Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Hundred Days

No, I'm not writing about Napoleon's comeback and eventual defeat at Waterloo, I'm writing about my exercise program. Napoleon would be more interesting, but it's my blog. I will write about Napoleon and Josephine another day.

Today was Day 100 in my exercise program. For 100 consecutive days, I have gone out running and then walked, jogged, or crawled back home. My preferred time for this has been between 3:00 and 4:00 AM. Yeah, I know that's early!

So what good has come of this? First, I have lost 18 pounds and now am at my lowest weight in the lives of my children. Simply put, this is the least that I have weighed since 1985. Second, for a 57 year old fat guy, I demonstrated that I still have lightning like reflexes when a few weeks ago I dove into a ditch to avoid being hit by a car. Third, my blood sugar and blood pressure have dropped to good levels.

What's next? I'm on my way to 175 pounds. My weight has plateaued the last few weeks and I'm stuck around 192 pounds. So to keep things going, I started walking in the evening. Of course, that means on the nights that I work, I'm walking at 11:00 or 12:00 when I get home. Yes, I know that's late!

I got some help with exercise on Sunday. A customer, who may be worried about me getting hit by a car or falling and cutting my head, gave me an exercise bicycle. It is a really nice one. I rode it on Monday night and then again tonight for half an hour each time. I thought that I should ride it so as to prevent my son from turning it into a clothes rack right away. I should have started with a shorter ride, but I can't read instructions. If I could read them, the male ego would have not let me follow them. Also, the size of the seat and the size of my butt are in conflict. I am hoping that riding a few weeks will resolve that issue.

In keeping with my post, "We don't write anymore", I sent the bicycle donor a "Thank You" note. I didn't have time to get a card, so they received a simple, handwritten note. It's good to practice what you blog about. I realize that my message probably wasn't "briefcase" material, but it was sincere. Thanks for the bicycle, I appreciate both your concern and your gift.

Maybe in the next Hundred Days, I will get to my target weight. I'll keep you updated!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lucy and Ethel at Gil's?

No, it wasn't Lucy and Ethel at the surplus store on Friday. Instead, we had a visit from a couple of mature beauties from Greensboro, Loretta and Anna. One works at Tex & Shirley's part-time and the other is one of our most regular customers. They had been threatening to come see us for a few weeks and finally made good on their threat.

I had armed them with detailed directions, a map from Google, and my cell number. They promptly got lost. Like everyone else to whom I have given instructions, they failed to make the turn at Settle Street. Loretta was quick to realize that they were lost and called me. I was a little concerned about them since their route was taking them towards the ghetto. It only took a couple of minutes to get them turned around and headed to the store. The next person who wants directions will be easy for me. Go to Reidsville and call me. I'll talk you in from wherever you are.

It was a lot of fun watching them look over the piles of militaria and "stuff" that we have. For starters, Anna held up a khaki USMC shirt long enough for Loretta to call out, "It's not your color, Anna." They settled in the "more" department to look over things. Anna bought a few videos, a salt and pepper set, and some kind of bowl with a rabbit on it.

Loretta spent an entire dollar on a glass dish, but learned a valuable lesson. I had an old wooden stand/cabinet with wooden wheels. It needed refinishing, but at $20 it was a bargain. Loretta looked at it, but couldn't decide where to put it in her home. She left without it. On Saturday, we sold that to an old man. On Sunday, I was telling her about the sale. She told me "I started to call you and tell you to just put that in your van and bring it to Greensboro." Too late, Loretta. As they say at auctions, you think long, you think wrong. The guy who bought it was pretty old, there's a chance I could buy that back at an estate sale. If I ever own that again, I'm just giving it to her.

After some more entertaining conversation, the lovely ladies departed for Greensboro. I called them after a few minutes to make sure that they had found their way to U.S. 29 and were headed safely home.

How was it for Walter and I? Walter was glad to make a sale or two before noon. I was just glad to see them at the store. It is nice to have good friends who are concerned enough about your new business venture to go out of their way to help you and inspire you. Thanks, Anna. Thank you, Loretta.

Friday, March 25, 2011

We Don't Write Anymore

Yesterday I was going through several boxes of old documents in my seemingly endless campaign to get organized. One box was from 2002, the year of conflict in the Sons of Confederate Veterans. I had a bunch of newspaper clippings, a couple of the SPLC's Intelligence Report magazine (Don't laugh, one had a good picture of me), a few letters, and a stack of e-mails that I had printed. The letters were a mixed group. A couple of nasty ones and a few thank you type letters. The e-mails were interesting. A mixture of hate mail, condemnation resolutions, and a scattering of nice messages.

Why did I print those messages and why do I keep them? Great question and it is the heart of my post this morning. I keep those messages so that on those days that I wonder what I have done in life, I can read them. Nothing beats holding a piece of paper in your hand and reading. I'm sorry, but sitting in front of the computer reading an e-mail or reading a text message on your phone does not compare to the visceral experience of holding a letter and reading it.

Nobody writes letters anymore, ask the Post Office. It's much easier to e-mail or text. the problem with those messages is here today, gone tomorrow. If in a few months, you are trying to remember an emotional moment, it's easier to have that piece of paper.

In my briefcase, I carry an assortment of papers that I consider dear to me. There are a few photographs, a few articles clipped from various publications, and some letters and notes that I have received. I think that one of the measures of our lives is the impact that we have on the lives of others, good or bad. Among the papers in my collection is a 25 year old Thank You letter from an employee who worked for me at Casa Gallardo from 1983 until I left there in early 1986. I have a note from our VP at Casa congratulating me on a new training program that I had started. I have a couple of e-mails that I have printed and a few other Thank You notes. I recently added a Thank You note from a customer to my collection. I don't think that I did anything spectacular, but it was a great note.

In my vast accumulation/collection of stuff, I have a large envelope of photographs and a few documents that I purchased at an estate auction. Estate sales are usually pretty sad. A lot of times there are no relatives left and everything is auctioned off to strangers. The packet that I have are photographs and documents from a guy's service in World War 2. In there is a telegram from 1944, so he kept it for a while. The telegram was from his wife to him in Europe. It read "Son Born. You are more than ever in my thoughts at this time. All our love." WOW! I would have kept that one too.

Today we send e-mails, texts, and for those times that electronic messages won't work, we buy a card. Hallmark has cards for almost all events, but I was told last week that there are a few not covered. The Thank You note that I received was a good card. Why is it in my briefcase?? Because the sender took the time to write a couple of paragraphs inside and that's what turned a good card into a great card. It made my day. If you were the sender, Thank You.

Remember love letters? Does anyone write those anymore? My personal feeling about this is that women tell men that they want us to be more romantic, but then ignore us when we try to do something romantic. There have been four women in my life in the last forty years to whom I have written what would qualify as a love letter. To say the response from each of those was minimal to non-existent would be an understatement. There's a great Valentine's Day and love letter story in there, but it will have to wait for another post.

Napoleon, another short guy with a short temper, was a prolific love letter writer. I have a couple of books that are love letter collections, he's in them. He wrote great stuff! Based on his letters, Josephine didn't respond any better than most women today. There is a relationship worth reading about.

So what's the point of all this?? Have you sent anything that a person might keep for the rest of their life? Give it a try. Write someone a letter, you will both feel better. If you are sending a card, take the time to personalize it. Just writing "Love You", "Miss You","Get Well", and other assorted banalities does not qualify.

What's it all mean for me? If I start believing in reincarnation and come back for a second life, I want to find that one woman who will read what I write and appreciate it enough to write back. We all have our dreams!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday Work Woes!

The other night I told a dishwasher that he was on his cellphone too much. His response was "It keeps ringing!" My answer was brief and to the point,"Then shut the ##$$**$$## off!" He understood.

I fired a guy for stealing last month. I caught him leaving with some baking potatoes and a carryout tray filled with country-style steak. He filed for unemployment and I received the forms yesterday. I am hopeful that I can win this one. If you can't fire a thief, who can you fire?

In other unemployment news, a busboy has been missing in action since he called in ten days ago. We have tried to call him but to no avail. He failed to call or to return to work. He came in today to pick up his final check. He said nothing. A couple of hours later, his papers for unemployment arrived. Since I didn't fire him or even talk to him, I am hoping that his claim will be denied.

Apparently these guys haven't heard that there is a recession going on and unemployment is high. Of course, you would have to want a job for that to be a problem.

Last, my best dishwasher, the darling of child support enforcement, is in jail for some kind of assault on one of his baby's mamas. He will be cooling his heels for the next 45 days at the county farm. But the paperwork marches on. Last week I received six amended child support orders for him. I had to process them, he still had a check coming. Yesterday, it was 40 pages of health insurance withholding forms to handle. I need a clerk just for this guy's paperwork!!

So did anything good happen today? Yes, I cooked pancakes for The Queen and the princess Anne.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekend Wrapup

First, here's a free plug for the Blog2Print outfit. I clicked on their ad here on Blogger about ten days ago. I ordered a book with the last three months of my blog as the contents. It came in on Thursday and it really looked good. I gave it to a friend as a gift. Writing this I am reminded of the time Obama gave the Queen of England an iPod filled with his speeches as a gift. I guess that my gift of a book of my blog posts could be on the same vanity level, but my material is much better than his.

My wife has been watching some Harry Potter marathon on the television all weekend. If have to walk past another television with a scene of some dork flying, I am going to lose my lunch. The worst part is that we have Dish Network. I not only hate Harry Potter, I am having to pay to hate it.

Today was my Sunday at church. Since it was the first day of spring, I wore a bright yellow shirt. I haven't had a yellow shirt on since December 26, 1976 and that was a Christmas gift. This one looked a lot better, I guess that I have mellowed. Maybe not, according to my son. I had changed clothes at the restaurant before leaving for church. I left by the back door and he didn't see me in my yellow shirt. When I returned, he spotted the yellow shirt,(Who couldn't?) and called out, "Hey, Big Bird!! Which way is Sesame Street?" I responded with my usual charm by waving the middle finger of my right hand and suggesting that he follow that direction to Sesame Street!! I'm doubting that he will ask again.

Speaking of new shirts, I had to buy a few earlier this week. I was at Dillards and the sales person who has helped me with plaid shirts over many years gave me some advice. She said,"Honey, you have worn plaid long enough. It's time to branch out." I went home with a green shirt, a blue shirt, a yellow shirt, and a Creamsicle orange striped shirt. I too was surprised. I started to buy a pink, yes pink, Nautica shirt at Belk. I actually thought it looked good but I couldn't bring myself to buy it. I can't explain it. I picked it up twice and started towards the register, then put it back. Maybe there's some kind of 12 step program for guys trying to change their image. Someone asked why I bought new shirts. I told them that I was overhauling my image, the old one doesn't work for me anymore.

I attended the New Members class at Buffalo today. It was interesting. Not only was it informative, we had doughnuts. My wife asked me why I was considering becoming a Presbyterian. I pointed out that I never asked why she became a Catholic. I didn't even mention the doughnuts. At least, the quiet time is giving me a chance to post on my blog!

I had a few more compliments today about the Wednesday night meal that I prepared at church this week. Several comments were similar, "When will you be cooking again?". If you are reading this and want an answer, I'll keep you posted.

I read an e-mail comment from a lady at Buffalo about Wednesday that said, "Gilbert is a dear". With that my 35 year old, carefully crafted, honed to near perfection, reputation as a grumpy old bastard went down the drain. I knew this would happen sooner or later. Where do I go from here??

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Corned beef at Buffalo

A few weeks ago, I attended a Wednesday night dinner and program at Buffalo Presbyterian Church. It was a good experience, I even wrote a blog post about it. A few days later, I asked Loretta about the details of the Wednesday night meal. I indicated that I would be willing to volunteer to prepare one of the March meals if they needed someone. Loretta is blindingly efficient. Four hours and a flurry of phone calls and e-mails later, I was scheduled to prepare the March 16 meal. Since that was the night before St. Patrick's Day, the menu was to include corned beef and cabbage. No problem, that's one of my better meals to prepare.

Two weeks before the event, I set up my ingredient list and timeline for ordering and preparation for the meal. I had two goals in this project. First was that the service of the meal would go smoothly and that the food quality would be good. Barbara, the lady in charge, soothed my fears by telling me that if it went badly, she would choke me and Loretta would shoot me. I can't find that e-mail now, but I'm pretty sure that was the threatened order of violence. I'm sure that she was only kidding, but the meal went well, so I will never really know. (This is Gilbert humor, Barbara and Loretta!!)

My other goal was not to embarrass myself or anyone I know there. For those unfamiliar with this, profanity is the language of the kitchen. Watch Hell's Kitchen and listen to Gordon Ramsey. Gordon's profanity is low grade. It lacks variety and creativity. I could do better than him on a Sunday. Anyway, I resolved to watch my language closely on Wednesday night. I had one close call. The last 30 to 45 minutes before the meal service are the most stressful because that is the time that everything must fall into place. I was doing great until about 5:45 when I was trying to pan something and dropped a utensil on the floor. Thankfully, my lightning fast reflexes kicked in and I stopped just short of uttering one of my favorite words. Instead I just said "Whew! That was close!" A lady near me asked, "What was close?" I just shook my head and said "Nothing, nothing at all." I felt so good after getting through that I considered calling George W. Bush and asking to borrow the infamous "Mission Accomplished" banner.

At Buffalo, women's groups take turns doing the serving at the Wednesday night dinners. In an e-mail, Barbara told me that I would have helpers who would do exactly as I said. I realized then that it would be nothing like being at work. Barbara was right. There were several great ladies there to help with the setup and the serving. I should have written down their names, but the stress of feeding 65 or so people shoved my name remembering skills to the back of my mind. But I do remember a few names. Loretta was there early and helped plate the cake for dessert. She also cut my stress level with a pretty funny story, but I'm not telling that one tonight. Anne took care of putting the strawberries and whipped cream on the cake. Anne is a T&S customer so I won't say too much. I will say that it was worth cooking the meal just to watch her wrestle with the pastry bag filled with whipped cream. Hannah was a young lady who took care of serving the rolls and keeping the energy level in the room elevated. There was Joyce, who I believe served the potatoes. "Whipped Cream Anne" was tasked with serving the cabbage. To all of the other ladies who were in the kitchen helping, I'm sorry that I have forgotten your names. All of you did a great job and I look forward to working with you again!! Thanks for all of your work.

We served salad, rolls, corned beef, cabbage, boiled potatoes, and cake topped with strawberries and whipped cream. That's the best $5 meal in Greensboro. Everyone seemed to like the food. After we served everyone, I sat down to eat. I had a reserved seat at the Queen's table along with the Irish fiddler and her husband.

The program was pretty good. Patrick sang "Danny Boy" and Pam and the "Choir Girls" sang "An Irish Lullaby." The fiddler was good. At one point early in the program, I looked across the room and saw "Whipped Cream Anne" waving. Then I realized that she and the Queen were exchanging the little royal wave thing. Those two were killing me. I don't remember what was going on at that point in the program, but I'm pretty sure that I wasn't supposed to be laughing. Thanks, ladies. I'm a little vague on many of the other details of the program because at some point, Barbara told everyone to give me a standing ovation for the meal. I was torn between honored and embarrassed. I'm not sure that corned beef is worth a standing ovation! Thank you anyway.

Several people came up afterwards to compliment me on the meal. Ray and Betty were at the Queen's table with me. Thanks to both of them for their kind words.

So what were the final results of my cooking dinner at Buffalo??
First, it served as a reminder that you have to give to receive. I got enough out of it that I e-mailed Barbara and told her that I would be willing to volunteer again.
Second, I realized that I enjoyed being there. There's a New Members Class on Sunday. I'm planning to attend.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I hate Daylight Savings Time!!

Well, there's not much left to say on that subject. But I will give it a shot anyway.

The government tells us that DST is all about saving energy, but it doesn't save energy. All the studies done on DST show that savings on electrical use are minimal. But when has the government done anything that actually makes economic sense? We still do it. It's bad enough that we still do it, now it starts earlier in the year and ends later.

I have to get up at 3:15 A.M. tomorrow morning. That means I will have to be up at 2:15 A.M. EST. I need to stop writing this swill and get to bed.

Someone has compared DST to cutting a foot off the bottom of a blanket and adding it to the top. The blanket remains the same length. If you don't understand this analogy, you are probably a government employee.

In a few weeks, I will be going to bed when it's still daylight. I guess that I will have to DVR a couple of NASCAR races to use to help me get to sleep in the daylight.

The only good thing about all of this is that I'm not a farmer. Cows and other farm animals don't seem to understand or observe Daylight Savings Time.

Wait!!Tomorrow, at least three of our employees will forget about the time change. How will that compare to the percentage of cows that don't understand?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rainy Thursday Thoughts

Last night a customer told me, "You haven't posted on your blog in a week! What's going on?"

First, I am still mentally recovering from my "Near Death by Cell Phone" experience. That caused more than a small amount of reflections on my life. More on that later.

Of course, I am doing a little better than Jesse over at Buffalo. He's still struggling with finding the time to post. If I had a secretary, I wouldn't be typing this swill, I would be dictating it. That's a hint, Jesse!!

When I get around to writing my book "Everything I know, I learned at the Waffle House", I will need to hire someone to do the typing if I want it published before I go. My typing skills cannot keep pace with the thought process.

Thanks to Mary and Craig for referring me to www.roadid.com. I ordered one of the wristbands. I am assuming that it looks so much more stylish than a toe tag. I did realize after last week's incident that if I was waiting for one of my neighbors to ID me, I was going to be in that ditch for a while.

How's the dog?? It's only taken a few weeks for "my wife's dog" to become the dog that I have to feed, water, and walk. ##@@**%%## dog!

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. I briefly considered going to church, but then realized that it would be quicker to pick up a cigarette butt from the outside ashtray and decorate my own forehead. The bad thing about being bald is that my forehead is so much larger now. I might have needed a cigar instead.

An early morning discussion yesterday with a couple of attractive mature women led to the topic of cuts on my head. One suggested that I wear caps to protect my head, the other suggested a toupee. I am pretty sure that she has suggested the toupee more than once before. Write this down, Mrs. Late Bloomer, I would rather have stitches in my scalp than wear a rug!!

In the understatement of the week, one of my new employees told his mother, "If Gilbert's not there, it's pretty laid back." Hey, thanks for justifying my job!!

The news this week is that NPR is biased to the left. In other equally shocking news, the sun rose in the east.

In international news, France has taken the diplomatic lead in Libya by recognizing the rebels in that country. The smart money says that the President of France is having an affair with a Libyan women, or the French have discovered the Libyans have wine as well as oil. The final theory is that Libya has supplied France with all of those white flags over the years.

One of my history club accomplices sent this:

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Death by cell phone?

This morning I decided to wait until daylight to go out and exercise. I slept a little later than usual since I have to work the evening shift.

I ran out about a mile and then turned and started walking back. About a quarter of a mile from home, I looked up and saw that a late model Crown Victoria was coming towards me. No problem, several cars, trucks, and even a school bus had driven by me already this morning. I follow all of the rules of the road. I walk or run facing traffic. I wear a high visibility reflective vest and if it's dark, I carry a flashlight.

As the car neared to within a hundred yards, I realized that the car was not going to move over to the center of the road as everyone else does. I moved over so that I was completely on the shoulder. I looked at the oncoming car and realized that she was on the phone and evidently had just seen me. At this point, everything seemed to go into slow motion. Her car swerved slightly but towards me instead of away from me. She ran off the edge of the road. Rather than wait for the impact, I dove into the ditch on the side of the road.

She drove a short distance and turned around and came back. By that time, I had pulled myself out the brush in the ditch and was standing on the side of the road. She got out of her car and may have been more upset than I was. I told her that I was okay, but suggested that she stay off of the ##@@%%***## cell phone. She apologized, got back in her car, and drove away. I took a quick inventory of body parts and realized that I could get back home. I walked home and sat down on the front steps. Other than a torn sweatshirt, I was in good shape. I sat there for several minutes until I realized that today wasn't my time to go. There must be people left for me to offend!!