Corona Hair: Salon Daze

Well I did it. Finally cut off my Corona hair. Man it got long. And curly. And unmanageable. Even the best products on the market were no match. It had gone well past the stage of being a novelty and now a nuisance. But I felt a little committed or invested to see how far I could take it; how long it could get.

Now let me say right off, there was some vanity involved here. Several people said they liked it and thought my burgeoning Mr Kotter hairdo looked good.  I would suggest those people go for MRIs as soon as possible. Young people, see the Kotter pic for reference, or you know, get on the google.


My Patron Saint

So yeah man, I’m not immune to vanity. Not to mention I’ll be 53 in a couple of months. I was intrigued and am quietly pleased that my hair grew that much at my age. So part of me also wanted to see if it would just keep on going. And surprisingly it did.

For context and comparison to the Gabe Kaplan pic over there, peep the pic that earned me the Mr. Kotter nickname from my wife. It’s a little grainy like a bigfoot sighting, but you can clearly see the hair helmet taking shape.

This shot was not long before I left for basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.



Kotter hair, don’t care.

It just occurred to me I had the stash going as well.  It was the style man, what are you gonna do. A few short years after this picture, after having my head shaved and maintaining a very close cropped haircut, I had my first salon experience.

Needing a haircut bad before I reported for work, I was forced to go to a salon. And at the time I say forced because up until that moment I went to barbers only. In my mind salons were for girls. I was a red blooded fighting man. (In total honesty the Air Force did very little fighting in those days, unless you count the fighting for a good parking space at the BX.)

I grew up with Joe the Barber. Joe Mangiello cut my hair from when i was a little kid until I was an adult.  He cut my father’s hair. That’s where we got our haircut, at Joe the Barber’s. That’s it. There was never talk of a salon.

When Joe the Barber retired we found another dude to cut our hair.  A barber. But there I was, 23 years old and walking into a salon in the mall because I had no choice.  I needed to have my haircut.  It was an eye opener on several levels.

Did you know they wash your hair in those joints?  Once I got over resting my head in that weird sink, it became a … well i’m just gonna say it.  A religious experience would possibly be an understatement. I had no idea.

Now this was 30 plus years ago so I feel comfortable saying the following. The woman washing my hair was stunning to say the least. And she was washing my hair so I had that going for me.

She only had to squirt me in the face with that hose thing one time, as I was falling asleep. It was like massage therapy. Once that warm water hit my head I was light out. Almost. A deft shot from the little water gun rinser thing had me wide awake; and provided her a good laugh. Salons, as it turns out, are just win/win scenarios.

Who knew?

She sat me up immediately remarking that my hair was as healthy as she had seen and predicted I would die with a full head of hair. Now that prediction could have easily come true had I gotten smoked by a dump truck on the way home from that haircut, but I got what she meant.

She also said that my hair would not only keep growing it would take on the characteristics of a steel wool pad as I approached 60.  Well that didn’t seem very positive. But I was still basking in the glow of my hair washing so I didn’t really care.

Well hair stylist lady, if you’re reading this, you were right on the money. My hair is still growing strong at the age of almost 53. And because of that and the current pandemic it’s way down the back of my neck. And because of that I didn’t want to trust my three month overdue shearing to just anyone.  I was heading to a salon. Again. With a more than full head of gray hair in all its out of control gloriousness.

I was in the trusty hands of a good friend. Thank god. The Corona conditions were gonna be bad enough; mask, wait in line out side the joint, etc… I felt it much better to be in the hands of someone I knew and someone I knew to be a serious professional when it came to the craft of styling hair.

So there I was, in the parking lot of the Ross & Co. contemplating putting on my mask. I was looking pretty swarthy. Tanned up olive complexion from playing golf, slicked back hair.  I was looking like an extra from God Father IV. As it was Tracy told me in no uncertain terms, “The Guido look has to go.” Guido, for the ill informed, is a slur hurled at Italians that we have embraced as a term of endearment. The sting removed long ago.

Heritage slight or no, she was right. It had to go. The hair was killing me. I couldn’t stand the way it felt. Regardless of how some liked the long curls. It just wasn’t a good look.  It was taking a lot more energy to wash and, god help me, use conditioner. My damn arms were getting tired.

My second ever trip to a salon was not as eye opening as the first, but it still went well. And if you live in the greater Knoxville area give Courtney a shout at Ross & Co. She’s a hairstylist of the first order. After a surprisingly smooth 30 minutes, mask and all, I was back to my short hair. I miss Joe the Barber, but the salon trip ain’t half bad.

Unfortunately no wash this time.

Damn you Corona!


Milo T Dog: Read My Lips

Can we all agree to get past the point that I (we) have a dog. And the fact that we, (I) love that damn mutt. After three years now I think you all have wrung out the whole, You’re a dog lover now. Ok, yes I am. Moving on.

Aside from Milo being my constant running partner when I’m home, he happens to be incredibly smart. He’s still exuberant, but obedient for the most part. He also appears to be getting smarter. Yeah he heeds more commands, but it’s more than that. Maybe you life long dog lovers have already experienced this.

I know this might seem crazy. Honestly I’m surprised I’m even typing this next sentence.  Lately it appears Milo is trying to talk. When I say talk I mean speak in human verbiage. We all know dogs can communicate on a high level with barks, body language and their eyes. No, the communication I’m referring to is Milo looking and sounding like he’s attempting to use human words of the English variety.

I think the more weird or maybe concerning part of it all is that I feel like I understand what he’s trying to say.

Usually when he needs or wants to go out he’ll stand by the door. Where I sit in my office affords me a clean view of the front door. So when he posts up on the door mat he expects that I see him and will respond quickly and efficiently. When I don’t move to his liking he approaches me and starts to do this weird wailing/whining type noise.


His, “Please stay home today.” look.

He looks right at me, backs up three of fours steps as he makes this weird noise.  All that as his head is bobbing up and down. It’s like he’s trying to say, “C’mon bro time to go.” And when I don’t move at that little exhortation he gets closer and starts talking. Bitching me out even. At least that what it sounds like.

The long whining switches to short bursts of sound and his mouth moving as if he’s trying to form words. I swear to you.

When he really needs to go out he gets more demonstrative. As if somehow the more he urges me,  the more he gestures, the easier for me to understand. If I didn’t know better I’d say he was scolding me for not understanding him.

He doesn’t do it for long.  Mainly because if it becomes clear that I don’t understand or I’m not going to comply he runs upstairs and bothers the Mrs. Milo is not long on patience.

God forbid I don’t understand him where he’s hungry. Which is always. But again, he doesn’t bark. He goes into this weird short burst growling/whining/wailing type machinations.  I firmly believe he’ll speak one day. I sit and wait for the day real English words come out of his mouth.

The only question is will they be the four letter version?








Walking in Dayton: What’s a Bear Bag?

We learned a lot of lessons on the first run into the woods with Troop 6.

The first lesson was Bear Bag does not mean what I thought it meant. And yes I do have the mind and sense of humor equal to or less than that of an adolescent. Fart jokes still make me laugh uncontrollably. Sue me.

As much as I dreaded the cold and then almost actually froze to death, there was so much good out of that weekend. I learned the entire time. And even at my age that’s a good thing. One of the lessons I learned from the outset; camping stuff is expensive as I don’t now what.

Let me tell you one thing, I don’t want to hear another peep about golf clubs, balls, greens fees, and what have you. Golf could never ever approach the expense of camping. I mean both are outdoors, both involve walking and at times carrying a heavy bag on your back, other than that…


My only camping experience before the Frank joined the Scouts. That’s our backyard.

And you’re kind of stuck you know. It’s Frank’s first gig with his new boys. Can’t have him in hand me down stuff. First of all there is no hand me down stuff. Tracy and I are not campers. If we’re not in a Marriott or something equivalent, we count that as roughing it.

So it was off to the outdoorsy store for stuff. I should have hit the prescription med store for some nitro pills first. Wow, my heart jumped a few times and I had not made it out of the special “hiking and camping” water bottle section yet. As I said in the original camping post, we did end up with some cool stuff, but that stuff cost a cool nickel. Again I was just in the accouterments area. I was on my way to tent/sleeping bags and then hiking clothes. Cause you know you need layers and such. And those layers should be as low key chic as possible. Although there was no peeling of layers on this trip. But I got Frank some good stuff and he was styling without looking like he was trying to be styling.

He did get a few things for Christmas so it wasn’t the full monty of equipment but it was close. I managed to cobble together my kit. Styling, low key or otherwise, just ain’t my thing. My old boots still fit and were in great condition. I was advised they weren’t great for hiking. I said, Boy these boots walked miles and miles, and most of that was the hard concrete of Air Force flight lines. They’ll be fine.  And they were.

Tracy had a sleeping bag and mat from a Cub Scout trip so I was good there. I wore a plain pair of kakis. I’m not dropping $45 on a pair of “specialized” hiking pants.  Honestly my old camo from work still fit me. The pants did anyway. But I had to balance not spending money and not embarrassing the kid. I get the situation. Trying to make an impression on his boys, he doesn’t need his old man wearing knee high black socks to the beach if you know what I’m saying.

Look man I’m not a granola eater. I don’t go out of my way to become one with nature and I build fires the old fashion way, with matches and small fire starter thing-a-ma-jigs I got at The Kroger.  All neatly vacuum sealed in a bag you use to seal up meat or veggies  or whatever. However I made myself keep an open mind and try to let some of these 14 to 16 year old kids teach me something. They’re all granola. And styling. And cool. And Frank idolizes them. So I gave way to these kids most of the weekend, and cheated the fire when they weren’t looking.

If I had thought to bring my small can of WD-40 I would have had that fire going tout suite. Nothing like good old Ozone depleting aerosol to get a roaring fire going at the spritz of vaporized lubricant. But like I said I did learn a few things. Helpful things for next time. If there is a next time.

Weight is an issue. This isn’t your typical overnighter. It helped to be mindful of what went in the pack. There is no conveyor belt to drop your bag on after the TSA agent unfolds all your undies. You got to hump that pack brother. So what goes in there better be necessary.

Food and water are more important than a second change of clothes.  This one I kind of knew myself. We didn’t have change of clothes on the flight line. And there were no rain delays. Plenty of days I spent the entire shift soaked. It happens, it won’t kill you. In this case the recommended three set of clothes, the set on your back plus two in the pack, was overkill. Likewise with the “camp shoes”.

Camp shoes are any foot type gear that isn’t hiking boots. Flip flops, Crocks, tennis shoes etc… This was so you could take off your hiking boots and relax your feet in camp. In my case unnecessary weight. I spent hours and sometimes days in those issue boots. A two mile walk and another eight hours in them was nothing.

Sit your ass down. Bad move on my part. I had plenty of opportunity to sit. I just didn’t. No idea why. And it became a problem when I got up the next morning to hit the old #1 tree. My legs didn’t work. Cramps in both calves and thighs. Down on my face in frost covered leaves.  I’m old what are you gonna do?

Get off the ground. Two different adults had no tent. They strung hammocks and put a tarp over themselves. (Good call G. Granroth) With a sleep mat lining the hammock in addition to his sleeping bag, the one guy said he actually stuck his feet out a few times because he got a little too warm. The gel in my iris’ almost froze solid and this guy was so warm his little pig toes had to get some crisp, fresh air a few times during the night.

The ground he said, the ground saps your heat. I knew that too. Damn it. Well I’ve never been accused of being the brightest bulb. Have my eye on a light weight camping cot now. This Scout parent will be sleeping in comfort next time.

Be smart about packing your food.  This was one of the biggest lessons I learned. And it provided the funniest/scariest moment of the trip. Well, aside from my stranded turtle scene early in the AM.

As it turns out hiking/camping food is either a smell-able or it isn’t. Meaning bears can either smell it or they can’t. If they can, they’re coming for it.  And they can smell a damn lot from a long way off.  I was looking forward to hitting a few Slim Jims that I was going to stash in my sleeping bag for a middle of the night snack. Yeah, no. Into the Bear Bag please.

The what now? Bear Bag? The Bear Bag is for all the smellables. It’s just any type of bag that can hold all the food, and is then strung up in a tree away from the camp for obvious reasons. Can’t have no bear traipsing through camp looking for my Slim Jims at 2am. Speaking of which…


Skippy you home? Is that bacon, why I had no idea.

So I learned what would be Bear Bag necessary. Some things are not as obvious as others. Factory sealed foods like Slim Jims can still be smelled by bears from a long distance. Didn’t know that.  Bacon, Bear Bag. Even I knew that one.

Yet somehow the community bacon that was going to be cooked for the morning meal provided to all the scouts was left with the youngest member of the troop. Said young man failed to offer it up when the Bear Bag went round. Everyone got a portion of the community meal to put in their pack. Share the weight as it were. This poor kid knew less than me about camping and that’s saying something. He had no idea, no one had any idea four pounds of Oscar Meyer’s finest was tucked neatly and safely in Skippy’s pack.

He might as well have been carrying a live grenade. It wasn’t until the morning when the call went out for breakfast to be assembled that the Bear Bag came down so the food could be sorted. 

Adult 1. Hey where is all the bacon? (Names changed to protect the guilty.)

Adult 2. I think Skippy has it. 

Adult 1. He ate all the bacon!?! When!?! Did he eat it raw!?!

Very young scout 1. Yeah I think Skippy ate it all. (Very young scout 1 has no idea by the way. Skippy has eaten none of the bacon.) 

Adult 1 to other adults who will not be numbered. Holy cow who gave Skippy the bacon to carry? He ate it all. 

Other adults. Undecipherable mumbling and dismissive/judgmental shaking of heads.

Skippy. (Walking up still in PJs, bed head, and 1 sock, oblivious to the great Dayton bacon incident of 2020) Hey what should I do with all this bacon?

Adult 1. (Pale as a mother f*****g ghost when he realizes what has actually happened and the lawsuits that would have sunk Boy Scouts had Timmy been pushing up daisies in the belly of a bear because most of the veteran adult campers just assumed everyone else knew what they were doing on their first camping trip.) You had that in your pack all night Skippy!!!!!!

Other adults’ begin to shake their heads for real when they realize 1. they dodged a huge bullet and 2. four pounds of bacon packed sloppily in Saran Wrap was like setting out bear bait. Skippy and everyone who was slower than they, probably should have been eaten in their sleep by a pack of roaming bears.

But unlike us, the damn bears knew what the temp was gonna be and packed it in for the night. No doubt all snuggling together in a nice cave somewhere, deciding Skippy’s bacon wasn’t worth the nut freezing cold.

So a big lesson learned there kids.

If someone has the bacon in their tent for the night, make sure you’re not the slowest runner in camp.