Eww, it’s gross in there!

I’m not an everyday flier, but as I’ve written in earlier blogs, I have been on an airplane before. In my earlier flying days, whether solo or with friends, I have to admit that I never thought twice about pulling magazines, and especially SkyMall, out from the seat-back pocket in front of me. I would always check out the airline magazine to search out the crossword puzzle to kill some time for the flight, but SkyMall was always where the entertainment was at, and I was a little sad to hear it was going away, filing for bankruptcy because people use their electronic devices for everything nowadays, including buying that speaker that looks like a rock.

If you’ve flown you probably remember something in the SkyMall magazine that you wanted to have, thought was inventive, imagined would look good in your front yard, or even thought would be perfect for your pet. Undoubtedly you would put the magazine back in the pocket when done, get along with your flight, and most likely forget about the pet feeder that was going to free you from that daily chore of feeding your best friend. SkyMall was there to help you discover a world of things available around you that you didn’t know existed, and sadly, even though the internet is filled with the same crap you don’t really need and can find at a cheaper price, it was the discovery that made SkyMall great, but because no one would buy, or even look at the magazine any longer, it’s going away, along with cool items like the Brew to Go Sippy Cup and the proverbial globe that was also a bar.

The thing is, with the end of SkyMall, I really have no reason to gross out my wife when we go for a trip somewhere. I recall the first time we flew together, and I reached for that seat-back pocket. You would have thought I was digging into a diaper to take out some poop and smear it under my nose by the look on her face, and while yes, I knew there was probably gross-ness in that pocket, there are many times I just do my best to ignore what might have been left there, who might have been touching those magazines earlier, and sit back with the “Why didn’t I think of that?” thought constantly in my head.

My wife will probably be happy it’s gone so I won’t have a reason to take anything out of the seat-back pocket, but I wonder, at least up until this demise of SkyMall, do you take anything out of the seat-back pocket in an airplane?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Ernie Banks – Lets Play Two

Cubs  Opening Day 2008With the passing of Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, as much as I thought he seemed like a nice guy, I don’t recall ever seeing, or reading, in the social media world, such an outpouring of support and kindness for a person. I’m sure there are some “Glad he’s gone,” posts somewhere, but it seemed everyone loved the guy, or at least respected his contribution to baseball. Sure, there were the normal, celebrity remembrances, but across my Facebook friends, people I grew up with in Ohio whom I wouldn’t have imagined really knew who he was, were there posting “Rest in Peace” comments, “He will be missed,” and even the White Sox fans, who are supposed to despise with all of their being anything Cub, had nice things to say. The other thing? Most of them had an Ernie Banks story. There were the stories of meeting him at a Cubs Convention, in an airport, on the street, and I’m sure there was someone regaling to his friends how he took a pee next to Ernie Banks in a bathroom somewhere.

And yes, even I have an Ernie Banks story.

Cubs Opening Day 2008I never did meet the man, though from everything everyone has posted I’m sure he would have been nice to me, but my story relates to his statue that is currently being tidied up for the next Cubs season and not available for fans to lay flowers, or other mementos, out of respect for him. It was back in 2008, another Cubs Opening Day with kind of crappy weather, but it was the official unveiling of the Ernie Banks statue. I wrote about it in a blog post at the time, and remember it to this day, because his saying, “Let’s play two!”, was synonymous with Cubs baseball, was spelled wrong. There, for eternity, or at least until it could be corrected, on the base of the statue, was an English teacher’s nightmare, “Lets play two.” Silly me, I didn’t take a picture of it, instead just some pictures of the crappy weather, but it’s one of those thing you look at and might wonder “Is that correct? I mean, it’s on the statue?” Sure enough, the apostrophe was added, all was right with the Ernie Banks legacy, and me, I at least have the story of seeing his statue with “Let’s” engraved incorrectly.

I’ll admit I’m not always the best at my own editing, that I’ll miss an apostrophe or two, but there’s my Ernie Banks story. It’s not much, and I do wish I would have met him I suppose, but I also wonder: Do you have an Ernie Banks story?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!


Refrigerator Stickiness

Growing up, well, I suppose not even growing up but just back at home at the old homestead, my mom had all kinds of crap stuck to the refrigerator. Schedules, appointments, maybe the occasional report card, hell, I don’t really remember it all, I just remember there was a lot of stuff on there. It was her version of the pocket organizer, only it involved a lot of magnets and a lovely, brown, refrigerator. Refrigerators have come a long way since then, especially in color (good luck finding a brown refrigerator on the floor of your local appliance store), as well in features, but one thing that still seems to be sort of a status quo, at least for people I know is there is stuff stuck to them.

I know some of the new stainless refrigerators won’t let magnets stick, but there are tons of ways to get around that with a variety of sticky solutions to the posting of your child’s latest artwork. Our current refrigerator is also a kind of hodgepodge of stuff (and my wife might kill me for posting the picture), but it includes a little magnet of Chicago, some magnets of vegetables, a nice saying about God, and a giant calendar we received from our local church, complete with an advertisement for a funeral home to remind of our final destination that will come eventually. There are also these magnetic hooks that aren’t really strong enough to hold much, yet there they are, but oddly none of the photos she had up at our old house made the move, or at least made it up on the refrigerator yet.

There are some people who prefer a clean slate if you will, no clutter, no magnets, no sticky-tack, and although not the daily organizer my mom had, it does make me happy that my wife likes stuff on the fridge. It also makes wonder: Do you have anything stuck to your refrigerator?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Your Workaholic Siblings

Every now and then I check out my horoscope. Usually it’s on Sunday when I’m reading the actual newspaper, made of paper, and there they are, at the end of the Arts & Entertainment section, but since things have gone online for most of my reading one of the things that has gotten lost is my daily horoscope. Not that I really take much stock in what the horoscope says, especially because if you happen to do something crazy, like read every horoscope for every sign for the day, you will find all of them remarkably similar many times, but sometimes there is some entertainment value to what some person can write, in the most general terms, of how your day should go. Sometimes, though, they also make me sad because I know I’ve got no chance to accomplish what my horoscope says I should.

My case in point was a horoscope of mine from a few weeks ago. Me, I’m a Taurus, born in May, which supposedly lends me to being stubborn and liking gardening. As I started with the horoscope there was hope on the horizon: “Focus on making money for a few days.” I thought, “Who doesn’t want to do that? I’m in!” It then went on to tell me to strengthen my infrastructure, whatever that means, that I should “enter an intense work phase” and that would lead to reaping the rewards, and sure, I’m still going along. Suddenly it all came crashing down. “Partner with an older workaholic, especially a sibling.” I realized “I’m screwed.” Yup, I thought of my sister and brother, the basic definition of sibling, and while they have been known to work hard, I wouldn’t consider either of them addicted to work. My sister might be addicted to cats, but not work, and my brother, well, not the workaholic there if I recall unless something has changed in the last five years I don’t know about.

So much for making money for a few days, but reading that horoscope did make me wonder: Do you have a workaholic sibling?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Everyone Has Gotten Caught Shoplifting

I’ll admit the title of this “Andy Wonders” is a little bit of an exaggeration, but it occurred to me the other day when I was shopping at Target that most everyone has gotten caught shoplifting, or nearly everyone at least in the eyes of the scanners that sound off an alarm when you leave the store if the anti-shoplifting tag hasn’t been de-activated properly. I know it’s happened to me. Sometimes it has happened when I bagged my own stuff at the store, which of course makes me wonder if I did forget to scan something, and then there are the times when it happens after I go to a real, live check-out person, and I’m pissed that either they A) Didn’t scan something and that makes me a shoplifter, or B) They didn’t deactivate the anti-shoplifting tag thereby having everyone look at me as I’m leaving the store thinking I’ve just stolen the latest Taylor Swift CD or porterhouse steak.

What I find mostly, though, is that for all of the times I’ve gone through the scanners and they’ve gone off, or when I’ve seen other people go through the scanners and they sound the alarm, I’ve never seen anyone actually care. I generally just keep on walking, maybe making a motion that I noticed the alarm, but also making the motion and face of “What, I didn’t steal nothin’.” Most other people seem to have the same reaction, and I can’t recall ever seeing a store employee jump to action, yelling “Halt! Thief! We must check your bags because that little metal strip inside your DVD says you are stealing it!”

I’ve never seen anyone really care up until the other day.

There I found myself, about twenty to thirty feet behind two girls as they were leaving, and the alarm sounded as they were leaving the store. Rather than act like 99.9999% of every human being, these two girls actually stopped in their tracks, turned around, and I heard the one girl tell the other “We have to go back to see if they forgot to scan something.” I wasn’t sure if I was proud of the girl for her honesty, guilty because I know I would have just kept walking, or mystified at their decision to verify their purchase.

I also wondered another couple of things. One has always been how those little things protecting the merchandise actually set off the alarm. I mean, I’ve taken them apart and it just looks like a couple of strips of metal in a plastic container. For this post I actually took one apart for you to see, at least the one inside a Reservoir Dogs DVD I had. The other thing was a little more people related, so for this post I wonder: Have you ever gone back into the store to verify your purchase when the anti-shoplifting alarm goes off?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

When Funny is Shot Down

No Photoshop. No digital editing. Just a couple of magazines, someone with a weird curiosity, and old-school cutting-and-pasting. There on the table were the magazines and my quick glance brought me Taylor Swift on the cover of Time, and Tony Robbins on the cover of Fortune. A second glance, and then the coffee nearly came out of my nose as I saw the change, laughed out loud, and wondered if either Taylor or Tony would have the career they have if they had a different mouth.

I took a picture of the magazines and giggled with glee every time I looked at it. The sweet, pouty lips of Taylor on Tony almost gave him a sensitive quality, but that giant grin with the huge teeth on Taylor was the kicker for me. I planned a wonder if they could be popular with their new mouths, and later in the day, with uber excitement, pulled out my phone with my latest find of laughter, intending to bring my wife as much joy as I was experiencing. She looked at the picture, looked at me with my giddy anticipation of her enjoyment, and quickly gave a look of “What? So someone switched their mouths.” Then she said “What’s funny about that?” My funny was shot down.

I tried to defend my funny, but she had none of it. I tried to explain the humor of the juxtaposition of the mouths, but she didn’t care. She just didn’t find it funny.

I did.

Maybe it’s because I have the sense of humor of a 12-year old, maybe it’s because in my head I see all kinds of images, like Tony Robbins singing and dancing to “Shake It Off,” while Taylor Swift is on stage, her sweet voice coming through a giant mouth, and explaining how you aren’t handling your finances well (Tony’s got a new book out called “MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom”), but for me the picture is funny.

So I wonder. I know my answer, and I know the answer from my wife, but is the image of Tony Robbins with Taylor Swift’s mouth, and vice-versa, funny?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Maybe This is Why Your Child is Fat

I kind of remember the first time I saw a little baby being fed Cheerios. I believe it was in church. I found it kind of odd, but it did seem to keep the baby happy. At issue, though, in my head, was the baby was kind of chubby and the bag of Cheerios the mom had was about two servings of Cheerios. In my head I said, “Shouldn’t you at least scale down the amount you give the kid to be an appropriate serving?”

Oh well.

I don’t know why the Cheerios thing came to my head when I saw the girl, but there she was, yes, kind of chubby, and gnawing on a fast-food hash brown. I pegged her to be about three years old, a cute-enough kid, and found it odd, her gnawing on a hash-brown, or maybe more odd, that Mom was just about forcing it down her throat. I guess I’ll leave any preaching aside, but today just wonder: Would you feed fast-food hash browns to a three year old?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Sitting Where Their Butt Sat

As sometimes my wondering follows current events or people I see while I’m out on the town, the experience of moving has left me with lots of things I’m wondering about so count on seeing a few as the weeks roll by. This time it’s about toilet seats.

There are things I don’t always think of that are important I suppose, but others in my family seem to have it as just about #1 on the priority list when moving. Sure, there is contacting a moving company, making sure you have everything at closing, packing, maybe figuring out new furniture or the best place to put a lamp, even buying cleaning supplies for the initial move-in, but nowhere on my list of things to do was buy a new toilet seat. Yet there it was, I would say #2, nah, actually #1, on things to buy and install for the new house.

At the Home Depot we’re in the toilet seat isle and it’s not the easiest of choices to make. There are the easy-remove versions, elongated versus round (and from the number of boxes that were obviously returned it appears most people don’t get this one correct), padded, no-slam, and then do you go with the no-name brand versus say a Kohler? Sadly they didn’t have the version with the money molded into the plastic, so standard white was in order for our bathroom.

With new toilet seats in hand (we went with Kohler, with the slightly nicer one for the upstairs bathroom), and at the new house, changing out the toilet seats became one of my first priorities as, well, the need to use the toilet was quickly approaching and there would be no sitting where their butts sat. I will say as gross as it can be to change out your own toilet seat and see whatever gets in places under the plastic caps, it’s even a little more gross when it’s not your toilet seat and not your own gross.

With my fat ass nestled nicely on the new seat, and my correct guessing that we had round instead of elongated toilet bowls, I must admit it was kind of nice to be the person to christen a new toilet seat knowing mine was the first butt to grace its plastic. I also couldn’t help but wonder: Do you change the toilet seat when you move to a new place?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Playing the Part of Poor

Chicago has its share of panhandlers. I guess I’m stating the obvious as most urban areas, especially the downtown sections, will have them, and sometimes, especially when I worked downtown for a spell, I would occasionally put some coins in the cup of a dude who regularly set himself up at the end of one of the bridges. He wasn’t the aggressive kind of panhandler, didn’t have the sign detailing his woes, but would casually wish you a nice day if you caught his eye. For me he just seemed like he was a little lost in life at this stage, not ready yet to move on back to the “real world” as we call it, and most of the times he just seemed happy to sit there on his milk crate, greeting people on their way to work. I guess I always figured an extra buck or two would help him through another day on the way to whatever life would bring him tomorrow.

He was a nice enough panhandler, but if you’ve been to the “big” city, you have probably seen and experienced your share of the not-so-nice. There are the stories about of the dad holding the gas can (one I’ve personally experienced), asking for a few bucks so he can get some gas to get back home, even to the point of either having his kids in tow or if he caught your attention, pointing to the car with his wife and kids, them doing their best to “act” sad next to the car. Then there are the guys and gals with the detailed life stories on a piece of cardboard, usually ending with “Will work for food.” A friend of mine even had someone asking for money for food outside of a McDonalds. My friend went in, bought him a meal, but when he brought it back outside to give it to the guy he was pissed just saying “I didn’t want any food, just the money.”

The curious ones for me, though, are the people located at the off-ramps of the expressways, most of whom I will never believe need the money and could actually find a job should they desire, but making tax-free money on the side of the road actually seems like the easier gig for them. One location I would drive to regularly had a guy, nicely disheveled, holding the cardboard sign, and always with a limp as he would hobble from car to car stuck at the light. You would see some people give him a buck or two, and from the couple of minute light cycle I could see him easily bringing in about $20 an hour. What most people didn’t see was that the minute he called it a day suddenly his limp was gone, he would take a small stroll down the street, and go into his house near the off-ramp.

I only bring this up because the other day I saw a panhandler girl, on an off-ramp, and after seeing a dude one day, a woman a different day, and now this girl, I’m figuring it’s becoming a family gig. The issue was that whereas dad would go for the disheveled look with the torn jeans, and mom did a decant job of looking down-and-out, the daughter needed to learn to play the part of poor because either she found some way-to-nice clothes at the Goodwill, or this is one profitable off-ramp. Her hair was fairly nice, she didn’t look dirty/grungy, and yup, the clothes were clean and looked brand new. I know it sounds a little wrong of me to judge, and maybe she did need the money as she just lost her job or has some other disheartening life story, but having seen my share of obvious scam-artists on the panhandling front it’s hard for me to even consider helping you if you’re not even to to try to scam me, or play the part of poor.

Call me heartless if you want but the dude who owned the house and begged for money really tainted my feeling sorry for most panhandlers, however, when I do see people give the panhandlers money, I wonder: “Do you give money to panhandlers on the side of the road?”

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Safer Driving and You

Depending on the study of the week it’s either safer to be hands-free and talking on your cell phone while driving, or it doesn’t make a difference. Personally, other than being annoyed because one hand is tied up from doing something like turning on a turn signal or changing the radio station, I don’t think it makes a huge difference as your head is still in the conversation instead of on the road, and while others will say something like “What’s the difference between having an in-depth conversation with someone on the phone instead of with your passenger in the car?”, I will retort that at least with a passenger you have someone else watching the road who can yell at you to stop.

The other day as I’m driving I see a woman doing her part of complying with the law of technically being hands-free while driving as she was obviously on her speakerphone. I say “obviously” because she was also a hand-talker and in my rear-view mirror I couldn’t help but see both hands off of the wheel as she was in heated conversation, phone in one hand while her other hand was anywhere but attached to the wheel, hands waving around like a bee was buzzing her head, and I was probably more mesmerized and distracted watching her than she was talking on her phone.

Over the course of the stretch of road I can bet with nearly 100% certainty that if you pulled her over and asked her to say any detail about the travel she had just undertaken should couldn’t tell you if traffic was bumper to bumper or wide open, she wouldn’t know if it was raining or sunny, but she sure had one entertaining conversation, at least from my perspective, one that would have only been topped had she had her window open and the phone slipped out of her hand on onto the road in one of her “hand-waving conversation” goodness moments.

As many states are enacting hands-free legislation that doesn’t really seemed to be enforced, and seeing my share of people who still have their phone glued to their ear while driving, whether you believe the studies or not I do wonder: Are you hands-free while talking on the phone while driving?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!