Monday, December 31, 2007

Cat Got Your Tooth?

Looking for information on Bright Green Cat Vomit? I've been getting a lot of hits from people searching for those keywords. There's information you may find helpful below, please read on.

File Footage of Vinny

Hey everybody. I've been getting calls from people from far and wide about my poor kitty, Vinny. My sister called me all the way from Japan (thanks Ab) to see how he was doing, and I've been getting texts all the way from Washington state (from someone who doesn't understand the time difference) on the regular. You'd think Vin was a person the way people have been sending tender care waves his way. So here's the scoop...

Over the Hump

If you didn't already know the story, my cat Vinny was sick while I was away for Christmas. When I got home I found he had thrown up everywhere and when his cat belly was empty he threw up some more. In case someone with a similar problem stumbles upon this post, I'll tell you what I saw and what I had to do.

The scary think I saw was the bright green vomit on the couch. Yeah, sucks to be my couch (white, no less) but I freaked out. The first thing I thought of was antifreeze which is poisonous to animals but, oh so sweet (yeah, I've had some and it's delicious). A little research and I found it was not antifreeze (since there was none he could get into) but rather bile. Better, but not good.

Vin was also not himself. He was lethargic, had no appetite and I thought he felt very skinny. All three are very uncharacteristic of this particular cat.

The next day I picked up some (unflavored) Pedialyte and a baby syringe (no needle) to force feed him the Pedialyte. He was clearly dehydrated so that was my first priority.

A few years back I had to put a cat down (RIP Thor) who lost too much weight too fast, and developed "Fatty Liver Disease" so after getting Vinny hydrated I got to work trying to get him to eat anything. I tried tuna, tuna water, Lactaid (lactose free milk), wet cat food, and what worked best was wet cat food smashed up with a mortar and pestle, with some of the Lactaid mixed in. He would only lick the sauce off the food, so I used the milk to fortify the little bit of sauce he was "eating".

The Vet Visit

In between feedings and waterings I called the vet. For whatever reason they didn't have any of my cats (or me) on file. I've had three cats go through that vet for all sorts of reasons, but they didn't find me. Because of this, she couldn't squeeze me in. I made an appointment for Monday (today), crossed my fingers and kept a close eye on the little guy.

This morning, I awoke to a half a foot of snow on the ground, so I fed and watered the cats and set to work clearing the snow so I could get Vinny to his appointment on time. With plenty of time to spare I got the driveway cleared, Vinny loaded into his carrier (always a treat) and into the car.

The vet ran through the usual checks which were fine to a friendly cat like Vinny except for the temperature reading. Since cats aren't known to hold still while you take their temperature orally, they have to do it the (ahem) other way. I got to hold him while she did this, and if you've ever walked in on a cat taking a dump you know the face they get; this was the same. He was clearly unhappy with the arrangement.

His temperature was fine.

Next she started in on the teeth and gums. One peek and she saw he had some bad teeth, gingivitis and some sort of spot I equate with that thing you get on your cheek that you keep biting, making it worse. There was blood present and when she went to swab it, he hissed at her. I've never in my life seen him hiss for any reason at all, and the Dr. went to get backup. Since they had no records she couldn't be sure his rabies shots were up to date, and I don't blame her for being cautious.

I had to leave him for an hour or so while they did the full up blood work on him, gave him fluids/vitamins/antacids under his skin and gave him a pre-anesthesia checkout. He has to go back next week to have some dental work done, which she thought might be a tooth extraction or two. The poor guy has to take antibiotics on the daily between now and then (plus for a bit after) which she says taste AWFUL, so that should be a treat for me.

End Result - For Now

So it seems that the problem this whole time has been a couple of bad teeth. His weight is okay, his blood work is normal all around except for one thing which she thought is due to his slight dehydration. His liver is fine (no fatty liver disease!), he isn't diabetic (or pre diabetic) and his white blood cells are good. After the dental work he should be back to normal!

So all of this for the low, low price of about one week's pay. But, like my mother tells me I should be thankful to have that week's pay to shell out. Word up mom. Plus I got to escort him around town on my new tires that cost me another week's pay. I'm thankful to have the week's pay to shell out for those too.


Happy New Year everyone. Be safe and stay tuned, I think '08 is gwanta be the bomb! I have a feeling about it, so you can pretty much take that to the bank!

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas 2007 (Part II)

As I mentioned in my last post, I had my little notebook with me to jot down some notes and observations while I drove. It's easy to say "Oh, I'm gonna blog about that", but when you finally sit down you can never remember the subtle details that made the moment for you. Yup, the mini notebook is pretty handy to have in the car.

So Lonely

There's something about sitting in a car for six hours, alone with one's own thoughts to reinforce the fact that one is sitting in one's car for six hours, alone with one's thoughts. Driving during the day helps because you can make eye contact with other drivers, look into and judge their vehicles and belongings and somewhat connect with them, albeit briefly. When you don't leave until the sun has almost set, you're just another stranger on the highway.

Now, combine that loneliness with the idea of millions of good Americans wearing the latter of the Easter and Christmas Best, attending candlelight services at their church of choice, while I'm sitting alone in the Chittenango rest area dining on the remains of that day's deep dish veggie pizza. I overheard one employee explaining to someone that they'd be closing early because nobody's out on the road on Christmas Eve. "Ahem, I'm sitting right here!"

I took that piece of information as a warning that there would be no more rest areas for the rest of my drive. They were out of coffee and the sugar buzz from the dozen or so Christmas cookies I ate for brunch was quickly wearing off. I tried to buy a few Diet Cokes from a vending machine, but it wouldn't take my money. Ruh-roh!

The Wind was A-Howlin'

Despite the utter lack of snow along my drive, the wind more than made up for it. Several times I found myself behind a semi with a double trailer dog-tracking down the road. Once, the rear wheels of the rear trailer were on the other side of the rumble strip and the whole thing was in this double jack-knife position. I thought for sure the thing was going to wreck. I had my lens cap off just in case.

When the driver straightened it out, I dropped the hammer and whipped by him to avoid being tied up in any future wrecks. Oh Lesbaru, thou art so fleet of feet.

The Stow Away

Remember that stuffed squirrel that showed up on my desk? Well, apparently he wanted to shuffle off to Buffalo, so he stowed away in one of my bags. His name is Montgomery, quite fitting of a squirrel of his worldly nature.

Here is a picture of him looting my Christmas stocking.

And, as if that wasn't naughty enough, here he is climbing the Christmas Tree. Thank God he didn't knock the Mom's Favorite ornament off!

My Sick Kitty

When I left, my youngest cat was a little under the weather. He had thrown up several times but he's no stranger to throwing up so it was not a huge deal. When I got home from Buffalo things were a little different.

Vinny had continued throwing up for probably several days until all that was left in his poor tummy was bright green bile, which he deposited on the kitchen floor and the fold-out couch cushions. He wouldn't eat or drink and I started to panic.

I'm going to leave this as a bit of a cliff-hanger for now. I will tell you that he seems to be back to his normal self after several days of constant care from The Cat Master (me). He's been eating solid food a little at a time, and drinking Pedialyte to help get his electrolytes back up after all that vomiting.

It was a close call for sure; many cats won't start eating again once they've stopped for a few days. I think that was the main contributor to Thorey's death a few years back, so you can see why I took it so seriously.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas 2007 (Part I)

In case there was any confusion on my sister's part, I am clearly The Favorite. Now, my sister will make the claim that her ornament bearing the words "Oldest Child (Mom's Favorite)" proves her place in my mother's heart is at the top, but I can offer conclusive proof to the opposite.

The Proof

Well, the ornament my sister has bears the words "Oldest Child" and then makes the claim that she's the favorite. Well, the Oldest Child was at one point the Only Child, so she would have been the favorite by default. Along comes the second cuter, more zestful and clearly more charming child into the brood. Since there were no more children to follow, it stands that the loving parents had finally hit the jackpot and did not need to try again to get that child they always wanted. The first was a dud, but the second was the bees knees (Burt's Bees Knees).

At this point it would have been in bad taste to take back the ornament informing the eldest of her "status", so they superseded it with an ornament for the youngest, as shown above.

I'd also like to offer into evidence the fact that my Ornamente de Favoritude (as the French call it), has been placed on the tree covering an ornament bearing my sister's picture. Oh, how embarrassing for her.

The defense rests.

Better You than Me

I was preparing for my Monday morning, Christmas Eve run when my mother called to inform me that they were experiencing some bad weather. Now, if anyone else told me that it was snowing in Buffalo I would have ignored him but coming from a long-time Buffalo resident I gave her the appropriate attention.

After my run, I checked with the weather sites, the NYS Thruway Authority and so on, and determined that if I left now they'd have the roads cleared. I started getting my stuff together, set the kittens up with enough food and water for two weeks (which is undoubtedly eaten already) and hit the road.

Due to traffic, I couldn't back out of my driveway in the direction I wanted to go, so I went the other way. No sooner had my tires hit the road did I notice there were fire trucks a-plenty at the end of the street. There's a fire station there, so it's pretty common to see them coming from or going to an emergency.

As I rolled up to the corner, it became very apparent that the corner was not only the home of the fire station, but the destination of their rescue effort. There was a car rolled onto its side on a snowbank. Keep in mind that it wasn't snowy or icy where I live, so this was just the result of jackassery. What's a good citizen to do when he comes across a potentially dangerous accident? Yup, I pulled out the camera and fired off pictures as fast as I could.

Unfortunately I didn't upload the picture all that large, but you can see the car well enough. This next picture just seemed kind of neat. The blurred background gives it a feeling of urgency that I'm sure no one was feeling at that moment. In fact, everything seemed under control and they were probably just waiting for the flatbed to come and take the car away.

But What About the Drive?

As usual, I had my notebook with me to jot down my thoughts and observations of the drive. I won't get into those until my next installment, but I will leave you with this...

There was no snow or ice the entire way! Despite the Doomsday predictions my mother made over the phone, the first snow my tires touched was one block from their house, and it was probably an inch deep. There was grass visible all along the Thruway and the tarmac was at worst damp. It was in fact smooth sailing.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas Eve Eve

Merry Christmas Eve Eve! I was awoken this morning by some off-key Carolers throwing snowballs at my bedroom windows. It took me a few minutes to figure out what the hell was going on and when I looked out the window I saw it was some of my running buddies taunting me for bagging that morning's run. I had my reasons.

So... Wiped... Out

Before I start my complaint about being so tired I'm going to acknowledge that there are probably people out there who work harder than I do and have more responsibilities than I have, but that doesn't mean I can't be tired too.

Last you probably heard form me I was working OT trying to get our project caught up and at the same time stack that paper. I've been going full steam ahead towards those ends taking only Sundays to get my beauty sleep. That might help explain why I bagged this morning's run. Yesterday as I sat in the dark office by myself I think I was officially burned out. I couldn't get much done, and what I did do wasn't all that good. I did however, manage to clean the coffee makers.

Sprinkle in a 3 or 4 dozen miles of running a week and it's a recipe for burnout if I've even seen one. All work and play makes Old Coot a tired boy, plus a poorly fed boy at that. I've been eating like crap, which I'm sure only exacerbates the problem.

December is National My Car Maintenance Month

As I'm sure happens with everyone, I wait until way past the last minute to tend to car maintenance. For example, I need new tires. I've known about the tire situation for some time so it's not a surprise. I also know which tires I want and where I want to get them. I even have money earmarked for the job, so you'd think it would be a no-brainer. Wrong-o.

Late this week I finally got up the gumption to call the place and make an appointment. As luck would have it I have to wait a week to have them put on, which pushes my annual inspection closer to the wire.

Did I forget to mention that my inspection is up this month? And if you guessed that my current tires won't pass inspection, you guessed correctly. So there's an obvious order of operations here: tires, then inspection. Having a tire appointment of 12/28 makes it tough to get the inspection done before the 12/31 deadline.

Every 3,000 miles or 3 months, whichever comes first... Well, I finally got my oil changed yesterday; a job I absolutely hate to pay for because it's so easy to do myself. It was only 3,600 miles since my last change so there was no concern there. But it had been 6 months since my last change, and we all know oil breaks down whether you're driving or not.

The good news was that there's a new place not too far from my house that got me in and out in about 10 minutes. They even threw in a "free" car wash, which I'm sure is rolled into the exorbitant cost of the oil change. I seized the opportunity to have my car washed, a task that sometimes only happens every 6,000 miles or 12 months, whichever comes first.

Shuffling Off to Buffalo

Like the nicknames every kid you meet thinks they invented, every person who asks if I'm "Shuffling Off to Buffalo" gets a kick out of being so creative. But the answer is, yes I am going to Buffalo for Christmas.

Since my family celebrates Christmas in a different manner than the American Media Conglomerate would like you to celebrate it (by spending 2 months' salary on diamonds and other month's salary on other crap) gift giving and receiving are not the highlight of the trip. In fact, we'll probably have a nice low-key day filled with coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper and perhaps some Scrabble. It'll be perfect. I even have a new Yankee Candle for my mom (does that count as a gift?), to give the house that familiar Christmas smell in the absence of a freshly butchered tree.

The second highlight of the Holiday week is the Annual Bartley Party, which is now a fundraiser for PUSH. What started out as an annual meeting of high school alumni at the Bartley homestead has turned into quite the celebration. I love going because it's filled with about 15 years' worth of alumni from my HS, and other like-minded folks. It's the one place we get to meet up and see what everyone has or has not been doing over the last year. Oh, it'll be sweet.

Well, my laundry is dry. Time to fold, set another load in motion, and hit the mean streets of P-field to run a few miles. It's 45 degrees today, and you know what that means. SHORTS WEATHER!

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

With Snowshoes A-Blazing

I'm not sure if I've said it before, but this recent snowfall has given us an appreciable amount of snow. I'd say we have about a foot in all, even more in drifts. What's a runner to do when the snow falls?

Thursday Night Run

On Thursday, we got a good amount of snow. They were closing schools left and right, and panic was striking the hearts of people everywhere. At work, parents were worried about their children, manly men were worried about their snowmobiles and everyone was worried about the quantity of beer in the fridge. Hell, I have plenty in my fridge and I don't even drink it.

My main concern was not for the safety of children, readiness of snowmobiles or quantity of beer in the fridge, it was for the attendance of the Thursday Night Run. I sent a reminder out to everyone that nobody in his/her right mind would be out running, so we should wear plenty of reflective gear so drivers would see us. I'm no pansy, I'll run in damn near any weather, especially snowstorms.

Our group consisted of five members, dressed in clothing ranging from fleece-lined snow pants and down jacket to no-show socks, tights and a wind-breaker. I was closer to the latter, but I had my shoes/ankles covered with gaiters. There was a change of venue when the planned restaurant was closed and we moved to the Manhattan Pizza & Brazilian Grill near my house, confirmed that they would be open when we got back, and headed off.

There was no game plan or route picked out, we just ran for a while and meandered through the streets. For those of you who think 8" of snow is the perfect excuse to sit inside I'll tell you that you're really missing something. When you're running down the middle of a snowy road, the flakes are casually drifting to the Earth with only Christmas decorations (and headlamps and streetlights) to guide your way it's truly a Winter Wonderland. You feel like you can go anywhere because there are no roads, lawns or sidewalks, just snow. All in all we ran for about 6.5 miles, then sat down to the best pizza in town. Mmm, mmm, mmmm.

Friday Night Trail Run

For those of us who had to work on Friday, there would be no getting out before dark. Instead, three brave souls headed into the woods donning snowshoes and head lamps. I have no idea where the trails are, but for the most part we just followed the snowmobile tracks.

After about an hour or so we saw headlamps off in the distance. We were all on the same wavelength when each one of us independently reached up and turned ours off, allowing us to run right up and scare whoever it was. Actually, one woman turned to me in a panic and screamed in a whisper "I can't turn the fucking thing off! Can you find the button?"

Cloaked in darkness we snuck right up on those poor bastards and gave them quite a jump. After a brief "How-do-you-do?" we were on our way. I found that I could manage much better without my light, and navigated from there on out "on instruments" as I called it. The nice thing about running in snowshoes is that the snow is so deep you don't have to watch for rocks or roots or anything, you just run.

All in all we covered about 6.25 miles that night, at a blistering pace of 3 miles per hour. I'll let you do the math. Snowshoe running is tricky because it's easy to overheat, but as soon as you stop the cold sneaks in and chills you right up. You really have to pay attention to not working up a sweat. It's a fine line between being too hot and too cold, and I think I walked it just about right for my first time out.

Tomorrow my new snowshoes should be here. They're designed for running so I should be able to hit the trails with a more natural gait. There's already a plan in the making to get out after work!

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Winter Has Arrived

Hoo Dee Hooooo! Hey Cooterinos, what's the good word? The good word here is paid overtime, although with the Good comes the Bad. Bad? Yeah, you still have to work the extra hours to get paid for them.

A Whirlwind Wrapped in a Firestorm

Lately I've been working myself to the bone, and it's been both invigorating and annoying. The invigoration comes from having a job to do that keeps me busy all day. No more looking at the clock and wondering if someone unplugged it. Nope, by the time I glance at the time it's half an hour into my lunch.

The annoyance factor comes from not being wicked busy by choice. I also get the impression that no matter how much I get done and how quickly I get it done it's not enough and I should be working harder. That manifested itself in me working two days' worth of overtime this weekend.

This was supposed to be our Friday off, but I was in the office (along with a few other guys on the project) both Friday and Saturday. The nice thing about working when you're not obligated to be there is that you can just put your nose to the grindstone and pump out gads of work. There are no people coming by to chat, no people rife with questions, no people hanging around your desk while they wait for the guy next to you to become available. Nope, the only people who are in the office are people who want to get the work done and get the hell out, with no bullshit.

So now that I've worked 16 extra hours this week I am spending my one weekend day planning how to remove that extra cash from my checking account. I've put some of it into a new CompactFlash card for my new camera, and some into a reader for said card so I won't have to dick around connecting to the camera itself. I'm sure I'll find a use for the rest.

A Hailstorm of Snow

The weather folks and rumor mill have been predicting doomsday quantities of snow for this weekend, which I have yet to see. Yeah, we got some snow and yeah, it was a bitch to shovel (even with my brand new shovel), but it was no big deal. My favorite part of snowstorms is the reaction people have to them.

Inevitably, you see some poor woman trying to plow her Honda Civic through the foot and a half of heavy, slushy snow at the bottom of her driveway. She'll sit there for five minutes flooring the gas and wondering why she isn't going anywhere. From an observer's vantage point it's clear: your front wheels are suspended 8" above the pavement by the mountain of snow you just drove into.

Then there's the guy who drives extra fast because his 4WD vehicle will allow him to accelerate with impressive ease, not thinking that slowing 3 tons of truck may not happen with that same ease.

Then there's me, driving along with not a flake of snow on my car (because I'm anal about clearing the snow off, and I park in a garage) at a speed the Department of Transportation could write about in a Driver's Ed textbook. Yeah, I have AWD but I prefer not to slide sideways into a telephone pole. Plus, I'm too busy watching people clear their driveways with what I consider to be horrible inefficiency.

Overkill vs. Underkill

Each time I head outdoors to clear my driveway, I am amused by the other people doing the same. I head out, shovel in hand, and start digging away at the snow, tossing it 10 feet atop a retaining wall, and moving along in silent introspection.

The lady across the street has one of those flimsy $7.38 shovels that you buy to build jumps at the local sledding hill. The shovel lasts long enough for you to build one jump, then it shatters into a million pieces because it's not meant for use in the cold. Fortunately, she also has an electric snowblower that's fine and dandy as long as you don't overload it with multiple snowflakes. Failing to grasp the mechanics of the thing, she repeatedly slams it into the snow in front of her causing it to stall. This results in a pleasant whirring sound that I am beginning to equate with winter.

The third level of overkilling shows up as the guys across and down the street who have those big honkin' gas-powered snowblowers complete with enclosure. These snowblowers could clear a football field in minutes if the guys could keep them running that long. I'm not sure what they do, but these guys manage to stall the freaking things every minute or so. They then spend the next five to ten minutes trying to get them restarted and warmed back up. And never mind that they only have to clear 40 feet of sidewalk and a two-car driveway. What's even better is that they live in adjacent houses. If they just worked out a system they could alternate and add years to their lives.

Today was a perfect example of how over- and under-kill the machines are. As I ate my pancakes and sipped my coffee I heard the familiar whirring of the neighbor's snowblower. I peeked outside and saw her using it much like she would a very heavy shovel, plowing it into the snow. I then saw the two guys down and across the street setting up base camp in preparation for their morning of snowblowing. I continued to sip my coffee.

Around 11:00 or so I threw on some long johns (which would prove to be a mistake), jeans and a sweatshirt and headed out to shovel the snow. I could see that my neighbors were still working, and still struggling. By about 11:30 - 11:45 I had the driveway cleared, and the lady across the street had traded the electric-powered shovel for the back-powered one. The two guys across and down the street were dueling, with their chutes aimed at each other. They probably figured as long as they kept moving the snowblowers wouldn't stall. I guess they were right, but in my mind if they just picked up a shovel they would have been inside and warm hours ago.

Time For a Project

Now that I've had my new camera for a week or so, I think it's time for a project. I'd like to take a course or at least follow a program so I can get some useful experience but I don't see that happening. In the mean time, my cats are getting a little annoyed with the strobing flash.

Binners - Not Amused

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Kicking Ass and Taking Names

So it's been a few days since I rapped at ya. I was giving That Squirrel Story some time to sink in before I went on with the rest of the craziness that is my life. Well, I assume it's sunk in by now.

C'est La Vie

I have no idea if that heading is proper French or not, but we'll assume for now that it is. Editor's Warning: This is about to get nasty. One of the sad side effects of running a bazillion miles, as some of you in Readerland put it, is that you sometimes find yourself losing toenails. Yes, this is a gross subject but one I think is worth discussing.

Saturday, prior to The Great Squirrel Fiasco of 2007, I was out in The Boulders running a few miles. I was wearing a pair of less-than-ideal shoes because they had some dog shit on them and I wanted to let the granular snow get all up in those treads and clean them out once and for all. As an aside, it didn't work and the soles are poo-stink-stained to the core. I guess they'll be my shit-kickers from now on, pun intended. Anyway, when I got home my index toes were killing me. They had that feel about them that toes get about two weeks before they lose the nail.

Well, as the day wore on the left index toenail really took to hurting. I iced it for a while, elevated it, but by about 8:00 I could no longer stand it so I took off my slipper (which helped) and sock and much to my chagrin the entire toe looked like it was going to explode. The nail itself was floating on a sub-cuticle (if that's a word) blister. I had two choices: leave it alone and hope I didn't step wrong and explode the whole freaking digit, or drain the blister and hope the nail doesn't just fall off right then and there.

(Note: Just a picture I found online, not my foot. Pretty gross though)

I opted for the latter, which involved standing in the bathroom burning a needle with a lighter, heroin junkie style. I hope the neighbor wasn't looking. I then, with the skill of a surgeon, inserted the needle under my nail all the way to the base of the nail. I could actually see the needle through the nail, which I have to say is pretty gross. I repeated this process a few times to drain all of the blister pockets, and when I was done the nail was noticeably less swollen. I popped two Tylenol to help with the swelling in the rest of the toe and slept with my foot on a pillow to at least elevate it a little. The worst part was that I wouldn't be able to run in the morning, as I would be a-hobbling around for most of the day.

Nasty, I know.


While I was wallowing in my toe sorrows, I found my web browser aiming itself in the direction of running snowshoes. I have a pair of snowshoes, but running in them requires your feet to be unnaturally far apart and after a few miles your hips are wicked sore. Plus the two snowshoes side-by-side are wider than a snowmobile track, which is commonly where you're running. At any rate I treated myself to a new pair of snowshoes made specifically for running. I didn't do a whole lot of research, let's hope it works out.

Last night I swung by my buddy Lenford's house to "take a look" at the camera he was looking to unload. If you know me, by the time I'm "taking a look" I'm already sold on it and I hope to go home with it. Needless to say I'm the proud owner of a Canon EOS Rebel XTI DSLR. He upgraded to the 40D, and sold me the kit lens that comes with that since he wouldn't be needing it. He had already sold the kit lens from the XTI, which is reportedly a piece of junk. It seemed like a good deal all around.

After we finished playing cameras, talking cameras and photography in general we hooked up the Wii and played a few video games. I had never even seen one of those things in person before and I have to tell you, it's freaking amazing. We played baseball, tennis, golf, boxing and bowling (just a little sampler of each), and I lost handsomely at every single game. We even did the "Fitness Test", and I have the Nintendo Fitness Level of an 80 year old man. Weak I tell you, weak.

Besides knocking over a table full of framed photos (not the whole table, just the photos) I didn't do too much damage. You really need a lot of room to play those games, and it wouldn't hurt to have some towels around cuz you get hotter than a June bride on a depot stove.

One Last Thing

Just in case you were concerned that my toe was holding me back, I knocked back a cool 9 miles in the 33 degree rain tonight. It was a little icy, but I'm a tough sonofabitch so I can handle it. In reality I was drenched with sweat when I finished, and my face was caked with salty goodness. Shortly thereafter it was caked with chocolate cakey goodness too.


Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Santa Came Early

There I was, enjoying my after-breakfast coffee. The fire was roaring, the coffee was delicious and I was gently drifting in and out of sleep to the smooth jazz of The Philadelphia Experiment. There were some strange noises coming from the fireplace, but they could easily have been the sound of steam leaving a log. I got up to fetch another cup of coffee and in the time it took me to walk to the kitchen all hell broke loose.

Santa Busts In

I booked it out of the kitchen thinking a huge log rolled out onto the rug or a shower of sparks was slowly enpolka-dotting my rug. Nope, a squirrel had apparently been sitting atop the damper in my chimney and the heat got to be too much for him. How he lasted that long I'll never know, but he did. The cats had him cornered behind the couch, and he was slowly shredding my curtains in an attempt to flee. All I could think was "F&(k, how the hell am I gonna catch this damn thing?"

I grabbed a cardboard box, which quickly proved to be useless. I then upgraded to the lid from my cake carrier which at least had a handle. I chased the squirrel all around the downstairs and every time I'd have him cornered he'd book ass into another room. The cats watched in amusement.

Finally I started closing off rooms to contain him, which then forced him upstairs. Thank GOD my bedroom door was shut because as I chased him hither and thither, I found he had a bad foot and was leaving bloody footprints everywhere. Sweet!

So he went upstairs alongside Nano, the eldest and most fearful cat in the house, into the spare bedroom. I closed the door and spent the next 20 minutes or so trying to trick him into a clear plastic tub. Over and over he would elude the bin, leaving more footprints around the room.

Afraid that he might try to hide in one of my tubs filled with running clothes, I closed them up, stacked them in a corner and returned to the chase. He had found his way to the top of a futon frame I had standing on end, and was tending to his game foot. The picture to the right is of his perch.

Eventually I was able to trap him beneath the plastic tub, slide the lid underneath and lock him in. If you've never seen a frightened squirrel with a bloody foot trapped in a clear plastic tub, it's not a pleasant sight. I carried him downstairs and out the door as quickly as I could, opened the lid and set him free. I hope he makes it, poor little guy.

Now, you may recall there was mention of blood. I filled the bloody squirrel tub with Murphy's Oil Soap and water, and set to work cleaning up the trails. The bedroom upstairs seemed to be the worst, and as I moved things around to clean up, I just kept finding more and more.

Finally as I was cleaning the last of it behind the futon frame I noticed a little blob. "Is that what I think it is?" Yup, while I was stacking the tubs and preparing to launch my last attack he copped a squat on my furniture. You can even see the tell-tale squirrel ass hair he left behind.

Son of a bitch!

So how's your day going?

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Poo Neck Storm

Ha ha, I hadn't named this post yet and when it autosaves, it just takes the first few words in the post and uses those. Well, I only typed in headings yesterday so I'd remember what I wanted to write about. The first section was to discuss the poo on my shoe, the second was to talk about my injured neck, the third was the storm windows and the last was to bitch about travel mugs. The autosave named it "Poo Neck Storm" (it didn't get all the way to the travel mug section I guess) and I felt that was a good title.


Last time we talked, I told y'all about the dog poo on my sneaker. Well, not wanting a repeat performance involving poop shoes, I decided to give them a thorough scrub-down in the shower. I tossed them in there, gave them a rinsing to get the poo good and moist, and took a scrub brush to them.

Shoe #1 gave up the poo with no problems. Shoe #2 gave up half the poo with no problems, but the poo in the forefoot section put up a fight. I can only imagine that I stepped in the poo of two separate dogs because after several attempts I still can't get the forefoot poo off. This leads me to the following conclusion.

The dog who generated the forefoot poo has some sort of super-canine bowels. He surely feeds on police officers (or at least their bullet-proof vests) and high-end canoes, which would explain the Kevlar reinforced poo. Seriously, I canNOT scrape it out of the tread. These shoes have plenty of tread left so I'm not throwing them out, but it's reaching the absurdity level pretty quickly.


Dammit, my neck is still bothering me. I reinjured it either shoveling, which is likely or doing my power abs workout, which I refuse to admit to. It's definitely something unavoidable like shoveling.

Storm Windows

My storm windows are scraped, glazed, primed and ready for installation. I had to let them "rest" a few days to make sure the primer had a chance to really cure up good. I'm not going to be painting them quite yet, so they're going up as primer white for the time being.

Editor's Note: As of press time the windows were installed. Read about it in the next installment of Ranting's of an Old Coot.

Travel Mug

The other day I brought some tea with me to work. It was cold out and I wanted a warm drink for the 5 minute drive. I make the tea, poured it into my most trusted travel mug and headed out the door.

I set the mug down in the cupholder and proceeded to scrape the car windows. It was snowing a little, which is important to note. When I got to work I got out of the car and noticed some wetness on the front of my jacket. "Oh, that must have been some snow that melted" I thought.

Minutes later I was seated at my desk, casually sipping my tea when the damn lid leaked a big splash of tea onto my pants. You've probably heard me complain before about travel mugs and their fondness for leaking. You've also probably heard that my complaint is not with the drinking part leaking, where it's really just operator error, but with the seal at the lid leaking. I have no tolerance for leaking travel mugs, especially ones with "Leak Proof" in the name, and I almost chucked the damn thing right then and there.

If anyone knows of a travel mug that doesn't leak, I'd like to hear about it.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Poop Deck

Happy Monday, folks. I'm going to try and make this quick, which you've heard before, but this time I mean it. I have to get this puppy whipped out during lunch because I'll never get to it tonight.

Put on Your Shit Kickers and Kick Some Shit

Let me set the scene for you. It was a nice late summer day and I was out mowing the lawn. I'm sure the birds were chirping and I'm sure there was a pleasant breeze in the air. I finished the job, put the lawn mower away and was probably getting dinner ready. That's when I noticed something malodorous in the air. Often the cats don't bury their most disgusting turds and the stench will waft up from the basement, but this was different. That's when I noticed the (ahem) trail I left throughout the house. Eggscelent.

You probably already know that I don't own a dog. I have no aspirations of owning a dog and like other people's dogs as long as they don't interfere with what I'm trying to do. When someone's dog shits on my lawn I get annoyed. Yes, dogs have to shit somewhere and it's a shame they can't use a toilet, but I don't have a dog partly because I don't want to be bothered with walking one. If you don't want to be bothered, then don't have one, or fence your yard. However you want to deal with the dog's business is your business, but it shouldn't be my business and it certainly shouldn't be embedded in my wool rug.

I got my sneakers and house all cleaned up and was over it. Then, maybe a month later I was out raking the lawn and wouldn't you know I stepped in either the same pile twice or two separate piles, and both shoes had dog shit all up in their treads. I left them in the basement and reverted back to my old, worn out sneakers. My plan was to stall it out until we had some snow, then I could shovel a few times in them and they'd be as good as new.

Last night as the snow fell I decided it was time. I went out, scraped the car, and drove to Price Chopper to do some shopping while the melted snow permeated the shit particles. Maybe I'd leave a trail in the store, maybe not but that wasn't my concern. I figured once I got home I could traipse around the yard a bit and it would work the rest of the turdage out. It didn't.

This morning we had a bunch more snow and the car was going to need scraping. I threw on my enshitted sneakers, scraped the car, shoveled the end of the driveway, dug the shit out with a stick, walked around the driveway and shoveled some more. I was no longer leaving brown stains in the snow, so I thought I was good. I got all the way to work, sloshed through the messy parking lot and had been working up a storm when I could no longer ignore the stench. There was still shit on my sneakers!

Fortunately I had an extra two pair of business sneakers at my desk. I opted for the pair with the paint on it over the pair that's a little too small, and placed the offending sneakers in a plastic bag. I'll probably have to shovel the end of the driveway again tonight, which I can only hope will do the trick. If not, I'll take a stiff brush to them, douse them in bleach, then throw them in a fire. That has to work.

Ain't Got My Sea Legs

Thursday night I was sound asleep, that much I know. From there I can only speculate, but here's what I think happened...

I awoke at some predawn hour with both legs still fast asleep. Apparently my groggy mind misread the lack of sensation as cold feet, and I climbed out of bed to find some socks. Well, if you've ever tried to walk with both legs asleep, you'll know it's not easy. Then if you're barely awake yourself it's really a difficult task. I think I staggered over to the dresser trying to balance myself on top of two phantom legs, found and applied a pair of socks, and stumbled back to bed. I say I think I did, because I'm not 100% sure.

You see, until it's time to get up I don't get out of bed for anything. Gunfire outside my bedroom? As long as they don't come in, I'm fine with it. My bladder about to explode at the next slightest flinch? I can hold it for 6 more hours. The house on fire? The fire station is just down the road. I'm certainly not going to get up because my feet are a little chilly. But if it was a dream, it sure was a good one because it felt real to me.

At this point there's no way to determine whether it was real or not, short of some sort of Total Recall machine (which I think actually put memories into your head, not dug them out). I guess we'll never know.

And I'm out.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Three Day Report

What's the good word, yo? Today has been a long, tired day. Yesterday was also long, which made today tired and Friday was just a good productive day.

Friday - Still Working on them Windurs

Yep, just as I thought I'm still working on my storm windows. The temperatures and snowflakes have already fallen and I still don't have my act together. I picked up some primer earlier this week, driving the repair cost of my shitty storm windows up to $80. Christ!

So Friday morning I picked up a brush and slapped a coat of primer on one side of each window. Since I'm working in the cold basement it takes a while to dry, and I couldn't get to the other side. No skin off my teeth.

Instead of watching the paint dry, I threw a few loads in the washing machine. It was a sunny day, around 30 degrees so I put the first load out on the clothesline. It was all running clothes save a pair of khakis so I knew it would dry in the sun. For the second load I bit the bullet and used the dryer. Oh well, I knew I couldn't dry outside forever. Plus, spring will be here before we know it.

Saturday, a New PR

Saturday morning was a cold, nagging bitch of a day. It was the kind of day that makes you want to curl up in front of a fire, drink cocoa and read a book. Well, instead of doing those things I headed out to Northampton, MA for The Hot Chocolate Run. It's a 5k started by the mayor herself, with proceeds going to help victims of domestic abuse/violence. I had already paid for it, so I had to go.

The beauty of the Hot Chocolate Run is that at the end they have tents set up with, you guessed it, hot chocolate for everyone. In fact, the first 2,500 entrants get a mug too. What blew was that it was about 20 degrees, windy as a sumbitch and we got there too late for a proper warm up. With mere moments left before the race started I lined up in the corral alongside the sign for the 20:00 5K runners. That's been my goal all summer, and if I could hang with someone fast just maybe I could break that barrier.

As I stood there, my toes completely numb and hands not far behind, the guy next to me was describing the route to whoever was listening. I'm going to paraphrase here, but I think it's fairly accurate:

After the first turn up here at (insert name of street) it's a gradual uphill. After the first mile is The Big Hill (which I had heard other people discussing). You gotta just hang on for a half mile and you'll be at the top. Nobody's setting a PR (personal record) on this course (he said with a chuckle), it's too hilly. At the top of the hill you'll get to the Gust of Wind. You'll make a hard turn to the right and it's all downhill from there.

Well, The Big Hill was not that big for the finely tuned Western Mass Athletes I rolled out there with. In fact, despite never discussing the hill before we all came to the conclusion "where was that hill?". And The Gust of Wind, apparently a local landmark, was there exactly where the guy described.

The whole way up what I guess was the hill I picked off runner after runner. There was one guy however, who sort of played leapfrog with me. I let him get ahead and hung off his shoulder (not literally) for the rest of the race. When we turned the last corner, about 3/10ths of a mile from the finish I was on pace to break 20:00. I put everything I had into the last kick and crossed the finish line at 19:39, 0:21 faster than my goal!

Not only did I set a PR on this "hilly" course, but everyone else I rode out with did too. We had lofty goals, but we've been working hard at the track every week and it payed off. I almost threw up on the timing chip girl, but it would still have been worth it to set that new record.

The hot chocolate afterwards was awesome, and they had mini marshmallows by the tubful, that you got to add to your own hot chocolate with a soup ladle. Oh, I fucked UP some hot chocolate and marshmallows.

The drawback to attending a race in a college town is that all the guys are in my age group (18-29), so there's no chance of winning any prizes. On the flip side, all the girls are in my age group too. It was lycra heaven, let me tell you!

Sunday, an Easy Run

Sunday morning we had a trail run set up for 9:00 AM. Like Saturday it was cold as a bitch again, but at least it wasn't as windy. I dragged my ass out of bed, suited up and headed down the cold road towards the meeting spot.

Blah blah blah, we got navigationally sidetracked a few times as we usually do, and it ended up being a really long run. So long in fact that my body was really starting to cool off. My hands were completely numb and I was getting that "I need to get out of this cold before my body shuts down" feeling.

When I got to my house, I walked into the kitchen to get my shoes off. I pulled my gloves off with my teeth and started untying my shoes. I could see from the getgo that my thumbs didn't work. Not that they didn't work well, they didn't work at all. I could barely move them. I rubbed my hands together to warm them up and noticed that I was numb up a few inches past my wrists. I finally got the shoes off without using my thumbs, yanked my shirts off and put on warm and dry shirts. I was numb from the elbow down. Shit! I guess the thin windbreaker and one long sleeved shirt weren't enough for my arms. I had a short sleeved shirt on underneath, but that didn't help the forearms.

It was probably 15-20 minutes before my thumbs were back in effect, and another half hour before I was completely warmed back up. I spent the next few hours in wool socks, flannel pants, a turtleneck and fleece sweatshirt, wrapped in a thick blanket on the couch before I was really 100% again. Lesson learned? Yup, wear two long sleeved shirts and maybe some warmer gloves. There's always a little learning curve at the beginning of the winter, but I typically err on the side of being too warm instead of too cold. I guess there's a first time for everything.

That's that. I've got dinner in the oven and I'm gonna settle in for the evening. I'll holler at y'all later.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bunk Neck

It's that time of the week again. What time? The middle. For those of us on a 9/80 schedule it's almost like Thursday since we have Friday off, but that doesn't make it any better.

Jacked My Neck

Last night I was making my way around the local high school track when I noticed a slight twinge in my neck. I made a mental note of it and moved on. A few laps later I noticed the twinge was becoming less and less slight, and ultimately it started to tighten up and form a knot. I was having a great run and didn't want to stop, but eventually the pain won out and I had to walk.

Today I'm piling on the Aleve, massaging the knots and drinking plenty of water. I can only hope it goes away quickly because, well, it sucks.

After my neck tightened up I tried to think of what I could have done to aggravate it. I settled on all the driving I had done over the weekend. The Lesbaru has a horrible seat, and I frequently have a sore back after long trips. That must have been it.

Well, maybe it was when I watched a movie with my neck craned around so I could lounge sideways on the couch. Oh, or maybe it was the foreign pillows I used at my parents' house. Hmm, maybe it was when I fell asleep in my own bed with the pillows stacked up too high. Geez, maybe it was when I really overdid the abs workout Monday night.

Yeah, it has to be one of those. I'm leaning towards the driving because it's not something I can change. I'd hate to think it was something I did to my self.

No Dibs were harmed in the entweakening of my neck.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Return Trip

As promised, I'm back one more 'gain to holler at y'all 'bout my return trip this weekend. So here it goes...

I was Eggsnecstatic

It took us a few days to pull it off, but we finally got out to breakfast on Sunday morning. I got the call moments after putting some Grands cinnamon rolls into the oven; I'd have to eat those quickly to be ready for breakfast.

If you haven't had Grands for breakfast, you really should. No, they're not good for you and yes, you will immediately get fat after eating them, but they're wicked good. My family has them on holidays and they're such a treat. Knowing that soon after the Turkey Trot I will be diving into a hot, tender cinnamon roll makes it just a little bit easier to get psyched up for 10 miles (because I'm a junkie and have to run it both directions) in the 34-degree rain.

Anyway, after my second round of Grands in a weekend, I got scooped up by Dom to go get some breakfast. We rolled just outside of the 'lo to The Original Pancake House where half of Williamsville had convened for Sunday brunch. Oops. Fortunately we had some rough riders with us who were able to mean mug and ice grill us to the front of the line in next to no time. Yeah, we got Wesside on them suburban bitches.

The payoff came when the waitress rolled up with our breakfasts. The ultimate goal of the weekend (and most weekends that involve Dom and Buffalo Dan) was to get eggsnextowe (eggs next to we). The first person form is eggsnextome (eggs next to me), second person is eggsnextothee and the plural as you've seen, is eggsnextowe. And you know there ain't no tellin' what the side effects could be. Next time I'm gon' have two om-e-lettes or three.

Speaking of the waitress, man was she dull. First of all, we had to pour our own water until she caught us, then she insisted on doing it for us lest she should be fired. Wanted your coffee refilled? You better be prepared to wait. Ordered the smoked ham with glazed eggs breakfast? She was blown away when you said you wanted your eggs "glazed", as if that idea never crossed her mind.

In the end, I was in eggsnecstacy. The eggs, ham and pancakes were mingling nicely with the cinnamon roll and I would soon be ready for my return trip.

Hittin' the Highway

Shortly after 1:00, with the Bills sufficiently losing already, I packed up the Lesbaru Lesbacy with my bounty of goods and hit the road. I'll have to get into the bounty another time as it's more than I can cover here.

By 1:45 or so I was cruising carefree, eastward bound on the NY Thruway. I found the Bills game on 97 Rock and listened until I was out of range. The traffic was a little heavy, but it was a holiday weekend and I was sure it would thin out once I got away from the city.

At 3:45 (I know this because I wrote it down) traffic slowed from a comfortable 72 MPH to a less-than-comfortable 0 MPH. We then spent the better part of an hour in a clutch burning stop-and-go quagmire. At 3:50 we passed a dead deer and traffic sped up to 3rd gear range (20-ish MPH). "Wow, all that for just a deer" I thought to myself.

Nope, false alarm.

We continued the inchworm pace until 4:03 when we passed a young mother in a minivan pulled off to the side of the road. She must have had half a dozen small children in the car with her and from my perspective it looked like she was feverishly changing a diaper. Shit-tay. "Well, this must have been the problem. Here we go."

Wrong again.

At 4:12 we sped up to cruise control speed, only to slow to 26.2 MPH three minutes later. It was probably not exactly 26.2 MPH, but an old Nissan in the lane next to me had a 26.2 sticker on his bumper signifying his Marathon achievement. We were going roughly that speed, so I noted it in my notebook.

At 4:18 we passed a black BMZ 328i with obvious internal distress. The hood was opened, the owner was on his mobile telephone and traffic sped up a little. Nope, that's not the cause. By 4:23 we were back to a halt. It was here that I noted the bumper sticker on another neighboring car that read "Quagmire Accomplished" and had a picture of W on it. I thought it was funny that we were in a bit of a stalemate ourselves.

Ten minutes later we were moving again at a steady 3rd gear speed. I was hesitant to shift into 4th lest I should jinx us, but we seemed to be at least moving steadily.

At 4:51 we passed a 3-car pileup on the westbound side of the Thruway. Our side was in no way impeded by the wreck or ensuing police and emergency response frenzy. In fact, by the time we got there the cars had been pulled off the road and everyone seemed to be casually chatting on his/her mobile telephone. So the cause of my hour plus holdup was people's need to rubberneck. Damn I hate that.

I rolled into the Pitt around 7:45PM, over an hour later than anticipated. The Patriots game was on at 8:00 so I swung by the old Shamrock for a few tonics and wings and watched the Pat's ease one by Philly. Around midnight I was unloading the car, feeding the cats, brushing my teeth and calling it a night.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tales from the Trail

Well, I got home last night from the long weekend in Buffalo. As usual, I stayed too long and was driving across NY State during peak across-NY-State-driving hours. Added to this was the accident I would crawl by later in the day. But for now, I want to add a few little stories from my trip out to the 'lo that I forgot to mention.

Lot Two-Stepping

I pulled into a parking spot at a rest stop, and was walking across the lot to the building and noticed a humorous phenomenon. Whenever a car's backup lights would come on, nearby pedestrians would instinctively perform a little parking lot hustle or shuffle, depending on the person. In a busy lot you could see the same person or group of people (in unison) performing this little shuffle several times en route to the building, taking what appeared to be short intermissions to walk. I'm sure the people didn't know this was happening, it's all built into our genetic code. The next time while you're performing a shuffle of your own, keep your eyes on your fellow pedestrians.

Thank You, Come Again

Another strange phenomenon that I noticed while entering and leaving the rest stop was the politeness with which everyone treated one another. I always hold doors for people, and thank those who do the same for me. In our "Me first" society that's not always the case.

However, this trip I noticed that everyone was holding doors for everyone else. It was almost like that movie Pay It Forward where you do something nice for someone and in return they're supposed to do something nice for others. There was also a continual exchange of Pleases and Thank Yous.

At the risk of sounding sexist, I generally find that women do not thank us men often enough. Yes, we're bound by our extra chromosome to hold doors for the fairer sex, but the least our chromosomally challenged counterparts can do is acknowledge the act. This weekend I found that everyone was holding doors, everyone was saying 'thank you' and everyone was saying 'you're welcome'. My mind was blown.

To you ladies out there who appreciate having the door held for you and take it one step further and thank the holder, I say "You're welcome, any time."

Just Here to Freshen Your Air

You know those damn automatic air fresheners in public restrooms? The ones that release a doo-doo enflowering scent after every plop? Well, those things eventually run out and need to be replaced.

During a #1 visit to the men's room, I had assumed my position at the pisser and was dutifully facing the tiles direction in front of me. I heard a muttering voice and the telltale "PSST PSST PSST" of an air freshener. I couldn't stand it, so I slowly turned my head - taking care to keep my eyes above waist level - and saw the restroom attendant walking the length of the aisle of stalls spraying eau d' deuce-fleur over his head.

Having completed my task, I walked over to the sinks and was met with a tear-jerking, convulsion-inducing fog of poop covering air freshener. I noticed another gentleman rubbing his eyes and coughing, victimized by the same fog. I can still taste that stench.

The only thing I could think of was that the muttering restroom attendant was instructed to "Replace the men's room air fresheners", so he did just that. He manually performed the task of the air fresheners. I can only imagine what his hands must smell like.

Oh, here's the excerpt from my notebook detailing the incident:

The guy who replaced the automatic air fresheners... Not that he put in new ones, but performed their roles w/a little too much enthusiasm, blinding restroom patrons and offending our olfactory and (taste) senses.

I intended to replace (taste) with the appropriate word for the sense of taste: gustatory.

Okay, I'm going to stop here for now. I have another story or two from my return trip, but I'll hit you up with that later. I don't want this getting too out of control or those of you in Readerland with short attention spans might change the channel.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Belated Thanksgiving

This will be a short one since I just wrote the post I was supposed to write back on Wednesday. I planned to write about things for which I am thankful, but instead I'm just going to talk about the Turkey Trot.

Another Record Year

Each year the Buffalo YMCA Turkey Trot sets another record or two. As the longest continually run road race in America (longer than the Boston Marathon), each year it beats the record it set the previous year. Also, it's growing popularity continually sets a growing record of entrants every year. The first year I ran it (2004), there were roughly 5,500 entrants. The following year was about the same. Then last year we came roaring in with over 8,200. This year, the total reached 8,720 registered runners and walkers. From the results, not all of those who started finished and from the weather I'm guessing not all who entered started.

Race Report

It was 34 and rainy when I left my parents' house donning my new running jacket, a pair of grey shorts and my trademark red Nike baseball hat. I left my car at Delaware Park, ran the 1.25 miles to the starting line as a warm-up and found my place at the front of the mob. From my experience, nobody lines up by ability except the guys at the front. Since I've been training pretty hard for this race, I felt that was where I belonged so I pushed and shoved my way up to the front of the pack. Not the front-front, but only a few people deep. I was lined up between the 5:00 and 6:00 milers (not where I truly belonged). I would then spend the next two miles passing people who were even less qualified to start that far up.

By the time the race started the rain had all but let up. We had a strong tailwind and the streets were flooded in places. Unlike years past, the crowds that gathered on the sidelines were thinner and less enthusiastic. I still cheered for them and thanked the volunteers for coming out and helping. My fellow front runners were apparently too businessey to follow suit, and they looked at me funny when I screamed in the underpasses. What the hell is wrong with those people? You always scream in underpasses!

As I passed the spot where my parents were going to be I noticed that they were not there. My superior training had apparently propelled me there too quickly and they had not been able to make the 5 minute walk to the corner yet. That corner was close to the 3 mile mark, which is coincidentally close to the 3.1 mile mark, AKA the first 5k. My plan was to break 20 minutes in the first 5k, then do whatever I could for the final 3k. My stretch goal was 32:30 for the entire race, a 6:30/mile pace.

Upon downloading the results from my watch, I found that I was 26 seconds shy of my 5k goal and 28 seconds shy of my overall goal. Not too shabby methinks, since they were both tough goals. Also, I never saw the 2 mile flag, so I didn't know if I was on track until I hit the 3 mile mark, when was too late to break 20:00. Oh well, there will be other races. I can make all the excuses I want, but ultimately I can only blame myself for not being ready.

But How'd You Do Overall?

Since you asked, I'll give you my overall results for the race. Recall that there were 8,720 registered entrants. Some people who registered probably didn't show, and some who showed probably didn't register. The newspaper claimed the field was nearly 9,000 people deep.

Anyway, I finished in 270th place in 32:58. That means that while 269 people finished ahead of me, I finished ahead of roughly 8,450 people! I also placed 14th out of 311 guys in my age group, putting me in the 95.5th percentile! What whaaaat!

The Cooldown

After finishing the race (where I smoked some punk who thought he could pass me with half a mile to go) I hit up the Convention Center for a bottle of water and a banana, searched in vain for Dom who promised to be there to trip me at the finish line, and headed back along the race course to my car.

By the time the race finished, the temperature had dropped the few degrees necessary to turn the rain into snow and the wind had turned from bitter into biting. If you recall, there was a strong tailwind during the race which means there was a headwind going back. Sufficiently sweaty from the Convention Center, I suffered for a mile or so until I warmed back up. Along the way I took the opportunity to stop and cheer for the people still running. I got a few cheers back and a few of my favorite "Let's Go Buffalo!" cheers, the cheer commonly heard at local sporting events.

Point of Reference

This is mostly for me when I'm re-reading these posts while compiling notes for my memoirs. My first running of the Turkey Trot back in 2004 took 51:12 at a pace of 10:18/mile. The gun time was over 56 minutes, but there was some walking to be done before we got to the starting line. This year I was almost back to my car in that same amount of time. I think if I don't break 6:00 miles next year I'll be disappointed. I've been training hard and I'm still improving in leaps and bounds, so I think that's a fair goal.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Westward Bound

Happy Tri-Centennial. This is our 300th Issue of The Rantings of an Old Coot.

Wednesday morning I awoke to my alarm, lounged in bed in the knowledge that all I had to do today was pack up for the weekend, get the cats ready, run a quick errand or two and go into autopilot for a few hours. At the end of all that I'd be in Buffalo casually relaxing for a few days, eating Thanksgiving dinner and running a Turkey Trot.

The Check Engine Light

Let me set the stage for you. It's November 21st, 11:00 AM and I just stopped to top of the ole gas tank before driving for 6 hours. According to my odometer I've traveled a hair over 4 miles when, wouldn't you know it, the check engine light (CEL) comes on. I'll be damned. From what I understand the CEL is almost always en emission issue, so short of creating a little more pollution (maybe I'll get one less mile per gallon, which over 12 gallons is not a problem) and spending a few extra cents driving out to the 'lo it's not a big deal. BUT, my inspection is up in December (9 days away) and it'll fail if the CEL is on. Excellent! There will be no putting this damn task off.

A few miles down the road it dawns on me that when I topped off the gas tank, the gas cap just didn't feel quite right. I pulled over at my earliest convenience, took the cap off, put it back on real good and hoped for the best. The light would never go off for the entire drive, but those things can take a while. I was not overly worried.

At a rest stop I took a few moments to jot down the details of my trip so I would remember to pass them along to all y'all and I noticed that the last thing I wrote in my little notebook was P0031 - the fault code from the last time my CEL was on.

In-Car Snacks

With little more than an orange Check Engine Light, the occasional tail light and the dirt on my glasses to look at, I passed the time by looking into other people's cars and judging them. DVDs playing? Bad parents. Radar detector? Scofflaw. Navigation system? Directionally challenged. Nevermind that I have a radar detector and navigation system, that's not important. What I found to be the most fun was seeing what people eat while driving.

I'm sure we're all familiar with the standard in-car snacks: coffee, huge slices of pizza, Cinnabon cinnamon rolls, and so on. I myself had pretzels, bananas, apples and a granola bar. Nothing funny about those things. Then there was the woman who came swerving out of a rest stop. I thought for sure she was trying to stir a coffee or eat soup, but she was not. Of all things to be eating A) while driving and B) on a cold November day, she had a big ass ice cream cone.

If you've ever eaten an ice cream cone, you're probably well aware of the mess it can make if you don't stay on top of it. Add the fact that she's probably got the heat blasting, and it was a recipe for disaster. Chuckling in amazement to myself, I then proceeded to drink from my 32 ounce wide-mouth Nalgene bottle which, under the most controlled circumstances, is a freaking mess. How I managed to keep from pouring it down the sides of my face I'll never know.

Race Packet Pickup

Before ending my trip at the family homestead, I stopped by the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) to pick up my race packet for the morning's Turkey Trot. By this time it was pouring rain out, and I was quite drenched by the time I got into the building. I waltzed up to the table for last names G-L, announced myself and received my timing chip and bib number. She asked if I would like a small or extra large t-shirt, to which I replied 'No'. I would have actually preferred a medium, but I was SOL. I took a small, thinking if it didn't fit well I could at least wear it under something. Like the pile of Red Cross t-shirts I've received over the years, an XL would never be worn.

Passing by the racks of discounted running gear for sale by Runner's Roost, I nabbed a jacket I've been eyeing for years. It was 50% off which put it down to a reasonable splurge for yours truly. In the morning, it proved a welcome addition to my running wardrobe since it was the only sleeved windbreaker I had. Excellent!

When I got home I dug through my race bag to collect all of my goodies. Usually these bags are stuffed with granola bars, strange jelly bean style food supplements, and coupons. Apparently mine had already been pawed through, leaving me with only the latter - coupons for shit I don't need. Oh yeah, hair bands for my close-cropped hair. Excellent.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

High Living, Cold Temps

Well, here we are again at the end of the week. I've been saving up some tender anecdote morsels for all of you so I could drop them all on you at once. Also, before I start I'd like to mention that this is my 299th post here at Blogger. I don't have anything special planned for #300, but maybe something good will happen today.

Fog Rolls In

It was midweek and I was drearily driving into work, running through the normal list of reasons why I might be able to play hooky. As usual, it really just came down to "I just don't want to go", which is not a valid reason.

Anyway, as I cruised down East St., surrounded by the dilapidated buildings, empty restaurants and railroad tracks something better caught my eye. I looked above the urban blight to the mountains. The sun had just begun to peek over the top of the mountains, and it looked as if someone was pouring fog down into the valley. The mountainscape was a mixture of grey, green, and the deep orange of early morning sunlight.

I find it interesting how seldom we look up above our day-to-day lives to see the greater picture. The mountains are frequently my refuge from real life, and that morning it felt like they were up there yelling "Hey Old Coot, come for a visit." I haven't found myself out there yet, but maybe after I finish writing.

Busting Up and Busted Up

Yesterday morning HECOW and I took a ride up to J&BC's house to help JC split some firewood. Armed with our new work gloves from Walfart and a pair of coffees from Starbucks (yeah, we're both ghetto and high class in one stop) we headed up into them there hills. The wind was howling, and there were signs of snow; a perfect day to be outside handling downed trees.

The first two trees we were to split were on the far side of a muddy, muddy section of the yard. Within minutes I had found the muddiest part, sinking up past my ankle into the mire. We hauled the remains of those trees out to the driveway and I loaded the wheel barrow while HECOW ran the splitter.

As I picked up a couple of freshly split pieces, another piece ever-so-gingerly glanced off my thumb nail. It was cold out, so it hurt like a sumbitch, but over the course of the day it continued to throb. This morning I still can't work zippers and buttons, and just hitting the space bar is mildly unpleasant. But for some reason there's something manly about being out in the cold and mud, hauling logs, making firewood with a hydraulic splitter and coming home with a blackening thumb nail.

Just to make sure we felt plenty manly, BC (JC's wife) brought us out a thermos of hot cocoa and fed us roasted chicken with potato and asparagus salad for lunch.

Burger (Spice)

Just to keep things out of order, I'm backing up to Thursday night, and the dinery where we ate after the Thursday Night Run - Burger (Spice). For the locals who know about Spice, this is their latest addition and it's fantastic. While it's slightly pricier than other burger joints, I can see myself frequenting their menu. While I forgot to order the eggplant fries, the chef slid one into my order of regular fries anyway. I highly recommend them, they're awesome!

The Penguin Club

As usual, The Colonial scheduled me to volunteer for a show, didn't tell me directly, and I found out the day before. Oh yeah, and they scheduled me for shows two nights in a row. Then when I got there in my black and white volunteer getup, I wasn't even on the list. On the up side, Arlo Guthrie was performing and it was definitely worth seeing.

They had me acting as a greeter, which in my mind is a "Welcome to Walmart" position. I asked the head volunteer and he confirmed my fears. I was supposed to welcome every patron ("Welcome to The Colonial"), and help direct them to their seating area. Additional ushers would take over from there. Well, if you hate Walmart greeters (the position, not the people) as much as I do, you'll understand why I did not greet everyone. If they made eye contact, I'd welcome them and ask if they knew where they were headed, but that was it.

Once the show started and the stragglers had been seated, the volunteers were allowed to go sit in the audience. We aren't allowed to sit just anywhere, but the theater isn't so big that there are any bad seats. Because Arlo is a local favorite (he lives right here in the Berkshires), the show was sold out and we had to find seats in the gallery.

The first thing I noticed about the gallery, besides the fact that it's above the balcony, is that it's stadium seating. I was also quick to note that in many places the domed ceiling had a closer seat than I had, but I was there for free so who was I to complain. Plus, the acoustics are great and I could hear just fine.

If, like me, you've never listened to Arlo Guthrie, you'll find his folk music to be pretty much standard folk music. What made the show for me were the stories he told in between songs. They were hilarious and gave a better understanding of his song lyrics, which was good for a novice like me.

If, unlike me, you are familiar with Arlo, you'll understand what a treat it was to hear him perform Alice's Restaurant. I missed the first few minutes, but in a 25 minute song it's not a big deal. He had the audience roaring with his story. I won't even attempt to recreate it here or point you to the lyrics, because reading them doesn't do them justice (I just tried); you have to hear him perform the song to truly appreciate it.

Aside from the nosebleed seats, the sore thumb (and back) from splitting firewood and the big-haired lady in front of me, I'd say the show was fantastic. If you get the opportunity to hear him perform, I say take it. Especially if it's free.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Windows, Tiles and Wood Chips

Hey folks. I've been working on an interesting story or two to share with everyone, but so far I'm OOIS (out of interesting stories). I guess we'll all have to get by on my normal droning for today.

Got My Glaze On

This here is a corner of one of the windows I've been working on. As you can see, the glass is installed (you know it's an after picture because there is glass where there once was not) and I've glazed it and everything. To the untrained eye, it looks like I may have done a shoddy job with the glaze, but in reality it cleans up nicely with a scraper. In fact, I've already done that in preparation for priming.

With the work week and running schedule as tight as they are, I probably won't get to the priming and painting until Saturday or Sunday. The real question is: do I paint it white or try and guess what I'll want my trim color to be next year? I might just stick with primer white for now and have it look slightly ghetto all winter. It can't look any worse than that God awful red color it's painted now.

Do You Scrabble?

Attention Scrabble aficionados and aficionadas! Scrabulous has a free Scrabble program that allows you to play against 1-3 people (for 2-4 total) and it's all handled via e-mail. You place your tiles, hit submit and everyone else gets an e-mail telling them what you did and how many points you got. They click the link and it brings them to the board where the next person can make his/her move. It's a nice, slow-paced game for people who don't have time during the day for a full blown game. I'm currently involved in a rubber match against a friend from high school. I was in the lead for mere two rounds; apparently my vocabulary is sub par.

Anyway, if you're interested I highly recommend it.

How Much Wood Could a Woodchuck Chuck...?

It's that time of year, when the leaves have turned autumnal colors and fallen, the air is crisp and fresh in the morning, and a man's thoughts turn to gasoline powered, hydraulic log splitters. Yup, I'm fittin' to do some splittin' out at the JC estate. If you've never used a log splitter, you should stop what you're doing, knock down a tree, chop it up, rent a log splitter and get to work. Just make sure you wear hearing and seeing protection.

That's it!

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Weekend Is Looking Up

Merry Sunday, sucka uckas. I'm glad some of you enjoyed yesterday's Venn Diagram. If Dom ever finds his way to my bliznog he should be proud to have been showcased. Speaking of Dom, I'm gonna roll that fool when I'm in the 'lo in a few weeks.

Friday Was Wack

Friday night I was bored as hell. I finally got some energy up to bring my radar detector to the Post Office to send in for service. We have one of those handy do-it-yourself mailing stations so you can mail stuff at any hour of the day or night. Oh, it's sweet.

So I waltzed in, package in hand, ready to get to doing-it-myself. I placed the box on the scale, entered all of the info, added insurance and tracking, printed my receipt and was happy knowing that in a few moments I would be able to check this off my list.

The last thing the machine tells you before it thanks you for visiting the Post Office is to place a Priority Mail sticker on each side of the package. "Right, I'll just reach over here to the Priority Mail station and grab a few stickers" I thought to myself. Eeee-wrong. They had no stickers. I walked around a bit, even checked in the trash, and came up empty-handed. I would have to go back on Saturday.

After that, I hit up Target for some items I've been lacking. Mostly I wanted to buy a movie to watch, but I threw in some dried cranberries ($1.79 a bag, yo), AAA batteries (for my headlamp, $1.00 for four) and some black socks for work. I ended up crashing out at 9:30. Yup, I'm old.

Saturday, A Day of Productivity

Saturday I awoke at 9:30 after a measly 12 hours of sleep. Work has had me running around, thinking, answering questions, and generally doing work and it's taken a toll on me. Oh, plus I've been doing a lot of running which also tires a guy out.

I had some breakfast and set to work on the storm windows I was fixing last weekend. I spent most of the morning cleaning the old glaze out, removing (much more carefully) the one good pane, cutting a new pane, and installing all four panes. I took some pictures but I doubt you care to see a ratty ass window.

After that, it was off to the Post Office (which was closed by then) in the hopes that they'd have more stickers out. They did, and I sent the package off to Ohio for repair. Oh my way back, I swung by the auto parts store and picked up a new wiper blade for the rear windshield of my Lesbaru. Finally, I've needed one for over a year now. The old one was just about to either rip in half or turn to dust, so I got to it right in the nick of time.

While I was installing the wiper blade, I took some window cleaner to the rear windshield. The glass had apparently last been cleaned at the factory, and there were times when I couldn't see out of it. A few swipes of the paper towel and it was good as new (ish).

After that I pretty much hung low for the night. I watched the movie I had bought the previous night (Caddy Shack) and turned in. Oh yeah, I may have snuck a run in there too. It was the maiden voyage of tights for the winter. I held off as long as I could, but the mercury dipped below freezing so the tights came out.

Tricked Again

Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you. Fool me every weekend, we're all fools. This was the case this morning when I showed up for the group run. It was supposed to be a nice, easy run in the woods, serving as a recovery run for a woman who ran the ING NYC Marathon last weekend. Instead, it was 5.5 miles up Mount Greylock (on dirt roads), then back down another road. For good measure, we ran around a little when we finished to round it off to an even 12 miles.

Let me tell you, I was freezing. It was around 30, windy as a bitch (you know how windy bitches can get), and I was dressed all wrong. I had no wind breaking gear, no gloves and a cotton sweatshirt. I had to pull one sleeve down over my right hand, and wear a bandanna on my left hand (I couldn't cover the GPS watch, lest I should not have the route captured). Thank God there were no gangs up there or we surely would have been clapped at for sporting the wrong gang bandanna.

What we did see were hordes of New Yorkers on their way to the visitor's center to check out the view. The condo/time share consortium likes to show people the nice view in the hopes of selling them a piece of property. In reality, they cannot see that view from what might become be their property. In actuality, the condosare on the other side of another mountain, but whatever. Let them pay $400k for a small apartment next to the slopes.

Word, I'm out.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Never the 'Tween Shall Meet

My homebizzle Dom from the B-lo sent me an e-mail today. To it he attached a Venn diagram that I think might clear up a few questions for those of you who may have had different experiences to those we had back in high school. Take a gander and let me know if there's anything you don't understand.

Is Wu Tang Clan Anything to Fuck With?

If you're having trouble seeing where Wu Tang Clan and Things to fuck with overlap, click the picture. It should be clear that The Wu Tang Clan ain't indeed nothin' to fuck with.

Big Ups to The RZA, The GZA, the Old Dirty Bastard, Inspecta Deck, Raekwon the Chef, U-God, Ghostface Killa and the M-E-T-H-O-D Man. Rest in Peace, Big Baby Jesus.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

List of Things To Do: Update

Hey guys. I was just perusing my Olde Blogge (remember the blog I had before I came here to Blogger?) and I stumbled upon a list I made on January 11, 2006. I had been inspired by a popular television show to come up with a list of things I wanted to do before I turned 30. I still have plenty of time, but I thought I'd check in and see how I'm doing.

The List

  1. Run a marathon
  2. Take a bike trip somewhere far (not a day trip)
  3. Throw a huge party
  4. Get married
  5. Have people genuinely cheer for me
  6. Work at a coffee shop
  7. Take a cruise
  8. Have somebody work for me
  9. Be mentioned in a magazine
  10. Skydive
  11. Rescue a Damsel in Distress
  12. Get my ass kicked by a woman (not the Damsel, preferably)
  13. Travel outside of North America
  14. Grow a vegetable garden
Okay, let's take a look at these one at a time:

  1. Run a marathon - Haven't done it yet, but I have plans in the works.
  2. Take a bike trip somewhere far - I assume this means further than a day trip. Haven't done it yet, but I would still love to.
  3. Throw a huge party - Nope
  4. Get married - Negatory and highly unlikely at this point. This is a dumb goal anyway, probably part of the reason we have a 50% divorce rate in this country.
  5. Have people genuinely cheer for me - Well, at the Brock Trot I had people cheering for me (although, they didn't know my name). As I got closer to the finish line they really started cheering, and it seemed genuine. I'm taking credit.
  6. Work at a coffee shop - Nope. I think this is more of a lifetime goal anyway, not a "by 30" goal. I wouldn't put it on the list if I rewrote it today.
  7. Take a cruise - Nope, and probably won't happen. Again, not a real "by 30" goal anyway.
  8. Have somebody work for me - Not yet, but maybe soon.
  9. Be mentioned in a magazine - Nope, but I've been in the paper several time. Wait, I was in Berkshire Living magazine, but only in a picture and they spelled my name wrong. I'm taking credit.
  10. Skydive - I'm thinking next summer for this one.
  11. Rescue a Damsel in Distress - Hmm, tried once but she was a bitch anyway. I'll take credit but it's not exactly what I had in mind.
  12. Get my ass kicked by a woman (not the Damsel, preferably) - Still working.
  13. Travel outside of North America - Done! Went to Japan this past summer.
  14. Grow a vegetable garden - Damn, still haven't done this.
Conclusion: I've achieved only 3 of the goals. If I remove the ones I think are dumb (or at least have no place on this list) that's 3 out of 11, still not a good number. Some of them are not necessarily under my control (getting ass kicked by a woman), and some I truly think I'll be able to fit in during the next year. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

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