Portable Air Conditioner

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After an exceedingly drizzly and cooler-than-average spring, summer suddenly arrived about a week ago in a whoosh of hot air. Here in southeast Pennsylvania we went from early spring to mid-summer like bada-bing bada-bang and let there be 90 degrees!

When the weather gets warm the thoughts of many people, including Mrs. Working Stiff, turn to air conditioning. Our house has central air of course, but while the first floor will be pretty much whatever temperature we tell the thermostat to maintain, the upstairs is another matter entirely.  A warmer matter.  Our master bedroom is fairly large and has three windows facing roughly north.  That room can really heat up over the course of a long sunny day.  We can feel the AC coming out of the registers, but simply not with enough power to really cool the room.  So, like many homes in the same development as the Chateau Working Stiff, we install a window unit for the summer.  The window unit does a pretty good job of cooling the room down for sleep-time.  Also, I’ve moved it back and forth between our third window and its winter home in the garage enough times now that it really isn’t an ordeal.  (Let’s not sugar-coat it, it’s all relative.  Anyone who has ever installed a window AC unit knows that it isn’t exactly high on the Fun-O-Meter!) read more

More Roadside Americana – The White Horse Pike

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Before the Atlantic City Expressway was completed in 1965, linking the Philadelphia metropolitan area at the west end with Atlantic City and the Garden State Parkway in the east, a driver wanting to make such a trip had fewer and slower choices. There were however, (and still are), two much older roads that roughly connect the Camden / Philadelphia area with the Atlantic City area.  The White Horse Pike and The Black Horse Pike are roughly parallel with the White Horse to the north of the AC Expressway and the Black Horse to the south of it.  At the eastern end where they cross the Parkway and start to find their way into Atlantic City they are about four or five miles apart, with the Expressway in between.  In the west, as all three roads approach Camden and Philadelphia, they are farther apart as they merge with various other roads and disappear into the approach to the Delaware River Bridges and other points around the big city. read more

Coney Island

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Mrs. Working Stiff is from the Detroit area, having grown up in the “down river” suburbs south of The Motor City. Back in the day when she was out late dancing or at a club with friends and it was time to find a place for some late junk food, the gang would drop in to a local “coney island”.  Not a coney island as in Coney Island, but a coney island as in a coney island.   Put down the cheese fries and raise your hand if you’re not confused yet.

I’m from the great state of New Jersey, which is considered by many to be the world headquarters of the type of restaurant that I’ve always call The Diner. Big on breakfast all day, burgers, meatloaf, and other short-order cooking and simple comfort foods.  Diners are frequently built to look like a train car – a “dining car” – and are frequently clad in stainless steel and chrome, but that isn’t strictly required. read more

Milk, Bread, and Toilet Paper

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Well, another storm has come and gone and with it the usual stampede of millions of people rushing to any possible store to by milk, bread, and toilet paper. Yes, milk, bread, and toilet paper are apparently the big three items sought in these manic pre-storm shopping trips.  I’ve been doing some googling on this broad topic and while I find many people talking about it and joking about it, I am also finding it hard to get to any real explanation.  The reasons for these items being at the top of most people’s emergency list seem to be some sort of government secret.  People joke that a storm is coming so we must prepare to sit on the toilet and eat French toast.  My best guess about the milk and bread is that parents are concerned about having kids stuck at home and are preparing to be able to dole out glasses of milk and peanut butter sandwiches.  As for the toilet paper, I don’t know. Seems to me that you should always be careful not to run too low on that. read more

Scared Stiff

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The young boy was frozen with fear, the sheet mostly covering his face as he lay still in the twin bed, afraid to make even the slightest movement that might reveal the fact that he was only pretending to be asleep. Just coming out of an early morning deep sleep cycle as the bright Block Island sun streamed through the bedroom window, he had come fully awake at the creak of the bedroom door as the mutilated killer had pushed it partially open to peer into the room.  He knew the intruder must be looking at him and his older brother, still asleep in the other bed across the room, watching for any signs of movement and deciding who to attack first.   The boy didn’t understand how the killer, one of his legs no more than a mangled bloody stump, had managed to steal so silently into the house. read more

Resolutions

Santa reclines in the banana plant before his long sleigh ride home
Santa reclines in the banana plant before his long sleigh ride home

Christmas has come and gone and last year along with it, for better or worse. I had a few accomplishments and a few disappointments in the past year.  A few troubles, some aches and pains, a few more grey hairs, and lots of fun.  I rebuilt the back fence, fixed some things around the house, did some writing and some crafty things, and built this blog.  There is much work to do in the New Year and change hangs thick in the air.  I figure I may as well call it a good thing because it is here and it is surely happening!  It is only January 3rd and 2016 is zestily zipping along already.  I reckon that Mrs. Working Stiff and I would both rather be stationed comfortable in the cocktail car than tied across the tracks.  Bring it on, let it go, Auld Lang Syne and all that is yet to come! read more

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Santa Overlooks Trunk Bay

While the picture above is actually NOT of anywhere in Pennsylvania, it is still true that we have been having a strangely warm Christmas week here in the northeast. Around the neighborhood of the Chateau Working Stiff temps were in the mid 60’s on Christmas Eve and raging close to 70 on Christmas Day! Very warm for this time of year.  I must readily admit though – it is nice to not have to be thinking about snow shovels or ice melt stuff yet!

We had a mostly quiet week and holiday with just the wife and I for both the eve and the big day. Christmas was very low-key and mostly lazy.  Just a few presents to open, a few bottles of wine to open, lots of corny Christmas music, and a wonderful dinner of that traditional Christmas classic – Chicken Piccata. read more

Leprechauns in North Carolina – oh my!

Special Leprechaun entrance at The Hibernian in Raleigh.
Special Leprechaun entrance at The Hibernian in Raleigh.

Mrs. Working Stiff and I visited my brother and his wife at their cool pad in Raleigh, North Carolina this past weekend. It was a long drive south on Thursday and a slightly longer drive north on Sunday (thanks to a wrong turn on my part!)  Aside from the simple pleasure of visiting people dear to us, we went seeking an infusion of the elusive and ephemeral “holiday spirit”.  We did in fact have a liberal daily infusion of various spirits which may well have included some “holiday spirit”. read more

A Christmas Conference

A Secret Meeting in The Woods

For three nights I had trekked out to that spot in the woods where I had heard talk of these secret meetings.  Once there, near the clearing, and after having spread out an old blanket on which to lay down, I waited patiently.  We had a recent coating of fluffy white snow which was lit almost as bright as day on each of the three nights by the near-full moon.  My first two stake-outs were uneventful, but on the third night the stars aligned, the moon was full, and I bore witness to some wonderful sights seldom seen! read more

Return of The Blob

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The Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, PA

All this talk about turkey this week has reminded me of something.  A memory long buried, (or should I say frozen?) – and perhaps best left so, but alas, here follows the story!

Mrs. Working Stiff is visiting her parents in the Detroit are for this Thanksgiving weekend.  I was with my own family in Cape May for a few days but returned home for the bulk of the weekend and am trying to make the most of my time.  (See prior blog entry re: Operation Fireside.)

After breakfast this morning I drove out to the historic town of Phoenixville, PA, about 20 miles away and roughly to the west, just a few miles from Valley Forge National Park.   Phoenixville has a charming downtown area with lots of shops and restaurants to check out and sample.  The area where I parked and strolled around, the eastern part of Bridge Street, was somewhat bohemian and seemed to be favored by a young-ish crowd who enjoyed the Steel City Coffee house and the incense-burning gift shops.  It looked like a great place to have a meal, a stroll, and some holiday shopping.  I have personally made a mental note to take the wife there for an evening of seasonal merry-making next month! read more