Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Home > Wawa > US422 > I76 > I476 > I95 > Payless Parking > PHL

I worked four hours the day of my flight to London.  I arrived home early to finish packing.  I made lists of each bag's contents.  These check lists are to be sure I don't forget anything I need going and that I return with the same items.  There is nothing worse than leaving an important item behind only to have it delayed in shipping or spend time to go back and get it.

I loaded up my Santa Fe and was off to Wawa to purchase fuel.
The price of gasoline was $3.36-9/10 per gallon.

Fuel is sold by the liter in UK and is the same per liter in British pounds as it is here in US dollars.  The pound is worth 1.5 times the dollar.  So the conversion for £3.67 would be $5.23.  One US gallon = 3.785 liters.  Therefore, the cost of gasoline in UK is equivalent to $19.79/gal.  Is there any wonder the cars are so small, the public transportation system so great and the use of taxis so prevalent?

The trip to  Payless Valet Parking took forty-five minutes.
I unloaded my Santa Fe, processed the paperwork, loaded the van and was on my way to PHL in 10 minutes, at most.

I was dropped at the BA terminal, shared with US Airways.  I joined the longest line to check-in with BA.  

In less than 10 minutes my stow away bag was weighed, tagged and on its way to the belly of the plane.  I was wandering around trying to figure out how to get to security.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Packing Luggage for London

The middle bag above was the size of my stowaway bag
I put my wife and son on a plane to London Wednesday night before my flight on Sunday Oct. 23.  I began to gather the items I needed to pack my bags for London as soon as I returned home from the airport.

One of my carry-ons was like this bag which contained my CPAP

One of my carry-ons was this shape and had a retractable handle and wheels 
        As I wrote earlier, my wife tripped and hurt her foot the day after they landed.  My son emailed with additional items to add to my bags.  The items included several pairs of footwear and dried mangos, blueberries and two pounds of cashews from Costco.  My daughter, in London, also requested I bring a quantity pack of cucumber mellon scented Dove deodorant from Costco, a pumpkin carving kit
and an aerosol can of Pure Citrus Orange Air Freshener from Walmart and two bags of fresh cranberries from a supermarket.

The aerosol can, deodorant and pumpkin carving kit went into my stowed luggage not to be misconstrued as bomb making materials or weapons with which to take over the aircraft.  The rest would fit into my carry-on.

There were some items that were mandatory in my carry-on luggage.  
They were:

 • my medications (heart, hypertension, reflux, low dose aspirin)
• my CPAP machine  
  (continuous positive airway pressure for sleep apnea), face mask 
  and tubing (my breathing sounds like Darth Vader)
• my camera for photographing the wedding couple before and   
  during the reception
• strobe
• sealed gel cell battery for strobe
• strobe attachment bar
• strobe light modifier
• strobe wall voltage adapter
• mobile phone wall voltage adapter

If you know anyone with obstructive sleep apnea, you know the importance of a CPAP machine in getting that person a good night's sleep.  When I underwent sleep testing, I was told I awakened three hundred times throughout the night and entered REM within the first ten minutes of sleep.  That is not good for the heart (which is why I had most of the meds) nor for a restful sleep.  No wonder I used to fall asleep at the drop of a hat.  All I needed to do was sit still in one place and in no time, I was asleep.  I was constantly embarrassing my wife and family.  "Dad's asleep, again", would be heard at every gathering we attended.  Or my fellow workers would snicker or outright laugh at me during meetings.  My falling asleep was terribly troubling when I drove a car.  As you might well imagine.  This machine is a necessity and that is why it was in my carry-on.

I now needed to make room in my carry-on for three pairs of footwear, a bag each of dried blueberries and mangos, two pounds of cashews and two bags of cranberries.

I began to wonder what kind of questioning I would go through with security at the airport.  There was the CPAP, face mask and hoses plus the battery and strobe and all the electronic items and now food and three pairs of footwear in my carry-on.  What red flags would that throw up?  I was soon to find out.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Greeting Card Sales - Funny or Not?

My family tells me I am not funny, at all.  They insist I stop trying.  I, on the other hand, don't respect their opinions.

A few years ago I saw an advertisement for a greeting card website on Facebook; Greeting Card Universe.  I clicked on the link and was drawn to their search for greeting card creators.  I have always thought that was something I could do.  I did some further reading, joined and opened my own storefront.  I spent hours and hours going through my photographic files looking for some images I might use to create greeting cards.  It is not as easy as I thought it would be.

I tend to have a, shall I say, strange, dark, perverse sense of humor,  a dry, sarcastic, esoteric, sense of humor.  Some say, off the wall.  With that in mind, I created several greeting cards.
I think back to the reasons I married you  You still have four out of five  and that ain't bad 

Not all of my cards are off the wall.  Some are traditional and sentimental.  As is the one below.  The one with the red letters was my original creation.  Upon seeing that, a customer requested I make a few changes, which I did.  Once edited, the customer made a purchase.

My original design

The inside verse reads:


My edited buyer version

The edited inside verse reads:

His peace will soon dawn upon the world
and all our human family from every time and circumstance
will be healed and blessed beyond our highest 

I sold 50 of the above edited cards to that customer.  The card isn't funny but it was a sale.

The inside verse reads:
Chanukkah Harry is Coming To Town!
He's bringing the gelt, the dreidel
and a reindeer antler menorah.
Remember to leave out
a plate of hamentashen (he loves
prune) and a glass of soy milk, real milk gives him gas.
Have a Happy Chrismakkah!

The week before Thanksgiving Day this year, I received notice I sold 40 cards of the above design.  This purchase tells me there are some people on this earth, unlike my family, that think I am funny.  At least somewhat funny.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights researved

Overnight Camp Counselor 1969

Camp Rockhill - "Health & Happiness in the Highlands"

After my first year of college, fellow thespians from the Central High School dramatics club, talked me into being a counselor at an overnight camp.
It was a co-ed camp.  It was the summer of Woodstock, 1969.  

It was the summer man first set foot on the Moon.  It was 47 miles from Philadelphia; in the woods.  It was a twenty-four hours a day job for eight weeks.  Pay wasn't so good when you divided it by 1,344 work hours. 
Source:Ilene Goldman Litz

did have a room that I shared with just ten eight-nine year olds 
and another counselor.  The building was the shape of the letter H.  
Our bunk was connected with the ten/eleven year olds bunk and 
their two counselors, by a doorless shower room and four toilets. 
 Privacy didn't exist in the bunks.

Camp had girls and girl counselors. on the other side of the field, 
that we saw everyday.  The fields were dark enough at night that 
you couldn't see anyone.  

Rockhill was where the children were Jewish and I was not.  
I will never forget my days with those schmucks at Camp Rockhill - "Health & Happiness in the Highlands"

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Working in the '60s

I followed my first job with a few more self-employed ventures.
There was a lemonade stand that lost money but supplied paper cups for years.

Testors Enamal
I also painted house numbers on the sidewalk down by the curb with Testors paints from my plastic model kits.

I sold, hot, fresh from the bakery, soft pretzels.  Huckstering up and down the narrow streets of South Philadelphia, early Saturday mornings.  I did all of this before I was twelve years old.
Bourget Bros
After that I began to work for wages.  For two weeks one summer I filled in for a friend at a lumber yard, doing odd jobs out in the yard.
Huffington Post
The next year I filled in delivering Philadelphia Evening and Sunday Bulletin newspapers for a different friend.
chicken vaccination
In the summers during my high school years, I visited a family friend in Vineland, NJ.  Vineland was a big egg farming area.  On the weekends he worked vaccinating chickens and I sat in his house watching TV.  After two weekends, I was offered a job on the crew.

I began at the bottom of the ladder by driving chickens into a portable corral.  Then I caught them by their warm, smelly, scaly legs, holding two to four in each hand waiting to give them to the inoculators.  Wasn't anyplace to wash up for lunch.
Debeaked chicken

Add to that the lingering smell of burning hair from the red hot blades of the debeaking machine.  I lost weight that summer.  I couldn't eat chicken for two years.

The first summer catching chickens my pay rate was 50¢/hr.  It really didn't seem worth the trouble.  I must have impressed them with my chicken catching skills for the next summer I received a 100% raise.   
Carpet warehouse and workroom
Uncle Willie was a carpet salesman who worked out of a huge carpet warehouse.  In the late 60's, he managed to get me summer employment there handling carpet, linoleum and vinyl sheet goods.  I think my wages were near $1.50 in that position.

I didn't get rich at any of my early jobs.  I do believe my early work experience was a necessary part of building my character.

©Damyon T, Verbo - all rights reserved

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ape Rep Wired

Power of Making

I recently wrote of wire hangers and how I despised them.  Whilst in London I visited the Victoria and Albert Museum.  In one of the contemporary galleries was this large, if not life-size, representation of an ape made of wire hangers.  I was impressed by the imagination, the craftsmanship and how appropriate to my recent post.  I approve of wire hangers used for art.  Or, to unclog a drain.



©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fat Ass Misses Hot Face Towel

Last time I set foot in England was late August 1972.  I was twenty-one years old, had a thirty-four inch waist and wore size medium shirts.  

I was on my way to Ireland with my Irish born girlfriend from Tullamore.  We chose to fly aboard BOAC so we could leave from Philadelphia instead of taking an airport limo to Newark to fly Aer Lingus.  I am glad we did.

Aer Lingus
I hadn't flown much before going to Ireland in '72 except to fly Eastern, with my older sister, to Expo '67 in Montreal, and Eastern in '68 when I met my family in Miami after my college orientation.

The flight to London on BOAC was heaven compared to the Eastern flights.  I was most impressed when, as we approached London, each passenger was offered a hot face towel so we could freshen up after the long flight.  Difficult to compared to our connecting flight via Aer Lingus to Dublin.   On that flight an attendant handed a basket of hard candy to the passenger sitting closest to the front of the plane and the basket was passed from passenger to passenger around the cabin without an attendant in sight.  If my memory serves me well, I think we were asked to change seats to balance the load before take off, too.

So here it was, late October, 2011, on my way to London via British Airways renamed from the old British Overseas Air Corporation of thirty-nine years ago.  The flight was quite good.  This time I was given a set of headphones to listen to my chose of on demand movies, TV shows or music without charge.  I was also offered free alcoholic beverages and my choice between two hot dinners.  Last I flew anywhere was round trip to Phoenix on US Airways in 2000. 
On those flights I was offered free soft drinks and my choice of two entrees to purchase.  If my memory serves me well, US Airways charged to use the toilet, too.  I could have chosen US Airways to London.  I didn't.  
Hot face towels were not offered on any flights I have taken since my first flight to London via BOAC.  I hear they are now only offered in business class and first class on long flights.  I missed them this trip, thirty-nine years later.  I guess I will need to save up to sit in business or first class my next transatlantic flight.  It will hurt my wallet but my fat ass will be comfortable in the wider seats.

©Damyon T Verbo - all rights reserved

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner a Success, If Not Perfect

Thanksgiving this year will be at my sister's-in-law.  Not that we never hosted dinner.  As a matter of fact, soon after we married, we hosted my wife's family for Thanksgiving dinner.  My wife is from a family of ten siblings and her immediate family then amounted to 20 adults (counting girlfriends, boyfriends and close friends).  To give her mother a break we hosted Thanksgiving dinner that year.  It didn't quite go perfectly.
Some of the family 2011
Source:Asya Photography
We had two tables on which our guests would eat dinner.  The kitchen table was 3' in diameter.  Our dinner table was an oval and could be enlarged by adding one leaf to its center.  Even with the leaf inserted, our table situation was insufficient for the number of invited guests.  Knowing this well in advance, I made a table topper to enlarge the dinner table.  It was a sheet of 1/2" plywood that I reclaimed from the dumpster at work, framed with 2x2s.  I cut two pieces of 2x6 to conform to the oval ends of the table. 

 These were attached to the underside so that when the topper was set in place it was centered both widthwise and lengthwise and didn't move at all.  The topper wasn't much larger than the oval table but it added more settings because of its square corners.

That Thanksgiving, I awoke early to get the turkey into the oven.  It was the largest bird I could get and needed 5-1/2 – 6-1/2 hours of roasting.  The stuffing needed to be made plus the vegetables and salad.  We had a full day ahead of us.

I called up to my wife, who lingered in the bedroom.  She said she didn't feel well but she would come down to get started with the dinner.  By the time she arrived in the kitchen I had already boiled the giblets, fried the mushrooms and onions and added them to the store bought bags of seasoned bread stuffing and finished it all off with chicken stock.  There were odors of sage, thyme, onions, mushrooms already wafting in the air.  The stuffing was in the bird and the bird in the oven.  The house was beginning to smell like Thanksgiving.  There could have been no more than ten seconds that passed before my wife covered her mouth pivoted one hundred eighty degrees and said, "The smell is making me feel nauseous."  With that she returned to the bedroom and stuffed a bath towel under the door.  She wasn't coming down unless she felt better and she didn't think that would happen until the odors dissipated.
Nausea- Not my wife
Dinner was at our house with 20 adults on their way expecting to be served a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  I had four top burners and one oven.  I had one main counter top that was 25" deep by 38" wide plus a small flat surface to the left of the stove that was 25" deep by 20" wide and an area the same size to the right of the stove that later became the dirty dish dock.  Plus the 3' diameter kitchen table in the breakfast room, three steps from the main countertop.  I felt the weight dropped on my shoulders like a hundred pound sack of rice.  Besides, I was alone.

Leading up to Thanksgiving I made lists and a time table for the food preparation and cooking.  As I finished each task I crossed it off the list.  Those lists and two digital times with alarms save me from disaster.

An hour or so before dinner my sisters-in-law began to arrive and immediately saw what needed to be done and did it.  We managed to juggle the cooking of mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, scalloped potatoes, the candied yams, candied carrots, pearl onions and peas, steamed broccoli, green beans, cauliflower with cheese sauce, brown and serve rolls and apple pie.  As far as I can remember, dinner was a success even if it wasn't perfect.  My wife never did come downstairs that day.

Here is wishing everyone has a wonderful and memorable Thanksgiving.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Friday, November 11, 2011

My First Job: Self-Employed Salesperson

(When I really try to remember all the jobs I've worked in the past 60 years, I tend to doze off.  The snoring soon awakens me.)

My very first job was as a self-employed salesman; a carpet sample salesman.  My uncle Willie was a carpet salesman and the trunk of his Impala was full of carpet samples he was willing to give me.  

These carpet samples were just the right size to mediate between the cold hard steps in South Philadelphia and the rear ends that were seemingly highly susceptible to the piles.  There was lots of sitting out on the steps in my neighborhood and these carpet samples seemed like a gold mine.  My cost was right: free!  Any money I got in exchange for them was pure profit.  I set the price at a quarter, 25¢.  I thought 25¢ was a reasonable price.

After a short time of asking everyone seated on their front step between my uncle's house and my house, just one block away, I realized that carpet samples weren't as easy to sell as I thought.  People could see they were samples, samples they thought should be free.  I persevered and I managed to sell four on the street where I lived.  One to Mrs. Foulkes who lived in the house across the street from me with the fake stone front.  One to Mrs. Sherman, the old Jewish woman who sometimes beckoned me into her dark house on the Sabbath, to run to the store for her.  One to Mrs Chern the Italian mother of Lucille, a girl my eldest sister's age, and Tony, a boy of my age, who dressed more stylishly and acted younger than did my mother.  Finally one to Mrs. Gervasi, the Lithuanian wife of an Italian with three boys, later to give birth to twin girls at age 40, which was the talk of the street.

I ran home to show my mother the four silver quarters; I was proud and I still had an armful of samples.  I felt my fortune lie ahead.  I ran up the three cold white marble steps, the large middle one worn in the center from years of shoes turning and shuffling whilst opening the front door.  
Not my exact steps but that wall is covered with the kind of fake stone installed on the Foulkes' 
Worn enough that a depression held water after a rain or after its weekly scouring with Comet cleanser.  
Megan Hildebrandt
I burst through the wooden door painted with its faux wood grain in shades of salmon, ocher and burnt sienna, knocking the inside brass door knob into the wall shared with our divorced waitress neighbor in the row house next door.  I ran through the living room/dining room first floor and found my mom in the shed kitchen washing dishes in the white one piece cast iron sink with drain boards on each side.   
Saving the Kitchen Sink
I stood before her with four worn silver quarters in my upturned left hand and free carpet samples in my right arm.  My inflated head was about to explode with pride.  I explained how Uncle Willie gave me carpet samples that I sold to four neighbors, for a quarter each.

rhine4321 on eBay
  My mom looked down at the quarters, drying her wet hands on a tea towel.  She then looked at Uncle Willie's free samples and there was a silent pause.  I knew my mother well enough to know that this pause was not a good sign.  The pause seemed to gain weight as it grew longer.  The pause ended with a blow that deflated my big head and would leave me quarterless.

She told me I didn't deserve the money paid for the samples.  That since I received the samples for free I should not take any money for them.  I was to trace my steps and not only return the money but give away the carpet samples.  That was the right thing to do.

Devastated I was.  Devastated and broke with a not so proud deflated head.  So much for capitalism.  I am not sure but, I think my mom was a socialist or maybe a philanthropist.  Well at least she wasn't a successful self-employed carpet salesperson.  Nor was I.