Sunday, October 25, 2015

Mamma's Little Baby Loves Clambake, Clambake

I'm an October baby. One of the best things about that is that it is a month that ends in the letter "R". Why is that significant? Because any month that ends in an "R" is good for clambakes. So my wife likes to celebrate my birthday by having a clambake. And I have to tell you, I LOVE it!

This clambake turned out much better than the one we had two years ago (last year's went off without a hitch). I woke up the day of the clambake and was so sick I could barely get out of bed. Ended up having to call all the invitees and cancel. My wife was in the kitchen cooking up 100 small neck and 100 large neck clams, and making soup stock out of it all.

This year's went pretty well. We picked up the clams (18 dozen small neck) from a place called The Farmhouse Food's Fish Market in Maple Heights (Ohio). I mention this so that anyone in the area will know that there is a fantastic place to pick up seafood. If you are not in the area, check out their website to see if there is a location by you. This was our first year purchasing from them. Guarantee it won't be the last one either. Out of 18 dozen clams, I know of only three clams that didn't open. The meal was delicious (thanks to my wife's cooking, of course!)

(Okay, that ends the unpaid and unsolicited commercial.)

Adding the fixin's

The initial headcount for the clambake was 13, but due to circumstances beyond anyone's control, that number turned into eight. Initially, we figured for those who would most probably eat clams (9) two dozen each. Along with the clams we had barbequed chicken, corn on the cob, sweet potatoes, coleslaw, macaroni salad, potato salad, and bread for the meal. We also had a number of items for snacking prior to the meal, and a whole bunch of desserts for afterwards (including my birthday cake: dark chocolate angel food cake).

Some of the invitees don't eat clams, and there was one allergic to fish. Fortunately, the chicken, corn, and sweet potatoes were cooked separately, so everyone was happy.

Of course, if you've read this far, there is a very good chance that you are thinking, "That's great, J.P. But why a blog post about a clambake?" There is a good reason: My wife and I can go to the store and purchase clams, or to a restaurant and order a clambake, any time of the year (that has a month ending in an "R"). There is something SPECIAL about sharing such a meal with family and friends. Meals like these are celebrations: not just because of tying it to my birthday, but because when you have something that you love so deeply, experiencing it with those you want to be with only magnifies the enjoyment.

So grab a calendar and take a look at the month. If it ends in an "R", partake in a clambake. Better yet, invite those close to you, grab a mug of clam broth, and celebrate!

Dead soldiers! My wife will boil them and add them to her garden.

© Emittravel 2015

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Road Run-Over

I love my morning drive to work. Even on Mondays. I know, that's hard to believe. I love what I do for work, so going there is not an issue. And since I drive back roads to work, the commute is sweet too.

Like I said, I love my morning drive to work. Normally, it is a time for me to listen to podcasts. There are a couple of them that I reserve for the car ride, since it is there that I can devote a certain portion of my consciousness to listening. Unlike when I'm at work or home, where I find I'm DOING things that take more of my grey matter. You'd think that driving should take at least as much, but when you drive the same route over and over and over, there is a certain amount of "auto pilot" that engages.

For the most part, driving to work is an almost sedentary event.

Until one morning in particular:

I was driving to work on the 15th of October, the day after my birthday, south on Broadview Rd. I was going through Richfield, when a dog ran across the road (west to east). It missed the front passenger tire of the Jeep, but went under. I know I made contact with it (I could feel it bounce on the undercarriage). I stopped, put on the four-way lights, and backed up to where I thought I had hit it.

It was not only in the ditch, but it was still alive. It slowly turned its head, baring its teeth. I grabbed my cellphone, asked Cortana to show me the closest police departments (I never know WHERE I am), and called the Richfield police.

I gave them my name and told them I hit a dog. I told them it was like a short-haired German Shepherd, but I really don't know dogs. (I had a Papillion at one time in my life, and could recognize them instantly when they showed up in TV commercials, but asides from my boy, Butterfly, I am pretty clueless when it came to breeds.) They said they would send an officer, and if it was okay with me, to wait.

The police officer pulled up behind me with his flashers and I got out to meet him. He could tell I was a bit shook up. I walked him over to the other side of the road and pointed.

The officer said that, if it makes me feel any better, it wasn't a dog, so I didn't hit someone's pet. I hit a wild coyote. "Great," I said, "I killed Wile E. Coyote." He said that there are so many wild animals running around, that they call his police car the "Deer Killer". He asked about damage to the Jeep, but I assured him there wasn't any. It bounced off the skid plates under the vehicle. He was going to shoot it (not only was it still alive, it had turned around in the ditch) and then take care of the body.

Knowing that I didn't kill someone's pet made me feel a little better, but not much. Needless to say, I drove the rest of the way to work in silence.

My "shrine" at work:

I'm so sorry, Wile.

© Emittravel 2015

Sunday, October 11, 2015

I'm Bushed: Have We Ben Trumped?

As I sit and write, the GOP Primary race is in full swing. They've already put us through a few debates, and dominated both the airwaves and social media (not to mention both our inboxes and mailboxes). The Dems had a slow start, but don't worry: we'll be pretty tired of both groups of putzes before this is all over.  And look: it is only October of 2015. We have a whole year more of these political shenanigans to go.

(I just read the above to my wife, and she said to "tell me how you really feel!")

Is it just me, or does it seem that the political race starts earlier and earlier every cycle. Pretty soon, right after the President gets sworn in, he/she will hop on Air Force One and hit the campaign trail for the next one.

Who suffers? We the People. That's who. Politicians are so full of themselves, with a lapdog "mainstream" media touting their every breath, that they think that the only thing us regular folks do is think, talk, and s**t politics.

Hate to break it to you "saviors of the people", but most of the time, we don't give a flyin' flip about you folks.

My wife and I were at a breakfast place this morning, with the corner television showing CNN, FOX, MSNBC, or some other useless channel giving us play-by-plays of the current goings on in Washington. I thought it funny. All the Instagram pics I've seen of this country's founding fathers showed them wearing white wigs. According to the cable "news" channel, every current "father" sports their OWN grey hair. This country seems to be run by a bunch of old, mostly white guys, who need a double-shot of "Just for Men".

Let me focus on the title of this post: "I'm Bushed: Have We Ben Trumped?"

The GOP has never missed an opportunity to flip the barrel of that gun around and "BLAM!!" Why, oh why, do they start their Primary race so early? The only Democrat I even heard running at the time was Hillary Clinton. Some would say we need the time to weed out the useless. Wouldn't that give us NOBODY? Last I looked, President Obama is no longer an incumbent. Don’t the Democrats need to do the same thing? But they started MUCH later.

Hey, GOP. Let me 'splain it to you. When you start so early, all you do is give the candidates time to screw up over and over and over and . . . And more than that, once the Democrats get in gear, you've given them PLENTY of fodder to work with.

And candidates. Keep in mind that a political race resembles a horse race. My wife and I love to watch the Kentucky Derby. (Yeah, check out those hats!)

From what I've seen, horses that start off in first place rarely finish in first place. The winning horse usually paces at CLOSE to the front and doesn't break out to the lead until the FINAL stretch. If they don't, they usually "wear out" well before they ever get there.

That's what happens to you. We get so tired of you shmoes that the person in the back looks so good by voting day.

Take this advice for what it's worth (you know, not a thing): Wait it out until the final couple of weeks before the Primary. THEN get in the race. C'mon! You don't NEED campaign contributions to run your campaigns (can you say, "One Percenters"?) You can fund them yourselves. And the best part is, you don't give the opposition anything to use against you. Who says that the media needs time to vet you? Oh yeah, the media. Sorry.

Oh, and there is one more way a political race is like a horse race: you always have to watch where you step!

© Emittravel 2015

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Stacks o' Greenbacks

The company I work for is making a change in their payroll system effective January 2016. They are switching from an every-other-week format to a twice-a-month format (Bi-monthly? Semi-monthly? Split-infinitives-monthly? Gah!!). The new format moves us from 26 pays a year to 24. The company says this will help streamline the company's financials, and it makes sense.

The new cycle puts the pays on the 15th and 30th of the month. No, that doesn't mean that we only get paid once in February (Shhh - don't tell them! They might not have thought of that!) If the 15th or 30th (or in February's case, there isn't a 30th) falls on a weekend or holiday, the pay will hit the bank on the previous business day. So, if the 15th is a Sunday, the pay shows up on Friday the 13th ("Feelin' lucky? Punk?" - Dirty Harry).

I haven't seen that pay cycle since I was in the Navy. Back then the 15th and 30th were coveted days on the ship. Usually by the 16th, many of my shipmates were already broke (Pick a card - any card, or more accurately, "Texas Lose 'Em"). Not me. I was already establishing my life's philosophy of "I don't like kids. I don't play games. Get off my lawn!!" So card games - even for money - didn't interest me.

One of the more popular budgeting systems today uses an envelope system for handling money. You make an envelope for every possible expense, using cash as your primary purchasing method, and put the budgeted amount in each envelope. When I was in the Navy, I had my own envelope system. I would take the majority of my pay and have it sent home to a savings account. This was way before direct deposit systems were commonplace like they are today. So, the majority went home, and I received the remainder in singles. Yep. One dollar bills. The dispersing clerk hated me!

The first thing I'd do is set up the number of envelopes needed to get me from the 31st (or 1st, if there wasn't a 31st) to the 14th, or the 16th to the 29th; marking each envelope with the date in pencil (I was cheap and just erased the date and reused the same envelopes over and over and over). I'd take the money to my bunk, spread the envelopes out, and divide the singles among the envelopes. I then only used the money in each day's envelope for that day. If I didn't spend it all, I would take that envelope's contents and divide it among the remaining envelopes. Whatever was leftover at the end was added to that next pay and was spread out again.

The above may seem a bit overkill, but you gotta realize that I was one of the few with cash in my pocket - even if it was a sweet, sweet stack of George Washingtons. Where my shipmates tended to have less money at the end of the pay period, I'd have more.

I'm not too sure if such a system would work today. I don't get an allowance, and my wife and I share one "pot". But, if you are single, you may want to think about such a system for yourself. The other benefit was the large sum I had in the bank when I got home. Out of sight, out of mind.

Now the real question: Do you have change for a twenty?

© Emittravel 2015