Saturday, June 29, 2013

I passed two thousand motorcycles

As promised, here is the motorcycle story. I was driving on Route 17 in New York on an uneventful morning  when I say a herd of police cars. They were directing all the traffic to the left lane. On the right lane, there was a parade, two abreast, of motorcycles. They were men, women, young, old, I even saw Santa at one point. I started to pass them and over the next half hour I must have past two thousand motorcycles. At the head of the pack was a state police car, keeping them in line and under the speed limit.

I have no idea who they were or why they were there. I guess motorcycles like to travel in packs. Must be fun.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Baby registries

There are two worlds that a man is likely to encounter in life. There is the dark bizarre world of bachelorhood. A world of dank bars, movie houses, travel, museums, bachelorettes and take-out Chinese food. Then there is the main stream world of marriage, kids, family and two story colonials. Work is one of those places where these two worlds intersect.

So that is why I am browsing the Baby's R Us baby registry of a co-worker who has a cake in the oven. I guess there was the off chance that the $25 for the baby shower/luncheon/gift was insufficient to show one's affection for lady x so the memo also included a link to her baby registry. Her boss is also expecting, as much as a man can be expecting, and his baby registry is also featured. Personally I think it's un-manly to distribute a man's baby registry at work but that is a theme for another day.

The baby registry is fascinating. Until yesterday I never knew such things existed. Now I get to experience first hand the pleasures of birth, albeit vicariously. How neet! A giraffe teether! A daisy decorated changing table! Baby bouncers! Who knew such things existed! Well, time to put the dim sum in the microwave.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A road trip

Although a lot can be said for rail, air and even bus travel, there's nothing like an old fashioned car trip to see the real America. On the road you get to fill up your own tank, pass large trucks on the highway, stay in cheasy motels and re learn your vending machine skills, in case you have forgotten them. You also get familiar with ice buckets and motel ice vending machines.

Traveling with the family as a kid I was told to fill up the family cooler with the hotel ice machine. I also got to swim in motel swimming pools with motel towels. We never stole towels, just overused our ice privileges. Instead of eating at Howard Johnsons on the road, we ate sandwiches that Mother made and Dad was allowed a can of beer. We consumed our meals at those rest stops on wooden picnic tables.

As an adult I have thrown caution to the wind and become an aficionado of travel courts. What great places. My last trip an old man was traipsing up to the entrance rolling an oxygen tank. A travel court comedian yelled, "Don't worry, I left my iron lung in the car!" I met a Cub Scout pack that was selling coffee from a stand. They were impressed when I told them I once was part of Pack 19 in New Jersey. And of course there are those bargain motel books. I leafed through one last weekend and selected an Econolodge with $59 a night coupon. Sometimes I wonder if they add $5 to the price when someone walks into the lobby with one of those books.

Of course there are always the signs on the road. One read "take off your sunglasses" which I dutifully did and soon I was driving through a tunnel under part of the Pocono Mountains. After leaving another tunnel I saw a sign that said "are your lights on?"  and mine were. I put on my sunglasses too, although nobody told me too. I also passed a caravan of two thousand motorcycles. That was fun. Details in a future blog. Happy Summer!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

John McCain's war

One of my favorite political movies is Charley Wilson's War. It shows how a minor Texas Congressman took up the mantle of involving America in Afghanistan's war with Russia in the 90's. John McCain now has his own cause, his own war, and in history he will be remembered as the one person who fought Washington  to get America to fight for Syria.

Americans know that there are bad things happening in Syria but they are war weary and most of them are content to remain on the sidelines. But not John McCain.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Plan B

It looks like thirteen year old girls will soon be able to buy a morning after pill. No prescription needed. It may be expensive though. Perhaps the guy can chip in. Well if you're going to legalize it you might as well go all the way.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Nectarines vs. Peaches

One of my pet peeves is the fact that the people at the check out lines in supermarkets rarely can identify fruits and vegetables. Yesterday a young man asked me if I was buying peaches or nectarines. I looked at one, it sort of looked like a peach so I said "peaches".  Later that night I went onto the Internet and found out that what I bought, having no fuzz at all, was a nectarine, not a peach. I checked the flyer for the supermercado and found out that, in fact, nectarines were $1.99 a pound and peaches were only $1.49 a pound. I had cheated at the market. 

I wonder if there is a place in Dante's Inferno for people who misidentify fruits at the store. No, they are probably in Purgatorio.  

Saturday, June 1, 2013


British television shows like Downton Abby and Mr. Selfridge allow us to see how Americans are perceived throughout the world. Being Americans we don't have that one thing, America, that people in other countries blame everything on.

In British novels or mini series, visiting Americans are often presented. They are the loud rude people who come in with their fancy cars and loud voices and their money and ruin things for the locals.

Europe before World War 2 and the influence of Americanization was a halcyon time. A man didn't have to listen to his wife for orders. He got his marching orders from his mother. His wife was content to stay at home, taking care of the children, and cooking family recipes, sewing curtains and otherwise maintaining traditions. The streets were full of small shops where you could visit and get the local news while buying your baguette.

Then Americanization came. Chain stores took over from the small shops. Women wanted to become Americans and work. Children stopped behaving and modeled themselves on Rusty Hammer in Make Room for Daddy. Coca-Cola. MacDonald's. Disney. Sky television. Shopping malls replacing the local markets.

Today in America, among the hip set, there is a desire to become more like an idealized Europe. We see farmers markets, craft fares, cooking classes, and even cute old world olive and cheese stores in the better districts of our cities. But Americanization continues as the croissant is being bastardized as the cronut. I wonder when they'll start eating cronuts in Marseilles.