On Aging and Pensive Thoughts

Last weekend, I mentioned to some of the staunchest readers of The Diatribe that I wrote my previous blog entry while somewhat drunk.  It was, as far as I can recall, the only time I’ve written a serious entry while drunk.  Under the circumstances, I’m glad it was well received.  I was having doubts about the fact that I let too many feelings or emotions come out, which I usually try to keep in check.  I’m not saying that this will start a trend, but it’s good to keep in mind.

Late last week, I was talking to a co-worker and, knowing that Swedish Girl is still out of the country, he said, “Be good this weekend.  Don’t be going all crazy.”  I told him that it promised to be a low-key weekend because I was driving down to a baptism (party…as it turned out).  I then mentioned just how strange it is when your friends grow up and start having kids.  I still haven’t gotten over the fact that my friends are now married, and now they’re having babies.  I know I’m a few pounds heavier, a few steps slower, and my hair…well, I don’t want to talk about that…but I still feel young.  On the inside, I still feel like I did 10 years ago, which means that I feel like a college senior whose friends are all marrying off and having babies.  It just seemed to happen so fast.

A good friend once uttered to Captain Larby and me just about the best thing anyone’s ever told me, “Love is a dog from hell.”  And that is just as true as it ever was, but aging is also a dog.  With Swedish Girl not being around for the big baptism celebration party last weekend, being there solo made me feel like I did during all those crazy times when we were all in our 20s.  Time keeps marching on, though, and I’m not saying that marriage and babies are bad.  I’m halfway there myself and may end up having kids of my own someday. 

I have to thank Perry for trying to snap me out of my pensive daydreams last weekend.  I couldn’t adequately explain where I was coming from, so it probably sounded more like I felt old, as in tired, worn down, and crotchety.  But like I wrote earlier, it’s a mental thing.  I’m not fond of being 31 and I’ve fought these steps to adulthood tooth and nail along the way, only to fall victim to each and every one of them so far.  College, real life job, marriage, responsibility, et al.

That co-worker of mine is 49, by the way.  In retrospect, he put everything in perspective days before I even realized it.  “Cool Jesus,” he said, “you think you feel old now, you just wait until your friends start becoming grandparents.”

Extra Strength

While at work yesterday, I went to our medicine cabinet (yes, we have a medicine cabinets on each floor filled with an assortment of medical supplies) in search of a pain reliever for my headache. Looking through my options, I was faced with the choice of:

  • Extra Strength Acetominaphen (Tylenol)
  • Extra Strength Naproxen Sodium (Aleve)
  • Advanced Strength Ibuprofen (Advil)

I grabbed a small packet of the Aleve and began to ask myself why everything is labeled extra strength — if that’s become the standard. I understand that this is just a small sampling of the world’s drug supplies (being my office medicine cabinet and all) but the OTC medicine aisle at your local drug store is really no different.

Thinking about it even more, I thought it was some kind of ploy to charge more for the extra strength pills. Price the original strength pills at $5.00 and then tack on an additional dollar if you want the extra strength variety. This leaves the decision up to the shopper to ask “Why would I buy the original strength, if the stronger ones are just a dollar more?” But in reality, they don’t sell an original strength for a lot of the pain relievers.

Take Tylenol for example. A quick search at CVS.com shows that every single package is marked “Extra Strength.” Wouldn’t this indicate that they should perhaps upgrade the strength threshold?

At the end of the day, I still think it’s some kind of marketing ploy — to make their product look stronger or more effective. If you ask me, it’s a little silly. Especially when it comes to the sample size generic medicinal offerings in my medicine cabinet.

An Exclusive Club

I’m not sure what our friend in the Philly area is calling himself in blogtopia these days, but this is more or less a narrowcast blog with him in mind.  After this Saturday, he and I will be members of an exclusive club consisting of Northeastern alumni godfathers.  I’m sure there are many of us out there, but I still prefer to think of this as an exclusive club.  Humor me.  I became a godfather on my recent trip to the homeland of Lithuania and I have to say that the experience was intense, humbling, honorable, and touching.  I might not get to see my godson as often as you will get to see your godson in the state next door, but the newfound honor still feels just as powerful. 

In the sartorial department, I went all out for this event.  I don’t recall exactly what Michael Corleone wore when he became a godfather (not “The” Godfather, which actually happened concurrently at the end of the first film), but I decided to get decked out in a white linen suit, complete with a white Panama hat.  I’m hoping to post a photo or two here soon, but in the interim let me tell you that everyone said I at least looked the part of a godfather.  And when you look good, you feel good, so I was halfway there before the ceremony even began.

Honestly, I probably didn’t give ample thought to becoming a godfather.  I gladly accepted the offer and set about preparing for the baptism.  It wasn’t until I was actually there and getting translated little snippets from Swedish Girl that I understood that I was now involved in a lifelong undertaking.  Not being able to understand what was being said in the various Lithuanian ceremonies allowed me to daydream about the situation.  By the way, my daydreams were interrupted by a couple of mandatory vodka shots and various other centuries-old traditions.  Not how I usually spend a Sunday morning, but when in Rome…

My own godfather, God rest his soul, wasn’t a hands-on type of godfather, but even still, I knew he’d lay his life on the line if need be.  He didn’t live long enough for me to reach the age that I could bum a beer off him and have some quasi-adult conversations; this is one of the chief regrets in my life.  So, I’m looking forward to sharing a similar bond with my godson.  This might be in a convoluted mix of Lithuanenglish, but I’m sure it’ll all work out.

So, to my old friend who is about to join this club, I welcome you aboard.  Perhaps we’ll end up comparing notes once in a while.  Either way, it’s a lifelong duty that I’m sure you’re embracing just as much as I am.

The Goatee Saver

It feels great when you find someone the perfect gift. This item is no exception. When I saw this on yesterday, I knew immediately that I needed to write about it.

There’s a reader of the Diatribe (you know who you are) that would absolutely love this item — and yes, even more than water pillows.

It’s the personal grooming device known as the Goatee Saver (pictured below).

What is it, you ask? Why, it’s a device that’s designed to create a template around your goatee so that you do not accidentally trim part of it while shaving. It’s customizable and allows the goatee-wearer to get a clean, close shave while, at the same time protecting that precious goatee.

It’s adjustable to fit any size goatee — just bite down and shave! For a complete demonstration, check out the video on the product’s web site. It’s highly entertaining.

Crank

I’ve been a stranger around these parts and I have to thank Cool Jesus for keeping the vibe alive while I was missing from The Diatribe. Some of the greatest news that I wanted to write about today was . This may seem like nothing to you — but it means the world to me. So, like I said — it’s what I wanted to write about, but instead, I would like to talk briefly about the film I saw last night — Crank starring Jason Statham.

I’ve never really though of him as a great actor. He’s been in plenty of supporting roles, but for some reason he makes me think of d-list action films for some reason. Crank was no different — or was it. At first, I was thinking the movie was going to be completely cheesy and terrible but it got worse. So much worse.

It got so bad, that I realized that it couldn’t possibly have been done intentionally. The scenes were so ridiculous that I couldn’t believe my eyes — each action sequence was more unbelievable than the one before.
Continue reading Crank

Home Sweet Home, Part 2

I’ve been back in Boston for nearly two weeks now and I’m finding myself missing Lithuania more than I did when I first returned home.  Gone are the unsavory memories about rude people and the lack of ice cubes, and what remains are the experiences and the family.  But what I wanted to enlighten you about are some more rapid-fire points about the differences between there and here.

* Malls in Lithuania are way, way better, hands down.  Akropolis is the largest mall and is found in the three largest cities.  I went to two of them.  There are three floors of shopping and eating wonderment.  And each has several currency exchange centers.  But what makes Akropolis so cool is that it is organized according to store type.  All shoe stores are clustered together, as are men’s clothing stores, ladies’ clothing stores, etc.  What a concept.  Also, Akropolis has a bowling alley and an ice skating rink.

* The grocery stores are also better than what we typically have here in the States.  Similar to Akropolis, this is due to a new mega-chain called Maxima.  They are everywhere (not just the biggest cities) and the selection of foods and beverages is exhaustive.  And I went to a Maxima in an Akropolis that sells men’s suits, scooters, canoes, and on and on.  I’m not saying I want to buy a suit at the supermarket, but still.  It’s a nice option if your really under the gun.

* Of all the things you can find at Akropolis or Maxima, you won’t find light beer.  Of all the countless restaurants and cafes I visited, none offered light beer.  And the only light beer I found at Maxima was a brand with several fruity flavors.  I passed. 

* Since I’m on a supermarket roll, I also have to mention that the cashiers there are allowed to sit on stools.  I’ve never seen that here.  In the U.S., you have to stand for your 8-hour shift and you have to like it.  Also, at all stores, the employees don’t hand you the money like they do here.  There are money trays where the customer has to place the money and that’s where the cashier places your change.  I’m still not sure why.

* Lithuania is also kicking our asses on the recycling front.  You cannot drive more than a minute without seeing these ubiquitous yellow, blue, and green conical pods.  These pods are for glass, paper, and plastic recyclable items.  Great idea and something that should have been in place in the U.S. years and years ago, especially considering we’ve been celebrating Earth Day since 1970.

Adios, Senor Ramirez

The cost of getting rid of perennial headache Manny Ramirez was steep for the Boston Red Sox.  Probably too steep, but still very much worth it.  Boston, with its struggling offense, not only had to give up two months of hitting from a future Hall of Famer, but also had to pay the last $7 million of his contract, had to give up on a bright hitting prospect and a downtrodden pitching prospect, and now will not get the two first round draft picks that the team would have received as compensation for losing a type A free agent to another team in the off-season.  In return, all they got was a younger left fielder.  Oh yeah, and they also got their peace of mind back.

You won’t find “peace of mind” listed in the official MLB trade transaction transcript, but trust me, it is huge and it can not be underestimated.  I didn’t mind when Ramirez slapped Kevin Youkilis and [allegedly] told him to “cut that shit out” (in reference to Youk’s constant whining and bitching about the strike zone, not to mention his bat and helming throwing tantrums).  Other Sox players were fed up with Youk, so I hear, and so the team was glad that someone finally got in Youk’s face.  However, I’d bet that the team would have prefered a more discreet way of dealing with him.

Anyway, when Ramirez assaulted the Sox travelling secretary, that was just plain wrong.  Ramirez should have been suspended for at least 10 games without pay immediately.  Nope, didn’t happen.  The Sox brass allegedly fined Ramirez about $10,000 or $15,000.  For a guy nearing the end of a $160 million contract, that is pocket change.  But in retrospect, maybe the team didn’t want to make a bigger national issue out of the incident.  Maybe they knew that keeping Manny in the starting lineup was the best way to ensure they got maximum value in return.  Well, if so, then it didn’t quite work out.  Jason Bay is a nice hitter and Fenway Park should bolster his stats even further, but there was never any way to get equal value for Ramirez.  Boston knew it.  Manny knew it.  Scott Boras knew it.  And the rest of MLB knew it.

That’s exactly why Boston had to give up so much.  And I, for one, think this is addition by subtraction.  I wish the Sox didn’t have to give up two young prospects, but this deal had to happen.  Even David Ortiz was losing his patience for his little buddy and that spoke volumes to the Sox brass.  I think the most relieved men in Boston right now are Theo Epstein and Terry Francona.   Boston might have hurt its chances of repeating as World Series champions in 2008, but in the end, they did the right thing.  I’ll miss your bat, Manny, but you can take that Hall of Fame attitude out to LA.  Adios!