Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Into The Great Wide Open

If you’re not a social media kinda person, you may have missed my recent announcement.

I’ve decided to join the over-populated world of podcasting!

That’s right! The world needs more podcasts and I’m finally ready to add my two-cents. I’m aware that no one really wants it, but the calling is there. The kind of calling that feels like a large toothless dog trying to take a chunk of flesh from my forearm. I feel it, but it’s not exactly urging me to jump out of bed, step into some turnout gear, slide down a pole, and hop aboard a wailing fire engine.

I’ve missed being on The Less Desirables podcast. I got to meet some folks from Winston-Salem were doing great stuff. I got to crack wise. And I got to talk about one of my greatest loves… Television.

Kristen Daukas and I toyed with the idea of taking the Tar Heel Taps radio show to podcasting, but my heart just wasn’t in it. Sure, it was great interviewing all of the brewers and owners, but it would be on our dime since finding sponsors is difficult. Why a sports radio station general manager didn’t see the value of keeping that show on the air is beyond me?

But then again, we couldn’t understand why they went with sports after so many have come and gone over the last couple of decades. So, apparently someone has money to burn or money to launder. You know, if the Netflix show ‘Ozark’ has taught me anything.

I see podcasting as the next step for this award-winning blog. Traffic to this joker isn’t what it used to be. It’s like folks don’t really care for reading anymore. That’s cool. I get it. Hell, I’m finally getting on this great podcasting thing. I’ve been enjoying the ever-loving snot out of the Hit Parade podcast. And I’ve been listening to Jeff Kay’s The West Virginia Surf Report’ podcast as well as The Less Desirables.

I plan on keeping them around 30 minutes so they’re easy to digest. And most people can listen to in the car on the way to work or on the way home. Or while they’re in the Hardee’s drive-thru. I just thought about these ideal moments… Listening while waiting at the doctor’s office or exercising at home, the gym, or the Y.

There’s more to come about the Wheeler’s Dog podcast. I got the artwork from some dude on I think it turned out great! Now I’m going through my royalty free sound library for a few things that could be considered an opening theme and closer. For those, I want to keep them short. People just can’t seem to sit through things more than 5 seconds. And sadly, I’m like that too.

My attempts at raising some funds by offering a custom t-shirt to offset the cost of the equipment to do it at home fell short of the mark. But hey, that’s cool. There are more pressing things to spend your money on during the holiday season.

The Wheeler’s Dog podcast ball is rolling. It’s just a matter of time to take this award-winning blog to the next level. And thank you to everyone that takes time out to read my ramblings. It is greatly appreciated.

If you really want my serious appreciation, feel free to give this blog a vote for the best in the Triad RIGHT HERE. It would be nice to add a second award when the podcasting is in full swing. I don’t like to campaign for such things because they always seem to backfire and I’ll look like a schmuck. So help me look like a schmuck, thanks!

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

A New Year A New Tradition

I hope your holidays were fantastic and law enforcement free like ours. We started out the year with a tradition that I’m hoping takes hold in our home.

There was a time when Jamie and I cohabitated in King, NC. I would usually get out of bed before Jamie and the boys. Most of the time I would turn on some music and start preparing a late breakfast type meal. The music was just loud enough to tickle sleeping ears awake so the nose would be alerted to eggs and bacon frying in the kitchen. I would usually assemble a sandwich of eggs, bacon, and cheese on toasted bread.

Most of the time, these breakfast Sunday mornings were on special NASCAR race days like the Daytona 500, Martinsville, Talladega, Bristol, Darlington, Watkins Glen, and Sonoma. And the non-NASCAR related Sundays were because the Washington Redskins game was being broadcast on the local television station. So, these breakfast Sundays were usually because I was excited about the events that were to take place that day. And I was trying to spread the cheer by making everyone hot, delicious late breakfast foods.

It wasn’t uncommon that beer started flowing as soon as I waddled into the kitchen. Especially on race days. 100% flow on Watkins Glen and Sonoma race days! I LOVE the road courses!

A breakfast tradition began in our current home in Clemmons decades ago with my father-in-law and his buddy Bait. They would all gather at 7am for the communal reading of the newspaper and the general discussions of current events.

This tradition continued to where my father-in-law lives now. His place is maybe 200 yards away from what we refer to as “The Big House”. We moved into the Big House back in May of 2016.

Bait usually arrives first around 7am and everyone else just kinda filters in. I’ll slap on some clothes and show up. My brother-in-law Andy will eventually get out of bed to join us. The newspaper tradition has been dropped and the cast of characters have changed over the years. Hell, I resisted going for a long time because it just felt too damn early for me. I keep the same sleep schedule as my wife and 2 days without an alarm clock seems very appealing. But I eventually dragged myself out of bed for breakfast with the Hampton Hellcats.

I like the Hampton Hellcats breakfast mornings. I like the discussions. I like the camaraderie that it promotes. It’s usually the same cast of characters every Sunday morning… Jim, Bait, Andy, Randy, and myself. There’s also the usual cast of guest Hellcats like Tom, Matthew, Sam, Jamie, Rick, Bobbie, and Connie.

So, I thought that I would try it at the Big House with my family. But it would be a monthly event that takes place on the first Sunday of the month.

The plan: I get home from the Hampton Hellcats breakfast between 8:30 and 9. I turn on some music just light enough to tickle the ears awake and loud enough that I can hear while cooking. NO TV until Noon! Take a seat at the dining room table. Talk. Eat. Be social.

Of course, the ONLY person that pushed back immediately with an exasperated sigh… The MIL. It was like telling a child that they were to take the worst tasting cough medicine whether they had a cough or not. This one-day once a month event was going to ruin her life. I’m sure that if she were in good physical condition, she would have flopped onto the floor to wail like an animal caught in a beartrap. It was humorous and yet annoying.

It goes a little something LIKE THIS.

At first, I thought it was her inability to turn on a television.

She is the Creature of the Black Lagoon of habits. If you disturb her routine, things can get ugly. She gets mopey or it fuels an anger that will manifest in some ridiculous way.

I have tried reviving the Sunday morning late breakfast on race days before… turning on some music and just loud enough. And believe it or not, the MIL would plop right down in her usual spot, turn on the TV, and start watching some of her usual choice of programming.

I would give in to her passive-aggressive BS and just switch off the music. The old dog has her habits. There was no reason to start a fight. Just prepare her sandwich and pray the bread was properly choke worthy.

Her latest and thrilling TV viewing habit is watching people shop on YouTube. Yes. People shopping in stores from Dollar Tree to Macy’s and that’s what she’s watching. And those videos have thousands of views! WHY?!

I gave warning of the new monthly breakfast plan 2 months before it became a reality. NO TV until Noon. I had originally planned on cranking up this tradition in December, but I thought that the new year would be a better starting point.

So, to further pacify the 73-year-old toddler in the house I decided to kick things off musically with the Chris Stapleton Radio feature on Spotify. It’s really a playlist instead of an actual randomness of related artists. And that seemed to calm her down a bit. She’s not the most adventurous woman when it comes to music. She’s ALWAYS complaining that the Big House Mix playlist on Spotify never plays anything that she likes. Yet at some point you’ll see her bopping along to some melody that she seems to be enjoying. Go figure.

Oddly, almost every time she verbalizes the “never plays anything that I like” complaint… She’ll then step out of the room or into the house to freshen her drink or powder her nose and MISS one of her favorite songs in the world by one of her many “men” like Stapleton or Lionel Richie. It has become a regular moment that should be acknowledged by every witness immediately downing of the rest of their alcoholic beverage.

But she managed to live through the new tradition Matthew has coined Second Breakfast Sunday. Or SBS for short.

After two full plays of the Chris Stapleton Radio playlist, I went seamlessly into the Big House Mix. It more or less went unnoticed as we air-fried tots, fries, jalapeno poppers, and buffalo chicken bites. And the MIL has set the bar that may never be reached again! She went 2 hours and 36 minutes past Noon without turning on the television.

We had a great time with our guests Bait and Bobby. I think their presence made the MIL a little more social than usual. But as soon as everyone stepped outside to “look at something”, the MIL in comical fashion went straight to her spot to flop down and turn on the TV.

I just closed the game room door and when everyone came back from looking at whatever it was, the MIL rejoined us. Only a few minutes had elapsed, but the Creature of the Habit Lagoon was loosed for a quick TV fix!

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Raising The White Flag

I got home from work yesterday and found the MIL watching ‘To Die For’. I couldn’t believe it! She was actually watching a quality film and one of my favorites!

It is VERY unusual to see her watching any quality film or TV series. For example, here are the most recent things besides the QVC app (she’s been banned from shopping but still watches) that she’s been watching on our streaming sites…

Welcome to Paradise
They Wait
Shark in Venice
King Kong (the recent viewing of the remake was an eyebrow raiser)
The Apple
Killing Spree
The Horror of Party Beach
Weather Wars
American Gigolo
The Uninvited
My Teacher’s Wife
Raging Sharks

She’s kind of strayed away from series. She was all over ‘Grace & Frankie’. We got her into ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ and ‘Stranger Things’. And from what I’ve seen her watching by herself, quality in a series is of no matter to her.

And if you know me then you know my personal philosophy about watching television… “If you’re going to waste your time watching television, make it quality television.”

Let’s face it… Watching television is wasted time. My wife tells me that all the time. BUT I’m a fan of great storytelling. A fan of comedy. And television has never let me down with either. From ‘Green Acres’ to ‘Big Mouth’… ‘Lost’ to ‘The Boys’… ‘The Twilight Zone’ to ‘Stranger Things’… ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ to ‘Parks and Recreation’… etc. Television has entertained me and has me wanting more. And missing all the great series in the future has me bummed out that I’m not able to live forever.

I wouldn’t consider myself an addict. I’ve gone a day or two without turning on a TV. I’ve been up for three hours now and haven’t watched a single TV show. I haven’t even turned the TV on. I’m not sneaking in an episode of a show on my phone while I’m working like an alcoholic with a bottle in the car.

I adore TV and I always have. That’s not going to change.

Back to the MIL… From her viewing habits, you can tell that she likes the horror genre. I’ve made suggestions and they are pretty much ignored. I feel like it’s a passive aggressive thing. We have to physically sit down with her in order to coax her into something that we KNOW that she’ll enjoy. That’s how we got her into ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ and ‘Stranger Things’. She loved those series.

I’ve tried and tried to get her started on ‘The Walking Dead’, but she resists. When we watched as a family (now down to Jamie and myself) she saw the episode where Negan killed a couple of important characters. She immediately had a dislike for Negan… where she’s supposed to, really… But that tainted it for her or at least I think so.

I suggested that she start from the beginning, but she’d rather watch some crap involving sharks in ridiculous situations. Or some bad horror film… Or QVC.

My wife picks on my sedentary lifestyle, but at least I’m not wasting my time watching crap that offers nothing in return.

I’ve kind of gotten to the point where I don’t care what the MIL watches. It’s apparent to me that she’s content with wasting her remaining days on this Earth in a housecoat watching mind-numbing programs and movies on the TV.

She opted out of our neighborhood viewings of ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ recently. She did it in a roaring fashion… Jamie told her that the neighbors were coming over to have a day marathon of Buffy with us. She huffed because… As much as she likes the show when she’s watching, she'll passively aggressively huff as if she's child staring down a spoon of foul-tasting medicine that'll make her feel better. And there was also the matter than she’d have to get dressed and hang up the daily attire of the nightgown, bedroom slippers, and housecoat for a few hours. The neighbors were kind enough to host that afternoon so that we could get out from under that wet blanket.

So, it has been noted. She doesn’t want to watch Buffy. She doesn’t want to be social. We’re not going to make her. AND we’re no longer going to involve her in anything else. She says that’s the way she wants it, but it will become a sticking point sometime in the future. I’m through trying to lead a horse to water when she’d rather be in the barn watching crappy television.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Putting Money Where Part Of My Mouth Used To Be

I went into the kitchen last night and made a lighthearted search for something filling without a whole lot of prep trouble. I settled with a rice cake. I pulled it out, thought about adding a thick layer of peanut butter on it, but then just bit into it. Something didn’t feel right in the bottom front of my mouth. I didn’t even bite through the stale rice cake. So, I pulled that joker away from my mouth and sure enough… My tongue immediately found the problem as to why something didn’t feel right. I looked at the bottom of the rice cake and there it was… My bridge had come loose and was stuck into that rice cake.

My tongue could feel the posts sticking out of my gums. Wonderful, I thought to myself.

I retrieved the bridge and took it to the bathroom with me. I took a little look at the posts and my bridge. I pushed it back into place and decided not to bite into anything else. Hopefully, I could make it until morning when and if the dentist could take me in for a light emergency visit.

I managed to sleep with it all night without it swallowing it or waking up choking on it. I also knew that I wouldn’t get a wink of sleep without it back in place because my tongue and brain would absolutely spend all night feeling and thinking about the empty area.

I contacted my dental hygienist friend about costs and what to expect. In my mind, I saw our bank account starring as one of the car crashes on the old TV series CHiPs.

There was going to be screaming, covering of eyes, objects sailing through the air, and things bursting into flames.

She had some good news, but I still had a nagging feeling.

I called my dentist’s office as soon as they opened this morning. They could squeeze me in at 8:50.

So, I jumped in the shower and got dressed like the house was on fire. I made the office at 8:43 and they took me back before I could place my flabby, pasty-white buns onto the couch in the waiting room.

They cleaned it all up, slapped on some cement, and pressed that joker back into place. And the realistic picture is… It will eventually have to be replaced with a new bridge ALL THE WAY across the front bottom of my mouth. OR, I could get a partial denture.

I have taken in consideration my age, our bank account, and my possible remaining years above ground. If, and I stress IF, I manage to keep breathing for 25 more years then a partial denture is the way to go. All my pretty years have been behind me since Clinton was in office. And I have fully accepted that my biting into food years are gone too. I had a good run with what I got when I had to have a bridge put in after a car accident in 1987.

I noticed that my bridge felt loose MONTHS ago. I backed off eating things that required me to bite or pull foods that required the use my front teeth. I started using my fingers to pull foods apart. I was eating more foods in nugget form. I felt like that I could nurse and carry my bridge along to the grave with me.

But here we are and I’m still going to do less biting. I just don’t like putting 5 to 15K into my mouth at such a late time in my life. ESPECIALLY when my wife is the major bread winner in our home. She didn’t ask for this when I knocked my teeth out in February of 1987. She is adamant about having something done about it. She doesn’t want me to live life with her like a toothless hockey player. Oh no! Having front teeth is important to her.

My father knocked out an upper incisor out years ago, but refuses to do anything about it. My wife likes a toothy mouth. She cannot accept that kind of thing. But I can’t see putting something into my mouth that could cost more than a brand-new Kia Rio.

I think that I can live out the rest of my days with a partial denture that costs the same as a new Kawasaki Ninja 400. I can live with that.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Finally Scratching That Itch

I knocked something off my to-do list yesterday. It was nothing great or spectacular. I didn’t ride a bull or cure a disease. I finally ate at a Jack in the Box.

Yep. I tried a fast food restaurant for the first time ever.

I’ve always heard them mentioned in things pertaining to California. I’m guessing that they’re based in California and making their way across the country. Ever since hearing about them, I’ve wanted to have a Jack in the Box experience. I’ve never been to California so, I had to wait for them to come to me unless I happened upon a “radically” placed JITB.

A few years ago, I had to go to the Charlotte Motor Speedway to pick up my media credentials. I had to do it in person during my workday. And I haven’t been to the speedway in over a decade. There was a time where we had to get off of I-85 and wind our way through woods and neighborhoods to get to the speedway. Now you just take Exit 49 for Bruton Smith Boulevard and CMS is just a mile or so away.

I’m sure that it feels 60 miles away on race day. Race day traffic can be a harsh mistress.

Back to getting my credentials… I’m on the boulevard and I saw a Jack in the Box! I didn’t get a good look because I was driving and the light there in front of the restaurant was green. My heart was racing. The question of what I may have seen kept running through my mind. Did I? Did I see a Jack in the Box??

I got my credentials and started back to work. Again, I had a green light but I saw it. I saw it! Lo’ and behold there was a Jack in the Box! And it was only 2 hours away from where I live!

I didn’t have time to stop that day nor the days since discovering it. But since I’ve been driving to Charlotte for work on a regular basis, I made a promise to myself that I was going to visit that Jack in the Box. I’ve been passing the exit, but none of the signs leading up to that exit have the JITB logo posted with all the other restaurants. I kept having questions… Is it still there? Did it close? Why isn’t such a rarity in these parts advertised on a sign? Was I hallucinating all those times that I thought I saw it??

I did some online research. The Jack in the Box was indeed there. It was easy to get to and out of. It’s open 24 hours a day.

So yesterday, Tuesday the 11th of November, I finally pulled into the Jack in the Box. I was worried. It was 10:40 A.M. Were they still serving breakfast foods? Will I have to sit around waiting until they changed the menu over? What was I going to do with 20 minutes?

It was rainy and cold, my friends. But I got out of that truck, pulled my hoodie over my head, and made a beeline for the door. I stepped inside this new wonderous place, pulled down my hoodie, and looked around like Dorothy in Oz. There was a hive of activity in the kitchen and that gave me time to check out the overwhelming number of combos offered.

A young woman came up to the counter and said, “Welcome to Jack in the Box.”

I nearly giggled like a Japanese schoolgirl. But I kept my excitement under wraps. “Are you guys serving burgers this early?” I asked.

“Yes, sir,” she answered. “What can I get you?”

I settled on a bacon double burger. And when she asked for my choice of side, I had to ask what my choices were. After hearing them, I went with fries. “French or curly?” she asked.

Inside my head… “THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF FRIES?!”

I asked what she preferred and I went with her choice of curly fries. And they had one of those great Coca-Cola drink machines with the seemingly limitless choice of flavors. I went with the Cherry Coke Zero or whatever they’re calling the stuff now. And since they were cooking up my burger fresh, I got a gander at the WHOLE menu. The breakfast items were posted on the wall at the counter. And breakfast items are available 24 hours a day!

I saw the usual fare of sides and items. The tacos surprised me a little but wait… What?! There are egg rolls available??

Damn, I could’ve gone for an egg roll like a drunk after vodka. But I didn’t see it in time. BUT! There will be a next time.

The curly fries were fried up to perfection. Crunchy, hot, and not a limp fry in the bag! And the burger was delicious!

To be totally honest, I’ve heard people rag on Jack in the Box and the quality of their offerings. I felt that it was a great value with great flavor. It certainly exceeded my expectations. I even participated in their feedback online. They deserved some praise because I’m sure that 95% of those giving feedback do nothing but complain.

Like I said before, I will be visiting them again real soon.