Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sticking it to The Man

Sorry for the delay, but a hectic soccer schedule and a short bout with the creeping crud has kept me from posting.

In my persistent quest to simplify the details of my life I was finally able gain a small victory on two fronts.  Gaining the moral and monetary high ground in one miniscule part of my life has given me the impetus to achieve even more.

What was this change, you may wonder?  Ah, something so innocuous it seems hardly worth mentioning.

It is, in a word, shaving!

Yes, that mundane, near daily, bit of necessity for the well groomed man of the 21st Century.  No, I did not simply cease to scrape off the previous days sprouting of stubble.  No professorial beard, goatee or Van Dyke on my chin, thank you.  A change so subtle it was monumental in it's simplicity.

I changed my razor.  That's all.  Now I know what you curious readers are thinking.  The latest and greatest multi blade marvel of modern miniaturization arrived with the Sunday paper  and miraculously whacked off the weekend growth in one fell swoop.  Buddha knows I love my technology.  Between the iPod with 8000 songs, books, podcasts and movies and the iPhone slung low on my hip prepared for instantaneous retrieval, I am smitten by the conveniences of modern life.

But no, in this case advancement was not the answer.  It was reverting to a delightful bit of retro hardware - the Double Edge Safety Razor!

Believe me, this was not a decision that was taken lightly.  No sir, after weighing the pros and cons of the various ways to butcher my classic visage, it was time to take the plunge.  The overall determining factor was my inherent frugality.  That's right, monetary efficiency won out over concerns of disfiguring injury.  To whit, I could either purchase a fresh pack of refills or a brand new double edge razor for the slightly.  Hmmm, a conundrum to be sure.

But in the end choosing a chrome plated, solid brass, machined shaving instrument (including 10, that's right, 10, free blades!) won the day.  Especially considering the environmental impact of assembling a multi layer, multi plastic, plastic packaged 5 blade pack of Gillette's disposable finest.  Not only was I ordering something physically more substantial, I was GOING GREEN at the same time!

A few days later the razor arrived.  Already prepared with shaving soap and boar hair brush, I elated at the prospect of imminent death!  Over the years I had reduced shaving to it's bare essentials: in the shower with a bar of soap.  No mirror required since the face has not changed in almost 30 years of scraping.  Hardly the traditions you want to hand down to your offspring, eh?

So the experiment began.  Step out of the steamy shower, work up a good lather with the brush, apply generously and away we go.  Ten minutes later and my countenance was both whisker and blood free.  Ten minutes of glorious isolation from the world at large.  Ten minutes to contemplate the universe.  Ten minutes to refresh the spirit.  Ten minutes to decide on a cocktail.

One week later I said goodbye to blade number one and ordered a pack of....100. That's 2 years of shaving, for the princely sum of $17.  7300 minutes or 122 hours of contemplative solitude. Or 14 cents per hour.  I think I'm worth it.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Buford T. Justice in hot pursuit

I was going to discuss the discovery of 'wind' as a weather event, but the events of the day took me off track.

Another day of thrills and chills has kept us on the edge of our collective seats here in the Midwest.  For the third time, we have been treated to the exploits of law enforcement (LEO's in NCIS speak) engaging in a manhunt.  Bringing the full resources of two states worth of police presence to bear, a lone gunman killed one, injured two and is currently still on the lam.  Patrol cars, aircraft, helicopters and who knows what else have been quite busy this afternoon.  And soccer practice was cancelled! Oh, the humanity...

And since this is not the first incident, we've become quite inured to the potential dangers.  Hell, I haven't even bothered to lock and load to defend the homestead.

The first incident occurred  many years ago when we first moved in.  Night time greeted us with circling helicopters and search lights scanning the yards and former corn field behind the subdivision.  Apparently an Illinois convict had escaped and was headed into Indiana.  Chicago radio hosts often jest at us hicks over the border, but it seems they have a bit of trouble holding on to their bad guys.

Event two was another escapee coming up from "The South".  For some reason these miscreants seem to think they can evade and blend in here.  Maybe they are following the underground railroad to Canada.  Whatever their reasoning, I have a hard time fathoming how they think they can hide out here in Mayberry.  I suppose that's why they are on the wrong side of the law.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Culture shock; or, Something is seriously amiss with my comfort food.

Pizza.  It is amazing how one simple word conjures up such a multitude of complexity.  Seemingly  a simple combination of ingredients, yet the execution of producing an acceptable pie often results in the most absurd culinary contortions.

Hop a flight to The Eternal City of Rome and revel in the wonderfully direct presentation.  In it's simplest form, the pizza margerita, gives you a portable portion of hand tossed dough, sauce and cheese and baked to golden perfection.

Drive to New York City or Boston's North End and make a meal of only one gargantuan slice.  Do yourself a favor and avoid California unless you feel the need to inundate your pie with tofu, sushi or any other assemblage of organic, feel good toppings.

Now I find myself mired on the morass of the Midwest's feeble attempt at producing a pizza pie of acceptable quality.  First, allow me to qualify something.  I understand Deep Dish pizza.  Really, I do, and it is quite tasty.  But I rarely have the time to wait 45 minutes for the thing to bake.  And ordering separate pizzas for everyone at the table at $15 each is a hassle.  That's $60 for a family of four-for pizza! Face it, everyone wants something different, so we usually end up with just cheese. Please excuse me while I yawn.

So when we are moving into our new home, we decide to order some pizza for all the generous helpers.  No one turns down free pizza and cocktails after a long days work, right?  So I order up 5 extra large pies with a couple ingredients each.  Now don't get me wrong.  I am  grateful beyond words for all the work done, but $125 later and I am in sticker shock.  Too late to turn back, and we are certainly famished at this point, we make the pickup.  In a Mustang. With no back seat.  And the pizzas are served in.......bags.  How in the name of all that is holy do I carry 5 pizzas slid into BAGS!?!?!?  My only assumption is people can only afford one pizza at a time, so the transportation dilemma has not arisen as of yet.  Either that or bring the whole family for the pizza run.  Or possibly hire one of those plate spinning acrobats from the chinese circus to make the delivery.

Somehow we managed the trek back home, saints be praised,  when upon opening the hot steaming bags, we encountered the MOST HEINOUS of all pizza crimes ever seen by this author.  Each circle of sauciness was chopped into dinky little SQUARES.  Holy geometry Batman, what are these people thinking?  How does one maneuver this madness into ones mouth, we pondered?  Where is the crusty handle?  Where are the toppings?  (Under the cheese it turns out, where they lie hidden, shielded from the heat of the oven.  Why again are they called toppings, I ask?)  Where did we pack the dishes and forks so we can maneuver the only available food into our hungry mouths without making a kindergarten size mess of ourselves?

Questions flew through our collectively befuddled brains while staring agog at the sudden puzzle placed before us.  Fortunately,  a native Hoosier was in our midst and attempted to throw some light on our clouded brows.  "That's so you don't have to eat the crust if you don't like it", he explained.  Hmmmm, that seemed to make sense, almost.

Trying to apply some logic to this simple statement resulted in the Vulcan side of my temporal lobe to momentarily become lost in circular loop.  To whit, if one does not like crust, one can simply select a square of pizza sans crust.  Fine.  However, what if a crust hater inadvertently selects a  crusted bit of pizza?  Is he then compelled to consume the crust against his wishes?  Can he not put aside the offending crust and select another morsel?  Similarly, if a pizza pie is cut into slices similar to the remainder of the civilized world, would the crust hater abstain from eating due to excessive crust contamination?  Likely not, as I am certain Miss Manners would allow the offending bit of dough to placed discretely to the side of the plate.  However, the remainder of the population that finds crust not only acceptable, but desirous, must skirt the edges foraging for leftover bits and pieces.

I say, let the pizza be sliced as it was intended!!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Up and running

Good morning!  I am thoroughly perplexed how to start organizing the swirl of thoughts I have, so I think I will have a go at explaining the title of this blog.  How did I become a Hoosier?  It is all the fault of a drum kit I loaned to a friend about 15 years ago. 

A friend and I both worked for the same company, his son wanted to play, the kit was collecting dust due to the demands of my job, so off it went.  Not here in Indiana, but back East in Cheektowaga, NY, a suburb of Buffalo.  The name is supposedly Native American (you know, Indian) for "Land of the Crab Apple".  Lots of Indian names in that area; Tonawanda, Lackawanna, Scajaquada, Catteraugus.  You get the idea, nice long phonetic names.  Quite a contrast to the numerous French names here in the Midwest; Des Moines, Des Plaines, Bourbonnais, Joliet, many of which do not follow French pronunciation and are disagreed upon by the local inhabitants.  Yet the Indian names are Iroquois, which looks very French to me.  Puzzling, and my sincerest apologies including the French at this early juncture.  I hope to avoid them in the future.

Anyway, when I tried to recover the drums for my own use, I found my friend had been transfered to the Chicago area to direct an acquisition.  Several months of cajoling convinced him to bring me along as well.  It was a great opportunity at the time, since I had acquired a wife and two children.  One weekend of touring 27 different homes and we found our new homestead on the prairie.  A lovely little "trilevel", which I believe is French for "looks bigger than it is".  The move from New Jersey where I had been working temporarily for 3 years, to Indiana went smoothly and we were soon firmly ensconced in our first home. 

One friend, no family and the golden promise of a bright future!