Friday, May 02, 2008

My father-in-law is cooler than your father-in-law

This is my father-in-law and his latest toy. He's my hero!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Dale and Billy

Tonight Debbie and I find ourselves in Charlotte, North Carolina. We are on the way to the wedding of a verrrrry long time family friend. (Hi Dani!) I will be performing her nuptials on the beach on Isle of Palms, S.C. this Sunday evening. Any way you cut it that's a cool name. "Isle of Palms." Unfortunately, I left mine at home. I brought my wrists but totally forgot my palms. Come to think of it, my phone doubles as a "Palm."

Which brings me to an entirely different and immensely painful story.

In the last 24 hours I've broken a tooth and a cell phone. Both of them got fixed this morning. One by the dentist (God bless him) and one by a Sprint manager that swapped my phone out for a new one. (They've had to do that 5 times in the last 11 months. They finally wised up and gave me a different model.) Anyway, the cell phone (aka: Palm) doesn't hurt tonight. Can't say the same for the tooth.

And then there is North Carolina. I've already learned that there are two things that you don't do in Charlotte. You don't speak unkindly of Dale Earnhart or Billy Graham. In that order. The fashion in which I learned this will go with me to my grave.

I also learned that as soon as you cross the state line into West Virginia you start craving chewing tobacco. Never mind that I've never chewed tobacco in my life. I still had a hankering for it. (Ha! I said "hankering!") I didn't try any. I did spit a few times though. You know, just to get the general feel. It wasn't altogether unpleasant. Well, unless you were driving in the car behind me.

Speaking of driving. Generally, "Sophie the GPS" lies. Not too long ago she told me to make a u-turn on an expressway exit ramp. I thought this a bad idea. Sophie and I have a love/hate relationship. Tonight she wanted me to get off of the expressway 25 miles before we got to our hotel ... which is ON (actually, beside) the expressway. I thought that folly. Then she told me that there was a huge traffic jam a few miles ahead. I laughed at her silliness. I passed right by two exits when she told me to get off and save myself from jam-dom. We were out in the country, for crying out loud.

And then traffic stopped. I didn't say, "And then traffic slowed down." I said, "And then traffic stopped." And it sat there for 31 minutes before it started to move. That's exactly how long Sophie told me the jam was lasting. Tomorrow if Sophie tells me to take a left into the ocean I will be taking a left into the ocean. If she tells me to cash in my retirement and invest in egg salad, I will cash in my retirement and invest in egg salad. (Did I mention that egg salad is the only thing I can eat because I have this tooth ache?)

Sophie rules. (Right after Dale and Billy.)

Melanie, Burger Queen of Planet Earth

I have this friend that I love dearly. Her name is Melanie. She was in my youth group years ago. Since then she's grown up, gotten married, become a teacher and a mom. And now ... She is my very own burger expert! Hey, everybody needs one. I just received the following e-mail from her. It must be shared with the world (that would be you.) I love a good burger, but Mel? Mel is P-A-S-S-I-O-N-A-T-E about one! Read and see...


I have been a hamburger connoisseur my entire life. When my family and I would make the occasional trip out to eat I would always order a hamburger. I used to cry at Chinese food places because I knew they did not have hamburgers. (Plus I was scared of eating my neighbor's cat) Cracker Barrel brought tears too because they served their burgers on sour dough bread. After many hamburgers and lots of extra body weight my parents started to limit my hamburger fetish. However, this forced me to become a connoisseur of only the best burgers. Due to these facts and my experience as a Language Arts teacher I was challenged by your blog to compare and contrast the hamburger eating experiences of the famous Texas Whataburger and your loved Five Guys Burgers.

First I will start with the overall experience at both restaurants. Whataburger is my first to rate. I lived in Texas for almost ten years. I had heard about Whataburger from my readings of Beverly Cleary's Ramona Quimby series during elementary school. I recall that Ramona Quimby was also enamored with the famous Whataburger. Naturally when I moved to Texas one of my first ambitions was to try the Whataburger. The commercials are also a draw for Texans. I would say anyone who has ever lived in Texas has had a Whataburger experience.

The Whataburger restaurant is not much different than any other fast food joint. It does feel like a blast from the past due to the orange and white simple decor. One may choose to go through the drive-thru or eat inside the restaurant. If you eat inside the restaurant the only different experience you will find with this fast food joint is they bring your food to your table. This can be a plus if you have small children to jostle around. The food is cooked to order. Just the way you like it, fresh, and warm. The burgers are flat and large in diameter. The fries are thin and salty. It is evident the patties and fries are packaged. I envision someone taking them out of the freezer and dropping them on the grill or in the grease pit to cook. The closest comparison I have come to a Whataburger is the Sonic hamburger and fries. In fact since moving to Tennessee I have been forced to eat the Sonic Bacon cheeseburgers and fries when I crave one from Whataburger. I have been told there may be WiFi in the restaurant. I did not personally experience this myself during my time in Texas. (Which was quite recent)

Five Guys Burgers in Murfreesboro, TN is a much different experience than most fast food burger joints. It is not your typical fast food hamburger. I would designate it as a burger that is fast. There is a difference. At Five Guys you get to fill your empty belly with peanuts while you wait on your hamburger. All the while you are listening to the employees joyfully shouting out the orders and commenting on them. It is pretty loud in the place due to the employees. They are obviously required to look happy about their jobs. It makes the place a little fun to hang out. The burger appears and tastes to be from real hamburger meat. It is cooked to your liking on the grill while you watch at a distance. The fries are thick and very tasty. They are not your typical fast food fry. You may order regular or Cajun seasoned fries. The hamburger is thicker than most fast food burgers. I had to open my mouth pretty wide to get a good bite. It's a good thing I don't suffer from TMJ.

Whataburger and Five Guys both provide their customers with made to order hamburgers. The burgers are fresh and warm for the customers. The food is provided quickly to the customers. Both restaurants are centered around customer satisfaction. Each provides its own unique dining experience to appeal to the customers. Both are well-respected in their territories.

The Whataburger hamburger is larger in diameter than the Five Guys burger. The Whataburger hamburger is flat and appears to be processed. The Five Guys hamburger meat appears and tastes to be fresh ground beef. It is much thicker than the Whataburger hamburger. The toppings on the Five Guys burgers appear to be fresher than the Whataburger toppings. The fries at Whataburger are not as tasty as the fresh cut, thick, seasoned fries at Five Guys. The drink selection at Five Guys was much more varied than any fast food restaurant I have seen thus far. This impressed me. I did miss the Whataburger experience of someone bringing my food to the table for me. It was a little inconvenient at Five Guys to have my husband wait around for the grub while I entertained the toddler. However, not inconvenient enough to keep me from returning to Five Guys.

Overall I would say we enjoyed our experience at Five Guys better than that of Whataburger. My husband says he was never that impressed with Whataburger. According to him there was nothing special about it. As far as Five Guys Burgers I quote, " The burger at Five Guys is a man's burger." If you want a real hamburger with great fries go to Five Guys Burgers. If you just want a filling, made to order, fresh, fast food hamburger go to Whataburger.

Your burger buddy,


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ohio -- Keeping the fish sober for over a century

The move from Illinois to Ohio has required me to make some adjustments in life. A new drivers license. Registration to vote in a new state. The maddening search for the perfect local pizza. Along the way I have made a few discoveries. You just never know what will turn up when you start looking in the great book of rules and regulations. For instance ...

In Ohio it is illegal to get a fish drunk. Seriously? Was this a problem? Were they driving while intoxicated?

In Ohio it is illegal to hunt whales on Sundays. The huge whale population of Lake Erie sleeps well on weekends, I am certain. This also explains why Captain Ahab keeps sailing back and forth off my balcony every Monday through Friday.

In Ohio it is illegal to sell beer while dressed in a Santa Claus suit. I do not know if this applies to the real Santa or just poser's.

There is more but I doubt that you can stand it. The shock effect of these three facts all by themselves will have the blog-o-sphere rumbling for weeks. Then again. Is it possible the the fish were drunk because they bought beer from Santa and then ganged up on the whales?

Hey. Sounds plausible to me.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My daughter loves me

My daughter wrote a very special blog tonight. I hope you will take the time to read it. She is an amazing woman and a unsurpassable daughter.

Click this for a link to Kelli's blog...

How to spend an evening with Debbie out of town

-Practice inflating and deflating your "Sleep Number Bed."
-Try to eat exactly 37 grams of fat for dinner.
-Vacuum with the dust buster. Again.
-Throw semi-rotten oranges down the trash compactor chute ... one at a time.
-Find a good book, a comfortable chair, and then remember that you need to clean the toilet.
-Drive all of "Broadway" in NYC on googles "street level" maps.
-Text message "thank you" to everybody you know and see how many respond.
-Blog. Then blog again.

As a hush falls over the internet

I have 28 blogs in my RSS feed. Nobody has blogged today. That never happens. Not counting the ever present spam I've gotten two emails. Two. And one of those was a "forward." It was sunny and then it rained. Then it got sunny. Now it's raining. At least gas went up ten cents per gallon. God bless the oil companies. At least somebody did "the expected" today.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I ... am my hero!

Note to Bella:

I did it. Me. I flexed my muscles, focused my energies, and manned-up. 35 inches of glory. Out of the Mustang, through the garage, the hallways, up NINE stories. Down the hall. Through the door. Onto the amazingly strong "Sterilite" containers. Plugged in. Turned on. Positively glowing. 35 diagonal inches of pure bliss.


Please ... I am a mere human. Do not worship me.

(I would like to thank all of those who made this moment possible. Ethan Ferguson for helping me load the monster upside down in my garage. Couldn't have done it without ya. Laura "Bella" Rulo for cheering us on without laughing too frequently, and for riding with her knees scrunched up into her chin while we drove to Cannoli's. A big thanks to all of the traffic that stayed out of my way as I drove the 580 miles home on Saturday. A "Howdy and nice job" to the bottle of Tylenol I'm about to take. Oh, and a "Thanks so much" for the nurses in the nursing home that will be turning me every 2 hours to keep me from getting bed sores when I'm admitted early due to inability to lift anything ever again. And finally ... especially ... my wife Debbie cause, geez, that things on your side of the bed and I'm pretty sure you'll get a really nice tan from it which I will like. You all mean SO VERY MUCH.)

Television at 65 MPH

It's still there. The TV. It's still in the back of my car. Collecting dust. Causing raised eyebrows, no doubt. (sigh) It's a "cart issue." The apartment complex has carts for people to use on moving day. You know, just like hotels have when you check in or out. You can put stuff on the bottom (like mega-old-tube-TV's) and hang clothing from the bar across the top.

Problem is ... the carts are all booked-up. It's the end of the month and people that are going to move are doing so now. Sooooo... there she sits. All alone. Unplugged. 35 inches of television. If someone would just break into my car and steal her I could claim her on my insurance and invest the return on a hyper-cool new plasma. (Are they heavy too?) They come in a box and that's a whole lot easier to carry. And if they slashed the top of my Mustang to get at her I'd get a new convertible top too. Sweet! Insurance is wonderful when it works. (It's a rip-off when it doesn't.)

But you can't even count on thieves these days.

It's occurred to me that with a power ac/dc converter I could plug the thing in, let the top down on the car, put an antenna on the TV and cruise down I-90 watching Oprah. Of course I'd have to watch in the mirror. And even that wouldn't really work because the TV is still upside down. On the other hand I've seen Oprah a time or two and, in my humble opinion, most of her thinking is already upside down. So maybe she would come out right side up?

I'm putting way too much effort into figuring this out.