Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pork Chop Sandwich

Up until last night, I was pretty sure I was going to write about how my dad used to torture us.

Well - I mean to say one of the ways he used to torture us.

It went something like this:

On a Saturday afternoon without much to do, I'd be sitting on the couch watching TV.  I don't know what I'd be watching.  Maybe it was an old movie or an episode of M*A*S*H or something.  Nothing that interesting, but still, I was watching it.

Dad would walk into the room and sit down in his La-Z-Boy and switch the channel.  He didn't say anything.  He didn't look at me.  Just switched the channel.  If there was no sports on, he'd leave the room with the channel on a different station than the one I was watching.

We never said or did anything about it.  At least not after the first time he did it.

The first time he did it probably went something like this:

Dad turns channel.

I say, "I was watching that."

Dad goes into a screaming fit about how everything in the house is his.

The second time (and every time after), I remained silent.

But the second time probably went something like this:

Dad turns channel.

I turn my head nearly imperceptibly in his direction.  But there is no imperceptive to my dad.  A master of the "bar fight."

"What?" He'd say.


"Why'd you look at me?"

Ok, at this point I should mention that I realized on the second time that dad did not care if he watched TV or not.  He was impossible. He wanted to pick a fight.

"I didn't look at you."

"Yeah - you gave me a dirty look."

"No, I didn't"

"Oh - now you're going to argue with me.  I guess I'm just a fucking idiot who imagines shit!"

"Bingo," I would think.

Sometimes he would just go into an absolute rage and send me to my room. That's when I would give him a look.

But that was small potatoes.  After a few times, there would be absolutely no reaction whatsoever when he came in and changed the channel.

If anything I became less animated than before he walked into the room.

Of course it didn't matter.  It was always the same sequence.

He'd change the channel and pick a fight.  I think I just figured out why this scene always reminded me of home:

I started asking him if I could just go to my room now and cut out the middle-man.

Nope.  Not until he was done yelling at me for no reason whatsoever.

After a while, I was completely emotionless when this routine went on, so dad had to spice it up a little.  Make it fresh again.

He would yell for a while and when he saw that he was not getting any crying or fear or anything, he'd say, "I WAS going to take you to the movies, but not now.  Not after what you did."

By the way - as I write this, I realize it might seem absurd.  It is 100% true and verifiable.  There were witnesses and other victims, etc.

I'd say the first 4 or 5 times he pulled the "I was going to take you to the movies ..." bit, he really got what he was looking for.

I'd plead.  Beg forgiveness.  Promise to never do it again.  If he'd just please please please take us to the movies.

After those first few times, I realized he had never intended to take us to any movie. He was just trying to get a rise out of us.  It's funny  - because I thought it would be fun to go see a movie even if I went with a raving lunatic.

I was thinking about all of this Monday.  Monday was a holiday.  I got up early in the morning and checked out the movie times for "Tomorrowland."

This is not a movie I particularly cared to see.  I wanted to see Mad Max.  But I thought the kids would really want to see Tomorrowland, so ...

Anyway - I looked at the times and went in to ask my kids if they wanted to go see a movie.

But when I went into the room, they were looking at me funny so I gave them a piece of my mind and stormed out.

Just kidding.

I said, "Hey.  You guys want to go see a movie?"

When I was a kid, I would have said, "Heck Yes! Let's go!"

They said, "Which one."

I was thinking, "What difference does that make?" but I said "Tomorrowland"

Then Jack said, "Not really."

Wow.  Impressive.

So that's the story that I thought I'd blog about.  Up until last night.  After last night, I decided to blog once again about the completely boring topic of the Wednesday night Trek Store ride.

This year has been particularly weird for me in terms of that ride.  I have been going to the ride knowing full well that I cannot hang for even a little bit.  I have told several people to please not wait for me.  I'm too slow and I can find my way.

But I've gone 4 of the last 5 weeks and am in slightly better shape now.

Last night there were several people on the ride I could hang with.

Once we got to Highway 36 and the first or second climb, there were a few struggling to stay in contact.  Strangely, I was not one of them.  I felt fine at the pace we were going. It was considerably slower than previous weeks.

Then my rear wheel went flat and I stopped pedaling. I was near the back, but not at it.

A few people went around me as I slowed to stop and the whole group kept going.

I know that most of the people didn't see what happened.  But some did.

Apparently nobody said anything or nobody cared.  Also, I didn't say anything because, fuck those guys.

At the end of the season, I was thinking about taking them all to the movies, but not now.

So while I was standing beside the highway, fixing my flat, I remembered something I hadn't thought about for a long time.

The cars and trucks zipping by just a few feet away.  My tire was slightly torn through on the side and I only had a $20.  No way I was putting that in the tire.  If I had another flat on the way home, I'd have to call somebody to come and get me. So it would be best to just go home.  Yeah  that's it.  Ride on up to 72nd and head home.  If another flat happens, I might have been close enough to walk the rest of the way.

But then my old friend I haven't talked to in a while stopped by.  His name is "V" and he always says the same thing: "Harden The Fuck Up."

Thanks V, I needed that.

I made it my new mission to try to catch the group resting at Ft Calhoun.

I didn't catch them.  When I headed east toward Boyer Chute, I could see them way up the road.  I timed my distance from them when they made that first right turn.  It was about 2 minutes.  I knew I'd never catch the main group, but I was hoping to reach a straggler or two.

Nope.  Well, I did catch Andrew Keffer near Dodge Park, but I knew nobody would wait for him (like they wouldn't wait for me - but I don't want them to - unless I had a flat or something).

I talked to Andrew for a bit, but he was in full on "Chill" mode. He wanted to go around the airport.  I didn't. I went home and made a pork chop sandwich.  I mixed a little mayo with some sriracha and spread it onto some toast.  I put a thick juicy pork chop in the middle and ... yum.

In summary.  Fuck those guys.  But yeah - next Wednesday.  Sounds good.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Fool me thrice, I may have a learning disability

If I'm out of my mind, it's alright with me, thought Moses Herzog.

I turned 50 last October.  As a gift, my sister gave me a book from the year I was born.  It was a fantastic read with a great opening line.  It was called "Herzog"

I've never read "Moby-Dick" or "The Whale" for that matter.  I'm not sure why.  I've read the first few pages and it seems entertaining enough.

But that has nothing to do with anything I'm going to talk about.  I'm just stalling.  I thought about making "Call me Ishmael" somehow fit in with the beginning of this post, but It wasn't obvious.  The only thing I came up with was this:

"Call Me Ishmael. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse.  Yeah I carried a purse.  What of it, Mister?  Anyway, there was no money in it so I applied for a position at Petrow's ..."

So about a fortnight ago, I posted a blog about an experience I had at Petrow's Old People restaurant.

I won't bore you with the details again because I plan to bore you with all new details.

The day after I posted that, um post, I was talking to my dad.  Since I had just written about it, I had my routine all worked out.  I told my dad all about how stupid it was and that the food was sub par.  

Then he said, "Petrow's has really good breckfusses." 

You know how sometimes when you get really old and your hearing starts to go and then 10 years go by and your hearing gets worser and worser until you can't hear anything much at all, but you refuse to get any sort of aid?  

"Dad - I'm saying I had a horrible experience at Petrow's.  It really sucked."

"Yeah - we ought to go up there for breakfast some time.  They have the best hash browns in town!"

"How did you hear the 'Petrow's' part, but none of the rest of what I said?"

"Hey! I know! How about next week - not tomorrow - but the following Saturday - we go up for some breakfast.  You won't believe how good their hash browns are!"

Well - I didn't hate my experience at Petrow's. Strongly disliked, sure. I could go get some breakfast, I guess.  No biggie.

"Sure Dad.  I'll go next Saturday if you want.  Also, Jimmy's Egg has excellent hash browns."

"Ok.  I'll call you next week.  This is gonna be great.  Hash browns!"

So - over the course of the next week, my dad told lots of people he was going to Petrow's on Saturday.  He invited them and said he was paying.  He wanted everyone to go.  We'd all have a great time.  Spoiler alert:  we all really did have a good time.

Several times that week, Dad called me to make sure I knew to bring the whole family.  Well - only Abe was able to make it that day.

When we got there - My dad and family that showed up was around 15 people. My sister and her husband were there.  But she did not want to hear about the onion rings (I mean TWO ONION RINGS?) again.  That kind of pissed me off.

Once we had all arrived, our waitress Ahab came limping out for our drink order.

We pretty much all got coffee.  I was asking Abe what he wanted, but he didn't know.

I suggested hot chocolate and he said "Yeah"

"Oooh - our hot chocolate machine is broken," said Ahab.

I looked at my sister and said, "It's everything with this place."

Now I just said it in a conversational voice.  Not quiet or loud.  But Ahab felt the need to defend her dear employer.

"No it's not!" she said.

"Well it's 2 things then.  Broken hot chocolate machine and argumentative wait staff."

This did not make Ahab smile.  

"How about chocolate milk, Abe? Do you have chocolate Milk?"

"Yes," said Ahab.

"Can you put it in a mug and nuke it?"

"I'm sorry, we're not allowed..."

"I'm sure you're not," I countered.

So this was starting off well.

When everyone was ordering coffee, Uncle Vic asked Ahab if she could just leave a pitcher of coffee at the table since there were so many people having coffee.

True story - she said "I'm sorry, we're not allowed" again.

After Ahab brought out the drinks and took our food order, we sat and had a nice chat and stuff.

After a while, my cup was empty.  Ahab came to the table with a fresh pot and - no joke - filled everybody's cup but mine.  

I told my dad about it.  He didn't believe me.  He said I was imagining it.  I told him to watch, but not say anything.  

She came out 3 more times and filled coffee cups at all tables and left mine empty.

Somewhere in here, my Dad and Uncle's friend, John, said to me, "I would tell you that maybe you'll learn to keep your mouth shut from now on, but I know your dad, so ..."

I love John.  He's hilarious.  Also, after breakfast, he asked if he could get one of  the Petrow's world famous pecan rolls or something.  He was told that the baker has fallen ill as of a month ago and so there are no pastries at Petrow's.  It might be a good time to mention that Petrow's sucks. 

Eventually, Ahab brought out a pot with less than a full cup left in it and poured the dregs into my cup and then without turning the pot up, walked away spilling coffee across the table and toward me.  Active aggressive, much? I thought, all passive aggressive-like.

I used up a bunch of napkins sopping up the mess.  I was Tebowing in my mind to the good lord above for providing me with so much blog fodder.

I was starting to get the feeling Ahab was trying to tell me something, but unfortunately, I already knew she was a stupid bitch, so the coffee spilling was a little redundant.

When the food came out, my dad insisted I try some of his hash browns.  

They didn't look too good.  They were more like "home fries" and looked to be undercooked.  They were.  Also, they weren't seasoned at all.  They were just terrible.  Jimmy's Egg has great hash browns, by the way.

Dad said, "You don't like this place, do you."

I said, "Only because it sucks ass."

Dad laughed.

"But thanks for paying," I said.

Full disclosure: I ordered some sort of a cholesterol nightmare biscuit/gravy/egg thing that was absolutely delicious.

Also - I'm never going back to Petrow's.

Now - it's personal.

Later that day, dad called me to say he was never going back to Petrow's.  His hash browns were terrible and his eggs were cold.  

"Maybe next time you'll listen to me," I said.

"There won't be a next time, cause I ain't going back,"  dad said.

"There's is one place I heard about that supposedly has pretty good hash browns.  It's called "Get your ears checked"."

Disclaimer: Petrow's has not paid me for this advertisement.

Note: In Ahab's version of the story, my name is 'The Whale' or 'Moby-Dick' or just 'Dick.'

Sorry (Actually - Apology - they're different)

So here's the thing - poor planning has resulted in my recent lack of posts.  I am going to have to change the due date. I will now publish on Wednesday nights.  But I will post on Friday this week since Wednesday has already passed.  Sometime after work tomorrow, I'll put words down.  So look for it.  It's gonna be great.

I'm not for sure what it's gonna be about.  But I have already written the first sentence in my brain.

So there's that.

Here's what happened.  On Thursdays, I go to Devo practice with Jack.  After that, I tend to have to work if there's a deployment of new software.

Neither of these things happened last Thursday when I didn't post or even talk about not posting.

Last Thursday, it was too wet to ride off road around here.  Last Thursday, there was no code deployment for me to put into place.

But I won a bunch of money in a golf pool the previous weekend and my brother-in-law stopped by to pay me.

Well after about a thousand beers, I started writing.  I was going strong too.  But my wife said, "You're not really going to try to write tonight are you?"

I was all, "Yeah.  Why?  Narf!"

She was all, "Cause you got your drunk on."

That was all I needed.  I got up from the keyboard and watched TV.  I also played some John Mellencamp song on my guitar.  It sounded pretty good too. Although, it might not have been "My" guitar.  There's a good chance I was actually playing it on my radio.

Geez, this apology is almost long enough to qualify as a post.  But no.  A promise is ...

So I'll get back to you tomorrow.  Because this Thursday had the Devo and the Code Deployment (which I just finished at about 11:30). And a thousand beers, but anywho's.  Have a nice day.  I'll chat with you tomorrow.  Good night.

Hmm?  What?  Oh, the sentence?  Sure, I guess.

The first sentence from tomorrow's make up entry:

Call me Ishmael ...

It's going to be a really really long blog post.

And one more thing.  Here's a really old photo of my dad:

It's a clip-on
And what the hell.  Here's last week's drunken beginning of a post ...

One time I was reading this book.  It was a book called "American Psycho."  Yeah, they made a movie out of it.

Anyway, there were some parts in it that were so gross that I thought there was actually something wrong with the guy who had written the story.  I wondered if maybe a guy who writes that sort of thing has ...

1) actually done that disgusting stuff or otherwise how would he dream it up


2) is living out his sick fantasies through his writing,

I was reading this book I mentioned above when I got all freaked out by a certain passage about meat grinders or heads in the fridge or whatever, when Jill asked me if I needed to put the book in the freezer.

This was a reference to "Friends."

I didn't know the reference, but it turns out that Joey (from friends) would put a book in the freezer when something in it bothered him.

It's been many years since I've had a gross thought.  I used to have them all the time.  I would be in a group of people and think, "What's the most inappropriate I could say right now?"

It's a fantastic exercise.  Free entertainment.

I haven't thought about it in years, but it started happening about 3 or 4 weeks ago.

I have realized that it is because I am now in a job I love.  I have no idea what the correlation is between peace and the most vile thoughts ever, but

... It's at this point that I was so wisely interrupted by Jill saying something like "You're not really going to write ..." or whatever.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

No cheese at all

70 years ago today, Nazi Germany surrendered to the allies effectively ending Wednesday Night World War II (in Europe).  The day was given a name.  "Victory in Europe Day."  But because people were every bit as lazy then as they are now, It was shortened to "V.E. Day."

My uncle was 3 days old on V.E. Day. His name is Victor.  His middle initial is 'E.'  Yeah, he was named for the end of World War II in Europe.

Had he been born later that year in say, August, he probably would have been named "Kaboom!" after V.J. Day.

I don't know if he had a temporary name before he was 3 days old.  I don't know what he'd have been named if Nazi Germany had won.  Maybe Vicklgruber?

What I do know is this.  We celebrated uncle Vic's 70th birthday last Monday at Petrow's restaurant.

Petrow's opened up in Omaha to celebrate the beginning of the Korean War.

Petrow's is a good place to eat if you're old and your tongue doesn't work so well anymore.

It used to be a small place where you went to get ice cream or a sandwich or something.

Now it's a monstrosity that's always crowded, so you'd think it would be awesome to eat there.

The food I ate was pretty awful.  I ordered one of the specials.  It was called something like bacon cheddar pork tenderloin sandwich with your choice of fries or onion rings.

I just need to stop right here and apologize.  This whole thing.  From the history lesson, to what you're about to read (or quit reading) is yet another post about how much better my new job is than my last one was.

I should probably just go for it.  Blast away with the truth about how horrible my experience was at the other place.  Get it over with.  I just can't seem to find the courage to put that kind of horror story to print though.  So it comes out in hints and pieces. Hey - it's  a process.  I guess I'm just using this as therapy - while realizing that it is public and that prudence is most likely my best play in this situation.

While discussing my role at the new place with my manager, I am remembering what it is like to work at a sane, professional place.

The last place was so bizarre.  If you asked for help or direction, you were told that you were a senior level person and you should just know what you're supposed to do.

We all knew that this was total bullshit and that the manager was only making excuses for his complete incompetence.  But there was nowhere to go with it because his boss was behind him 100 percent.  It was impossible.

The side effect of enduring this behavior for so many years is that now I'm a bit paranoid.  The insane treatment is what I've come to accept as normal.

I have explained to my new boss that I'm reading into things she says too much and to be patient while I learn to take her words at face value.

She just laughs.  It's the best medicine.  It really is.

So I ordered mine with the onion rings. My brother-in-law Dave also ordered the special with the onion rings.

When the food came out, there were 2 onion rings on my plate.  Dave's plate had 2 onion rings on it too. But his onion rings were on top of a pile of french fries.

Then the waiter "Tyler" realized he had made a mistake.  He said to Dave, "Oh you wanted the onion rings, didn't you"

"Yes," Dave said.

"Um," I said.

Tyler looked at me with an innocent little question in his eyes.

"I also ordered onion rings,"  I said.

"Yes that comes with 2 onion rings."

"Or a pile of fries?" I asked.

"And two onion rings," corrected Tyler.

"I'm confused,"  I confessed.

Tyler stared at me, unsure of what was confusing.

"The special comes with fries or rings.  The fries includes 2 rings.  If you just order the rings, you don't get the fries."

"That's the stupidest thing I have ever heard,"  I said.  "Does everybody who orders rings understand that?  Because this is the only place in the world where what you just said is true."

At this point I knew I was completely correct but it didn't matter.  There's simply no way to argue with a waiter without looking like a dick.  I also realized that Tyler was in an abusive relationship with the cooks.  He thought this onion ring insanity was completely normal.

Finally he said, "Would you like an order of onion rings in addition to the 2 that come with your sandwich?"

"Would that be like two more rings?" I asked.

This next part is true: Tyler said, "Yeah, probably."  He was crying out for help.  I am now kicking myself for not seeing it.  All I could see was two onion rings on my plate.  Selfish.

"No. I'll just take the pile of fries with the onion rings on top then."

After Tyler went away to fetch me a pile of fries, my mother, bless her dear heart, shouted from the other end of the table, "Fred - would you like the rest of my onion rings?"

Mom spent years in a certain kind of relationship, too.

When she offered the rings to me, my thought had a British accent. I was thinking, "That's what I'm on about."

"No mom.  I don't want your rings.  I want my rings."

"Just take them.  They gave me way too many."

"Just rub it in, mom."

Then my brother Steve whispered in my ear, "What an enabler."

He was joking of course.  As was I with the whole refusal of my mom's onion rings.  I mean, no way in hell was I going to eat them and let Petrow's win.  But I was still joking.

There was only one possible solution.  Steve ate mom's "extra" rings.

We're a really deep 12 step family.

In the end, my tenderloin was too dry.  The fries were too greasy.  The rings were too few.  The food was too suck.

Petrow's is stupid and when all of their customers die of old age in 30 minutes or so, Petrows' will be no more.  So sad.

The only good thing is that Tyler will then be forced to take a job at another restaurant. For him, it will be just like my job change (Glorious).  Especially if he gets a job at Mama's Pizza or something.  That's how you pile on some onion rings.

Good on ya, Tyler.