distract you from the fact that they just repeat the same weather report day after day. "Temperatures near ninety today, with a chance of rain. Tonight the temps will drop to seventy nine degrees. Oh, and there will be high humidity, very, very high humidity." I think that is why when we have a hurricane within three thousand miles of Fort Lauderdale, they go crazy. It breaks up the monotony. It also brings out the male weathermen, because we all know that the ladies can't handle the big blow.
Local forecaster, Julie Durda