Thursday, March 18, 2010

Car 54, Where Are You?

I was lucky to have grown up when I did, I think. I remember when the stuff being dished out on TV Land as Classic TV was in prime time - when reality TV meant that what was on the tube, in many ways, paralleled what was the status quo in real life. It was a time when much of life was black and white just as the images on ours and most of the neighbors' TV's were. It was a time when officers of the law looked professional and sharp, in real uniforms with ties, before "summer uniforms" with cutesy P.D. baseball caps and "winter uniforms" with wooly hats complete with the police department's logo embroidered on them came into vogue. It was a time when you knew the police were doing their jobs, in your neighborhood, because they drove cars that looked like police cars.

What is with the recent rush for every podunk to outdo its neighboring hamlets with its number of unmarked police cars? I swear I'm seeing more unmarked units on the roads these days than real looking police cars, and even the marked cars are being outfitted with the much less obtrusive LED light bars that give them a low profile, especially when seen in a rear view mirror. I was scootering through Pittston this evening and passed an unmarked car that had a delivery truck pulled over when I felt properly motivated to write this post which I'd been thinking of penning for some time. I wasn't in a good spot to stop to get a photo, though, so I kept on rolling. Only a few miles later this Impala slid out of a parking lot in front of me and I was thrilled as I stopped behind it at the red light at the corner. As if by magic, in yet another nondescript little town, there appeared in my view finder the photo I'd use to accompany this text!

While I can imagine there's some perverse sense of pleasure that Officer Pludinski gets when he sneaks up behind that poor slob who's going 30 in a 25 MPH zone and hits the blue and reds with a touch of the siren to pull him over, and while the municipality's coffers swell just a little bit when the ticket gets paid, I'd much rather a healthy police presence deterring real crime by being obviously on the beat. I want some Crown Victoria's out there that look like the police cars they are because I'd prefer to be spending my tax money on cops who are out there looking like cops instead of sneaking around for the sake of writing a few traffic tickets.

A turn down an alleyway after stopping to check my e-mail on the iPod at the Old Forge McDonald's led me to a dead end where I found this mother-lode of colorful car bumpers. The top of the scooter almost seems to blend into the pile of them.

On the way back to the house I had a hankering for some chocolate. A quick stop at a supermarket in Duryea scored me a Tastykake Chocolate Junior that hit the spot perfectly. I rode about 20 miles after supper enjoying abundant sunshine and a temperature that required only a flannel shirt acting as a light jacket. Happy days are here again!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Home Improvement

There's an old fashioned cast iron claw footed bathtub in my house. It's a long tub and I can lie back and luxuriate if I desire to take lengthy bath, but I rarely choose to do that. The quick, morning shower is my usual choice. The down side of such a tub is that the only practical way to interface a shower with it is by using an adapter that doesn't seem to last more than a few years.

The last such time a new adapter was in order (because the women were getting tired of wedging a plastic razor handle under the diverter knob) I decided to tackle the project myself. I found a new adapter at The Home Depot and after an hour or so of work it was in and almost as good as new. There was just the tiniest spray of water coming from the collar that attached the pipe to the rest of the plumbing and with one more small nudge of the wrench all should have been perfectly well until I heard and felt the most awful snap!

I ruined the entire thing.

Figuring I had nothing to lose I called The Home Depot and asked to speak to the manager. When he came on the line I started with, "Do you have an I bought something at your store, brought it home, tried to install it myself, and ruined it completely so we'll give you a new one free policy?" After he finished laughing the manager asked me what had happened. I told him the whole story, including that it was my own fault that the thing broke. "Bring it it and we'll give you a new one," he replied in a friendly tone. I did. And then I called the plumber.

Treat me well, and I'm a customer for life. The Home Depot gets ALL of my home improvement business unless they don't have something I need and another local place does.

Recently, for a while I contended with a toilet that kept spritzing water into the bowl long after the flush and fill cycle completed. I couldn't for the life of me figure out why it was doing that until I reached into the tank to poke around only to have the overfill pipe crack right off. It was on that run to The Home Depot a few days ago that I snapped the shot above. Surprisingly, replacing the pipe was a breeze until the smallest drip at the end needed to be fixed. Imagine the litany I delivered when I was tightening the bolt that attaches the tank to the bowl and felt the head of the bolt snap off. Another run to The Depot? Haha! Not this time. At the suggestion of the helpful guy at the store I'd bought the full tank kit and had a new bolt right here at the ready. I can flush! Life is good!

I made it out on the scooter for a while this afternoon. I stopped a few blocks from the house to pull on my gloves, and after about a half an hour of riding and a run to Sheetz to fill the tire that keeps leaking slowly I needed to come back to thaw myself out. It wasn't all that cold, really, but with the miserable head cold that I'm battling I felt frozen. Perhaps when the rain ends in a few days I'll be able to take the BV to work for the first time since the beginning of the school year. Well, if there's little risk of sneezing into the visor of my helmet, that is!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cards in a Deck

A few days ago I turned as old as the number of cards in a standard deck, without the Jokers, of course.  I remember my favorite uncle often chuckling on various birthdays, "Where you're 52 we'll shuffle you."  Well, here I am, Unc.  Shuffle away!

I was sufficiently fortunate to have good, warm scootin' weather on the day itself and had the presence of mind to capture the date on the dashboard display...

My birthday suit (Lucky for your eyes!) consisted of only my school clothes and a light jacket.  I'd almost gotten to the point, especially with the huge snowfall only a few weeks ago, of despairing in feeling as if the spring-like weather would never arrive, or at least not this early, but here it is!  Notice that the snow's gone in the background already.

We celebrated the milestone the weekend before when the girls could be home so the day itself passed quietly but most pleasantly.  Almost all of my Facebook friends popped in to wish me a happy birthday and a very lovely voice sang the birthday song to me probably over a dozen times, complete with the second verse - "May the Dear Lord bless you!"  A dear friend joined us for a seafood supper.  It was very nice!

Now, as for the brevity of this post and its fourth grade style - I feel like crap.  Hardly past midnight into the 9th I started getting the sore throat and the coughing.  We're now at the "head feels like it's packed with concrete" and "eyeballs feel like they're going to pop right out of my head" stages.  It's just a head cold, but I always seem to forget just how miserable they can make one feel.  Between this and the "build an ark" kind of rain that's supposed to be coming just in time for the weekend I might be grounded again for a little while.  But, there's no snow in the forecast, so I'll consider myself blessed and let it go at that.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Up or Down! In or Out!

I distinctly remember my Mom's Mom yelling at my sister, my cousins, and me whenever we'd hyperactively run in and out of the house or up and down the cellar stairs repeatedly as kids seem programmed to do for the sheer sake of annoying the adults who are driven crazy by it. "Up or down!" she'd cry in the latter case. "In or out!" in the former. I want to do that with the weather these days. "Snow or don't!" I'd like to bellow to some power that might heed my cry and alter the global weather patterns to suit me.

We got over a foot of snow between Friday and Saturday. I shoveled. (It's a heck of a lot easier being nearly 50 pounds lighter than last year.) I manned the Toro and blew probably a few tons of it off the sidewalks and out of our parking spaces. I shoveled some more when a few additional nuisance inches fell. I posted the picture of the icicles hanging off the back of the scooter on Saturday thinking that it would be a few more weeks before I'd get the bike in gear. Then the sun came out. I had the BV out and about on Sunday afternoon!

I wish I were mechanically in the know to any degree at all. The flat tire I replaced last year haunts me in that the new one that took its place needs to be filled every couple of days. Warranty or not, and I haven't even checked, it's going to necessitate a trip to the shop to drop the cycle off, the interminable wait, and then the trip back down to pick it up. The dealership is in a part of the city that there's no easy way to get to without having to go through many traffic lights and stop signs. In fact, I can be miles away on the interstate in the time that it takes me to meander through the city to get there. So, yeah, I wish I could take off the tire and just go to a tire shop to have it looked at rather than have to take the whole bike to the shop and leave it there. Oh, there's probably a YouTube video showing exactly how to do it, but I wouldn't trust myself. There are too many things back there to screw up.

Spring must be just around the corner. I'll be happy enough for now with Daylight Savings Time arriving in two weeks!