Food Shopping Shopping Shopping

There are many things in life that no matter how well they are done must be done over and over again.  Occasionally, you get one of those really good shaves. You know the kind where you are even able to get the hair that longs to be on your face but is instead just south of your cheekbone, the kind where your face feels fresh and tingly when you have finished. What about when you make the bed and the sheet is tucked in properly and the blanket hangs equally on all sides?  I could go on, but you know what I mean. What if you could walk away after that? No more shaving, no more making the bed – just bask in the perfect job you did. It’s like Michael Jordan’s retirement when they beat the Jazz in six games. He had a ridiculously good game six and then retired (yes, I know he returned to play two more years, but who wants to focus on that?). The pinnacle.  Get to the top and walk off into the sunset.

“Daddy,” Shamai, my younger son, asked, “Why do you always go food shopping?”  As we turned into the Shop Rite parking lot, we discussed how he keeps eating, so that he can grow big and strong, therefore I have to keep getting food for him.  It’s funny how kids can sometimes read your mind. This is one of the chores that I do regularly.  I don’t mind going food shopping, and my wife gets lost wandering around the massive suburban supermarkets.

There are many reasons why food shopping appeals to me. I get to exercise the calculator in my mind. I am perpetually budgeting anyway, so adding up the numbers while making the list and dropping items into the cart is fun for me. Then, there is the planning. I am a planner – yes, I am. Prior to heading to the supermarket, I make a list of what we will need and figure out what we will be eating each day of the week (other than the Sabbath where we have a special meal and take-out Wednesday where we order). Lastly, I like to challenge myself. I strive to be in and out of the store in the least time possible.  It is reminiscent to when I was younger, and my older brothers would say I will time to you to see how fast you can go up the stairs and get my sneakers. The purpose of course being that they get the sneakers, and I get to display my speed. Everybody wins. By the way, it works with my kids too.  Anyway, I give myself a time limit and when I spend less time than I anticipated – well, that is quite exhilarating.

So, food shopping, despite the repetitiveness to it can offer quite the thrill.  Well, I am in the suburbs, and I say take the thrills where I can get them. By the way, grapes were on sale this week.

It’s Just One Game

I love sports, may even be a fanatic.  I was bred that way. My father loved sports, my brothers love sports, and my mother loves sports.  My family, especially my parents, is particularly fond of baseball.  I believe that if heaven has a big screen television, my father is sitting in front of it with a bowl of ice cream and watching the Phillies. I am nearly certain that if asked my mother would say that watching the Phillies win the World Series would make her top ten memorable moments of her life (hopefully, after the days her children were born). 

The Phillies lost last night. They have a five game lead in the division and are in possession of the best record in the league.  As a fan of the team, it feels good. However, that loss gives me a bad feeling. You see they lost to the Giants.  These are the same Giants who beat the favored Phillies in the National League Championship on their way to becoming World Series victors. Still, as the pundits and professionals remind us fans, it is a long season – a grind in fact – and I know to get worked up over each game would be exhausting. I understand the reasoning and logic. Yet, this one, well I think it means more than that.

In fact, the Giants beat the Phillies the last two nights, giving them the victory in this July series 2-1. It was the first series the Phillies have failed to win in over a month.  The Phillies scored just one run in each of the last two games. During the series last fall, in which the Phillies lost 4-2, the Phillies just could not seem to get the big hit.  Their offense, which had been solid during the regular season, wilted or at least was held in check by the Giants. Last night reminded me of that bitter loss and more so made me reconsider if the Phillies can win this year.  

I’m sure I’m not the only Phillies fan who has considered this. We Philadelphia sports fans tend to be doubters. We don’t expect good news and don’t accept it till it is past certain. Last year, I made a mistake.  I let myself get excited, cocky almost. After a mediocre first half, the Phillies were rolling during the 2nd half of the season and looked unstoppable. I was dreaming of parades and wondered if I could swing a day off from work.  I was ready to celebrate my team, a Philadelphia sports team, as a dynasty. We would experience a level of greatness that has not been felt in years and drop our title of perpetual underdog (no, not loser – damn it!).  Then it happened, and I am still coping.

I wonder how my father would have taken last night’s loss.  I did not bring it up to my mother when I spoke to her this morning – too painful. I haven’t heard from my brothers to get their reactions.  So, I am left to deal on my own.  I’m just glad they play again tonight.

Computer Talk

I may have been Luddite in a former life. Well, maybe not, but no matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to embrace technology.

This afternoon my friend’s teenage son stopped by my house to work on my computer.  I’d say he came to help me, but that would be a lie. I took a seat next to him, yet I held no notion that I would be able to offer assistance.

I think the only help I could truly provide is the “scalpel, scalpel” type, but there was no need. I could offer feedback, “That’s what I thought, I hear you, looks good to me.”  However, that didn’t come up either. I was relegated to, “Are you sure you don’t want something to eat or drink?”  Hey, I can still be a good host!

Anyway, I wish I could help. I wish I could understand computer speak, but it goes in one ear and out the other. I have to concentrate really hard when someone starts talking computers (some other topics as well but I don’t want to admit to any more at the moment) or it will turn into a Charlie Brown episode, and they will sound like the parents.  I am competent at navigating Word and some other programs and that is fine, thank you.

I had also asked my friend’s son to help me shop for a computer.  I could look at the advertisements, visit websites that discuss pluses and minuses of each computer, and compare prices.  That’s simple enough.  But for me, the whole thing seemed like a chore.

Can’t I just take out the trash, vacuum, or go food shopping? This computer geek (I think he would take pride in being called that), on the other hand, seemed to look at computer shopping as fun. He asked me about the specs.  Um, “Well I want it to be fast and durable, and I have a budget of $500.”  He waited for more specs. I had nothing, “That’s all I care about. I keep it pretty simple.”  He asked me more questions hungry for a challenge. Uhh, I don’t know.  Today, he came prepared with a full explanation prepared as to why I should buy the one he suggested. I did my listening bit, looked at the reviews, and then said, “Okay, let’s do it. No, I don’t need to read the article in PC Magazine. ”

So, what happened here this afternoon? My laptop computer has been fixed, and I will be getting a new desktop computer.  However, despite the young techie’s best intentions, I did not learn much. That’s okay – learning wasn’t ever in the plan. Maybe, someday I’ll learn what all the fuss is about and reject my Luddite forbearers.

All About the Heart

My wife, children, and I spent the last couple of days in the Philadelphia area. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, and my immediate family remains in the suburbs.  During the visit, we spent time with many family members, went swimming, and toured a museum.  It was a great trip.

Anyone who has children (particularly young children) can tell you their enjoyment meter is nearly directly related to their children’s. It could be the best laid plan and everything could be going just as you planned, but if little Johnny threw up, or poor Jenny had a fever, or cranky Mikey had multiple meltdowns, or kvetchy Annie was bored and let you know about it every step of the way, or if Johnny, Jenny, Mikey, and Annie fought all the way home, it ain’t going to be a good time.  On this trip, the boys could not get enough of the water, went to sleep without a fight (woke up too early – see Sleepyhead for more on that), enjoyed time with their family, and were enthralled with the exhibits at the museum.  So, check the box for children having a good time. The enjoyment meter is going up. 

We stayed in my mother’s condominium. She has a pool, and the price is right. If we even considered staying in a hotel (we didn’t), I think my mother would be offended.  Yes, at times the condo can feel crowded. You see my mother and I don’t always see eye to eye. She thinks things should be done one way, and I think another way is just fine, thank you.  Parents and children arguing – that never happens.  I know I know I know these arguments are pointless, and I should let it be.  It is my mother after all, and I have to respect her. Still, she can drive me nuts (she feels the same even if she would rather not admit it). Well I do love her, so when we visit (or she comes to us) I strive to be on my best behavior. On this trip, we managed to get along just fine.  Check again – push the enjoyment meter up.

Going to the Franklin Institute was for the children’s enjoyment.  It really was. They could enjoy the various exhibits including the one on air planes, electricity, trains, etc. However, the one that I wanted to take them too was the heart. Any child who grew up in Philly and took a class trip to the museum knows exactly what I mean. The heart was the exhibit you remembered and the one you mentioned when your parents asked, “What was your favorite part about the trip?”  You snake along a narrow stair case which winds it away around the different parts of the human heart. As I made my way through the heart during my first trip to the museum, I read every sign (and the graffiti) though I understood very little and tried to push back the feeling of claustrophobia. When I got out of the heart, I raced to get back in line and go again (no holding hands or the buddy system for me). Ahh, memories. My children won’t remember this walk through the heart, but I will. Check. Crank the enjoyment meter up another level.

Yup, this was a good trip.  All it took was family and a big heart. The enjoyment meter reached the peak.