Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Oh, What a Tangled Web Tent Worms Weave

I just got back from a ride with good ole EH from work. We rode up into our usual Balance Rock State Park area and did some good ole riding. It was pretty much business as usual as we rode up the road towards the trails. I felt kind of bad running over all of the caterpillars who were making their way across the road, but there wasn't anything I could do. Plus, they were going in every direction, so it was obvious they had no idea what they hell they were doing.

No sooner did we turn onto the trail than EH came to a screeching halt accompanied by a "BLACH! YUCK! AWWW, GROSS!" As I followed him onto the trail, I too was ensnared by an invisible web of some sort. This was no spider web, it was far too sticky and far too strong. My first thought was that it was the work of the Spider King, who you may recall has had it in for me all year. After that, I thought of the tent worms.

Tent worms aren't worms at all - rather they are caterpillars - but they do live in tents. They build these tents in trees, bushes and so on and just wait for Memorial Day Weekend when they rappel down and get all over everything. What's worse, is that they don't just drop to the ground. No, they dangle just waiting for you to ride by on your bike so you can get nasty ass caterpillars all over your body. And their rappelling strings - like those of spiders - are wicked sticky and wicked strong. You touch one of these and forget about it, you're wearing it home.

Anyway, we rode for about 45 minutes up the mountain in the heat and humidity until we hit a good stopping point. I dismounted to use nature's plumbing. As I stood there, I could hear the onslaught of a serious thunderstorm making its way towards us. A tent worm rappelled into my face. I hopped back on my bike and told EH that we were in for a nasty one. He took that as an opportunity to pee. While he peed, I admired the beautiful vista which, despite the high tension power lines, was absolutely gorgeous. Through the trees you could see for miles and there were just layers upon layers of mountains. With the muggy evening haze, it looked like something out of an old movie.

He finished peeing.

We rode down a "bony" trail for a while until we finally hit a turnoff. Heh heh, "bony" is cool trail-rider speak for "rocky as hell and mad dangerous". As soon as we turned off onto more reasonable trails the clouds opened up and just dumped rain on us. We rode the rest of the mountain in an allout downpour. It was really quite fun, plus the tent worms seemed to have been washed out of the air. The downfall was that the rocks and exposed roots were wicked slippery, and we both almost spilled a few times.

Once, my foot came out of the toe clip and I caught the business end of the pedal to the back of my leg (see picture). I thought it hurt because it hit a mosquito bite, but it really hurt because it cut the hell out of me. The picture doesn't do it justice because I had already showered up for the night and the bleeding had stopped. But rest assured, I didn't stop for no wuss ass scratch. No siree, I put my foot back in the toe clip and headed downhill, across a few streams, back uphill, then downhill again, then across the road to the car.

Also, if you think I shave my ankles because there is no hair on them you are wrong. It's a common thing with dudes, and especially common with me. It's due to my socks. It's a perfect line right where the sock hits. I think my pillow is doing the same thing to the top of my head. Damn that pillow! Why must your down stuffing be so comfy? Why?

So there you have it folks. And because of the storm I wasn't able to work on the rock hole. Damn you storm!

Over and out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

I've Hit Rock Bottom

What's up players? For those of you who live in the American section of Readerland, I'd like to welcome you all back to the work week. Here in New England, we had an absolutely gorgeous Memorial Day weekend. For those of me who took Friday off, the weekend was just a little bit better (approximately 33% better).

You might be asking yourself how I could have had such a nice weekend and claim to have hit rock bottom. I mean that literally, not figuratively. You see, I set out to dig the holes for the footings for my new porch this weekend. I had my posthole digger, a big steel pipe for prying and knocking stones loose, some shovels, and myriad other gardening tools. I got about a foot and a half down when I hit a rock. A little work and I got that bastard out. Another two inches and I hit a bigger rock. That one took some persuading, but it eventually lifted out of the hole. "I must be home free now" I thought to myself.

I thought wrong.

I hit a bigger rock, about 30" down into the hole. I pried and I pried and I dug and I scraped to no avail. Finally I called it quits for the day, and had to break down and buy a pinch bar (a big ass hardened steel bar with a chisel on one end and a point on another).

Monday morning I set out with my newly-enhanced arsenal of tools and - try as I might - could not get that freaking rock out. I spent about 2-2.5 hours digging and prying until my back was sore from lifting and from the burgundy sunburn I earned from hunching over a hole all day. And my chest was sore from laying in the debris of my jack-hammering escapade a few years back. You see, around the hole I was digging lay all the little chunks of concrete I didn't bother cleaning up. This weekend those chunks found their way in between my ribs, on my ribs, and all about my collarbone. Yup, my chest hurts.

Before you ask, no I haven't looked into what it would cost to have someone dig the holes for me. I'm a do-it-yourselfer and this qualifies as something I can do myself. Besides, if someone had the proper equipment, he would be driving it up onto my beautiful lawn and I'll take a sunburn and sore chest over that. It's looking like I just have to make the hole bigger to buy me some extra real estate around that rock, then I should be good to go.

In other news, I was over at the 'COW ranch last night for dinner. Afterwards, I had to "use the facilities" AKA the bushes out back. The mosquitos were starting to awaken and no sooner was I down to business when one landed - you guessed it - right where no mosquito should ever land. Per the directions in the wildly popular song (There's a skeeter on your peeter, whack it off...) I threw caution to the wind and started swinging. My defensive strike was right on target and I was neither bitten nor peed on! Score one for the Cootster.

Well folks, time to get to it. I have a bike ride tonight and hopefully a rock digging afterwards. Good times, good times.

Over and out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Saturday, May 27, 2006

What Day is it Today?

Wow, have I gone all the way to Saturday evening without a post? Sorry playas, it's been a busy one I guess. What with all the sunnin' and funnin' I've been doing. Plus I cleaned a gutter/downspout.

Let's see, yesterday I took the day off of work for myriad reasons. One, I didn't want to go to work, two I felt like taking the day off, three it made it a four-day weekend, five most people take that day off, six I didn't feel like going to work, and so on... I had great plans to do all sorts of stuff, but once I settled into the lazy pace of the day, I realized that I could do with the day whatever my little heart desired. If I wanted to read a book in the front yard, I was funna. If I wanted to drink coffee all day and bake some blondies (they're like brownies only butterscotch instead of chocolate), I was funna. End result - I maxed and I relaxed.

Today started with an AWESOME run with the Thursday night crew. Yes, I know today is Saturday but they invited me along and I couldn't resist. We did this fantastic route in Richmond, MA (about 5 minutes from my house) that took us through the neatest area. We were on dirt roads most of the time, but the views were fantastic and we couldn't help but to comment on them over and over again.

Plus there's a hottie who I think is only around in the summer who runs with those guys. She's from Poland with a cute Polish accent, but most importantly she is a far better athlete than I am (and she used to work at a coffee shop, where we all dined on coffee and pastries after our run today). Moral of the story, there's a consolation prize for not being able to keep up.

After that, I went home, read a book, mowed the lawn, chilled in the yard, cleaned a gutter and ate some turkey. Oh, and finished watching Dogma for about the third time in a month. RC, if you still read this blog, I'm sending it back soon I swear. Sorry JO, I'm just too nice to keep someone else's stuff even if you think it's somewhat justified. Hmm, what's that saying about nice guys?

Anyway, what I'm really here to do is show y'all the progession of paperwork that is leading up to my porch. I've edited out any information about where I live and what my real name is because we live in the age of identity theft and I wouldn't wish my identity on anyone. Commenters, please don't blow my cover or I'll delete your comment.

My first picture is the letter the inspector sent to me a while back. I think it's the third in the series, but I didn't want to bore you all with the others. I'd like to mention that this is by far the ghettoest picture ever taken of my house, even dating back to when I first bought it. Surrisly ladies, it's not as bad as this picture implies. Enjoy...

This one here is the summons I got from the court. I felt like a real live criminal when I got this. I guess real live criminals don't get summonses, they get arrested, but still I felt like a scofflaw.

This is the agreement I had to sign stating that I would in fact build the damned porch in a timely manner. It even how timely of a manner that would be. But now I have to get that sumbitch built or else I'll find myself back in court with the rest of those hoodlums (hoodla?, hoodlae?).

Last but not least is the permit I was "awarded" which allows me to start digging holes. If you look closely, you'll notice that I have to have inspections after every phase of the project. I think that's just to make sure it takes as long as possible to finish the job. No matter, I'm gonna play by the rules and get this monkey off my back as soon as I can.

Correction: No matter how closely you look you won't see that I have to have three inspections, that must be on the back of the page. Oh well, you'll have to take my word for it.

Okay gentle souls, I am far too tired to carry on any more. I'll bid you adieu and I'll holler at you later.

Over and out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Wednesday is the Benz Day

Walking one life, I came upon this deep, deep river. And saw me by it float and I wondered "How long could it be?". And maybe that was when I opened up and realized, 'The most I can do while I'm here now, is not a thing; leave it as I found'.

That's a little quote from a DMB song on my car's soundtrack. For those of you who don't know, I can't change the CD in my car, so when I forget my iPod I listen to the same 8 tracks of a live DMB concert - my car's soundtrack. Fortunately, Track 8 is a 22 minute version (or is it 13?) of Two Step, everyone's favorite Dave song.

I said Everyone!

That was the last song I heard on my way into work. Actually, it was the only song I heard since the drive is all of about 7 minutes. Today was probably more like 5 because I got in early and hit every light green. WHAT WHAT! And it was sunny, and my Cheerios were especially cheery, and I got in early so I can get out early to appreciate the nice day. To the cloudy days of the last fortnight, I say "PlacaTAN, bitches!"

If you can't tell, I seem to be in a good mood today. I went to bed around 10:14 last night, read some of my ChiRunning book (which I will share with others once I'm done) and was fast asleep by 10:46. I woke up at one point fearing it was almost time to get up, and was relieved to see it was only 3:30. Geah! A few more zany dreams and I was good to go.

Editorial note: For all of you dream nerds out there, I know 'zany' is an ignorant description of a dream - they all mean something - but I used it here for brevity's sake. I'm gonna analyze them once I've had the chance to recollect all the details, chill.

I hopped out of bed into my neat, clean, back-in-place bedroom, went downstairs to my recently-"cleaned" living areas, hooked the cats up with some breakfast, had some breakfast of my own (please recall the cheery Cheerios), gave the cats some first-thing-in-the-morning attention, left Nan-whores in charge and backed the Mom-mobile out of the Batcave.

Last night I tried out a new running route in the hopes of finding some new scenery. I figured that since there weren't girls playing beach volleyball on my street, they must be on one of the adjacent streets. They weren't. My new route was a little hairy as it involved East Street over by the "Auto Mile". People don't expect to see runners in them there parts so I startled a few. My trick is to run right in traffic to make myself as visible as possible. I make eye contact with every driver, and if I can't I move out the way. I had a good run; I was wicked tired when I started but still managed to make it about an hour. According to my Batman decoder ring, that's roughly 8 miles. Not bad for an easy-run day!

Afterwards, I chowed down some leftovers which were still as delicious as they were for Monday's dinner and Tuesday's lunch. A quick shower and I was ready to veg in front of the TV. "But wait, it's only 8:46, I can still squeeze in some of that cleaning I've been putting off." So I ran the vacuum over the downstairs only to realize how scummy I am. There were cobwebs everywhere, the baseboards were filty (who vacuums those anyway?) and I had to stop and change the bag at one point. No wonder the freaking thing felt so heavy, it had 9 cats worth of fur and dander inside it, plus a sliver from a used bar of soap (where the hell did that come from?). Shit! Then I settled down only to realize there was nothing on TV except a Frontline exposee on the international sex trade business. Man, that shit is effed up!

On that pleasant note, I went to bed, read and got myself some beauty rest.

Pop Quiz: What producer-turned-rapper spit the lyrics "Killin' y'all [black people] on that lyrical shit. Mayonnaise colored Benz, I push miracle whips." You like my appropriate use of the phrase "spit the lyrics"?

Over and out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Outraged over Outlets

Name that tune:

"Rarr rarr, like a dungeon dragon. Change your shitty drawers cuz your pants are saggin'."

I'll give you a hint on that song: it's from the mid 90's. And Abbey, if you don't know it you need to get back to yo roots.

Okay, yesterday I was bound and determined to get some things done around the house. As you probably noticed, I didn't actually do most of the things I was supposed to do over the weekend. As I walked around the house, anything that has been annoying me got my very divided attention. But, I got a few key areas taken care of and tonight I'd like to hit a few more. Most importantly, I finished up that freaking outlet situation in the upstairs bedrooms. Details to follow.


A few months ago I used an outlet tester to check all of the outlets in the house to make sure they were wired correctly. It tells you if you have wires backwards, if you're missing wires, and so on - it's very handy. As it turned out, most of the outlets were backwards. I went around and fixed all of the backwards (hot/neutral reversed) outlets and rechecked them. Somehow, the outlets in my bedroom and the "office" upstairs were still reversed. I switched them again, rechecked them and the tested said they were missing the ground. I killed the power again, took them back out, checked for a ground (which I couldn't see either way), replaced the outlets, checked them again (thinking the ground was really there but it had a bad connection) and it told me they were reversed. DAMN! At that point, I stopped so that my frustration wouldn't make me do something stupid and get me killed.

Yesterday, I decided to finish that project so I could put the furniture back where it belongs in my bedroom. I won't go into the finer details because I'm sure most of you don't care. But I rewired those outlets and somehow they were STILL reversed. So I did them one at a time, requiring that I follow the steps below:

  • Down to the garage, turn off the power.
  • Back upstairs, rewire the first outlet.
  • Down to the garage, turn on the power.
  • Back upstairs, check the outlet. Oops, didn't put the outlet in the box. The ground wouldn't be there, gotta shut off the power again.
  • Down to the garage, turn off the power.
  • Back upstairs, screw outlet into the box.
  • Down to the garage, turn on the power.
  • Back upstairs, check the outlet. It's as good as it's gonna get.
  • Down to the garage, turn off the power.
  • Back upstairs, rewire the second outlet.
  • Down to the garage, turn on the power.
  • Back upstairs, check the outlet.
  • Down to the garage, turn off the power.
  • Back upstairs, rewire the third outlet.
  • Down to the garage, turn on the power.
  • Back upstairs, check the outlet.
  • Screw the outlets in all the way, install the outlet covers.

So, that's like a million trips up and down the stairs turning the power on and off. Also, the outlets were behind furniture, so I had to climb over shit every time. Plus, it was starting to get dark so I was in a rush to beat the clock. Alas, I did finish it to my own satisfaction.

Once that was done, I put the furniture back, picked up all the crap that had accumulated on the floor in the bedroom (papers, books, unread National Geographics, CDs, movies (I don't even have a TV in there, why do I have movies on the floor?), newspapers, etc). I ran the vacuum and the place looks a lot better.

THEN, my microwave is super finnicky and if you unplug it (or turn off the power) all of the buttons don't necessarily work when you plug it back in (or turn the power back on). Right now, I'm operating without a clock, Stop/Clear button or number buttons 4-9. After a few weeks, they should start working again. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

- End of Outlet Story -

I have a project in mind that I'd like to build. Currently, my bedroom has a huge pile of running gear right next to the door. It's a mess and I can never find anything. I wanted to buy something to put all of it in, but I don't want some plastic tub in my bedroom. What better time for a woodworking project than now? I'm gonna build a chest to store all of my gear. I have a few things that I'll have to accumulate/build before I can get started, and I'm working on that now. I'll try to keep you posted. This is going to be my rainy day/weekday evening project, so it's likely that it'll take me all summer but it's a worthwhile project and it'll give me the creative outlet that I need in my life.

Well, time for breakfast #2.

Over and out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Monday, May 22, 2006

How's that for Sand in your Eye?

If you looked closely, you might have seen some sunshine this weekend. I did not look closely enough on Saturday, but yesterday it was sunny for a good part of the morning and then again in the early evening, just enough sun to make it hard to see the TV when I was watching a movie. The evening sun was directly preceded by a hail storm, and the morning sun was directly followed by rain. Ahh, Berkshire weather how do we love thee?

We don't. Actually, it's a love-hate relationship.

Berkshire weather, when you're nice to us, you're oh so nice. But when you get cranky you torment us for weeks on end.

As I mentioned, yesterday morning was full of sunshine. We had our Wedding Run for the Crazy Running Group woman, and it was a doozie. They claimed that it was 4 miles from the parking area to the summit of Greylock, but it took us over an hour and sure as shit felt closer to 6. On that type of terrain, it's really tough to judge distance since there's so much vertical, plus turning, weaving, river-hopping, downed-tree-ducking, and so on.

When we got to the top, the woman's fiancee was there along with another CRG member who couldn't run with us, along with breakfast and the basket of custom towels. She knew about the breakfast, but not the towels so it was a real surprise. Plus the names on the towels were hilarious when you saw them all together. Here are some notes from the breakfast...

First of all, there was lox to put on the bagels. I've never before had lox, so I had to try it. OH MY GOD! I knew there was a reason I hadn't tried it before, now I am going to require it on every bagel occasion.

Second of all, you shouldn't eat a big breakfast in the middle of a run. I thought we were done, but apparently we had to run most of the way back still - oops. Once I was full of orange juice and smoked salmon, my stomach didn't like all of the downhill bouncing and jumping around (I'll explain the jumping in a minute). All in all the run was something ridiculous like 3.5 hours. That includes the stop at the top and the drive partway down, but still, even if it was 2.5 hours that's a long freaking time.

At the tail end, we had another one of those cinematic scenes where we were running down a dirt road next to old farmhouses, weatherbeaten old barns and oldschool tractors. The sky had recently clouded up and it was beginning to drizzle. Despite the huge knots in my legs, it was a really cool experience. I may not like a lot of people in this area, the weather, or the lack of technical jobs, but you can't beat the landscape. Mmm MMM bitch.

So, back to the jumping around. The dirt roads we ran down on the way back from the summit had these long/wide strips of sand/dirt that I assume were left by a dump truck, to be smoothed at a later date. At the end of each strip was a pile that just begged to be jumped off/over. Very quickly, this turned into a game of doing tricks over the piles, landing in the soft sand behind it. On one occasion, another guy called a trick out for me right before takeoff; a two-footed grab. I left the ground, grabbed both feet and landed less than squarely on my feet. I rolled a little on my ping-pong bruises, and flung sand into my eye. As of 9:30 last night I was still picking grains of sand out of my left eye and I think there's one grain left.

After the run I went home, showered, ate some blueberry pancakes (breakfast #3, AKA Late Elevenses) and kicked back with my ChiRunning book. After a chapter or two (and maybe a nap), I decided to go to Target to pick up a few necessities - socks, shaving cream, cat litter, a movie, and some mozzarella cheese (for mini pizzas, yum). The trip was successful and uneventful.

After dinner I watched Cinderella Man, which was - as promised - a pretty good movie. I mean, I like boxing, I like Renee Zellwegger, and I like sitting and watching a movie. Score, score, score. I'll sum it up with this; I laughed, I cried, I drank some coffee. When the movie ended, I had just enough time to make strawberry/blackberry crisp before The Simpson's came on. Perfect timing for the ol' Coot Doggy Dogg! The Berry Medley Crisp was perfect with a scoop of Ben and Jerry's vanilla ice crea, damn I'm good.

Well, that's it for Sunday. I hit the hay around 9:30 for some good old fashioned beauty rest and the day was over. A good all-around day for the Cootster.

Over and out,
Old Coot

P.S. Miss "Maven", why is your blog password protected? It's on my required reading list so I need to read it.

Get the Whole Story Here...

Saturday, May 20, 2006

No golf, just rode in the cart.

Good evening players. Someone out there in readerland has been feverishly awaiting a new posting, so here it is. I hope it's what you were looking for. And how do I know that someone was waiting for me to write? Wouldn't you like to know? I'll tell you...

I have a hit counter. I don't know specifics about who's visiting my site, but I do know some things. I've become pretty good at determining which hits are which people. Of course, I don't know for certain. It's all really a guessing game.

So anyway, today I had a few tasks ahead of me. First and foremost was to fix my ailing internet connection. I had shut off the power strip the other day that my DSL modem and my wireless router plug into, and as a result they revolted against me. Seeing that I am entirely at their mercy, they won. I was without internet service long enough to realize that I am a junkie. Of course at the same time, my cell phone battery died and then I forgot it in the car and couldn't charge it. No internet + no phone = Old Incommunicado Coot.

When that was done, my second task was to start cleaning this hellhole of a house. It is so dirty, and it's mostly because I'm never home. Now, you might think to yourself "Self, if someone is never home, how can their house get dirty?" The simple answer to this is that houses generate dirt. Not dust and cobwebs, but straight up dirt. We're talking clumps of mud on the floor, piles of dirty dishes, laundry, cat vomit, you name it. All of this happens when I'm not home. So today I was supposed to start cleaning it.

I knew for a fact that if my goal was to clean the house from top to bottom, I would really just go get some coffee at Juice 'n' Java, go shopping, and fool around on my newly reinstated internet connection. I set my sights a little lower; clean my bedroom. Often, once I get started I can keep going. Today was not going to be one of those days. I was sidetracked here and there, and then JC (not Jeebus) called requesting "a hand" moving stuff into his new house. Booyeah, an excuse. I was so there.

We worked for most of the day, in the rain, in the sun, in the rain and sun, lather/rinse/repeat. But most importantly we had a golf cart to help move boxes from the front of the house to the back. At first this seemed lazy, but after carrying the boxes into the basement for a few hours my tune changed. Plus, after each trip to unload we had to whip up and down the driveway to get the mud out of the tires and it was SOOOO fun. Everyone in the house was clowning us because we had the biggest shit-eating-grins on our mugs every time. What can I say, it was mad fun.

One of the perks of helping JC with any sort of project at his house is that he likes to feed people. I am a person. I also like being fed. As a matter of fact, I haven't cooked dinner in nearly two weeks and I'm certainly not wasting away; I've been able to forage for food all that while and not die. But I digress, we ate good. Today was a veritable swine-fest. Well, there wasn't any bacon, but other than that the swine flowed like water flows into my garage. Don't get me wrong, I'd help for free, but I am certainly not going to turn down some em effin pork.

Oh yeah, and the new baby('yeah') is wicked cute. She was doing mostly baby stuff (I was informed that what she was doing was standard for newborns), nothing wild or crazy. I'm not very well versed in babies or kids, so I never know what to expect of them; let me break it down...

Here are the various stages of human development, per the Coot Classification System:

  • Newborn - Can't do anything
  • Regular baby - Cries and makes faces and stuff, still can't do much
  • Really small kid - Can kind of walk around some, knows a few words. Still wicked cute, except for those poor ugly ones. Sorry, your parent shouldn't have bred. Really small kids can still get away with walking around in the nude.
  • Small kid - Can walk, run, talk - can't catch or throw
  • Big kid - You can play sports with them and they think you're awesome because you're so good at those sports. Little do they know that they're about one team practice away from "taking your nerd ass to school"
  • Teenager - Can't do much, and hates everyone because of it. Still doesn't understand sarcasm which makes them useless to me
  • Regular person - Capable of paying taxes and complaining about local government. Watches the weather.
  • Zombie - Walking undead.

So there you have it. Now I'm so beat; my back, legs, neck, and feet are tired. I am bruised all over from a ping-pong injury (surrisly, I have a huge lump on one of my spinal knuckles and another one where my hip bone connects to my leg bone (the hip maybe?). I have "The Wedding Run" tomorrow morning, so I can't sleep in and then I have to finish up cleaning my room and maybe tackle the kitchen. Who knows where the day might take me?

And with that, I'm ghost.

Over and out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Friday, May 19, 2006

A Break in the Rain!

Today is Chicken Pizza Day here at work. That is, they have personal size pizzas in the caf and one of the styles is Chicken. I'm going to eat one.

Unlike every day for the past week and a half, yesterday was gorgeous. It hit around 75 degrees American, the sun was shining and I left work around 3 to get out and at least see the sun. I had to swing by the auto parts store to pick up some lug nuts (remember I stripped one plugging the hole in my tire), a tire plug kit for myself and some tire plugs for Ed. We used two of his remaining three plugs on my tire and I'd hate for him to need one on the road somewhere and not have one. I opted to go to the brand name auto parts store where I figured they'd have everything I needed. I have a store right at my corner, but it's for people who really know what they're doing and I feel dumb going in there. Plus I had a button-down shirt on and I feel awkward in there if I'm not greasy. They know I don't belong. Anyway, the brand name store (Napa? Auto Zone? who knows) didn't have the lug nuts I needed despite the computer saying they had some in stock. I was going to have to go to the corner store afterall. The woman there was very helpful, got me what I needed, test fit the lug nuts on a stud, and overall treated me well. Ahh, good customer service in Pittsfield, such a rarity.

Now that I had my supplies, I went home to change and get to work replacing the one lug nut. This gave me an opportunity to use my impact wrench and torque wrench. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Hmm, the impact wrench couldn't take the lug nuts off. I wanted to get them all off and then retorque them to the manufacturer's specs. Ed cranked them on something fierce and too tight can be as bad as too loose. It turned out I had the pressure down too low on my compressor, a little tweak there and: Brrraaaaaooooww! Allow me to decode my sound effects for the impact wrench impaired...

The "Brrrrr" part is the impact part where it's trying to break the nut free. Once the nut is loose, the "aaaaaaaooooowwww" is the wrench spinning freely. So ideally it would sound like "Bbrrrrraaooooww" as the nut breaks free and then comes off the bolt (or stud, in car-speak).

I replaced the nuts one at a time and tightened them to 75 ft-lbs (manufacturer spec). The last one to go on was the new one, and it didn't want to go on. I feared it was actually the stud that was screwed up but it just needed a little encouragement. I'd say it took longer to get the tools out, than it did to do the wheel, but oh how fun it was. If you've never used air tools before, you don't know what you're missing!

After that, I tried to run the power wire for my subwoofer amp to no avail. I couldn't find a decent place to get through the firewall into the engine compartment. I looked and looked, but engine compartments aren't known to be spacious these days, even in a little 4-cylinder Subaru. That's all I'll say on that.

Thursday is also the "Thursday Night Group Run at Kennedy Park with Dinner Afterwards" at Kennedy Park. We go out to dinner afterwards. As everyone was showing up and hanging out, one couples' son showed up. He's some cross-country star at whatever college he attends. I thought it would be cool to run with him and have him push me to run a little harder. I was quickly assured that I would not be running with him, he is fast. "Yeah right, old man. I think I can keep up with him for a little while at least" I thought.

I thought wrong.

This kid was immediately GONE! He apparently runs a 5:15 pace on trails during races. To the layperson that doesn't sound like anything, but to the person who runs about a 9-minute mile that's an impossible pace. That would be a full-out sprint to me, there would be no keeping up. I did manage to keep up with the fastest of the regular guys, and we finished in under 50 minutes including a few stops to wait for one guy (and once to pee). It felt good; the weather was perfect and I got a good sweat going. Ahhhhhhhh!

Afterwards, dinner was good. Uneventful, but good. They started talking politics and war, so I kept my mouth shut. I've learned not to talk politics with anyone who's been drinking, and these guys were wolfing down the beers. I did get to explain again why I don't drink, and once again the person had to tell me how they can have a drink now and then and it isn't a problem. "Yup" I tell them, "it doesn't work that way for me. It's all or nothing. I recognized that and I'm cool with my decision, have one for me". The "have one for me" line is supposed to lighten the conversation. Despite the fact that they bring it up all the time (often the same person), I have found that people are uncomfortable with the idea of drinking issues. Whatever. "Hey, did the Sox win last night?" always works to change the subject.

So yeah, I went home afterwards and had a snack with the kittens. I had an apple with peanut butter, they had cat food. I tried unsuccessfully to repair my non-functioning wireless router situation. I forget how I had it set up before and it completely reset when I had the power off the other day. Damn! Bootlegging the internet from a neighbor gets old after a while, since I don't get a very good signal. It's fine to check e-mail, but that's about it.

ANYWHO, it's about time for chicken pizza. I'll holler at you later.

Over and out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Wednesday is Splend(id) Day

Merry Thursday to all, and to all a good day!

I said good day!

Let me tell you how my day went yesterday. It had the potential to tip the scale towards either fantastic or horrendous, but when the sun poked through the clouds the day swung full-force towards 'fantastic'.

I had my day in court with the Building Inspector and that went pretty much as expected. Having never been to court before (thank God) I was unaware of the process. They whipped through about 30 cases in as many minutes. There was even a chick there in shackles. I mean really, in shackles at Housing Court? But from the way they were handing out warrants for no-shows I'm surprised there weren't more people in the custody of the police. End result of the hearing: I have 45 days to build my porch. An achievable schedule, assuming I get the permit sometime soon.

After work I got home and found ECOW parked in my driveway. I wasn't planning on returning to work after court, so she figured I was available to chill in the midafternoon lawn-perching sun. As I got out of the car, Walker Girl was walking by. I got the smile/wave combo but once again there was some broad (ECOW in this instance) there to pose as "my woman", thus giving the impression that I'm taken. Damn! My only hope is that I'll appear more desirable if she thinks I'm spoken for. Then when I finally get the chance to run her down I can set the story straight and we'll live happily ever after. I just have to get to her before she drinks too much Berkshire water and ends up knocked up (I have to assume it's something in the water).


A short trip to Dunkin Donuts yielded one large coffee, which I drank while mowing the lawn and whacking the weeds. Ideally I would have mowed it twice to do a good job, but it rained. With all of the rain recently, my lawn (like everyone else's) has gotten out of control. I had to raise the deck up again so as not to cut too much off the top. This means it'll need to be cut again soon, not that I mind.

THEN, my bike stand arrived. On top of looking sweet (a nice bright blue paint job), it works great too! I assembled it in minutes, put my bike on it and did some maintenance. What a treat it was to not have to wrestle with the bike while working on it. Plus, the two allen wrenches that came with the stand are the same size as every allen-headed bolt on the bike. Score, travel tools!

After that, I finished up my egg salad, had some melon and went to the store for a few necessities. I was out of bananas and apples, plus had a hankering for some deli meat.

Blueberries were on sale too.

I caught Lost at the 'COW residence (AKA Lost Party Central), went home, showered, went to bed, awoke this morning, yadda yadda yadda. Tonight is the Thursday night run at Kennedy Park, complete with dinner afterwards (I'll play that by ear). I haven't run since Monday so I can use a good hearty stretching of the legs/lungs.

P.S. I'd like to extend a welcome e-handshake to some of the new folks out there in Readerland. There was some heavy activity on the ol' blog yesterday, with a couple of referrals. I hope to keep some of you on as regulars.

P.P.S. Congrats to JC (not Jebus) and BC (not Before Jebus) on the arrival of their newest clan member (not Klan member) KEAC! I'm sure she's a cutie.

Over and out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mayhem and Mud Slinging

Good day to you all. This morning as I pulled out of the driveway, I think I saw what might have been a little piece of blue sky. That's right, between the thick cloud cover was some blue. As I looked off to the east, that was not the case. The cloud cover that way was ominous. Quick, turn your eyes to the east. Always to the east. Hey, I'll take what I can get.

Yesterday was one of those days where things that shouldn't even go wrong do. I tried my damndest to overcome this problem early, since setting the tone in the morning usually helps with the rest of the day. My efforts were thwarted and time after time I was met with astrological opposition. I pressed on.

At the end of the workday I knew I was going mountainbiking, so there was some light at the end of the tunnel. We were going to have some rain to contend with, but what's mountainbiking without some mud?

Around 4:00 I went home, changed, mixed up some Gatorade, loaded up my bike and bike accessories and headed out. I met up with one of the guys at the entrance to Balance Rock State Park and started to get my gear in order. As I leaned over to lace up my shoes I heard the unmistakable sound of a tire losing air. Tsssssssssssssssssssss. Yes, just what I wanted. We loaded our bikes back up and went to my buddy's house to plug the hole. We couldn't get the nail out with the wheel on the car, so we set to work taking the wheel off; short work for a pneumatic impact wrench.

"Brrraaooww, brraoww, ..., brraaoooww."

"Okay, just pull this wheel off." Eeerrrooongg. The wheel was rusted on at the hub. Some WD-40, a BF hammer, a couple of kicks with the size 11.5's and it wasn't budging. Finally it busted free and we set to work pulling the nail out. It was in there GOOD! Plugging it was tough, but went fairly well and we were back on the road. Except for one thing - the stripped lug nut. Yess! Those fuckers were rusted on there something fierce so stripping one wasn't unexpected but it still sucked. Meh, it can be replaced.

The ride was great! I love me some naturing, and riding a bike across streams, up a mountain, over fallen trees constitutes a healthy does of nature. PlacaTAN, bitches!

Afterwards, I whipped up some egg salad for dinner. Strangely enough, I wasn't that hungry. I finished up my paperwork for my porch permit, wrote a hot blog entry (you may remember it from such entries as last night's entry about the weekend), brushed my toofs and went to bed.


This morning I have to leave work around 8:45 to head over to the Municipal Courthouse to meet with the Building Inspector and some judge. We're going to agree on some timeline for getting the porch built, I'm gonna hand over all of my plans and forms and everyone's gonna be happy. Once he finishes with my application, I'll be poorer by $10 and richer by one building permit. Dad, lace up your hammering shoes. We have a porch to build.

Okay, that's it. Hopefully the next time I post I'll have more good news about the permit situation. A picture of said permit would be even nicer, but I don't think I'll be getting it today. I guess it takes them some time to go over my plans/application; upwards of two weeks. They better give me a couple of months to build the porch is all I'm saying.

Over and out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Weary Weekend

Good evening folks. I know, I know. It's been about 5 days since I last posted but in my defense two of those days were the weekend, and I was fast asleep.

No joke, I think I slept the entire weekend away and it was fantastic. I'm not usually one to sleep all day during the week or on the weekend, but this was definitely called for. I'll explain...

Saturday, I dragged my ass out of bed to run. I didn't want to at all, but I had my reasons for going. We were going to have our Kangaroo Court to decide who was going to have to wrap the wedding towels and since I had been deemed "most neutral", I was the judge. I couldn't back down on my obligation. So I went, and I knew that once I got up and out I'd be fine; and that was certainly the case.

We ended up not holding court, but it was good to get out anyway. The weather held for us, and it didn't rain until later in the day. Plus I got myself a real nickname, and ordered a towel with said nickname embroidered on it. This of course, made me the last to pay so now I have to wrap them. Oh well.

Since you're gonna ask, my nickname is "The Judge" and my towel is embroidered with "Judge Sunshiny Ass", stemming from the aforementioned nickname and my habit of pointing out when the sun feels good on my ass. After a long run in the woods (in the blistering cold, often) the sun will peek out just enough to warm the ol' glutes and I like to point it out. Blessed is the sun that warms my patoot!

After the run, I ate a bowl of cereal and crashed HARD. I slept for a few hours then did some work on my basement cabinets. Al-most-there. Then I baked a cake. Chocolate with chocolate frosting. Mmm MMM bitch. Oh yeah, then I went out to eat and took a two hour tour of Berkshire County in search of something to friggin' do. We ended up shooting pool in Dalton, sweet.

Sunday I awoke for the Mother's Day run (sans mothers, who were all at a race). It was raining quite a bit but I forced myself up, out of bed, into some gear, all the way to BCC (Berkshire Community College) for what promised to be a long run.

Only one other guy showed, so we bagged the run. The weather was just too crummy. I went home, pounded a few pieces of cake, threw on a movie and passed the eff out. I awoke hours later, had some cake, finished up the construction of the cabinets and gave my mom a call. Ahh, what a good son. I poured myself a bowl of cereal in the biggest Pyrex bowl I have (think of the movie Friday) that finished the milk (think again of the movie Friday, it was exactly like that).

Then, I fell asleep.

I awoke around 9:00PM, got up from the recliner, brushed my teeth and went to bed. I was in bed by 9:30 and still couldn't get to work before 8:00 Monday morning. Damn I was beat.

Well, that's it for the weekend. I'm gonna give you another slice of my life in a bit but I have some work to do before that. I have my meeting with the building inspector tomorrow morning and want to have all of my paperwork in order before I go to bed. Hopefully it won't take very long, cuz I just want to reblog and relax.

Egg salad in my belly,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Damn it's Rainy

Because it's Friday night, and I'm feelin' right! Or it's Friday morning, it's rainy and I have a long day ahead of me. Either way, tomorrow is the first day of two consecutive days of rest. Booyeah!

Complaint Department

First I want to address some complaints I've been getting. JD complained that having to click the links to read the entire entry is a pain. To this, I will say "Too Bad". I'm trying to track stuff and I need people to click stuff. Deal.

The other complaint is that I haven't been posting often enough. To this, I will say "Sorry, I'm doing my best". It's hard work trying to make an ordinary life sound interesting, and sometimes my brain's not firing on enough cylinders to make that happen.

Running News

I'm sure most of you don't care about my running progress, but for those of you who do I'm gonna tell you about my run yesterday. I was in a bit of a time crunch (plus wicked tired) so I thought I'd do my 3 mile (5k) loop at a fast pace and call it quits. I started out a little too fast and quickly tired, but once I settled into a decent pace I was doing fine. Towads the 2.5 mile mark I noticed that I was on pace for a 21 minute time. For those of you who don't know, a 21-minute 5K is pretty good. Ultimately I'd like to get it under 20, but it's not really a priority of mine, more of a latent wish. Anyway, as I hit Elm St (the end of the run) I peered down at the ol' wristwatch and saw that I finished in 21:11. Almost made it. Had I not started off so fast at the beginning (or warmed up first) I probably could have finished under 21:00. YES!

Garden Center

Due to the rain today, my new garden is quickly washing away. The roof on the front of the house dumps a lot of water in one spot and without grass or something on the ground there, it just digs a hole in the dirt and washes it down the walkway. So I went out in the pouring rain this morning (dressed for work) and put some stones down where the water hits. It's not pretty, but for the time being it should help keep the garden intact. One of these days I'm going to have to come up with a better way of handling that water. I think a gutter/downspout would be a little too difficult (you'd have to see it to understand), but perhaps that's the only way to go.

TV News

Did you see The Office last night? All I can say is "YES!". Now if she can just lose that loser, I'll have some closure in my life. If you didn't see it, you should go home and watch it right now (assuming you recorded it). If you didn't record it, find someone who did and immediately watch it.

Okay, that's all I have for today. I'll holler at you later.

Over and out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Woooo, yesss! Today is Tuesday. Uuhhhnnnn! Boo-yeah!

Okay, that's all I have to say about that. I'm not that excited for Tuesday, I just thought that might help me get into the blogging mood. Work was pretty boring today, not much accomplished again. I did clear up some problems with some cables I designed but other than that it's been slow going. Actually, the cable thing was better than it sounds. It turned out that the problems weren't my fault this time. I did everything right, the guy who made up the build kit screwed up the parts. Yess! Score one for the Cootster! I mean, how do you accidentally put a backshell for a MS27467T21F35P connector in the box when you really need a MS27467T19F35P? They're so obviously different!

I finally broke down and ordered myself a bike stand. It lists for about $110, but I found it new-in-box from someone on Amazon for $80 (plus shipping). Killer! Once I get it, I'll be able to spend more money on specialty tools to fix/maintain my bike. As you might imagine, bikes require all different tools from your traditional set of tools. I have lots of regular stuff, but now I get to invest tens, even hundreds of dollars on more stuff. Yippee! Fortunately, I think it's the kind of stuff you buy once and use forever, so it's not too bad. And I can thank Uncle Sam for the free money I got at work for doing a damn fine job the other year, it's all going to toys!

Today was supposed to be the first day of real mountainbiking. I was all amped up about hitting the trails, getting a little dirty, maybe even breaking a sweat. However, it looks like we have some decent rain coming our way and the ride might be on hold. Damn! I'm not afraid of mud, but riding muddy trails beats the hell out of them, and I'm not one for destroying the trails I love so much. Plus I don't have a roof rack yet and the bike would have to go in the back of my car. No thanks you, mud.

Last night I started getting my basement in order. I have the two old kitchen cabinets that I wanted to hang on the walls, presumably to store tools. The cabinets were a little beat, so I tore the back off of one and replaced the glorified cardboard backing with plywood. Next I made up a mounting bracket to hang it on the wall. It would have been extra sweet had my masonry bit (for drilling holes in concrete) not died. That brought the project to a screeching halt. I figure today I might get a new bit and finish that li'l project up. The second cabinet is going to get pegboard in the back. That way I can hang stuff inside the cabinet to keep it out of the way and out of the dust. I'm thinking I can hang my screwdrivers, wrenches, etc in there. Oooo-weeee.

Also, I think I'm gonna whip up a batch of chili. Before any of you get any crazy ideas about stopping over and eating up the fruits of my kitchen I feel I should warn you that I'm going to be using tofu in it. And I'm gonna crumble the tofu real small so you can't pick it out, just like mom used to do with mushrooms. My red-meat-free stretch is still going, minus the one day I ate a couple of ribs at the 'COW ranch. For the record, I haven't quit eating red meat, I just don't eat it willy-nilly like I used to. When I quit something, I QUIT. Red meat is merely another one of my lifestyle changes.

Well, I'll see how the rain treats me and if I can't ride my bike I may have to go for a nice long spring-rain-run. My folks finally got my road shoes to me and I'm itching to get them out into action. I hope the rain at least hold off long enough for me to get home from work.

Over and out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Monday, May 08, 2006

My Horoscope has Made Me Lazy

Good day, everyone. I just got back from the Building Inspector's office and I'm on my way to starting to fill out the paperwork to apply for a permit that will allow me to build a front porch. Yup, nothing actually accomplished yet!

The problem with the building inspector (BI) - as I have learned the hard way - is that their office hours are 7:30 - 3:30. This would fit my schedule if I didn't have to also see the City Engineer (CE), who doesn't come in until 8:30 when City Hall opens. I'm not sure how the BI opens an hour before the whole building opens, but it doesn't much matter since I had to see the CE anyway. It would also be okay if the inspectors weren't out of the office from noon on. This leaves me a window of 8:30 til 12:00. Conveniently, I work from 7-3:30 so you can see how this might interfere. This morning I just lounged around the house for an extra couple of hours and rode over.

I found something interesting when I pulled up to City Hall this morning. I was on my bike and was looking for somewhere to lock it, and to my surprise I did not find a rack. I had to lock it to the railing on the front steps and was just hoping someone would tell me I couldn't do that, so I could complain.

This is one of my beefs with Pittsfield - if you don't want to drive somewhere you're shit out of luck. Sidewalks just end randomly, roads are treacherous both because of traffic and because of the condition of the roads, drivers are SCARY, and there's nowhere to put your bike when you get somewhere. When I used to walk to work, I would have to cross the same road 3 times to be able to walk on the sidewalk. Now I'm trying to ride my bike on short trips and find that my options are limited. Even if a store has a bike rack (or something else that would serve that purpose), you can't actually get to the store without risking life and limb. It's a good thing they keep turning down the Rail Trail extension plan. Stupid short-sighted yokels!

In other news, I'm beat. I didn't exactly warm up properly for my bike ride this morning; I just sort of hopped on my bike and went. The work clothes didn't help any either, good thing I sweated the hell out of my shirt before the day started. I'm not complaining, just letting you know how it is.

Lastly, it's another beautiful day today. My horoscope suggested that I chat with people and possibly play hookie. I've been blowing through my vacation lately with all of the nice weather, and I should probably save some of it for all the weddings and so on that I have to attend. I'm also thinking about taking some time off to build the porch, perhaps I'll coordinate that with a visit from the folks. My mom offered up my dad's help with building the porch, and I might take them up on the offer. They haven't been out to my place in a while. I think they'll be pleasantly surprised with how far the place has come in the last year and a half.

Well, so far I've been able to schmooze my way through most of the day. I was up in the lab watching someone test things. Technically, I was helping but it was mostly "Hey, what pin is (insert signal name) on?" to which I would reply "(insert pin number)". I found my usefulness wearing thin, so I bid the lab adieu and headed back to really get some important things done (like this blog). But surrisly, I do have stuff to do. I'll holler at y'all later.

Over and out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

My Weekend Outdoors

Well, today's post is not going to be nearly as exciting as the one from Friday. My life is always exciting, it just doesn't always lend itself to the written word as well as Friday's post. I only have a few minutes, but I'd like to share the happenings of my weekend with you.

Yesterday and today, I spent the majority of my time gardening. The little spot beneath my picture window would be wicked nice for a garden except there are no gutters on the front of the house and that area gets the full brunt of the drainage when it rains. I did however, pick up some plants to put in there, and I'll see what I can do to keep it from washing away. I think once the plants get established, it'll be fine.

This was one of the ground cover plants I bought. I think this one is thyme, which I hate to pay for since the yard used to be overrun with the stuff. It smells awesome and I hope it grows a little better than the lawn thyme did. This one seems to be more plant-like than ground-hugging. Only time will tell.

Here's a shot of one of the peonies I planted. It should grow to 3-4 feet, but for now it's less than a foot. It's not the best shot, but I had my slippers on and didn't want to walk in the garden. Once I explain, you'll understand.

These guys here are over on the right side of the path, between a couple of trees. I had been neglecting this area as well, and a little splash of green should make the walkway a little more inviting.

Lastly, this is one of the hostas I planted to the left of the walkway. It sits right next to the side porch and looked sweet in the afternoon sun. I couldn't help but to try the macro setting on the camera. I thought it was a pretty cool shot.

As promised, I'll tell you why I didn't want to walk in the garden. I went to Home Depot yesterday in search of plants. I tried a nursery, but they really didn't have what I wanted, so I had to go to the Box Store. I hate to buy plants from them, but I did it anyway. Last year, I had cut down a number of trees in the front of the house and in an effort to return the soil to something useful, I mixed it with composted manure (which hardly smells) and peat moss. It did such a good job that I can't keep the weeds at bay! When I thought about planting underneath the picture window, I figured that soil could also use a little rejuvenating so I picked up some manure and mixed it in.

This manure seemed to be less composted than the stuff I used last year. In fact, it stunk to all hell. I did my damndest to keep it off my hands, but I think it just finds its way into your nostrils and everything smells like cow deuce. When I was taking pictures, I thought it would be best not to step in the soil/deuce concoction wearing my slippers. Hence the crummy shot of the peony.

In other news, I put a new blade on my lawnmower. I could have sharpened the old one again, but by the way the lawnmower shook I figured it might be a little out of balance. Blades are cheap enough, so I got a new one. This one has some extra fancy contours/blades to it that help with the mulching. As it turned out, the old one was NOT a mulching blade, the grass just didn't have anywhere to go since there was no chute on the mower and it acted like a mulcher. With the new blade, you can actually hear the grass being cut. It's hard to explain, but it's really quite satisfying for those of me who like to mow the lawn.

I went for a run Saturday morning, and it was really quite nice. We were up in Pittsfield State Forest again and it was overcast and slightly drizzly. Towards the end of the run, we were passing a farm and it just felt like a scene out of a movie. We were on a dirt road which intersected with another dirt road. There was a big bright green field on either side of us, woods ahead of and (way) behind us, and the farmhouse, barn and silo off to the left. I wanted to be able to see the group from a distance for that real cinematic effect, but alas I was part of the group so I had to just use my imagination. You'll have to take my word for it, it was one of those days that makes me appreciate living in the Berkshires (did I just say that?).

There was also a bike race yesterday that I wanted to catch, but it just didn't fit into the schedule. Apparently it's a big deal and some big names in cycling showed up. I don't follow cycling, so the names didn't mean anything to me, but from what I understand it's exhiliarating to watch as they speed down the mountain. Damn, should have gone!

Well, my laundry is done and I think I need to go get an ice cream. I'll holler at y'all later.

Over and out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Friday, May 05, 2006

Friendly Does Not Equal Fruity

Good afternoon readers, here's a juicy one for ya. Okay, not that juicy but it's at least something to read.

Yesterday I went to the Thursday evening run at Kennedy Park. It was absolutely perfect weather; warm enough to work up a sweat, but not so warm you wanted to die. Oh, it was good. And what was even better was that there was a large congregation of mountain bikers. Not that I cared too much about people getting out and riding bikes, but I did care that the bikers were predominantly athletic women in my age range. Sure, some of them were probably crunchies, but they seemed to be pretty cool (from the safe distance I kept). Not that I was hiding, they were setting up with their groups, I was setting up with mine. But it's good to know these chicks are out there, especially once I get a few hours of mountainbiking under my belt.

The run was fun in and of itself. I hung back with the people I normally run with (sorry, ended with a preposition), but after a while I busted up to the front group to really push myself. These guys were faster than I normally run so I thought this would be a good chance to really stretch my legs and give myself a good hurting. I did, and I did. Plus, the people in the back were women who were plotting their Girl's Club.

The husband of one of the women (he fixed my bike) is moving away for about a year and she's turning his garage into their clubhouse. They were planning the decorations, complete with lifesize posters of Usher (sans shirt, I assume). At one point, Nancy turns to me and says "Todd, you can come too. We consider you to be one of the girls."

[Insert record scratching here]

"That's gonna have to be a negatory. I have a hard enough time as it is, I don't need to be part of a Girl's Club" I replied. She promised that if any eligible girls joined, they'd be sure to talk me up. I promised that I wouldn't hang out, but would let them talk me up. Ladies, I appreciate the sentiment, but you're not doing me any favors.

After the run, a bunch of us went to The Heritage, a nice little pub/restaurant in Lenox. We went in, moved some tables together and I hit the head to whiz and wipe the sweat off my arms and face. I was standing at the urinal (to all of the ladies out there, this is a personal moment in a man's day and a vulnerable one at that) when this drunk guy walks in and says something to the effect of: "Hey, I saw you come in and wanted to talk to you."

[Insert record scratching here]

"SAY WHAT!?" I replied. At this point he clarified that by "you" he meant "you guys" and he meant he saw a group of runners come in and order several pitchers of beer. He was looking for a group of runners that like to go out for beers after a run. Apparently he had just run the Boston Marathon, which I think he used to qualify himself as a runner. I said sure, I'd get his e-mail address and pass it along to our "Event Coordinator" who sends out e-mails for all of the runs.

We walked out of the pisser together and up to the bar to get something to write on. As he hands me his e-mail address, I become very aware of how this must look. Two guys walk out of a bathroom and one guy hands the other guy a piece of paper with what one can only assume is a phone number.

Strike two for the Cootster!

Now, the "Ladies, Don't Bother" beacon is shining brightly with a picture of yours truly broadcast against the gathering clouds. I can cross Lenox off the list of places where I can still present myself with some semblance of heterosexuality.

Dinner was good, and the people were all really fun. I didn't know any of them before last night, and they were cool folks. Of course, their kids are all around my age, so once again I've hooked up with more people in their 50s. Sweet. Nobody mentioned the bathroom incident, but when the one lady asked if I was single she had that "Oh, I know why he's single" look on her face that most women get when they talk to me. Isn't my goatee macho enough?

All in all, it was fun from a running/social - and ultimately blog fodder - standpoint. Unfortunately, the new people I met may have the wrong impression about me.

P.S. To reiterate what I'm sure I've said in the past, I'm not a homophobe. I have absolutely no problem with anyone with any preference (excluding people who prefer kids). Same sex marraiges? Fantastic! Old dudes marrying young chicks? More power to ya. Old chicks marrying young dudes? Grrrreat! Not that there's anything wrong with those, they're just not for me. Maybe I'm just old-fashioned.

P.P.S. I just got a response from our running club e-mail lady. Upon adding the drunk bathroom dude to the e-mail list, she responded with "Only you could have this kind of 'close encounter'!" You see what I'm saying, folks?

P.P.P.S. She just sent me another message. Apparently there weren't any guys who fit his description (first name, last initial, approx age, region) in the Boston Marathon roster. Maybe I was being hit on.

Over and out,
Old "Straight as an Arrow" Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Mythbusters Proves Me Right

Hey bloggerators, what up? Okay, my theory has been proven by one consecutive day of airtight anecdotal evidence. Yesterday was a dreary day and I was bummed, today is awesome and I'm in a relatively good mood. I've even had some really obnoxious things happen to me (that I won't share, you wouldn't understand them anyway) and I've so far been able to roll with the punches. Now, if I could just get a doctor to prescribe a tropical vacation I'd be all set.

Due to yesterday's dreariness, I got home from work and stayed there. As you may recall, I rode my bike to work. The ride home was more pleasant than expected, which was really just less unpleasant than expected. I took the scenic route despite the drizzling rain and found that it's a much nicer ride. I bypass some annoying intersections and even get to ride through Brattlebrook Farm (state owned land if I read the sign correctly). It even seems that there might be a trail or two through there which may provide me with an offroad route to the grocery store.

Nope, I just checked with Google Earth and they don't.

When I got home, I had a serious case of backspackle. If you aren't familiar with this term, it's what you get for riding your bike in the rain. The water (and dirt) kick up from your rear tire and leave a nice streak on your ass (and presumably back). Once home, I had to change out of those jeans immediately and into some comfy puttering-around-the-house fleece pants. As I laid the jeans on the bed I saw that the backspackle was pretty gross looking. It literally looked like I deuced the outside of my pants. Upon closer inspection it was clearly just dirt, but still, it was funny.

I made up this awesome (and wicked easy) chicken cordon bleu for dinner. You just take a few (I used 4) chicken breasts, layer the ham and cheese (and sundried tomatoes, since I have an assload of those) on top, cover that with two cans of 'Cream of _____' soup, add a little more cheese and I threw in some baby portobellos. Pop that in the oven at 375 for 45 minutes and you have one delicious meal. Actually, you have 4 delicious meals. Oh my god is that good. The sundried tomatoes added more flavor than I anticipated, but in a most unexpected and delicious way.

Afterwards, I sorted my laundry into the multitudinous categories and set to work warshing them. I got as far as whites and a dark-darks. I only dried the whites. That leaves the mediums (grays, tans, things that aren't dark but aren't white) and the stuff that doesn't get fabric softener (running gear, Stain Defender(TM) khakis and towels). I'm sure I won't get to those until my floor is once again covered in clothes, but I did manage to half-ass it. That's better than non-assing it.

Tonight I think I'm funna meet up with the Other Running Group for the Thursday Night Run at Kennedy Park. They go to dinner afterwards, but I don't think I'll go to that. I'll probably go home and have some chicken cordon bleu and perhaps finish up my laundry. Man, my life is good.

I recommend that you go home immediately and grill some sort of bovine and/or swine products. I'm not going to, but I enjoy the smell of a good barbecue.

Over and out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Hump Day = Slump Day

Good afternoon faithful readers. Sorry to be getting to my post so late, but I finally got a bunch of people off my back. Well, they've at least slid down my back and now their feet in my ass. Either way, I can walk around freely and I don't have to hide in my cube, silently counting the minutes until I can leave.

This wonderful day has been fraught (sp?) with unlucky vibes. I rode my bike in this morning, and when I rolled into the parking lot I noticed something unsettling; there were no other bikes on the rack. Normally there are a few, even on the coldest days. Today, there were none. Even the motorcycle section was vacant. Hmm, shudda checked the weather a little more closely.

Meh, I was over that in a hurry. Worst case scenario is I would have to ride home in the rain. Not that big of a deal. But when I sat down at my desk and began reading my e-mail, I was greeted with the gravity of the Grim Reaper, literally. Sorry for the alliteration. Without going into a lot of detail, one of the guys in my department has been really sick for a while now and passed away last night at home. It was probably somewhat expected, but certainly not imminent. He was a wicked nice guy and it really got to me. Despite my claims to be non-religious, my prayers will be with his family tonight.

Maybe it's the two consecutive days of crummy weather, or the cool wake of the Grim Reaper, but I have been really bummed out the last few days. I'm going to put my money on the former, since I was riding high over the weekend and into Monday (high on sunshine). Usually, it's the winter that really gets me down, but this year I survived the winter unscathed, only to have my mood ride the waves of cloud cover. Perhaps a good long run or a bike ride tonight will soothe my achy aura.

Even on the worst days, I like to cheer myself up by taking stock in what I have, and not dwelling on what I don't have. It may be raining, but I work indoors and have a roof over my head at home. I have a home. I may have to ride my bike home from work in the rain, but I have a job and I am able-bodied enough to ride a bike. I have food in my belly and even more in the fridge.

Well, I'd like to say that I have something positive to offer today. I did receive an award at work the other day that I will surely spend on my biking needs. I have my eye on a rack for the car and that should just about exhaust it. I had a few extra dollars earmarked for a bike and/or some bike tools, so I'll probably get to that stuff too.

The best thing I've done in terms of saving up for things was to set up special funds in an online account. Money comes out of my main checking account and every once in a while I look to see what it amounts to. Currently, it's a lot. Much more than I would have if I had relied on myself to save money, that's for damn sure. And I have a separate account for: Toys, Christmas, Taxes, and "Something Special". The "Something Special" is somewhat of a TBD. I don't know what it's for yet, but someday an opportunity will present itself and I'll be able to spend it.

If anyone is interested in opening an ING account, let me know. I get a bonus for referring ($10), and you get more of a bonus for being referred ($25). It's a win-win for both of us!

Well, it's time for me to bid you all adieu. I'll holler at y'all later.

Over and out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Blue Skies and Billowing Smoke

Good morning everyone, let me tell ya something. I left work early yesterday to enjoy the warm sunny day, and enjoy it I did.

I went out to Windsor to the guy formerly known as The Bushman's house to check out the progress and score a burning barrel. The last time I was out there was last summer, when we put up the old barn beams. It seems that even though I wasn't there, they kept working. The place is awesome, and slightly larger than a camper. One word for ya: DowndraftExhaustCooktop (insert sound of Homer Drooling).

In addition to scoping the house, I did manage to score a burning barrel. I have a pile of junk wood in my yard that needs burning (or disposal) and the fire pit would have taken forever. I figured a few good fires in the barrel and I'd be rid of most of it. So yesterday I set up shop with the circular saw, a couple of sawhorses and a pile of doors/particleboard. I cut up the doors and particleboard into smaller pieces and set to tossing them in the fire. Sho nuff, the barrel did a wonderful job of consuming a large quantity of scrap. I did have to add a few speed holes to the side of the barrel to let more air in, but other than that I used it right off the shelf.

One other thing that the barrel did was drop burning embers onto the surround ground. This would not have been such a problem had the surrounding ground not been covered in dry leaves, very dry piles of branches, very very dry piles of old fencing and a couple of pallets. At first I was able to just stomp out the fire, but at some point it exceeded what my size 11.5's could handle and I had to employ the services of my garden hose.

All in all, I got rid of most of two THICK exterior doors, untold particleboard, some branches and a hollow core door. I was very impressed with how much smoke the barrel didn't produce. It guess it gets so hot that the wood burns a lot more completely than it would in a regular fire. Another fire that size and I think the yard will be "clean".

I also mowed the lawn yesterday between acquiring the barrel and using it. Let me tell you folks, my hard work has really paid off. I have the lushest, greenest lawn within my immediate area. Just don't look in the back though, it's still patchy (blast you evergreen trees). All of the grass that I planted last year has come up extra thick and extra green. I almost felt bad cutting it, but I know deep in my heart that it wants to be cut. I do also know that I need a new blade for my lawnmower. The freaking thing shakes all over the place because of the imbalanced blade. And the lawn doesn't get the kind of mowing it deserves because the blade is so dull it's like beating the grass into submission with a Louisville Slugger.

One last thing, for all of the people who expressed concern for Nano (who was foaming at the mouth yesterday morning), he's fine. I'm almost positive that it was the Cat Grass (not intended for feline consumption, even though the bag explicitly says that's what it's for) that did it. He was back to his finnicky self last night. I did tell him that he did the right thing by showing me he wasn't feeling well, even if it meant foaming all over my stuff. I lost one cat last summer and I'm not quite ready to lose another. But all was well.

After my yard work, I kicked back for a few with the cats, ate some cookies, showered and went to bed. Note to self, never bake cookies again, you have no willpower.

Over and out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Monday, May 01, 2006

It's May Day

Happy May Day everyone! It's another beautiful day here in the Berkshires. I'm pretty sure I'm taking the afternoon off, probably to ride my bike. I could do a little work around the yard, perhaps burn some of the branches in my yard so we'll see what strikes my fancy.

Yesterday during my run, I think I did something to my knee. It hurts to lift my leg to step over things or walk up/down stairs. It's really a strange injury, I've never had one like this before. As I was cleaning the garage yesterday it was very noticeable every time I had to step over something or walk up to the backyard with some more burning material. Meh, it seems to be healing today so I won't worry about it.

Which brings me to my next point. The guy behind me was BURNING yesterday. Holy cow, he had his log splitter going half the day and his burning pile going the whole day. When he splits, he throws the scrap into the fire. Inevitably it's the wet bark or knuckly pieces that go into the fire, so he had a powerful smolder going from about 9:00 AM until almost 8:00 PM. I'm all about fires and don't usually mind, but he was smoking out the neighborhood something fierce. If it's burning my eyes all the way in the front yard (or in my garage), it's too smoky.

Last night I made the mistake of baking some cookies while I was waiting for my dinner to come off the grill. All told, I think I had about half a dozen of them, which was about 1/4 of the batch. A little mathematical wizardry and I can tell you that equates to 1/2 of a stick of butter. DAMN! I brought some in today to give away, but not many. I guess tomorrow I'll have to bring in the rest. They're oh so good, but maybe a little too good.

Yesterday, I was out working in the yard/washing my car in a wife-beater style shirt. After a little bit, it felt like I might be working on a decent burn, so I went in to put on some sunscreen. The sunscreen I have is from my trip to Jamaica, and everytime I smell it that's all I can think of. What a great trip; I need a vacation.

Okay, lunch is just about over here, so I'm gonna get moving. I only hope it's nice enough out there to get my bike ride on a little later. I'll holler at y'all tomorrow, in the meantime get out and enjoy that sunshine.

Over and out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...
"Something inside of me just said 'Hey, wait a minute, I want to beat him.' and I just took off." -Pre