Week Two Picks: My first Uber morning drive

The names and locations are fictional, the directions are in bold but the car is mine and stories are true, sort of.

AudreyHepburn

“And I say… What about? Breakfast at Tiffany’s”

Thursday morning…
There are old houses and trendy eateries with gluten-free selections littered across this storied neighborhood with the original bricks paved onto the roads. It’s bumpy every time I’m here.
My first ride, Michelle cascaded toward the car. I wanted to take a picture to pique any paparazzi interest she might have while in her driveway. Sliding inside, she raised her finger to adjust her sunglasses then proceeded to do her best Audrey Hepburn.

“I want to pick up my friend. She is right around the corner when you get to Literary.” You look much different with a mustache, Michael.

I remembered then by doing this line of work, they’ll know what I look like as well as my car. I almost felt like a celebrity, too.
This is what I got it in for, other than the extra cash: Serving people. Driving is exciting. Communicating with others is what I do for a salary. Combining the two is a dream job, I guess.
Everybody is thankful for my presence. The drunker, the more grateful they become. But today, I figured I could help a damsel in distress who needs to get to work.
Coming off the left turn from Literary Street, Michelle and I discussed the remaining time of summer and cookouts that were rained out. She had an impromptu party to plan and needed a cleaner for her home.
She was in luck. Her friend, Rachel, a petite flower with a charming nose ring and calming voice, had a cousin who was a housekeeper. Her prices were cheap too.

Anne Hathaway. As cute as she wants to be.

Anne Hathaway. As cute as she wants to be.

We stopped outside Rachel’s home as she flowed off her front porch as Michelle did minus the pageant wave. She nestled into my front seat and lean into a solid Anne Hathaway pose.

“It’s best to get on Harmony, it’s a one-way, then left on Morrison Ave.”

Accountants at a boutique store on the far West side, the ladies described their work through the wrath of their manager who doesn’t listen effectively enough for Rachel’s tastes.

I told her when I was hired, I’m going to China for a month, then a weeding in Chicago. So, I needed September and some of October off. She just looked at me and said, “Okay”. She is just there because someone owed her a favor. Uggghh. She is so difficult.

Using her iPhone as a mirror to review her brushstrokes, Michelle nodded in agreement and explained to Rachel that life was easier during their days as baristas. The nose ring slightly tilted as Rachel chuckled then turned to me to drop some knowledge.

You know… you can tell a lot about a person when they order coffee.

With a few blocks from our destination, she grabbed my attention.

Black women always want extra caramel. No matter what, never fails! Old school people like black coffee and are to the point with you. But if there’s a guy who wants anything and everything with decaf, they’re either gay or an asshole.

After I called her out on her generalizations, she offered proof of her findings.

Oh! I tested my theory. There was this guy who went crazy with demands for decaf. He asked for my number and we went out on a date. He was a big time prick.

“You’ll want to make a left here…”
I thought I’d give him another shot. That time, I was drunk when he picked me up. We went to a bowling alley, drank some more and he still was an asshole.
“Pull into this driveway…”

Valid, I said. An asshole is an asshole. The ladies granted me sincere salutations and were on their way. Maybe the next time I enter a Starbucks, I’ll order black coffee with extra caramel.

caramel-coffee-ctr

What does coffee say about you? Leave a comment!

WEEK 2
Last Week: 11-5
Season: 11-5

Best start ever. In history. Yay me!

Picks are in bold

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 11

PITTSBURGH STEELERS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS — 8:25 p.m.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 14

MIAMI DOLPHINS AT BUFFALO BILLS — 1:00 p.m.

DETROIT LIONS AT CAROLINA PANTHERS — 1:00 p.m.

ATLANTA FALCONS AT CINCINNATI BENGALS — 1:00 p.m.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AT CLEVELAND BROWNS — 1:00 p.m.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS — 1:00 p.m.

ARIZONA CARDINALS AT N.Y. GIANTS — 1:00 p.m.

DALLAS COWBOYS AT TENNESSEE TITANS — 1:00 p.m.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS — 1:00 p.m.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT SAN DIEGO CHARGERS — 4:05 p.m

ST. LOUIS RAMS AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS — 4:05 p.m.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AT DENVER BRONCOS — 4:25 p.m.

N.Y. JETS AT GREEN BAY PACKERS — 4:25 p.m.

HOUSTON TEXANS AT OAKLAND RAIDERS — 4:25 p.m.

CHICAGO BEARS AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS — 8:30 p.m.

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS — 8:30 p.m.

 

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The War on Thanksgiving

The war on Christmas has claimed its first casualty: Thanksgiving.

What was once the sacred time to enjoy family and be grateful for small and simple pleasures has now been replaced with strategic offerings on how to beat the Black Friday rush.

How did we get to this place? Well… it’s been here all along. I remember back when I was twenty-something enjoying the holiday with my family eating turkey, collard greens  and sweet potato pie all while watching Detroit and Dallas football games.

At that time, my immediate family was small. So, when the stuffing and conversation wore off, I headed for the meat market known as The Pub. That was the moment I realized the war was beginning.

When I walked through the bar’s front door, all I saw was a full dance floor and aisles cluttered with people filled with libation talking sloppy and poetically stumbling. My first thought wasn’t the usual “What chick can I spit game to?” It was “Why are people working?”.

I’d thought this was time to enjoy your parents’ company and catch up with the siblings. But yet, here I was in a club hunting for women and a buzz.

It wasn’t Thanksgiving anymore.

Another Thanksgiving-ish battle I recall was inside my 1996 Pontiac Grand Am. My wife and I were planning to buy a big screen television for a recently purchased home.

In previous times, we would use Black Friday to take advantage of the gifts we wanted to grab for our loved ones. But not this year. We decided to be selfish and get some of the big ticket items for ourselves.  In the midwestern part of the U.S., especially in November, it gets cold. Very Cold! On top of that stress, try having to get up three in the morning to beat any kind of rush to the big box appliance store.

The store, HHGregg, was open at 6 a.m. We “camped out” in the parking two hours prior. My car’s heat was something to be desired. It seemed more like two days while waiting. Finally, we got inside and grabbed our Hitachi 46″ that we still have to this day.

Our television

Our television

The only problem: It was too big for the car. We had to shell out extra dough for the delivery the following weekend. What made it so sick was the sales guy’s smirk.

I’ve moved lots of TVs and appliances… and THIS is not going into your car.

I hate smirking.

WHAT’S YOUR POINT, FREEZE?!?
The slow march to this new outrage is that we did it to ourselves. We are forever young, horny alcoholics that want the biggest, baddest, more gigabyte gadget cheaper and sooner than last year when we had to wait at midnight.  After the turkey dinner, Thanksgiving is no more. It’s just November 28. Companies are taking notice and have taken the “holi” out of the day.  While others blame Obama.

Wasn’t the overall purpose of Thanksgiving giving thanks? It’s been swallowed up whole and now a shopping day like the rest of days after it.  We can debate about the true origins of Thanksgiving and how we arrived at the modern rendition of it, but the commercialization of Turkey Day is on the rise as we continually whistle pass the graveyard.

R.I.P Thanksgiving. You will be missed.

TURKEY ON A PIZZA PIZZA
One small whole-wheat pita
One-fourth cup marinara sauce
One green onion
Two tablespoons part-skim mozzarella cheese
Three (or six) turkey meatballs

Heat the oven to 475 degrees, wait six minutes, it’s done.*

20131114_165759

*Not to be had on Thanksgiving.

LAST WEEK: 7-7
SEASON: 87-59

THU, NOV 14 TIME (ET)      
Indianapolis at Tennessee 8:25 PM   INDIANAPOLIS  
SUN, NOV 17 TIME (ET)      
NY Jets at Buffalo 1:00 PM   NEW YORK  
Baltimore at Chicago 1:00 PM   CHICAGO  
Cleveland at Cincinnati 1:00 PM   CINCINNATI   
Washington at Philadelphia 1:00 PM   PHILADELPHIA  
Detroit at Pittsburgh 1:00 PM   PITTSBURGH  
Atlanta at Tampa Bay 1:00 PM   ATLANTA  
Arizona at Jacksonville 1:00 PM   ARIZONA   
Oakland at Houston 1:00 PM   HOUSTON  
San Diego at Miami 4:05 PM   SAN DIEGO  
San Francisco at New Orleans 4:25 PM   NEW ORLEANS  
Green Bay at NY Giants 4:25 PM   GREEN BAY  
Minnesota at Seattle 4:25 PM   SEATTLE  
Kansas City at Denver 8:30 PM   KANSAS CITY  
MON, NOV 18 TIME (ET)      
New England at Carolina 8:30 PM   NEW ENGLAND  
·Bye: Dallas, St. Louis

The Mission of Flexibility

I was interviewing a chief executive for a feature about female CEOs. During our conversation, she brought up the idea of “having it all”. She mentioned that it all boiled down to flexibility.
The woman, who owns a waste management firm, said it is up to the individual to know what “all” is. She narrowed it down to organization and flexibility. That got me thinking about my own memes of “having it all” and achieving general success.
Being organized is essential in my line of work. I wouldn’t know how to manage if I wasn’t in order. I’m at the point where I treat it as a game. I have an app to manage my time for certain projects. It’s a race to get as much done in a small lot of time. Add the urge to make lists and folders on any device I can get hands on, my little culture keeps me motivated and efficient.
But not every day’s the same. There are roadblocks and detours to get around. Organization is a daily mission, a mission of flexibility that exposes whether we have a Plan A, B, C and beyond. It’s a skill.
I actually learned it from a woman. One of my most influential bosses, she taught me the whole theory of organization and how to move on the fly. At the time, I thought it was a waste of time. I’d had to make a list for every job responsibility bestow upon me. Then, write a line-by-line description of every move I made. It was grueling as much as it was mundane.
The motto was, “write it as if a 12-year-old boy could read the instructions and do your job”. Not that my job was so pathetic  that a pre-teen could do it (it wasn’t, it was awesome) but in short, the plan was to keep it simple.
I was doing it so much that before long I looked forward to chronicling my work. The decrease of stress and worry was immediate when I dove into work projects. I was engaged and wanting to improve. It lead to raises, more responsibility and job security. When my boss wanted to know what I did, all I needed was a chart or folder to put on her desk.
The ability to navigate my mission of flexibility has been one of my admiring professional qualities. I still have all the charts and folders I made along with other plots and procedure manual I’ve made since then. It’s still helping me to find work and staying on top of workday.

What is your idea of “having it all”?

An Organized and Flexible Casserole
Six ounces of lean ground beef
1/3 cup diced onion
One crushed clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon cumin
One and 3/4 cup of cooked brown rice
3/4 cup salsa
One tablespoon diced cilantro
Two tablespoons of Mexican shredded

Doesn't it look organized and yummy?

Doesn’t it look organized and yummy?

LAST WEEK: 7-6
SEASON: 80-52

THU, NOV 7 TIME (ET)
Washington at Minnesota 8:25 PM WASHINGTON
SUN, NOV 10 TIME (ET)
Seattle at Atlanta 1:00 PM SEATTLE
Detroit at Chicago 1:00 PM DETROIT
Philadelphia at Green Bay 1:00 PM PHILADELPHIA
Jacksonville at Tennessee 1:00 PM TENNESSEE
St. Louis at Indianapolis 1:00 PM INDIANAPOLIS
Oakland at NY Giants 1:00 PM OAKLAND
Buffalo at Pittsburgh 1:00 PM PITTSBURGH
Cincinnati at Baltimore 1:00 PM CINCINNATI
Carolina at San Francisco 4:05 PM SAN FRANCISCO
Houston at Arizona 4:25 PM ARIZONA
Denver at San Diego 4:25 PM DENVER
Dallas at New Orleans 8:30 PM NEW ORLEANS
MON, NOV 11 TIME (ET)
Miami at Tampa Bay 8:30 PM MIAMI
·Bye: Cleveland, Kansas City, New England, NY Jets

151 is a good number, but fish is good.

On the way home today, the recent construction was taking its toll on my street. What would usually take five minutes took nearly two hours. The slow crawl of traffic led me to the woman with the “Slow/Stop” sign.  The saving grace was the day that was as warm as her smile.

You must be loving this day, right?

Once she heard my voice, her face turned to stone. The sign in her hand transformed into a weapon.

Love is too young to know what conscience is, Yet who know not conscience is born of love?

Ahhh… okay.

My first thought was “Holy virtuous resolutions. She must be having a bad day with her man.” But ultimately, I understood her situation. Love is so complicated, especially in the beginning. And definitely, if you’re doing someone you’re not supposed to be doing, ya dig?

The construction lady was on the wrong side of it, I guess. Like the child Cupid, love is too immature to know what the conscience is. But everybody realizes it’s born of love, right? That’s how I see it.

Are you going to move, buddy?

Honking horns and slight obscenities later, I realized it was time to move on. Goodbye, my new friend. Triumph in love. Until we meet again tomorrow.

Tilapia Talk Back for Two
Two tilapia filets
Two tablespoons mustard
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Honey to taste

Use a tablespoon of mustard on each filet.
Dump in the egg in a baggie. Shake it.
Take your pecans. Smash them. Roll the egg-soaked filet in it.
Preheat the oven for 350 degrees.
12 minutes in the oven. Then, drizzle it in honey.

DSCN2611
Rice not included

I love seafood. It’s brain food. My wife hates seafood. But I still love her. Boo! Enjoy.

LAST WEEK: 9-6
SEASON: 64-42

Carolina at Tampa Bay 8:25 PM CAROLINA
SUN, OCT 27 TIME (ET)
Dallas at Detroit 1:00 PM  DALLAS
Cleveland at Kansas City 1:00 PM KANSAS CITY
Miami at New England 1:00 PM NEW ENGLAND
Buffalo at New Orleans 1:00 PM NEW ORLEANS
NY Giants at Philadelphia 1:00 PM PHILADELPHIA
San Francisco at Jacksonville 1:00 PM SAN FRANCISCO
NY Jets at Cincinnati 4:05 PM CINCINNATI
Pittsburgh at Oakland 4:05 PM PITTSBURGH
Washington at Denver 4:25 PM  DENVER
Atlanta at Arizona 4:25 PM  ATLANTA
Green Bay at Minnesota 8:30 PM  GREEN BAY
MON, OCT 28 TIME (ET)
Seattle at St. Louis 8:30 PM  SEATTLE
·Bye: Chicago, Tennessee, Indianapolis, San Diego, Baltimore, Houston

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOTHER!!!

October 18 is my mother’s birthday.

More than my mother, she’s my friend. She’s one of my wife’s best friends and talks to her more than I do.

For her last birthday, we took her to Disney as part of her bucket list. It was also the first time she rode a plane. Moving about with two new knees, Mom wasn’t too keen on being active at the airport until she learned of wheelchair assistance. I think she didn’t lay one foot on the ground while at Orlando or Akron-Canton.  It makes me long for the day that I’m elderly. But movement was not a problem that week. She was ridin’ dirty in her scooter.

Back to the plane… As we were boarding from Akron-Canton, I had to tell the closest attendant that this was my mother’s maiden voyage via sky. He then gave my mother a slight sigh.

Honey, you get to go First Class!
WHAT!!!
Yes honey, that’s how we do it around here!

Mom thought she won the lottery. Leather seat in a row all to herself; she felt like a queen… until takeoff.  As the plane marched unto the runway, my mother’s face was covered not wanting to take a peek out the window or anywhere near the cabin. She noticed a slight tilt that steadily increased. Looking at the window, she saw I-77 get smaller until her focus was on the horizon. I didn’t hear any screams, so I assumed she was still intact.  One hour in, I asked how she was doing.

How fast are we going?
Very fast.
Like 55 mph?

Once she had gotten over the shock of our speed, she had one more question.

What are those white things outside?
What things?
The white puffy things.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

MOMMA’S MORNING MOUTHFUL
An egg
A cup of milk
3/4 cup of oatmeal
1/2 cup of strawberries/blueberries or any berries
A tablespoon of pecans or almonds
A teaspoon of whey protein or isolate
”       ”               ”  ground flaxseed
A teaspoon of yogurt
1/2  sliced banana

Mix the first six ingredients in a bowl and nuke it for about two minutes. After it’s not so hot anymore, slap on the banana slices and dap the yogurt on it.
BOOM!
Momma's Morning Mouthful

Who needs coffee? You got energy for the day, right there.  Let’s run some laps around Magic Kingdom!

MY PICKS
LAST WEEK: 11-4
SEASON: 55-37

THU, OCT 17 TIME (ET)
Seattle at Arizona 8:25 PM SEATTLE
SUN, OCT 20 TIME (ET)
Tampa Bay at Atlanta 1:00 PM ATLANTA
Cincinnati at Detroit 1:00 PM CINCINNATI
Buffalo at Miami 1:00 PM MIAMI
New England at NY Jets 1:00 PM NEW ENGLAND
Dallas at Philadelphia 1:00 PM PHILADELPHIA
Chicago at Washington 1:00 PM CHICAGO
St. Louis at Carolina 1:00 PM ST. LOUIS
San Diego at Jacksonville 1:00 PM SAN DIEGO
San Francisco at Tennessee 4:05 PM SAN FRANCISCO
Cleveland at Green Bay 4:25 PM GREEN BAY
Houston at Kansas City 4:25 PM KANSAS CITY
Baltimore at Pittsburgh 4:25 PM PITTSBURGH
Denver at Indianapolis 8:30 PM DENVER
MON, OCT 21 TIME (ET)
Minnesota at NY Giants 8:30 PM NEW YORK
·Bye: Oakland, New Orleans

My super powers need a fixin’

Being in the hospital sucks.
Having to work on your mobile computer through your stay really sucks.

Lucky for me, I didn’t have to stay the night. The doctor told me I’d be leaping buildings in a single bound in no time. Currently, it takes me about two or three tries.

During the surgery and between incisions, I had knocked out some work on my trusty laptop. So I thought.

It turns out that my evil nemesis hacked my secret account and was planning to copy my information and sell it on the black market. What made matters worse, I sensed a nefarious presence. I had thought it was the bad chili from the cafeteria, but I was mistaken.

I immediately turned to the doctor and asked if I could use her scalpel. She wanted to see my ID. I knew then it was a trap. Because there’s no such thing as a woman doctor. It was her, my nemesis.

You wouldn’t hit a girl, would you Mr. Freeze?

She was clever. And right.

While you were resting in Canton, I only got stronger. Thank you, Obamacare! Now, the government won’t stand between me and my patients. And most importantly, I lied when I told you about the leaping. THERE ARE NO BOUNDS OR BUILDINGS. I DESTROYED THEM ALL!!! BWHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

From the years I’ve dealt with the evil fake doctor woman, I knew her chattiness was her weakness. As she rambled, I programmed my laptop to transform into a live Pinterest page of kittens. She was distracted by the cute and I again foiled her plan to destroy me and I was finally able to…

… get my work done.

SUPER POWERBALLS
One cup of peanut butter
One cup of honey
Three cups of oatmeal
One cup of your nuts of choice (peanuts, dried fruit, dried cranberries)
One cup of chocolate chips
1/2 cup of flaxseed

Depending on how you ball them up, you can 20, 30 or even 40 balls. You may smash them flat to make them cookies or stick them in a muffin tray for a cup. Regardless of how you do it, you will gain power and energy. It’s good for you.

powerballs

Up, up and away!

MY PICKS:
LAST WEEK: 9-6
SEASON: 36-27

Buffalo at Cleveland 8:25 PM BUFFALO
SUN, OCT 6 TIME (ET)
New Orleans at Chicago 1:00 PM NEW ORLEANS
New England at Cincinnati 1:00 PM NEW ENGLAND
Detroit at Green Bay 1:00 PM DETROIT
Kansas City at Tennessee 1:00 PM KANSAS CITY
Seattle at Indianapolis 1:00 PM SEATTLE
Jacksonville at St. Louis 1:00 PM ST. LOUIS
Baltimore at Miami 1:00 PM MIAMI
Philadelphia at NY Giants 1:00 PM PHILADELPHIA
Carolina at Arizona 4:05 PM ARIZONA
Denver at Dallas 4:25 PM DENVER
Houston at San Francisco 8:30 PM HOUSTON
San Diego at Oakland 11:35 PM OAKLAND
MON, OCT 7 TIME (ET)
NY Jets at Atlanta 8:30 PM ATLANTA
·Bye: Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington

What the hell was that?

I was preparing to interview a man who ran a charity that helps people shout louder. It should have been easy. Tell me about your organization. Where did you find the inspiration to help others yell more? What shouting event will you participate in this year? But he wanted to make it hard.

He was 70-year old man with a Southern draw that I thought funny being that he was from the Sudan. Nonetheless, he was excited. After identifying myself as a freelance writer from the greatest magazine of all time, I heard a sigh.

  I have a scoop. I’m building a gated community of shouters. They would live together. They’d shout at each other, of course. And best of all, they live in perfect harmony. The world needs more shouters, but you my friend, you need to be here. It’s no good that I’m shouting on a phone. Be here. In person. 

I was in France at the time and still interested in his utopia of screaming. He sighed again.

It’s just not the same. I can’t share this over the phone. It’s just not right. 

…and time.

WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?! Burger

1 egg
1 pound ground beef (lean)
1/2 cup oats
1/3 cup diced onion
1/2 cup chopped spinach
2 tablespoons Mexican-blend cheese

You start off with an egg. Crack it. Into a bowl of course. Now, put the rest of it in the bowl. Add some pepper or salt if you want.
It’s fun to take your hands and go silly putty. If you get it right, you have four delicious quarter pounders.
I hope you know how to cook a burger. Do I have to do everything?
Medium to High, 7 minutes on each side.

You can call them spinach oatmeal burgers.

You can call them spinach oatmeal burgers.

Thanks for listening.

LAST WEEK: 8-8
SEASON: 27-21

THU, SEP 26
San Francisco at St. Louis SAN FRANCISCO
SUN, SEP 29
Baltimore at Buffalo BALTIMORE
Cincinnati at Cleveland CINCINNATI
Chicago at Detroit DETROIT
NY Giants at Kansas City KANSAS CITY
Arizona at Tampa Bay ARIZONA
Indianapolis at Jacksonville INDIANAPOLIS
Seattle at Houston HOUSTON
Pittsburgh at Minnesota PITTSBURGH
NY Jets at Tennessee TENNESSEE
Washington at Oakland OAKLAND
Philadelphia at Denver DENVER
Dallas at San Diego DALLAS
New England at Atlanta NEW ENGLAND
MON, SEP 30
Miami at New Orleans NEW ORLEANS
·Bye: Green Bay, Carolina