I was travelling to New York with my mom to see my sister.  I had been to her house once before, but I had printed MapQuest directions that took me through a roller coaster of back roads that made no sense.

This time, I was going to use my Garmin GPS.

I hardly use it.  I am a man.  I KNOW where I am going.  I also don’t travel much.  I can find my office, the surgical center, and McDonald’s without the help of 21st century technology.


Now my mom has made this trip multiple times–even having driven it herself for years before ministrokes and poor reflexes led to her losing her license.

As we passed Tyrone, she points.

“Isn’t that where you should have turned off to go to Philipsburg?”

First of all, even if it was, pointing to it after we have passed the exit isn’t helpful.  And secondly, it was not the exit we wanted.  She was off by one.  Close but no cigar.

Now because I don’t use my GPS very often, I actually had to spend a fair amount of time to find it.  The charge was dead so I recharged it.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the car charger that plugs into the lighter so I would have to depend on a fully charged unit lasting me 3 hours.  I didn’t look all that hard figuring it would last a three hour tour with Gilligan, mom and the doctor too, and I had more important things to do before I left like watching Penn State lose to Temple for the first time in 74 years.

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

The GPS died just as we entered Bradford, PA.  My sister lives across the border.  We are probably twenty minutes or less from her house.  But this is the most critical 20 minutes of the whole trip–it is the final set of turns and roads that I am not familiar with.

If I had known the battery wouldn’t last, I would have waited till I got here to turn it on.

If I knew Penn State was going to play like crap, I would have left three hours earlier.  The damned GPS would still have died, but at least it wouldn’t be dark out.

I pulled off to the side of the road.  I was going to throw a Hail Mary.  I was hoping the cord to connect it to the cigarette lighter was in the glove box.  I was pretty sure it wasn’t but I was desperate.  I didn’t even have the bad directions from MapQuest.

“I know how to get there,” my mom insists.

This from the woman who would have had me get off the wrong exit two and a half hours ago if she had pointed sooner and I was an idiot that didn’t know where I was going.

I don’t know where I am going right now, and I can’t find the car charger.  Kettle meet pot.  I am an idiot.

So at 10:30 at night, on a remote stretch of highway, I am going to let my 78 year old mom guide me.

What’s below idiot?

So I cautiously get back on the road thinking we are never going to get there.  Maybe I should just call my sister and have her give directions.  With my luck, the phone would die.  And that option would entail me having to give her meaningful landmarks of where we were (um, it’s a dark road, with some dark trees, does that help?) and hoping that she could guide us in for a safe landing.  She’s had benign brain tumors–three craniotomies, two gamma knives and a radiation treatment in a pear tree.

I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque.

So down the road of perdition I go.  As I come up to an exit, marked with a flashing light, I stop.  I have the yellow flashes; I don’t need to stop.  Fortunately there is no traffic behind me.  I am pretty sure this was the next target destination according to the GPS before it died.  It’s final words so to speak.

Rosebud.  Or I-86/Rte. 17.  Something like that.

I look at my mom.

She looks at me.

Abbot and Costello have nothing on us.  I almost want to ask her “Who’s on first?”

Instead I ask, “Are we supposed to turn here?”

She looks around.  This is quite an ordeal, because of arthritis in her neck.

“Yes,” she finally replies.

“And when were you going to tell me that?  If I didn’t stop here, we’d be past it before you told me.”

So this is how it went.  Every intersection, I had to come to a stop and ask if we were supposed to turn here or not.

At one point, we come to an intersection with only three roads.  You can go straight or right.

“Go left,” she says.

There isn’t a road to the left.  There is someone’s house.  I’m sure they don’t want me to drive through their lawn.

“You mean right?”  I am so optimistic she will correct herself.  I also thought Penn State would win.

“No left,” she insists.  (She knows where she is going!  She has insisted this to me several times now, probably because I am questioning her choices and my sanity. I am beginning to have my doubts.)

I point out that I can’t turn left.  She looks.  Another ordeal.  It looks painful.

Then, she looks the other way and points (to the right,) “go left.”


We did eventually make it to my sister’s house.  God only knows how this was accomplished.  But score a victory for the Geriatric Pointing System.

Blues Shoes

My new shoes came yesterday!  Can’t wait for the first HOME GAME!

I’m glad I ordered them when I did–I think they are sold out already!


They can’t possibly lose if I wear these!

Of course, that’s what I thought when I bought the PSU thong! ;)

At least these are comfortable!

Stop and Run Traffic

The past week I had the opportunity to go running on Hilton Head Island, in the Sea Pines area mainly.  The weather was fantastic, although perhaps a bit more humid than one would choose for running.  After the winter we had in central PA, I will not complain about heat or humidity!

This was a typical view while running:


The Sea Pines Resort area had an elaborate maze of biking/running trails that wound along the roadway system and golf courses.


This made running really enjoyable until . . . .


Thou shalt not pass! (DO NOT collect $200)

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  A STOP sign for pedestrians?


Well!  Isn’t that special?!  Let’s give the benefit of the doubt and the right of way to the two ton death machine instead of the helpless pedestrian or biker.  Who came up with this idea?

As if that wasn’t bad enough, there were still thoughtful drivers who would come to a stop to allow bikes, runners and walkers to pass.  The problem was, the cars behind said Good Samaritan weren’t always ready to stop–they weren’t expecting it, especially if they were local and used to this cockamamie hierarchy of right-of-way privileges.  Worse yet, one lane of traffic would stop, which they didn’t have to, but the other lane wouldn’t.  This was problematic when a small child on a bike started forward  because the nearest lane stopped, not realizing the other lane wasn’t stopping.  I saw this happen numerous times.

I have to be honest.  I ran many of these STOP signs.  Literally.  Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.  A Hilton Head cop finally pulled me over.

I tried to explain.  “I slowed down officer.”

He wasn’t impressed.  “You were supposed to STOP.”

“But I slowed down, ” I protested.

He then pulled out his nightstick and started beating me.

As I’m writhing in pain, he asks, “So!  Do you want me to slow down, or do you want me to STOP?”

Lone Appétit!

As circumstances in my life have evolved, I have had the opportunity to dine alone several times recently.  If you have never experienced this wonderful situation, I highly recommend you give it a try.

There are several advantages to dining alone.

You almost always get a table.  Party of one–come on down!  Often, it is in a remote corner of the establishment where you will feel comfortable with your dining experience knowing no one else can see you.  This is often called Loser’s Corner in the restaurant business.  But for those of us that like privacy when we eat, you can’t beat the ambiance.  We are winners!

They should have put a TV on this wall!

They should have put a TV on this wall!

Sometimes, though, you might have to sit outside.  perhaps in the alley.


And if things are really tight, you might end up here.  On the bright side, if you need extra napkins, the roll is right there.


Another advantage is that the meal goes faster.  It takes the chef less time to prepare one meal.  He has fewer burgers to flip so the food arrives quickly.  Also, there is no annoying dinner conversation to slow one down.  It’s hard to talk and chew at the same time, and quite frankly, if you do that, then that’s probably another reason why you are dining alone right now anyway.  You can still carry on those remarkably entertaining conversations in your head, without spewing croutons across the table.

You don’t have to worry about that awkward moment when the waitress asks if this will be separate checks, or if she doesn’t ask, sets the bill down between you and your dinner date leaving the two of you to glance between the check, each other, and pretty much any other point in the restaurant which would be less uncomfortable.

The bill is lower since you’re only paying for one.  The tip is lower as well.  Have I convinced you this is the way to go, yet?

But it’s not all fun and games.  It can still be awkward if you order the lobster.  Especially if you are at Burger King–have it your way apparently does not include surf and turf.  And if you order the most expensive meal, will you get lucky tonight?  Your hand starts to tremble in anticipation.  You drop your lobster in the butter.  There’s a lot of pressure there if you order the lobster.  If your wrist is sore, or you have a headache, you might want to stick with the salad.

But if you are prepared and dine modestly, the evening can be delightful.  Prepare some jokes in your head to entertain yourself.  Other patrons in the restaurant will be envious of you laughing to yourself and making them wish they were dining with you.  At the cool table!  Don’t be rude and ignore yourself while texting on the phone.  After all, if you had someone to text, you wouldn’t be sitting there alone anyway.

And if your restaurant has televisions, you have the choice of seats around the table to have the view of whatever TV you want!

Lone Appétit!

The Whoville Marathon

Scrolling down Facebook, I came across an add for compression socks for runners.


I see this, and immediately, my mind isn’t thinking running socks, it’s thinking Dr. Seuss.


Every Who down in Whoville liked Running a lot, but the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville – did not. The Grinch hated Running – the whole Running season. Now, please don’t ask why; no one quite knows the reason. It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were laced tight. Or it could be his shorts chafed and didn’t fit him quite right. But I think that the most likely reason of all… may have been that his Asics were two sizes too small. But, whatever the reason, his shorts or his shoes, he stood there on Race Day hating the Whos. 

I certainly don’t hate running, but why on God’s earth  would I wear something that looks like it was designed by Dr. Seuss or trendy in Munchkin Land?

I fully understand visibility, particularly if you run in the dark.  But seriously?  These things are visible from space!  They hurt your eyes!  I’m an eye doctor.  I should know.  And drivers might be laughing so hard they still run you over like the Wicked Witch of the East.

You have no running power here.  Be gone!  Before someone runs a car over you too!

I tried the whole clown shoe thing–you know what I’m talking about–those shoes that try to use every color in a Crayola set of 64 and were probably designed by the owner’s 3-year-old daughter in preschool.  The experiment failed primarily because they weren’t comfortable.  But the gaudy color thing is just not me.  It is actually getting harder and harder to find shoes that only have one or two colors, and don’t glow in the dark as if they were manufactured in Chernobyl.

In running, function and comfort should trump everything.  But do we have to sacrifice good taste?

Do we want our sport to end up like this?


Nice thing about these clothes? I can play 18 holes and then jog 13 miles without changing!

Summer Runnin’

Had me a blast.

Summer Runnin’

Happened so fast.

I recently read a blog entry that discussed some of the downsides of running in summer weather, among which were complaints like it’s hot and humid, you have to wear less clothes (not sure why this is an issue,) chafing (which would be reduced if you wore less clothes,) salt encrusted selfies, and mosquitoes.

Of all the things on their list, I have to agree with the mosquitoes.  especially bugs in the mouth.

As someone who has run in -9 degree F weather in Pennsylvania and the 120 degree dry heat of Phoenix, I have experienced quite a spectrum of seasonal running and temperatures.  Without a doubt, I would pick 120 degrees in Phoenix over sub zero temps in Pennsylvania–any day.  No questions.  End of discussion.  And no mosquitoes at 120 degrees.  Maybe a gecko.  Or a scorpion.   And they won’t end up in your mouth unless you collapse from dehydration or heat stroke.

But if I had to pick one thing that bothers me the most about warmer weather running, it has to be the spider webs.


Run into my parlor said the spider to the guy !

There is a trail that I traverse along the course of my run.  As the temperatures rise, so do the number of spider webs crossing the rather narrow path.

I have visions of being caught like extras in Stephen King’s The Mist, or ending up like Frodo in a spidery cocoon.


I was just out for a run with Samwise and Smeagol . . .

You can’t always see the wispy strands, but you can feel them on your legs and face.  I end up running this trail most summer mornings with one hand held up in front of my face as though I am trying to elude the Phantom of the Opera’s punjab lasso.

At least I don’t need a machete.  Yet.

Pints for Pets

Yesterday I went to a fundraising event called Pints for Pets with one of our surgical scrub techs and her husband.  The basic concept is that you buy a ticket to get in.  Proceeds go to the Central PA Humane Society.  Once you get into the event, craft brewers from various breweries offer samples of their beers for free.  Well, not free, since you had to pay to get in, but there is no additional charge.  They give you a little beer glass and you can sample as many and as often as you like.

Pints for Pets?  I don't think that's how this works.  I don't think that's how any of this works!

Pints for Pets? I don’t think that’s how this works. I don’t think that’s how any of this works!

I get beer.  Homeless pets get money.  Win-win situation.

The event was held at the Blair County Ball Park (home of the Altoona Curve baseball team.)  In order to get in, you have to show ID.  At 50, it’s not often I get carded anymore.  They actually swiped my license through some machine just as if it was a credit card.  I am now on the grid.  By the time I’m drunk, I’ll probably have my own drone or satellite.

So in we go to sample the beers!

We head to a table featuring beers from the Pittsburgh Brewing Company.  They had an IC Light Mango which looked interesting.  I’m not a dark, bitter beer type person.  I like ales and IPAs.  Give me a good apricot wheat and I am happy.  I like Blue Moon (with an orange!)  I like Samuel Adams Summer Ale.

The mango was good.  I was off to a good start.  It was a little sweet, but I would prefer that to bitter.

There was a beer made with grapefruit which was a little sour to my liking.

There was a chocolate stout, which in theory sounds good–it has chocolate!–but trust me on this one, it’s no Godiva Liquor or Hershey’s syrup if you know what I mean.  It actually had a mild coffee flavor–I love coffee!—but I couldn’t see myself drinking a whole case of this stuff.  My little four ounce glass was more than enough.

There was a strawberry craft beer.  It tasted like a strawberry pastry–my friend’s analysis, not mine but I concur.  It wasn’t necessarily bad, but of all the fruits they add to beer–lemon, lime, blueberry, apricot, raspberry, mango, etc–strawberry is one that just doesn’t seem to add something good to the beer.  That’s my opinion.  Taste it if you want to.  You’ll dump the rest.  Trust me.

Likewise, there was a banana flavored beer.  Whoever thought that would be a good idea should be shot.  Or made to drink it.  Either way, they are in for some pain.

I tried a wonderful pineapple infused lager.  It was like Hawaii in a glass.

But then we came to the coup de grâce:  Sweet Baby Jesus beer.   Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter.  OMG.  Chocolate and peanut butter were created to be together.  They are two of my favorite food groups.  And when you put them together, it is Heaven!  The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup may be the most perfect food ever created.

Unfortunately, in a porter . . . words cannot begin to describe this.  Tar comes to mind.  Is tar bitter? The peanut butter flavor is totally lost in there, eclipsed by a bitter porter or an overzealous chocolate bar.  But maybe that is how this concoction got it’s name.  After you manage to swallow a mouthful, all you can say is, Sweet baby Jesus, give me something else!

But there were a lot of good craft beers.  Dogfish Head.  Apricot, or as they call it, Aprihop!  Hop.  Hop.  Hop.

Leinenkugel makes a grapefruit shandy!  With a name like Leinenkugel’s it has to be good.  And shandy makes it sound like you are already drunk!  Maybe I am.  It’s hard to keep track of how many mouthfuls we’ve had.

There were a lot of beers.  And such a tiny little glass.

Ooh look.  There’s another beer.  Some brewery.  Somewhere.

That one was is bad.  Don’t try that one.

Oooh.  That one isn’t too bad.  I can’t remember what it is or where it came from, but I know where it went.

By the end of the afternoon–three hours–they all start to taste the same, except for the bad ones which taste even worse.

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
A tale of some beers first class,
That started in this baseball park,
With just a tiny glass.

The doc was a mighty drinking man,
The scrub tech brave and sure.
Five passengers set out that day
For a three hour tour, a three hour tour.

The craft beers started getting sour,
The bitter beers were tossed,
If not for the courage of the fearless crew
The good beers would be lost, the good beers would be lost.

The glass was filled on the deck of this uncharted baseball field
With an eye doctor
A scrub tech too,
The millionaire and his wife,
The movie star
The professor and Mary Ann,
Here on Pints for Pets Isle.


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