Uhh, where’s my car?

Rarely do I misplace anything. Sure, I might bury important paperwork in my backpack or place the Apple TV remote in a different spot, but I never misplace stuff.

Especially my car.

Well, there’s a first for everything.

I was flustered Wednesday afternoon around 5 p.m. driving into rush hour traffic Downtown looking for a place to park.

I pulled into the far right lane of the Boulevard of the Allies near Market Street to park on the street.

It’s very clearly marked that parking is not permitted between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. But other vehicles were parked there already.

I sat there for a few minutes contemplating what to do.

Scared of the threat of being towed and the clock not being closer to 6 p.m., I moved my car to Third Avenue and Market Street.

Fast forward to my dinner meeting ending. I agree to take one person home.

Upon reaching the Boulevard of the Allies and Market Street, I calmly kept pushing my car’s unlock button. Nothing.

Still calm on the outside (but just about freaking out on the inside), I call the parking authority. I get the tow company number and call.

The woman asks where my car was. I tell her. As I’m on hold, my mind is racing and it starts to unravel my steps just about 2 hours prior.

It slowly hits me that I didn’t park on the Boulevard of the Allies.

The woman said they had no cars with my description and none that came in from that area in that time.

I tell her I think I might have parked on another corner. She laughed and said to call back if I didn’t find my car.

Turning the corner onto Third Avenue, I’m clicking my car button nonstop until I finally see the lights blink.

Success!

I might have gone crazy, but at least my car wasn’t towed!

Mario game triggers memories

It’s funny how smells, things we touch and stuff we see can trigger memories we never knew we had.

Last week, a colleague wrote a quick piece about rummaging through old CDs and drumming up memories from her past.

Since reading her column, I had been thinking a lot about what’s around me and the memories those things have held.

I celebrated a birthday over the weekend and decided to gift myself a new video game for my Nintendo 3DS. After playing the new game for an hour, I started playing a classic Nintendo game — “Super Mario Bros. 3.” Talk about a classic.

The game originally was released Feb. 12, 1990, for NES. Mario was the theme to my birthday party in 1990, having received many gifts with him and other Mushroom Kingdom characters. I spent a lot of time playing that game as a kid.

I’ve played it previously on my Wii and 3DS. But playing the game on my birthday triggered memories of playing “Super Mario Bros. 3″ when I was younger — eating Doritos and chipped ham sandwiches while playing Nintendo with my brother or friends, staying up far later than I should have.

A lot has changed since I first was introduced to the Koopalings in “SMB 3.” I’m glad I’m able to remember those times, and that I still have a chance to relive them.

Forced romanticism

I originally wrote this column for twodaymag.com — an online dating and social scene magazine for Millennials. This column appeared Feb. 11, 2013, at twodaymag.com.

With the onslaught of forced romanticism we’ll endure this week across social media, in the news, in the workplace and from family and friends, will come the anti-Valentine’s Day crowd.

Call them the 1-percenters, the love-haters or Occupy Valentine’s Day, but the growing number of singles is … well, actually growing.

About half of Americans are single, and ⅓ of all households are occupied with one person, The New Yorker said in a 2012 story.

Despite those numbers, floral shops are scurrying to fill orders of long-stem red roses, bakeries can’t keep “I love you” cookies and cakes in stock and store shelves of those heart-shaped candy boxes will move faster than bread and toilet paper with the threat of 1-inch of snow.

And I can only imagine how busy Kay Jewelers counters will be this week. Ugh.

So as half of America apparently will celebrate Valentine’s Day with a special love, the rest of us have the chance to celebrate Single’s Awareness Day — with its anything but true abbreviation of S-A-D.

“The goal of Singles Awareness Day is to let singles have celebrations, get-togethers, etc., and to exchange gifts with their single friends,” according to SinglesAwarenessDay.com. “The awareness day was established by single people who were just sick of feeling left out on Valentine’s Day, and support of the day is growing every year.”

The website touts Feb. 15 as the big holiday, but I’ve seen other references to Feb. 13 and Feb. 14 as well.

Some Singles Awareness Day events are lighthearted — happy hours, singles gift exchanges and dinner with single friends.

The folks at Smokey Bones even are pushing a Singles Awareness Day happy hour Friday in an effort to give single people a chance to meet others (or maybe allow post-Valentine’s Day couples a chance to test the waters, eh?).

But there really are some great activities you can do just to make someone else’s day special, SinglesAwarenessDay.com says.

“If you have the evening free, why not call a local hospital or nursing home to find out if there’s a patient who doesn’t have family visiting frequently and drop in to wish them a happy Valentine’s Day complete with flowers or a goodie basket,” the website says. “This might turn out to be the most rewarding day of your life. If you choose this route, be sure to have some tissues as it could turn into a teary experience for both of you.”

In previous years, I’ve written cards to cancer survivors through the American Cancer Society Relay For Life events I’m involved with.

Last week, I wrote that men will spend roughly $175.61 on everything from candy, jewelry and dinner for their companion, according to a National Retail Federation study. That same study says women will spend $88.78 on their sweetheart.

So if for nothing else, single folks have a chance to save some cash this week.

While stores, the media and friends likely will talk about the impending day, it is important to remember that if you are single this Valentine’s Day, it’s not the end of the world.

Whether you’re single by choice or by life’s agenda, don’t let that descriptor define who you are.

With half of the country considered single, it’s clear you’re not alone.

Pepsi Next is no more — officially

It’s true.

My favorite Pepsi drink to hit shelves since Crystal Pepsi is no more.

As you’ll recall, last week, I discovered — thanks to a manager at a Rite Aid I frequent often — that Pepsi Next had been discontinued.

I reached out to Pepsi and received the following response:

Thank you for taking the time to contact us at PepsiCo.
Regarding your question, Pepsi Next is not currently available. I apologize for any inconvenience.
Please know that I will forward your sentiments to our senior management team to be sure that they fully understand your position.

Regards,
Caitlin
Senior Consumer Relations Representative

It’s not available in the United States, but I’ve determined it apparently still is available in Canada (of course, because they all of the cool stuff).

Dear Pepsi: Please bring back Pepsi Next … or use that recipe for your regular Pepsi product. I won’t tell anyone!

Erie unseated as snowiest U.S. city … for now

As of earlier this evening, all that separates the top two snowiest cities is about 5 inches.

But earlier today, Worcester, Mass., unseated Erie as the snowiest city (of at least 100,000 people), according to GoldenSnowglobe.com.

Worcester also is the first city to hit 90 inches of snow this year, the site says.

But there’s still time, and we all know that it doesn’t stop snowing in Erie until at least mid-April.

Pepsi Next no more?

To those anti-cola people out there, stop reading this. For everyone else, continue.

In the decades old Cola War, I’m Team Pepsi.

Always have been. Always will be.

Like many Americans, I’ve searched for a pop that offers less calories but a similar taste to that of a regular cola.

In 2012, I found my answer.

Pepsi Next was born, and was touted with less sugar content, fewer calories but with a great cola taste.

And it’s true. Since then, I’ve grabbed for Pepsi Next in the coolers.

But today, when I reached into the Pepsi cooler at the Rite Aid across from where I work, a manager there told me it was the last bottle of my favorite drink. He and another manager placed their orders for Pepsi products, but were told that it had been discontinued.

I wept. I sobbed. I knocked over the Coca-Cola cooler and watched that awful tasting drink flood the floor. Hey, I bet it could clean the floor!

Just kidding — I didn’t do any of that. But I was sad to learn the drink apparently has been discontinued.

I reached out to Pepsi through a customer form trying to get a response. If I hear back, I’ll update.

While searching the site, I discovered Pepsi Next still very much is part of their website, and I found a map telling me where I could find the drink. Though, I’m assuming changes to the map might not be immediate.

I could find no news links detailing the demise of Pepsi Next. I did, however, find a blog post about Pepsi Canada rolling out a new look for Pepsi Next (green labels, not light blue!).

I’d hate to see Pepsi Next be schlepped away from the United States, only to be available in other countries like Pepsi Lime and Pepsi Twist are now.

For years, I’ve wanted Crystal Pepsi to return, but Pepsi Next has replaced the long-gone clear cola.

If Pepsi Next has died in the U.S., this might be the last 20-ounce bottle I ever drink:

IMG_5057

Please excuse me as I now run to the grocery stores stockpiling 2-liter bottles.