Thursday, October 23, 2008

Oh deer. ME!?

(That's a takeoff on the POINTMEISTER'S post for today!)

On tuesday morning at about 6 a.m. I was merrily (well, maybe a better adverb would be "sleepily") driving to work.

I had just left the house. I wasn't even out of the city limits yet. But I WAS on a divided boulevard with a 55 mph speed limit (which I was actually obeying, Christina!) (. . . for once).

In the glare of the headlights of the oncoming traffic I saw a flicker of motion.

Gee, that looked like something moving between me and that car . . . Must have been an animal! Where there's one, there are usually more. Oh, SH---BAM!!

I had just the barest instant to flick the wheel to the left in reaction to the sight of the deer running straight across from right to left about two feet in front of my right headlight.

It happened so fast (plus it was pitch dark out there -- no street lights) that I never saw which way the body of the instantly-dead deer flew. I was now in the median, still going about 55, and fighting for control of the car.

Now, the experts will tell you that when you see an animal in front of you and can't stop, DON'T swerve. Likely you'll just lose control of the car and crash, doing MUCH worse damage to life and property than if you just hit the animal. They tell you to drive THROUGH the animal, let the car absorb the damage, and come to a controlled stop.

Yeah, right. I know all that.

But the experts don't tell you how to prevent that reflexive instinct to avoid a collision. I had swerved before I had a conscious thought about what to do.

Anyway, I did regain control, eased back onto the pavement, came to a controlled stop, and got out to inspect the damage. I didn't even have to clean out my pants! Must have been my fighter-pilot training and instincts. (Or something.) (Aside: They say that just before you really screw up a night carrier landing, first you say it, and then you DO it.)

Before I even looked at the front of the car I knew it was totalled. Why? Well, this was my commute-to-work car. It's a little Mazda Protege (great gas mileage!) that is 12 years old and has 196,000 miles on it. That means the current value of the car is about $1,900, if I'm REALLY lucky. Just replacing the hood, headlight and front fender would cost that much, or more.

Sure enough, all of those were mashed pretty thoroughly. In addition, when I struck the front shoulder of the deer, the back end slammed around into the passenger-side door denting it in and leaving a large smear of . . . well . . .deer poop right by the handle.

Believe it or not, the car was still drivable. So after ensuring that the deer carcass was not impeding traffic I decided there was no sense calling the police. They darn sure weren't going to ticket the deer! I drove on to work.

As of today, two things are official:

1. My car has had the damage estimated and has been declared a total loss. It will be driven away to some salvage yard tomorrow. It's epitaph ought to be, "I fought the deer, and I won."

2. My new nickname at work is "Deerslayer." That alternates with "Bambi Murderer," and a few other attempts at humor

I just told them to go open my passenger door, and then smell their hand.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Georgia golf course pics

Back to our September vacation trip. When we last visited this topic, Carol and I had just left Chicago.

From there we headed down to Georgia to play some golf. And believe it or not, I don't have a single picture of a golf course to show you.

But all of these pictures were taken on or at a golf course.

First, a walking stick. No, not the stick you use when you hike, the insect! Have you ever seen one? Very aptly named. This guy was resting on the front of our car when we finished a round in a brief shower.

Often we've seen smaller walking sticks, but this one was about 6 inches from tip to tip. Obviously their appearance provides excellent camouflage when they're in or near trees or bushes. On a white Ford Expedition it's questionable whether any predator would have been fooled.

But take a close look at this guy's body. Pretty good disguise, I'd say!

Next we found some pileated woodpeckers. We have additional pictures of these birds from other locations. They're very impressive at nearly a foot in height, and it's hard to miss that brilliant topknot.

The one below had just found something in a hole in a dead tree trunk and was working to get it out. I hope it was tasty.

Then we saw an even bigger bird beside a fairway. This gobbler seems to know that Thanksgiving is not that far away. He wouldn't let us get close at all.

Finally, here are some pictures containing evidence of an animal we DIDN'T see. Check out these trees. Notice anything?

Take a closer look at the second tree from the left . . .
Now take a REAL close look. Somehow I don't think a chain saw did that.

We never saw Bucky, but he must not live far away. Some of the other nearby trees had evidence of his "busy" work!
(Next installment: On to Florida!)
(Coming soon.)
(I hope.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

An OLD joke I still think is funny

I know . . . I know! You've heard/read this before. So had I.

But when I saw it yesterday I laughed out loud at it. Again.

So I read it aloud to Carol, giving the dialogue of the old rabbi my impression of a Brooklyn Yiddish accent (horrible, of course, but she was tickled by it).

And now I offer it to you. I think it's cute. I hope it doesn't offend!


Several centuries ago, the Pope decreed that all the Jews had to convert to Catholicism or leave Italy.

There was a huge outcry from the Jewish community, so the Pope offered a deal. He'd have a religious debate with the leader of the Jewish community. If the Jews won, they could stay in Italy; if the Pope won, they'd have to convert or leave.

The Jewish people met and picked an aged and wise rabbi to represent them in the debate. However, as the rabbi spoke no Italian, and the Pope spoke no Yiddish, they agreed that it would be a 'silent' debate.

On the chosen day the Pope and rabbi sat opposite each other. The Pope raised his hand and showed three fingers. The rabbi looked back and raised one finger.

Next, the Pope waved his finger around his head. The rabbi pointed to the ground where he sat.

The Pope brought out a communion wafer and a chalice of wine. The rabbi pulled out an apple.

With that, the Pope stood up, declared himself beaten and said that the rabbi was too clever. The Jews could stay in Italy.

Later the cardinals met with the Pope and asked him what had happened. The Pope said, "First I held up three fingers to represent the Trinity. He responded by holding up a single finger to remind me there is still only one God common to both our beliefs.

"Then, I waved my finger around my head to show him that God was all around us. He responded by pointing to the ground to show that God was also right here with us.

"I pulled out the bread and wine to show that God absolves us of all our sins. He pulled out an apple to remind me of the original sin.

"He bested me at every move and I could not continue."

Meanwhile, the Jewish community gathered to ask the rabbi how he'd won.

"I haven't a clue," the rabbi said. "First, he told me that we had three days to get out of Italy, so I gave him the finger.

"Then he tells me that the whole country would be cleared of Jews and I told him that we were staying right here."

''And then what?" asked a woman.

"Who knows?" said the rabbi. "He took out his lunch so I took out mine."

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

OOOOO! One more Chicago note!

(Insider Information Contained Here!)

I can't believe I forgot to include this experience in the last post. My excuse is: I have no pictures of it to show you. But still . . .

My Chicago-dwelling daughter had learned that if there's a (live) theater show you want to go see, but you don't want so spend hundreds of dollars for a good seat, there's a secret!!

The box office opens at 10:00 am sharp. If you happen to be one of the first ten people in line on the day of the performance, you can buy seats in the orchestra, FRONT ROW, CENTER, for $25 each! These seats would normally cost you $250.00 each! (Shhhh! You have to ask for "rush tickets.")

They don't sneer at you, or laugh at you. They smile and ask how many you want.

We got to the box office well before 10:00 am, but there were 14 people already in line. As I'm experiencing an instant a sinking feeling that we'd blown it, daughter pipes up with, "Don't worry. Some of these people probably are just here to buy regular tickets, or tickets for another day's performance. Very few people know about these "rush tickets."

We went to see "Jersey Boys," a superb musical telling the story of Franky Valli and the Four Seasons.

The cast was fantastic, and they performed all of the old Four Seasons' hits:
Big Girls Don't Cry
C'mon Marianne
Dawn (Go Away)
Rag Doll
Workin' My Way Back to You
Can't take My Eyes Off of You

And lots more! I knew and could sing along with every one of them.
But let me tell you about the seats. Have you ever been front row center in a Broadway-type show? I never had!
The only downside was that the stage was about a foot higher than our heads, so when the action moved back towards the rear we had to hike ourselves up some to see it. But most of the action was near the front.
And WHEN the action was near the front it was right on top of us! I could have (literally) reached up and touched the shoes of the performers when they stood on the edge of the stage. Which they did frequently when they sang.
It was a thrilling, unique experience (unless you've got LOTS of money to spend at the theater), and one I won't soon forget.
So . . . Next time you're in Chicago and have time to take in a show, remember about "rush tickets."
It could save you a bundle, and provide you with a really exciting theater experience.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Vacation tales and pics

** SIGH **

Daughter Christina is back into blogging after a hiatus, and is bugging me to post something.

Okay . . . I guess. I had promised several of my many both of my my ONE faithful reader some pictures of my recent marathon driving trip as well, so here's a start.

We left Texas heading for Chicago and spent the long Labor Day weekend with my younger daughter and her husband in their high-rise apartment right on the Chicago river with a view of the lake.

Here's a shot from her "office" (and I'll never tire of this view!):

In Chicago we toured the Frank Lloyd Wright residence and studio, and took a walking tour of some of the homes he designed early in his career. I have some pictures, but unless you're REALLY into architecture and FLW they wouldn't be very exciting.

Our daughter and her husband have been taking ballroom dancing lessons, kind of like Badabing. She (not "they") decided to try a ballroom dancing competition, and although we didn't get to see it, we did see all of her pictures and videos.

Now part of the deal is, each female competitor has to have TWO dresses: one for "smooth" dances, and one for Latin. The "smooth" dress has to have a "float" (a panel of usually sheer fabric that attaches to one wrist, and from there to the skirt), and it absolutely MUST have rhinestones. LOTS of rhinestones.

How many rhinestones, you ask? Well, the bare MINIMUM (and nobody would be caught dead in a dress with this few!) is ten gross.

Do the math.

That's 1440 little sparklies that are HAND-GLUED to the dress!

My daughter's dress had 13 gross . . . But who's counting?

She bought the fabric and designed the dress herself. She hand-glued the 13 gross colored rhinestones in a pattern around the bodice designed to look like flames.

Yes, flames.

Okay, okay, here's a picture:

Now, get this! Many competitors buy their dresses (not having the time or the skill to MAKE them). My daughter says she spent a total of about $300 for materials for this dress.

She was told by a dress designer that had she bought that dress it would have cost $3,000. And that's without the rhinestones glued on!

Oh, and don't forget; competitors would NEVER wear a particular dress more than once in competition! NEVER!

In case you're wondering, she doesn't expect to compete in the future. "Been there, done that," is what I think she said.

Could she go into business making custom competition dresses for ballroom? And make a killing? Sure.

Does she want to? Nope. She's a graphic designer (manager) with bigger fish to fry. Am I proud? Hmmmm.

Oh, and one last shot. Carol and I were walking exactly one-half block from daughter's apartment in the heart of downtown Chicago, when a rabbit hopped across the sidewalk in front of us and headed for some landscape plantings in front of a huge high-rise building.

No, that is NOT a fake rabbit or a retouched photo. Here's a close-up, complete with red-eye:

More to come . . . Someday!