The Money Pit

We looked at an amazing house over the weekend, a gigantic old Dutch Colonial on 16 acres just 10 minutes from Downtown Albany. It was spectacular with its soaring ceilings, humongous rooms, and wraparound porch overlooking a vast lawn. All this for about the same price that I could sell my current house. It was a little intoxicating.

Our realtor friend, a smart guy who knows construction, was more realistic. “I’d hate to see you buy this place.”

The truth is it was a mess that would have taken years to fix —but only if you had a rather large pile of cash.

I remember our first house. We hooked up with a realtor who was brand new. She was nice enough, but completely clueless. Almost as clueless as the guy she recommended to do our structural, someone who pointed out the vintage light fixtures and period woodwork but missed the lousy roof and ruined heating system.

The realtor went on to sell a lot of houses and be president of the chamber of commerce —and we struggled for years to get out from under a house we should never have bought. We were young and stupid and in love. What can I say?

My point is this: be careful when you buy a house and only work with people you know and trust. Real estate agents are like surgeons. They have to learn, but you’d rather they do it on somebody else.

The Witching Hour

Some say that a Halloween costume is a window into the soul that reveals your subconscious mind. Let’s hope not.

I had planned to dress as a Jedi knight for a party last Saturday night but somewhere along the line things went terribly awry. Instead of a wise and noble warrior with a light saber I somehow ended up as a witch. Think Dame Edna meets Margaret Hamilton meets Janeane Garofalo.

Half the fun of Halloween is making your costume and the most interesting part of this project was filling the $5 bra that came from WalMart. 44D, since I know you’re wondering. After doing extensive research on the internet I found that stuffing a stocking with rice is a method favored by frugal transvestites everywhere. Don’t look this up at work. As you can see here I weighed them to guarantee uniformity.

Overall the project was a big success and fortunately I was only hit on once. The next morning I was feeling a little off from the late night and rich food. My wife, Ann, quipped, “Maybe you’re getting your period.”

Ha ha.

That’s Not a Knife…

I’m probably not smart enough to be the superintendent of schools in Lansingburgh, NY but I am smart enough to know that a knife with a 1-1/2 inch blade is not a weapon.

So what’s up with George Goodwin? According to an article in the Times Union, Mr. Goodwin, superintendent of schools in Lansingburgh,  recently suspended a student for 20 days because the young man had a keychain size pocket knife in his car at school.

The student is Matthew Whalen, a 17-year-old Eagle Scout and National Guard member. The high school senior plans to apply for an appointment to West Point, but now he’s worried that this knife nonsense could be a problem.

Was Goodwin worried that young Whalen would run amok in the school hallways slashing people with his tiny knife? Yes, it’s ridiculous to think that a knife this small is a weapon, but it would be way too easy for us to sit here and call Mr. Goodwin names. Just because it was a stupid decision doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a stupid man. Even the best among us sometimes do things that are hasty and shortsighted.

The only thing for George Goodwin to do now is to fess up and admit he made a mistake.

Why not tell him yourself. Here’s George Goodwin’s email address —and his phone number is 518-233-6850.

Poop Chute

DSC_0095When you have two dogs the question of poop becomes an issue. Enter the Doggie Dooley Pet Waste Disposal System. It’s described as, “A miniature septic tank for you dog’s waste.”

That’s pretty accurate but I prefer to call it, “A disgusting pit for dog crap filled with revolting water that has a tendency to splash up at you.”

When this thing arrived at my house I was skeptical —even before I dug the three foot pit required for installation. I especially got a kick out of the Doggie Dooley logo, which is supposed to be a dog reading the paper while kinda sorta taking a crap. Yes, that’s exactly how it works —except the dogs don’t read the paper, you still need to pick up the poop, and every time you use it you risk being splashed by a vile brew of water and dog feces.

But hey, what are you going to do, throw that stuff over the fence?

The World According to Rob

This Facebook status update caught my eye:

Chris Rooney doesn’t like when cars drive too fast down his street.

Have you ever heard anyone complain that they drive too slow? Of course not. We all think they drive too fast —but what are you going to do chase after them and get all up in their grill, so to speak? That may have worked for T.S. Garp but it’s not a good idea these days.

In The World According to Garp, Garp gets into the habit of chasing after cars speeding through his neighborhood. In the book he’d catch up to them at the stop sign and give them a piece of his mind. It worked. Try that today and they’ll run you over.

Years ago the town showed up and yanked out the stop signs on the corner where I live. When I complained they helpfully explained that the signs created an unsafe situation and actually encouraged people to drive faster. I don’t know about that —but I do know that as soon as the signs came down the speed of the cars went up.

I decided to take matters into my own hands and request people slow down by yelling at them when they drove past. This did nothing to slow the cars but a number of people did return to yell back, threaten me, etc.

Now when they zip past I keep my mouth shut —instead seeking revenge by doddering along that road like an 80-year-old, driving a speed safe and reasonable for a place teeming with kids:  20 MPH.

Grow Up

Seriously, I really do try to act like an adult. You know, I go to work, pay my taxes, try to set a good example for my children —but sometimes the fourteen-year-old inside me cannot be completely suppressed. Like the other night.

I was sitting in church waiting for the May Procession to begin. This is where the kids from my son’s school recite the Rosary and put a crown on the statue of Mary. Thinking this would present some serious zone out time I chose a spot away from the crowd —but not so far away that it would look odd.

I got out my iPod and inserted only the left ear bud. This way no one in the church would see what I was doing. Then I took out my phone and started sending rude text messages to a guy I know who was sitting across the way.

While deep in the haze of the Felice Brothers and tapping out stupid texts Sister Mary Frederick stopped by my pew. She was the principal of the school when my older son went there and wanted to know how he was doing. As I fumbled with my headphone wire and tried to hide the phone I explained how he was finishing his junior year at college and preparing to spend the summer in National Guard training.

In other words, my son is getting an education and defending America —and his father is acting like an eighth grader.

If I were an actual eighth grader both items would have been confiscated and I probably would have gotten detention. Instead I just got to feel like an idiot.

Gone Ape

Attention America: there is no law that requires you to talk to reporters —particularly not TV reporters. The best time to keep this in mind is if you have been through a traumatic experience or you are the subject of intense scrutiny. It’s an especially good idea not to talk to them if there’s any chance that you might come off as crazy. For example: watch this Today Show interview with Sandra Herold, owner of Travis the chimp, in which she appears nuttier than a can of Planters Cocktail Mix. Be forewarned that the piece includes Herold’s disturbing call to 911.

If your 200 pound chimp maims someone the only person you should be talking to is your lawyer.

A Plea For Sanity

I have seen terrible things.

Horrible scenes of carnage and mayhem. Broken bodies scattered on the landscape. Wonderful joyous days instantly transformed into nightmares of pain and grief. Who can make sense of it? It’s never easy when the victims are so young and fragile. We look on and shake our heads and wonder, why did this have to happen?

I am writing about the Bethlehem Town Park sledding hill.

For some reason, the children of my proud community have never been taught rule one of sledding: walk up the side, not the middle.

Not that this isn’t entertaining to watch. Being struck by a sled tends to produce spectacular head-over-keister tumbles worthy of an NFL Films Moment of Impact DVD. Imagine Brandon Jacobs slamming into your six-year-old. But if it’s your kid it’s not so entertaining. And if your child caused the damage, suddenly you’re not thinking, “Wow!” You’re thinking, “Lawsuit.”

One time I saw two kids walking side by side up the middle of the hill carrying a toboggan. Suddenly, a young child headed right for them. His parents started shouting out: “Duck! Duck!” He looked around, maybe trying to see the duck they were yelling about, and turned his head back just in time to catch the toboggan square in the forehead. I have supplied this diagram to help you better understand the incident.

I implore parents everywher -especially now during this holiday season- to take your children by the hand and tell them this: walk up the side of the hill. Not the middle.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I cross posted this on the Times Union’s Bethlehem Blog. Click to read the idiotic comment somebody left.