CAPS, CAPS, CAPS

The Washington Capitals are the Stanley Cup Champions.   Doesn’t that sound great?  I wasn’t sure it was ever going to happen and this didn’t seem a very likely year.

We had a good season, but we had a good season last year and the year before.  But that didn’t stop Pittsburg from stomping us in the playoffs.  It seemed like we always played well during the regular season, but when the playoffs came around, the air just went out of our tires.  And during the playoffs, you have to increase the intensity of your game.  There was a playoff cloud over DC and its fans (and it was a very dark one).

Here is a statistic that will blow your mind.  In the playoff, the Caps have had 2-0 leads and 3-1 leads (all they needed was four wins) and have ended up losing 10 times!  We sat and watched some of those disasters.  But this was a different year.  

The Caps started off the playoffs with two defeats in their own stadium.  Then they came roaring back.  After watching part of their comeback, I said that I didn’t know how far they would go, but  they were definitely playing Stanley Cup hockey.  What did I mean?  I meant that they had increased their intensity through the roof.  Wherever the puck was on the ice, there was a Washington Capital flying towards it.  It is hard for an opponent to concentrate on making a good pass when a freight train is flying towards him.

You know one team is out playing the other when it appears that they have more players on the ice than the other team.  It is an optical illusion, but it is very real.  In 1989, the Calgary Flames won the Stanley Cup and I didn’t know the name of one of them.  But every one of them played like their hair was on fire.  Well, I would like to report that this year it was the Washington Capitals who played like their hair was on fire.

The Pittsburg Penguins have been our nemesis.  For so many years the Penguins had ended the Capital’s hopes.  But this year was different (it is worth saying twice).  And the team knew it (we fans didn’t).  The team was going to settle for nothing less than the cup.  Beating Pittsburg was just a step towards that goal.

They had to win four rounds to win the Stanley Cup.  In each round, they were behind,  but came back to win.  What a great group of guys.  And their captain, Alex Ovechkin, lead by example.  He put his body in the way of flying pucks.  It is not that hard when your hair is on fire.  Barry Trotz, the Caps coach, said with a smile, “I think we have exorcized all of our demons.”

As losers, we Cap fans were heard quite often saying, “Wait till next year.”   Now, we Can’t wait until next year, but for obvious reasons.

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com

Copyright 2018

Yes, Another Christmas Poem – 2017

Before I put pen to paper, we go over the year,
Using five or six calendars, we try to make it clear.
We go month by month, so we don’t miss a thing,
Every month a doctor?  How does that ring?
It was a long, long year, long before it expired,
Not really a bad year, but boy are we tired.

Carole started the year at Johns Hopkins, minor surgery so to    speak,
But the follow-up visit showed infection, and she was there for a     week.
Johns Hopkins is special, had her Whipple in 2012,
Clean for five years, so concerns can be shelved.

Disney and golf school and Missy and the kids,
Great to see family and keep golf off the skids.
But shooting 79 when you’re 78, then 80 when you’re 79,
Means not shooting your age, and that’s not fine.

A May RAJA at Disney, what a delight,
Old Friends and Mickey, now that’s a sight.
As soon as we’re back, it’s off to Cape May,
It’s a Fairfax trip, filling the day.

Becky and Missy visited over the Fourth,
A Lancaster opportunity to sally forth.
We hit all the outlets, then crabs at Harris,
How many can we eat, why don’t you dare us?
Home for the brunch, joined by Paul, Sandy and Jack,
Seven at the table, gaiety yak.

This is the year of missing teeth for Daddy Jack,
Had his front tooth extracted way, wayback.
A flipper, a tray, it just didn’t matter,
A lisp, trapped food and usually splatter.
But after eight months of this ordeal,
Front teeth have returned, and they really look real!

We had parties and parties and parties galore,
For holidays, anniversaries, birthdays and more.
A giving society thank you, the Foundation scene,
Parties for our building, luaus and Halloween.
And what about next year? Probably the same,
We’ll dance around the clock, unless we are lame.

The kids are doing well, but we don’t see them enough,
A quick trip here, a quick trip there, and all that FaceTime stuff.
But next year will be better, it really should be great,
Seventeen of us on an Alaskan cruise, we already have the date.

This was not a good year for politics, nor sports here is DC,
Mutual respect and brotherhood, were a never answered plea.
But family and friends really filled the void,
and brought life into perspective,
It’s all of you and your smiling eyes, that makes hope more reflective.

So we close this year’s poem with more hope that fear,
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com

Copyright 2017

 

The Changing World

Isn’t satellite radio great?  You never have to change your radio station.  You can listen to “Willie’s Roadhouse” all the way from here to El Paso.  Satellite radio also gives you a chance to listen to old-time radio shows.  They have a station (maybe now it’s called a channel) Radio classics where you can listen to Gunsmoke, Bob Hope, Jack Benny and even the Shadow.  “Who knows what evil lurks . . .”  You know the rest.

The other day I flipped over to Radio Classics and guess what was on?  Duffy’s Tavern, “where the elite meet to eat.”  That got me thinking – where  have all the taverns gone?  When I was growing up there were taverns everywhere.  The corner tavern.

In high school, we were too young to go to a tavern.  There were drive-in diners and our favorite place, the “Parkway.”   You could go into the Parkway and for a reasonable price get a barbecue pork sandwich and a Coke.  And when no one was looking, you could carve your initials on the table.  You didn’t want to put your hand under the table.

I have fond memories of McDonald’s back in the 60’s.  You could get a burger, fries and a Coke for 35 cents.  Now that’s nostalgia.  In fact, as we were struggling to get me through law school, that was a big night out.

Now, there are all kinds of specialized burger places.  I’ve only been to 5 Guys a couple of times.  It seems like they only had about three tables, so I guess it’s mostly a carry-out place.  The burgers and fries aren’t too expensive and the grease is free.  Take a bunch of napkins.  BGR, The Burger Joint is a little more expensive, but the burgers are bigger.  BGR has on its menu “The 9 Pounder.”  It cost $80.00 and feeds 10-15 hungry people. It comes with a “river of Mojo sauce.”   I could devote a whole column to the 9 Pounder, but I’m going to stop right here.

The Springfield Mall is now the Springfield Town Center.  It went through a major renovation and is a vast improvement over the Mall.  You no longer have to fear being mugged in the parking lot.  They have a BGR and a Zinburger’s.  Zinburger is sort of an upscale burger joint.  I knew it was upscale, because when they gave me the menu listing burgers, they also gave me the wine list!  The Kobe Burger was $15.25.  No fries, they are extra.  But you can get double truffle fries for only six bucks.  Maybe a cabernet sauvignon is in order.  However, if you are ordering the Seared Ahi Sandwich, then, by all means, go with a white wine.

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com

Copyright 2017

Kaepernick – Whoa

I can’t keep quiet any longer.  I read all these articles on Colin Kaepernick looking for someone to have exposed the glaring truth and I just can’t find it.

I read that he is a fine (not great) quarterback.  I read that there are NFL quarterbacks out there who don’t have his skills who are being signed for big contracts.  Yet, no one wants Kaepernick.  The only conclusion that these commentators can come to is that Kaepernick is being punished for expressing his beliefs.  The owners have gotten together and formed a cabal for the expressed purpose of keeping him from playing.

Some will acknowledge that selecting our flag and the National Anthem wasn’t the smartest move.  Nor was his move when he wore police pig socks to practice.  Our flag is the same one that thousands and thousands of men and women have died fighting for.  These soldiers, sailors and airmen represent every race , creed, color and religion.

Again, the Washington Post interviewed Baltimore Raven fans on their team passing on Kaepernick.  Of the six interviewed, four would gladly take him.  One said the Ravens shouldn’t have passed on him just because he is a “very critical thinker,” and those fans who don’t want him are using “bigotry and racism.”  My word.

The elephant in the room that no one seems to be able to see is what he will do to the cohesion of a team.  Putting Kaepernick into a locker room will be exceedingly divisive.   Last year his team won two games and lost 14.  They finished 4th in the NFC West.  That is because there are only four teams in the NFC West.  There may have been other reasons for the 49ers doing poorly, but I guarantee that having Kaepernick churning the pot was one of them.  Can you blame any NFL team for not wanting to place an incredibly divisive unknown into their locker room?

Now Michael Bennett, a defensive end for the Seattle Seahawks, is going to sit during the National Anthem.  I guess we will be testing my thesis again.  I expect added turmoil in the Seahawk locker room.  I suspect this will hurt the team.  The media will certainly help.  You just don’t need additional distractions.

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com

Copyright 2017

Confessions of a Sore Loser

If  there was such a thing as Sore Losers Anonymous, I could go to the meeting and say, “Hi, I’m Jack and I’m a sore loser.”  Then everyone would say, “Hi Jack.”  But there is no such thing.  I know, because I Googled it!

I told my son, Paul, that I was going to write on being a sore loser, and he said, “Dad, if you need any material, just let me know.”

When I was a little kid, I would bring my bat and ball to the neighborhood games.  If I were unhappy with how the game was going (or someone called me out, when I knew I was safe), I would take my bat and ball and go home.

When I was nine, we went on a vacation in the Ozarks.  My uncle, Bob, challenged me to a checker game.  What a fool.  Didn’t he know that I was the world’s greatest checker champion?  Some how he started jumping all my pieces.  I was furious.  I had three checkers in my hand.  They were made out of Bakelite (one of the early plastic products).  And before I knew it, I had crushed the pieces.  That was really dumb, because with the pieces broken, I couldn’t get a rematch.

Like many kids, I played sports all year round and my philosophy was that if you treat every game like a life or death struggle, you would lose less ofter.  There may be a grain of truth in that approach, but you end up as a basket case when you lose.  Sometimes I would blame the officials, sometimes I would blame my team mates.  One time I decided it was my fault.  But then I decided I was wrong!

Somewhere in my fifties, I had lost a sufficient number of times to where I realized it wasn’t the end of the world.  I retired from the Army and took an appointment as Chief Counsel for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Department of Transportation.  After I had been there a short while, one of my attorneys advised me that our office had a softball team and that we played the other offices in NHTSA.  I agreed to play with them.

Boy, were we bad.  And with no umpires, long drives down the foul line seemed to end up in long arguments.  At the end of our third game, I got into an angry argument with someone from the Planning Office.  I finally realized that I was no longer 12 and walked away.  The next morning, both of us sought the other out and apologized.

Later that afternoon, I gathered all the Chief Counsel players into the conference room and told them I had some good news and some bad news.  The good news was that as people grew older they mellowed and became less aggressive.  The bad news was that I had already passed through that phase and was still pretty bad.

I seriously considered not playing, but decided on a three-step philosophy.  First, don’t get hurt.  Second, don’t show your backside.  And lastly, if you can do the first two, then, by all means, win.

Is anybody up for a game of checkers with a former world champion?

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com

Copyright 2017

 

The Chinese Buffet

I need a fix.  No I’m not talking about drugs.  I’m talking about Chinese food.  About once every two weeks (sometimes sooner), Carole and I need a fix.

While living in Springfield, we had a number of choices, some of them really bad.  We usually judge the restaurant by its hot and sour soup.  If the soup is really good, the rest of the food will probably please us.

A number of years ago, we found a Chinese buffet in Kingstowne.  It was called, appropriately, King’s Buffet.  Yes, the hot and sour soup was really good.  The lunch was inexpensive and they usually had a big crowd.  The place had no atmosphere and the guy at the next table may be wearing an undershirt.  But if you need a fix, you are willing to make certain compensations.  We went to King’s Buffet for years.

Then a few years back, Carole was spending a few days at the Fort Belvoir Hospital and I needed a fix.  So I slipped over to the King’s Buffet.  The was a sign on the door that said, “Closed until further notice.”  I was shocked.  Uncertainty is so unsettling.

Well, we found out later that the King’s Buffet was owned and run by a Chinese family (surprise) and the members of the family got into a furious fight.  The police were called and all the help shot out the back door.   I think the politically correct term is “undocumented immigrants.”  “Further notice” never came and the location is now some kind of a wireless phone store.  I felt like I lost a friend.

So Carole and I went on a quest to find the best Chinese buffet in the area.   Don Quixote did better than we did.  If we went on Wednesday, the place was closed on Wednesday.  Unfortunately, we found a place in the Rolling Valley area that was open.  When Carole went back to the buffet line, she saw a roach fall into the General Tso’s chicken.  The fellow standing next to her notified the help and the tray was taken to the back.  I don’t want to speculate on what happened in the back, but more General Tso’s chicken soon appeared in the buffet line.  Bon Appetit!

Then there’s the Blue Pearl Buffet in Springfield.  The fellow in the undershirt is still sitting at the next table, but the food isn’t very good.  You guessed it, the hot and sour soup is bad.  We have been to the Blue Pearl a few times when we were desperate.  The Blue Pearl is the kind of place that will make you kick the habit.

We found a great Chinese buffet called the East Garden.  The only problem is it’s in Charlottesville (that’s 120 miles south).  Of course, there are some excellent Chinese restaurants in the area. There’s the House of Dynasty and, our favorite, the Asian Grill in Springfield.  Darren Ho, the owner of the Asian Grill, has told us why we should never go to a Chinese buffet.  What he told us were things we already knew (food may have been prepared days earlier).  But at a buffet, you can get a little of this and a little of that.

My favorite treat at a Chinese buffet is steamed rice smothered in General Tso’s sauce.  I avoid the three-day-old chicken, the red-hot peppers and especially, foreign objects.

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com

Copyright 2017

The Changing World

 

Isn’t satellite radio great? You never have to change your radio station. You can listen to “Willie’s Roadhouse” all the way from here to El Paso. Satellite radio also gives you a chance to listen to old time radio shows. They have a station (maybe now it’s called a channel) called Radio Classics where you can listen to Gunsmoke, Bob Hope, Jack Benny and even the Shadow. “Who know what evil lurks. . .” You know the rest.

The other day I flipped over to Radio Classics and guess what was on? Duffy’s Tavern, “where the elite meet to eat.” That got me thinking – where have all the taverns gone? When I was growing up, there were taverns everywhere. The corner tavern.

In high school, we were too young to go to a tavern. There were drive-in diners and our favorite place, the “Parkway.” You could go into the Parkway and for a reasonable price get a barbeque pork sandwich and a Coke. And when no one was looking, you could carve your initials on the table. You didn’t want to put your hand under the table.

I have fond memories of McDonald’s back in the 60’s. You could get a burger, fries and a Coke for 35 cents. Now that’s nostalgia. In fact, as we were struggling to get me through law school, that was a big night out.

Now there are all kinds of specialized burger places. I’ve only been to 5 Guys a couple of times. It seems like they only had about three tables, so I guess it’s mostly a carry-out place. The burgers and fries aren’t too expensive and the grease is free. Take a bunch of napkins. BGR, The Burger Joint is a little more expensive, but the burgers are bigger. BGR has on its menu “The 9 Pounder.” It cost $80.00 and feed 10-15 hungry people. It comes with a “river of Mojo sauce.” I could devote a whole column to the 9 Pounder, but I’m going to stop right here.

The Springfield Mall is now the Springfield Town Center. It was a major renovation and is a vast improvement over the Mall. You no longer have to fear being mugged in the parking lot. They have a BGR and a Zinburger’s. Zinburger is sort of an upscale burger joint. I knew it was upscale because when they gave me the menu listing the burgers, they also gave me the wine list! The Kobe Burger was $15.25. No fries, they are extra. But you can get double truffle fries for only six bucks. Maybe a cabernet sauvignon is in order. However, if you are ordering the Seared Ahi Sandwich, then, by all means, go with a white wine.

Written by PJ Rice at ricequips.com

Copyright 2017

Just Another Christmas Poem – 2016

It was an election year and boy was it bad,                                                         The choices we were left with were truly sad.                                                     Hillary and The Donald, we’re not knee deep in clover,                                 The only good news is that the campaigns are over.

But life goes on while the idiots fight,                                                                        And we had a good year, even in spite.                                                                   Health wise we’re fit, at our senior age,                                                               Nothing is perfect as we turn the page.                                                             No major problems is always a plus,                                                                                                                 Heading for 58 without much fuss.                                                                           

Saw Becky and the kids, when we went out West,                                         Time with the family, then a RAJA fest.                                                               Our great-grand daughter, Lydia, has a baby brother,                              Spoiling baby Bennett is at the top of our druthers.                             Thank goodness for FaceTime, it’s not really tricky,                                              But all Lydia want to see is our dog, Nikki.

Took Becky and Missy to Lancaster, the shopping was fab,                              Then we zipped over the Chesapeake, for some Maryland crab.             They stayed over the Fourth, to honor our nation,                                    The Fairfax had sparklers, what a wild celebration.                                      

Thanksgiving with Paul & Sandy, and Josh & Jack,                                                Our youngest at 17, is a whiz on the track.                                                                     Paul has a new job, still in the corrections  biz,                                      Superintendent of a Diversion Center, whatever that is.

Travel, we travelled, but not so much,                                                                             Jack’s 60th high school reunion, to keep in touch.                               Two-week cruise in the Caribbean, tux no longer required,         With sweat pants and a tee shirt, you’re suitable attired.

Two trips to Lake Anna, with dear, dear friends,                                             Just keep driving south until the road ends.                                               The Suter’s may be the best hosts we know,                                                The Lore of the Corps was part of the show.

People at The Fairfax are planning our days,                                                           So many activities, we’re just in a haze.                                                         Carole has zumba or yoga, it seems every day,                                         Jack has the Council and chorus and golf still to play.                                         Then, there’s luaus, The Fourth and Halloween,                                    Service birthdays, New Years, it’s just byzantine.                                             Trips to museums & restaurants, traveling every route,                                      And these activities, quite frankly, are wearing us out.

This year was sad, because we lost close friends,                                  Such a surprise, when a vibrant life ends.                                                                     It makes us cherish each and every day,                                                             And with that in mind, we just want to say,                                                              Take care of yourself, the whole blessed year,                                       Enjoy everyday with a smile full of cheer.                                                              We’re thinking of you at this Christmas time,                                                                  Have a wonderful New Year when all the bells chime

                           Merry Christmas

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com

Copyrights 2016

                             

Pills, Pills, Pills

Some time back, I had a buddy tell me that pills weren’t necessary.  They were just a crutch.  If you eat right, exercise and remain composed, you won’t need medication.  It sounded good to me.

Then my blood pressure shot up. Whoa.  I’ll tell you, when your blood pressure shoots up, it’s hard to remain composed.  I solved my blood pressure problem with a little pill and decided my buddy was a doofus.  Eating right and exercise are great, but sometimes we need help.

As the number of pills increases, so does the complexity of life.  I suspect that most people around my age spend some time each week organizing their medications for the next week.  Those of us retired from the military can’t complain about the cost.  I don’t mind spending an hour at the Fort Belvoir Hospital Pharmacy for free stuff.  Of course, I am so cheap that I refuse to drive on the toll lanes around DC.

Then the pill I had been taking for years changes its size, shape and color!  It had something to do with some new generic drug that is supposed to be as good as the original.  That’s what the FDA says.  I have no idea.  Hey, I’m just trying to keep them off the floor so the dog doesn’t get them.

Now for the $64 question.  Is it OK to take your pills out of their original containers and put them in your weekly pill dispenser?  We all do it, but is it legal?  I guess the correct answer is it depends.  It depends on the type of drugs you are taking.  Certain drugs are called scheduled drugs and are controlled by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).  If you have a prescription for Oxycodone or Xanax, I’d keep it in its original container with your name on it.  One fellow who was carrying his Oxycodone in a little plastic bag didn’t fair too well (Duh).

My son, Paul, used to be the Deputy Warden at the Fluvanna County Correction Center for Women (FCCCW).  Every once in a while, on visiting day, they would cordon off the parking lot and search the vehicles.  They would find long knives, sawed-off shotguns and lots of pills.  They would confiscate everything.  So, if your daughter or granddaughter is at FCCCW and you are going to visit her, don’t take all your pills in your weekly dispenser (or your sawed-off shotgun).

Now, what about flying?  You can’t go on a trip and not take your pills.  We aren’t frequent flyers, but when we fly, we keep our pills close by.  I have searched through the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) list of prohibited items, and I didn’t find anything prohibiting medications.  They do recommend that medications be clearly labeled (but they don’t require it).  Believe me, the TSA has bigger problems to worry about than whether pills are properly labeled.  If I were traveling overseas, I’d be more cautious and try to find out what the rules are in the countries I was visiting.

Finally, if some strange looking dude at the airport asks you to hold his medications while he looks for a friend, don’t do it!

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com

Copyright, 2016

Tattoos

Images are so important.  And a retirement community wants to have an image of being  young and vibrant.  I’m not sure why, but it seems to be the case.  It must be for new prospects.  Being warm, comfortable and well fed is enough for me.

Carole and I took a few days off last month and went to Ocean City.  We walked on the boardwalk, but also spent our fair share of the time sitting on the boardwalk benches.  As I sat there watching people pass by, I noticed a lot of them had tattoos.  That’s when it hit me.  The Fairfax retirement community needs a tattoo parlor!

I’ll bet we would be the only retirement community in the country with our own tattoo parlor.  Take that Greensprings.  Talk about young and vibrant.  One of the problems with tattoos is when you get old, they fade and your skin sags.  But since we are already old and our skin already sags, we won’t have to worry about our tattoos changing shape.

I know we are limited for space in the Community Center, but I think I have a fix for that.  We could put the tattoo parlor in the back of the beauty salon.  One of the benefits would be that a woman could get a tattoo while she was getting her hair done.  I’m sure if we can pull this off, we will get a lot of free press.

I know I am thinking outside the box, but here at The Fairfax we have some outstanding artists and art classes.  Wouldn’t it be great if one of our own up-and-coming artists became a tattoo artist.  Probably more free press.

Themes are also important with tattoos and we have some naturals.  We have the patriotic theme and the wildlife theme.  I’m thinking of getting an American flag on one arm and a blue heron on the other.  I can’t convince Carole that a tattoo will make her more youthful and vibrant.  I know what we could do.  The first month we could run a special on tramp stamps!

I just reread what I have written and I’m not sure everyone will agree with my approach.  Don’t you just hate doubting Thomases?

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com

Copyright 2016

BOO! I saw you smile!