Sunday, June 27, 2010

Week 25

If you haven't heard of Freecycle, you should sign up soon.  The movement began as a conglomeration of Yahoo Groups with firm guidelines regarding membership (you had to be local to the group) and posting (formatting, the nature of your dealings, etc.)  If you have something laying around that you don't want, you list it as an 'offer,' and if someone else in the network wants it, they can arrange to pick it up- no money changes hands.  If there's something you would like to have, you can enter a "wanted" post, and some kind soul might just have an extra on hand they're willing to give you for nothing.  Freecycle is gradually graduating from Yahoo Groups to it's own centralized site at

All that to say, I put in a request for some 1-gallon glass jugs for a project of mine and a nice, older lady named Elizabeth responded.  She was from just south of us, across the border in the backwoods of PA.  We exchanged emails for several days trying to coordinate the logistics (she apparently only checks her inbox once a day.)  She was feeling under the weather, so she postponed delivery, but offered to bring them all the way up to Elmira.

So I stopped at a gas station on the fringe of the city and waited for 20 minutes on my way home from work on Friday.  Elizabeth, true to her word, showed up in her Escape.  She was a petite backwoods granny in a sun-dress with two of the longest sandy-grey pigtails I've ever seen in my life.  She seemed tough as nails and sweet has honey.  I accepted the goods, thanked her kindly, and we parted ways- as is the beauty of freecycle.

Earlier in the week I happened to meet a gentleman I thought I already knew.  A guy from sales, who I'd been dealing with off and on and I assumed to be a sales manager named Joe.  He came into my office and said such-and-such about a particular job I was working on.  I told him that the take-off was all screwed up and that the guy that took it off had emailed me explaining how he planned to fix it.  "I took it off." he said. . . . . It turns out that the guy I thought was Joe the sales manager, was actually Scott the estimator.  I played off that blunder pretty well, but that case of mistaken identity was quite a shocker.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Week 24

On Sunday after church we did the buffet thing.  Buffets have to be one of the greatest exercises in self-discipline to exist in the modern world.  It's a world of food- countless bins full of everything you can imagine from cold, crispy veggies at the salad bar, to steaming chicken Alfredo nestled right between the taco station and egg rolls.  Some of the bigger ones even boast a Meat Bar now- yes, I said a MEAT BAR manned by a professional flesh chopper ready to hack you off some finely roasted muscle at your bidding.

The establishments tend to charge you so that you'd have to eat 8 pounds of steak to get your money's worth, and I am a big fan of getting my money's worth.  My strategy is to usually start with the salad bar to give myself the illusion of a healthy meal- and to pad my gullet a bit.  By the time I drown all of that baby spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower in ranch dressing and bacon bits, the American Heart Association probably wouldn't approve.

Round two usually consists of meat and pasta, they really have options when it comes to cold pasta and potato salads that make you feel like you swallowed a cinder block.  By the time that plate's cleaned, my eyes are rolling back in my head as I purvey the acre of various cookies, brownies, soft-serve toppings, and more available at the dessert bar.  It takes both hands to get a cube of that heavy bread pudding onto my plate.  I cover it with ice-cream so my wife doesn't see it and get jealous.

With no crafty segue to connect my previous exercise in exaggeration to the two names that legitimize this post, over a hearty meal at the Old Country Buffet I had the privilege of meeting a couple named Bob and Alicia.  Nice folks, indeed!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Week 23

Okay, last week's extensive description of skull-loving Brian the boat-renter will have to take up the slack for this week's pitiful post.  On Sunday we were treated to lunch by Reverend Jon and at Beijing Garden- a nice place to get your China-food fix, by the way. I formally met their kiddos, which included William and Grace.  (Not named after the TV show Will & Grace). 

We all had fun scorching our wontons and eggrolls in the flame centered on the Pu-Pu platter.  Grace, missing several upper front teeth, said the tooth fairy had been giving her a fair shake.  William didn't say a whole lot, but seemed quite the gentleman.

Later in the week I finally ventured down the hallway of the sales department where I work and met a guy named Jim for the first time, a pretty nice guy- helpful for a salesman.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Week 22

It's been a really nice week.  I'm all about three-day work weeks and believe they should be decreed.  It would be great for our consumer-dependent economy with everyone having extra days to shop.  More jobs would be created since so many retail workers would have swing-shifts. . . . I need to write the president.

When we get one of those heavensent free days like Memorial day, resulting in a much-appreciated three-day weekend, I like to take the following Friday off as well.  Three days off, three on, three off- the perfect work-week.  The potential for overtime pay is blown out of the water by a holiday anyway, so get out of the office while it costs the least, I say!

On Memorial Day weekend we explored the Corning Glass Fest.  I was drooling all over myself at the opportunity to see someone blow a bubble with hot glob of molten sand.  It was just as cool as I expected; I want a furnace for my birthday.  We went shopping that weekend for new-home essentials like a grill and curtains, and hunted down the local disc-golf course for our first round in the Empire State.  I probably met several people, but not a single name stuck.

Three days of dim-lit brain numbing drudgery. . . .

Another three-day WeEkEnD!!!

We thought long and hard about how to spend our free time, options ranging from staying at home and continuing to get our 90%-unpacked items in order, to a 3-night backpacking/canoe trip in the Adirondacks.  We finally decided to put off the safari, and take a local day-trip by canoe down the Chemung River, which literally runs through our backyard.  There's a website called Friends of the Chemung River Watershed, there it recommends adventurers call 'On the River Canoe and Kyak Rentals' if they are in need of a boat.  That I did, on Friday morning and, despite the short notice, the owner was happy to rent us a boat.

We dropped off my truck at the Grove Street boat ramp in Elmira and then took the car to On The River, which is really the riverside house of a very personable redneck named Brian.  Brian was tall, scruffy, and skinny as a bean-pole but muscular.  His gristle was covered with a tanned hide, decorated by flaming devil-head tattoos and skulls, along with a few obscure green smudges.  His yard didn't contain a 20-year-old Cadillac up on blocks, but it had almost every other aspect of stereotypical redneck lore, including a hand-crafted deer stand in an oak tree.  The "business" consisted of one of those trailers that looks like scaffolding on wheels with two canoes, and three kayaks.

I've rarely seen anyone as into skull-candy as Brian.  There was what looked like a real human skull on a pole in the yard with a bandana tied around it's cranium.  The valve stem caps on every wheel of his rusted-out  little pickup were silver skulls with red eyes.  I helped Brian load the canoe onto the frame attached to the back of his truck, then we all three piled into the cab.  My wife taking care to keep her knee clear of the gearshift as we squeaked out of the front yard.

I asked Brian if he could ever hear couples yelling at each other from the river as they approached the end of their float trip.  "Yep," he replied, "That's why we call them divorce boats."

Brian dropped us off at a landing he called 'the turkey farm' because, he said, there used to be one there.  We got out of the truck, unloaded the boat, and signed our rights away- then realized I didn't have cash to pay the man.  Our lunch was the only collateral I could have offered, and a canoe trip with a hungry wife would have been suicidal, so I didn't offer.  'I've got yer car," he said, and told us we could pay after the trip.

Our trip down the river went off without a hitch, other than sore rumps and sunburn knees.  There were only a few places where the water moved fast enough to make the ride exciting, and then it was exciting only because the water was so shallow that rocks would unexpectedly crack our tail-bones.  Most of the trip was like paddling across a pond.  In places, a pond that cattle had been drinking from- riddled with yellow foam.  The Chemung doesn't exactly sparkle.  The highlight of our trip was sighting a bald eagle  perched majestically in a towering fir tree near where the tree-lined slopes met the water.  We even spotted its huge nest in a dead tree not far away.

We only stopped once, for lunch, eating tuna salad with our fingertips since we forgot to bring bread.  But by that time maple leaves would have tasted pretty darn good.  It wasn't much farther before we arrived at Brian's house and our trip ended.  We were greeted at the water's edge by Brian and a more plump version of him with a bushy biker's goatee and a bandanna tied around his head.  He turned out to be Brian's brother John.

Brian was surprised to see us after only three hours, having told us that the trip would likely take about six.  I guess we're better paddlers than he presumed.  I stayed behind and chatted with the good 'ol boys while my wife made a run to the nearest ATM so we could pay up.  I meant to ask Brian what all of the skull-decor signified.  No one would be able to assume his style of they met him in a business suit and talked to him for six hours.  Unfortunately I didn't get that far.  We may go back and rent kayaks from him sometime just to see if we prefer them to canoes, maybe then I'll pop that question.