Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hazardous to Humans

Today while drying my hands in the men’s room at work I glanced down into the trash can and could read part of a label that had been torn off a bottle or box of some product. In bold letters it proclaimed: Hazardous to Humans and Domestic Animals.

I really wanted to learn more, but did not want to be “that guy” caught rummaging through the garbage in the men’s room. I’ll probably have this job for a few more years, so that’s not a reputation I want to carry with me.

From the edges of the label I could see, it had obviously been torn, so I’m not certain I could have even learned the name of the product it boldly warned me about.

Was this something the custodian was spraying around my desk?

Is it the reason I no longer have wood ants crawling around the window but have a lingering cough?

Is it the sweet-clean concoction they mix in the mop water?

All I know is that it is something used in the building and it is something Hazardous to Humans and Domestic Animals.

Which leads me to wonder:

Does that mean it is safe for wild animals?

Does appropriate disposal mean pouring it into the creek or down an open sewer with direct drain to the river?

Maybe tomorrow I’m going to be “that guy” who demands the custodians open up their secret stash of products so I can read all the labels to put my paranoia aside – or make it worse.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Family Guy...or Not

I’ve always wanted to be a father. Even though I knew I would not have a traditional family or biological child, adoption remained an option I have considered from time to time. However, after having two little ones in my house for a few hours, I’m rethinking that idea.

When my brothers and I were young, our parents always warned us about being quiet and still whenever we went to visit old relatives or neighbors – anyone who was not used to having small children around. They said it made them nervous.

I’m now one of those old people.

One of my brothers came to Thanksgiving with is wife, son, and two foster children. Their coming thrilled me as they had never been to my house and I’ve lived here over a year and a half. They stayed just over four hours.

As soon as the kids were safely in the car seat, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. My home was quiet again. I really relish the peace of being home alone or being here with someone who will just sit and read.

A guy recently asked me what my greatest fault was. That was easy to answer: I’m a genius and I’m always right. It is especially true around my house. I’ve lived alone longer than I have lived with others, and I am particular in the way things are done. My house is not always the neatest or cleanest, but I organize and clean in certain ways.

As far as I’m concerned, there is only one way to load the dishwasher for maximum efficiency and cleaning.

I make my bed in a certain way. The pillows are turned a specific direction and the cases are put on in a particular way so they look best when the pillows are turned that direction only. The stuffed animals on my bed have an order as well.

The same goes for ironing my shirts. I iron each morning as I get ready for work. I work through the shirt parts in a deliberate manner: collar, left sleeve, right sleeve, right front, left front, back. It works for me and no part ever goes unironed.

I’m likely scaring away any potential dates out there, but those who are not scared away: I’m really a pretty good catch, but I will reload the dishwasher when you are done.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thanksgiving for $42.26?

Each year, the American Farm Bureau Federation figures the cost of Thanksgiving dinner for ten people as a gauge of food prices in the nation. This year, the cost has risen to $42.26, a $4.16 increase over last year.

Who are they feeding, anorexic pygmies?

And what are they feeding them, a turkey burger, half a sweet potato, three cranberries, some corn, a roll, and a slice of pumpkin pie?

I’m cooking for fourteen to twenty people as I’m still not certain who is going to show up, but I’ve already spent over $180 and have not even made the last minute run to the store to get the things I forgot. Due to connections with a friend, I’m not purchasing the turkey (a nice 22 pounder), so that was not figured into the price. I would be approaching $200 if the turkey was included.

But according to the Farm Bureau, at twenty people I should only be out $84.52.

Maybe I’m doing it the wrong way – from scratch. I started cooking last weekend by baking the bread to make croutons for the dressing. I’ll make the cornbread part of the dressing on Tuesday and crumble it in with the bread Wednesday morning.

The only things coming out of a can are the cranberry sauce, and pumpkin and blueberries for the pies. The blueberry pie is a last minute addition since I found out my brother (who loves blueberries) is coming with his family.

The menu so far:

  • Turkey
  • Dressing
  • Sweet potato (with brown sugar and marshmallow topping)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Green beans (steamed with almond, topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese, not green bean casserole)
  • Broccoli with cheese (homemade cheese sauce, of course)
  • Corn casserole
  • Cranberry sauce (both whole cranberry and jelled)
  • Sourdough rolls (baked from scratch that morning)
  • Blueberry pie
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Pumpkin cheesecake
  • Two-layer pumpkin pie
  • Pecan pie

By the time I’m done cooking, I’m sure there will be a couple more dishes added on. It never ends up as simply as it starts.

And now the challenge will be to find enough seats if everyone shows up at the same time. I can seat sixteen, but if all twenty show up, some people are going to have to stand at the bar.

Let my heartburn begin!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Beyond Grandpa

I’m not much of a bar person, so I rarely go out, but occasionally a friend will talk me into going as C. did last night. After a while we ended up on the back patio of Rain, since C. smokes and it is illegal anywhere indoors in Austin.

We were standing around talking and looking for cute men. Just beside us was a cute guy with a couple of his friends and as I looked around the room, I noticed him looking at us every time I looked his way. The looks gradually turned to smiles and he finally took the three steps over to us.

He wrapped his arm around me and we all chatted briefly then he went back to his friends.

A few minutes later C. went to get another drink. Cute guy came back and before I knew what was happening, he planted a full-on kiss on my mouth. He then asked what happened to my friend. I answered that he went to get another drink. He then kissed me again and asked how old C. was. I answered that he was 24. He replied, “Oh, he’s a grandpa!” and kissed me again.

When he stopped kissing me, I said, “I’m 41; what does that make me?”

He leaned over again, since he was somewhat taller than me, kissed me again, then said, “Well, you have a good night,” turned around, and walked away.

Clearly, I am somewhat beyond grandpa status, but I think I may be going out more often. How else am I going to have the chance to be kissed by really cute twenty-somethings?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

My New Workout

If I could be fit and toned just by thinking about being fit and toned, I'd be Adonis. The truth is, I don't like to sweat; I don't mind hard physical work, I just don't like to sweat.

The lack of sweat makes it hard for me to get into the physical activities necessary to keep me in shape and my muscles toned. I actually enjoy jogging and wish I lived closer to the great trails here in Austin; were I to run in my neighborhood, the pit-bulls would make short work of me. I have run half-marathons before and survived the sweat, and in my fantasy-fit world, I'll run marathons. I just have to overcome that dislike of perspiration.

As the weather had changed and become generally cooler - highs lower than 90 degrees - allergy season has begun and I'm discovering it may be the answer to my no-sweat workout fantasy. Since the allergies kicked in, I've been coughing non-stop - so much that I didn't sleep the first three days. The coughing has been working my abs more than hundreds of sit-ups. If the ragweed does not clear up soon, I expect to come out of this with a six-pack and without shedding a drop of sweat.

As much as my stomach hurts, I'm surprised this has not been written about in fitness journals. Since I have not been able to find anything about it in the magazines, I should have taken before pictures so I could show off the new-found abs in an after picture beside it.

Maybe I could develop designer nasal sprays with the allergens that make people cough the most. They could make a trip to their allergist, find out what they need and then order online! A few weeks of stuffy misery and you are ready for that new swimsuit. The best part is you don't have to wait for the season to come around - you can have your allergies anytime you want them.

I could retire young and wealthy and known as a fitness guru.

Really, how much worse could custom allergens be than the custom steroids being brewed to stay just ahead of the testing systems?