Monday, December 28, 2020

It’s a pretty old subject, so I’ll just say my piece and be done with it

I’ve spent my entire life, for better or worse, being (what I believe is) a nice guy.  It was never an act, I rarely felt like I was being a phony.  I just tried my best to get along with everybody, see their side of things, stand in their shoes. 

There have been a couple exceptions, I’d say the first was all the way back in eighth grade.  One day during fifth period in Mrs. Dascenzo’s class, we returned from lunch and another student (Terrie C) asked me if I’d show her how to draw a horse before our teacher returned. 

(I was known for drawing some, back then.)

After Terrie scooted her desk closer to mine and we began drawing, Jerry E sat down in the desk on my right and scooted closer from the opposite side.  He said “Hey… whatcha doin’” in a throaty sputter (probably from all the moist snuff he dipped, he always reeked of Skoal).

A shudder went thru me as I knew pain was probably forthcoming.  Jerry was bigger, mean & rotten (and I’ve just recently learned, 2 1/2 years older than me).  He should’ve been in high school or better yet reform school, not in my 8th grade class!

Anyway, I calmly said I was giving Terrie an art lesson and he said “Move your hand” and raised the lid of my desk.  He grabbed my wrist then, and while I struggled to pull away, held my hand midway inside then slammed the lid down HARD.  I saw white stars, and he said “Yeah now teach her to draw” and scooted away. 

I remember going to the school nurse (because it was the only time I ever did visit the school nurse) to see if any bones were broken.  When she asked what happened, I told her the truth but knew nothing would come of it; bullies went unpunished then, especially in redneck schools like mine.  My hand ached pretty badly for a couple hours, and I daydreamed some pretty awful revenge scenarios.

In the days that followed, I watched Jerry in gym & Metal Shop, usually as he terrorized someone else.  I’d study his ugly visage and wonder if he was the ‘missing link’ scientists theorized about, as he DID look & act like something between a Neanderthal and human and okay, this ‘standing in another person’s shoes’ was not working because he was clearly more monster than person, and I didn’t see him evolving anytime soon.

So I prayed daily instead for someone to come along and beat the crap out of him or run him over with their truck at least.

Anyway, that was a long time ago and I don’t know what became of Jerry, or care.  He either dropped out of school or was expelled, but he disappeared sometime in 11th grade.  (Maybe he jumped back in the primordial soup.)  I thought (more like hoped) I’d never feel this way about someone again, but darn it, I do.  And the sooner THIS one disappears—be it prison, Russia or with Jimmy Hoffa—the better.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Shopping at I’m dreaming of a robust Christmas…

Seven years ago, my 20 year old Mr.Coffee went kaput and my coworker Julie dragged me kicking and yelling into the 21st century, demanding I buy a Keurig.  (I wrote about it—more like gushed about it here.)

It was a K10-Mini and I loved it straight away.  it was short, round, limited in function and had a tendency to get pretty loud; it was more like a Mini-Me!  Anyway, I treated it with care, ran water thru it a couple times a week, descaled it 2-3 times a year. 

Still, it’s been in daily use (several times daily) for 7 years, and this past month it’s noisy hum has gotten REALLY loud.  And with the brew looking more like iced tea than hot coffee, it was probably time for a new machine.  So after looking at Keurig’s newer compact machines…

Keurig K-Supreme

  • My own tag-line:  “Multi-Stream Technology”!  It’s about time!
  • Price: $99.99 (reg. 139.99, bought on sale)
  • Bought at: (click here)
  • Came with:  Two free 24-ct boxes of K-cups of my choice, I chose Tully’s Hawaiian Blend.  It also came with a coupon inside the box, good for 50% off 2 more big boxes of K-cups.
  • Shipping:  UPS (and ships free)
  • Measurements:  12 inches deep, 8 inches wide, 12 inches tall.  (It looks bigger though.)
  • What makes this so special:  This is Keurig’s first coffeemaker with multi-stream technology (more on that later) and their first ‘compact brewer’ with a water reservoir tank like their larger machines.  (With my K-10, you had to pour in precisely the amount of water for one cup of coffee, right before you hit the brew button.)  This has a side-tank that holds 66 oz of water and contains a water purifier too.
  • Why it’s just right for me:  I drink 3 brands of coffee, each with their own amount of water:  Eight O’Clock is a weak brew, I only make it with 6 oz. of water.  Folgers (my favorite), I pour in 8 oz.  Tully’s Hawaiian is very strong and I use 9-10 oz of water.  I don’t have to measure the water out anymore.  This machine has 6, 8, 10 & 12 oz. Brew buttons.  I’ve tested each one, and they’re exactly right.
  • What’s with the STRONG button:  That button is what separates the men & women coffee drinkers from the girls & boys!  Seriously, it slows the brewing a few seconds and the coffee is a lot more robust.  It makes a real difference. 
  • So what is Multi-Stream Technology:  It’s simple; up until now, Keurig machines poked a single hole in the top of your K-cup to blast hot water thru; this contraption pokes FIVE holes in the K-cup’s top!  I promise you’re going to get a more flavorful cup of coffee, even if you don’t use the STRONG button.
  • There must be something you don’t like:  Well, I sorta miss the kitschy look & temperament of my fussier old machine. This new one has a matte finish and a simpler, more logical style.  If Mister Spock were a coffee machine…
  • You’re weird, come up with something else:  Well, it begins streaming joe INSTANTLY (I don’t know how) and in 10 seconds you have a hot cup of coffee.  But I like mine scalding, so I have to take my cup and nuke it for 10 seconds in the ol’ microwave.  Not a big deal, but… you know. 

When I first attempted to buy this at (after comparing prices at Amazon, Target & Wal-Mart), the online shopping cart declined my credit card with Payment not authorized by your card issuer; contact your credit card company.  After contacting VISA and being told it was on the seller’s end, I called Keurig’s Customer Assistance and told them they were declining my card and shouldn’t be—what gives?

The man on the other end (Rob) apologized, and asked if I was accessing their site thru a Firefox browser.  I said as a matter of fact I was, and he said “It will probably work if you pull up our site thru Chrome, but I can take your order over the phone if you’d like.”  I said sure, why not and Rob said “Before I begin taking your information, could I ask a personal question?”

I said I guess so, and he said “Are you from the Pittsburgh area?  My brother-in-law is from there, a suburb he refers to as… Monroeville?”  I laughed and said yes i’m a Pittsburgher, and Monroeville’s only minutes away.  But I don’t have an accent… at least one I’m aware of.  He said “Oh you do—you sound exactly like my brother-in-law!”   

I’d love to know what he’s hearing that I’m missing…  Eye rolling smile

Thursday, December 17, 2020

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas (and a Democracy) again

Oh, I really don’t have much of anything to say here.  I woke up this morning around 6:30am, rubbed the sleep from my eyes and when I opened my bedroom door….  I saw a winter wonderland outside my living & dining room windows. 

This is the view from my dining room window at 7:46am EST.  We wound up with around 7 inches of very pretty snow since this time yesterday.

We knew it was coming, yesterday (before a single snowflake had fallen) I got cleaned up and ran to the market.  When I got there, I was surprised to only see a few customers inside, along with plenty of milk & bread. 

(I don’t know about the rest of the country, but here in Pittsburgh when we get news of a storm on the horizon… milk & bread are gone long before shovels & salt!)

I joked to one of the employees that maybe I was listening to the fake news weather report because I heard a storm was coming any moment, and she said “You should’ve been here last night… hope you’re not looking for frozen pizza!”

Anyhoo… it started precisely at 11am, and now it’s like living in a snowglobe.  

We weren’t so pretty last year… I don’t recall a single day with any significant snow.  Sure enough, the local news said this morning that while yesterday was our 5th snowiest day on record, last year was our lowest snowfall on record.   So does this avalanche mean climate change was just another Democratic hoax?  You know how those Democrats love their hoaxes!  I’M KIDDING, OF COURSE.   If you agree with the last two statements, please get the hell off my blog!  We’re finally getting rid of that godawful tangerine traitor and with any luck his divided GOP will collapse and get sucked into that giant black hole scientists are studying in the center of our galaxy. 

God bless Joe Biden for wanting to be a president to everyone, but I’m not as classy or forgiving as him.  Anyway, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, so I’m going to get off my little soapbox here, go make a cup of coffee and grab a couple chocolate chip cookies I baked yesterday and watch some Netflix.  Have a nice day.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Scent of a Mom and Dad's Christmases too

In my pre-retirement days of riding the bus downtown to work and back home five days a week, moving from one crowd of people to another, I’d pick up on a lot of smells, not necessarily bad. 

I bet that man with the paper smokes a pipe.  The young man beside me had bacon for breakfast.

On the way home, it would happen again.  This girl had pizza for lunch.  That man with the ruddy cheeks sure smells like beer!

My beautiful Mom, 1971

And every once in awhile, not very often, a woman would pass by and I’d know right away if she smoked a very light menthol cigarette like Silva Thins (what my mom smoked) or wore Jovan Musk (Mom’s perfume). 

And then every once in a GREAT while, I’d be on Fifth Avenue or entering an elevator or exiting a revolving door, and I’d literally stop in my tracks and feel my heart leap into my throat. 

Ivory soap, Colgate toothpaste.  The faintest whiff of menthol & tobacco.  Jovan Musk.  That’s her, that’s Mom.

I’d always look around to see who it was.  Not that I planned on confronting them to ask what they were wearing or smoking, but if I didn’t see anyone likely to carry this combination of scents, I’d wonder to myself if that was Mom letting me know she was still here, watching over me and my brothers & sisters. 

In another week it will be the 16th anniversary of Mom’s passing; she died December 22, 2004.  Sometimes I wonder how we’ve gotten this far along without her.  Love & miss you, Mom.

I shared all of that, because of something that happened this weekend that made me want to laugh & cry.  Since I’ve recently been baking with Pillsbury’s “Poppin Fresh” dough, on Saturday I tried a can of cinnamon rolls with orange icing.

After I took them out of the oven and iced them, I got my coffee started, then went to the bathroom to wash up before having breakfast. 

As I stood there washing my face, my furnace kicked on and the smells of coffee, rolls, cinammon & oranges wafted thru my ceiling’s vent.

It was just the right combination of aromas that whisked me back to our farmhouse kitchen at Christmas time, when Grandma came and stayed with us, bringing her freshly baked pies and bread.  And like most Christmas Eves our first years there, while Grandma sat at our kitchen table and talked to Mom and us kids (drinking her coffee and smoking her Salems), my dad would come clumping up the basement steps into our kitchen, hefting a sack of oranges. 

Mom always said the same thing:  “Don look how much food we have in here, the last thing we need are all these oranges!”  While Grandma laughed, Mom would say to her “Every Christmas it’s like we’re back in the Great Depression and oranges are a once-a-year thing!”

Dad would say something funny in a Southern drawl like “You don’t want these kids gettin’ scurvy, do ya Mizz Linda?”

We’d all be laughing then, while Dad reminded us his childhood Christmases were a new pair of gloves or wool socks or cap and a big orange, a real holiday treat in those days (when citrus wasn’t a staple in markets year-round; at least not in Pennsylvania).

So in turn, for me at least, it didn’t seem like Christmas until Grandma Morris was in our house, surrounded by goodies and us, and a big bowl of Dad’s oranges smack-dab in the center of things.

All those memories from a warm plate of orange cinnamon rolls!


Dad & his mom, Grandma Morris, Christmas morning 1970


Friday, December 11, 2020

The trash rooms are open again, thanks to Theresa and her Silver Hammers

Dear Steiner Realty Neighbors,

We appreciate all the feedback received on the recent change to the trash removal policy at the Tiffany.  With that, your concerns have been heard and we have decided it is in the best interest of all our residents to resume those services as they were.

On Monday our staff will be in the building to remove the locks on the trash rooms doors. Once completed you all will be able to take your trash to the rooms again.

Until then and only if you are able, please take any trash you have to the dumpster in the lot.

If unable, wait to take it to the rooms on Monday.

In the near future, we will be looking to freshen up the trash rooms. This is to help eliminate any deficiencies or odors that may be lingering in some of them. The clean up will include the rooms being repainted and deodorization units installed similar to the hallways.

For those who don’t agree with our return to using the trash rooms as they were intended, you are welcome to continue taking your trash to the dumpster outside. 

Please keep in mind the trash rooms are an amenity that provide a benefit to you all. It is in everyone's best interest to do everything they can to keep these rooms neat and clean. Please report any issues to (412) 264-8878 that you see or experience to us as soon as possible.

Thank you for your patience as we work through this.

Best regards,
Steiner Realty – West

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Let the Christmas Card games begin! Well, the ones in my head I mean

It’s that time of year again… the skies are cold & gray here in Pittsburgh, it’s already the second week of December and I need to get my tookus in gear.  Time to set out my ceramic Christmas tree, put some holiday music on the radio, make my first cup of hot cocoa (with last winter’s Swiss Miss mix—cough) and get down on the floor to work on Christmas cards.

I’ve always done ‘em on the floor, laying on my stomach.  I like having a 10 foot by 12 foot desk.

To be honest, the older I get the more I wonder if I should even be doing this.  A lot of people just don’t do xmas cards anymore.  And I get it, Christmas cards are so 20th century.  

I try to make them worth opening, I don’t just sign them or worse yet, send those ones with a stamped name.  I always try to think of something personal to write and include something goofy, like a doodle.  And you may not believe it, but just because I send YOU one doesn’t mean I expect one back. 

(But if I don’t get one back for 2-3 years, I take that as a hint and drop you off my list!)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always followed a weird set of rules traditions.  I always buy my cards the Monday after Thanksgiving; you know, the worst day of the year.  I always do Aunt Dena’s card first because hers gets a handwritten letter inside, it’s the only way we’ve kept in touch for as long as I can remember. 

I do Salvation Army and my niece Sophia’s cards next, because they get checks.  (I know checks are 20th century too, but I don’t hear anyone complaining.)

I don’t like sending boxed cards, so I wind up getting mad at myself.  “Doug, these 4 cards are going to need two stamps each, what were you thinking?”  and “Doug you know you liked this red robin’s card best so why’d you buy only one?  Dammit, answer me!” 

I also force myself to buy no more than 25.  Twenty years ago I was out of control, sending out 55-60 a year.  It’s the 21st century now, I’m a single man who’s almost 60 years old and retired.  I don’t know that many people anymore.  I don’t WANT to know that many people anymore.

Still, every year I manage to get 2 or 3 cards from people who weren’t on my list (or was and I forgot), so I wind up running back out at the last minute to buy more, while giving myself a good talking-to along the way.  I never listen.

Every year I set out a favorite card I got from the year before, I hate seeing a good card go to waste!  This first one is a Star Wars card from my friend Erin last Christmas, the one on my refrigerator was a photo montage of kids & grandkids from my sister Shawn.  I liked it so much, it stayed there all year

And finally, there’s a couple of people I send cards to (and always get cards back) that I haven’t seen or spoken to in many, many years.  It’d be one thing if they were family, but… do you have anyone like that on your own lists?

Rick from my Omega Systems consulting days, and Tina from my time at GNCorp.  We’ve had ZERO contact (other than xmas cards) since the mid-1990s.  Guys, c’mon!  It’s been 25 years!  I tried moving on by not sending either one a card for 2-3 years, but they persisted so I was guilted back into sending.  This year is going to be the last year you get a card from me guys, okay?!

Yeah I know; I said the same thing last year.  I’d better get started on these cards!

Saturday, December 5, 2020

The Great Trash Room Rebellion of 2020: meanwhile, where do I fit in?

On November 23, this was hanging inside my building’s elevator:

Dear Tiffany Residents.

As of Monday November 30, 2020 all residents will be responsible for taking their own garbage to the dumpster.  The garbage rooms will no longer be accessible.  We have a new dumpster installed that has a sliding door on the side to make this an easier task.  Please be sure that ALL garbage is taken to the dumpster.  There should be no garbage left anywhere in the building.

When I moved here almost 4 years ago, the agent proudly showed me where each floor had it’s own laundry room (very nice) and it’s own trash room.  I said it sounded great, but wondered if living steps from a room filled with garbage was a good idea.

The agent (reading my mind) assured me the trash rooms were emptied twice daily, and their floors scrubbed once a week.  True to his word, our trash room has always been spotless (except on Sundays, the maids day off so to speak).

Anyway, right on schedule it happened.  Early in the morning of Nov 30 I heard rustling sounds in the hallway, followed by the WHIZZ WHIZZ of a drill.  When things got quiet again, I opened my door and ventured out into the hall. 

There was a strong smell of cleanser in the air, but nothing looked out of the ordinary.  I walked further down the hall and jiggled the trash room’s new doorknob—locked!  Goodbye Trash Room!

The trash room on my floor, right around the corner from the elevator

Janet (an older woman who lives directly across from it) opened her door and asked if they were done.  I said I guess so.  She asked me if I read the notes on the door, I said yes we had some angry tenants on our floor.  She said “Some?  And you’re not one of them?”  I said no, should I be? 

Janet said “Did you sign Theresa’s petition on the first floor?”  I said I was not aware of any petition.  She said “Okay… maybe Theresa doesn’t think you’re one of us”  and quietly shut her door. 

Huh?  Who’s “us”?

A few days later, I went downstairs to collect my mail and ran into Emily, the young Asian woman who lives on the first floor (I wrote about her before, here).  I asked Em if she knew Theresa and her petition.

Emily said “I know all about it, these seniors want Steiner to reopen the trash rooms and we want them to stay closed.” 

I asked, who is “we”?  Em said “I dunno… the half of the building under 50, I guess.”   I asked why she wanted them to stay locked.  She said “Douglas… they’re breeding places for stuff like Covid-19.  How do you think that got started?”

I said  “Maybe you’re right, but some of these tenants don’t get around so easy, like Sue with her walker or Mean Betty and her cane… and y’know, that floor in the parking garage is always wet!  How else are they supposed to get to the dumpster?”

Emily rolled her eyes and said “We’re living in pandemic times, c’mon.  You’re not going to sign Theresa’s petition, are you?”

I told her no one asked me, Janet made it sound pretty exclusive.  Emily asked if I knew Mike, the runner on the second floor.  I said sure, the young skinny guy, I see him all the time. She said “He’s pretty good explaining why those rooms need to remain locked, have you listened to his side of this?”

I said “No, because he’s never said a word to me.”  Emily said it was probably because he saw me as one of the older tenants who are being stubborn.  I said “Geez, I’m getting snubbed by the Over 65s and your side doesn’t care what I think either!” 

Emily said “Aw, poor Douglas feels all alone ‘cuz he’s in-between!”

Well, I guess I’ll be sitting this skirmish out.  But between you & me, my money’s on Theresa.  These young’uns don’t stand a chance!

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Oh look, it’s my celebrity soul brother; doesn’t everybody have one?

Way back in the summer of 1983, my friend Brenda called me one day and asked if I’d go to the movies with her that night.  There was something she wanted me to see.

(Brenda & I were around the same age, and worked together at our local Murphy’s Mart.)

Brenda explained that her & Mike (her boyfriend, who would become her husband in 3 years) had gone to see the movie Wargames the night before, and during the picture Mike said “Doesn’t this guy remind you of Doug Morris?” and Brenda said yes, she was thinking the same thing.

They were talking about Matthew Broderick, who was relatively unknown at the time.

So we went that night, and while I enjoyed the picture, told Brenda I didn’t see it… we didn’t even look alike.  She said “You’re just like him!”

Anyway—sometime later, I was at work having lunch in the Employee Lounge, when Karen Willis (a high school teacher & part-time employee) approached my table and said “Doug, you put me so much in mind of a young actor Tom & I saw the other night.  Have you seen Wargames?”

My friend Sandy laughed and told her I’d heard the same from Brenda.  Mrs. Willis said “Maybe he’s your celebrity soul brother!”   When I asked what that was, she said “The more you learn about him, the more you’ll have in common with him.”

Hmm… I’d heard of soulmates, but soul-siblings?  it sounded like something out of a tabloid or teen magazine.  Mrs. Willis was a little goofy sometimes, but then so was I.  And as time went by, I began seeing a connection… maybe she was right!

1. More than one person says you remind them of him/her.  Done & done!

2. Same age, give or take.  I turned 59 in October, Matthew turns 59 in March.

3. Share similar physical characteristics.  Well, we’re the same height, 5’8”.  We both had brown hair before it turned gray.  We’re both nearsighted, have the same stocky build and like it or not, this recent picture of Matthew on the beach is pretty much how I look in my own trunks. 

4. Share a crazy family connection. 

For this, I’ll need my fellow boomer & friend Kim’s help.  “Kim, what was our favorite tv show in the 1970s?”

“The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

“Okay, what was our SECOND favorite tv show?”


“And WHO was our favorite character on the show?  And don’t say Kristy Mcnichol.”

“Sada Thompson, who played the mom.”

“Right!  And who was she married to on the show?”

“James Broderick, Matthew Broderick’s real life father.”

“RIGHT!  And what was James character’s name on the show?”

“I can’t remember, Doug.”


5.  One degree of separation.   I shared this story on a Youtube video of Sarah Jessica Parker several months ago, I can’t prove it but it’s true.  Back in the spring of 1993, I was working in downtown Pittsburgh as a software developer for Allegheny County.  We were required to wear dress clothes then, and one day I tore the sole off my dress shoe.

My co-worker Sue said there was a shoe repair shop in the alley behind the William Penn Hotel, so at lunchtime I hoofed it down there.  When I got to the alley, I saw a young woman, very petite, wearing a ski jacket and standing in a doorway smoking a cigarette.  I asked her if she knew where the shoe repair shop was, she said she was new in town and didn’t, sorry.  As I turned to go, I said “Waitaminute… aren’t you Sarah Jessica Parker?  The girl from Square Pegs?”

(This was before she became famous with Sex & The City, or married Matthew Broderick.)

She said she was, and was staying at the Penn while filming a movie with Bruce Willis (I would later learn it was Striking Distance).  We chatted a little, I can’t recall what about, but I do remember thinking wow, she’s nice.  She asked if I knew of any good salad or sandwich places nearby, and I excitedly told her about Zorba’s on Sixth & Smithfield.  After saying goodbye, I found the repair shop, got my shoe fixed and went back and told everyone in the office who I met and our conversation. 

My coworker Sue said “Doug you dummy!  Why didn’t you offer to take her to Zorba’s yourself?”   Ugh!!  What the heck’s wrong with me?!

6.  And finally… AMAZING BUT TRUE

I learned recently that Matthew Broderick was a “mostly lefty”—he can write with his right hand, but does everything with his left.  Wow.  As my family knows, I’m a mostly lefty too.  (It’s not a choice.)

Armed with that ‘Amazing but True’ factoid, I decided it was time to share the secret of my celebrity soul brother.  As I began writing this post, my friend Danielle emailed me and asked what I was up to.

I told her I was working on a new blog about my celebrity soul brother.  When she asked what the heck was I talking about, I told her it was someone famous you share some physical characteristics with, and some strange things in common too. 

She asked who mine was, I told her she’d find out along with everyone else after I posted it to my blog.  I told her not to bother guessing, she’d never get it in a hundred years.

Several minutes passed, another email popped up from Danielle.  When I opened it, it said “Matthew Broderick?”   What the—how did she guess that??

Yeah, I know Matthew—it’s amazing but true!