Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving Themes, PART 2: "Shopping"

Ever since the white man negotiated a November land purchase from Native Americans for the low, low price of "not killing you", Thanksgiving has been associated with getting good deals.  For decades, the time to give thanks for shopping has been narrowed more and more precisely to the day after Thanksgiving.

If you haven't heard, that day is called "Black Friday," first designated as such in 1966 by Philadelphia city police.  It sounds like a somber religious holiday, but it's actually a joyous cultural celebration.  It's so packed with joy that retailers are finding that 24 hours can no longer contain the joy associated with the holiday.

For the Hungry Preacher, Black Friday celebrations began a few hours before midnight on Wednesday night.  While Beth was studying ads for moderately priced Christmas gifts, I was absorbing the ridiculous prices for toiletries and other essentials at CVS and Walgreens.

Between those two stores, about 40 different items were being offered at a sale price, starting at midnight.  Then, after your purchase, you'd receive a coupon for the full amount of the item good on any future purchase at the store where purchased.  As far as I was concerned, these items were free.  Of course, I need to make sure I don't loose the coupons, but isn't that true of cash as well?

The kicker is that the stores allow you to use manufacturers' coupons when purchasing the items, and then they STILL give you coupons back for the full amount.  So if I buy a tube of toothpaste for $3, and pay with a $1 coupon and $2 cash, I walk out with a tube of toothpaste and a coupon for $3 off my future purchase.  It's like they're paying me to take the toothpaste.

Since Facebook still has more hits than willpreachforfood, friends of my wife may have already seen this picture posted on her account, but I'll post it here anyway.

I can't help feel that I could have gotten more.
Considering the coupons that I received back, and subtracting the money that I fronted, I actually came out about $10 ahead, plus getting all this stuff.  And most of it is stuff that I will actually use (like razors, toothpaste, and medicine; the stuff that I won't use I got because they paid me to take it).

The actual shopping experience was fun enough.  There were about 30 of us at CVS at midnight, and it wasn't long before you couldn't tell who were friends prior to showing up and who were just being friendly and helpful to others.  You could hear bits of conversations like, "I think this is the size of lip balm that you need to get.  Oh, but where did you get the detergent?"

Oh, and it seems couponing is largely a girl thing.  It was me and 29 women galavanting around the aisles.  At one point, someone said, "It is so cool that you do this.  I can't get my husband to get on board with coupons."  To which I said, "Look, I didn't come here to hear about your marital problems--I just want my free pack of Benefiber, OK?"  Tee-hee.  Just kidding.  I actually said something like, "Yeah, there are some good deals."

While checking out, I heard a couple or three ladies in line about 7 feet behind me saying stuff like, "You don't see too many men out doing this sort of thing" and "His wife must give him a really good list."  I turned around, and they were all like, "Oh, he heard us!"  There was much giggling.

Of course, a few minutes later, I got to see all my new friends across the street at Walgreens, and we went through the whole thing again (this time sidestepping a dropped and broken-open gallon of milk in the middle of the check out line).

By 1:30 a.m., I had visited 2 Walgreens and 1 CVS, and was ready to call it a night, since I was still recovering from my illness and wanted to be at 100% for receiving my broken nose.  My Black Friday shopping was over, and it was barely even Thursday.  Well done, Hungry Preacher, well done.

Check back tomorrow for part 3 of Thanksgiving Themes: "The Train."


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving Themes, PART 1: "Physical Pain and/or Discomfort"

The last 6 days have been busy for the Hungry Preacher.  I figured I'd offer a quick recap for those who wonder how their Thanksgiving festivities stack up to those of a neutral and normal third party like myself.  I will be your "control group".  I will do that for you.

The girls had a half day of school on Tuesday, and were off on Wednesday, an archaic practice held over from the days when children were expected to spend their Wednesdays before Thanksgiving saying goodbye to, then slaughtering, the family turkey.

I had big plans for the day and a half with my young daughters, and they were all thwarted when I was stricken with a diabolical and undiagnosed illness.  I was achy, experienced pain when swallowing, and had a 101 fever.  "Fun stuff with daddy" time became "watch stuff on TV while daddy sleeps" time.  So many memories...

The the pain I was experiencing drew me closer to my pilgrim forefathers who also endured physical hardships during Thanksgiving, but I needed to shake off my case of consumption* (* = what I assumed my condition to be).  I wanted to get back on my feet for 2011's Turkey Bowl, a game of tackle football that my brother regularly sets up with his friends and family for the day after Thanksgiving.

By Friday, I was well enough, and set out to prove that with a little more skill, training, size, and athleticism, I could have been an adequate high school football player.  Probably not on defense though, which is too bad, because my brother was NOT able to rope in enough players for each team to have specialized offensive and defensive squads.

Deion Sanders and I have now BOTH played on both sides of the ball during our football careers.

This meant that I would have to alternate between demonstrating my elite receiving skills and my textbook arm-tackling technique.  You see, it's all about moving your feet out of the way of the anticipated route of the runner, then sticking your arms out as he runs by.  I like to imagine my arms are brushes at a carwash, and the runner is the car.

As the game wore on, the missed tackles weighed heavy on my self-esteem.  I kept telling myself to "get my head in there" on tackles.  About an hour into the game, "get my head in there" I did.  Just as I dove at the ball carrier from the side, he--not seeing me--spun suddenly away from another tackler.  Using my nose, I tried to grab his rapidly approaching elbow and pull him to the ground, but to no avail (unless you count the fact that the ball carrier claimed his elbow hurt for about 5 minutes after the incident).

For symmetry's sake, I can't decide if I should put concealer under my left eye or purple eye shadow under my right eye.

Fortunately, of the 9 guys playing football, a whopping 22% were male nurses by trade.  They deemed me OK to continue playing by a vote of 1-0, with 1 undecided.  It wasn't until later that Phil, one of the nurses AND one of my favorite brother-in-laws, told me that, "You know, I'm thinking it probably IS broken."

Nose breaks come in all shapes and sizes, and mine seemed relatively minor.  In fact, it may have been beneficial.  Short term, it totally took my mind off the pain I felt when I swallowed.

Long term, I may have a better-looking, more symmetrical nose than I did before.  See, back in high school, I took a hockey puck off the upper right side of the nose, causing my nose to bend a little to the left.  It's also always been pretty wide, from top to bottom.  Nothing pretty about it, really.

The elbow I took on Friday was smack on the left side of my nose.  My new nose dent has taken some getting used to, but as Beth and I were looking at it, we both agreed that the blow may very well have straightened things out for me.  It is now more feng sui, with a streamlined visual flow from top to bottom.

In high school, I went to a doctor a couple of days after the street hockey game, and he told me, "Yeah, it's broken.  We could re-break it and straighten it, but you're young--you'll probably just break it again."  Full-time doctor, part-time prophet, I suppose.  I don't remember if he added "...on Thanksgiving weekend, 2011..." but how much detail do you want from the guy?

Come back tomorrow for part 2 of "Thanksgiving Themes": Shopping Edition.


Friday, November 18, 2011

A Tribute to My Deer Friend

The Hungry Preacher just got a little less hungry.  Today, in a fit of rage, I shot a deer.  Actually, now that I think about it, it may have been a “fit of chilliness.”  But the important thing is there is one more cow in the world who will NOT have to be butchered in order to satisfy my carnivorous desires.  On behalf of that cow, I say to my deer, “Thank you, deer, oh cow of the wild.”

The hunt didn’t go quite as smoothly as one would hope.  I was in a tree stand, minding my own business, and 4 deer meander up from a creek bed maybe 60 yards away.  They walk my direction, then veer a little, giving me a side view from about 40 yards.  At this point, I picked the biggest one (read: the one least blocked by trees) and fired a shot.  Three deer took off from whence they came, while the fourth galloped straight towards me in my tree stand.  She was running oddly, and I was pretty sure that I had wounded her.  I just needed to finish it up.

Flashback to me loading my rifle an hour earlier: Forgetting that my rifle can hold more than one bullet at a time, I am only putting one bullet in said rifle.

Back to the narrative: Instead of calmly ejecting the casing for the shot just fired and moving the next bullet into the chamber, I frantically reloaded with another single bullet.  By now, this deer was literally about 10 yards away, looking up at me as if to say, “I don’t know how to make this any easier for you.”

I got my gun set, aimed, and pulled the trigger.  You know how in movies they always have the dumb person try to shoot someone while the safety is still on?  Well, I TOTALLY thought it would be funny to pretend to be that dumb person.  So while I’m laughing and laughing, trying to remember where the safety switch is, the deer is all like, “OK, I’m outta here.”  She bounded away back across the creek bed.

Fortunately, I was wearing my boots that work equally well as hunting boots AND tracking boots.  There was a blood trail.  I followed it.  I lost it at one point and wandered a few hundred yards before circling back and starting over, this time with my dad.  Is it weird that I actually thought about 6 different times, “How would Daryl from ‘The Walking Dead’ be doing this?”

Finally, we found our venisonian friend.  She had already entered into pre-cleaning stage without any further assistance from me.

Indisputable evidence of my hunting expertise (pixelated for our more sensitive readers)

I had offered my dad a deal: “you clean, I transport.”  He was good with that, and was excited to use a tool he had bought that is now tied with “Butt Paste” for first place on my list of “Favorite Products with the Word ‘Butt’ in the Name.”

If you have to ask, you don't want to know

This deal would have been a lot sweeter for me had I shot the deer at the deer stand when it stood sideways 10 yards from me and all-but shot herself.  My mishap ended up costing me another couple hundred yards of dragging a 100-pound deer through hilly and wooded terrain.

But all’s well that ends with filling out a meat order form at the butcher’s, so my day of hunting was a rousing success.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A St. Louis Cardinals Post Postseason Post

Just over a week ago, the Cardinals won the World Series, and the city of St. Louis is still celebrating.  Well, actually, we're not.  We're just worrying about whether or not Albert will re-sign with the Cards.  No, really--that is all we're doing.  Doctors have begun prescribing medication to people who are NOT worrying about Albert.  Police have let criminals go free if they explain that they "got caught up in worrying about Albert's contract".  Law firms have permitted "worrying about Albert" to count as billable hours.

But the household of the Hungry Preacher went the proactive route and scheduled a "Please Re-sign Albert" parade.  To conserve resources, we scheduled it the same time as official St. Louis Cardinals World Series Victory Parade.  Here's a picture.

Me with Yadier Molina (sophisticated software required to see me in one of the reflective surfaces in the picture)
Since the parade, I've had some time to reflect on the Cardinals amazing post-season run.  Here are a few thoughts, presented in Hungry Preacher style (i.e., bulleted list form).

  • vs. Phillies.  I liked the Cards chances against the Phillies.  They have done OK against good pitchers, while flailing against lesser-known, lesser-skilled types (the “Bud Norris effect”).  Oswalt, Halladay, and Lee didn’t scare me.
  • vs. Brewers.  The Brewers DID scare me.  Their lineup was crazy good, better than the Phils at almost every position.  Their pitching was good enough to win, but not so good as to transcend the “Bud Norris effect”.
  • vs. Rangers.  Same as Brewers: killer lineup, good-not-great starting pitching, excellent bullpen.  But with the momentum the Cards were riding, I figured the series was a toss-up.
  • LaRussa.  I’m sure I’m the only one, but I sometimes find LaRussa’s managerial moves to be, at best, irksome and, at worst, contrived to call attention to himself for its own sake.  But kudos are due (“phone-gate” notwithstanding).  Some of his good moves: 1) erring on the side of yanking starters too soon rather than too late; 2) sitting Jon Jay for games 6 and 7.  I would have figured Jay would pull out eventually and was worth keeping in the lineup, but Schumaker did well replacing him and Jay proved most useful off the bench in game 6; 3) not jumping the gun on defensive replacements: that Berkman AND Freese were both still in the game for the 9th, 10th, and 11th innings of game 6 was nearly as amazing as their performances.
  • Westbrook.  Jake Westbrook turned in the most overlooked performance of the World Series.  Not bad for a guy who barely made the roster and was probably only going to get used for either “mop up” work or “crap, we’re out of pitchers” work.  Jake leapfrogged ahead of Boggs and Rhodes to work the 11th inning of game 6.  This is when Cards fans, conditioned by watching Ryan Franklin pitch in the first half of the season, expected a progression like: solid single ("oh, here we go again") - pop out ("well, he got an out, so maybe he'll get through this") - bloop single ("OK, that was just a blooper--that could have happened to anyone") - 3-run-homer ("oh crap--why didn’t they bring in Schumaker to pitch?").  Westbrook gave up one hit, and no more, and will go down in history as the winning pitcher of one the of greatest World Series games in history.
  • Freese & Berkman.  I wonder how many games at any point in the regular season came down to a team being 1 strike away from winning, once in regulation and once in extra innings, and still losing.  It wouldn’t surprise me if it didn’t happen at all during the regular season.  So for it to happen as it did in the World Series of all places, well, that’s pretty much as amazing as the media has made it out to be.  Jawdropping.
  • Ringlessness.  I wish there was at least one player on the Rangers who was kind of a punk so I could not feel bad about them not getting a WS ring (at least the Brewers had Niger Morgan).  Truthfully, I feel kind of bad for the team.  They seem like a standup organization from top to bottom.  Why can’t EVERYONE get a ring?
  • Re-signing Pujols.  I actually think winning the series will help the Cardinals NOT have to overpay to sign Pujols.  Fan bases tend to be forgiving for a few years after a World Series championship.  Plus, the WAY the Cards won the series--with Pujols really contributing for only 1 game--would make it easier to justify to the fan base that he is NOT worth $25 million a year for 8+ years.  Allen Craig's World Series production was comparable to Albert's, and he currently doesn't really have a position with the Cards for next year.  See where I'm going with this?  Just sayin'.