Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Triple Crown

Last weekend I watched the Belmont Stakes horse race on television. This is the second race in the Triple Crown. The Kentucky Derby is two week prior to the Belmont and the Preakness is three weeks after the Belmont. The Belmont Stakes was a very exciting race. Sixth Sense, the winner of the Kentucky Derby, lost in a photo finish. The announcers of the telecast quickly said, " The Triple Crown draught continues". It has been 29 years since there has been a Triple Crown winner. Affirmed did it way back in 1978. It seems like ancient history, but I still remember when it happened. In fact, in the 70's there were three Triple Crown winners. It's hard to explain why there haven't been more winners. I guess it's a combination of things.

There are other areas of sports where there is a Triple Crown winner. For example, in baseball the player who has the most home runs, the highest batting average, and most runs batted in is awarded the Triple Crown.

The words Triple Crown have a negative connotation when it comes to residents of Sandusky, in particular on the west end of town. You see, the Norfolk and Southern Railway transports "piggy-back" trailers for Triple Crown. Essentially the Tiffin Avenue and Venice Road crossings are blocked off by these slow moving trains. It use to be just coal cars being transported to the coal docks that bottled up traffic. Triple Crown has a staging area located on Old Railroad Street where semi tractor drivers pick up full loads of freight and return empty trailers. When the full loads are being delivered, the train stops so the train can switch rail sidings. This is necessary because usually the train has around 300 cars. Today I was the beneficiary of waiting for one of these slow moving trains. I was driving my truck back to my terminal. I was stopped on Venice Road for over 30 minutes waiting for the Chinese Fire Drill to end. Finally, the train passed and the flashing signal gates slowly ascended. In celebration I honked my horn to signal victory.
Jan, has to cross the Tiffin Ave. tracks on her way to work. Since 1986 she has mentioned how she has had to wait for the train. There have been times when she had to back track and go out Route 4 (Hayes Ave.) to the Route 6 by-pass to the Route 101 exit so she could get to work on time.
Over the past ten years or so, there have been discussions of building an overpass on Venice Road. The overpass on Rt. 250 (Milan Road) was built over 30 years ago. Cedar Point played an important role in getting that overpass built so traffic into the park would move at a steady pace. You can bet if Cedar Point was located on the west end of Sandusky there would have been an overpass built many years ago as well.
Well enough of my griping. Hopefully in the near future an overpass will be built. In the meantime, when I'm stopped by a Triple Crown train I'll take a couple deep breaths and try to remain calm. After all, we've already been where we're going.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

HGTV and Others

I often wonder how many people watch home improvement programs on television. Jan has become addicted to shows such as Extreme Makeover and anything else that airs on HGTV. I believe her addiction started about 3 years ago. It was Christmas and she bought ME a Tivo as a present. Little did I know at the time that eventually she would be the keeper of the Tivo remote controls. Anything even resembling a home improvement program is recorded on the Tivo. This enables Jan to view home makeover programs 24/7.
A lot of these shows aren't very realistic. I've watched a few of them and find it hard to believe that the cost to redo a kitchen can run as much as $40,000! That's almost twice as much as we paid for our home. Most of the homes that are shown cost well over $1,000,000. For crying out loud! Who can afford the house payment for a million dollar home?
I'm completely happy in our home. Heck, as long as I have a shelter over my head and heat to keep me warm I'm satisfied. On the other hand, Jan can always think of some type of improvement for our home. There are two factors that I'm against when it comes to any home improvement. The first is cost. How much will it cost us? Will we have to take out a home loan? If we decide to sell, will we get our money back that was invested? The other factor concerns ME. I know when Jan gets a brainstorm from watching HGTV that it will include me. She'll test me by throwing out little hints. Normally I can sense that she's about to drop a bomb on me. I rarely have ideas on home improvement. I'm beginning to believe that God put women on earth for one thing; that is to decorate the home. In order to keep peace in our home, I usually will agree to fulfill her home makeover dreams. I'm not the handiest guy when it comes to fixing up the home. I don't mind painting and sprucing up the place, but forget about carpentry, electrical or plumbing work. I'll leave that to the professionals.
Now maybe if I can pry Jan's hands from the Tivo remote control, I can watch the 5 CSI's that I've recorded. Well maybe I can if she doesn't have another home improvement project for me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Remember Esmond Dairy Day

Cedar Point opens this Saturday and I thought it would be fun to take a walk down memory lane. This weekend marks the beginning of traffic pattern changes for the local residents. Taking the back way into The Sandusky Mall and avoiding restaurants on State Route 250.

Anyone living in the Sandusky area around 50 years ago know what I'm referring to when I mention Esmond Dairy Day. Esmond Dairy was a local business that sponsored a day at Cedar Point. As far as I remember, opening day was the Saturday preceding Memorial Day. I think my brother Kyle believed that it was opening day because his birthday is May 28th. I Googled Esmond Dairy Day the other day to see if there was any information that I could use in this column, but found nothing. I thought by jogging my memory I could paint a clearer picture of what Esmond Dairy Day meant to families of the surrounding local Sandusky area. Nothing doing! I guess I'll have to rely on how I saw this special day in my life.
For sure, back in the 50's things moved at a much slower pace. Esmond Dairy Day always marked the beginning of the summer season. Cedar Point was open Memorial Day-Labor Day as the ferryboat sign proclaimed. None of this Hallow Weekends stuff. There was no Frontier Town, very few "thrill" rides, and no two hour wait to ride the rides.
We packed a picnic lunch and loaded up the car. Mom would usually make her famous ground meat or egg salad sandwiches. We also had a cooler filled with soda pop. As we entered the park, the kids were told, "If you get lost go to the merry-go-round (carousel)." That was always the designated spot to meet. As far as I know, none of the kids ever got lost. However, I often wondered if other families used the merry-go-round as a lost and found for their kids. Mom and Dad would purchase reduced ride tickets at the ticket booth. They were the keeper of the tickets. Unlike today, many of the rides could be ridden as a family as I don't remember any height constraints placed on the rides. The parents joined the kids on such rides as The Bug, The Octopus and The Tilt-A-Whirl. There were no long lines and each ride lasted at least three minutes.
We would stay at the Point into the evening hours so we could see the rides lit up with multicolored lights. The food stands all had the yellow bug lights so the bugs wouldn't annoy the customers.
By the time we went home, we were completely exhausted. We all had a great time and looked forward to returning to Cedar Point the following summer.
Oh life was so much more fun in simpler times.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Restaurant Pet Peeves

Is there anyone here that have pet peeves when you eat at a restaurant? While going out use to be an enjoyable experience, lately for us the experience has been anything but enjoyable. It begins as you enter the establishment. Generally, there is a hostess who greets you and asks how many are in your party. This however isn't always the case. Many times the hostess is A.W.O.L., from her work station. You wonder to yourself is she on break or shooting the breeze with a customer or a fellow worker. Finally she saunters up to you and says, "Sorry about the wait." This statement seems to be a requirement for anybody that works in a restaurant. If you can utter these famous four words, you get the job. Jan and I usually look at each other as if to say "Here we go again." The hostess takes our name even though we can see that only about half of the tables are occupied. Of course the restaurant is understaffed tonight. Three of the waitresses have called off sick. You just assume that's what the problem is anyway. You notice that the one waitress that did show up is running around like a chicken with her head cut-off. Once we do get a seat, the waitress passes us and says, "I'll be right with you." After we both memorize the menu, we still wait for the waitress to show up. She staggers up to our table as if she just ran a marathon race and says, "Sorry about the wait." Unbelievable! It's 7:30 pm for crying out loud. We order our food in hopes that it arrives before we fall asleep or our butts become numb. While we're waiting for our food we notice a young couple trying to reason with a crying/screaming toddler sitting in a high chair. How can you reason with a toddler? Our children always knew what the consequences were when they became unruly in a public place. A quick trip to the restroom always resulted in an instant attitude change for the youngster.
Yippee! Our food just arrived. It looks like we ordered, great. The waitress says, "Is there anything else I can get for you?" I respond, "I could use a refill on my water." The waitress nods and leaves us. Moments later she comes back to the table and says, "How's the food tasting tonight?" We reply in unison, "Great". I then remind her that she forgot my water. She leaves us and promptly returns to our table with a pitcher of water. Finally. I'm the type of person that cannot eat without a drink. Maybe the next time I should bring a canteen or my own bottled water.
Half way through the meal the waitress stops at our table and says, "I'll leave the check here for your convenience, but I will stop back to see how you are doing." Believe me, this is the last time you'll see your waitress. She is overworked, underpaid, and tired. Even though the service stunk you become compassionate for the waitress. You now have a full stomach and are finally contented. You feel like leaving less than a 15% tip or even nothing. Oh Hell--15% is okay with me. Maybe the next time we eat out it will be a more pleasant experience, but I won't count on it.