Thursday, June 30, 2016

Happy Ending

So I was at a massage parlor the other day ...

Just kidding.  

Tuesday was Abe's 11th birthday. It coincided with the night of the second race of the Tuesday Night Crit series.  Up until about Thursday of last week, I hadn't realized I wouldn't be going to the race.

Abe has been talking about his upcoming birthday for approximately the past 365 days (leap year).

Jill's car is now paid for.  We made the last payment in May.  Jill needs to get a new battery for her car.  Monday she needed to use my car so she could take Abe and his friends to a movie to celebrate his birthday week.

So I rode my bike to work.

All of my bike gear is in a basement room.  Our basement rooms have egress windows so they can qualify as bedrooms.

So Monday while I was getting ready to take my bike to work, I heard a cat mewing.  

I found that surprising.  We don't have any pets.

I looked over and saw Edward. He was asking if he could come in.  If you don't know this about me, I have a lot of experience with night creatures asking to be let in. I know better.
Sorry Edward.  The window opens from the other side.
Edward is a cat who lives over on 60th and Parker. I didn't know that then. I went to the window and said, "No cat. You may not come in."  But all he had to say for himself was "Meow."

In his defense, he said it a lot.

I'd say, "No you can't come in."

He'd say, "How about meow?"




and so on.

I wondered if maybe Edward was unable to get out of the well.  I thought maybe I should try to help him.  I did not want to touch him, so I stuck a step ladder down there in case he wanted to get out and couldn't jump that high or something.

Edward understood right away. He immediately settled down under the first step of the ladder and went to sleep.

I thought he'd figure it out, so I left the ladder and went to work.

About an hour later Abe called to tell me about a black cat under a ladder in the window well. Abe's concern was that it was double bad luck.

When I got home, I looked in the well.  The cat was there, but the ladder was gone. Kind of the opposite of what I was expecting.

Then I saw the ladder hanging in the garage.

It seemed weird to me that Jill would take the ladder and leave the cat.  She's no cat person, but still ...

She said the cat jumped out on its own and went away.

"He's back," I explained.

So I then went over and asked him to get out of the well.  He came out and sat on the porch with me for a spell.  Then I went inside.

The next day, he was not on the porch or in the well.

Then came Abe's big party.  While we were all sitting around on the porch, reminiscing about the day of the cat, it occurred to me to check the other window well.  Yep.  He was there.  He had apparently been sitting in there all day.

I called him out and he joined the party.  He was a big hit.  He had a lot of fun at the party. Most of the people there decided he was a female. I don't know their criteria and I don't care. He was so excited by the people. He socialized with everybody.  He thought it was his birthday party.  Some people said he should be named "Cha-Cha-Cha." I personally liked Matt's suggestion of "Lawrence." 

Matt also named Brigadier General George Barkington III.

Matt has a way with naming creatures.  The cat hung out getting all kinds of attention until everyone left.  Even though he wished the party could have gone all night, he graciously bid everyone a fond farewell as the evening came to an end.

"I like them," he said, "They're nice."  But it sounded more like "Meow" when he said it.

It stormed pretty hard that night.

Wednesday morning, he was back in window well 'B,' soaking wet.  I looked at him and he said simply 'Meow.'


I didn't check on him after that until this afternoon (Thursday).

He was still in the window well, looking a little shaky so I thought enough is enough.  I called the humane society to come and pick him up.

They said I had to have him contained before they could do that. 

Containing him meant either putting him in the house (not happening), in a box (seems weird), or in a kennel.

I said "so do you need my address or something?"  They told me that I needed to contain the cat and call back when that was done.

I said I was standing on his tail and could they please hurry because he didn't seem to like it.

I wasn't really standing on his tail and I didn't say that.  Someday, we're going to have to have a little talk, you and I, about how some of the content of this blog is "make-believe."

So I went looking around for something to put the cat in, knowing it would have to be covered since I didn't have any boxes taller than the window well.

Rubbermaid seemed risky because I wasn't going to ruin its airtight properties by making "air holes" and I didn't know:

1) How long it would take for the Humane Society to get here, and 

2) How they'd react to seeing a cat sealed in a plastic container.

Eventually, I borrowed a kennel.

I walked over to the neighbor's with the cat at my heels the whole way.  I knocked on the door and their little dog came running and yapping to greet us.  He saw Lawrence, AKA Edward, and went out of his mind. Jumping. Shouting stern, high pitched warnings and slamming his little head into the door.  The cat just sat there, barely interested; looking bored.  At that point I realized I liked the cat.

The neighbor handed me the kennel. When the cat saw it, his eyes went wide and he ran away from me back to the porch. It was the first time I'd seen him run.

It took some forceful nudging, but I got the cat into the kennel and called the humane society.

About 2 minutes later, Jolene called and said she had the phone number of some people who lost a similar cat a few days ago.  They lived about 2 blocks away so we called them.

It was their cat.  They knew because when they looked into the kennel and said "Edward, is that you?" he made no reaction at all.  It was just "so Edward" to not respond to his name like that.

During Edwards stay with us, we did not feed him.  We had no intention of it.  We did not want to encourage him to stay.  During the party though, he got plenty of snacks from our guests.

We did not put out milk or really do anything for him.

When he was leaving, the owner thanked us for "taking care of him."

I said, "All we did was not kill him."

That went over like a fart in church.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

More about Grandpa

The second time I went to a fireworks show was about 30 years ago.  It was at Rosenblatt stadium.  I had forgotten how cool fireworks were. It was an amazing spectacle of light and color. We weren't actually in the stadium.  We were just a bunch of hippies sitting in the grass to the northeast of the stadium.

The only other time I'd seen a fireworks show was 15 years before that at Fontenelle Park in North Omaha.  Even though it was probably nowhere near as spectacular as the Rosenblatt show, it will always be the most thrilling show I've ever seen.  I hope.  You wouldn't want to see anything more thrilling than that. You'd probably die. We almost did.


There was this thing my dad always used to do at movie theaters, sporting events, PTA meetings or any other sort of place where lots of people were gathered.

He called it "beating the crowd."

Knowing my dad, the first time I heard him say he wanted to beat the crowd, I wasn't surprised.  I just sat there when he got up to leave thinking he was going to go over and start randomly punching some people in the crowd and stuff.

But no.  He meant we should miss the very end of the movie or game or church service so we could hit the road before the traffic gets all thick and slow.

Just kidding about the church service. Dad didn't care if we stayed until the very end of church because dad loves to socialize.  Also, he wasn't there (at church) so as far as he was concerned, the rest of us could stay as long as we liked.

The one time we stayed at a movie until the very end was when we saw "The Champ."

It starred Ricky Schroder and John whatsizname (Angelina Jolie's dad) from "Midnight Cowboy".

We stayed until the end of "The Champ" because it was a real tearjerker and dad couldn't go out into the daylight with his face all wet and his eyes all red like a little girl and such.

Whenever dad wanted to leave a place and we didn't, he had a special way to convince us. He'd look at us with his mean face. The face said, "I'm going to kill you right now."  It was kind of like how The Fonz used to shoot a gaze at people - except nobody laughed when dad did it.

Anyway. My grandpa took us to the fireworks show in Fontenelle Park. He was kind of a fireworks show expert.  He knew to bring a big blanket so we wouldn't have to sit in the grass like a bunch of hippies.

I was 6 years old.  Steve was 4.  We were absolutely thrilled by the spectacle of the fireworks. Clapping, squealing with delight, etc.

Every once in a while, grandpa would ratchet up the thrill by injecting some tension.

"Oh, that one was a little too close for comfort," or "cover your eyes boys. It's coming straight for us!"

We did as he said.  He was a WWII veteran after all.  He should know.

Then came the grand finale and we saw almost none of it.  At all.

Grandpa wanted to "beat the crowd." Surely that's where dad got it from. But grandpa's way to get buy-in from us was infinitely more sophisticated than dad's scary face technique.

Grandpa didn't just say, "Ok. Right now is the part of the show called the grand finale.  It is the absolute highlight of the show.  You've never seen anything like it and you never will because I want to get home 2 minutes earlier than everyone else.  So pick up your shit and let's go.  And don't look back at the finale. We're going to beat the crowd."

That's what dad would've said.  Then scary Fonzie look and we'd go no matter how much we wanted to stay.

When the finale began, grandpa said in a steady, quiet voice that we could somehow hear over the show, "Something's not right."

Looking at his face you could see a man on the edge of panic.  To be a little kid and see an adult that scared is more than a little unsettling.

"They've lost control of the show," he said, louder now.  "Look!  Everything's on fire down there!"

We looked to where he was pointing and sure enough, the ground was in flames all around where the finale was being set off.

"We'd better get back to the car boys, before it's too late!"

He picked up the blanket and threw it over his head.  Then he grabbed us each by the hand and said, "Quick.  Under the blanket.  Run back to the car as fast as you can. This is not a game! Don't let go of me because I won't have time to come back for you.  If you have a god, now would be the time to pray. But also run!"

The show was getting louder and more violent. The explosions seemed to be getting closer. We weren't running fast enough.  If we fell back, grandpa would leave us. I was worried for Steve. He was smaller.  Could he keep up? Would we have to leave him and save our own skins?

And so we prayed. And ran - terrified of being blown to bits or engulfed in wildfire.  We ran past all of the bemused hippies sitting on the grass, flashing us peace signs as we bolted away from the scene of the grand finale.

Once we got to the car, grandpa tossed Steve and me into the back seat. He fumbled with his keys.  "C'mon, C'mon" he urged his shaking hands. We were pleading with him too, "Hurry Grandpa! Hurry."

Finally, he got the engine turned over, threw the old Ford into gear and we were off like a rocket, leaving the thousands of deadly explosions in our wake. Only then could we breathe easy.

The whole way home, Grandpa didn't stop talking about how lucky we were.  He was my biggest hero that night.  His quick thinking saved our lives. I was so grateful for his military training.

"What about all those people who thought it was part of the show?" we asked grandpa.

"We'll read about those poor S.O.B.s tomorrow," is all he said, pulling out his handkerchief to wipe sweat from his face and maybe a tear from his eyes. I couldn't be sure.

I didn't think about that narrow escape again until 15 years later at Rosenblatt. When the finale started, the old memory returned all at once.  But for the first time I saw it for what it was.  A brilliant "beat the crowd" move.

A few days after Rosenblatt, I went over to my grandpa's and asked him about what he did that night at the fireworks show.  He didn't say anything.  He just smiled at the memory.

Not unlike what I'm doing right now.

Good one Grandpa.



These are the words to the "Glorious Victorious" cadence as my grandpa sang it:

Glorious, victorious
Ten pounds of meat for the four of us.
Glory be to God that there are no more of us
'Cause one of us could eat it all alone

{short interlude to ...}

Be .... cause
we are the members of the fat family
the fat family is a good family
a whole lot better than the thin family

Then he'd just kind of trail off and ask for somebody to pass the potatoes. And gravy.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

If Grandpa worked at Jimmy John's back when he was alive ...

My grandpa loved to tell us these little puzzler stories.  He would pose them as great mathematical mysteries.  We got a kick out of them.  We would try to solve them and he would interrupt us with "No. Wrong."

Not that we were wrong.  We were right.  It turns out that he actually believed these to be unsolvable problems.

One of them is about the 3 guys who need to get a hotel room.  This one is hard for me to tell, because my brain naturally tries to add it up the way a sane person would.  I am going to try to tell it (briefly) here so you get the idea.  I will not tell it anywhere near as good as my grandpa did since he believed it was a true math "mistake".  He called it that.  Said that's what they taught him at school.  I'm sure they told him at school it was a mistake. Then he mistook their meaning.  

Once after I insisted that I understood where the folly is, he began shouting, "No! It's a mathematical mystery!  It cannot be solved!  No mathematician has ever been able to answer this!"

"But Grandpa, if the clerk has ..."

"Get the fuck out of my house!"

"But I'm only 9."

"Nine years old?  really?  That's when they made my leave the Virgin Islands.* Now get the fuck out."

So hopefully I don't mess this up. At the very least, maybe you'll see how someone might get momentarily tripped up by the story.

There's this hotel where the rooms are 25 bucks a night.  The manager is a strict man.  He's also frugal.  One night he's called away for an emergency.  There's a big convention in town. He can't close the hotel. He has no choice but to leave his clerk in charge while he's away.

Blah blah blah a bunch of people get rooms until there's only one room left

Then 3 guys come in each wanting a room.  They're desperate. They agree to split the price of the one remaining room three ways. The clerk figures he'll just tell them the rooms are $30 to make the math easier. Plus, he'll pocket the 5 bucks "for his trouble".  The manager will never know. They each pay the clerk $10 and go to the room.

Later the clerk starts to feel guilty. Even though he could use the $5 for his daughter's life saving surgery, he just would not be able to look at her knowing she lives only because of ill-gotten gains (pretty sure this part wasn't in the original).  So he gives $5 to the bellhop and tells him to return it to the guests and apologize for the mistake.

Well the unscrupulous bellhop, $5 in hand, decides to make it "easy" and give the guests $1 each and keep a fat $2 tip for himself.  His little act of dishonestly causes the fabric of the universe to disintegrate because it breaks math (according to my grandpa).

Here's the part of the story where I usually mess it up ...

So ...

In the end, the guests paid $9 each ($27) for the room.  The bellhop  has $2 profit in his pocket. That's $29. And that accounts for all of the money in this story.  Or does it? They paid $30 initially.  So where did that other dollar go?  Where? Huh? The truth dammit!!

"But 'cube, that's the stupidest thing ..."

"Get the fuck outta my blogpost!"

Anyway - I'm sure there's a better way to phrase it so it's not so obvious, but that's the gist of the story.

So why even bring it up?

Oh jeez.  I thought you'd never ask.

Yesterday, I was at Jimmy John's to order 2 sandwiches.  It was Wednesday.  I usually eat a little extra on Wednesday because of WNW.  Normally I take my own lunch to work, but I couldn't yesterday.  What I'll do is eat one sandwich at lunch and have another later on.  I don't want to be hungry on WNW.

The total of just the 2 sandwiches was $13.44, which seems really expensive to me.  It was one big turkey sandwich and one little turkey sandwich.

I handed $15 dollars to the "clerk" in training.

He punched some buttons on the register, the drawer popped open and he froze in horror.  I mean really.  He just stood there looking at something on the screen in front of him.  Something was amiss.  On my side, I could only see an LED displaying "$13.44", a motionless clerk with a $15 in his hand, and an open drawer with all sorts of change. Perfect for making, um, change.

"Uhhh ..." he assured me.

You may know that one of the things I really dislike is old people talking about "kids these days."  I don't know why.  It just seems stupid.  I think because if we were raised in this time, we'd be just like them.

But I will allow that if you're working at a cash register, you should know how to add.  You don't even need to subtract.

I was so close to explaining to the kid how to count up. I was debating demonstrating that or just saying "One fifty-six."

But the manager was right there and I was in a Wonkavator mood (I wanted to see where this was going).

"So," the clerk whispered to the man in charge, "He gave me $15 but I put in fifteen cents."

"Oh that's ok, just hit button so-and-so then clear out the whachtamajig and it'll zero.  Then  give him his change."

"Oh yeah," said the relieved clerk.  So he pushed some buttons and declared "Ok, your change is a dollar seventy-one!"

Wait.  Why did he give me $1.71?

I thought about it for a minute.  Then I realized my grandpa must've worked out the math for Jimmy John's cash registers.

I looked up to the heavens where I heard my grandpa's voice whispering, "By the way Freddie, I found out where that dollar from the hotel went.  It's not a mystery up here."

"It's not one down here either gran..."

"Get the fuck outta my heavenly resting place!"

I miss you grandpa.

*He really did say the part about the Virgin Islands.  But that was another of his jokes, told at a different time. He was 37 when I was born, so maybe he was telling the truth.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

I'm Listening to Adele Right Now

I know you know this, but dang, that girl can sing.  It's not the sort of music that I listen to much, but sometimes.

I've always been a big fan of Amy Winehouse too.  But I'm not listening to Amy Winehouse.  I'm listening to Adele.  21.

It's on Amazon Prime.

But that's not what I came here to tell you about.  It's more of an icebreaker.

Is she saying "We could have had it all.  Pudding in the deep?"

Ok, so I don't really look at song titles too closely.  I went back just now to see the lyrics (an Amazon Prime feature) and noticed the title of this song is "Rolling in the deep."

How was I hearing "pudding?"

Truth is, I'm always hearing pudding.

But that's not the main thing on my mind today.  The main thing on my mind today is last night's WNW.

It blows me away how much a ride like that affects my mood. A bad ride will literally ruin my next couple of days.  Yeah - it means too much to me.  I know it.  So what?  FTG.

I have a ton of coping mechanisms (excuses) lined up in the case of a humiliating performance.

"Yeah - I didn't get much sleep last night."

"I had a bunch of meetings on the 4th floor today (my desk is on the second floor. I have a lot of meetings on the 4th floor.  I can't justify taking the elevator 2 floors. So sometimes, I use up precious WNW power on the stairs between 2 and 4 at HQ)."

"There were no Cat 3s there (only Cat 1/2) and I'm a cat 4."

"My vagina was all gin soaky."  and so on ...

But on those rare occasions when it goes well (as it did last night), I'm ever so temporarily happy.

I haven't been dropped before Ft. Calhoun all year.  I have been dropped at the Surfside climb every week.  In fact, there have been just 2 times ever that I've not been dropped on that climb.  But both of those were due to the group going a little slower than normal.

Last night though, I was still dropped, but not until the very top of the climb.  I didn't even have the strength to catch back up on the downhill.

But I was really happy anyway.

Usually, there's a terrific acceleration from the group as the climb starts.  When this happens, I tend to try to stay with the group as long as I possibly can.  Then boom.  I'm done.  I can't keep it up.  Everything shuts down momentarily until I can catch my breath.

But last night was different. JWait wasn't there last night.

We still went good up the hill, but it was a steady effort I could mostly handle for a while.

Back in 2013, I went up that hill with Rafal.  We were trying in vain to catch the group that had just dropped us.  We took turns pulling.  I worked harder than I ever had.  I tore myself inside out and had my best time up that hill.  3:10.  Not bad, all things considered.  It's a 1.1 mile segment with an average 3% grade.  It's kind of steep at the beginning and end, with a mostly flat middle section.  3:10 is still an average of 21 MPH, so yeah.

But after I did that (in 2013), I decided I'd set a goal of under 3 minutes.  I tried a few times when I figured the wind would help me. But no.  Never. Not even close.

Until last night.  Last night, I had no idea if I'd beat my 3 year old personal best, but I thought there was a shot. I had felt really good for the whole ride, but you never know.  Maybe everybody is going easy or something.

But when I got home and looked at the results I couldn't believe my luck.  I set a new PR of 2:59.

Good enough. Perfect in fact.  The best time up that hill is a ridiculous 2:48 (24 MPH) held by Paul Webb and Jordan Ross, so those guys are safe from me.  I'm just happy to be on this side of 3 minutes.  With 13 other people (357 people on the outside, ringing the bell).

Yeah - this shit definitely means too much to me. Oh well.  I guess I'd better give it up again.

Now I can return to golf.  Finally.

Thanks for all the bike rides, guys!

I don't know what this Adele song is, but it really is quite emotionally stirring.  Hang on, I'll check for you.  Ok it's called "One and Only" and it's something special.

Woah now she just started singing a "The Cure" song. I don't know what it's called (again with the titles).  But her version is excellent.  Here's the Cure for reference:

But 'Cube.  What was that about "Golf"?

Shh. Quiet. I want to hear this song and just weep and rent my garments in twain and stuff (it's now after the "The Cure" song because it took me a couple of minutes to go get that video above).

I can tell Adele is very sad in this song.  She remembers that this guy she's sad about said "Sometimes it lasts, some lures, but sometimes it hurts instead."  But she's so sad, it sounds like she's saying "in stayed."  I bet that guy was totally some skinny-ass bearded hipster type, too (this was 2011).  Poor Adele. FTG.

Also, I don't think she's saying "some lures" because that makes no sense.  But whatever she's saying, I feel real bad for her.

So there's that. Sniff.  But dang.  She can sing.