Thursday, May 31, 2007

"It's a Scene Man!"

So we both got out of work yesterday about 3pm or so, met at home and were on our way to Boston by 3:40. Made it by five. After a light dinner and a few drinks (Mrs. B had the cutest buzz going by then) we entered the park and found our seats. Within minutes the boys were taking the field. It was a nearly breezeless, 82 degree, crystal clear evening. Perfect!

As dusk fell, our boys could not hold their 2-0 lead.

We were even treated to a beautiful full moon (look top center, between the lights) about the time the Sox were trailing 8 to 2.

Alas, our heroes came up short and lost 8-4 although it didn't really dampen our mood. Especially since we weren't this guy!

Are those the worst seats ever? Too funny!


In the middle of the eighth inning, Fenway does a totally fun thing. It may sound lame to fans of other teams or those who haven't attended a game there, but since Boston has done it for years years its become a corny tradition which I find it an absolute blast! So do 36,500 of my closest friends.

There's a certain amount of camaraderie among rabid fans together to watch their favorite teams play live. Its as if everyone around you is your buddy and its simply great. Throw in alcohol and the chance to Karaoke and you have one good time.

Anyway, the P.A. system plays Sweet Caroline from Neil Diamond. Again, if you've seen Fever Pitch perhaps you remember it, but you'd really have to be there to get the full thrill of it all. A few beers don't hurt either. I have no idea how that song came about to be a staple at Boston Red Sox games, but it did.

Here's sort of how it goes (don't lie, you all know the tune) --


ba-da-daaaaaaa da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da

ba-da-daaaaaaa da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da

ba-da-daaaaaaa ba-da-daaaaaaa da daaaaaaaa

Where it began (bomp, bomp baummmmm)

I cant begin to knowin'

But then I know its growin stronnnnnnng

(bomp, bomp)

Was in the spring (bomp, bomp baummmmm)

And spring became the summer

Who'd have believed you'd come along

(crowd joining by this time enthusiastically)

Hands, touchin hands

Reachin out (crescendo now)

Touchin me

(really, really loud now)

Touchin youuuuuuu

(everyone singing top of lungs)

Sweet caroline (p.a. cuts out - crowd yells BA DA DAAAAAAA!!)

Good times never seemed so good (p.a. cuts out - crow yells SO GOOD! SO GOOD! SO GOOD!

I've been inclined (p.a. cuts out - crowd yells BA DA DAAAAAAA!!)

To believe they never would

It repeats for the next verse and God Dammit if it isn't an absolute blast!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Fenway or Bust

Fenway Park. Home to the Boston Red Sox. MY Boston Red Sox. Who are currently tearing up the league to the tune of the best record in baseball.

All good news.

However, the downside of having a favorite team in first place and competitive for so many consecutive years is that tickets become more and more scarce. In season's past, I've been able to get tickets to 5, 6, 7 games, no problem at all. Usually free or at face value. Now, though, they basically sell out the season before it even begins. Of course one factor is the park is the smallest in baseball, holding only about 36,100 rabid fans. When they sucked I could go up on the spur of the moment and buy some tickets. Now, I have to either plan months ahead, buy scalper tickets or rely on someone like a company vendor of ours to give me some.

Well I got some! Thanks to an insurance company we deal with.

We arranged overnight Little One care (no small feat) and tonight Mrs. Blogger and I are headed up to see our boys. We will be down the third base line in seats I've had and enjoyed before. Section 31, row 6. They're good seats, so if you have Sattelite and NESN look for us on some camera-panned foul ball. I'll be the one in the Red Sox cap. You can't miss me.

We plan to head up a bit early and have a couple drinks and maybe some dinner and enjoy the Fenway section of Boston. I simply love it up there and the weather looks to be perfect!

Perfect too, is that they've won 5 straight and we'll be cheering like hell for six

I've mentioned that Boston is about ninety minutes from my home despite the fact I live in Connecticut. That ninety minutes may as well be 900 miles, though, when is comes to accents. I've read that Connecticut and Ohio residents speak the closest to the Queen's English. Perhaps Bostonians are the furthest from it. If you've seen Fever Pitch or some skits that Jimmy Fallon has done on Saturday Night Live you've heard it. And he nails it.

So, in my best Boston accent, I'm going to "Drive up to Bahston. Pahk mah cah in a gahrahge. Shuffle into Fenway Pahk and enjoy a dahg and a beah while the Sowx kick some wicked ass".

Friday, May 18, 2007

Boot Camp

In some ways golf lessons are like boot camp. Instead of a Drill Sergeant and Private, however, there is instructor and student.

At first, the instructor strips the student down leaving him feeling beaten, fatigued and crestfallen. All dignity and pride and ideas of accomplishment are dashed in the flicker of a video and a pointed voice. The bad is accentuated so that student is left wondering why he even bothers at all since he's shown all the things he should not be doing. It is all so negative.

As a result, quietness befalls him. Nothing can be said from this now cowering puppy eyeing the dark figure holding the rolled newspaper.

Questions arise in his mind: Why the buckets of balls 3 or 4 days a week at $7 a pop? Why the 4:30 a.m. alarms to practice chipping and putting before a big match? Why the love affair with a game fraught with frustration and sporadic reward. Why even bother? For this? Is it worth it?

Then some light cracks through. The instructor has expertly played the recently humiliated and now downtrodden student. He is offered some encouragement and enlightened to some of the good he is doing. The side-by-side view of the video shows he has, in fact, grown as a player even if the scores don't necessarily reflect it. The instructor guides the student to certain things he does better than others. It is positive.

The student's chin raises and his eyes brighten a little. A timely compliment and a gentle word renew him. Invigorate him. The bond between instructor and student, recently strained, is now deeper. Yes, student decides, this can be done. It will be done. Together they can reach their goals.

A hearty handshake sends the student off on his own. Armed with new found knowledge, he effortlessly slings his black and silver back over his shoulder and walks off with a purpose.

To the range. There is work to be done.

It is worth it.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Rest Assured

I know you're all anxiously awaiting better results from my golf game and are collectively rooting for my success. Well, rest assured. I won my flight in a mid-level tournament on Saturday by shooting 83. The score in itself isn't so great, but the course was playing very long and the winds were very gusty. Of course, it could have been much better because I limped through the last few holes. But I'll take it and the small winner's proceeds.

I discovered a small problem with my swing while at the range last week and I hope to find I'm on my way to continued success.

Also, I have a lesson in 50 minutes.

Let's go golfer-guy! C'mon!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

March to the Beat

The wife called me to tell me something funny she heard on the radio. She could barely catch her breath, but finally I learned that the show hosts inquired whether the others had ever farted to the beat of their own steps.

Apparently, all of them had, including the female co-host. Mrs. B. couldn't believe she volunteered that information on the radio and found it all hysterical.

As I've said time and again, women should have some secrets.

As to answering the question:
no comment.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Casual Conversation

In my experience and without exception, those who begin a statement with --

"I'm not a racist or anything, but......."

-- follow said statement with something racist, insensitive, flat wrong or at the very least stereotypical.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Know Your Breads

So for Mother's Day I thought it'd be nice if I swung by Panera Bread to pick up some tasty vittles for the family to chow down. For the unfamiliar, Panera Bread is one of those boutique-type, pseudo Italian designed chain franchises where you can get a bagel and a cup of joe for around $7.24 all the while taking advantage of their free Wi-Fi. I don't know about you, but on occasion when I have important porn surfing to do Panera Bread isn't my first place of choice. I guess I could check my email there too, but it can wait another 8 minutes until I get home.

I've never been in one but they're very Starbucksy. And JUST as confusing.

Apparently, they have some special line system where you wait in a cattle corral and one of the "associates" will call you up. Associate implies they're one step from ownership, but anyone taking orders, pushing buttons, and giving change and a baggie full of goodies is a cashier in my book. These cashiers just weren't ownership material believe you me!

Anyway, there were no velvet ropes or stainless poles to guide the ignorant such as myself. Merely the regular customers who know their system. Its a good system, though, as you are less likely to get stuck behind a lady in knee highs fishing for an Indian Head Nickle from the bottom of her 15 gallon purse. Therefore, I unknowingly relied on veteran leadership to "guide" me along the line process as Charles the 3rd, or whatever his name was, and his Izod pastel shirt were all-too-glad to enlighten me. "Hey Chucky-boy! 1985 called, they want their too-tight polo shirt back."

"I"m just looking at the menu" was my reply so as not to look too stupid. Although, I WAS wondering why THAT particular register was open and the other had a line of 10 or so people. Honestly, I thought that line was for phone orders which would mean a HELL of a lot of people thought way too far ahead what bread they wanted for breakfast. I'm the sort that plans about 4 minutes in advance.

So, naturally, I perused the menu to appease Chuck. I even took my time. But that made me feel even more stupid.

I expected high prices and I've had their food and it really is delicious. But, I don't have any idea what the fuck half that stuff is. I know Wendy's has special breads and stuff for their sandwiches but I think that's menu propaganda and if I really ordered an Artisan Pumpkin Seed Thrice Parmageaned Turkey Wrap the late Dave Thomas would personally reincarnate himself, kick me in the Jimmy and demand I get a Triple Classic Burger with bacon and extra cheese.

People! Whatever happened to a cinnamon raisin bagel? Or a hard roll with butter?

What is ---

Focaccia? Dunno. Sounds like staph infection bacteria. Or a blue movie stunt.
Caibatta? No idea. I thought that was the Wookie side-kick to Han Solo. I ain't eatin' him!
Asiago Cheese? Hmm.....sounds like something went bad and smelly in a hot trunk. I'll pass.
Miche? Demi? Perhaps bad '80s actors.
A baguette? I know this one! Small plastic implement for carrying groceries. Yuck!

Anyway, they're advanced terminology and complicated line system was too much for this mere caveman unfamiliar with the ways of the modern world.

So I saved myself $32 and went home empty handed where I made some potted regular flavored coffee and plain, toasted bagels with butter on them.

Oh, I had some Apple Jacks too. To which that I can relate.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Tag I'm It

Katie tagged me on an "8 Random Things About Me" dealie-O.

I decided to make some of them more "Nouveau-isms" than about me, per se. That way I can practically hear you all "wow, he's so full of shit" or whatever.

Anyway, here goes --

1) I drive a Chrysler 300M. I love my car and I have always been one to take care of whatever vehicle I own. I wash it weekly and I like accessorizing it with GPS, radar and a top-line sound system. I'm all about gadgets I guess.

But, I don't get the whole "buy a $6,000 car and put $13,000 worth of options" thing. If I want nice rims or a fast car, I'll buy a car with nice rims or buy a fast car rather than put all the work and money into one to make it so. When you're done, the car is worth $7,500. Seems silly. Even more silly, though are the 4 foot aerodynamic wings on the trunk. I imagine this is popular everhwere, but looks stupid on a 4-cylinder car with a 90 MPH top speed. The wing comes into effect at what? 125???

Anyway, I think the type of car a person drives says a lot about them at the time they purchased it. I remember wanting something fast but practical with all the optional bells and whistles.

Am I materialistic? I sure can be.

What do you drive?

2) Along the lines of materialism, I feel badly for people that judge others by what they "have". (Is this directly the opposite of what I mentioned in 1?) The mere fact that someone has a nicer home, cooler car, a great job in NO WAY makes them better than someone less fortunate (or materialistic for that matter). This, to me, is ESPECIALLY true relating to people born into money or one who marries it.

You mean to tell me you're more important than others because you MARRIED a successful neurosurgeon? I don't think so, Barbie. Its probably nothing more than you are hot -- or at least were! So, take your 7-inch fingernails, your spray-on tan, your panty-line gouged capri pants and climb back into your Lexus SUV and move along! You look silly bitching at the cashier in Linens and Things because they are out of mauve hand towels!

3) Speaking MORE or money, I don't think it in any way makes one happy. In fact, it seems to me that when someone becomes rich (think athlete, musician, celebrity) it causes them to realize their level of unhappiness.

Perhaps all their life, they were unhappy and thought that if only they could become rich and famous things would be better. Yet, when they attain that very wealth and fame, they see that fame is imprisoning and wealth only relieves ONE issue in their life; how to pay the bills and buy shit. How else to explain all the angry, successful musicians (Scott Stapp anyone?), the overdoses (John Belushi ring a bell?) or alcoholism and brushes with the law (Colin Farrel?)?

Of course, it eases one of life's main worries and I wouldn't say no to more and more of it. But I don't see how it would make me more happy.

4) HA HA HA Paris Hilton. You stupid little tramp. Do your 45 days and shut up! Stop trying to whine yourself out of jail after you totally showed NO respect for the law nor the judge with your future in his power. Plus, its a breather for the rest of us there will be no new stupid comments, grainy porn or horrible songs. For 45 days at least. And, shame on your parents for raising you to turn out this way. You epitomizes my points 1, 2 and 3 above.

Wait, that's not really a random thing about me, is it? Ok....ummmm......I think a little jail time will be great. Not for Paris. She won't learn a damn thing. But the rest of us gain, no?

5) I LOVE golf so much that it hurts at times. I look forward to playing every weekend but it HURTS to play so shitty at times. I practice hard but I really, really, need to work on keeping it fun even when I suck. My disposition out there gets in the way of my success at times.

How many "things" is that? Five??? Shit....three to go......ummmm.....

6) I am the fourth of 6 boys. No sisters. Both my parents are still alive and I was fortunate to know ALL my grandparents into my teens. My maternal grandparents lived in an apartment in our house for a few years and my paternal grandparents and my great uncle lived next door to me all my life. I was able to visit with them in some capacity nearly every day of my young life.

My great uncle, who was my father's uncle, was a crotchety old pain in the ass. Yet I was always over there watching him tinker with small engines or gardening or fixing household stuff. My mom was sure to declare that "we" (meaning me) keep family business to ourselves as he was always nosing into our stuff. Perhaps I was his little "inside man" and I know at times I divulged more than my extremely private mom would like.

Furthermore, he had "issues" with a number of others in my family that I laugh about now. However, he was always quick to find a chore for me to do and overpay me drastically when he thought I needed a few bucks. For instance, right before a vacation one time, he asked me to put in a window air conditioner for him (which he could easily do himself) and paid me $20 (1978 dollars) for the job. I always thought he was pretty cool when it came to that but I understood and saw his shortcomings.

7) My mother has terminal cancer. She's staying strong but I fear she won't make it until next year. They are out of treatment options. It sucks! I can't imagine her not being around.

Ok, enough heaviness ---

8) I have a little dog. He is part Chihuahua and part Pitbull. Yeah, good mix, eh? For your information, the mother was the Pit.

He only weighs about 18 pounds.

Years ago, a security guard my wife worked with had stopped someone from throwing him in the dumpster as a 4 week old puppy. His mother had died and they didn't want to bottle feed him so they decided to discard him.

I'd love a few moments alone with that pathetic fucking asshole. How the HELL can someone throw a cute little puppy in a dumpster?

Anyway, the security guard couldn't keep him so my wife offered to "watch" him until we found him a home. She called me at work with that in mind and my response was "why don't we just take him and keep him?-- you know we'll both fall in love with him and that will be the end result anyway". So we got ourselves a dog that neither of us had ever even seen.

He was smaller than the palm of my hand and weighed about 2 pounds then. We bottle fed him for a few weeks and got him all his shots and fixed him and all that stuff. He'll be 10 years old in a few weeks and while he's a royal pain in the ass we still love him just the same.

Ummm....that concludes this test of the emergency broadcast system. If this had been an actual emergency and if I knew 8 people in blogspace that Katie didn't already tag (I don't) I'd tag them, but........

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Double Take

SOMEBODY in this office needs to stand up, take care of hygiene, glance over their shoulder and DOUBLE-FLUSH if need be. THAT is disgusting and frankly I don't need to see it! I merely want to pee. There is no need to leave presents for me in the form of your marbles, floaters, kids in the pool, butt nuggets, hershey kisses, chunks, gravel, m&ms or logs!!!


Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Weekend Update

I played in my monthly poker tournament Friday night and came in 2nd out of 28 and won $245! I'll probably spend it on mulch and flowers. Its good that I'm playing well and I have earned enough points to qualify for the end of the year tournament in December already. So I have that sewed up. Cool beans.

As a result, however, I didn't finish playing until 1:40 a.m. Compound that with a a bad wreck on the highway resulting in it being shut down and I didn't get home and into bed until nearly 3:00 a.m. It seemed only minutes until my alarm went off at 5:20 so I could play golf. Perhaps exhaustion is the reason I totally sucked once again. And I was playing in a club tournament. I've played well only twice this year and sucky a bunch. It really chafes my ass because I went into Saturday so confidently. Shame. Maybe I should stick with cards. Or boche or something.

Then, on only 2+ hours of sleep plus a 45 minute catnap, I went to a Cinco De Mayo party Saturday evening/night. I was starving upon arrival and planned to chow down before drinking but there were only appetizers. Everything on the table had to be dipped into something else on the table and none of it seemed too appetizing to me. I could have really gone for some simple tacos but none were to be found. Mexican party and no tacos. What the hell?

Anyway, the party started slowly and I didn't feel 100% initially but around 10 p.m. things began cranking along and we went strong until nearly 2 a.m. Funny how at a party with all friends and family you reminisce about things you've already reminisced about 20 times before. Yet, the laughs are just as hard, if not harder, as always. It must be due to the familiarity and camaraderie of shared experiences. Or alcohol.

Generously, my brother, who normally drinks like a fish, volunteered to be the designated driver and has a van so a quite a few got pretty lit up comforted in knowing we'd get home safe. In any event, I had a good time but was running on fumes due to lack of sleep. Good thing for second and third and fourth winds.

Then I was up 5 hours later to try to get a bunch of yardwork done but my lawn tractor wouldn't start. Since it wouldn't I fiddled around the yard trying to do other stuff but had my heart set on mowing and leaf mitigation and the damn tractor got me off base. After a time, I went into the house and started working on a Mother's Day project I thought up. I think she'll like it, but I won't divulge it here per chance Mrs. B. peeks in on my blog.

Finally, around 8:20 p.m. I was dozing off to The Simpsons. All was quiet and peaceful until a tiny hand firmly rubbed my shoulder. "Hey daddy! Are you sleeping?"

"Well, not anymore, honey."

"Can I snuggle with you?"

"Of course, sweetie. Climb on up."

That warm, tiny, bony body that excells in poking me in all the wrong places at all the wrong times never felt so good. It wasn't at all difficult to fall back asleep.

Friday, May 4, 2007

The New Guy

I had my first softball game last night where I am the "new guy" on the team.

Normally, I like to play for two teams but one of my teams from last year disbanded so I hooked up with this one through my brother-in-law. Team T2 we're called. I'm not sure what it means. I don't really care either.

Of course, since I'm a know-it-all about baseball, I feel the guy running the team isn't terribly baseball savvy. He's a nice guy and will listen but he doesn't appear tuned into the little things so I find myself biting my tongue about positioning and lineups and such. I don't know if I can keep it up forever but I'm going to try. Its a bit tough being the "new guy" but I certainly don't want to be "bossy guy" or "whiny guy" or "dickhead guy" or whatever. So I'll keep my mouth shut. I hope.

Anyway, I was dismayed upon arrival that I was batting 9th. Usually I'd bat second or third or perhaps 6th on a real high-level tournament team. But I understand these guys have been together a while so I will have to earn their respect and a better batting position by my play. They don't know me yet or what I'm capable of, so I'll just have to make them notice me. That's my plan, anyway.

Evidently, I'm pretty cocky when it comes to softball. For the most part, the game comes easy to me and I am confident enough in my abilities not to be too nervous even when I'm trying to impress new teammates. Having said that, I've had no practices yet this spring and only went to the batting cages once where I hit the ball pretty crappy.

I quickly learned my new team hits pretty well, so I was actually able to get up in the first inning. I was concerned I hadn't found my stroke yet but liked how their pitcher tossed the ball and felt I could hit him well. I swung at the second pitch and smacked a hard one hopper right back at him. Tournament teams frown on "shooting the pitcher" and would usually retaliate by hitting a few back at your pitcher so I would never intentionally do that, but my swing was a bit anxious. And this ain't no tournament team. Nobody even noticed. In any event, he bobbled it so I was cruising as quickly as my once-fast 40-year-old legs would allow me to try to reach first. That never happened. I caught my toe in the kitty-litter like sand on the baseline and fell! I fucking fell face first half way to first base. Great!

I have no idea how I pulled that one off, but I think my cleat might have been coming apart as upon inspection later it was split. Guess who will be shopping for sporting goods soon?

Anyway, they are really a bunch of nice guys who were sincerely concerned that I was okay. I was except for my sprained ego. I also got a couple "nice hustles". Oh brother! That's all I need; sympathy encouragement. I thanked them but I was peeved at myself inside. Fucktard!

When it was our turn to go into the field I trotted out to my new position: right field. Yeah, the position where most teams try to hide a shitty player. Naturally, I was slightly miffed about that too but kept my mouth shut. I aimed to show them the best right fielder that league has ever known.

So the other team proceeds to get a few dinky hits and the third batter hits a short pop my way. As I ran in I peeked at the first baseman to see if he had it and when it looked like he might not, I called him off. "Mine, mine, mine." Good player that he was, he peeled off so I could cruise in and make the catch. Except, I missed the ball. I fucking missed the ball completely! Was it the wind? The uneven ground? Do I suck all of a sudden? I don't know, but a run scored and I felt like total shit.

"Good try! Good hustle." Terrific! Double rat-farts!

Now I know they're all thinking "who's the retard in right?" I should have just given them the name Corky or something, except I think he'd play better than I had so far.

Things progress and my next time up I hit a triple to right, then later a double to left center, then a double to right center and finally another triple to right. I think I drove in like 7 runs and scored 4. I even made a catch on the next ball hit to me. Later I moved to left and made a nice catch on a liner at the foul line. Things had to get better, didn't they?

We all hit well and won something like 34-3. This is a team that has a chance to do good things in this league. As long as Corky doesn't make another appearance.

I think I redeemed myself and will be allowed back.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Bloody Match Maker

I don't think I match well today. Even thought about going out to buy a new shirt at lunch but I figured I could make it another four hours or so.


In other news, I got a wicked bloody nose standing at a public counter earlier. Even times I've been wailed in the face with softballs or elbows and such I've never gotten a bloody nose. So one can imagine my level of surprise and unpreparedness. I thought at first it was just running and couldn't figure out why since I don't have a cold nor do I have allergies. After testing the area with the back, fleshy part of my hand that exists essentially between index finger and thumb I discovered the sanguinish secretions.

I wonder what caused it?

Worse, though, is that since I don't live in 1958 AND the thought of pocketing my own snot and then filling my washing machine with it disgusts me, I don't carry a handkerchief. Or even a Kleenix for that matter. While I'm not sure the clerk noticed, I excused myself in the middle of the transaction and went to the men's room to clean my face and hand. She probably thought I had a bad case of the runs or something and upon my return the exertion was no doubt evident by my damp, freshly washed face. For futher effect, I should have tucked the funny pages under my arm.

Anyway, it hadn't stopped at that point, but had slowed enough for me to return and finish up. Plus, I was now well-stocked with gritty public-bathroom toilet paper.

Its over an hour later now and its settled down. Of course, things are all crusty up there now. I'm tempted to pick it but I'm afraid I'll set it off again.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Models Inc.

There was a casting call for child "models".

We have both been told so many times that The Little One should be a model, including from a woman who has two child models. Apparently, they have made plenty of money so far to pay for college.

So, Mrs. Blogger took our Little One to the casting call. We figured we had nothing to lose. There were over 800 kids there. I guess it sort of works like American Idol where they select a few to "go on". Well, ours and about 70 other kids made the cut.

Essentially, what it means is we will go to Pittsburgh at the end of July where they video her and have her walk down a runway and she tries a few acting lines. The stuff is stored for future review, but there's also agents and marketing people from advertising companies there that can and often do select a child on the spot. If selected, they've been known to fly a kid to a destination with the parents and put them up, pay them and even pay the parents. We'll see, but its kind of exciting.

We're looking at it as an adventure and if it doesn't work out, no problem. Its just a little money out of our pocket. But both Mrs. B. and I agree its an opportunity we shouldn't pass up.

Then hopes were dashed. I am a bit more skeptical than Mrs. B so I researched the company and there were a number of complaints about them from both Attorney Generals and parents alike. Apparently, they prey on the vanity of people and get them to cough up an "entry fee" of $600+. Then later they get them a "gig", sometimes modeling for that companies own calendar for $50 - $60. Nice deal for them.

We think we should pursue other avenues in the form of head-shots and legitimate agencies and see where that takes us.

It pays to be skeptical at times, even if the answers aren't what you want to hear. And thank God for the Internet and its ease at finding information about unscrupulous business practices. Live and learn.

*** the preceding was my 100th post - wow***