Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"I'll tell you how I am... COLD!!"

In the old days, I never got cold til Christmas. Below zero weather and I'm wearing a t-shirt and no long johns. I couldn't understand why Jenny needed the thermostat any higher than 65 degrees and would chuckle at the thermo-nuclear setting she put the electric blanket on. Yeah, those were the good ol' days. Tolerance to the cold is the fat guy's advantage. You can scoff at the skinflints who are whining about the cold. There's a reason why you rarely see skinny people in those Polar Bear Club swims on New Year's Day. Fat guys stay warm the same way walruses stay warm: Fat repels the cold!

I realized that fact just a little too late. Today, in Chicago, I went out for my walk around the airport with my t-shirt and gym trunks, an extra long sleeve t-shirt and sweatpants and a sweatshirt. It was 48 degrees with a 40 mph wind. Despite all those clothes and the heat my body produced by walking at a good pace, I froze! WTF! I never got cold in September before! I didn't even know it was possible. I used to sweat like a pig when I shoveled snow in below zero weather. Today, I couldn't pop a bead of sweat if I ran a mile, on my hands! I'm sitting here in the hotel with the heater on max (75 degrees is the highest it will go) and I'm freezing. They don't tell you this at the Weight Watcher meetings. "Go ahead and lose that gut, bozo, and next winter, your shivering alone will keep you thin!" In the dictionary, under shivering, you won't see William Howard Taft's picture! Abe Lincoln's maybe, but not Billy Boy's!

So here I am wondering what the heck to do. I got an arctic lined Carharrt jacket that fits me nicely (thanks Jen!) and some jackets I haven't worn in 10 years. They fit nicely but the styling is a bit outdated. I've got a ton of sweatshirts that are a tad too big. No problem, I like 'em loose. Sweaters? Maybe now they won't look like a second skin on me. I like sweaters, but until now, they didn't like me!

For the last month, I've been bringing a sweatshirt with me in my bag to wear when the engineer turns on the air conditioner. One day last week, I even turned on the side heater when he turned on the A.C. I used to think we needed central air in our house. Not anymore. I only turned the window A.C. on four times this summer. That $5000 would be much better spent if I bought something nice for the kids. (Just checking to see if they still read this!) If we ever sell the place, I'll have the realtor target market skinny people. They won't even ask about central air or the lack of it!

Used to be when some skinny person would whine about the cold, I would think "Suck it up, Slats. Its only zero!" Now, I'll be a little more tolerant in my thoughts. No more will I turn down the thermostat to 69. I used to think "Geez, put on a sweater!". Let Lucy out on the back porch? Heck no, Its cold out there! One line I'd use when someone would crank up the heat way high was "Geez, grow an immune system!" As the one with the skinny little finger on the heat button, I'll be more tolerant. I still can't figure out why my Aunt Frieda kept her home at 85 degrees in the winter. They weren't skinnies. Must've got too cold during the depression. Might've gotten scared by an evil snowman or something.

Last winter, I never wore long johns. This winter I'll probably double up on them. I better get the snow blower fixed. I'm not friends with the cold anymore. I better start saving the big bucks because I see winters in Florida in my future! Hurricanes? Bring 'em on! Wild fires? Try me! Living with Southerners? Make that a double order of grits! But shivering in September? Pack up the Edge, sweetie!!

Now some of you may think that I'm exaggerating just a tad. Those who have read this blog for the last year and a half know that I never exaggerate! I'm as serious as a holy roller preacher on Sunday. I'm as serious as Oprah at the buffet or Sarah Palin at the turkey farm! Now, some of you may think that I'm doing all this whining just to get some cuddle time with Jenny. I'm not as warm as I used to be so she won't be as interested. I used to be a veritable furnace and even in July, her feet were icicles!

On cold winter mornings, I used to come downstairs and Jen would be just standing there. So would Shannon and (our dog) Cheaney. I finally asked what was up and learned that they were standing on warm spots where the heating pipes went through the cement floor. I used to shake my head (and both chins) and chuckle at their foolishness. Now, I'm looking for a floor heat map!!

Now I'm on a train heading for home and my engineer has his window open so I'll sorta walk over to the heater switches and voila... thermonuclear heat!!!

In an unrelated matter, I spent a great Sunday with Jen. First, we went to Indy and had lunch with Shane-0, celebrating his birthday and finished the day visiting Taylor and Jaden (and their folks). It doesn't get any better than that. I mention this (besides the enormous pride I have in my family) as an intro to disclosing an amazing fact. Its still less than 3 weeks after little Taylor was born and Shannon is within ten pounds of her pre-Taylor weight! Way to go, honey bun! You are an amazing person! You know what she said to me? "Starting to look more like my dad!"

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hell, just move to Florida!

I'm reading a book that Shane got me for my birthday that's titled "The Know-It-All". Its a true story about a guy who read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. Its funny and quite interesting. Like the lady who wrote "Julie and Julia" about her quest to cook every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook, this author wrote a best seller about his endeavor. Each of these authors blogged about their efforts, which paved the way for their bestselling books. Why am I, a reasonably normal middle aged guy bringing this up? You are getting a hint at what retirement may have in store for me!

You see, I work on the railroad. Doing so, I am always at work. (As a matter of fact, I just got called to go to Chicago a minute ago!) They are constantly calling me to go to work, not allowing me off work for any reason short of death (Even though there are eight dead guys still on the seniority roster!) and stamping out any continuity I may have in pursuing a hobby. Like many railroaders, I'm approaching retirement without any hobbies or interests that would keep me busy in a fulfilling way. I like golf. That might occupy me somewhat in the summers. I'm not rich enough to spend my winters in golf-friendly locales so other ideas have to be brought forth.

I brought these two books up because they gave me a wonderful idea! How about (when I retire) I initiate a similar project, blogging about my experiences as I go and culminate my experience by writing a best selling book and screen play. That would pile up an enormous bank account so I can afford to play golf all winter in Florida! That muffled thumping you hear is your's truly patting myself on the back for having such a great idea. Sheer genius if you ask me. There's only one little snag in my great plan. What do I do?

If my quest is too easy, people won't be interested enough to read the blog, buy the book or watch the movie. If I set my sights too high, I risk failure and that would seriously hamper any book or movie deals. So, what do I do? What can I, a humble flat guy of so-so intelligence (Normal for Indiana, the second coming of Edison for New Jersey!) and average get-up-and-go (My lawn may need mowed but not baled!) do to capture the imagination of America, no, the world!

First off, reading and cooking are out. Already done. Besides, what's there to read? The books on Wall Street business ethics or American Congressional Role Models are only 3 words long (You're kidding, right?") Books that interest me would be boring to blogdom. That's why I haven't followed Shannon's example and done book reports in my blog. "The History of Fart References in American Literature" and "Was Godzilla a Transsexual?" aren't books that would rivet America's attention in a blog. As for cooking, no way! I need to find pursuits OUTSIDE the kitchen, if you know what I'm talking about. I could cook an entire French cookbook but how many snails can a man eat, anyway?

That leaves a wide open field for my consideration. One thought I had was building a model train layout of the entire route from Chicago to Garrett. I could blog about all the exciting things I experience. The research that I would have to do before I begin would be extreme. Is the tree that blocks the signal at the Elkhart River a maple or an oak? Is the switch on the west end of the runaround at Alida on #1 or #2 track? Can I buy toy people that look as dumb as the real people of East Chicago or do I need to make them myself? In a similar vein, I've thought about building a garden train layout. That would be G-scale, which is the size of my Christmas tree train. We saw one a number of years ago when we were on vacation in Canada and it was really neat. I'd have to get an advance on my book deal though. Those G-scale trains aren't cheap!

Another idea that I've had was to make a pottery map of the U.S. by making separate clay maps of each state, which will fit into a large map of the U.S. I could dress up in the native dress of each state while I roll out the clay and cut out the map. For instance, while doing New Jersey I could be wearing a black suit and black porkpie hat with a white hatband, belt and shoes. I would glue my nose to the side of my face so it would look broken. While I did West Virginia, I could go barefoot with a t-shirt on that said "Are you my pa?" It would be pretty hard to stereotype the people of all 50 states but I've always been up to the challenge. Besides, I could sell them to schools for a mint! A triple revenue stream. I like that.

The latest fad for movie stars is writing children's books. I could do that too. How about a book about a near-sighted anteater who snorts some fire ants by mistake and the hi-jinks that result. Problem is, how do you write a book about writing a book? Being a children's book, I'd have it done in one day. Not alot of blog fodder there either.

I could do something crafty. I could make a model of the Empire State Building out of sugar cubes or the Golden Gate bridge out of Popsicle sticks and dental floss. This could be the way to go except for the fact that I have zero artistic talent. Jenny or Shannon could produce a credible copy of the Mona Lisa with the burnt end of a stick and a used Kleenex but not me. I could take a wheelbarrow full of rocks and make a, well, pile of rocks?

Seriously, one idea that I've been toying with is doing the family tree of my and Jenny's families. I could regale everyone with blog entries about all the colorful and famous people that I come across. Problem is, unlike every other family tree you've ever heard of, mine doesn't include famous, historical people. No, Napoleon isn't one of my ancestors. More likely would be his Polish chicken plucker. Besides, Alex Haley already did this. Geez, I got another great idea just a tad too late.

One idea that I've been mulling over is to try writing a volume of poetry. Regular readers of this blog are well aware of my poetic talent. All my poems rhyme, not like some of those fancy poets. Some of those bozos ought to have their poetic licenses revoked! Just because young ladies from Nantucket have prominent roles in a lot of my poetry doesn't mean the poems aren't classics. I could do a blog of poems and every year or so slap together an anthology. That ought to keep me busy in retirement. I could try my hand at painting pictures. My crap couldn't look less artistic than Picasso's. And, I'd charge a whole lot less!

Yes, I definitely need to find my retirement niche. I am open for suggestions. Just don't include anything too strenuous. After all, one definition of retire is "to go to bed" and that's exactly what I have in mind!