Sunday, January 30, 2011

Go Figure!!

This week the U.S. National Figure Skating Championship was in Greensboro. Did I attend? If you answered "yes", go on to another site until you sober up.

I thought that the Figure Skating Championship would make an excellent blog topic. While I was gasping for air yesterday during my morning exercise, I ran through many thoughts about this post. In retrospect, my time would have been better spent reviewing the thermodynamic properties of paradichlorobenzene.

I hate the idea of watching figure skating. In 1974, the young lady whom I was dating wanted to see "Holiday on Ice". It was the longest two hours of my life. It would have been less painful to break up with her than to watch that show. Looking back, I would have rather been "waterboarded" by the CIA than to watch two hours of figure skating.

This will stun most people but I do try to be fair. So this morning at work, I spoke to the Queen about the Figure Skating Championship. I knew that she had bought tickets for the event. It turned out that her tickets were for today's finals. I told her my "Holiday on Ice" story. She suggested that hating figure skating was "a guy thing". I offered my opinion that men who watch figure skating wear clogs and vote straight Democratic tickets. She told me that she was attending with three other ladies. Mercifully, I had to get busy and our brief conversation ended before I had a chance to bury my foot in my mouth.

A few minutes later, a waitress told me that one of our other customers, a funeral director, told her that he had attended the skating event on Saturday. That was hard enough for me accept, but it was soon to get worse.

This was my Sunday to attend church. As I sat in Buffalo Church listening to the sermon, the Reverend Bledsoe somehow made a transition from the Beatitudes to who won on Saturday in the Figure Skating Championships. I wish that I could see a video of the sermon so that I could track the path from "Blessed are the meek" to which skater won. I was stunned. Could I be that wrong?? Could I be the only guy who ranks figure skating with synchronized swimming or American Idol? Could I be the last dinosaur?? If you are waiting for me to own up to being that wrong, click ahead to some other site.

I guess that there exists a possibility that my opinion is in the minority. Maybe...Maybe not. I should have gone with the post about paradichlorobenzene.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Day 40

Today was Day 40 in my exercise program. I have managed to walk, run, jog, crawl, every day for the last 40 days. How's that working for you, Gilbert?? Thanks for asking, Dr. Phil.

It's working pretty well, Phil. My blood sugar level is down, my energy level is up, and my free time for thinking is helping me blog more often. What's the down side?? I get up several mornings a week at 3:15. That's 3:15 A.M. The hyperactivity may be worse or better, I'm not asking anyone. If you have an opinion on this, I don't want to know.

What's the best thing about exercising?? I weighed in yesterday at 195 pounds. While that may not be impressive to you, it's my lowest weight in 26 years. I peaked about ten years ago at 265 pounds. Yeah, that's a lot for a short guy. I wasn't fat, I was 6 inches too short. Having realized that I will never be six feet tall, it was time to lose weight.

Why tell people that I have lost weight? If you don't blow your own horn, someone else will use it as a spittoon. Besides that, I see people everyday who won't notice. My wife and sons haven't said anything!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wet Nerd Thoughts

What's a cold, rain-soaked nerd thinking at 5:30 when he's about a mile and a half from home??

1. Rain jacket, I should have worn the *#*#@*## rain jacket. Too late now to do anything about it.

2. Do you stay drier if you run faster or slower? We considered this question as a project in Physics class in high school. Fifteen groups, fifteen different results. There are way too many variables. My result today was, you would stay drier if you wore a rain jacket. Still too late!

3. Givers vs. Takers. Yeah, I know that's a big jump from cussing the rain jacket, but that's what happens when you start thinking at 5:30 A.M in the cold.

A casual acquaintance of mine has a rant that starts something like this. "There are two types of people in this world, producers and users. We demonize producers and lionize users. Then we wonder what the hell is wrong with the country." From that point he can go on as long as you have the capacity to listen. I have actually listened to most of his rant. I have a diatribe about givers and takers, it's the same story, just different labels.

This morning as I was running faster trying to stay dry, I was reflecting on an experience from early last year. I had taken some things over to the other T & S in High Point. I had to pick up some guest checks there and bring them back to Greensboro. I loaded the guest checks into my van and went back inside to get a drink. The manager told me that a waitress had asked him why he didn't help me carry those boxes to the van. He told her that if I wanted help, I would have asked him or told him. He also told her that if he had tried to help me, I would have just taken the boxes out of his hands with a simple "Give me those *#@#@*#@ boxes!!" He was probably right.

A couple of weeks ago, I did a couple of small favors for a friend. While this may stun many, I frequently try to help people, but in a low key style. My business image as a grouchy old bastard would suffer if word got out that I can be nice. Anyway, I did a couple of small favors and received a nice "Thank you" e-mail. A couple of days later, I was talking to this friend and was told "Don't do me any more favors, it makes me uncomfortable when people do things for me." I was stunned, it wasn't like I had painted a house or done something big.

This morning as I tried to stay dry, I thought about the two situations. Was my friend's reaction really any different from my own when someone tried to do something for me?? No, not really. Maybe we are both wrong. Can we allow others to do something for us without alarms going off? Is it okay for us to let our guards down so that others can experience the satisfaction of helping someone else? People who are takers need to experience the joy of giving. Maybe as givers, the best gift that we could give would be the opportunity to allow a taker to become a giver. Let's let our guards down and see what happens. There isn't always an ulterior motive for someone to do something nice. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What I learned this Week

I tell people that no matter how old you are or how long you have been working at a job, you can learn something every day. It's always true for me, anyway.

So what did I learn this week?

Yesterday, I learned that I have enough dress raincoats in my military surplus inventory to outfit the army of a small nation. Anyone from Luxembourg reading this? Just for the record, I also have enough khaki shirts and field jacket liners.

Friday, I learned that the Reverend Jesse Bledsoe likes science fiction. He asked what I read. I told him that if I wanted to read fiction, I read the Greensboro News and Record. He also likes English soccer. Soccer is a sport that needs a shot clock. It was an interesting conversation. Thanks, Jesse.

Thursday, I learned that my wife's hope that her new puppy is on the way to being housebroken did not apply to the floor in front of my closet door. It was also a reminder to wear shoes around the house.

Wednesday, I learned that a former busboy is even wackier than I had previously thought. ##### came to speak to me about why he had failed to come to work on Monday. He told me that he knew that he was scheduled, but had no explanation as to why he had failed to come in to work. I wished him much success in the future, told him to pick up his final check on payday, and bid him farewell.

Tuesday, I learned that there are guys in the Chapman Society with even stranger senses of humor than mine. Charles, keep working on enlarging those photos of the Beeberman Babes.

Monday, I attended the Presbyterian Men's meeting at Buffalo Church and listened to a speaker who hit way too close to home on some points. I learned more about myself than I wanted to know. More details on that in a later post. But it was a great program!

Sunday, I learned that it would be better to use the CANCEL button in my e-mail program than to apologize later for being stupid and rude. Stop, think, think again.

Well, those are my learning experiences for the week. What did you learn this week???

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday Q & A

I had an email yesterday from a long lost classmate in high school. I haven't seen Joe in more than 39 years. The last time I saw him was on graduation day. I was more than a little surprised to hear from Joe. Joe and I had gone to school together since some time in elementary school. He found our class page on Facebook and ended up reading parts of this blog. There's no accounting for taste!!

Joe sent me an e-mail with several questions about what's happened since high school and a few about my blog. I thought that I would answer his questions with this post. For any other reader(s), this Q & A session can serve as a primer for this blog.
Let's go!!

Q. I thought that you were going to be a civil engineer. What happened??

A. Civil?? Are you serious? Engineer?? It took only a few weeks after high school graduation for me to realize that I was unable to sit quietly or productively at a desk.

Q. How did you end up in North Carolina?

A. I am a North Carolina native and took advantage of a job transfer opportunity several years ago.

Q. Who is Walter?

A. Walter is my older son, William is my younger son. Susan is my wife. Mom is my mother. That covers the family.

Q. What happened to your hair??

A. My skin expanded.

Q. Why did you start writing a blog??

A. Walter, the previously mentioned son, got a tattoo. I started writing as a way to vent. It has just dragged out the last six years from there.

Q. Why did you leave the Sons of Confederate Veterans??

A. The short version is that I wanted to have moral principles more than I wanted to have a battle flag on my license plate. Besides that, after my appearance on the CBS Evening News, there was no one in the organization left to for me to offend.

Q. You are the manager of Tex & Shirley's. Is or was there a real Tex & Shirley?

A. Yes, there was a real Tex & Shirley. There was also was a real Peter, Paul, and Mary, and a real Three Stooges.

Q. Do you really have ADHD?

A. We went to school together for eight years and you are asking me that??

Q. Is "Ken" really your only friend?

A. It depends on whether or not I have offended any of my other friends on any given day.

Q. Who is "the Queen"?

A. She is NOT Queen Elizabeth nor Queen Latifah. The Queen is a regular customer who is both articulate and conservative. She's also my favorite customer. And yes, she once threatened to wash out my computer with soap.

Q. Do you enjoy your job?

A. Only baldness is better!! Of course, I enjoy my job. I eat free and I meet interesting people every day.

Q. Have you considered writing a book about your restaurant experiences??

A. Yes, how many copies would you like to order?

Q. Does anyone get mad about what you write??

A. I would like to think so.

OK, Joe, that ends the question series. I hope that you gleaned some useful information from this session. Now it's my turn. I had a crush on your sister Elizabeth for years. I only asked her out a couple of hundred times. I never heard the word "Yes" cross her lips.What happened to her?? (This question is for scientific study purposes only.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011


A little more than a week into my ninety day campaign to organize my life and the going is getting rough.

At our store-to-be, Walter and I have spent the last few days building storage bins and shelving. The good news is that with the volume of materials that I have purchased recently, the people at Lowe's have become very friendly. This morning when I charged through the door, the cashier called out, "Good morning, Mr. Gilbert!!" I was too polite to tell her that Gilbert is my first name. Wait!! Me, too polite?? Maybe my body has been possessed by aliens.

We spent much of today assembling and painting. I had hoped to have the store set up and ready to go by Feb 1. That reminds me of the old Lovin' Spoonful song, "Do You believe in Magic??" I'll have to believe if I want to finish in the next week.

I am sure that organizing will change my life, I'm just not sure in what direction. This would have been a whole lot easier at 27 than 57. This job is like trying to move a mountain of crap with one of those little plastic shovels and buckets that I played with as a child.

I did balance my checkbook today. I was forced into it! Jack, the branch manager at my bank, retired at the end of the year. While I usually keep my balance fairly accurately, I never worried about over drafting. If I even got close, Jack would call me and tell me that I needed to make a deposit or transfer. You can't get service like that any more.

Here's a story that a friend(?) sent me the other day. A man and his wife are watching television. He has the remote control and is switching back and forth between a fishing channel and a porn channel. Finally his wife screams at him, "Just leave it on the porn channel!!" Stunned, he says to her, "Honey, are you sure?" She responds, "Of course, I'm sure!! You already know how to fish!"

I have to go organize my stories and jokes. I think that will be more than a ninety day job.

This just in!! In completely unrelated news, Joel Fleishman, my insults and sarcasm mentor for the past twenty years, has been released from the hospital.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday wrap up

Still organizing, trying to finish my room. Regrettably, I have not discovered any more boxes of bayonets. Mercifully, I have not found any more tuxedos. A customer did point out that with two sons, I might need a tuxedo for a wedding. I guess that I have enough bayonets for a wedding. I guess that depends on the size of the bride's family.

Received this question in an e-mail: Do you really have ADHD? Who,other than a drug addict, would make this claim? Of course I do. I don't smoke, drink, or use drugs. The ADHD is all that I can handle.

Six days after the latest snowstorm, almost all of the snow has melted on my driveway. I'm thinking of asphalt before next winter. That and the demise of several large trees will make it easier next year.

This was my Sunday in church. No sign of sleepiness during this week's sermon. Jesse was on fire this week. I didn't even yawn today!! Of course, I left before the annual church meeting started.

Two weeks in my drive to finish getting our surplus store set up. Naturally enough, my schedule at work and other activities, prevents me from doing anything the next two days. Should be an interesting weekend.

One of those activities is the Presbyterian Men's Meeting tomorrow night at Buffalo. Someone called to invite me to attend. He told me that they had a great speaker scheduled. Anyone but me will be fine.

Chapman Society meeting on Tuesday, more of that #&*## organizing thing.

Ever have one of those days that you just couldn't avoid making an ass of yourself?? Welcome to my world!! I pulled off a triple play on that today. Hey!! Anybody can do it just once.

Last night, as I sat reading "Calvin for armchair Theologians", my wife asked, "So, are you thinking about becoming a Presbyterian?" See paragraph above!! I fought off all of the easy answers and succumbed to the ass theory.

I have a tremendous craving tonight for a Gala apple. I should have eaten the one that Bart left on the desk.

Tomorrow is MLK Day. We will be busy, but in keeping the heritage alive, they will all be in late.

I was discussing language usage with a friend of mine. I indicated to him that I am trying to reduce my use of profanity. I told him that my first target was to go a day without using profanity. He told me "You're Gilbert Jones. You want to do a sentence first!!"

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Organizing Day 2

Today was the second day of my Organization Campaign. I was going to go with one of the old Soviet Five Year Plans on my organization program, but I trimmed it down to sixty days. After my closet cleaning festival last night, I decided to change it to ninety days.

Last night's closet cleaning yielded a load of clothing that will cause the local Goodwill to increase their staff. I went ahead and stacked up everything that I was taking out of my playroom/office/man cave to go to my future store. There was such a pile in the living room, my wife gasped when she saw it. I hauled it off this morning. When I stopped at the Goodwill store, the one guy outside ran inside to get some help. How much stuff was in my closet? I found a box of bayonets that I had forgotten were in there. Yeah, that's right, a BOX full of bayonets. I wasn't as nearly surprised at that find as the people to whom I have told that story. And NO, I didn't give those to Goodwill.

For those of you who think that I am some kind of nut after reading the bayonet story, what took so long?? I also want to point out that I found my tuxedo in the bottom of closet. Incredibly enough, it still fits. Yes, I own a tuxedo. Don't worry, most of the people who know me don't believe it either.

I spent the day hauling three trailer loads to the store. I think we have about 80% of the stuff there. Of course, we have only about 5% of the stuff sorted. I spent two hours today sorting cold weather liners. That took care of about 30% of the liners. Marine Corps khaki shirts?? We will have to give a free one with every $1.00 purchase to get rid of them by the end of the year. The store explains why my sixty day plan became a ninety day plan.

Well, enough about organization. I'm off to read "Calvin for Armchair Theologians". It's more interesting than it sounds, but that's just one nerd's opinion.

Friday, January 14, 2011

I have to get organized!!

There are five words that I have avoided for years. It pains me to even write those words. Despite the calendar, my personal Epiphany was in December. One morning as I was talking to a customer, she said "I'll bet that you are a neat freak." My response was simple, "I'll bet that you are wrong!" I try not to admit this very often, but I was wrong!!

I have been told that I over analyze things. It's not enough for me to know that something happened, I have to know why, how, and could it happen again. This is what happens when a guy with ADHD rides alone for a couple of hours a day. It's not pretty. So here are the results of my self over analysis.

I'm worse than a neat freak, I'm a closet neat freak. I am a repressed neat freak. I am a frustrated neat freak. I won't take the time to organize because I have less time than I have hair. That hair is pretty sparse. It's kind of funny because there are a few things that I am just obsessive about organizing. Example, flaps on the boxes in the storeroom at work cannot be torn off, they have to be cut off. There are other examples, but my tolerance for public humiliation is a little low today.

Anyway, what triggered this epiphany now? My son and I are opening a military surplus store. He's doing the day to day operation and I'm doing the buying. I'm also putting up the capital and the opening inventory. What a deal!!

We have been hauling stuff from home to the store on a daily basis for almost two weeks. It's still not all there. The picture above was taken on Day 3. We have stopped hauling until we can get some shelves and bins in place. We are out of floor space to stack stuff. I actually knew that I had all of this crap.(I told the Queen that I would moderate my language.) It's one thing to know that you have it in half a dozen outbuildings, but it's a whole different story to see it piled into a 1500 square foot room. WOW!!!

As I surveyed the heaps a few days ago, the verdict was undeniable. I have to get organized. I pulled out a book that I had purchased a few months ago. It combined organization and weight loss. It's called "Does this clutter make my butt look fat??" I'm not sure that the basis of the book is sound, but there are some good pointers on organizing. I'm not sure the book is enough, I may have to call in a consultant.

How badly do I need to get started on this? I figure that I can save thousands of dollars on repeat purchases. Just before Christmas, I bought a blue-striped shirt at Belk. I liked it, I had several compliments on it. Apparently, I liked it so much that the week after Christmas, I bought another one just like it. I didn't realize it until I was putting some clothes into my closet and realized that the one in my hand matched the one on the hanger in front of me. Yeah!! It's time.

No time to waste. I am starting on my clothes closet, also known as the place where plaid shirts go to die, tonight. I would love to write more, but I have to get organized.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fw: Who lives in a house like this??

I know that we all receive this type of message every day. I received this from a friend today. It was about Robert Mugabe, the tyrant of Zimbabwe. It compared the opulence of his palace compared to the squalor that his people experience. Normally, I read these things and sometimes pass them on to others. Tonight, I was suffering from snow stress, so I responded to the friend who sent it. Here's my response:

Dear *******,

Interesting, BUT this is probably typical of many Third World countries. Leaving the Third World, we need look no further than the billions that we have squandered rebuilding Iraq where Hussein had multiple palaces. How about Mexico, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Cuba?? What about North Korea, where people starve while they build a bigger army? The ruling class in the old USSR lived lavishly while the lower classes died by the millions to allow them to stay in power. There's a great scene in the movie Enemy at the Gates where Kruschev explains to a young political officer in the Soviet Army how the ruling class has caviar and vodka because they have convinced the other schmucks that they need to die for Mother Russia.

One of my favorite Kruschev quotes is: "We can't expect the American People to jump from Capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of Socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have Communism." It's the old "How do you cook a bullfrog?" story. If you don't know that one, ask me sometime.

While I find the actions of Third World tyrants deplorable, we should turn the mirror on ourselves and examine how our leaders live in comparison to the majority of the country. Been to the office of a Senator? Seen Air Force One?? Toured the White House?? How about that convoy of vehicles that it requires to take Obama to play basketball? I am not suggesting that our leaders live in tents and travel trailers, but the reality is that the political leadership has lost touch with the reality of daily life in America. They govern the country in a fashion designed to keep them in power. "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Instead of foreign aid cash, let's ship supplies needed for revolution to Zimbabwe. Ship them some rifles and a copy of the Declaration of Independence. Even a Democrat could figure it out from there. If it works in Zimbabwe, maybe we should give it another shot here.

Sorry *******, I guess that there's a little repressed anger here. Thanks for listening. Probably should have just blogged this one.


Saturday, January 08, 2011

Day 20

Today was my twentieth consecutive day of running in the morning. Why am I running? Thanks for asking.

Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. At the time I weighed 265 pounds. Yeah, that's my lifetime high weight. The day after diagnosis I started running in the morning. My doctor told me that if I would resolve to exercise everyday, I would probably exercise five days a week. I realized that if I exercised every day, the results would happen faster. I ran every morning for the next 584 days. I ran in the snow, I ran in rain, I ran when it was cold, and I ran in the heat.I lost 65 pounds, dropped my blood sugar to normal levels, and felt much better. At the 584 day mark, I made the decision to exercise enough to maintain my weight and blood sugar level. Over the years my level of exercise gradually declined.

Three weeks ago, I decided to go back to daily exercise. Notice that I did not make a New Year's resolution. I was serious about doing it. Three weeks later, I am headed in the right direction. What are the benefits? Thanks for the easy question.

First, I feel better. My sugar level has dropped. My weight is about the same but to remain the same over Christmas is a major accomplishment.

Second, running at 3:30 AM on an empty country road is great for your mind. Lots of quiet time for me to think. Whatever you are thinking at 3:30 AM is pure truth. You can't BS yourself and there's no one around you need to impress. I have had lots of quality nerd thinking time lately.

What's the down side?? Getting up at 3:15 is not as easy as you may think. You may also encounter some unusual animal life at 3:30. I have encountered several deer, more than a few possums, and a couple of raccoons in the last three weeks.

Then there is the safety issue. This morning I hit a patch of ice after turning at the halfway mark. Suddenly my feet were moving but not covering any ground. At that point everything seemed to go into slow motion. I tumbled down the road 3 or 4 times before sprawling on the shoulder. The multiple layers of clothing that I was wearing due to the cold saved my butt, and the rest of my large frame. I WALKED away without a scratch. I will be moving a little slower out there tomorrow, but I will be out there. 564 days to go!!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Random Thoughts in the New Year

I wanted to start 2011 right,so here it goes.

First item. Apparently in my previous post, I had some mature audience language. The Queen threatened, I believe the phrasing was, to "wash my computer out with soap". Memo to the Queen: You made your point. It's safe to read the rest of this one.

Early this morning, I received some bad news. Joel Fleishman, my friend and "Sarcasm and Insults Mentor" for the past twenty years has pancreatic cancer. Our prayers are with you, Joel.

We have a new puppy at home. I'll be honest, with sixty employees at work, I just don't have the time, energy, or desire to take on raising a dog. But as married men all know, this wasn't my decision to make. Life marches on.

How do I really feel about a new dog?? A Catholic priest, a Baptist minister, and a Jewish rabbi were discussing the beginning of life. The Baptist says, "When that little baby comes kicking and screaming into this world, that is the beginning of life." The Catholic priest says, "No, life begins when the sperm fertilizes that egg in the mother's womb." The Jewish rabbi says, "You're both wrong. Life begins when the dog dies and the kids move away." What an insightful man!!

On days that I don't have to open the restaurant, I go out to run a little later. Today, I headed out at 4:45 AM. Why are roosters crowing at 5:00 AM if the sun comes up at 7:00AM? I'm guessing that they can't read a clock. Luckily for the owners of those roosters, I don't live next door.

From the "One born every minute" department comes this news. The maker of Balance Bands has admitted that there is no credible evidence that they work. I have a waiter, JoElle, who was trying to convince me on Sunday that I should try one. My first item from this post prevents me from giving you my exact quote, but it was a strong NO! Just when you start to lose hope, you realize there really is a sucker born every minute!!

This was my Sunday to attend church. I had worked late Saturday and got up early Sunday to run before work. When the sermon started, I realized that I was in serious danger of falling asleep. We were all saved (I have been told that I sometimes snore pretty loudly) when something the minister said caught my my attention and my brain sprang to life. I actually wrote a few notes on my bulletin. Looking over them later, here are a few of my favorites. "There is revival possible, even in this denomination." "Epiphany is more than a hard word to spell." But when he thundered, "I don't do New Year's resolutions", my first thought was' "Please don't tell me you read that on my blog!" He didn't. Dodged a bullet there! Good message, Jesse!!

Putting the ADHD to good use, I am watching the news on television while I eat breakfast and write this post. I just saw a commercial for a new show costarring Ed Asner. I think that it's called Working Class. Ed is political nutcase, but he's played several good roles. My favorite was a short-lived sitcom, Thunder Alley. His character's name was Gil Jones. When they started running commercials for Thunder Alley, I was deluged with phone calls from both of my friends.

A story on the news this morning is about a middle school teacher in Winston-Salem charged with having sex with 2 female students. Apparently, it was "consensual sex". Middle school students are in the 12 to 14 year old range, how can you have "consensual sex" with somebody that age?? Do you think that he discussed all of the possible side effects before having sex with them? Did he do some kind of risk vs. reward study before climbing into the sack with a child?? This is one of those days that you realize that all humans aren't worth keeping alive. Keeping my first item in this post in mind, allow me to phrase this delicately. If I were the father of either girl, I would take my Buck knife out and give this teacher the opportunity to hit the high notes in "The Star Spangled Banner". Not to mention the chance to see his "reproductive equipment" displayed hanging from the trailer hitch on my van.

Have a Happy New Year!!