Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Oplusion

It came to me in a dream.  Quite literally.

The other morning I woke up and told Kevin that I think I have created a new word.  After rolling his eyes, he looked at me and drolly asked, "what's the word?"  And I blurted it out like the way a 50 year old woman yells out her first wedding vows.  The word is oplusion.

Oh-PLOO'-zhun.

I jumped out of bed to write down the word and its definition: "the measurable depth of any surface in which a hole has been made."  Here is a visual:


The thing is, I don't know if a word already exists for this.  It's not another word for the hole, but the sides of the hole that measure the thickness or depth of the hole.  I'm not an architect, designer or contractor so its possible this has a name already.  So I went to a good source, Kevin's dad, to find out if there was a word already.  Kevin's father is a retired VP of a cabinet company.  He said there is no such thing.

But since not, then have I just created something?


Friday, October 25, 2013

Bob Evans' Weirdness

Several years ago while visiting my parents, the three of us grabbed an easy dinner at their local Bob Evans' restaurant.  About halfway through our meal, the folks at the table next to us finished and left.  They consisted of a couple appearing to be in their early 70s (he with a cane and she in a wheelchair) and their daughter who appeared to be in her early to mid 50s.

So Dad, Mom and I finished up about 20 minutes later and as we exited the restaurant, we were somewhat surprised by what we saw.  A van was pulled up close to the entrance with its side door open.  The old man with the cane was sitting on a bench near the restaurant door, the old woman was by the van laying on the ground on her back, and the daughter (now sweating and looking exhausted) was leaning against the passenger seat in the van.  No one said anything to us as we approached the scene, but my dad had to stop to see if everything was okay.

Through her huffing and puffing, the daughter admitted that she just couldn't get her mother into the van.  Apparently after several attempts, the daughter had given up trying to get her mother from the wheelchair into the back of the van.  Neither of them were in the best of shape to start with.  And the old man seemed fairly frail so I doubt he was any help.  So Dad asked if we (he and I) could help in any way.  The daughter basically threw her hands up in the air and said, "Well if you can get her in the van that'd be helpful".

After rolling my eyes at my dad (the way I always did when he happily volunteered me to get involved in a situation I wanted to avoid completely), I drolly looked at him and said (while heaving a labored sigh), "Okay how do you want to handle this?"  While Dad and I took a second to discuss what to do (and my mom took the time to remind my dad that he was too old to do what he was about to attempt), the daughter lets out this gem: "You can just grab her by the harness and pull her up into the van".

Grab. Her. By. The. Harness.

Dad and I shot each other a look.  I looked over at my mom and she gave me her best WTF expression.  As much as I wanted to know why there was a harness on this old woman, I chose not to ask.  I just wanted to do what I had been volunteered to do and get out of there.  And let me tell you, there was no way in hell I was going to grab an old woman by a harness and lift her anyplace!

After Dad and I visually agreed we would not follow that procedure, we decided that Dad would help me lift her off the ground, then shift all of her weight into my arms and I would put her in the seat while Dad helped guide me in.  And that's what we did.   When we picked up the woman, I could feet the harness apparatus.  It felt more like a life preserver.  I guess it was something the daughter made the mother wear so she could more easily maneuver her around when necessary.

So after the woman was safely in her seat, we got a simple thank you from the daughter (neither the old man or woman said anything through the entire ordeal) and assumed she could take it from there.  When Mom, Dad and I got back to our own car, we started talking about the situation and asking each other the questions that we would never be able to answer:  "What the hell had just happened?", "How long was the woman laying there?", "Would the daughter have asked us for help if we hadn't volunteered?"  The list went on and on, each question adding more incredulity to the situation.

But I also left that situation with a clear answer to an unasked question:  my parents are genuinely nice people who want to help when they see someone in need.  While I would have been completely content just walking by and not getting involved, Mom and Dad saw that something wasn't right and offered to help in any way.  This is but one of the millions of reasons that my parents are my heroes.  They have always given what they could to help whomever they could.  And in this situation, they knew exactly when to leave just in case someone might have been embarrassed by the situation, including one of us.  I was proud of them and even felt better about myself for helping out.

But I still made them buy me a Peanut Buster Parfait at the Dairy Queen on the ride home.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ebony, Ivory & Jade

Way before McCartney and Jackson's "Ebony and Ivory", there was "Ebony, Ivory & Jade", a 1979 movie starring Bert Convy as Mick Jade, a former tennis bum-turned-Las Vegas song-and-dance man, who doubles as a private eye with two female dancers, Ebony and Ivory (Debbie Allen and Martha Smith) in which the trio go undercover to protect a lady scientist from international hit-men as she heads for Washington D.C. from the Middle East with her super-secret formulas.  Check out the intro and first few minutes.  The music is classic 70's super funk.  Hoping to build on the Charlie's Angels phenomenon, the movie didn't quite live up to expectations so no series was created.

But the really BIG shame is that this cheesy Spelling/Goldberg T&A wannabe is a knockoff of a pretty damn funky blaxploitation film of the same name that premiered 3 years earlier in 1976.  Only this time, the namesakes are three kidnapped lady athletes.  Ebony and Ivory are African American and Caucasian women, and Jade is Asian - kinda make more sense.  As the poster says, they are "3 Foxy Mama's" who "can lick any man ever made!"  'Nuff said there.

Here's a sampling of what we all missed. Seems like the black chick is the one who is doing all the work.  And you just know she throw some major shade as a result.


Monday, October 21, 2013

John Ritter


I sometimes forget that he's dead. And when I remember, it's always a bit of a shock.  John Ritter died 10 years ago on September 11, 2003 of an aortic dissection


Ritter was one of the few male role models on TV during my formative years in the 70's who was both masculine and sensitive.  His character, Jack Tripper, on Three's Company was the guy women wanted to date and men wanted to be buddies with.  Jack was my introduction to the word "gay". 

Ritter's characters were almost always tender, sympathetic and comforting.  This is especially true of the character he played in his final film, Sling Blade.  I like to think that those were Ritter's characteristics as well.  He seemed like one of the nice ones, one of the good guys.

He was 55.  

trotted out all the stereotypes, it was a remarkable character for its time to me for reasons that might not be readily apparent. It’s because through much of my early life growing up in a predominantly homophobic state, surrounded predominantly by homophobic people, my strongest association with the term “gay” was Jack Tripper.
Read more at http://www.pajiba.com/think_pieces/on-the-10th-anniversary-of-his-death-remembering-how-john-ritter-unwittingly-helped-change-the-perception-of-gay-men.php#32fkBVfUHwjdUb6x.99
trotted out all the stereotypes, it was a remarkable character for its time to me for reasons that might not be readily apparent. It’s because through much of my early life growing up in a predominantly homophobic state, surrounded predominantly by homophobic people, my strongest association with the term “gay” was Jack Tripper.
Read more at http://www.pajiba.com/think_pieces/on-the-10th-anniversary-of-his-death-remembering-how-john-ritter-unwittingly-helped-change-the-perception-of-gay-men.php#32fkBVfUHwjdUb6x.99
trotted out all the stereotypes, it was a remarkable character for its time to me for reasons that might not be readily apparent. It’s because through much of my early life growing up in a predominantly homophobic state, surrounded predominantly by homophobic people, my strongest association with the term “gay” was Jack Tripper.
Read more at http://www.pajiba.com/think_pieces/on-the-10th-anniversary-of-his-death-remembering-how-john-ritter-unwittingly-helped-change-the-perception-of-gay-men.php#32fkBVfUHwjdUb6x.99

Friday, October 18, 2013

Lunchboxes

I only recall having two lunchboxes during my elementary school years.  I think perhaps there was a third around 6th grade but I can't remember it.  Hey Mom, I am relying on you to refresh my memory.

My first lunchbox back in 1972 was the metal Snoopy lunchbox that was shaped like Snoopy's doghouse.  I carried this lunchbox on Bus 43 during 1st through 3rd Grades at Eckhart Elementary School.

At Eckhart School, the cafeteria functioned as not only our lunchroom, but also as the school's gymnasium and auditorium.  We ate breakfast and lunch there, had phys. ed. classes in bad weather, watched plays and concerts, attended assemblies, and would gather the few days before Christmas every year to spend the day watching Christmas cartoons.  It was indeed a simpler time.

The teacher's lounge (that secret sanctum of mystery known to all students) was a room just off of the cafeteria, to the left of the stage.  For some weird reason, it was an honor to take a teacher's empty lunch tray to the dishwasher.  The seat closest to the door was the most coveted in the entire cafeteria.  When the lounge door would open, every kid would raise their hand, begging to be chosen.  And when you were chosen - to take an empty tray to a dishwasher - it was the equivalent to being elected class president.  I once got to do it twice in one week.  It was like winning the lottery.

In 4th Grade, I switched over to something more befitting my now-more mature personality - the Planet of the Apes lunchbox.  This container wasn't based on any of the 5 films, but rather on the short-lived television series during the 1974 season. God, I loved that entire genre.  I had Planet of the Apes Halloween costumes, dolls, tree house, village, action figures, movie soundtracks on vinyl, coloring books - you name it.  Today, my collection includes the 5-movie box set of the original series and a wonderful piece of wall art Kevin created for our apartment a few years ago

It's possible I carried the POTA lunchbox through 6th Grade, but then stopped.  When it was time to move on to junior high school, lunches were now packed in brown paper bags.  How droll!  How was one to project his unique personality by using a brown paper bag?



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sinus Rinse

For the past 5 years or so, I have been suffering from (among other things) recurrent acute rhinosinusitis.  I get between 4 and 5 sinus infections per year, each one its own separate episode.  Usually, I've seemed to get them from airplane travel.  Not sure if its the reconstituted air or the close proximity to so many germs or perhaps both.  But just about a week or so after every flight, BLAMMO!:  my sinuses will drip down my throat, my nose will clog, my head will hurt, and my face will swell.  That's right, my face swells.  I always feel so pretty.

A co-worker and I would commiserate over the agonies of sinus infections.  She knew all too well the pain I would suffer.  Before I moved to Miami, she gave me NeilMed Sinus Rinse system.  She, herself, would use a neti pot for nasal irrigation, but she's old-school to this practice and thought I should try a simpler device. 

So about 4 months after moving to Miami, the time came for me to actually give this sinus rinse a try.  I woke up with what felt like a sinus infection but later in the day turned out to be just a really, REALLY, bad cold.  It's been years since I've had one this bad.  So along with some Emergen-C, I decided to use the sinus rinse.  There is actually a video on youtube that demonstrates how it all works.

I will say that for someone who has spent his entire life preventing liquid from going up his nose, it went against all acts of nature for me to actually stream this stuff up into my nasal passages.  I always figured that water or anything else would end up shooting up into my brain somehow or - worse - dripping down the back of my throat and/or out my mouth.  But amazingly (and the video helped demonstrate this), that is not how it all works.

And after just three days of sinus rinse, Emergen-C, and drinking a few glasses of OJ, the REALLY bad cold was completely gone.  

Friday, October 11, 2013

Reese's Cups

There seems to be a debate happening in the country that has nothing to do with healthcare, debt ceilings, or partisan politics.  No.  The debate is how to correctly/properly/phonetically pronounce the name of one of America's best candies:  Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

The problem seems to center around the first word:  Reese's. In 1928, H.B. Reese created the peanut butter cup and named the creation after himself.  So the name of the candy is actually a possessive word; owned by one person.

Now, if you call the candy by its actual name, then I think it's very easy to get the pronunciation correct.   However, in my family (and I am sure in many other families), the candy's name has been shortened to just Reese's Cups.  And herein lies the problem:
  • Some people correctly pronounce Reese's as it's spelled, Ree-SEZ Cups.

  • For other people, the name has more of a rhyme to it by being pronounced as Reesee's Cups.
  • And for yet other people (my parents' included), the possessive "s" seems to have been dropped altogether, making the name Reesee Cups.
It's a real potayto/potahto kinda thing.  I've found these pronunciations to be more  colloquialisms than anything else.  There doesn't seem to be this kind of disparagement with Reese's Pieces, I guess because of the rhyme scheme.

Regardless, I cannot (and probably never will be able to) look at them and not think of my dad, who would eat them until he was sick if my mom wasn't there to stop him.  I'm not sure if they are his favorite candy but, for me, they are forever tied to my dad.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Childe Harold

I wanted to reflect for a moment on a restaurant in DC that closed back in 2007, the Childe Harold.  The 4-story, brick restaurant and saloon was located just north of Dupont Circle on 20th Street, NW - a stone's throw from the bustling gay shopping/nightlife on Connecticut Avenue.  Off of the regular walking track, it was a place of destination for those who knew its history.  At its creation in 1967, the Childe Harold was christened for a Lord Byron poem celebrating a young man's world travels.

Having no clue about the place, I accidentally made this location the first place I took myself out to dinner when I moved to DC in September 1995.  Alone and a bit homesick, I wanted to do something that, at that point, could only be done in a metropolitan city:  I ate dinner outside on the covered patio while reading a book.  The food, spaghetti and meatballs, satisfied my hunger; the glass of red wine was a tip-o'-the-hat to my melancholic college days; and the book, "Chicken Soup for the Soul", was to ease my homesickness.

It's interesting that I unwittingly chose this place; a place named for a poem that describes the travels and reflections of a young man who leaves behind a known life for discoveries elsewhere. Both the fictional Harold and I were young men who had lived lives of pleasure and revelry, now looking for distractions in foreign lands.  How interesting it is when art imitates our lives, and/or vice versa.

Sometimes without us ever really knowing about it.

Monday, October 07, 2013

The World's Smallest Car

Think back to when you first saw a Smart Car and remember how impossibly tiny you thought it was.  Think again and prepare to giggle.  Meet the Canta.  And for a special treat, behold an adorable 20 year-old Kevin standing next to one in 1998:



Priceless.

The Canta is manufactured in the Netherlands by a small company called Waaijenberg.  Most golf carts dwarf these things, and it’s interesting to see what the minimum space requirement is for two people to be seated in a vehicle scooting around in normal traffic. There also appears to be some space behind both seats, which could come in handy if you bought a magazine or newspaper during your travels.

Here are some things I discovered about the marvelously miniscule Canta:
  • No driver’s license required!
  • You can legally drive them in bike paths and (the company says) through shopping centers
  • They all feature a Honda engine of either 160 cc or 200 cc
  • There are 4 different models, and almost all are manufactured to custom specifications according to the owners’ desires
  • The most expensive of the 4 models, the Inrij-Canta, is specifically built to be driven by someone still in their wheelchair. The chair wheels into the rear door and then right behind the steering wheel.
  • The Dutch version can reach speeds up to 30 mph, while a German electric model only goes half that speed, and a UK version goes up to about 44 mph. 
  • The basic version of the Canta sells for under $16,000.  The Inrij-Canta version will run you a little over $24,000. 
The fact that you don’t need a driver’s license to drive one of these things is more than a little shocking to me. The company doesn’t mention anything about a minimum age requirement to drive one, but I suppose the strangely high price tag takes care of that. Anyone old enough to scrape up $16K or more certainly would have better things to spend it on than buying a tiny car.
At least I hope so. 

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Four Generations

For what could be the first time in my record-keeping of my father's family tree, there are 4 generations of Troutman males alive at the same time.  The recent birth of Noah, our nephew's son, has created what I think to be a first (at least first in many generations) of this milestone.  While 4 living generations is not a big deal for most families, it is a VERY big deal for my father's bloodline, the median age of which averages at about 28 years old.

My dad turned 74 on his birthday this past June, passing the ages of his parents and all sets of his grand- and great-grandparents.  He's outlived every expectation.  These latter years, however, have not been so golden; my dad developed Alzheimer's over three years ago and it's been a steady downhill slide ever since.  Mom is Dad's caretaker now and sees to his every need.  Dad is mobile and can still do most things for himself, but he is feeble beyond his years.  It is sad that my folks have been robbed of what was to be a very special time in their lives.

Still, I think even Dad understands what it all means for him to see a Troutman male great-grandchild.  I traveled home this week to meet Noah and to make sure this moment in time was captured appropriately: