Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cleaning Up Ahead of the Cleaning Lady

Perhaps you do this as well. You spend a good chunk of time cleaning your house or apartment before the cleaning lady gets there. It’s as if we don’t want her to know that we’re actually pretty big slobs.

Isn’t that why we went out and got a cleaning lady in the first place? The fact that we’re big, fucking slobs?

Wouldn’t the cleaning lady accept us for this – accept us despite our flaws? Isn’t it true that cleaning ladies are full of forgiveness, along with that special desire to make the sink sparkle? And won’t she still love the money we pay her, just as much as she would if we weren’t such slobs?

I guess we just want to be liked by everyone. That’s why I spent 45 minutes last night picking up shoes, washing dishes, taking out the trash, and placing all the unopened mail in neat little piles on the counter.

I’m sure, when the cleaning lady arrives this morning, she’ll think “Wow, nice piles of unopened mail. I like Jaimi and Scott.”

And that’s very important to us.

Furthermore, it seems to me that the best cleaning ladies are the ones that elicit the strongest desire to pre-clean. This way, they can really focus on those tough cleaning tasks – like cleaning the sofa by taking a nap on it, or cleaning the fridge by eating your leftover crab legs.

And because of your thorough pre-clean, the cleaning lady will still have plenty of time to dust the bathtub with a wave of her hand, and scrub the toilet bowl with her gaze.

By the time you get home, she'll be long gone, and the place will be spotless - just the way you left it.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Using My Legs for a Change

Everyone wants to be a part of the Green Revolution – the current movement espoused by politicians, auto companies, environmentalists, gun owners, dog owners, airlines, pharmacies, sports teams, and so on and so forth. Basically, everyone except for oil and coal companies want to get in on some Green Action, and help save the planet.

Being that I work for neither a coal nor oil company, I’m as in on the Green Movement as just about anyone else. I drive a car that gets over 15 miles per gallon. I do not burn wood or trash in order to heat my home. I am strongly opposed to human exhalation – as this releases deadly carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. I always try to exhale into empty 2-liter soda bottles, and when full, I add a few rocks and toss them into the river.

I’m just that dedicated to our Earth.

Not only that, but I’m also a pretty good runner. My legs are capable of powering my torso, head, and arms across land for several miles at a time – without stopping. Why, I ran 5 miles just the other day in under 45 minutes. Not kidding.

Of course, I understand that’s not fast enough to win the gold medal in running, or anything like that. But it’s plenty good enough to transport some well-heeled tourists from Times Square to Penn Station, or from JFK Airport to just outside JFK airport. Or from Chinatown to the West Village. Basically, as long as I don’t have to merge onto the highway, I’ll be okay.

All of this got me to thinking – and thinking hard – about a new business plan. I could be my own boss, get into fantastic shape, AND save the planet. The point of the business would be to transport people from point to point, without burning a drop of fossil fuels. I wouldn’t need any complicated equipment like a bicycle or a hang glider. The only things I’d need would be running shoes – and a boatload of Gatorade, especially during a New York summer.

Also, if only I had a space-age titanium rickshaw, with Teflon wheel bearings, and Wi-Fi access for passengers.

That’s right. I’m planning a rickshaw company. Clean, green transportation for the 21st century. But it’s also a throwback to olden times. And you know how much the kids love that retro shit nowadays.

Even during times of flood and pestilence, rickshaw driving is a fun and easy way to make a living.

Disco is making a comeback. Classic cars are totally cool amongst the hip-hop crowd. Renoir, Monet, and van Gogh are still very popular artists. And if I have my finger on the pulse of America as much as I believe I do, the rickshaw will once again rule supreme in terms of preferred mode of urban transportation.

I haven’t quite worked out the economics of the whole venture just yet. Is six bucks per mile too much? That should only take me about 8 minutes - as long as Mayor Bloomberg approves the dedicated rickshaw lane. Maybe I should also charge per passenger? How much of a surcharge will people pay to save their planet? Two dollars? Maybe three?

A rough, back of the hand calculation leads me to believe that I can make about 50 bucks an hour saving the planet with my legs. Twelve hours a day, 6 days a week (with only Saturday off, because it’s the Lord’s day) yields gross revenue of over $150,000 per year. Plus, I’ll be totally ripped from all the exercise – my shoulders will be cut up like razors from carrying the rickshaw, and my legs will look like the Incredible Hulk’s, except somewhat less green.

And on top of all that, the Earth will be saved from all that global warming shit.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jury Duty – A Lesson in Pronunciation and Enunciation

I had to show up for jury duty yesterday in State Supreme Court - 500 generally pissed off people waiting around all day for their names to be called.

We weren’t treated badly, and the seating wasn’t wholly uncomfortable – but the sound system was rather poor. And on top of that, the court employees mispronounced – literally – every other name. Especially coming from people who read lists of names every day, I found this astounding.

Of course there are a whole hell of a lot of difficult-to-pronounce names in Brooklyn, and in any place with a mix of ethnic backgrounds. But for God’s sake, some of it was entirely inexcusable.

One gentleman stumbled a few times over the following name: Stephanie Reynolds.

Not kidding.

Now, I can understand a name like Relavizadabezadeh Ayanbademinejabadahlajab causing some problems – and I’m sure there were a few of those yesterday – but again, with as much practice as these people get reading out names, they should be MUCH better at it by now.

I did actually get called for a case, but they picked the jury before I had a chance to actually sit in the box and answer any questions. It was a civil case, in which a passenger was suing everyone involved in the accident – both drivers, and the owner of the car in which she had been riding.

Give her $50k and call it a day, as I always say. So maybe that wasn’t the case for me anyway.

I found the experience somewhat interesting, somewhat frustrating, somewhat boring, and somewhat swine flu paranoia-inducing. Someone was wearing a hospital mask in the waiting room. And with all those people sneezing around me, one of them was bound to have it.

By the time I have to serve again – 8 years from now – I’m sure they’ll have a vaccine ready, and those people who read the names will have had 8 more years of practice.

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Monday, May 18, 2009


Much like NASA’s Skylab paved the way for the Space Shuttle, and man’s inevitable mission to Mars, so too does my foray into the magical – and experimental – world of beer-making pave the way for fantastic beer-related journeys to the edges of the known brewing solar system.

Or something like that.

Yesterday, for the first time, I decided to brew a beer not from a specific recipe. It’s an amalgamation of various internet sources, my own wild imagination, and a fledgling knowledge of the most basic brewing techniques.

I’ll be lucky if it tastes as good as monkey piss – or some similar highly ammoniated yellow liquid. Of course, no matter what, it will be more refreshing than monkey piss – being that it’ll be served ice cold, rather than at or around monkey body temperature.

Anyway, I ordered a few pounds of various specialty grains (chocolate malt, oat malt, something else that looks like oat malt but I forget what it is) added some high-quality cocoa, some standard barley malt extract – and boiled it all together in a big ol’ pot with some hops and a whole lotta love. I’m going to add a bit of cranberry extract at bottling time – if this batch makes it that far – to create something truly of The Mill, by The Mill, and for The Mill.

The Mill’s Cranberry Oatmeal Chocolate Nasty and/or Tasty Stout.

Truly, I may have to drink all 50 bottles of the stuff myself.

I don’t really know if the proportions are correct. I’m not sure how strong it might end up being, or how long it will take to ferment. All I know is that the little yeasties are currently gorging themselves upon all the sugars I boiled up, producing a nice stream of bubbles out of the fermenter’s airlock.

It will be about a month before this stuff can even be considered ready for consumption. I think it will be either bitter as all get out – from adding WAY too much unsweetened cocoa – or not taste too terribly awful. There’s a 0.5% chance that it will actually be pretty good.

As I’ve always said, I’ll try anything once. And in that same spirit, my BeerLab is now officially open for business. What should I brew next?

Snickers Fruity Pebbles Porter?

Mutton Mint Chocolate Stout?

Cilantro Pumpkin Pie East River Water Ale?

I think each of those could really dazzle the taste buds. Look for it being drunk out of a jam jar, at a street corner near you.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

A Different Kind of Break

I may have a broken bone in my left wrist. The x-rays were inconclusive, so I go in for an MRI today.

I realize this is rather unremarkable, save for the fact that this bone may have done broke 8 weeks ago. Also, I'm left handed. I've been writing, carrying groceries, driving, doing dishes and typing fairly normally since then. I've even used chopsticks on several occasions.

Did you know you could break a bone in one of the most heavily used parts of your body and not realize it for 2 months? Obviously, I didn't either. My only clues were the sharp pains when I put any weight on my left hand with the palm flat against a surface - door, desk chair, countertop, rhinoceros thigh, etc. And this just wasn't getting any better.

I thought I could tough it out. I figured it would heal on its own, and that it was just some kind of mother of a sprain or strain. A big momma of a tweaked wrist, if you will.

At least I know exactly when I hurt myself. And believe me when I say it's a less-than-exciting story. Even so, I'd like to describe the scenario on that fateful wrist-injuring day.

Jaimi and I watched TV - probably Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods, or maybe The Office. It was chilly and gray outside on that God-forsaken Sunday afternoon. Jaimi enjoyed an ice cold diet root beer. Let's just assume I had a regular beer.

All of a sudden a cry rings out in the apartment!! Since there are only two of us living here, and I wasn't the one who shouted - I thought to myself - Jaimi must be in some kind of trouble. She was sitting three feet away from me, so it wasn't difficult to investigate. I just needed to turn my head away from the TV, and towards her troubled, shouting self.

The root beer!! The root beer!! It had spilled all over the coffee table. Oh shit!! Why hath the lord wrought tragedy and suffering with the spillage of such a dark, rich, artificially-sweetened brew?

Before the situation got any worse, I needed to do something. And fast.

I leapt from my seat in stockinged feet - like a mountain cat on a rabbit hunt - and sped towards the kitchen. I knew what could clean up this mess. A little something called paper towels.

As I approached the kitchen (about 20 feet from the TV) it was time to begin my deceleration process. I calculated the appropriate force necessary in order to slow my progress, and applied said force to the wood floor via my foot. Unfortunately, I applied this force on an area of the floor that, for some reason only knowable to the cleaning lady, is much more highly waxed than the rest of the floor.

Before I knew it, my feet were in the air, and my ass crashed to the floor. I instinctively used my left hand to break the fall. What a terrible instinct. It's a wonder that I even made it to this age with insitincts like that.

As soon as I hit the deck, I thought I broke my wrist. It didn'y hurt too badly, but the sheer impact was so violent, that I thought no mere mortal's wrist could sustain such a blow without serious damage. The next day though, very little swelling and only a bit of stiffness.

I thought I was Wolverine.

As it turns out, I'm not Wolverine, and I did probably break a bone. And it's not healing very quickly at all. So if I were a superhero, my ability would be that of someone who takes a very long time to heal. I guess my power would really be the ability to elicit sympathy from others.

Anyway, I'm sure it would heal up eventually, although I may need to be in a splint or cast for a while. It will be difficult to type, but I will persevere.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wherefore Art Thou Swine Flu?

What happened to the panic? The fear? The epidemiological doom and gloom?

Wasn’t it just like a week ago, when the media ran endless stories of how to protect your self from swine flu, and where it was likely to spread? Our Vice Prez advised everyone to stay away from everyone else.

And then, poof! Nothing. American Idol is a bigger story than the A(H1N1) virus. Go ahead, take a look at CNN, or Fox News, or even The New York Times. Not a peep about this killer of man and pig.

I mentioned in a recent post, soon after the whole swine flu phenomenon really broke loose in the media, that this thing was way over-hyped. It’s not nearly as dangerous, exotic (or delicious) as it sounds. It’s basically a run-of-the-mill flu. That is, of course, until it mutates further, at which point we could witness a return in the fall.

But until then, I’d say you’re free to stop having nightmares about it. And because nobody has any fucking clue if it’s ever going to cause a pandemic or become more lethal, it’s time to forget about it. Focus on other things – like watching baseball, or baking a pie. Get outside. Take your kid for a walk. Get on a crowded subway car without a hospital mask.

Go to Walmart and return a portion of the ammunition you stockpiled in case of a major pandemic. And give some of that canned food to your local shelter.

It’s time to move on. And it’s time to guess which animal will be the source of the next flu phenomenon. This is where things get fun.

Dog flu? Cat flu? Horse flu?

My best guess - and you heard it here first: Flounder flu.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

I’m a Ninja, and So Can You: A Restaurant Review of Ninja New York

My friend Carl loves ninjas. Hell, who doesn’t? So his birthday this past weekend was more than enough of an excuse to reserve a ninja hut at one of New York’s top ninja restaurants.

If you haven’t heard of Ninja New York, that’s fine. I think the concept comes naturally to anyone who knows what a ninja is. And knows what a restaurant is.

The basic idea is a ninja-themed Japanese restaurant that’s designed to look like a feudal ninja village. You take a dimly-lit elevator down to the ninja village area, and walk through a short maze-like corridor to reach your table. The waiters dress like ninjas, and light some of the food on fire before serving. There was a tall, white, mustachioed “ninja” who did some pretty cool magic tricks with dollar bills.

It all spells an incredibly authentic ninja experience. At least, according to any ninja comic book or ninja cartoon that I’ve ever been exposed to. The only things that were missing were Japanese people – I think our Ninja was from the Bronx.

Now, if you look up Ninja New York on Menupages or Citysearch, you’ll find a truckload of mediocre reviews. Most people complain about the overpriced, tasteless food, but admit that the entertainment value makes it almost worth the price. Well, I’m here to tell you that the food was actually not that bad.

Overpriced? Definitely. Bland? Not particularly. Well-prepared? Yeah, sure. Whatever. It was perfectly fine.

Perhaps my expectations were set so low that a bowl of soy-sauce-soaked dog food would have passed for quality ninja cuisine.

But whatever the case may be, I really enjoyed the meal. The service was not only ninja-like, but also pretty damn good – and you thought those two descriptions were mutually exclusive. Attentive waiters, with cat-like reflexes, were at the ready to bring another beer, fill a water glass (we started out with bottled water, but moved on to “Ninja Tap” water later on), or light my dessert on fire.

Sure it’s a bit cheesy. And you can get much better food for much less money at any one of hundreds and hundreds of other restaurants in New York. But there’s no other place quite like Ninja New York. And despite the high prices, I’d probably go back with people who were visiting from out of town, or with friends who had some kind of unhealthy fetish for ninjas. I’m sure I have a few of them.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Public Service Announcement: Don’t Be Like Me. Go to the Dentist

I went to the dentist this past Saturday – for my first checkup in nearly 2.5 years. It had been almost 4 years since the one before that.

I know, I know. There must have been more tartar than the Red Lobster, more plaque than Cooperstown, and more scraping and picking than an archaeological dig.

But whatever pathetic metaphors I use, the dentist is the dentist. And if you haven’t been in a while, it’s going to be a generally unpleasant experience. Whether they discover 5 new cavities that need to be drilled and filled, or torture your tender gums into a bloody, pulpy mass, it’s not going to be fun. Who knows? They might find several cavities AND scrape the holy hell out of your gums – so bad that you need a pint of blood afterwards.

You know what? It’s your own damn fault. You learned from a very young age that you need to see the dentist every 6 months, or risk a horrific case of periodontitis, gingivitis, and have to keep your teeth in a glass on the night table. They may have exaggerated a bit, but the truth is you really need to get a professional cleaning done every year at the very least.

Anyway, the results of my checkup were actually not bad at all. No new cavities. Gum hemorrhaging subsided after an hour or two. And they didn’t find any alien life forms living between my teeth.

But what they did find is a way to come up with a plan to perform $14,000 worth of dental work on me – replace a few cavities, re-do a crown, and move a few teeth around. That’s right. Not only did I suffer for an hour under the sharp implements of an aggressive, O.C.D. hygienist, but I got the hard sell from the dentist himself. Maybe I should ask for a recession-buster discount.

Don’t worry. There’s no way I can afford anything like that right now, even with a discount. And besides, I’d rather use that money to put a down payment on a condo, or buy a new car. Or help pay for my wedding.

I personally don’t think I need to spend $7k on adult braces.

I have to go back this weekend so that they can finish up the cleaning – let my mouth heal before they dive back in, I guess. And it will interesting to see what other expensive procedures they may suggest.

Install titanium teeth, like that James Bond bad guy? Install motors in my jaw so I don’t have to exert myself while eating beef jerky or clam strips? That would be cool.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Special Fan Request - Shirtless Mill

Don't worry. Don't get too freaked out. And most importantly, don't get too excited.

Per a special request from my #1 fan - it's me on a motorcycle with no shirt.

Riding a motorcycle sure does make me sweaty. And tan. And much more muscular than normal.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

How to Give Mom a Heart Attack

Hey Mom, check out my new motorcycle!!!

And if I drive it in Connecticut, then no helmet required!

Well, off I go!! Hope I don't get bumped off the road by a tractor-trailer!

600 pounds of engine, covered in 5 pounds of plastic. 0 to 60 in 1.5 seconds. More than anything, I don't appreciate how gallons of highly flammable fuel are nestled inches from your crotch.

Of course I'm kidding. You wouldn't catch me dead (or alive) on one of these pocket rocket death traps, especially while the engine is on and/or it's actually moving - even if it does make me look pretty cool.

Special thanks to Dennis for allowing me to straddle the thing.

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Breakfast in a Glass

I finished bottling my second batch of beer yesterday - a super-hoppy ale. Everything went smoothly – more so than the first try – and I’m pretty optimistic that this round will taste better as well. Of course, the omnipresent, latent fear of the bottles exploding in my cabinet still exists.

But I don’t think I’ll ever get over that. You see, if you bottle too early and the beer’s still fermenting, then the pressure in the bottles can grow so great, that you get a big fucking mess of broken glass and beer everywhere. At least, that’s the scientific explanation.

So now it’s on to planning my next brew. Now that I’m getting the hang of it – an assuming the bottles don’t explode – I’d like to try something a bit more complicated. Smoked Salmon Lager? Saag Paneer India Pale Ale? Pepperoni Parmesan Porter?

These are all great ideas. And would no doubt be delicious – even when sipped off floor through bits of broken bottle glass. But what about something a little more practical, and a little more revolutionary. A real category-buster, if you will.

The Breakfast Beer.

Fruity Pebbles Summer Ale. Bacon and Egg Brown Ale. Brown Sugar Cinnamon Oatmeal Stout. The list goes on and on. But the key ingredient that connects all of these delicious brews would be caffeine. Instead of your morning coffee, you could drink a few of these beers. In fact, they would truly be breakfast in a glass.

“Wake up your lazy ass. Have a breakfast in a glass.”

“When you’re too tired to chew, grab The Mill’s breakfast brew.”

“You’re an alcoholic, I fear. So start your day with breakfast beer.”

And so on and so forth. As you can see, the marketing initiative wouldn’t be a problem. Just add a catchy jingle to those rhymes – and James Earl Jones reading them - and you have yourself a great radio commercial. It’s practically guaranteed to sweep the nation.

Note: if you drive to work, you should limit yourself to three breakfast beers. But if you take the train, or carpool, then there’s no need to limit your intake. And so breakfast beer also encourages the use of mass transit, which limits the burning of fossil fuels, prevents global warming, and saves the world.

“Breakfast Beer: Saving the world one sweet sip at a time.”

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